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DR. COENOBITE

Symphonic Prog • Netherlands


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Dr. Coenobite picture
Dr. Coenobite biography
Coen Vrouwenvelder - From Leiden, Netherlands

DR. COENOBITE (also known as The COENOBITE) is a one-man unit, namely guitarist Coen Vrouwenvelder, whose symphonic electronics with a classical twist may remind you of Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. He handles classical, electric, 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars as well as piano, synthesizers, drums and percussion. His technical abilities aren't exactly what sells his albums but his accessible melodies are pleasant enough (or cheesy, depending on your inclination).

He released two albums in the early 90's. "My Habit" ('92) is all instrumental with a very dark atmosphere. Among others, it features a 30-minute track with a good range of mood and tempo changes as well as some interesting sound effects. The more acoustic "Castles in the Air" ('94) features a few tracks with female vocalist Nynke Kooistra - not a particularly gifted singer although she does break the monotony of what would otherwise be a boring set of tunes. Think of this band as something like a diminutive GANDALF.

Somewhat interesting if you're into New Age, but certainly not essential.

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

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DR. COENOBITE discography


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DR. COENOBITE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Turn the Page
1990
2.69 | 8 ratings
My Habit
1992
3.13 | 6 ratings
Castles in the Air
1994
2.00 | 1 ratings
Recovery
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
Checkmate
1998
0.00 | 0 ratings
500 Years of Guitar Music
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
Fading Light
2001
3.00 | 1 ratings
Reflections in Wood
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
French Kiss
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Solitude
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
New Horizons
2011
0.00 | 0 ratings
X-Position
2015
2.00 | 1 ratings
Forest Tales
2015
2.95 | 2 ratings
Once in a Blue Moon
2017
2.98 | 3 ratings
Dragons
2019
3.00 | 1 ratings
Mysteries of Life
2020
3.00 | 1 ratings
My Habit II
2022

DR. COENOBITE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

DR. COENOBITE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

DR. COENOBITE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 My Habit II by DR. COENOBITE album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.00 | 1 ratings

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My Habit II
Dr. Coenobite Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars I reviewed Coen's 1992 debut album, 'My Habit', all the way back in 1993 and he has now decided that the time is right to produce a sequel. Much has changed since those days of course, one being that Coen obtained his doctorate so changed from The Coenobite to Dr. Coenobite, and on the debut album he was photographed wearing a monk's habit, whereas these days it is much easier to get something digitally. His recording equipment and knowledge of how to get the best out of it has also changed, but what is the same is that Coen still does it all himself (ok, he had a guest guitarist on three of the tracks of the debut, but he has used others very rarely).

Coen has long been a fan of Andy Latimer, and there are some quite definite Camel influences in here, and Coen uses a wide variety of instruments (both real and programmed) to produce a sound which feels like that of a full band and not just one man in his studio. At times this is quite symphonic, and even though I am sure the drums are not real, they are surprisingly good in this context. His main instrument is a guitar, and it is nice to hear so much acoustic/classical being used throughout this, as that combined with oboe and others provides a nice dreamy and atmospheric sound. Coen is not a strong singer though, and I do wish he would bring someone else in to assist in that area. I do find it strange to think that Coen has been doing this for more than 30 years now, and this is his eighteenth album, yet even those who follow the underground will have very little understanding of who he is which is definitely a shame. One day it would be nice if he could bring together a full band to produce an album of his material as I am sure that will gain a great deal of attention. Relaxed and enjoyable with a few symphonic tendencies this is an enjoyable album.

 Mysteries of Life by DR. COENOBITE album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Mysteries of Life
Dr. Coenobite Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Multi-instrumentalist Coen Vrouwenvelder is back with his seventeenth album, which is a concept based on the mysteries of life. Delving further, he states "Of course meaning all the beautiful phenomena created by nature or unknown reasons (e.g., like Stonehenge), but also made by us (just like art, music, science, electronic devices, and so on). However, there is a devastating 'undercurrent' going on concerning climate changes, war, hate, hunger and finally a pandemic with an enormous impact (on all of us)." I reviewed Coen's debut all the way back in 1993, and over the years he has certainly released some interesting work. Again, this is a solo album, with Coen providing guitars, bass, vocals, flute, gu zheng, pipa, harp, dulcimer, percussion, keyboards, synthesizers, Sound Libraries, programming & SFX. Coen is the first to admit that his singing leaves something to be desired, but he felt the lyrics were so important that he needed to sing them himself as opposed to getting someone else in.

