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POOR GENETIC MATERIAL

Crossover Prog • Germany


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POOR GENETIC MATERIAL has been working in two very different directions. The original duo / trio performed experimental that resulted in the two "free to random" recordings. As a full five-piece band PGM plays more song-oriented material. This line-up has recorded the 2001 album "Summerland" and the new album "Leap Into Fall".

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Island NoisesIsland Noises
ProgRock Records 2011
Audio CD$13.68
$12.29 (used)
Spring TidingsSpring Tidings
CD Baby 2010
Audio CD$14.05
$5.40 (used)
Paradise Out of TimeParadise Out of Time
Quixote Music 2010
Audio CD$11.91
$12.86 (used)
SummerlandSummerland
Audio CD$49.99 (used)
A Day in JuneA Day in June
Import
Imports 2013
Audio CD$4.18 (used)
Winter's EdgeWinter's Edge
CD Baby 2004
Audio CD$18.38
$8.00 (used)
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POOR GENETIC MATERIAL discography


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POOR GENETIC MATERIAL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

1.00 | 1 ratings
Free to Random vol 1
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Free to Random vol 2
2000
3.00 | 4 ratings
Summerland
2001
3.05 | 7 ratings
Leap into Fall
2002
3.93 | 6 ratings
Winter's Edge
2003
3.00 | 2 ratings
Free To Random
2005
3.96 | 11 ratings
Spring Tidings
2006
3.02 | 4 ratings
Paradise Out Of Time
2007
3.31 | 14 ratings
Island Noises
2011
3.97 | 16 ratings
A Day in June
2013

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POOR GENETIC MATERIAL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Summerland by POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.00 | 4 ratings

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Summerland
Poor Genetic Material Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Germans Poor Genetic Material from Speyer started as a duo in late-90s with Stefan Glomb on guitar and Philipp Jaehne on keyboards.Both were previously playing with the Neo Prog band Eskape, at the time when Jaehne established also the well-known QuiXote label with Tea For Two's Stephan Weber.They recorded their first couple of albums ''Free to Random Vol. 1'' (1999) and ''Free to Random Vol. 2'' (2000) with the help of another ex-Eskape member on keyboards, Martin Lengsfeld, both were attempts on the field of Experimental/Ambient Music.For their next album ''Summerland'' the band comes as a 50:50 mix of Eskape and Alias Eye with Phil Griffiths joining on vocals and Ludwig Benedek on drums.The album was released in 2001 on QuiXote.

Poor Genetic Material put an end to their experimental tendencies of their first works and propose an intelligent Progressive Pop in ''Summerland'', where vocals, melodies and sensitive textures play the basic role.They sound close to IT BITES or mid-90's BIG BIG TRAIN, focusing on soft keyboard lines, nice electric and acoustic moves and ambiental soundscapes with an atmospheric background.Even if the instrumental stuff is rather limited, the clean and emotional voice of Phil Griffiths is extremely rewarding.Most of the tracks are pretty simplistic with a few progressive moves added for good measure, relying on memorable melodies and accesible songwriting, surrounded by some typical elements of the Prog Rock genre, like a few theatrical singing lines, guitar distortions or light symphonic colors, while some of the electric solos have a strong FLOYD-ian vibe.The long title-track has more in common with the Neo Prog genre akin to TWELFTH NIGHT and PALLAS.Such a strong dependency from the melodious textures means this album lives or dies from its melodic depth and fortunately the band offers plenty of them with a good inspiration.

Accesible Neo Prog with strong Pop twists.Well-composed, sensitive and enjoyable music.Recommended.

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 Island Noises by POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.31 | 14 ratings

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Island Noises
Poor Genetic Material Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars After their season cycle, POOR GENETIC MATERIAL sought another source of inspiration for their abstract soundscapes. They marked time with a transitional album before appearing to settle on master literary works, the first of these being Shakespeare's "The Tempest". It took 4 years for this mammoth undertaking to reach fruition, in which time I would have wished for a compatible visual production which would have enhanced the experience.

