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Symphonic Prog • Netherlands

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Coda biography
Founded in 1983 in Wijchen, Netherlands - Disbanded in 1996

CODA is a Dutch concept band created and headed by multi-instrumentalist Erik DeVroomen. With a strong emphasis on melody, their material is lushly symphonic and focuses on swirling keyboards (grand piano, novatron, clavinet and various synths played by DeVroomen), climactic moments and a few but heavily conceptual lyrics - imagine VANGELIS with some killer guitar and super-spacey segments. Between 1986 and 1996, the band released two albums and a mini CD.

Their first full-length album, "Sounds of Passion" (1986), features a 29-minute suite with lots of organ, horns and strings that give it a highly 'symphonic orchestra' feel. It is also full of mood and tempo changes as well as grandiloquent (and fortunately sparse, accented) vocals. As for the two short tracks that close the album, they are quite dispensable. Their second full-length cd, the ambitious "What a Symphony", is best described as classical music performed with modern instruments (a couple of nods are given to Mahler and Bach, in passing). Ranging from aggressive to pastoral moods, the flow is somehow unfortunately broken with frequent jazzy solos that don't quite fit into the picture. Overall, however, it is a highly melodious album and boasts a much improved production over "Sounds of Passion".

Recommended for fans of CAMEL and TRACE, and to a lesser extent ELP.

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

See also: HERE

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CODA discography

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

3.40 | 43 ratings
Sounds Of Passion
3.89 | 28 ratings
What A Symphony

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

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

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

1.95 | 3 ratings
Crazy Fool and Dreamer (Mini CD)

CODA Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 What A Symphony by CODA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.89 | 28 ratings

What A Symphony
Coda Symphonic Prog

Review by Kingsnake

5 stars Yes, this is a masterpiece.

Erik de Vroomen is the big man behind this brilliant album. He combines rock, classic, fusion, symphonic, ambient and even pop into 76 minutes musical piece. Of course this album is in fact several large epics and some shorter songs in between, but in basically all songs belong to the same concept.

The production is typically 90's with lots of reverb, electronic drums, rockfusion-guitars etc. When Erik is not satisfied with synth-sounds he uses classical instruments to enhance the sound, wich makes the music also classical. So a symphonic rock-album it is. But some parts are more rock-fusion with lots of funky bassplaying and heavy guitarsoloiing.

The overall atmosphere is depressive and doomy, but only to tell the story. The vocalists are all very stunning, especially Marie-Claire Cremers in the pop/rock pieces and Andrea Rieche and Gabriele Wunderer in the operatic pieces.

 Sounds Of Passion by CODA album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.40 | 43 ratings

Sounds Of Passion
Coda Symphonic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

3 stars Far above the average should receive 3.5 stars

Last week I was checking the bands from the Symphonic list and found CODA, for what I read, they didn't seem to belong in Symphonic, so I managed to buy an expensive copy of the 25th Anniversary Edition of "Sounds of Passion" to have a better opinion.....Now I can say that in my opinion they don't belong in Symphonic Prog, at least totally.

The album is a blend of Symphonic (some good moments), Ambient music and a bit of New Age, that clearly proves us that we are before a Crossover band rather than a Symphonic one, but this is a decision we have to take as a team and the issue is under study. In this moment I will forget classifications and simply review the album.

1.- The album starts with the "Sounds of Passion Suite that is divided in 6 parts:

a) Prologue: What a waste of space, a 2:17 minutes of boring narration (some will say poetry, I wont) after some wind effects, I recommend to press the skip button.

b) First Movement: starts with an interesting intro (A it long in my opinion) that blends YES influences with a couple of breathtaking Mellotron sections, and then a dramatic change, the band releases all their artillery with a fluid instrumental section that by parts reminds me of "Six Wives of Henry the VIII" by RICK WAKEMAN, despite a few uneven moments, I believe it's a very good start if we omit the insipid "Prologue"

c) Second Movement: At this point. CODA enters more into New Age /Ambient territory, the music is repetitive and even boring. Doesn't matter how much Erik de Vroomen tries to create emotional moments with keyboard and piano, they never manage to capture the audience.

d) Third Movement: The bird chirping and soft spacey flute make me doubt a radical change from the less than average previous track, it's clear that de Vroomen and Pip van Steen are terrific pianist and flutist, but the composition is weak and no matter how hard they try the music never "takes off". Around the 3:10 minutes a strong drum explosion gives me some hopes, but it's a mirage, they fall again into the Ambient territory with a distant FOCUS resemblance that boosts the ending a bit with a Jack Witjes interesting guitar solo

e) Fourth Movement - Finale: Begins with a Gregorian Chant section which's majesty is diminished by some annoying keyboard sounds in the vein of Vangelis, after an explosion, a pompous and passionate Baroque organ makes it's appearance (for those Progheads like me that love excesses is a gift), and then develops into a soft but interesting instrumental section with a heavy distorted guitar in the background, now they remind me a bit of Gilmour.