I understand his rationale, but it would have been interesting to hear what someone else may have done with the material, as while Coen is a fine musician with some fascinating musical ideas, a different singer would have made an impact, as there is no doubt that apart from the vocals this is one of his most polished and accomplished albums to date. There are times when this is quite folky in nature, others when it is symphonic and blasting, and one of his strengths is the way he brings in different instruments to provide additional textures. The use of a gu zheng (a Chinese Zither) to provide an Irish feel on the introduction of "Back to the Source" is a nice touch, as is the use of dulcimer (an instrument I have always felt should be utilized more heavily). "Journey Of Life" starts with quite an oriental style, before switching into something more Western, while "The Sourceress" is inspired by Saint-SaŽns' "The Swan" and feels both familiar and different at the same time.

Coen continues to remain an underground artist, hidden in the sub layers of the underground, yet he keeps putting out albums which are certainly enjoyable, and he should be far more widely known. All his material is available on Bandcamp so why not give him a try?

 Dragons by DR. COENOBITE album cover Studio Album, 2019
2.98 | 3 ratings

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Dragons
Dr. Coenobite Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Dr. Coenobite is the name of a Symphonic Prog project headed by Coen Vrousenvelder from the Netherlands. Coen provides pretty much all of the instrumentation for his albums which he has been releasing since 1990. His 15th full length studio album is called "Dragons" and was released in March of 2019. The album is a concept album dealing somewhat loosely about the legend of St. George, the dragon slayer. St. George was an actual person, but whether he really slayed dragons is still up for question after all these years. Once again, Coen provides all of the instrumentation and composition on this album of 9 tracks that has a total run time of just under 43 minutes.

The first track is "Enter the Dragon", and this track acts as the prologue for this cinematic album, complete with sound effects, bright synth melodies and anthemic guitar interludes. It's a nice balance of synth and guitar as they trade off the solos on this track, improvising on some of the thematic material of the album all interspersed with dragon roars and some baroque-ish effects. "The Sacrifice - Princess of Dawn" has a definite symphonic feel to it as the drama intensifies. Underlying the layers of acoustic guitar and woodwinds are some female vocals along with some screaming and more dragon roars. The music turns pastoral with more baroque style instruments underscored by the symphonic effects. This brings about the medieval style that the story is wanting to invoke. There is no credit to any vocals, so I assume this is done by Coen and possible manipulated to sound like a damsel in distress.

"Dragon Attack - Castle on Fire" starts with tense music, growling dragon speaking and so on. A guitar plays a theme and eventually it builds to include drums, more reeds and then a synth solo underlayed by a guitar invoking some drama. As the music plays, you can imagine it sounding like a soundtrack that would probably sound quite impressive if done by an orchestra, but Coen does his best to still make it sound cinematic and symphonic with synths, guitars and reed instruments. "St. George, the Dragon-Slayer" begins with piano and flutes, then a horse sound effect and then actual lyric content sung by Coen. He does a respectable job of evoking the medieval style, but it can sound a bit corny, but, it is also a lot of fun. The key is to not take it all too seriously, his instrumentation and composition is well done, however, the delivery can sound dated and a bit tacky at times. It is quite ambitious though, and would probably be quite impressive if an orchestra was playing more of the parts.

"Dragons and Knights" has quite a regal sound as trumpet effects played by the synth paired with sword sound effects can paint the picture. Synth and guitar exchange the lead on this track, and it feels like a soundtrack from the 70s, a bit dated sounding, but still effective in painting the right picture. If you remember the soundtrack to "Ladyhawk" by Alan Parsons, then this will remind you somewhat of that, except maybe in a less orchestral format. "Chasing the Dragon" takes on a steadier beat, as you would expect from a chase theme, the main instrument being the synth while the guitar provides more progressive sounding interludes enhancing the dramatic feel. Dragon roars along with spoken lines by the dragon ("I am the dragon") and by St. George ("I am the Dragon-slayer") in case you were wondering who was who here. The music becomes slower and heavy at 4 minutes, probably signifying the death of one of our main characters, as the howling dragon effects attest.

