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BLANK MANUSKRIPT

Symphonic Prog • Austria


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Blank Manuskript biography
The Blank Manuskript is a Project from central Europe, situated in mountainous Austria. The whole project is organized by the two musicians Dominik Wallner (Keys, Vocals) and Alfons Wohlmuth (Bass, Flute, Vocals). The band's musical output can best be described as Progressive Rock, or - to be specific -Art-Rock with a special attention towards the narrative elements. The Band's aim is to present a story with their music, which means that the music itself is written to fit the intentional narration.

The band was formed in late 2007 by the trio Christian Breckner, Dominik Wallner and Alfons Wohlmuth. After substantiating their style and intention, they started writing the concept and musical material for their first project "Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui". Alfons Wohlmuth came up first with the idea to work on this topic. Due to the fact, that these stories were widely unknown and have not been used for a concept album before, the band started to gather all the material they could get. Within weeks a narrative concept was finished and the work on the compositions was ready to start. The musical material itself was mostly written by Dominik Wallner, but the influence from the others enriched the compositions on this album and gave the songs a unique style. Dominik Wallner is a classical trained piano player, who studies at University Mozarteum Salzburg taking great influences from various jazz-seminars; Christian Breckner is a studied Classical Guitar-player and an experienced live-player who played in a ska-band for years; Alfons Wohlmuth is a self-taught Progressive Rock enthusiast, able to play several different instruments and providing most of the band's lyrics. The search for a skilled drummer didn't take long, for they were soon joined by Elias Papaioannou. During their work on the material, it became clear, that the recordings will need much more musicians than the original line-up provided, so Blank Manuskript hired other session musicians to reach their expectation of the album. The recording sessions, which were lead by Clemens Wannemacher, started in the beginning of June 2008. The final mix of the album was approved at the beginning of December. The album was released in early 2009 and the live-presentation, featuring 8 musicians on stage, was a big success. Soon the band got requests from the famous Colossus-Projects, to record tracks for three of their projects. This was happily accepted. Involved in these works, a s...
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3.47 | 12 ratings
Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui
2008

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4.00 | 2 ratings
A Profound Path
2013

BLANK MANUSKRIPT Reviews


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 A Profound Path by BLANK MANUSKRIPT album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2013
4.00 | 2 ratings

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A Profound Path
Blank Manuskript Symphonic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

4 stars It was about time for a second release

Five years have passed since BLANK MANUSKRIPT released the epic Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui, and I was starting to think that this excellent Austrian band had vanished, but about a month ago, I received a PM from my good friend Alfons Wohlmuth (bass, flute and Vocals), telling me they had released a new EP, sadly I had some personal issues to solve and wasn't able to review A Profound Path, so a couple days ago listened it for the first time and I regret haven't done it before, because the album is radically different to their debut, but still extraordinaire.

My first surprise was to find that two members had left the band and been replaced by Cecilio Perera Villanueva (Guitar) and Klaus Ackermann (Percussion), but the greatest impression was to find that they have left their pompous Symphonic roots for a more varied sound, with PINK FLOYD influences and a hint of Jazz, a change that I found refreshing, because when you release a great debut, you need to evolve to avoid unpleasant comparisons, and they did a great job in previously uncharted territory.

The album is opened by The Underglow and it's mysterious bass intro that leads to a fluid keys and guitar lead passage where Cecilio Perera Villanueva shows his outstanding skills, combining the style of David Gilmour and his own sound.

From that moment the band starts to sound like in their debut with incredibly interesting melodic passages, a lot of pomp (God I love that) and adding some weird screams reminiscent of Roger Waters. But please, don't believe they are cloning PINK FLOYD, the style and arrangements are unique and delightful with exceptional choir work. A great start for a great album.

Twilight Peak gets even more eclectic, in this track we can enjoy dramatic guitar solos, a bit of Jazz, of course some Floydian touches from Wish You Were Here era, soft piano, and everything a progressive Rock fan can ask for, with a group of musicians that have created something special. By far my favorite song.