The ret of the track is full of surprises, radical changes and phenomenal performances by all the band members, simply delightful, they left the best music for the last Movement of the "Sounds of Passion" suite, this sole section pays the whole album.

2.- Crazy Fool and Dreamer: After the instrumental "Suite" (Well, except for the chants), it's the tie to add the vocals by Jack Witjes, who in the style of JOHN WETTON does a very decent job, even when a bit soulless for the good music of the song. Again Erik de Vroomen adds excellent piano and organ, but I would be unfair if I didn't say the whole band is in a great level,....This is pure Symphonic with a frantic but at the same time breathtaking finale. The best song of the album by far.

3.- Defended: The last song of the album begins with a short operatic instant and without preambles then enter directly to the central section with decent vocals and better choirs, this time they leave the Symphonic real to cross into some sort of lighter PINK FLOYD Space Rock, again they hit the nail in the head......The final section made me jump of my seat, but won't reveal the secret to avoid ruining the experience

Still don't believe this album is pure Symphonic and I insist they should be moved to Crossover, but hey, this guys really know their business.

When the album started I was going to rate it with 2 stars, but now I believe that anything bellow 3.5 with be unfair, but our system doesn't allow this, so not without sadness, will have to go with 3 stars, even when I'm sure this very good (but slightly uneven) album deserves something more.

 Sounds Of Passion by CODA album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.40 | 43 ratings

Sounds Of Passion
Coda Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Holland's Coda made an impact with their debut album of 1986 'Sounds of Passion'. It was a year when prog was struggling so Coda defied critics by releasing a purely ambient album that is mostly instrumental. The epic title track is a 4 movement piece that begins with a daft narrative voice but then it moves into the beautiful emotional music. I am not really into ambient instrumental prog like this but it has its place. It reminds me of The Enid at times.

There is an emphasis on flute and keyboards. In places a vocalisation is heard that could have been left out. Singing is better than vocalising sounds I believe. It feels a bit dated these days but the music still is entrancing. The alto sax is wonderful and often the guitars are spacey. Vangelis springs to mind or Mike Oldfield occasionally.

Towards the last movement, the finale there is a deep resonating pipe organ giving a cathedral atmosphere. The monks chanting augment the effect of some religious ceremony. The guitars to follow sound out a repetitive motif and it eventually launches in to a Gilmour like solo and a blistering keyboard solo, the best part of the whole album. At the end there are effects of glass breaking, screams and voices. The other tracks are more of the same, melodic instrumentals with a focus on ambience and lengthy keyboard passages with layers of guitar. 'Sounds of Passion' is a good debut for sure, worth a listen.

 Sounds Of Passion by CODA album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.40 | 43 ratings

Sounds Of Passion
Coda Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars Well, seeing 4 collab reviews so far makes me wonder. Will I be different and will I give 4 stars (I don't think I'll give 2 stars), or will I rate in the same way as previous reviewers did ?

Starting weirdly with prologue that's not to be enjoyed, but just listened. It's introduction, nothing more. However, what continues is decent at least. 2nd Movement actually reminds me The Enid a lot with its Classical music influenced compositions. Some gothical (possibly) sounds in beginning ofFinale, it all sounds quite like a bunch of completely different songs mixed together in big symphonic cauldron. It's a mess, but these songs alone can stand. Return to synth heaven till the end.

The rest of songs are again, unbalanced impression. Crazy Fool and Dreamer is a great piece, while Defended is ballad with synths and some average soloing. Which means good, but not perfect.

Anyway, it makes this album to something like

4(-), and I can assure you, my emotions are mixed as well. I feel good about it, but there's something bad about this album.

 Sounds Of Passion by CODA album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.40 | 43 ratings

Sounds Of Passion
Coda Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The start of the twenty-nine minutes long opus Sounds of Passion is not promising.

The silly voice effects does not do anything for me. But the music then starts and slowly builds up. The orchestral music is meditation like in the beginning before it kicks off with some good keyboards and then with some solo-guitars. The references to masters of classical music like Handel is obvious. Some references to ELOY is also very obvious. Less so to ELP. But ELP is the kings and creators of keyboards based symphonic prog so it is an obvious reference like CHUCK BERRY is an obvious reference for all guitar based rock'n'roll. But CODA is more based on the 1700's century Classical Music than on ELP. Sounds of Passion is a good opus and the best piece of music here.

