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Flairck - Variaties Op Een Dame CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.93 | 46 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Beyond the vaguely erotic and promising title, Flairck's debut album came out in 78, when acoustic folk groups were blossoming in Continental Europe, even if the folk music movement was getting a little passť by then. Whether in Germany with Emme Myldenberger, in France with La Bamboche or Tarentule or Spain's Basque Province with Izukaitz, Itoiz and Errobi, Holland came out with its own Flairck.. Lead by the Visser brothers, both guitarists, but Erik is also the main writer, the group also has Judy Schomper on violin and second writer Peter Weekers on wind instruments (flute principally), a line-up that to my knowledge would remain constant in their first four albums.

Whether Flairck is really progressive as in "prog" is rather difficult to say, because in their debut, there isn't the slightest rock element in their music. Indeed the group is more of a folk group that symphonizes its music, of a classical quartet (but fronted by two guitars) that composed some traditional folk tunes. But in either case, there are some unaccredited borrowings from classical composers, something that seems to be a Dutch specialty, as most group. The A-side is made of four instrumental "songs, starting on the Aiofe, a slow developer that sticks to acoustic guitar arpeggios with a pan flute. Quite a contrast on the much faster-paced Prelude In Sofia, where the violin and bass ensure a quick evolution to second, than third gear, with some excellent developments, turning into birdsongs. Next up is April Third and its sitar, a quiet but ultimately boring piece, even if the flute joins up. The Weekers-penned Odd Waltz closes the side in an all-too-predictable waltzes and jigs and reels and other stuff and tricks and treats?.. Next, please!!!

And indeed the second side is held mostly by the "epic" 21 mins+ title track, a slow starter on guitar and flute, before the violin enters around the third minute, before borrowed movements and reels enters the dance. A little later, a lengthy window is given to Schomper and her violin, where she chooses boldly to go Paganini, and on her return, the group finally shifts into second gear and then almost right away into third, but it's to late: when their better moments sound like the Quebecois band Maneige, in their first two albums. Indeed the whole second part of the title track finally holds its own, even if Weekers almost gets lost in his meandering flute solo. The album closes on the short Double, which is a guitar duo between the brothers, a last tidbit before saying goodbye.

If you're a fan of acoustic instrumental classical-derived folk music, Flairck's debut should be right up your alley, the only frustration being that you couldn't try different positions with their cute violinist. All macho considerations aside, the playing is very good, but rarely brilliant, and all too rare are the occasions to get excited about the music or the virtuosity of the individual members. Variations is a debut album that could be described as soporific if it wasn't for the sheer beauty of some of their passages. Let's call it sleep-inducing, without forgetting the unfulfilled promises of its title.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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