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ROUSSEAU

Symphonic Prog • Germany


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Rousseau biography
Excellent band from Germany who has 5 great albums in his discography. Their music can be described like an hybrid between CAMEL and NOVALIS. Music is very rich, with melodic guitar, flutes and a romantic touch in their lyrics.

ROUSSEAU were formed in 1977 by Ali Pfeffer, Georg Hutchmacher, Peter Stutz, Ulla Boos and Cristoph Huster. First album "Flower in Asphalt" was released in 1980 (after the change of two members in the original line-up), with a notable success in Germany. Three years later, the second album "Retreat" was issued, but not with the same success than the previous, because in those years in Germany new musical waves stole attention of prog rock. In 1987, ROUSSEAU released their last album from the 80´s, "Square The Circle", with line-up´s changes again and good reviews, but not with a great success.

After this, members of ROUSSEAU start to write songs for some side projects and this was the "dead" of ROUSSEAU... but in 2002, 16 years after their last studio album, ROUSSEAU joined again and issued another album - a very good album with a sound more classical than the previous and with some very good instrumental passages. This album was called "At The Cinema", and was published by French label "MUSEA", who also re-released their back catalogue.

- Javier Ros Mellado, SPAIN

Rousseau official website

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ROUSSEAU discography


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ROUSSEAU top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.42 | 44 ratings
Flower in Asphalt
1980
3.63 | 32 ratings
Retreat
1983
2.99 | 22 ratings
Square the Circle
1987
2.12 | 10 ratings
At The Cinema
2002

ROUSSEAU Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ROUSSEAU Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

3.05 | 6 ratings
One Step up... Two back
2008

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

ROUSSEAU Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Flower in Asphalt by ROUSSEAU album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.42 | 44 ratings

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Flower in Asphalt
Rousseau Symphonic Prog

Review by maryes

3 stars I entirely agree with the PA biography from this German band which says "Their music can be described like an hybrid between CAMEL and NOVALIS. Music is very rich, with melodic guitar, flutes ... ) , however , I think which this isn't a balanced album. Because, between the 7 tracks that composed the album, some are exceptional tracks...Like the first track "Skylight" simply brilliant and tracks 3 " Flower in asphalt" with some very different passages and track 6 "Fool's Fantasy" mixing heavy/symphonic and a passage which starts around 1 min 46 sec and follow until 2 min and 46 sec which a certain R I O "mood" ( one of the best tracks of the album), some other tracks are not so good like the second track "Glockenrock" with a percussion passage in the midlle of the track , which in my opinion sounds "out of tune' in relationship to major part of tracks.Anotherr track that don't please me is the track 4 " Le Grand Revier" with a repetitive melody. Although I must make the mention that this album deserves a place in my collection, my rate is only 3 stars - Good but Not Essential !
 Square the Circle by ROUSSEAU album cover Studio Album, 1987
2.99 | 22 ratings

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Square the Circle
Rousseau Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars To run a progressive band though mid-80's was really hard.Rousseau's members decided to abandon any live performances and focus on songwriting for the next years, as they all had daytime jobs and full dedication the the band's needs was hard to come.Limited promotion and exposure of their sound almost caused the dissolution of the band, when some interest in their older albums surfaced from countries like France and Japan.A fresh line-up appears in 1986, when they released independently their third album ''Square the circle''.Christoph Masbaum switched from guitars to bass in order to welcome new guitarist Uwe Schilling, while the main singer of the band was one Dieter Mueller.A few guests helped the band on cello and violin for this album, which was soon reissued by Musea Records.

Musically Rousseau never actually abandoned their progressive roots.Their style had this discreet Teutonic vibe from the late-70's and the deep sense of melody is always displayed on their soft, polished arrangements, led by smooth symphonic textues and relaxing themes.So, soundwise the band followed more or less the sound of the previous releases: Ultra-melodic guitar tunes, mellow keyboards lines in addition with some flute and strings, with CAMEL being again the main reference point.The real problem comes from the overall approach, which is tightly linked to the year of release: The keyboards are quite thin and synthetic, the music is extremely relaxing, avoiding the true risks of the progressive spirit, while there are even some New Age-drenched landscapes and unrelated underlines, such as Latin and funky touches.Of course not all pieces contain such flaws, practically the longer the piece is, the more progressive it gets.Do not expect though a rich sound, even if flutes are combined with keyboards and guitars, Rousseau always offered secure, melodic compositions in this album with limited vocals and extended, instrumental themes.Just some more energy would be more than welcome.''Avenue du printemps'' and Timeless'' seems like the top entries of the album, nice CAMEL-esque Prog from mid- to late-70's with delicate flute parts and a sensitive electric background.

I can't get over these weak keyboard tunes, especially if speaking for such a nice band like Rousseau.I guess all 70's/80's CAMEL fans will be rewarded, for the rest expect a decent, melodic prog listening with all the flaws of an 80's production...2.5 stars.

