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Mangrove - Facing The Sunset CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.57 | 45 ratings

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4 stars Mangrove maintains the illustrious Dutch standards of prog excellence but the musicians offer a somewhat diverse menu from the recent slew of great symphonic and outstanding neo groups, closer to fellow countrymen Triangle than Odyssice, Ice, Trion, Flamborough Head, Novox, Lady Lake or Nice Beaver etc... With a classic gt/k/b/drs lineup with respectable vocals reminiscent of Helmut Köllen era Triumvirat, the lads prefer extended pieces (4 tracks, 3 over 10 minutes and 1 is a 20 minute whopper) where they can take their time stretching out the arrangements without sounding contrived or ostentatious. In fact, nothing really sounds at all commercial here, even though some PA experts have rightly commented about obvious Genesis/Banks/Hackett or Marillion/IQ comparisons. But the influences are more style than substance as there is no "Gabnicholls" or "Fishoggarth" either here to seize the audience. It's all in the music with shimmering keyboard expressions, both as a symphonic backdrop (love that Mellotron) and with some inspirational synthesizer solos from Chris Jonker, partnered with the solid and oh so fluid lead guitarist Roland van der Horst. The flamboyant bass and the intricate drums are really quite exceptional as is most often the case with our lowland progsters. The title cut casts off the seductive voyage with some seamless moods, with bass abuzz, whirling organs and whistling synths, all forewarning of a sizzling guitar solo that hees and haws, screwing up slightly the tension, furrowing in a bluesy mist until the axe glimmers in the setting sun. Nothing becomes too technical but most definitely is enjoyable. "I Fear the Day" salutes a piano and a simple vocal, quickly evolving into a dreamy tirade, with plenty of string atmospherics and a lazy six-string lead that exudes simplicity and the acoustic guitar navigates well within the choir-mellotron waves, a bejeweled slide solo adds a little gusto to the symphonic luxuriance. A long instrumental exhibition is next and frankly the best thing on this record, with searching shifts, driving rhythms and unabashed exuberance, mostly from the melancholic piano stylings and the guitar/synth unison riff that hammers the complex theme home with a sense of impending doom and chaos. Nice. An acoustic guitar bridge glides over the sonic canals, offering a medieval aura of peaceful contemplation, finished off by a slow burn Gilmourian jaunt that takes off majestically, evolving into a grandiose flight, high and away beyond the stars. This is a keeper, worthy of the Dutch Masters! "Hidden Dreams" is the ultimate colossal 21 minute epic that consecrates this recording as a more than worthy addition, with Jonker unleashing a multitude of blistering ivory blasts, constantly goading van der Horst to torture his fret board just a little more, alternating dreamy passages (more of those placid vocals) with more vibrant musical tornados. The last 2 tracks are really quite tasty and will appeal to all symphomaniacs (with or without latex protection). While far from a masterpiece, this is more than honorable stuff, well deserving of a keg of Amstel, a ball of Gouda and 4 bicycles.
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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