I confess that this play by the bard was not on our required list for any English classes, so I am not familiar with the story, and I could imagine that a knowledge of the plot and characters, more so the themes might help an appreciation of this double CD. Still, it offers many pleasures, again walking a fine line between modern neo prog, old style symphonic prog, accessible rock, and ambient music; patient fans of all of these will find plenty to inspire them. I say patient because "Island Noises" is generally lower key than most prog and reveals itself in strata particular to each listener's sensibilities and vulnerabilities.

To dispense with the inevitable weaknesses of such an ambitious project, I have to say I am not a fan of any of the narrated parts that last more than 10 seconds or so, as they further decelerate the subtle momentum, and they cannot be programmed out. At almost 100 minutes, this could possibly have been pared to a long single disk with an executive decision here or there. And, finally, as alluded to, and perhaps related to the band's' legacy as soundtrack oriented writers, while the album is highly visual, at times I need a little help with the images, particularly on the more elongated atmospheric passages. Not that there is anything wrong with occasionally drifting off, but I keep feeling like I am missing a scene!

Of its many strengths, which I have to say do offer more than sufficient repudiation, the voice of PHIL GRIFFITHS continues to mature and sets the band so far above their contemporaries - it is heartfelt, always spot on, and fits the music to which it is set. The musicianship is confident and tight, and the arrangements and compositions appealing. Nowhere is this better illustrated than on the 20 minute title cut, a potpourri of all the styles represented by PGM in proportion and juxtaposition, with even some jazzy interludes. It all opens out to a jaunty vocal section about Caliban. Pia's flutes offset the pretensions as needed. Other superb tracks that may not seem so at first, which one can say about everything here, would be the almost classic symphonic "Roarers", the sweet ballad "Brave New World", the playful swing of "Assassins and Sleepers", "In a State of Grace", "Fountain of Innocence", "Drowning the Book", and the forward from the past looking "Dreamstuff", in which the impact of the story and author are examined.

Comparisons are challenging with PGM - I hear bits and pieces of classic and contemporary, but they have managed to retain their individuality through their eclectic nature, consummate vocalist, ambitious themes, and warm arrangements. At the risk of triggering a tempest in a teapot, I'd say these noises drown out most of their better known brethren.

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 Paradise Out Of Time by POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.02 | 4 ratings

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Paradise Out Of Time
Poor Genetic Material Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars The season cycle was not the only spell broken by this POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album. During at least the previous three albums (I have not heard Summerland as of this writing), this group distilled their dynamic philosophy around composition and the design of an unabridged work. In contrast, "Paradise out of Time" is more structured and far less demanding than its antecedents.

The 9 tracks herein are more like conventional guitar oriented AOR with a few dashes of neo prog. Unfortunately, rather than triumph by understatement, the album generally lacks enthusiasm in its tight lipped insistence on adhering to conventional rhythms and structures. Even with PHIL GRIFFITHS accomplished singing, I'm not sure this would do much for me in isolation. However, this is not a JADIS album as much as it sometimes sounds like one, and prior accomplishments justify more attention to "Paradise out of Time" in spite of itself.

While I can't say the other shoe dropped completely, something did "click" over time, in the opener, the catchy "New Phase", reminiscent of early 1980s RAMSES, the atypically long "Out of Time", the initially spacey and later majestic "Starlightbound" and especially the closer "My Other LIfe", wherein Oliver Berger's violin freshens and enlivens the sound, and the guitar licks work wonders. In contrast, I was moved neither by routine rockers like "the Key" or "Citizen Cyclops", nor by ballads like "Paradise" or Holy Ground", which uncomfortably recall nondescript Christiant rock in feel even if they thankfully avoid lyrical cliches. I might add that this has always been a strength of the group. It marks my first experience with PGM tracks that I would rather skip than hear.

Since PGM has done so much better, I would not recommend this album as an entry point to their world, but would reserve this ironically earthbound work to committed fans or those who enjoy undemanding generally melodic rock with a low progressive quotient. 2.75 stars.

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 Spring Tidings by POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.96 | 11 ratings

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Spring Tidings
Poor Genetic Material Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars The closer in the cycle by POOR GENETIC MATERIAL might be their best, but it is certainly their most vivacious, as befits the spring season. The band continues to seduce the listener into an elaborate set organically constituted from their brilliant compositions and arrangements, which combine agreeably distorted guitars, atmospheric keys, beseeching vocals, and an uncharacteristically muscular rhythm section. The sound now seems as far removed from neo prog as it is from avant garde; even the lyrics lack the self obsession that tend to dally hand in hand with neo.