 At The Cinema by ROUSSEAU album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.12 | 10 ratings

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At The Cinema
Rousseau Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Rousseau is a German outfit that released three albums in the Eighties (all of which are available on Musea), and after fourteen years with nothing have released an album of all new material. I have to say that this quite a strange album to play as it is virtually an instrumental followed by a song, followed by an instrumental all the way through which is certainly uncommon. The album commences with a piano-led instrumental, which although quite short and pleasant did make me think that I would be listening to an album of laid back classical instrumentals and nothing else.

But, the songs themselves are quite different, and are sung in English so they are easy to understand. This is music that is very heavily influenced by Camel, and nothing wrong with that I hear you say. Jörg Schwarz has a voice that is sometimes reminiscent of Nick Barrett and if another band could be looked for within Rousseau's music than it would be Pendragon, particularly when it is uplifting and full of pomp. I would have preferred to hear an album that wasn't quite so formulaic in it's' outlook and containing less of the instrumentals but overall this is a pleasant listen while not groundbreaking or earth shattering.

Originally appeared in Feedback #71, Dec 02

 Square the Circle by ROUSSEAU album cover Studio Album, 1987
2.99 | 22 ratings

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Square the Circle
Rousseau Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars After a promising and fairly successful debut album, ROUSSEAU decided to add vocals on about half the tracks on "Retreat", perhaps sensing that the 1980s would be a nadir of sorts for delicate chamber prog, never a booming genre to be sure. The result was an artistic peak, with the elegant melodies on flutes, strings, and guitars woven with Herbert G Ruppik's gruffly romantic pipes. The light Latin flavor of these songs complemented the cool precision of the classically inspired meanderings like a hearth fire on a snowy eave.

Four years later, the band returned with a similar collection. The full-on influence of the decade does affect the staying power of the tinny synthesizers, but the CAMEL influence reigns, and is perceptible from the opening cut, especially when Uwe Schilling's lead guitars break out. The closest cameline reference would be "Missing" from the marvelous "Stationary Traveller". Vocally, the most notable contributions are the lively "Fade Away", and the more romantic "Isle of Light" and "As If Painted".

Instrumentally, while this is relatively simple for prog, plenty of allowance is made for shifts in mood and theme, even as the transition might be more like that between sleep and early awakening, or lying in bed and sitting up. The lengthiest, "Winter's Tale", would be the go to cut for these aspects, and the mesmerizing fade out might well have influenced early works by the Swiss neo prog group CLEPSYDRA.

ROUSSEAU might be an easy band to pick on. The generally magnanimous All Music Guide had a few choice words for their unctuousness, yet they never pretend to be anything else, even as they more than occasionally offer succinct demonstrations of aptitude in all aspects of their work. This understatement fundamentally embodies ROUSSEAU's inner spark. "Square the Circle" can't match "Retreat" for uniformity and impact, but, in terms of geometric astral allusions, it sounds like 3 stars.

 Retreat  by ROUSSEAU album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.63 | 32 ratings

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Retreat
Rousseau Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars There was still some room for Progressive Rock music in Germany during the 80's as history prooved with the case of Rousseau, who's album ''Flower in Asphalt'' received decent radio airplay and press feedback, leading the band to several live shows.However Jörg Schwarz decided to leave the band in 1981 and he was replaced by Christoph Masbaum.In 1983 Rousseau entered the Spygel Studios in Kirchheim and recorded their sophomore album ''Retreat'', which was released on the obscure Sri Lanca label.They were joined also by Herbert Ruppik, who contributed vocals in a few songs.

Musically Rousseau insisted on playing melodic Progressive Rock with blinks in the Symphonic Rock movement of the 70's, which was the band's biggest inspiration.The biggest difference to ''Flower in Asphalt'' was certainly the addition of some vocal tracks among the familiar instrumental ones, which were more easy-listening, still maintaining the symphonic leanings and generally the artistic value of their music.The biggest influence of the group remains the mid-70's period CAMEL.The ten short tracks of the album alternate between melodic guitar hooks, twisting flutes and dreamy keyboard textures along the lines of Andy Latimer and Peter Bardens.The musicianship is very strong, I think it lacks some of killer instrumental ideas and the highly impressive interplays of the debut, but there are still some nice arrangements to be found here with deep melodic content, while Huster and Masbaum offer a fair dose of light interplays with their flute and guitars.Huster is also responsible for some of the ethereal acoustic parts delivered in the album.

Another strong work by this German group.Not exactly in the same level as their debut, but still there are little chances to find a much better Prog effort from 1983.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Retreat  by ROUSSEAU album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.63 | 32 ratings

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Retreat
Rousseau Symphonic Prog

Review by Katsuhisa

4 stars Another warm-hearted melodic prog.

I became a fan of this band just by 20 seconds as the flute and guitars were so beautiful as CAMEL as everybody says. Even vocals sound like Andy Latimer to me. If they were CAMEL wanna-be, they succeeded.

They say it was recorded in 1982, but the record sound was rather good. This is also an advantage of German rock bands. The main instruments' sound are very clear and it suites if you are digital player listener.

You may need more solid, or harder parts in prog rock, but this kind of soft melodic will heal you at night, and this is the reason why I love these prog music.

4 ratings with no hesitation.

