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Finch - Glory Of The Inner Force CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.13 | 193 ratings

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4 stars May the Force Majeure Be With You

A rather unusual and healthy hybrid this one, which manages to straddle symphonic, fusion and jazz at various points throughout it's 50 minute duration, without pitching it's tent in any particular camp.

Given that the compositional credits are exclusively that of a virtuoso guitarist, these pieces are mercifully free of the sort of fretboard wankery as evidenced by those other masters of understated restraint like Vai, Petrucci, Satriani et al. Speed and dexterity are admirable qualities, but apply just as readily to typists as guitar players. Jan Van Nimwegen might cite Jan Akkerman, Kenny Burrell and Steve Howe as influences while Vai, Petrucci and Satriani just might as well namedrop Mavis Bacon as their creative muse.

Van Nimwegan's compositions are all beautifully constructed and paced throughout and never betray their origins as conceived on guitar i.e Jan is a composer who plays guitar, not a composer of guitar music, and it is not inconceivable that these pieces could be arranged quite satisfactorily for any number of rock, jazz or orchestral forces such is their strength and durability. The motifs and themes employed all have a beginning, development and conclusion, with the various transitions from one section to the next all seamlessly negotiated. We always get the impression that, unlike some other pseudo-prog, these are not little unrelated instrumental passages glued together by a skilled but unscrupulous arranger.

Things kick off with a very angular and beguiling guitar motif which is transposed intact by various interval leaps and the effect is redolent of Steve Howe of Yes in one of his more inspired moments. The entrance of the drums is thrilling and Beer Klaasse (the sleevenote dept were stoned off their tits possibly?) lays down a subtle yet driving pattern which underpins the music perfectly. Beer's playing is a real pleasure throughout this album as he displays an unerring intuition for when to get busy and when to play simply as befitting the musical materials at any given time. Yep, (I couldn't resist it), Beer has taste, feel and class in equal measures. Similarly, the bass chappie who lent the band their name (Petr Vink - Dutch for Finch) shares many of the qualities of his buddies by being a player capable of mind bogglingly rapid runs and stark relief when either is called for. His ballsy and guttural Rickenbacker tone lends itself well to the music and gives the tracks the visceral weight of rock but the light and shade of a jazz player. Cleem Determejer's keys are mainly deployed in a supporting role to the guitar and to my ears at least, his parts seem to be mastered a tad low in the mix? This is a shame as his piano, organ and synth work is unfailingly appropriate and imaginative but apart from the occasional solo which uncloaks itself from the shadows, his work is rather buried in the background.

All the tracks are uniformly strong but special mention must go to some of the highlights as follows:

Pisces - has a truly cinematic LOOK BEHIND YOU ! intro and the frisson induced by the ostinato guitar dischord is a real goosebump raiser. There follows a jazzy electric piano solo which would even elicit a grin of satisfaction from Herbie Hancock as heard on some of the latter's work with Miles Davis. The slow and moody breakdown section illustrates that Finch have a firm grasp of one of the more elusive elements in prog, i.e. less is more

A Bridge to Alice - Straight from the top shelf of Creepy Tunes R Us to be filed under 'uneasy listening' for sure. The breadth of stylistic changes on this track alone is mind blowing and encompasses strident rock riffing, swinging jazz and European classical phrasings as motivitic sources. Van Nimwegan reveals his most overtly jazz influenced leaning here on a sublimely beautiful and ethereal guitar section that is redolent of Kenny Burrell or Joe Pass had either been born into European influences. (or shared the same brand of smokes as the hirsute Flying Dutchman)

Colossus Parts 1 & 2 - From what I can gather these are segued bonus tracks omitted from the original album and culled from a very highly sought after vinyl only single release. The influence of Focus is evidenced here quite strongly as the composition sources it's inspiration from musical ideas that would find a comfortable home in the European classical canon. Part 2 announces it's arrival with a ghostly organ riff that will orbit your cranium for weeks afterwards. Wonderful scuttling sprint on Hammond from Determejer answered by call and response from the guitar. Possibly a contender for best track on the album.

Many reviewers have felt cause to remark on this band's debt to their fellow countrymen Focus, and although the echoes are evident in places, I feel that an instrumental band led by a guitarist who draws his inspiration from prog, European classical music and jazz is inevitably going to draw comparison from the most famous of all Dutch groups. Although Akkerman and Van Nimwegan are very distinct and original guitarists, they do share a fondness for dispensing with, or stripping away a lot of the habitual blues licks and scales from their playing, which lends their individual styles a very recognizably European sound.

Apart from the frankly silly title, this is a very strong album and should be all the evidence needed that the Netherlands has made a significant contribution to prog that is not restricted to just the output of their most celebrated sons, Focus.

ExittheLemming | 4/5 |


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