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Schicke & Führs & Fröhling - Symphonic Pictures CD (album) cover


Schicke & Führs & Fröhling


Symphonic Prog

3.96 | 96 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
2 stars I suppose a school of logic exists as follows as regards instrumentation and genres of music: if you add a banjo you have bluegrass music, and if you add a mellotron you have symphonic prog. However, don't tell that to Bela Fleck and SFF respectively. This is essentially jazz fusion that is drenched in mellotron. Sure there are parts that relate to both German electronic music and British progressive rock of the time, but SFF places far more emphasis on sounds and improvisation than most of their brethren.

In general, SFF doesn't seem to know what to do with their talent, and the whole effort comes off rather disjointed and almost totally unmemorable. The main exception is "Tao", which in a plodding way manages to arrange itself out of the morass, and is generally pleasing in its development while remaining challenging. "Dialog" is fitful like GENTLE GIANT, but without the vocals. The synthesizers sound almost 80s style in terms of kitsch and timbre, but without even a melodic aspect that would aid the cause.

The big chance for redemption is in the form of the 16 minute opus, "Pictures", which is more like a long introduction to something, or a suspense soundtrack waiting for a movie. About halfway through we have a mildly interesting mellotron theme that is ruined by incessant spacey synthesizer doodling. This excess at times plagued groups like PINK FLOYD and TANGERINE DREAM, but they showed a lot more discipline and fidelity. The angularity and mellotrons recall Red-era KING CRIMSON, but without their ability to take an aggressive theme to a satisfying denouement.

SFF was the type of prog group that drove 1970s music fans into the unwashed arms of punk by the equipment vanload. Their one dimensional insistence on vaunting their technical prowess to the exclusion of any other aspect epitomized bloated prog rock, but upped the ante even further. Their debut is a case of a picture being about 950 words too long.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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