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For Absent Friends - Square One CD (album) cover


For Absent Friends


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4 stars After a 5 years iatus, here it is, the new FAF album. Forget the previous ones, this is different. You won't find anything symphonic or new progisch, here. Just an extremely well crafted prog album, where melody and sound research climax to give birth to the ultimate prog album. I'll beginn with the last song, "Billy". As guests we have her "le roi" Christin Dechamps of Ange. No, he doesn't sing in english! But the mix between french and english is fascinating. And lots of brass at the end of the song...not a tipical prog song, hence intriguing. Up next the longest one "Wonder". A piano-vocals beginning, for an 8 minutes song. The vocals remind me of a mix between Phil Collins and Mick Hucknall of Simply Red! Then the instrumental parts beginn...Piano vs electric guitar. Then a mini moog...simply wonderfull. And refreshing too. To the shortest: 2.20 for "Falling asleep" you can immagine, a ballad! If you are into moodisch prog, piano and guitar solos à la Marillion, this one's for you!!! Probably the worst song is the first one, so...don't be turned off by it. I can appreciate the will to add new "colours" to prog music, but this one is a little to out-of-stile for me. All in all one of the nice surprises of 2006.
Report this review (#116557)
Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2007 | Review Permalink

Not willing to mimic "Bowie" in one of his great songs ("Five Years" of course), but this is exactly the time that separates the last two albums from this Dutch Band.

And when I heard "Hello World" the opening number, I just wondered why they haven't called it quit. So far, they released average (four) to poor (two) albums. At best, the band sounds melodic, but lately this aspect has been dropped for a more AOR-ish sound.

The same sort of adventure awaits you with "Stick Around" unfortunately. The quiet "Call It Chance" is received as a nice present in comparison. A soft rock ballad, finally melodic and featuring an excellent guitar break. Probably one of my favourite song in their whole repertoire (but it is true to say that there aren't many).

Their popish aspect is present in the title track. Somewhat harder and "Muse" oriented in the structure. Not too bad after all. It ends almost as "Wonder" opens. This one is the longest song of "Square One" and its strengths are also its weaknesses.

Actually, its diversity makes it like several songs patched up together without lots of unity. But for once that the band writes some more complex music, let's not discourage them. Another good guitar break at the end of this piece is welcome as well.

It seems that FAF has learned from Mostly Autumn : almost each song is punctuated with a very good guitar solo at the end. It is again the case for "Berlin Wall", and it is its only attraction.

Another attraction is the closing number. It is a cover version of an Ange song featured on their album : Les Larmes Du Dalaï Lama. This version of Le Ballon De Billy is more rock oriented and features partial vocals in English (written by Hans van Lint) and French ones (sung by Christian and hsi son Francis). Even if I prefer the original one, I have to say that it was quite a surprise to listen this one on a FAF album (called simply Billy here).

This album is on par with their first two ones. At times enjoyable but I can't really say that it is a good album. Two stars.

Report this review (#158108)
Posted Tuesday, January 8, 2008 | Review Permalink

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