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Phylter - Phylter CD (album) cover

PHYLTER

Phylter

 

Symphonic Prog

3.13 | 35 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Phylter's only album came at a time it had no chance to even make the slightest wave and to be truthful, it's just as well, because it has everything to remain discrete as a transparent carp. The late 70's was a cornucopia for second-rate Belgian symphonic rock groups: Nessie, Dragon, Flyte, Isopoda, Prelude, and their bigger brother Machiavel and the surprising Pollen (not to be confused with the Quebecois group). Indeed, most of these groups came half a decade too late, as most of the music industry had moved on. The standard prog quartet, emanating from the western city of Bruges, they developed a symphonic prog that rode smoothly on the Camelian back of Genesis and Floyd.

Based on a concept (at least I'm pretty sure) where the icy artwork gracing its cover plays a role, the album remains an honest (at best) if uninspired trip through aerial symphonic prog. The album is marred by poor lyrics and sometimes almost laughable multiple singing harmonies and even awful recording hissing in the fourth track, Promenade. Their symphonic rock is mostly based on the Camel smoothness (except in the energetic eponymous instrumental title track) and borders often the cheesy side of the style. The first side is made of four average length tracks, which do not really make the listener raise an eyebrow (except for the third noisier one). Their sound is not that easily described because it is rather unique, with Phillips (keys and vocals) is clearly their leader and Van Der Zalm's guest violin brings another touch of originality.

The second side is definitely better if not fundamentally different! After a lengthy synth intro, the Consideration track develops in an up-tempo pleasant track where the vocals can even approach the good sing-along feel. Had the group managed to get a loyal following, it is easy to see this track as a set-closer getting the fans to yell out loud the simple yet effective lyrics in order to get a triumphant return for an encore. The closing "epic" Mood For Change is obviously the main course, but fails to score all that well even if there are very good moments.

Reissued by Spalax in the early-90's, not really bad, but not that good either, Phylter's sole album does not represent that much what was typically symphonically-done in Belgium in the closing years of the 70's, but we are a far cry from the ultra adventurous dark and mind-blowing music that their countrymen Univers Zero were doing at the same era. Not really worth your investment, but not completely devoid of merit either. This flawed album is not really achieving classic status (far from it), but it does rock a bit harder than you'd guess it.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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