Celestial Spheres closes the album in great form, with a frenetic approach where the rhythm section is simply impeccable, as if Wohlmuth and Ackermann had been playing together for decades and like if this wasn't their first release together. Simply delightful song with a wonderful vocal work.

I'm not sure if being pleased or pissed because BLANK MANUSKRIPT made us wait so long for a 23:21 minutes EP instead of another full length album, but let's take it as an advance of a next release that will hopefully reach the market soon.

Almost forgot about the rating??.Less than 4 solid stars would be criminally unfair.

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 Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui by BLANK MANUSKRIPT album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.47 | 12 ratings

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Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui
Blank Manuskript Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars More tales from the Easter Islands....

For some reasons, these very remote islands in the Pacific Ocean has an enduring appeal to symphonic prog bands. Lots of songs and some albums has been dedicated to these rocky outcrops. It's all Thor Heyerdahl's fault, really. Blame it on this blonde, tall viking.

The Austrian band Blank Manuscript's debut album is a concept album about the Easter Islands. Concept albums = the 1970s. Mostly, that is. And yes, this album has a very distinct 1970s feel and sound. The likes of Camel and the British undergrowth of symphonic prog bands springs to mind. You get tonnes of long lingering guitar solos too which reminds me about both Latimer in Camel and Gilmour in Pink Floyd. And the two final Pink Floyd albums is also a good reference source here. In short; the sound is nice, tidy and epic. It is also pretty much has an acoustic instruments sound with both plenty of piano and acoustic guitars. This is not an album dominated by an overkill of electric instruments. "Less Is More" seems to be Blank Manuscript's ethos on this album. Tasteful and elegant is the result.

Unfortunate, the art of good songwriting has not been grasped as well as the sound. The songs here is good, but still too anonymous for my liking. The songs are full of intricate, great details, but they have not been connected properly together into solid entities. That is my gripe with this album. The musicians and the sparse vocals are all great. Hence; I am falling down on a safe three stars verdict.

3 stars

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 Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui by BLANK MANUSKRIPT album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.47 | 12 ratings

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Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui
Blank Manuskript Symphonic Prog

Review by Kotro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Barren landscape

Rapa Nui, more commonly known as Easter Island, was once home to a proud civilization of Polynesian fisherman tribes turned into a relatively advanced proto-imperial society, in which relentless ambition, greed and pure vanity eventually brought warfare and their chaotic decline, dragging the island along in an ecological disaster that turned the once densely forested territory into the eerie landscape now familiar to us, long before the arrival of Europeans. Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui is a brave attempt at a concept album telling that story, a bold move to take in this debut album by Austrian band Blank Manuskript.

After good look at the excellent artwork, we turn to the music. The marine shoreline sounds (waves, gulls) opening Breath of the Island transport us to the setting, with the soon heard tribal drumming and chanting providing the action. Halfway a mid-tempo drumming over an organ melody is introduced, and with it the English narration summarizing the story to be told. Voyage kicks of this musical narrative by means of an up-tempo, quite adventurous sounding track built upon the piano's melody, with some electric guitar and saxophone, vocals appearing halfway in the quieter sections. There is great interplay between piano and electric guitar. Society follows, a song marked by a distinct Camel-like keyboard and guitar riff intro (Lady Fantasy immediately comes to mind). There is great variation within this instrumental track, from the more retro- proggy parts that bookend it to some Caribbean inspired tunes and even Lounge music in its middle sections. The Great War ensues, with a fade-in beginning of mighty riffage (with the omnipresent piano providing the rhythm). As would befit the title of the track, it's a rather violent piece (within the context of the album, obviously). Words come into play midway, with some nice harmonies complementing the weak lead vocals (ridiculously distorted towards the end). After the War Part I is a small acoustic guitar and flute instrumental, not bad, but not remarkable either. Serves as a nice intro to After the War Part II, into which it segues, a track which has a certain Dark Side of the Moon vibe to it, beginning quite slowly and spacey, featuring some good vocals and organ, the electric guitar being played rather delicately as a discreet accompaniment, before it takes centre stage with a couple of good solos as the track builds up some intensity - this song is the first real highlight of an album that has been competent so far, but a bit lacking in excitement. As would suit any new symphonic prog band, we are treated to an epic, The Cult of Birdman. This piece begins with another fade-in of piano, synths, flute, guitar licks and somewhat martial drumming, a very rich tapestry of sounds. The feel of the song is thrilling right from the beginning, and it displays some great musicianship. Vocals remain the weakest link, but they do an ok job conveying the emotion of the track. Throughout its twelve and a half minutes, we are gifted with a series of time and mood shifts, very good melodies, some soloing from various instruments (piano, drums and guitar being the most preeminent), and some great, emotive narration. The Waiting brings the album to an end, an initially piano driven low-tempo song with some unexpected (but rather welcome) female vocals. Percussion drops by towards the middle, giving it a bit more oomph, but keeping the original piano melancholy, augmented by a wailing electric guitar solo and vocals.