The two final and shorter tracks Crazy Fool And Dreamer and Defended (four minutes and six minutes long) is more straight forward neo-prog with vocals, guitars, bass, drums and piano. Both tracks are OK but nothing more. I prefer the twenty-nine minutes long opus Sounds of Passion instead. This is a good album but nothing more.

3 stars.

 What A Symphony by CODA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.89 | 28 ratings

What A Symphony
Coda Symphonic Prog

Review by Moogtron III
Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Clive Nolan once said in an interview with a Dutch progressive rock magazine, that two things are missing in most prog rock: sex and humour.

Maybe he's right, but whatever the case, you won't find it on this cd. On the contrary! But when I was listening to this album over and over again, and when I found out that I was really being touched by it, I realised that something else was missing in progrock as well: albums that deal with the harsh reality of this world, albums that make you think about life, society, humankind. And your place in it.

Ed Macan said in his book Rocking The Classics that the classic progressive rock bands didn't address political themes in a straightforward way, but he thought that Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon was nevertheless more effective than The Wall by the same band.

When I was thinking about Coda's second album, What A Symphony , I realised that there is a third way. Coda is, obvious for everyone who listens to the album, dealing with direct political themes, but on the other hand, after a while, the album takes you on a journey, and takes you, so to say, from a ground perspective to a much higher perspective. Yes, the music gives you that sensation : the album begins with sounds of threat and war, and shows you a lot of human tragedy, but at the end the music takes you on a journey which sounds like the classic Somnium Scipionis, the dream of Scipio, where you hear the sounds of the spheres, the sounds of the planets going round and round. In other words: What A Symphony is both realistic and poetic. It is both direct and contemplative.

What would have happened if Erik De Vroomen, the visionary man behind this cd, wouldn't have started this project in the nineties, but in the early seventies instead? We know how the critical reception of the ambitious albums of bands like Yes and ELP were. The critics thought that their music was pretentious to the max. Well, What A Symphony would have been viewed as even far more pretentious than those albums, and I'm not exaggerating! But: a worse fate has come on the album: little people know about it, and really, this is a masterpiece of prog, a monument, that has almost been forgotten.

I'll tell you about the content of the album. The themes are racism, pollution and war, on a more direct level. On a more abstract, but still emotional, level Erik is taking all those threads together, and at a certain moment singers are singing about the tragedy of man, always loving the lie instead of the truth, always destroying the animals, the earth... and himself. In the closing section there's a choir singing: Oh, what a symphony, what a tragedy, what a world and what a history.

This is a masterpiece, but it's not an easy album. It took me seven times (!) to listen to the cd before I liked it. It is not a feelgood album either: the atmosphere is often somber and melancholic. A lot of the best prog cd's are Entertainment with a capital E. This is, for once, Art with a capital A. The music is beautiful in a touching way, but also unsettling from time to time. I myself was shocked when a story was told about a father and his kid playing together, experiencing a feeling of bliss, and suddenly tragedy hit them. The nature of the tragedy isn't clear: war, or a environmental catastrophe, but for the moment that's not important. That moment came really close, because I myself am father of a small kid, and I know the feelings of bliss.

The album has three epics (!) and twenty-one tracks in total. Well, in theory... because, when you listen to it, the album sounds more like one 76 minute epic, which gives you a sense of timelessness. Listen to the whole album at once, not in parts, and you will get the most out of it. And then you will find the subtleties also: like themes that keep recurring during the album. I'm not familiar with Wagner's music (can't get into him, yet), but I guess that's what they call Leitmotivs: instruments with recurring voices, themes, stated in different times, and in different ways, but giving the music a wonderful coherence. Yes, Erik even hints to Coda's first album, Sounds Of Passion, through a section that was also on his first album.

The band is basically the same as on the first album, but now with a very talented drummer / engineer called Wolram Dettki Bladeau. Perfectionist Erik de Vroomen found in him a good musical sparring partner.

The music is so full of layers and different elements that it takes a skyscraper review to describe it. I'll tell you some stuff. About spoken parts of of Dostoyevsky on the one hand, Hitler and Goebbels on the other hand (about the tragedy of war); sound bites of Bach and Mahler; about a threatening, blood curdling musical start, a jazzy mid theme, a clarinet piece to make you feel calm again, pieces of progressive symphonic rock alternating with classical themes; about the story of an elephant being shot, where the story is completely being told in music, and you understand what is happening nevertheless; about a bell that is being rung several times throughout the album and every time it gives you a shiver down the spine! Symphonic progressive rock is at the basis of this record, but there are numerous other places where the music takes you.

