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Symphonic Prog • Switzerland

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DAWN are Julien Vuataz (bass), Nicolas Gerber (keyboards) and René Degoumois (vocals, guitars). This line-up also includes Patrick Dufresne now replaced by Manu Linder (drums) and Jean-Georges Linsig (guitar) recently replaced on stage by Christophe Dony (keyboards, guitar, vocals).

DAWN creates a symphonic prog with a vintage sound, inspired by the British bands of the seventies. Between 2005 and 2008, DAWN plays several live performances: opening for KANSAS and FISH, playing at the "Montreux Prog Nights" festival they created, at the Progsol (Switzerland) and Prog Sud (France) festivals.

Recorded in November 2007, "Loneliness" is DAWN's first studio effort after a promising demo. This album is about life: dawn and dusk, ups and downs. This record is well balanced, featuring short tracks as well as longer ones. In a nutshell, it's a gem. All CAMEL lovers will recognize Latimer's typical fluid guitars. Add other ingredients such as vintage keyboards (Hammond organ, Mellotron, old Korg), GENESIS touches and forget a rather misleading cover which certainly corresponds to the lyrics but not to the welcome seventies touches and you'll have a giant first step. René Degoumois, Nicolas Gerber, Julien Vuataz and Patrick Dufresne could create their own sound forgetting the too evident influences of the beginning and boost the vocals. Privately (and well) produced, this melancholy and delicate disc really deserves your attention. A dawn of a new prog era in Switzerland after the roaring eighties (FLAME DREAM and co)? For sure, hoping they won't be alone on their planet! Hurry, it seems this record is already sold out!
Highly recommended.

Writtwn by Thierry (France)

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3.86 | 38 ratings
3.75 | 40 ratings

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DAWN Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Darker by DAWN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 40 ratings

Dawn Symphonic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Swiss band DAWN have been an active band for more than a decade, and released their debut album "Loneliness" back in 2007. Following a more barren spell in terms new material, the band signed with prestigious progressive rock label The Laser's Edge, who subsequently released their second studio album "Darker" in 2014.

In the vast expanse that is the progressive rock universe, Dawn is a band that have chosen to situate themselves in a fairly well known and well regarded part of it, namely the one most often described as symphonic progressive rock. As with many other bands of a similar nature, the end result is a production of material that will be familiar sounding, and of what one might describe as a vintage oriented nature.

The key elements throughout are keyboards, organ and Mellotron. Dawn have specified the cornerstones of their expression as one based on vintage sounds in general and the use of Korg and Mellotron in particular, and those fond of progressive rock with these instruments as cornerstones will have a field day with this CD.

The moods and atmospheres of Dawn's music is one of mournful darkness and melancholy, liberally flavored with additional details that stays firmly out within the darker emotions of humanity. Not depressive as such, but dealing with topics that re less than bright and creating music in sync wit the themes explored is probably the best description. In general terms I'm somewhat reminded of Norwegian band Nordagust, but without the details from folk music that gave that band a particular and distinct expression.

Slow to mid-paced material with arrangements alternating from frail and brittle constructions to layered, rich and at times majestic and forceful ones are the main boundary points Dawn explore within for this production, with gentle atmospheric passages reminding ever so slightly of Camel at their most mellow, more edgy movements with organ and guitar combinations closer in style to what Genesis created back in their heyday, alongside richer, layered combinations with vintage keyboards, atmospheric guitar soloing and Mellotron assembled in a manner not too unlike late 70's Pink Floyd. With variations and blends between these three main modes of expression.

Apart from the massive 8945, a creation that becomes a tad too stale and repetitive for my personal taste, I generally find that Dawn manage to explore this type of music in a well developed and suitably intriguing manner as well. The somewhat accented lead vocals may be something of an acquired taste, but otherwise the compositions comes across as solid entities of their kind, and then in particular for those with a taste for symphonic progressive rock of the kind where vintage keyboards and Mellotron are given a liberal amount of room.

 Darker by DAWN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 40 ratings

Dawn Symphonic Prog

Review by Thierry

4 stars They are friends! Yes, they are since I played with / thanks to them in Montreux, that Swiss town famous for its jazz festival and Queen's studio (there's a superb statue by the lake, a moving tribute to Freddie Mercury) with Silver Lining. So it is not that easy speaking of their new album. Their second one, 7 years later. Not because it's bad. On the contrary, it's just excellent. Yes, ex-cel-lent. First because of the vintage instruments used, especially the mellotron. Then thanks to Fripp-like guitars. But the compositions as well as the lyrics are gorgeous too showing that peculiar King Crimson touch, mainly the "Red" era. Don't try finding why it's called "Darker" then!!! This album is certainly the best one of this issue. It deserves five stars. It's hard finding a weak point: perhaps the vocals? I'm not that sure. They are not as brilliant as Wetton's or Lake's but they fit in with the gloomy atmospheres and lyrics. So if you're into King Crimson or the Scandinavian bands such as Anglagard which means the same, run, this gem is for you! A gem? No, a classic!

