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Nautilus - 20,000 Miles Under The Sea CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.42 | 36 ratings

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4 stars When a fellow member of the Symphonic Team shared with me his doubts about NAUTILUS from Switzerland (Not to be confused with the German homonymous band) being Symphonic, I got some samples from the excellent album "20,000 Miles Under the Sea" and shared his opinion immediately but no matter in what sub-genre they belong, I felt that they are unfairly underrated and ignored, so immediately got the album and what a surprise, they are excellent for any person interested in early forms of Progressive Rock like Psyche and Proto Prog.

Despite the year of release (1978) the first impression you get is that it's a blend of late British Psychedelia with Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and some leanings towards German Symphonic a la Triumvirat.

The album starts with the title track and it's a wonderful slap in the face, they hit the listener with all the band has, strong bass riffs close to Gary Thain during the "Uriah Heep" golden era, vocals very close to Deep Purple and an excellent organ by Ralph Stucki sounding as a blend of Farfisa (that send you back to a point in the late 60's as a melting of The Doors and Grand Funk Railroad) but other times sounds as Hammond in the vein of Ken Hensley meets Jürgen Fritz, great aggressive and strong opener.

"Sleeping in the Wind" has a more acoustic approach, the guitar Christian Bauer stars soft ad mo0ody blending with the spacey keyboards in the vein of early/mid Pink Floyd, but then Bauer takes a harder edge and Ralf Stucki follows the style of Triumvirat during the Illusions on a Double Dimple - Spartacus era, less cohesive than the previous but not for that reason less impressive, again good quality material but less aggression.

"Like a Bird" Starts semi acoustic again with a very pleasant mood a bit dreamy and very atmospheric, the vocals are recorded in a second plane with the backings taking the lead in some moments, the keyboards are clearly like in most British Psychedelia, strangely in this track the bass is less impressive than in the first two but again another very beautiful song and great melody.

"Deep Inside Me" tell us that the Uriah Heep influence is back, the classical Hensley sound and mystery is recreated from the start and the effect is boosted when an elaborate guitar mixing metal oriented flashes with Mick Box's typical distortion, the lead voice of Dieter Ruf is not very close to David Byron, but the choral work by Stucki and Bauer reminds me of Look at Yourself or Demons and Wizards but then the piano changes the mood to some German Symphonic style combined with a touch of Hard Rock, along the opening track, the strongest up to this point.

"Lady" is another song inspired in Heep the keyboards are less dark but much faster getting closer to Deep Purple, very melodic and coherent, the only problem is the choral work that is the weakest at this point, sounding even out of key by instants and the keyboards seem to loose the road sounding again like Jürgen Fritz in Pompeii but this time with an out of place guitar work a bit flat, the weakest track of the album but still not bad.

"Lost in Time" is a longer track that starts like a marc with a clear psychedelic sound and strong drumming by Peter Fibich, the guitar played in the style of The Doors meet Santana are quite pleasant, the vocal work is very elaborate with radical tempo variations still takes us to Carnaby Street back in 1968 or 1969 even when less druggy and moiré vibrant, now Ralph Stucki plays in some sections as Rick Wakeman in "Criminal Record" proving how versatile the guy is, if you're a psyche era nut as me, I'm sure you will enjoy this excellent song.

"To the Sky" is a short but full of energy song, the opening keyboards a la Hensley in Look at Yourself are breathtaking, the vocals strangely remind me of Peruvian Proto Prog in the style of LAGHONIA perfectly back upped by a a great guitar that reminds of Santana work and a strong rhythm section, a song that has everything, if it was only longer would be perfect, but as some people say it's better to leave the audience asking for more.

The album is closed with "Opus For Ghosts, Crocodiles and Four Living Persons", the name is longer than the exhilarating track (1:48), NAUTILUS again hits us with all their repertoire, Baroque keyboards, flashy guitar, strong bass and Peter Fibich who is a human metronome, great way to close an excellent album.

A few years ago after two decades of listening Prog', I thought nothing could surprise me, but while getting older my capacity of surprise is not lost, this guys really impressed me, they had the advantage of releasing a pure Prog album in 1978 after listening by all the early icons (They looked at the world on the shoulders of giants) but didn't felt in the easy path of cloning them, NAUTILUS took this inspiration and worked it in a very intelligent way

After listening "20,000 Miles Under the Sea", I'm that they are lost in the Symphonic sub-genre, the richness of influences makes them a book case of Art Rock and I can't wait until I get the second album of this excellent Swiss band.

Four stars for an excellent addition to any Prog collection but if you're interested in late Psychedelia and love blending of sounds It's invaluable.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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