Though all tracks are strong, here I have less difficulty in pronouncing my favourites, those being perhaps the best PGM songs up to that point - "April" and "Watercolors". "April" initially seems decent enough in an understated ELOY circa "Colours" kind of way, with Griffiths enunciating with aggression rarely heard hitherto, but it's catapulted by Glomb's searing and careening emotional lead guitar passages that recur as a chorus of sorts. In so doing they spellbind the entire piece, with even Jaehne participating via an entirely complementary synthesizer lead. This is a true A-list piece for any prog fan, again not directly comparable to anyone, although I admit to thinking of the less free form work by MYTHOS circa "Dreamlab" when I hear the diffuse soloing. "Watercolours" is almost on the same plane, but begins pastorally with flutes and caressing guitars as befits its title before evolving into another showcase for Griffiths' new found confidence. He launches into a memorable melody and divvies his quota between crunching and reflective moments that are flawless in transition. Glomb glows in the central instrumental role again, with spacey support capably provided by Jaehne.

For the rest, the variety and integration of styles remains the band's forte, while triggering a degree of performance anxiety in the mesmerized reviewer. It is better to just enjoy. I will say that the outro of the rather jazzy and accomplished closing instrumental seems to be channeling Celtic rockers RUNRIG, whom I know to be rather popular over there. No complaints over here.

I'm a bit torn on this one. It is certainly the musical equal of "Winter's Edge", and demonstrates marked growth since that time, yet it isn't quite as economical as that earlier disk, and in some sense the two stars steal the show by virtue of their afterglow alone. One gets the sense some notes, passages and even one or two tracks could have been omitted without harm, thus withholding some of that precious 5 star "je ne sais quoi". Still, the source of this spring is as fresh as ever. Do drink it in.

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 Leap into Fall  by POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.05 | 7 ratings

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Leap into Fall
Poor Genetic Material Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars

If you trust somebody enough and they tell you that a hare is actually a boar, will you bother doing the research to disprove their theory? Will you even notice that this hare is more beautiful than any you have seen before or since? How could you when you are told it's not worth a second look? That hare is POOR GENETIC MATERIAL, an Anglo German lyrical and vocal oriented prog band which has incorporated neo and symphonic styles with rock and even new age in a musical homeostasis that can only be adequately described in wordless aural images.

This second installment of their season's series is one that lulls you into quiet acceptance of what may come, much as the fall does, if you will only yield to it. Like most superior albums, the tracks are lovingly sequenced, and interlock cryptically. The best is the longest, the opener "Rush of Ages", which introduces the key elements - shape shifting melodies, sensitive time changes, provocative lyrics, PHIL GRIFFITHS finely honed voice and the seductive blend of instrumental prowess of all other members. Your own favourite might be the less penetrable "Star of Eden" with its distorted guitars and variety of riffs, or the more complex but rewarding "Antares"with its heavy guitars alternating with dreamy keys . Even the title cut, sounding as it does like a 1970s AOR ballad, is uplifted by keening lead guitars and a memorable tune. No comparisons really do justice, but I do hear some world prog influences as ephemeral as the hare, like SCHICKE FUHRS AND FROEHLING and JADE WARRIOR in a few of the more languid instrumental buildups, and SAGA in the vocal department.

Since the hare flits across your landscape so fleetingly, you may be inclined to dismiss it with a confused and cockeyed glance. But know that if you have any inkling of how much you will fall for it, you have but to stay put with your arms outstretched.

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 Winter's Edge by POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.93 | 6 ratings

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Winter's Edge
Poor Genetic Material Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

5 stars It is somewhat laughable but equally disturbing when fans of classic neo progressive rock hold up any form of early 1980s prog as a measuring stick for all remotely related prog to follow. Such was the case with a review of this, the third POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album in their season's suite, on another prog website, a simplistic argument that eschews this band's varied origins and influences while diminishing their own contributions to the broader genre. It's akin to dismissing Boston as a failed imitation of a European city, or Quebecois French as the linguistic trailer trash of la langue to Moliere.