Except for Coda, the band, there are classical musicians playing, with instruments like violin, cello, saxes, bassoon, accordion, cymbals, marimba's, military drums... There are rock singers and classical singers...

Erik has a better sounding synth equipment than on the first album, and his Kurzweil sounds great. The production is fabulous.

There are some stories connected to the album: there is a very famous World War II picture, where there is a Jewish boy in shorts and with a cap, holding his hands up while his mother is doing the same, and looking at him from aside, because nazis are pointing there guns at them. For this album project, Erik tracked down the boy (who was now of course a grown up man) to see if he's alive and how he's doing. It turned out that the man's name was Tsvi Nussbaum, and he was still alive, being a doctor and surgeon in the USA. According to Erik, Tsvi is a symbol of hope, because of his survival of the holocaust.

There were also incidents while recording the album in Germany: neo - nazi's acting acting violent, breaking the windows of the studio.

The cd booklet is also rich: it tells you about all the epics and other tracks, the story behind the music. There are photographs and themes and poems to think about...

A word of warning: yes, this is a masterpiece, but this is not a record that everyone will appreciate, not even prog fans. But if you want to listen to an album that is progressive rock to the max, without fear of being too pretentious, and if you're interested in a prog rock album with many different styles, and you're not afraid of heavy subject matter, than maybe this album is for you. It's not as enjoyable as the major works of, let's say, Genesis, Yes and ELP, but it is an album that is musical sublime nevertheless, and offers you a lot of depth, and it can change your perspective, not only from a musical point of view.

 Crazy Fool and Dreamer (Mini CD) by CODA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1993
1.95 | 3 ratings

Crazy Fool and Dreamer (Mini CD)
Coda Symphonic Prog

Review by Moogtron III
Collaborator Crossover Team

2 stars This is what they call a cd single, and the chance is little that you will see a second hand copy on a cd fair. But in case you do, and you check the PA Archives on your mobile internet connection, as you should, here's what it is.

Crazy Fool And Dreamer is a good melodious pop / rock track, which has a good instrumental middle part which is more like symphonic progressive rock. It has an excellent keyboard performance and quite a good lead guitar. You will find it also on the cd version on Coda's first album Sound Of Passion, though.

Central Station : that's a filler. Don't bother about it.

Reverberating Sounds : this has a structure like Van Dyke Parks' album Song Cycle: there are a lot of musical atmospheres which come and go like the waves of the sea. This is the most interesting track of the album, because here you see the building blocks of the Coda albums, and you see what an enormous potential this band has. But that's all there is to it: it's just as the title says: reverberating sounds.

This cd single has been made in less than one day. Is it possible to make a high quality recording in that period of time? Not really, but that's how things can go. If you want to check out Coda, please, don't buy this cd single, because it has little substance in itself. Buy the albums instead. This is just for the collectors and fans.

 Sounds Of Passion by CODA album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.40 | 43 ratings

Sounds Of Passion
Coda Symphonic Prog

Review by Moogtron III
Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Classic Dutch eighties album! Because it is not very well known, I thought I might just as well add a review. The original LP consisted of just one epic track, which is completely instrumental (okay, apart from some introductory spoken -word poetry at the start of the album, Gregorian chants somewhere in the middle, and some warning shouts elsewhere in the album). I haven't heard the extra cd with the demos, by the way, I just know the original cd, with the tracklist as mentioned above (the last two tracks are bonus tracks, added for the cd version of the album).

The band is being called Coda, but as the liner notes say: it was originally intended to be an Erik de Vroomen solo project, and you can hear that: the keyboards of Erik de Vroomen are central to the music. Erik de Vroomen is also the only composer, and was producing the band as well. In short: this is Erik de Vroomen's vision. The rest of the band can be heard as well, but they are not very upfront in the mix, with the possible exception of the (great sounding) lead guitar from time to time. Oh, to be clear: it is a real band that is playing, it is not like the Alan Parsons Project (without degrading the latter). And the band could play hard and fast also, as well as subtle like a well integrated seventies symphonic prog band.

The music is... I'd say neo progressive in form, but symphonic progressive in content. The sound is state of the art mid eighties, and keyboardist Erik uses modern equipment, but in retrospect the sound is somewhat artificial, and one would wish that more room would have been given for either acoustic instruments or vocals. Still, Erik de Vroomen is a master at the keyboards, not virtuoso sounding, but on the other hand quite skilled. And, on top of that: Erik de Vroomen is an excellent composer. Sounds of Passion is a very mature sounding, carefully designed multi movement suite! De Vroomen is s musical perfectionist, who was definitely aiming to make a masterpiece of progressive music.

