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Guildenstern - Guildenstern CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.00 | 8 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Garden of Delights label made a nice discovery 2-3 years ago. This German band was active for a couple of years in the late seventies but they never released anything. Two central musicians were keyboard player Bernd Scholl, who has since 1983 released numerous solo albums of Ambient / Electronic Music, and guitarist-bassist Michael Lippert, nowadays working as a music teacher in Odenwald. He also sung on two of the eight tracks that Guildenstern recorded in 1978 at rehearsal room in Rüsselsheim. These recordings are unfortunately quite low-fi, but the three live tracks from September 1979 are frustatingly even worse. My first impression was very positive nevertheless, but after further listening I'm not that impressed anymore, one reason definitely being the bad sound quality.

The music is instrumentally oriented symphonic prog, not exactly epic-natured but rather light and melancholic, and in a way romantic like e.g. Novalis. The label names Yes, Genesis, Camel and Eloy as comparisons - not necessarily false choices, but such that easily make you expect too much and feel disappointed. If you know continental, minor one-time bands of the time such as EPIDAURUS, PHYLTER, BANZAI or AUTUMN BREEZE, you know better what to expect. Keyboards dominate most compositions, sometimes with slight ELP-influences but most often with cheesy string synth carpets that were typical at the time. The songs on which Michael Lippert sings - pretty well, by the way - feature only Kai Crone on Solina strings and bass pedals besides Lippert. They are acoustically oriented, moody songs.

Even with an average track length of 4-5 minutes the compositions often run out of energy and ideas before reaching their end. When the group came together, Lippert had been working on a rock opera based on Tom Stoppard's play "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead" (a satire on Shakespeare's Hamlet). In addition to the band name, that project naturally has some echoes in these recordings too. It's obvious (considering the titles) that several tracks originate from it, but sadly there's no conceptual feel left at all. This CD just feels like a bunch of low-fi studio recordings, many of them too close in nature to another one. An ironic detail is that the live tracks in the end seem to be more interesting as compositions, but they're not great enough to overcome the lousy recording quality.

Surely this is an interesting case (and it was great to see how fast the Symph team added this artist/album after the hint that I gave... before I had even listened to the CD, as I was so convinced by the information on Garden of Delights homepage). But I'm sad to say this is not a lost and newly found gem that one would so deeply wish it to be. With good production values this might be a 3½ star album, now it's only worth 2½.

Matti | 3/5 |


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