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FOR ABSENT FRIENDS

Neo-Prog • Netherlands


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For Absent Friends biography
Although they share their name with that of an old GENESIS acoustic ballad, this Dutch band bears no relation to ballady or folksy types. Dynamic and direct, their albums focus on strong melodies with energetic themes, the emotional vocals of Alex Toonen and the tight, economical keyboard play of Peter de Jong. It's a blend of sophisticated hard rock and neo prog whose influence ranges from ARAGON and GENESIS to RUSH and early MARILLION. They've won the "De Grote Prijs van Nederland" in 1987 and have played as supporting act for IQ, MARILLION, ASIA and SAGA among others. Through many personnel changes (among which keyboard player de Jong who left the band after 10 years), they have released a total of 6 albums between 1990 and 2001. Red Sea Label has also released a double compilation CD in 1998.

It is in 1994 that they really took off, with their third album "Running in Circles" which contains some of their best hard rock/neo-prog numbers. With the following "FAF Out of HAL" (95), made up of half studio and half live tracks, they started to slowly slip off the prog wagon to adopt a more mainstream approach. None of their 6 albums are actually bad; they are simply not very instrumentally complex - no guitar or keyboard pyrotechnics here. Neo-prog fans will appreciate the crisp guitar breaks, the strong melodies, the outstanding vocals and the flawless production.

Prog purists should abstain but if you're a fan of the bands above, or if you like your "Grand Illusion" (STYX) and "Crime of the Century" 9SUPERTRAMP), you may want to lend them an ear.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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Square OneSquare One
Musea 2006
Audio CD$17.26
$13.99 (used)
Both WorldsBoth Worlds
SI Music
Audio CD$24.29
$34.80 (used)
The Big RoomThe Big Room
Mark Anthony Productions
Audio CD$24.29
$26.74 (used)
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FOR ABSENT FRIENDS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

FOR ABSENT FRIENDS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 15 ratings
Both Worlds
1991
2.76 | 12 ratings
Running In Circles
1994
1.78 | 8 ratings
Tintinnabulation
1996
1.74 | 7 ratings
The Big Room
2001
2.95 | 9 ratings
Square One
2006

FOR ABSENT FRIENDS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.10 | 6 ratings
FAF Out Of HAL
1995

FOR ABSENT FRIENDS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

FOR ABSENT FRIENDS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.75 | 4 ratings
Decade
1998

FOR ABSENT FRIENDS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.21 | 9 ratings
Illusions
1990
4.00 | 1 ratings
If Love
2002
4.00 | 1 ratings
Silly Love Song
2002
4.00 | 1 ratings
We Can Not
2004

FOR ABSENT FRIENDS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Both Worlds by FOR ABSENT FRIENDS album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.00 | 15 ratings

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Both Worlds
For Absent Friends Neo-Prog

Review by Gerinski
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I feel a bit sorry to give this album only 2 stars because it's actually quite a nice melodic pop- rock record with some prog traces, but evaluated as a prog album it really does not deserve more. Imagine gathering the most melodic-pop fragments of bands like Pendragon, Jadis, Iluvatar and even a bit of Fish-era Marillion (the title track starts with an arpeggio reminiscent of "Lavender") and making a collection, and you get an idea of what this album sounds like.

All the songs are very melodic and pleasant, easy listening without requiring concentration, the voice of singer Alex Toonen is good, the production is good, there is enough variation in tempos and moods, and the sound is typical neo-prog, but it does not offer much more than this.

It contains a few prog elements here and there but too few to be really considered as proper prog rock. If the guys would have developed these musical themes in a bit more elaborated and proggy way, this album could be a respectable contender to other neo-prog bands like Jadis, Illuvatar or Clepsydra, but as it is, it remains mostly in the category of pop-rock.

The instrumentation is correct but not complex, with only the guitar trying to make something a bit more interesting (a very little bit).

If your girlfriend (or boyfriend) does not like prog and you are looking for some compromise music which she will like and you will not dislike too much, this album can be a good option.

