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Abel Ganz - Shooting Albatross CD (album) cover


Abel Ganz



4.02 | 181 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars So far they have come!

This 2008 album was my first exposure to Abel Ganz a couple of years ago. After now having listened to and reviewed all the earlier albums, I had to go back an re-listen to this album and update my review and add another star to my rating.

The first thing to notice in comparing this with the earlier albums of the band is how very different this album is from the rest of the band's discography. Abel Ganz was formed in 1980 and was part of the original Neo-Prog movement in Britain together with the likes of Pallas (whose present lead singer Alan Reed sings on the longest of the four tracks on this album). The present album has not that much to do with Neo-Prog at all, often coming across as a mixture of Caravan and Mike Oldfield with hints of Pallas. Interesting, right?

The first track, Looking For A Platform, is very similar to the style of Caravan. Especially the whimsical vocals remind strongly of that band, particularly the Cunning Stunts album. But there is also a nice Rick Wakeman-like piano solo in the middle of the song. The keyboards and guitars used here have a vintage sound and is similar to the Canterbury Scene bands of the 70's with their Jazz and Folk music influences. Indeed, there is an impressive plethora of very pleasant vintage and traditional instruments on this album with keyboards, electric piano, violins, mandolins, flutes, etc., etc. But there are also more modern sounds that contrast sharply and appealingly with the vintage ones.

The second track, So Far, in particular, has a more modern sound and a much harder edge. There are passages in this 20 minute plus track that remind very much (both musically and lyrically) of Pallas' Ghostdancers from their Dreams Of Men album. And it is, after all, Alan Reed of Pallas fame who takes the lead here and he does a very good job. I certainly would have preferred having him sing either all the album's lead vocals or none. Since the two vocal styles employed on the album are so radically different from each other, this adds to the somewhat disjointed feel of the album. With this said I must emphasise that all four songs here are highly enjoyable and pleasant. The folky passages sometimes sound like the wonderful and much underrated Prog Folk/Neo-Prog band Red Jasper and any Prog fan will be reminded of many sounds from the 70's and 80's. This music is not groundbreaking, but it is very well-crafted and certainly not your regular Neo-Prog album.

Compared to the more playful and whimsical Looking For A Platform, So Far is more serious and dark, musically and lyrically, and also a more structured piece. There are some heavy passages in this track and even some occasional, light "growls" somewhat similar to those pre-historic "growling" vocals on Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells! I enjoy both styles very much, but having them on the same album comes across as a bit disjointed and gives the impression that the band didn't quite know in which direction they wanted to go. This was the primary reason I gave only three stars on my original rating of the album. But this album remains enjoyable time after time despite its flaws and deserves a higher rating. Shooting Albatross is, after all, highly recommended despite some minor objections. It is particularly recommended for fans of Prog Folk and Canterbury Scene, perhaps more so than for fans of Neo-Prog. Great cover art too!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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