 Square the Circle by ROUSSEAU album cover Studio Album, 1987
2.99 | 22 ratings

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Square the Circle
Rousseau Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Rousseau´s third album came four years after their third, Retreat, and although in the same vein as the previous one, Square The Circle is a little better efford. The guitars have slightly more bite, the keyboards are more symphonic and the songwriting is stronger. Ok, it have some flaws: the vocal tracks are not in the same league as the instrumental ones. Fade Away for exemple is quite cheesy, the crooning vocals taking this bossa nova-like song completely out of place here. Fortunatly such mistakes are few. Most of the time the music is quite pleasing, mellow and pastoral. I loved the flutes and the guitar parts

Again what surprises me the most is the fact that this band released such obvious prog album during the 80´s (even if some synths do remind of that era´s sound). The album is quite varied and sometimes it works against them (the old impression of hearing different bands in one CD, you know). But in general feeling is good. Certainly they have talent and they are all skilfull musicians. Production is also very good for the time.

My feeling is that this band never reached its full potential (too many line up changes, maybe?) nor had the opportunity to be heard by the right audience in its day. The timing seems to be wrong. But still they left some real fine stuff for us to discover. if you like melodic symphonic prog (sometimes in the neo prog vein) then Square The Circle is recommended. Another obscure prg gem that I´m glad to find. Rating: somewhere between 3,5 and 4 stars.

 Retreat  by ROUSSEAU album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.63 | 32 ratings

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Retreat
Rousseau Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Rousseau´s second album was my first entry into this band. It´s very mellow, pastoral, an interesting combination of prog rock, classical music and light jazz. There is some good flute interplay with acoustic and electric guitars and very nice keyboards. Their first CD was totally instrumental, but on this one a singer, Herbert G. Ruppik , is included and he does a fine job on a few tracks to make it a varied and interesting work.

It is very hard to believe Retreat was released in 1983, as it is too retro and unfashinable for its time. I can´think of anything less marketable for that year, so I´m quite admired for their boldness (and the recording company´s for the matter). Although I liked all the tracks, there is othing here that I can say it is a real highlight. There are no lows, nor highs. it´s all very smooth and lovely, although I do miss something more challeging or heavier at times. Production is quite good.

All in all I liked this CD. It is not enough to warrant a four star rating, at least in my collection. But still is quite good and I do have a soft spot for it since Rousseau sometimes remind me of much of the symphonic works brazilian bands were doing at the time. Final rating: 3,5 stars. Recommeded.

 Flower in Asphalt by ROUSSEAU album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.42 | 44 ratings

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Flower in Asphalt
Rousseau Symphonic Prog

Review by AdamHearst

3 stars I find it hard to sit through entire all-instrumental albums, even one as good as this. Without vocals, the songs suffer from sounding too similar.... and the band's playing is so subtle and reserved that nothing ever jumps out at you, and even the best bits can struggle to hold your attention for very long.

After opening with two breathtaking songs, Flower in Asphalt slips dully into the periphery.

'Skylight' and 'Glockenrock' are full of lovely Camelish guitar solos, synths, and flute. This band resembles Camel almost too much at times on this album, but their songwriting is so good that you forgive them. The atmosphere is very calm and soothing... this is great music to unwind to at the end of a long day.

After the very memorable and beautifully melodic Glockenrock, the next two songs are utter bores that never really go anywhere. The album is salvaged by 'Entrée', which features a mesmerizing melancholic flute melody that reminds me of the great band 'Asia Minor'.

'Dancing Leaves' is another very good, melodic, rainy-day song... the synth player's performance (and sound) is very reminiscent of Camel's Pete Bardens here.

Overall: this is quite good, but not very original. This is excellent background music... and nothing very engaging. Recommended to devout Camel fans.

 Flower in Asphalt by ROUSSEAU album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.42 | 44 ratings

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Flower in Asphalt
Rousseau Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars If the commercial market for symphonic progressive rock had all but vanished by 1980, and most of the British dinosaurs had tried to modernize, at least on the continent, and in Germany in particular, the genre was still humming along. Even long running bands like ELOY continued to carry the torch, but younger groups like ANYONE'S DAUGHTER and ROUSSEAU arose around the turn of the decade and paid tribute to their influences, among them GENESIS, KING CRIMSON, and in the case of ROUSSEAU in particular, CAMEL. This homage is especially apparent in the lead guitars, flutes and sprightly melodies, making for a generally easy listening debut album.

My general complaint is that it's all a bit too mellow and inoffensive, without enough genuine variety to compensate for the generally short tracks and the total absence of vocals. Also, the keyboards are in general less interesting than the aforementioned instruments - witness the first 2:30 of the album closer for proof. While most everything here is pleasant and enjoyable, little of it is excellent. An exception is "Entree", buoyed by woodwinds and a moving change of pace around the midpoint, followed by some melodic lead guitar licks. It offers just the right mix.

While Rousseau's first album won't have you beating a retreat for the exits, it might not be the first one you reach for when you want innovation or excitement. The very essence of a three star effort.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Atkingani for the last updates

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