This lucid mood oriented album bears so many skillfully absorbed influences from so many periods of rock, such as the proto prog of BEGGARS' OPERA (not surprisingly given the presence of PHIL GRIFFITHS, son of MARTIN, on vocals), the pre new age aesthetics of JADE WARRIOR, the sedately elegant ambiance of DAVID SYLVIAN's and BRIAN ENO's best works, and the dreamy quality of TRANSIENCE. I even believe that PGM has irrigated others' creativity, such as fellow Germans DICE. But most importantly, this intensely melodic and unified work is a model for the album as an indivisible body of work that transports the listener into a parallel realm with an eclipsing natural order. It's a world in which bestowals are granted neither too conveniently nor too laboriously.

Musically, while matters are inclined to the mellow and even shimmering, the audio palette is ever shifting, and the guitars of Stefan Glomb along with a stalwart rhythm section can be thanked for this. Glomb imparts atmospheres on a planetary scale through acoustic, electric strummed, and deftly distorted lead textures. Philipp Jaehn's keys are mostly supportive organ and synth, reaching their pinnacle on "Nuage Blue". Recurring sumptuous themes on the two title cuts and even the hidden closing half track enhance the aspect of reverie. Phil Griffiths' voice emphasizes both technical proficiency and emotion over style, and is one of prog's purest.

The cover art is inspiring. The titles are evocative, like "Sharp Ends Sudden Crests" or "Protean Profile", reflecting with their contents not the stormy qualities of the wintry night but the placid vertical snowfalls that can accompany a nordic ski through the woodlands or a chill, in vibe only, evening by the hearth.

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 A Day in June by POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.97 | 16 ratings

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A Day in June
Poor Genetic Material Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars A group that up till now has only been known to me via prog outlets touting their vocalist's pedigree, POOR GENETIC MATERIAL has released a consummate vocal oriented album based on the classic JAMES JOYCE novel ULYSSES. One of the main themes of this literary work is father-son relations and, appropriately enough, this PGM disk culls one of the most gifted such tandems on the prog scene, MARTIN (BEGGARS' OPERA) and PHIL GRIFFITHS (PGM and ALIAS EYE). They even sing together on several tracks. It is a testament to this sparkling effort that they do not steal the show, and that their voices blend into one even when going it alone.

My understanding of PGM is that they are a German band more influenced by the British giants than by the amply represented masters from their own country, but if you are a fan of continental prog you will not be disappointed. "Nausicaa" is reminiscent of both ELOY and the Swiss CLEPSYDRA, notably and arguably best album "Alone". If you love that "big" sound but don't want it quite as cluttered as the Brits prefer, then this is a treasure trove. The opener "Martello Morning" is pure classic symph though, and "Wisdom and Menace" is simultaneously catchy and profound. The penultimate cut "Ithaca" is another melodic jewel. The band is composed of gifted musicians with Stefan Glomb's guitars and Pia Darmstaedter's flutes worth highlighting, although in "Ithaca" Philipp Jaehne's are spellbinding .

I normally like to let new releases percolate for a longer period of time before reviewing them, as I find it hard to reward 5 star status to anything before its time, but since that day in June when this seemingly streamed through sunlit windows I have been smitten. 4.5 stars, rounded down until further notice.

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 Island Noises by POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.31 | 14 ratings

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Island Noises
Poor Genetic Material Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars Poor Genetic Material was founded by Stefan Glomb (guitar) and Philipp Jaehne (keyboards) as an experimental project mainly working on soundtrack material. Singer Philip Griffiths (son of the legendary Beggars Opera singer Martin Griffiths) joined the original duo to work and record together and line-up changes brought in bass player Dennis Sturm and drummer Dominik Steinbacher along with flautist Pia Darmstaedter. The different personnel also saw a movement in musical direction and they became more prog and songs oriented. 'Island Noises' is their seventh release, and is a double concept album that is based on Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'. I can just imagine the gnashing of teeth in certain quarters who felt that musical elitism was blown away by the 'fresh air' of punk music.