As a concept, the album works rather well - it avoided some traps like the overblown and pompous composition usually found on such endeavours, retaining instead a low-key, tasteful approach throughout, without lacking energy and excitement. Unfortunately, that also didn't make for very memorable music. The 12 minute epic is filled with different sections and improvisations all competent but rather unremarkable to make it an unforgettable piece. There is much more talent and success to be found in the track preceding it, After the War Part II. All through the album, there is a bit of a "prog-by- numbers" feel to the music, often bringing to memory some later days symphonic prog bands (namely Asia Minor). The production, while not perfect and lavish, is nonetheless competent. All in all, it sounds a bit sterile, like the barren landscape of Easter Island. But just like Rapa-Nui, it has some mystery to it, and leaves us willing to wait for improvement in future releases by the band.

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 Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui by BLANK MANUSKRIPT album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.47 | 12 ratings

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Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui
Blank Manuskript Symphonic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

4 stars It's always a pleasure to discover new Symphonic bands that show respect for the Classic era of the sub-genre, and don't limit themselves to copy what others did but instead add new elements that prove they have something original to add and that Symphonic doesn't have to be retro Prog as some people believe.

BLANK MANUSKRIPT from Salzburg - Austria, is one of this bands, leaded by Dominik Wallner (Keys, Vocals) and Alfons Wohlmuth (Bass, Flute, Vocals). the band took the risk to present a Conceptual album called Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui as their debut, an album clearly rooted in Symphonic Prog but which combines elements that go from Hard Rock to Psyche and narrative elements and even jazzy passages.

It's surprising how they start the album with Breath of the Island an almost tribal introduction with a sober narration that places the audience in the correct scenario, but immediately they move to Voyage, a track that presents us a whole variety of sounds and influences, that go from Pink Floyd to Procol Harum and even dare to add jazzy passages but without leaving behind that evident Classical - Symphonic atmosphere, managing to make radical changes in such a way that flow naturally, fantastic way to open an album.

The band obviously give high importance to the keyboards but keep a great balance between instruments with excellent guitar work, complex percussion and good natural vocals, something incredibly hard to find on this days where anybody dares to sing based on technology that boosts almost any voice.

Each track gives us a surprise because they change the mood in a matter of seconds, some like The Great War with solid guitars and complex vocal words while others as The Cult of the Birdman that has practically everything a Proghead that respects himself (herself) wants to listen.

A special paragraph for the dramatic and haunting vocals and chorus in The Waiting by Veronika Obermeier, who really touched my soul.

No weak or boring moments, in other words an absolutely solid debut that leaves us with the taste of honey in the lips waiting for their next release.

I rarely give five stars to a debut album, being that I always expect more of the band, and even when in this case I've been tempted to make that exception, I believe BLANK MANUSKRIPT has much more to offer, so I will go with four very solid stars, hoping to hear their second release soon.

Highly recommended for any person interested in high quality music and great performance, that I'm sure no Progressive Rock fan will regret.

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