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PHYLTER

Phylter

Symphonic Prog


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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.

Report this review (#121236)
Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Phylter is an obscure symphonic prog band from Belgium who release a single album so far in 1978 selftitled. The music they've play is rather eclectic to my ears with of course symphonic arrangements , but don't expect to be something a la Genesis , Yes or other symph giants of the '70, is more towars in sound like their country fellows Machiavel . A little dull and usual symph prog in places but filled with a lots of synthesizers and organs that gives a special feel to it, not far from typical late '70's band like Machiavel and even in places some Nessie traces are obvious. All pieces stand as good to me, not a weak moment as a whole, but not something special either, a worthy album to be listened from time to time. I like very much the choruses from the first 3 pieces - Overture, Dreams of yesterday and Phylter, in fact the best from here, better even than last track a near 15 min of good symp prog but not excellent. Patrick Philips did a great job on this album both on vocals not to mention on keys, the rest of the musicians are good no doubt , but they don't shine as on other albums from late '70's, they've done what they know best - prog music. So , beside the fact that the previous reviewer said almost all about them, to me remains only to tell you that this album worth some spind if you enjoy '70's prog obscure symph bands. 3 stars easely, not among the top of Begium's great prog music, but not a bad album either.
Report this review (#213034)
Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Phylter's only album is a fairly good account of what they were up to during their time together.

Their brand of symphonic prog is deeply rooted in the early space rock scene. Add some naive, accented vocals too and you get an album somewhere between ELP and Wylde Flowers. The star here is the keyboardist Patrick Philips who alone drags this album up from merely decent to a good album. The best song here is Dreams Of Yesterdays. A truly great song, actually. The rest of the album is pretty basic symphonic space prog and pretty decent. I am not overjoyed by this album, I am afraid. But Patrick Philips is the saving grace here.

3 stars (barely)

Report this review (#295739)
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Obscure, coming quite late, with sound that you probably heard before, but still lovely. I'm not that familiar with Belgium's scene, as for example Hugues (Sean Trane), but you can probably say that I tend to give bands higher ratings in general than three previous reviewers here. So my final rating will be slightly higher. But It really think it's a good album, it's enjoyable and there's no single thing I hate about it. Yes, originality fails here a lot, even I have to admit it, but it's not the only important thing. Feeling I get from this album is quite great, it's a nice piece of music in homogeneous way of no-influence (no Genesis-influences band, no Camel- influenced), but in result, it sounds well enough to earn

4(-) (ahem, barely)

Report this review (#306836)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Phylter is another of those bands that came a little too late on the scene when the music world had changed completely from a few years before (1978). If the situation was already bad for established bands, what to say about newcomers? Sometimes you can find interesting and even excellent stuff (Anyoneīs Daughter comes in mind). But, with punk and disco rising high at that time, they all had little chance to get notice. And this is the case with this band from Belgium.

Their sound is actually closer to light space/krautrock than "real" symphonic groups like Yes or Genesis. The songs are OK, I guess, but really not that good. With time it is possible they would eventually evolve into something bigger and more exciting. Judging from their debutīs LP perspective, it is no surprise that they did not have the opportunity to release a follow up. They had a lot to learn in terms of arrangements and songwriting. Vocals are only average too. Production does not help much either, being far from satisfactory.

Donīt get me wrong: their sound is pleasant enough. I liked the 3 last songs, they are far better than the previous 3. Patrick Philips is surely the best musician here and his keyboards are the highlight of the album. Even so, I canīt say it is any better than several other bands that were struggling to get somewhere at the period. They were at least four years late in terms of style and playing.

Conclusion: more interesting than really good. Not essential at all. But if you like searching for obscure bands of the late 70īs, then Phylter might be worth checking out. The CD has a few good moments that fans of the space rock movement might like.

Rating: 2,5 stars.

Report this review (#354135)
Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | Review Permalink

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