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For Absent Friends - FAF Out of HAL CD (album) cover


For Absent Friends



2.16 | 11 ratings

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The Prognaut
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Right before getting my hands on to "FAF Out of HAL", the nearest approach I had had towards the band was "Running in Circles", that in my appreciation was convincingly sounding fresh and different from what was considered as "neo progressive" those days. Discovering FOR ABSENT FRIENDS was a pleasant experience to me from the very beginning, making me realize there will always be enough room inside the mainstream progger you can be for the musically unexpected and the meaningful simplicities. As a matter of fact, this is the most suitable FOR ABSENT FRIENDS' album to be turned into the bookmark in the middle of their prominent career since it's got several views from different angles and every possible determinations. I also consider this production the most liable point of departure for newly FAF fans to start from due the exigencies they may come up with when discovering a brand new band (specially one from the demonized "neo prog" genre), and a surprising "eyebrow-rising" occasion for recurrent fans.

The band located in the harbour area in Rotterdam, decided to include both edited and recorded live versions of "Downtown" (taken from the album "Running in Circles") in here to find the appropriate contrast and a direct response from the audiences. As the rest of the album, this song's got a symbolic function. It brings together all the work put into the realization of the first studio version to the last live one recorded the 22nd of January, 1994 at the former terminal of the Holland America Line (HAL), where this album certainly had its appropriate premiere. Personally, out of all the possible versions of "Downtown", the recorded live is the one I enjoy listening to the most. The voice impact evoked by Alex TOONEN (A.T. for the pals), when interacting with the crowd is simply amazing, an that enlightens this meaningful song to an almost seductive approach. Somehow, Edwin ROES manages to wail off his guitar strangely accurate from the studio version, giving the song all the punch and freshness a live recording needs.

"Into Love" is the first of the four acoustic versions included in "FAF Out of HAL". There's a 12 strings guitar execution that deserves complete attention, and overall, entire admiration. The percussions added up to soften the upbeat arrangements, is quite great. The mushiness of the lyrics is pretty much evidenced here, and by the time you get yourself caught in "Memories" (where a soft, playful piano, comes in between a peaceful guitar and a single-beat drum set), you'll be already used to it. "The Fight" emanates beautiful folkloric passages throughout a relaxed guitar, well written, moving lyrics, and that provocative type of mood every romancing song has got.

"Dreamer" and "Looking for Love" (a previously unreleased demo-track), pretty much flow down the same narrative stream, concerting a marked dialogue between this chamber-music-like piano and a simple, unspectacular guitar (not to diminish the work, but to prove that even with little instrumentation, something memorable could come out of it).

The second half of this album, which is the one that contains the live versions; is indescribably amazing. "Someone Like You" far beyond been exquisitely written, with its due bittersweet touch; it displays such eeriness and emotion that even with the descriptive drum performing by Ed WERNKE, appears unbelievably convincing and practical. "Running Scared" proudly displays the sourness sustained by FAF, and by this point of the album, no matter the lyrics, you will completely be drawn to the band's magnetism. Simple, fast and helplessly. Just like that.

What's left of the album, represented on "The Bald, The Fat & The Ugly" and "Attitude"; is completely unidirectional. The pure essence of FAF flows completely through those tracks, we can perceive the magic and the skills each one of the musicians have individually. That's what FAF is made of. An excellent album that will open up your mind, taking you to unconventional neo progressive places, despite the vivid IQ and PENDRAGON influence this Dutch band has got. Remarkable latter half of the nineties production.

The Prognaut | 4/5 |


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