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 Running In Circles  by FOR ABSENT FRIENDS album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.76 | 12 ratings

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Running In Circles
For Absent Friends Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars For absent friends is dutch neo prog band formed in late'80's. To tell the truth I ever saw here on PA, at least the bands I've reviewed so far so low rated, each album, strange, because I put my hand on their second release from 1994 amed Running in circles and it doesn't seams bad to me at all. Taken influences from neo bands from the glorius '80's neo prog movement, like Pallas and in places Marillion, but aswell they are similar to me with Salem Hill for ex or Big Big train, at least the first albums. Not a very complex neo prog, but to my ears well played and with pleasent moments. The guitar and keys are well constructed but they don't shine, only doing what they know best. Alex Toonen has a perfect voice for this kind of music, never crossing the line with some fantastic high and low vocal lines, but his range can cover easely what his mates try to play - nep prog. I like what I heared here, I was quite shocked to see al their album rated under 3 stars, some of thenm under 2 stars, at least this second offer was a good one. Nothing over the top or excellent, but pleasent to my ears for sure. I will give 3 stars easy, good one. All the pieces re ok, with a plus on the instrumental one The bald, the fat and the ugly or Passing Days. As the previous reviwer observed this is uninspared album of course but ot bad at all. 3 stars for Running in circles. Quite unnoticed band , eve for dutch auditorium, this album I guess needs a better view, not bad at all but nothing grounbreaking either.

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 Illusions by FOR ABSENT FRIENDS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1990
3.21 | 9 ratings

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Illusions
For Absent Friends Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Honestly, I´m still trying to find out why this dutch band is on the neo prog categorization. For Absent Friends is not really even a progressive group: their name (bearing one of Genesis early songs) is quite misleading. FAF plays a very sophisticated pop rock. It has some strong prog influences, especially on the keyboards arrangements, very good. But clearly this is not a neo prog band. So if you´re looking for something like Marillion, Pendragon, IQ or Pallas, forget it. They are nothing like that. Prog Related would be a more fitting label, I guess.

If you´re looking for melodic rock, well played, arranged and with strong songwriting, then you may find something very interesting. Those 3 songs on this EP are very good and highly enjoyable. Production could be a little better, but does not spoil the overall sound. If this was a straight rock or AOR site this wold be a 4 star rating at least. For PA, 3 stars.

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 Decade by FOR ABSENT FRIENDS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
2.75 | 4 ratings

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Decade
For Absent Friends Neo-Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars An Easy Listening Prog .like Sylvan

Again, it's another band name inspired by Genesis' unusual song which in fact the music has nothing to do with Genesis at all. For first spin of the CD, I could sense that the music of For Absent Friends is more similar to the music of Sylvan or Carptree. Most of songs are easy listening and nothing is truly complicated. There are passages that lend themselves from the kind of IQ or Pallas music but for sure this kind of music is far away from early Marillion neo prog vein. You can find the kind of soft riffs typical in IQ or Palls especially on songs like "Boy" or "Attitude" and some sort of ambient music in "The Stone" - which has nice keyboard work and catchy melody. If you are familiar with Sylvan later albums, you would find close proximity of For Absent Friends' music with Sylvan. The vocal quality is also as good as Sylvan.

For those who like a bit complicated and similar to neo prog music might find it interesting to enjoy "The Bald, The Fat, And The Ugly" which in a way it's a combination of IQ, Jadis and a flavor of early Marillion. The keyboard player and vocal are very key in this band. The last track of Disc One "Moving On" might bring you to the journey of typical neo prog music with its keyboard-based composition. You will also find that the combined guitar and soft keyboard work at "Higher Level" is interesting as well. In fact, this is a very good song with catchy melody, powerful vocal line.

While "Into Love" brings you to the neo prog nuance with relatively upbeat music at opening followed with slower tempo when vocal enters. It continues in similar vein with "Never Ending Rain" which demonstrates dynamic bass lines and excellent keyboard work. "Faf" is another good track in relatively fast tempo with music in the vein of Pallas or Jadis or Arena. "Each and Evryday" starts with a beautiful soft keyboard work in ambient nuance followed nicely by vocal in mellow style. It's a catchy song with nice melody.

Overall, I can only say that this is a good compilation of music which can accompany you in your relax time because there is practically no complex arrangements from their compositions. It's digestible for most people, I think. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 Square One by FOR ABSENT FRIENDS album cover Studio Album, 2006
2.95 | 9 ratings

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Square One
For Absent Friends Neo-Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars "FIVE YEARS, WHAT A SURPRISE"

Not willing to mimic "Bowie" in one of his great songs ("Five Years" of course), but this is exactly the time that separates the last two albums from this Dutch Band.

And when I heard "Hello World" the opening number, I just wondered why they haven't called it quit. So far, they released average (four) to poor (two) albums. At best, the band sounds melodic, but lately this aspect has been dropped for a more AOR-ish sound.

The same sort of adventure awaits you with "Stick Around" unfortunately. The quiet "Call It Chance" is received as a nice present in comparison. A soft rock ballad, finally melodic and featuring an excellent guitar break. Probably one of my favourite song in their whole repertoire (but it is true to say that there aren't many).