"Return to the Castle" signifies the heroic return of our hero as heralding trumpets and ecstatic crowd noises bring in a stately anthem. At this point, the bright synthesizers are getting to be a bit annoying and you find yourself wishing for more stringed instruments, but at least he brings in a harp at the end. "Burn the Ice-Queen" beings in a cheery sound that slows when the 2nd instance of lyrics and vocal melody comes in, this time is sounds like a small choral has joined Coen. The music retains that medieval sound to the melody, but the authenticity is a bit ruined by the guitar and synth. Finally we come to the Epilogue which is called "Year of the Dragon", which pretty much serves it's purpose well by wrapping everything up in a musical coda for the album.

Again, the thing to remember here is to not take it all too seriously. Even so, the music sounds a bit dated, at times approaching the authenticity of the symphonic sound used in a soundtrack like "Ladyhawk", but at other times just sounding a bit too bright and a bit tacky. The use of electric guitar and synths is a bit too extensive here to portray things authentically, and I think a use of more organic and acoustic instruments would have helped, along with real orchestra, but it needs to be understood that this can also be more expensive. So the real key to enjoying this is to imagine the story in your head and appreciate the music for what it is. Anyway, we'll go with 3 stars and consider it a retro style for it's 70's sound which is a bit abused by overuse of synths.

 Dragons by DR. COENOBITE album cover Studio Album, 2019
2.98 | 3 ratings

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Dragons
Dr. Coenobite Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars Coen's most recent album is 'Dragons', a concept album loosely based on the legend of Saint George, the Dragon- Slayer (Saint George was a soldier who died in 303 AD. He is patron saint of a few different countries, including the UK, but the dragon slaying wasn't attributed to him until more than 700 years after his death. Does it mean it's not really true?). With choral interludes, a princess asking for rescue, plus additional effects, this feels far more like a film for the ears. The Oldfield-style electric phased guitars are again very much in evidence, but this album is quite different to 'Once In A Blue Moon' as it feels far focussed, more direct but also more complex. There are passages on "Dragon Attack ? Castle On Fire" where Coen allows himself to go into full progressive rock with guitars playing a repeated pattern while the keyboard solo over the top.

Although this is again an album by a solo multi-instrumentalist, there is a great deal more going on this time, and although it rarely feels like a full band, it certainly doesn't sound like a Dutch musician very few people even within the scene will have heard of. In fact, when I looked at his entry on Prog Archives it was missing fourteen of his albums, and I don't think I've ever seen that number of albums missing before (fixed now). Although not a totally essential album, it is certainly one I have really enjoyed playing, and it would be interesting to hear what this would sound like with different singers. But it is great to see the underground spirit still at large with a musician pursuing his muse even though few are aware. Now is a good time to rediscover the music of Coen Vrouwenvelder

 Once in a Blue Moon by DR. COENOBITE album cover Studio Album, 2017
2.95 | 2 ratings

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Once in a Blue Moon
Dr. Coenobite Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars I first came across Dutch musician Coen Vrouwenvelder back in 1992 when he released his first album on CD (there had previously been a cassette) under the moniker The Coenobite. It was called 'My Habit' and featured a photo of Coen on the cover wearing a monk's habit ' he had chosen the title as apparently the name 'Coen' derives from an old Greek word meaning monk. At the time he was studying towards his PhD in medical sciences, and when he sent me his next album, 1994's 'Castles In The Air' he had changed to Dr. Coenobite, but then we lost touch. Fast forward to 2016 and I was gathering together artwork for Volume 1 of my books, and came across Coen's site to find to my amazement that not only was he still recording, but he was incredibly prolific as well, We swapped a few emails, and then recently he sent me his two more recent albums. So, what it would be like listening to his music again, some 25 years on from the last one?

'Once In A Blue Moon' was originally released in 2017 but has since been remixed and was then re-released earlier this year. All the music was inspired by images and events concerning the moon as the central theme, and unlike the last albums of his I had heard where he had a couple of guests, was this time solely recorded by Coen. Some of the songs contain vocals, and there are also snippets from broadcasts included, but where the music comes to life is when Coen relates to his inner Mike Oldfield and allows himself to immerse himself in the music. He professes to play many instruments without really being an expert in any of them, but he was originally inspired by the great Andres Segovia so did study classical guitar for some years, and it is when he uses his acoustic or electric guitar to come to the fore that the music really comes to live.

Unlike many multi-instrumentalists he does also sing, but it is the Oldfield-inspired instrumental passages where the music really comes to life. With all his works easily available through Bandcamp, it is time once again to discover Dr. Coenobite.

