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In Spe

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars An EXCELLENT album from Estonia. Mostly instrumental symphonic rock with magnificent keyboards and delicious flutes, very original and clasically influenced. IN SPE seems to take inspiration from contemporary classical music and local folk, giving an unique touch.

The three parts "Symphony For Seven Performers" is a piece of art where classical, symphonic and folk music are blended through beautiful melodies. "Antidolorosum" is the only sung track, very good indeed, and the two last instrumental pieces are a little bit darker, even majestic, reminding me the ANGLAGARD's sound... but that Swedish fabulous band realised their first album seven years later!

IN SPE debut is another hidden prog pearl. I would give it 4 and 3/4 stars. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#3563)
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I hope this album from 1982 enjoys a classic status at least in its home country Estonia. The composer Erkki-Sven Tüür has later been active in classical music's field (though he's not as 'big name' as especially Arvo Pärt). This is a "Symphony for seven performers" - but there are actually eight players. Or maybe the one with 'digital normalizer, roland vocoder' is not counted as there are even two players handling synths, the other being Erkki-Sven himself who also sings the only part with vocals ('Antidolorosum' is based on a fine metaphysical poem by an Estonian poet).

My first listening started very positively - thinking even the possibility of five stars - and turned into a slight disappointment in the last two tracks, but on the second round they too sounded better. As a little minus I'd say many tracks could be shorter without losing anything crucial, as the musical themes are given plenty of time, but it never really comes into a level of boredom so it's not a notable minus. The music is very sophisticated instrumental art rock; flutes and synths have central roles. As the music is never plainly in the rock category, it is difficult to name bands for comparison. Mike Oldfield's Incantations sound a bit similar as the first tracks. With synths like mini moog and Prophet 5, it's at times a cross between 70's Camel and Tangerine Dream. Anyway, its is GOOD music for the mind's eye. I bet you don't often find a great prog album with Estonian vocals! ;)

Report this review (#129128)
Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I came across this recording by chance and I must admit I knew who Erkki was prior to realizing he was the mastermind behind this beautiful project. I came across Erkki's name while listening to a show here in the US called Hearts of Space. He is know primarily a classical composer but with definitive Estonian flavor. The In Spe album I am reviewing is the debut. Its filled with lovely dynamics, floating melodies and a classical renaissance flavor with its use of the recorder as a main melodic vessel. The music drifts along with nice supprt from all band members each one adding their own brushstrokes to the overall canvas of sound. There is a slight elememt of that classic late 1970's progressive rock sound in the Minimoog solos and tasteful use of electric guitar punctuations. I will point out this although people pigeonhole this as prog rock I think has more of a sound track feel and almost at time meditative quality as it is NOT as bombastic as many other bands in the genre. If you enjoy the lighter side of Jade Warrior, Renasisance,Terry Riley and early IQ without the lyric content then this is the album for you. Very well recorded with a good sense of dynamics and melodic structure.

Report this review (#145312)
Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars The Singing Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Given the tumultuous upheaval and conflicts that have scarred and forged the Baltic states into their present democratic forms, we really should never lose sight of the context within which their artistic efforts in the prog domain are realised. Having said that, I am more than happy to forgive dodgy sound quality, a little amateurishness and a LOT of lack of formal training.

However, I am not going to forgive this.

Right, secure the wait, dust off your fluffy slippers and break open a bottle of Dexedrine because here comes In Spe. From the badlands of Estonia, this street gang of insurance clerks would have great difficulty even getting arrested for possession of tumbleweed. It must be frustrating for progressively minded musos from Estonia when your most famous export consists of IKEA coffee table spirituality from Arvo Part. Despite this handicap, In Spe do at least possess a fine set of chops and sound eminently accomplished as both players and writers of decent but pedestrian classically infused 'rawk'

My litany of niggles about this record centre around the following:

The delightfully named Arvo Urb on drums does inject some inspired and entertaining fills on occasion but otherwise, contents himself to sound uncannily like a very dull tub thumping 80's drum machine.

The flute and recorder certainly contribute an attractive folky medieval atmosphere and texture to proceedings but both Brambat and Tuur are guilty of betraying their origins as rather stiff classical players treading unconvincingly for the first time into the dirty longhair realm of 'rawk'

Anyone who sees '1983' on an album sleeve should know by now that there is a very high likelihood of the presence of sterile digital keyboard presets being hurled with abandon from your speakers. These bland and brittle timbres only serve to fill the vast swathes of air preserved for posterity on this anodyne recording. Curiously enough, the CD liner notes would flatly contradict this by indicating only the presence of those analogue beasties i.e. Phrophets, Moogs and Jupiters. Shame really, as apart from the sheer unbridled conservatism on show, the playing itself is beyond reproach. Is it perhaps just the production that makes this recording sound so flat and unsatisfying?