 Darker by DAWN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 40 ratings

Dawn Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Swiss quartet Dawn originate from the lovely town of Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva , scene of the prestigious Jazz festival as well as immortalized by the classic Deep Purple anthem 'Smoke on the Water'. If you've never been, you should consider visiting this pricy paradise, a tour of the Chateau de Chillon is really well worth the trip. Staffed by the talented keyboardist Nicolas Gerber, the crisp guitar of Rene Degoumois, who doubles on shrill vocals and the bass/drum tandem of Julien Vuataz and Manu Linder, the band has no shortage of chops, especially in view of their tangent towards harder-edged and bombastic symphonic prog, somewhere in the sonic territory of the Scandinavian specialists (Anglagard, Landberk, Wobbler etc..) as well as classic early King Crimson. Their 2007 debut "Loneliness" was quite a revelation, bathing in an austere melancholia that verged on the depressive, a sentiment that continues on the aptly titled follow-up "Darker". The band has been compared to the Flower Kings, perhaps more due to the singer's voice, which has a Pye Hastings meets Roine Stolt pitch but really quite his own tone. In my opinion, the style is much darker (sic) and more atmospheric than the mighty technical Swedes, throwing in some harsher references that owe more to Rush than Genesis but they forge a personal style that offers both technique, musicianship and gripping atmosphere.

"Yesterday's Sorrow" is the dreamy overture, a clearly 70s styled serenity that is all mellotron-infused, simple drum frills as the honor guard, a bright synthesized loop wrapping the package. It sets a positive mood for the otherwise glacial "Cold", a rambunctious nearly 10 minute rampage brutally tortured by a cool bass pattern and a Wobbler-like Nordic tinge. The rabid organ pressures the shrieking chain-saw guitar into action, as the rhythm crew get all bothered up and angry, contrasting with the nearly angelic vocals, a shimmering game of contrasts and hews. There is a sense of grittiness, despair and polite rage, a seemingly dysfunctional malaise imbibes the piece when the reptilian bass gets settled into a basic and relentless groove, this will definitely appeal to those who prefer more somber prog.

Phew, after that somewhat unfriendly onslaught, what more than another epic piece, almost identical in length and drama, the bruising title track "Darker"? The mood is starker, denser and even experimental at times, searching out deep sentiments and sonic reflections that go beyond the casual neo/symph approach. Guitarist Degoumois searches out glistening boundaries, more linear desperation than flickering technique, using a tone that is closer to Robert Fripp in sustaining notes for unbearable lengths. It's definitely grim, neurotic and hinges on the painful.

"Lullabies for Gutterflies" is a brief side show, contrastingly playful, rhythmically repetitive and obsessive, the mood is very much like a musical merry-go-round. It preps the listener for the piece de resistance, the cataclysmic "8945". If that number means nothing to you, let me offer a historical explanation. The 9th of August 1945 was the date when the plutonium atom bomb "Fat Man" devastated the town of Nagasaki, Japan, de facto ending WW2 with 70,000 casualties (over half within seconds of the blast , the balance by the end of the year). Three days after Hiroshima was levelled, this town was pulverized and Imperial Japan surrendered forthwith. 'God, bless science' Rene sings! Dawn broodingly construct a 19 minute anti-war and anti-bomb rant. 'Welcome to the atomic age'. The anguished guitar work is furious and despondent, in an almost punky tone, the drums binary and a sweepingly sad synth provide the all the radiating tears. Mellotron? Oh, yeah! Nothing pretty and serene here, folks! President Harry S. Truman makes multiple cameo appearances, a classic progressive formula of infusing history with music. The entire piece is gruesomely effective, combining various calamitous sections that ensure shock and pain, agonizing deliberate and wretched. The mighty mellotron gets quite the workout from Gerber, pounding away on the black and white board with unabashed scorn. Needless to state the explosive mushroom cloud is to be expected. Ka-boom!

After such a demonic attack on the senses, the next track does sound somewhat "Out of Control", to say the least! It is quite apparent that there are some veiled Genesis influences, the Rutherford-like bass circa Watcher of the Skies, as well as some keyboard lunges that come from the Tony Banks school of intense revelry. Hey, after the bomb, there is a slight sense of dysfunctional revival, no? The mellotron-drenched finale with its guitar auxiliary is stunning, slow and deliberate.