Their popish aspect is present in the title track. Somewhat harder and "Muse" oriented in the structure. Not too bad after all. It ends almost as "Wonder" opens. This one is the longest song of "Square One" and its strengths are also its weaknesses.

Actually, its diversity makes it like several songs patched up together without lots of unity. But for once that the band writes some more complex music, let's not discourage them. Another good guitar break at the end of this piece is welcome as well.

It seems that FAF has learned from Mostly Autumn : almost each song is punctuated with a very good guitar solo at the end. It is again the case for "Berlin Wall", and it is its only attraction.

Another attraction is the closing number. It is a cover version of an Ange song featured on their album : Les Larmes Du Dalaï Lama. This version of Le Ballon De Billy is more rock oriented and features partial vocals in English (written by Hans van Lint) and French ones (sung by Christian and hsi son Francis). Even if I prefer the original one, I have to say that it was quite a surprise to listen this one on a FAF album (called simply Billy here).

This album is on par with their first two ones. At times enjoyable but I can't really say that it is a good album. Two stars.

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 The Big Room  by FOR ABSENT FRIENDS album cover Studio Album, 2001
1.74 | 7 ratings

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The Big Room
For Absent Friends Neo-Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

1 stars I discovered this band some four years ago and when I decided to review their work, my memory vaguely reminded me that their music sounded melodic and easy listening.

But my memory didn't serve me well I'm afraid.

This work is pretty boring. Only one song is worth your attention. The title track, which is the longest song here, features some very good theme changes, a more complex texture than usual and a great guitar solo at the end of the song. A highlight (a rare bird on this album).

Apart from this one, nothing else than uninspired music. Indeed popish but with a complete absence of a single catchy melody ("Silly Love Song", "If Love".). The latter being really painful. Poor of me!

Some heavier sounds than before as well during the AOR-ish "Giving Up". But the general feeling while listening to the naive rock ballad "Little Things" is dulness. Just to mention another positive comment, I admit that the guitar sounds nice during this song.

What comes next is not brilliant. "Higher Level", is not properly titled IMO. "Lower Level" should have been more appropriate. And since the band gently ask "Don't Hurt Me", I won't do it but I can tell you that this funky tune is one of their worse ever.

The good point about "The One" is that it is the closing number and that I have been through the whole of this album with little damages (since it is not a long one.).

One star.

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 Tintinnabulation by FOR ABSENT FRIENDS album cover Studio Album, 1996
1.78 | 8 ratings

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Tintinnabulation
For Absent Friends Neo-Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars It is true to say that the more you listen to this band, the less exciting you feel. Their pleasant melodies sound catchy the first time you your hear them, but after a few spins, they are just not working any longer.

This album is not different from their previous ones. Third division neo-prog. Even if the opener is pleasant and features nice and catchy chorus and a very melodic mood. And "FAF" is trying to come up with the same sort of tune all along "Tintinnabulation".

Mellowish, syrupy and not effective music ("Don't Say"). Listening to this entire album is almost like listening to a long and unique song. Same structure, same tone. At times, a more interesting melody ("Ignorance") are bringing back some hope but globally there is no highlight on this album.

The track which comes the closest to this status is the good instrumental "Way Out Of Line". Fully guitar-oriented and emotional (à la "Pendragon").

I wonder if they did it on purpose, but to call one of their songs "Waste Of Time" shows a great sense of humour. Press next. And get the AOR-ish "Too Late". The last three numbers are weak, but a good electric guitar solo is shining at the end of Boy. The only reason to mention the track, though (same applies to Father, the closing number.

I will be generous and rate this one with two stars thanks to "Nowhere to Run" and "Ignorance"; but this shouldn't be enough to be of interest for most of the progheads.

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 FAF Out Of HAL by FOR ABSENT FRIENDS album cover Live, 1995
2.10 | 6 ratings

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FAF Out Of HAL
For Absent Friends Neo-Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

1 stars This " FAF" album is not really great. But none of their albums were so far.

This one holds one short unreleased song (Looking for Love). Like most of these (unreleased I mean), it should have been better to remain so. It's mellow popish and poor. Sounds as a demo track and it's absolutely of no value.

One of the best moments (there won't be many) is the edited version of "Downtown", but it's just a commercial trick I guess. Original version was better and is also featured in onther version further on.

This Dutch band had released two albums prior to this one. I don't think it was useful to get some sort of a compilation work with such a short repertoire. This album is a combination of acoustic and live numbers actually.

I never have liked the "unplugged" exercise and this one is no exception. "Memories" is slightly better thanks to some drumming and piano backings but all these songs aren't benefiting anything from being converted to acoustic. A bit duller I guess. The palm going to "The Fight" but "Dreamer" is almost on par. Dreadful.

