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In Spe - In Spe CD (album) cover

IN SPE

In Spe

 

Symphonic Prog

3.61 | 35 ratings

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ExittheLemming
Prog Reviewer
2 stars The Singing Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Given the tumultuous upheaval and conflicts that have scarred and forged the Baltic states into their present democratic forms, we really should never lose sight of the context within which their artistic efforts in the prog domain are realised. Having said that, I am more than happy to forgive dodgy sound quality, a little amateurishness and a LOT of lack of formal training.

However, I am not going to forgive this.

Right, secure the ornaments....no wait, dust off your fluffy slippers and break open a bottle of Dexedrine because here comes In Spe. From the badlands of Estonia, this street gang of insurance clerks would have great difficulty even getting arrested for possession of tumbleweed. It must be frustrating for progressively minded musos from Estonia when your most famous export consists of IKEA coffee table spirituality from Arvo Part. Despite this handicap, In Spe do at least possess a fine set of chops and sound eminently accomplished as both players and writers of decent but pedestrian classically infused 'rawk'

My litany of niggles about this record centre around the following:

The delightfully named Arvo Urb on drums does inject some inspired and entertaining fills on occasion but otherwise, contents himself to sound uncannily like a very dull tub thumping 80's drum machine.

The flute and recorder certainly contribute an attractive folky medieval atmosphere and texture to proceedings but both Brambat and Tuur are guilty of betraying their origins as rather stiff classical players treading unconvincingly for the first time into the dirty longhair realm of 'rawk'

Anyone who sees '1983' on an album sleeve should know by now that there is a very high likelihood of the presence of sterile digital keyboard presets being hurled with abandon from your speakers. These bland and brittle timbres only serve to fill the vast swathes of air preserved for posterity on this anodyne recording. Curiously enough, the CD liner notes would flatly contradict this by indicating only the presence of those analogue beasties i.e. Phrophets, Moogs and Jupiters. Shame really, as apart from the sheer unbridled conservatism on show, the playing itself is beyond reproach. Is it perhaps just the production that makes this recording sound so flat and unsatisfying?

What exactly does Mr Priit Kuulberg do with his 'Digital Normalizer' listed on the cover? does he pluck it, hit it, blow it or perhaps all three....? Is this the curse of the binary gremlin that flattens out all the natural peaks and troughs in a live performance prior to being transferred to CD?

Riho Sibul clearly graduated from the Waters/Clapton/Santana school of Highly Strung Arts, and takes sadistic delight in regaling us with many interminable exercises in tone and sustain that only readers of twang mags give a flying plectrum about. (Check out the cabinet and amp configuration on this one dude and get a load of that quarter tone sharp bend, sweet...) Yep, I do seem to have an innate aversion to guitarists who spend way too much time at the 'dusty end' of their instrument.

The thematic ideas and development thereof are effortlessly and seamlessly negotiated but I cannot remember a single melodic fragment from the entire CD even after 20 unwelcome spins. Much of this is borderline 'new age' (and what a misnomer that term is to be sure, that fondant goo so beloved of cherubic tattooed pensioners in their 30's)

It's all just too polite and nice DAMMIT, like a pet project the denim shirted liberal arts teacher at school devised to turn the kids on to culture. Like sensible shoes and just one beer, no-one is remotely interested in conservative rebellion even if your name is an anagram of PENIS.

ExittheLemming | 2/5 |

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