 My Habit by DR. COENOBITE album cover Studio Album, 1992
2.69 | 8 ratings

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My Habit
Dr. Coenobite Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars The Coenobite is the moniker chosen by Dutch multi-instrumentalist Coen Vrouwenvelder in early-90's, free translated from Greek into ''common life'', under which he produced a couple of albums.His first work back in 1988 was the demo ''Turn the page'', a low budget production recorded with a 4-track recorder and a very cheap equipment.This was followed by the full-legth CD release ''The habit'', featuring Coen at the front cover dressed as monk and shot in his home's garden.

It was a self-financed production with Coen helped only on guitar solos and voices by Joost Cornelissen and Nynke Kooistra, suffering from the awful drum programming and the average- sounding keyboards, but also containing some good electric guitar work.Actually ''The habit'' sounds a lot like the early efforts of ELEGANT SIMPLICITY, the one-man project of Steve McCabe.Melodic, mostly instrumental, Progressive Rock characterized by the good electric solos, the dreamy keyboard work, sometimes close to New Age soundscapes and the repetitive grooves.The guitar of Mr. Vrouwenvelder is the shining instrument in here, covering parts filled with melodic solos, dramatic chops and groovy leads, while his keyboard work also contains some nice ideas, especially on the grandiose symphonic passages and the few harsichord notes.However the recording sounds somewhat amateur, the drum machine is really unbearable, while the album has tons from similarities from track to track, all based on the same dramatic atmosphere.

Dedicated fans of acts like ELEGANT SIMPLICITY, COLIN MASSON, MIKE OLDFIELD or modern CAMEL but with a poorer sound are those having some possibilities to dive deep into this album.Decent effort by a single person, but not good enough to categorized as recommended...2.5 stars.

 Castles in the Air by DR. COENOBITE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.13 | 6 ratings

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Castles in the Air
Dr. Coenobite Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars One of the more obscure artists in ProgArchives and the second album from the Dutch artist Dr. Con Vrouwenvelder.

Listed as symphonic prog, this is one of the artists which is leaning far more towards New Age music than the likes of Yes, Genesis and ELP. But Mike Oldfield is an obvious reference point here. This also because the music here contains of some gentle guitar picking, keyboards used as sound collages and some female vocals. The music here sometimes breaks into proper songs in the Mike Oldfield mould.

In short; if you are looking for dramatic symphonic prog with time changes and intricate details; don't bother about this album. If you on the other hand adore Mike Oldfield and Gandalf, Dr. Con Vrouwenvelder's two albums under this moniker is well worth looking into if you can find them.

As an added bonus, this album is actually a good album. The guitars are good and the female vocals are not overpowering. They reminds me about Anneke in The Gathering. It is not her, though. OK, the stuff here is a bit boring and cures insomnia. Some great melodies are also sorely lacking. But despite of this, the result is good. Check Ebay for the remaining copies of this album.

3 stars

 My Habit by DR. COENOBITE album cover Studio Album, 1992
2.69 | 8 ratings

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My Habit
Dr. Coenobite Symphonic Prog

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars When I worked for the Dutch progrock paper SI Magazine I got in touch with Coen Vrouwenfelder, the man behind Dr. Coenebite. We both wrote for SI Magazine and played guitar. He invited me at his home and I was impressed by his very enthousiastic attitude and great musical ideas. This debut-CD (on his own label) is a pleasant blend of classical and symphonic, I'm delighted with the nice words from PA veteran James Unger! To me Dr. Coenebite was the Dutch Gandalf, unfortunately things didn't work out and he disappeared from the scene. Last month (almost 10 years after our last contact!) I got an e-mail from him and he sent me some very promising tapes. I hope to inform you about these tapes very soon, this multi-instrumentalist has so many skills and great ideas!


 My Habit by DR. COENOBITE album cover Studio Album, 1992
2.69 | 8 ratings

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My Habit
Dr. Coenobite Symphonic Prog

Review by loserboy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars With songs written and performed by this virtually unknown musician, The COENOBITE delivers a highly captivating album full of surprises and charm. "My Habit" is a concept based album with a wide range of mood and tempo changes throughout. The opening track clocks in around 30 minutes and is made up of some 6 distinct parts. The COENOBITE plays a highly dark symphonic style of music which also contains some nice electric guitar parts. The COENOBITE is credited with playing most of the keyboards, guitar and drums. Sound effects are used throughout to add to the macabre feeling The COENOBITE is trying to evoke throughout this album. A good listen.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to kev rowland for the last updates

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