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Second Movement - Blind Man's Mirror CD (album) cover

BLIND MAN'S MIRROR

Second Movement

 

Symphonic Prog

3.65 | 23 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars One of the true obscurities of German prog from the 70s, SECOND MOVEMENT is a band that formed all the way back in 1971 in Coburg but didn't find any album release until late in the game in 1976 and due to its formation so early on has been assumed to be just another Krautrock band from the vibrant scene of the early 70s but this band forged ahead with a sound all its own as it kept some of the psychedelic features of the 60s but mixed them with a more symphonic approach that often emulated the great Keith Emerson with energetic outbursts of keyboard prowess. Add to that the band infused Santana-esque percussive drive and occasional solos but even stranger was that the catchy pop hooks, soaring emotive guitars and stylistic approach seemed to prognosticate the neo-prog movement of the 80s. There are even occasional saxophone solos and lush flute passages.

Having incarnated from the ashes of a band called The O.N.E. that played covers of songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Troggs in the late 60s, SECOND MOVEMENT carried on many of the pop sensibilities while it incorporated a healthy dose of proggy workouts as it headed into the second wave of German prog along with other bands such as Anyone's Daughter, Amenophis and Rousseau. By the time SECOND MOVEMENT got around to recording and releasing an album, the octet lineup was whittled down to the mere sextet of Harald Kesselhack (lead vocals), Sigmund "Seggi" Zeidler (keyboards), Thomas Möckl (guitar), Manni Bierback (flute, saxophone), Manni Greiner (bass) and Mathias Helk (drums). The band released its debut album BLIND MAN'S MIRROR and a standalone single "Fool's Dance / Rainbow" on Castle Records in 1976. The album is a true obscurity as only 700 copies were produced on vinyl and it has never found a repressing as of 2020 at least.

Not only has this album suffered from its true obscurity but has also been subjected to lots of criticism over the decades probably due to the fact it didn't adhere to the norms of the German scene and sounds more like an English band in many ways. Not only do the keyboards emulate Keith Emerson but the vocal style of Harald Kesselhack often sounds a lot like Greg Lake particularly on tracks like the length nine minute "Back In Town" but while that may be true, the band has a much more diverse spectrum of tones and timbres than ELP ever did and the keyboard parts are for the most part crafted to create a hyperactive atmospheric backdrop for the melodic flow to weave a tapestry around. The inclusion of the flute and spaced out guitar chops evokes another German band, Nektor although some Pink Floyd influences can be heard now and again but what stands out the most are the airy guitar sweeps that evoke the Genesis albums with Steve Hackett around Wind & Wuthering.

Underneath the prog workouts lays a very classical sounding foundation and at times the keyboard reverts to pure Baroque style Bach sounds that immediately bring bands like The Nice to mind but these revelations are fleeting and the prog regalia quickly returns to its originally scheduled program. Despite four tracks extending past the nine minute mark with the title track exceeding twelve, SECOND MOVEMENT's composiitons are primarily vocal based, sung in English and give no hints as to the fact that this band was German but despite the lyrical content providing much of the running time, there are plenty of opportunities for extended improvisations, proggy time signature deviations and a few hairpin turns but overall this album has somewhat of a crossover appeal as it's based on pop infused catchy hooks that give this album more of a happy new wave feel which is possibly why it's been panned by many since it betrays the German tendencies to create dark, brooding and even depressing music that was so prevalent in the Krautrock scene.

While its true this band wore its influences on its sleeves prominently, at the same time it's impossible to mistake this album as something crafted by any of the bands that made an impression on SECOND MOVEMENT. This album exists somewhere between the early symphonic prog 70s and the later post 76 new wave scene which gives this one a really unique flavor as it somehow manages to bring classical music, jazz, psychedelia, symphonic prog, new wave and even Latin flavors all into one cauldron. Personally i like this one a lot. The album is extraordinarily consistent and although this may appeal more to the crossover prog and neo-prog crowds, it's definitely a keeper that seriously needs to find a remastered renaissance. The band released one more album without any prog in 81 and then soon disbanded.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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