"Lost Anger" is a brief little tune, with an overt Genesis /Ant Phillips feel, could easily have warranted further development and wind up as a more epic piece. In fact, it rather serves as a proper intro the final piece the 10 minute + "Endless", a more vocal-vehiculated arrangement that gradually spins into a vertical atmosphere loaded with rich mellotron and Cartesian electric guitar interfaces , something nearer to classic early KC, as well as that Banks-styled synth playing that permeates Gerber's universe. Excellent finish.

There is little doubt that the longer tracks are oozing symphonic grandeur and as such, will appeal to prog fans in search of dense sensations and spirited instrumental darkness.

4 obscure beginnings

 Darker by DAWN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.75 | 40 ratings

Dawn Symphonic Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Albums such as Dawn's new effort "Darker" are extremely difficult to rate. The reason for this is that the album itself is actually rather good. I believe it is derivative, however, and therein lies my conundrum. Dawn hails from Switzerland, a country that I don't hear much of in the way of prog. Their sophomore album certainly lives up to its name, and I feel that is its greatest asset.

"Darker" is an album full of lush keyboards, dark guitars, and throbbing bass environments. The band plays very well, and I'm especially impressed with Nicolas Gerber on keys. His Hammond organ swells and loops material with precision and changes in octave that come at just the right moment. It's a very effective foundation for the rest of the music. However, René Degoumois on guitars is also very talented, especially the emotive, high- tuned portions that stand against a blackened aura. Julien Vuataz on bass and Manu Linder on drums combine to craft a rhythm section that gurgles and flares when needed, and they both display their fair share of incredible musicianship. There is no question, then, that this band can play.

If I had to liken Dawn to another band, it would be The Flower Kings, for sure. Sure, there are hints of Floyd, King Crimson, and maybe even Riverside, but The Flower Kings seem to be everywhere in this album. In fact, the dark pondering about war that permeates "Darker" is very much in line with The Flower Kings' "Desolation Rose" from last year. This is a shame, in my opinion. Even with his accent, René Degoumois on vocals sounds so much like Stolt. These guys are obviously much better than a TFK clone, and they show it every once in a while with lengthy instrumentals, a dark environment, and other ways. However, they always go back to that TFK sound. I like TFK, but I don't need other bands to sound just like them.

All is not lost, however. What Dawn does, they do well. This album is full of rolling instrumental brilliance, some creative portions (Lullabies for Gutterflies), and a mastery of climactic ideas. I especially appreciate "Cold" with its keyboard swells; the title track for its, well, darkness; and "Endless" for its magnificent conclusion. My favorite, however, is "8945", a masterful epic track that is not only brilliant musically, but is also sullenly profound. The album seems to center on the ravages of war and man's terrifying abilities to destroy. Against this backdrop, they add in the horrors of men killing in the name of God. It's harsh stuff, and it elevates this album considerably.

"Darker", then, is not a lost cause. I do believe the band needs to branch out their sound, but the lyrical content and the slightly darker, less humorous side are a welcome differentiation from The Flower Kings material. This a great album that I think deserves anyone's time, but know that you are in for a dark journey that will leave you wondering, "What have we done?"

3.5 stars

 Loneliness by DAWN album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.86 | 38 ratings

Dawn Symphonic Prog

Review by mbzr48

5 stars Dawn is a fantastic newer symphonic rock band from Switzerland. I'll cut to the chase...keyboardist Nicolas Gerber channels the sounds that Tony Banks forgot to bring along with him on the recent Genesis reunion. This album is filled with tons of Mellotron and analog synth sounds that any fan of old school prog will freak over. For some odd reason, vocalist/guitarist Rene Degoumois constantly reminds me of the gentle tones of Pye Hastings. Bassist Julien Vuataz and Patrick Dufresne hold down the rhythmic fort quite well. Lots of long tunes give the band plenty of opportunity to stretch out. For such a young band they have developed a great knack for structuring a tune around "the big moment" - that's the point in the tune where your jaw drops and you get the Hackett's solo on "Firth Of Fifth". Clearly a band we will be hearing a lot more from.

All things considered this is a remarkably mature opening album for 'Dawn' and for me at any rate it contains little, if anything, that fails to please.

I sincerely hope that Dawn will be able to maintain the impressive form they have shown on this, their first album, and I for one look forward to more and better things to come. If there is such a thing as justice in the world, then Dawn are certainly destined to become a well known name in the years ahead.