It is not a retelling of the play itself, but rather a story based on elements and themes that can be found within it (so Caliban gets a whole song to himself). Of course, a decent epic prog concept album like this needs a narrator so Philip convinced his dad to step up to the mike once more (somewhat like Rick Wakeman narrating 'Jabberwocky' for Oliver). Not surprisingly that gained a lot of attention by some, but to be honest it is exactly what it is ? a linking performance to assist in bringing the whole thing together. Although this does have songs, in reality it is much more about being a single piece of music with movements. In places it is dreamy and at others quite Hackett-ish, all the time with a certain ethereal other worldly quality which is definitely in keeping with the subject matter. It is music that those into early Seventies prog will get a lot from, as opposed to those who prefer their prog to be more neo and rocky. Philip has a great voice, much like a young Michael Sadler at times, but although there are many layers of keyboards this is much more trad prog than Saga.

Overall a very enjoyable album, but be warned that at 1 hour 37 minutes it is a lot to listen to in one sitting, but rewards those who have the time to do so. It is not something that is easy to dip in and out of. www.progrecords.com

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 Paradise Out Of Time by POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.02 | 4 ratings

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Paradise Out Of Time
Poor Genetic Material Crossover Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I was supposed to get their latest release, Island Noises, which was much praised by a friend of mine of the ProgBrasil forum page. According to him it is a double concept album of sorts. But Paradise Out Of Time,. released an year before, was the only one I could get a hold of, so I took my chances with it. So I was surprised of how much melodic and conventional this album showed it to be when I heard it. Not much symphonic prog here, in fact. Mostly song oriented prog rock. And - in that vein - they are quite good.

Poor Genetic Material has quite a consistent discography (8 albums so far) and I don´t know it this one really represents their best stuff. However, I found the music inside to be pleasant, although nothing here stands out that much. Nice melodies and an excellent singer (Phil Griffiths , also Alias Eye) are their strong points. The instrumental part of the CD is also very good, although a bit subdue. Production is not that great either. Guest member Oliver Berger (violin) gives a slightly folky color to several tracks. Highlights are the longest songs, Out Of time and the closer My Other Life. Both are over 7 minutes and more energetic and original than the others. Both are also good examples of how far they can go if they persue that direction

After repeated spins I´m more intrigued than actually pleased with this album. It certainly shows a band with lots of potential, but still not quite there. maybe with a more dynamic production things could be much improved. I´m looking forward to hear more of their works, specially Island Noises.

Rating: something between 2.5 and 3 stars.

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 Island Noises by POOR GENETIC MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.31 | 14 ratings

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Island Noises
Poor Genetic Material Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Island Noises' - Poor Genetic Material (6/10)

Poor Genetic Material is a German melodic prog band, one of many to grace my ears in recent weeks. In today's overly recycled and inconsistent prog scene, making a double album can sometimes be seen as a last-ditch attempt to distinguish oneself from the merciless hordes of Genesis copycats and the like. Poor Genetic Material do manage to release an hour and a half of generally enjoyable music here, but all the same, I do not think that this is quite enough to make them leap up from their peers. 'Island Noises' is a very warm and enjoyable, yet tame release.

A project that initially set out to make soundtrack music, Poor Genetic Material have since sought to go for a more melodic route in their music, although the ambient direction typically associated with soundtrack or film music is still here in the longer pieces of the album. As well, Poor Genetic Material write music in tribute to some literary material, which could be considered a soundtrack in itself. What I am referring to is their two-part rendition of 'Brave New World', one of my favourite novels. The band manages to take the core material and express it through a somewhat brooding, yet ultimately upbeat pair of tracks that make up the highlight of this album.

The performance of the musicians is quite well done, although the work with guitars and drums is nothing too impressive so as to shock the listener or anything. One aspect of the band that did really impress me were the vocals of Phil Griffiths, who has a strong voice on him. The music here is something that one would expect from melodic rock; nothing too adventurous, but pleasant and warm. One thing that does happen to work against the overall effect of this album is the length, which is also arguably its greatest selling point. At over an hour and a half long, this is a monster of music, that one would imagine needs many listens to properly digest. Sadly, there aren't enough nuances or depth enough to warrant such a long journey. Something half as long would have benefited the listener just as much, if not more. 'Island Noises' has some good melodic prog that I have enjoyed, despite not being a fan of the particular style itself.

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