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Finch - Beyond Expression CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.06 | 146 ratings

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4 stars Using a JAN AKKERMAN-like guitar tone, this Dutch band plays a music that makes me think of contemporary bands like CAMEL, YES, and even ELP more than FOCUS. As a matter of fact, I think if you took Caravan-Camel keyboard player, Jan Schelhaas, and put him with Starcastle's rhythm section and Andy Latimer (playing Jan Akkerman's guitar) you'd have a better look at the music on this album--and what GREAT music it is! Blues rock with great melodies and an electric guitarist worthy of checking out (Joop Van Nimwegen). Still, the FOCUS similarities and influences are doubtless.

1. "A Passion Condensed" (20:05) (9/10 overall): - a) Part 1 (1:04) the most obvious FOCUS reference opens the album. (9/10) - b) Part 2 (4:15) a fast-paced exercise in CAMEL-CARAVAN fusion. (9/10) - c) Part 3 (2:55) the music smooths out and even takes on a bit of a bluesy flash with strumming guitars, bouncing Fender and Hammond and slashy riffs from the guitar to glue it all together. Nice finish. (9/10) - d) Part 4 (2:59) slowing things way down with electric guitar arpeggi, the Wurlitzer takes over allowing the guitar to then take the lead--providing a nicely emotional and melodic song. (8.5/10) - e) Part 5 (5:47) jumps out of the prettiness of the previous section with a near-Led Zeppelin raunchiness. Great drama in the base and rhythm while the lead screams and soars in his Jimmy Page-like bluesy-ness. But then, suddenly, it falls back into the dreamy syrupy-ness of the previous section while the guitar lead slowly recedes. And then, crash! Boom! Bang! The guitar leaps back into the fore and a very impressive JAN AKKERMAN-like solo ensues --complete with speed, accuracy, and melody! (9/10) - f) Part 6 (3:05) segueing from the previous section with some very quick staccato hits, the song almost heads into "Hocus Pocus" territory with some unusual synth and guitar sounds chosen to carry the melody. But then for the final minute and a half searing guitar and sizzling synth exchange machine gun lead riffs dueling between repetitions of the main theme. Nice way to finish! (10/10)

2. "Scars On The Ego" (8:51) (9.25/10 overall): - a) Part 1 (2:21) opens with a riff straight out of Todd Rundgren's UTOPIA before switching to a "Black Mariah" sound and structure. Interesting! (9/10) - b) Part 2 (6:30) a slow key- and guitar- arppeggi-based opening serves to establish a foundation for a very nice if simple Wurlitzer melody line. I like the effected bass?it's like something I've heard from Percy Jones before. The "chorus" has a CAMEL sound and feel to it, but then the second verse opens with some searing STEVE HILLAGE-like guitar. Back to the Black Mariah theme before changing tempo and letting a heavily effected and high speed TODD RUNDGREN like guitar solo preempts a disco-like section over which a cheezy synth solos. Blistering Rundgren guitar precedes a totally UTOPIAn close. (9.5/10)

3. "Beyond The Bizarre" (14:24) (8.5/10 overall): - a) Part 1 (2:58) slow, heavy guitar arpeggio with piano accompaniment opens this Russian-sounding dirge. In the second minute the music fills out the soundscape in a very FOCUS-like rich bluesy emotionality. (8.5/10) - b) Part 2 (2:57) the pace quickens and a nice rhythm section backs the speed-soli of the guitar and keyboard. Again, the melodies are so catchy! (9/10) - c) Part 3 (2:59) the piano in this opening section sounds like the slow section of Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla" (part 2), but then a bouncy four chord piano section ensues for the screechy guitar to lay down a simple, melodic lead. Switch to swirling organ for the background before shifting to the final section. (8/10) - d) Part 4 (5:30) long, drawn out, pause-filled keyboard play teases the listener with its emotional melody before we switch to piano arpeggi and strumming acoustic guitar (to emphasize the previous "Layla, Part 2" theme while also mirroring the ending to FOCUS songs like "Focus II" and "Moving Waves" and "Birth"). (8.5/10)

Some great music in the vein of fellow countrymen FOCUS and especially with the guitar sounds and stylings of JAN AKKERMAN in mind. Whether a tribute or mimic or not, this is very good instrumental music with very good instrumentalists and great theme melodies.

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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