What exactly does Mr Priit Kuulberg do with his 'Digital Normalizer' listed on the cover? does he pluck it, hit it, blow it or perhaps all three....? Is this the curse of the binary gremlin that flattens out all the natural peaks and troughs in a live performance prior to being transferred to CD?

Riho Sibul clearly graduated from the Waters/Clapton/Santana school of Highly Strung Arts, and takes sadistic delight in regaling us with many interminable exercises in tone and sustain that only readers of twang mags give a flying plectrum about. (Check out the cabinet and amp configuration on this one dude and get a load of that quarter tone sharp bend, sweet...) Yep, I do seem to have an innate aversion to guitarists who spend way too much time at the 'dusty end' of their instrument.

The thematic ideas and development thereof are effortlessly and seamlessly negotiated but I cannot remember a single melodic fragment from the entire CD even after 20 unwelcome spins. Much of this is borderline 'new age' (and what a misnomer that term is to be sure, that fondant goo so beloved of cherubic tattooed pensioners in their 30's)

It's all just too polite and nice DAMMIT, like a pet project the denim shirted liberal arts teacher at school devised to turn the kids on to culture. Like sensible shoes and just one beer, no-one is remotely interested in conservative rebellion even if your name is an anagram of PENIS.

Report this review (#211079)
Posted Sunday, April 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In Spe was the brainchild of today famous Estonia composer Erkki-Sven Tuur.He found the band in Talinn back in 1979, when he was still an unknown student.He brought together his wife Anne on piano along with drummer Arvo Urb, guitarist Riho Sibul, flautist Peeter Brambat, keyboardist Mart Metsala, and bassist Toivo Kopli.Sibul, after he left to join Kaseke, was replaced for a while by Ruja's Jaanus Nogisto, but soon returned to play for both bands simultaneously.After plenty of gigs In Spe released their self-titled LP in 1983 on Melodyia, featuring compositions arranged by Tuur between 1979 and 1981.

The whole first side of the LP is dedicated to Tuur's most ambitious composition, the 20- min. opus Sümfoonia seitsmele esitajale (''Symphony for Seven Performers'').The first part ''Ostium'' is a great piece of Electronic/Symphonic Rock with superb synth layers and melodic guitars dominating, followed by its longest part ''Illuminatio'', an arrangement for piano, synthesizers and flute for most of its part, mixing nicely Cosmic Folk with Electronic and Classical Music.''Mare vitreum'' will close the suite blending both styles.Flute-driven Folk with melodic yet energetic Symphonic Rock based on Sibul's excellent guitar playing and the dreamy synthesizers and organ of Tuur.One amazing piece of diverse contemporary Symphonic/Folk Rock.

The flipside kicks off with ''Antidolorosum'', an obscure piece with a FRIPP-ian guitar intro, good vocals along the way and finally Tuur shining with his floating synths and organ.The long ''Päikesevene'' starts with a flute-based dissonance to become more groovy on the way with some fine Fusion-esque guitars and after the middle it is Tuur's moment.His grandiose synthesizers shine, interplaying with Sibul's guitars in some sort of Electronic/Fusion style.The closing ''Sfaaride voitlus'' is another great cosmic experience.The dreamy opening notes with flutes and synths will burst after the middle to an excellent guitar/keyboard-based battle before closing again in a Cosmic Electronic style.

To say that this man would become a great composer listening to his compositions is today an excess.Possibly the greatest prog release to come out of Estonia and a stunning experience of Symphonic/Folk/Electronic musicianship.Essential and very original- sounding addition for any collection.

Report this review (#610272)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I will make this review short and sweet,.

Prog rock (especially symphonic prog rock) is often defined in a very off the cuff manner as a cross-pollination between rock music and classical music. Yet, when we examine the music more closely, it is clear that the rock side nearly always dominates. I can think of only a few Zeuhl albums where this is not true.

And it is not true for In Spe's first album. Which is not to say that there aren't some delightful light rock passages throughout this album, But what we have here is a wonderfully classically influenced album that entertains us with it's restrained classical sensibility. Four and a half stars from me.

Report this review (#885595)
Posted Tuesday, January 1, 2013 | Review Permalink

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