I can't wait to listen to the new album "Darker", one thing I never understood is why new bands that have no track record are not making the album cover amazingly attractive to catch the potential (buyer's) listeners attention? on "Darker" they did even a worse cover job, stupid! I guess "don't judge an (a book) album by it's cover" comes here to life!

Highly recommended. for me 4.5 stars rounded to 5

 Loneliness by DAWN album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.86 | 38 ratings

Dawn Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Dawn came in life in Montreux, Switzerland through the friendship of schoolmates Julien Vuataz (bass) and Rene Degoumois (vocals, guitars).The official formation of the band is detected sometime around 2005 with the addition of Nicolas Gerber on keyboards.Two demos later and with Patrick Dufresne behind the drum kit Dawn felt ready to tape their ideas and writing process on a CD.Thus, ''Loneliness'' saw the light in 2007.

Dawn attempted to do what hunderds of bands tried a decade behind: Capture the essence of Classic groups of the 70's and add a touch of personality to come up with a symphonic-oriented Prog Rock album.The result is pretty nice and close to the likes of TRANSATLANTIC and MAGIC PIE, although their sound has a bit of a Nordic feeling akin to ANGLAGARD and WOBBLER at moments through plenty of melancholic touches, the emotional singing lines and a more pronounced KING CRIMSON-like atmosphere in the guitar parts, which are not that complex but contain often a slightly jazzy vibe.The music of Dawn is built on beautiful keyboard themes, a raw rhythm section and a diverse guitarist and passes through symphonic textures with huge Mellotron waves, discreet electric piano and atmospheric acoustic piano images.The atmosphere is doomy with downtempo parts and rare take-offs regarding the rhythm, but the music remains fairly interesting until the end with lots of breaks, dramatic soundscapes and unexpected twists with virtuosic solos among the tight orchestrations.There are also plenty of synth flashes throughout but not in a Neo Prog way, here the sound remains strongly symphonic close to COLLAGE's more melodic and bombastic material.Very nice stuff, which is quite often powered by dual keyboard techniques and smooth, slightly psychedelic outakes.

Mission completed for Dawn.A nice Symphonic Rock effort with dark themes yet still some more emotional segments with atmospheric, instrumental executions.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Loneliness by DAWN album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.86 | 38 ratings

Dawn Symphonic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars I guess retro-prog's growth has now grown well outside Scandinavia's frontiers (it had spread to the US with Discipline, Maxwell's Demon and Deadwood Forest) and it is now building a nest (chalet?) in the Swiss Jura Mountains with Dawn's debut album. Lead by singing guitarist Decoumois and keyboardist Gerber (the songwriters), the group has an unspecified (that's a change for a retro-prog group) array of vintage instruments to sound like the golden decade, but it doesn't restrict itself to the typical 70's symphonic style as it delves into dissonant improvs once in a while.

Opening on the eponymous track, a synth ostinato hovers over and around a pulsing bass, before Ducoumois' opening verse trigger the mellotron and the melancholic floodgates are widely opened. The almost 8-mins Rain On The Moon is slightly more neo-sounding than its retro-sounding predecessor, but it is nothing scandalous (a little pique to my neo-loving collabs, here) and you should survive it no problems. The 11-mins+ Brook is a melancholic (and bucolic) develops a Crimson-ian atmosphere even if the filtered spoken vocals is a little cheesy, the track meandering wildly between heard-elsewhere moments and original passages. The title track is definitely a melancholic track that fits quite well in the album's mould, with again so Crimson-oid influences, worn a little too loud on their sleeves.

Obviously you're all waiting for the album's foundation stone, the 18-mins Story Of Nobody, a slow-starting monster track with a slightly dissonant piano and tom-drum rolls that could easily be from Floyd, but past that intriguing intro, the track jumps straight into a retro/neo- like verse and chorus, softened by trons of melo, where the organ fills up the space left by an absent guitar. The track then veers spacey/cosmic with a (finally-present) wailing guitar soaring over the near-whispering voice and a great second solo, before going back to the retro/neo-sounding passage previously heard. However goods this Nobody's Story may be, the track doesn't escape a few lengths, especially in the "Mr Nobody"-yelling moments. The closing Dusk is mainly a keyboard (piano and melotron) track where Ducoumois is reminiscent of Harmonium's Fiori timbre and is a great finale to a robust and emotional album.

With a spatial artwork that could've been easily enhanced, Loneliness should occupy you for a few hours/days if you are indeed suffering from that predicament, but in the end, your mileage of this album will probably dwindle as years go by, but in the meantime, you're likely to love it. Dawn's debut is pleasant enough for most prospecting progheads to investigate and maybe invest.

Thanks to proglucky for the artist addition.

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