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Triumvirat - Illusions On A Double Dimple CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 386 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Triumvirat break new boundaries and launch headlong into prog territory.

What a delightful discovery for my prog sensitive ears! Triumvirat are an awesome German prog band that have discovered the glorious sound of symphonic progressive music. The simple streamlined piano arpeggios permeate each track along with some thunderous Hammond stabs by the dextrous talents of Jürgen Fritz. There are adventurous basslines from Helmut Köllen who doubles up on guitars and vocals. The lead vocals are from Hans Pape who also dabbles in bass, and then there's the sporadic blitzing drums of Hans Bathelt. Together they make up one of the most compelling innovative symphonic bands one may ever hear.

The music on the title track that spans an entire vinyl side, is ever changing and detouring into a range of directions. The playing is solid and pronounced, with very clear rhythmic patterns. From double time to slow and lucid, the song floats on an air of keyboards as vocals caress the spaces between. The vocals are reminiscent of Canterbury bands such as Caravan or Camel, yet are completely unique in their own right. There are a myriad of time sigs to keep one interested and the bass is particularly resonant at times and maintain a consistent rhythmic figure. The chimes and bell sounds are counterbalanced by heavy passages of guitar, though the music is always allowed to breathe. The shimmering organ is a key feature and touches my senses in the same way Emerson does on his classic pieces.

There are certainly ELP influences yet this is no clone band, quite the contrary, Triumvirat stand alone as one of the more dynamic 70s band in the golden era of prog. 1973 was a good year for prog and this one escaped my ears due to the high quality of other albums of the time. However, I believe this to be one of the key albums of that delightful year that deserves recognition. The 23 minute epic is segmented into sections as always but I always prefer to hear this as an entire piece. However I do like certain sections, especially when the buzzing synthesizers crunch in. The soloing of Fritz is dynamic playing but one must never forget the rhythm section of bass and drums that drives this beast along. The sections of the epic are Flashback (0:54), Schooldays (3:20), Triangle (6:55), Illusions (1:40), Dimplicity (5:28) and Last dance (4:42). The piece as an entire work is absolutely essential symphonic prog.

The second side is also a huge epic consisting of 6 separate components; Mister Ten Percent runs for 21:22 minutes and features the segments Maze (3:01), Dawning (1:01), Bad Deal (1:40), Roundabout (5:49), Lucky Girl (4:32) and Million Dollars (5:19). Ironically enough, Lucky Girl is nothing like ELP's Lucky Man, and Roundabout is not a cover of the Yes classic. Lucky Girl is a quieter melancholy piece that features odd drum time signatures and retain a fluent melody. The lyrics are imaginative and rhyme constantly; "when we ride on tomorrow I will find someone new" seems to hint at the theme of loss of a loved one, ditching a girl in other words. "Weren't you a lucky girl, never try to hate your world, do what your mama told you...." The music is a testament to the innovative creative talents from the group that were only hinted at in the debut. The band go into full flight on this track and plunge deep into the steamy waters of quirky pop and dance at times. There is a large ensemble adding backing vocals among other instrumentation. It adds a full sound into the mix.

This track begins with a Tarkus sound and some Yes harmonies, strange bedfellows I agree but Triumvirat make it work somehow. The melody is difficult to capture but there is so much happening at such a frenetic pace that it does not matter. The band rarely settles on one melody for long as they are experimental and unexpected in their approach to music. The sax on this is complemented by huge cloudbursts of synth and the reckless heartbeat of pounding drums. The massive Hammond staccato stabs are the dominant force here though especially on the intro to Million Dollars. There is a sweet orchestra to enhance the sound, notable at the end of the track, with some intriguing lyrics, "dreams are torn the game is over for you.... all illusions have disappeared but we have to live on for another 40 years... left alone on your own... who is going to work for you for the rest of your life... just say goodbye."

Although the band hail from Germany there are no signs of their accents bursting through. The vocals are easy to understand and clearly inspired by the prog of the day. They are heavier on this track with forceful verses, Gabriel-like in their theatrical approach, and the humorous edge is ever present. There are some confronting themes touched on but they never dominate over the sheer force of musical virtuosity. Themes such as alcoholism, oppression, and the love of money, are well received and have relevance even by today's standards.

Overall this is an excellent place to start for newcomers to the band. If you love ELP, Atomic Rooster, Yes or any other keyboard driven prog, you should sink your teeth into this. One of the great albums of 1973.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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