In the cd version there are two vocal tracks added, which are like extended songs, but they have the same quality as the instrumental epic, and make the record a bit more personal. In fact, the two songs are very well composed, and well sung by vocalist Jack Witjes (style: somewhat like Greg Lake / John Wetton). Defended is especially memorable, because there is a majestic instrumental climax at the end, in the best symphonic progressive tradition.

The album is very good, but still not what it could have been. Erik de Vroomen has worked for years and years on it. But in those days, in the Netherlands, it was very difficult to find support for that kind of music. The drums especially are a bit weak, a fact underscored by Erik de Vroomen who really wanted to add a drummer like Pierre van der Linden (Focus) on the album, which in fact almost happened. Probably the second cd of the re - issue gives some more insight on what the music could have been.

Still, even when the weak points are being kept in mind, the album is still an almost - masterpiece, worth four stars. The compositions and playing are legendary for the biggest part. Also the music is being helped by the concept matter that Erik adds in the liner notes and in the spoken words on the cd: about a search for truth, and the tragedy of man often being inclined to choose the lie. Erik is inspired by the writings of Günter Schwab and that does add to the atmosphere of the music.

This album should be much more heard than it is now!

 Sounds Of Passion by CODA album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.40 | 43 ratings

Sounds Of Passion
Coda Symphonic Prog

Review by Prog_Veteran

5 stars Why 5 stars ? First we must look to Progre history . The year is 1985, a time when who was producing progre music could be considered a hero. Let´s put CODA and other out of mainstream progre at their right honored place ! Yeah, if you lived the eighties loving progre, you know what I mean. Commercial and popish music was at it´s peak, progre music was left apart to die. It didn´t exist internet and cd format. We can even find creative progre music in early 80´s : in east europe ; in France ; in Germany : Eloy late 70´s success seems to have pushed Anyone´s Daughter, Choice 1980 "Just a Dream"( no reissue so far ?!), P´cock, Amenophis ; in USA we had the 1981 Netherworld (hey, were them and Saga the creators of neo progre ? Good question) and even Mike Oldfield made "QE2". On the other hand, in Britain, we had the birth of neo progre with Marillion, even if IQ, Pallas and 12ş Night were producing better music (hey, there´s a 1985 mainstream neat work : ELPowell, ). But what about that grandioquent, ambitious, complex, symphonic progre, with that 70´s research spirit ? Take it easy, we still could find some "oasis" or "salvation islands" in the vinyl mid 80´s desert. Like Coda "sounds of passion"; Solaris "Marsbeli Kronikak"(1984), East "Huség" (1983), CRAFT, IQ; Japan produced many great records like Black Page, Mugen, Kenso, Ain Soph. There was even the quite original "RIO" Belgium school of Univers Zero and Present. In Brazil we had Sagrado Coraçăo da Terra, Edhels in France and the super 1988 italian record EZRA WINSTON "Myth of Crisavides" that was "dedicated to those who didn´t believe" (no reissue so far ?!), but this deserves a complete review. Definitivelly it was a difficult time to produce progre, it didn´t exist CD nor internet, the reason why you must look to history. I clap my hands to these 80´s, heroes, being CODA one of my favorites for its sophisticated music even if the mood is a bit too dramatic !
 Sounds Of Passion by CODA album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.40 | 43 ratings

Sounds Of Passion
Coda Symphonic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This debut album from dutch band Coda has a reputation for being a classical piece of work, and the band sadly underrated.

Coming across this CD now in 2008 makes that a bit hard to understand though. The guy handling keyboards obviously knows his classical music, arrangements and use of instruments has a strong symphonic tinge to them; and the bass player here knows his jazz; and there's lots of interesting soundscapes and sonic textures woven in the main tune as well as the two shorter tracks following. The main problem I have when listening to this stuff now is that often the music isn't going somewhere, some good segments here, others there, but they are not placed within a context that leads to anywhere, instead of evolving or developing I feel that as a listener I'm picked up and dropped down to individual scenes rather than taken on a musical journey.

Coda is a talented band, and I can understand why this album had a major impact in 1986. But 20 years later the album's shortcomings are more easily defined - and the lack of cohesiveness in particular is a weakness for me. Still, fans of 80's neoprog in particular will find this release to be a very good addition to their collection; others should check this one out before buying.

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

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