The only section that is bearable is the live one. One song from their first album and four from their latest release "Running In Circles" which was not a jewel to say the least. Two pleasant numbers here and that's it. Two prog-pop songs which a pleasant melody and a catchy chorus. An attempt to sound as the genuine "Marillion" but let's be honest, "FAF" is far to be as creative as them. Just easy listening music.

The second one is my fave from this release : "Running Scared" is rocking OK and the upbeat tempo is very much welcome but this is not an interesting album. Far from the brilliance of so many other Dutch bands. But the audience is reacting very well during the live songs. I can't say the same about my impression.

One star.

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 Running In Circles  by FOR ABSENT FRIENDS album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.76 | 12 ratings

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Running In Circles
For Absent Friends Neo-Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This confidential Dutch neo-prog band doesn't seem to make unanimity on PA. Very few reviews and very low ratings.

There won't be drastic changes in their second work. Some numbers are pleasant while you are listening to them while cooking for instance ("Into Love"); There is even one very good song which might inspire you while preparing the starter like "Downtown" which is the highlight here.

Of course if you are looking for some good ideas for the main course, "A New Day" is absolutely not recommended. Very poor and boring. If ever you were preparing some Hollandaise sauce, it will probably drop. Since your guests will soon arrive, and that you are short of inspiration your expectations are oriented on "Passing Days".

Some nice but childish vocal parts pretend to give you some hints and bring back your confidence. But still, you have no clue what will come next on the menu. And you are almost "Running Scared", like the title of the fifth song from this album.

So, you analyse what is the taste of your visitors. They don't like this, that is only passable. But this song is finally another good one. Catchy chorus, great beat and very good guitar work. Hey, man! You're almost saved. You are going to prepare some Maine lobster with fresh vegetable and marvellous Normandy cream.

Now you need to find the best wine to get along with it. And "Someone Like You" is rather misleading. You only know that a dry white one will do it. But you would have liked some better inspiration than that.

You have used too much cream for the sauce and there is a definite need of break awaiting the cheese plate. The Flight is going to provide you the necessary sleeping time. After this refreshing sleep, you might need to watch a good movie but The Bald, The Fat And The Ugly is not what you had expected. You were thinking of the great The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and this instrumental doesn't meet the expectations.

So, everybody is now ready for the desert. If your Memories serve you right you will prepare a sweet, simple ice cream because at this time there is little room for a creative pastry or a heavy chocolate mousse. At this time there is only one thing to do. While listening to Nights, the whole party jsut escaladate the stairs and get some well deserved rest.

If, like me, you are a passionate cooker, you would probably listen to "CTTE", "SEBTP", TIAB or "WYWH" to be able to elaborate a better dinner. But if you do so, there are plenty of chances that you will be so attracted by the music that there won't be any dinner at all.

For the sake of your guests, do listen to "Running In Circles" instead. At least they'll get something to eat.

Two stars for this uninspired, but not bad album.

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 Both Worlds by FOR ABSENT FRIENDS album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.00 | 15 ratings

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Both Worlds
For Absent Friends Neo-Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars If ever you would like to listen to a simple and pop progressive music, "For Absent Friends" might be one out of many bands out there who could be of interest.

But be warned, their music is "user-friendly" and not extremely varied. This album contains some good and melodic songs like "Both Worlds" but it is difficult to find a real highlight. I also believe that the name they have chosen is more appropriate for a "Genesis" cover band.

The music displayed in this album has little to do with the early history of the great band we all love. Vaguely inspired when they were three, maybe ("Never Ending Rain") but I guess that we all agree that these weren't their best times.

This album won't be the desert island one. Because after several spinning, you will get bored, I'm afraid. The good point from this album is the guitar play which stands out if compared to the other instruments. The lead singer isn't bad per se, but his tone of voice is rather mellow which doesn't really keep the interest in their music very high ("Still Loving You").

I think that the worse in here is "FAF" (for absent friends.). A syrupy ballad which you would just like to skip (even if it features a good acoustic guitar section). The end of the song being really boring and cliché (thunderstorm, rain .).

This album is more pop than prog oriented IMO. Just listen to the intro of "Tell Me" to get the confirmation. Still, its length will allow some more variety than usual. But don't expect miracles.

"Both Worlds" is best heard while you are doing another activity. Pleasant backing music but there is no need to sit down and depict it extensively. It is the type of album that sounds pleasant while you hear it for the first time. But the more you do so, the more you notice that it is flat.

Two stars.

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