Fireworks

Apogee - 'The Art Of Mind' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/79/ee/25/Apogee-The-Art-Of-Mind-24-1450996306.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 24, 2015    
 
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Definitely a case of an album you need to hear before you buy. You never know, it might just float your boat.

Apogee is the domain of multi-instrumentalist and song-writer, Arne Schäfer (who is joined here by drummer/percussionist, Eberhard Graef) and is apparently his well-established side project from his usual band, Versus X; albeit this is my first encounter with either of those. This is Apogee's eighth album since 1995 and consists of five tracks and in today's world of lengthy releases clocks in at a relatively lowly fifty-six minutes.

As the promotional blurb invariably does, it hypes up the album with the claim that together Schäfer and Graef have revived the typical characteristics and qualities of the classic Prog Rock and then lists the usual suspect bands. I have to take issue with that because Apogee is a long way short of Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull etc. If anything they sit in the Neo-Prog world.

Musically it's very accomplished and really rather pleasant, however, there's a fly in the ointment which I have no doubt will split listeners into two camps, or at best three (giving room for a few fence-sitters) and that's Schäfer's vocals, which to my ears are dull and lifeless thus doing an injustice to his undoubted prowess as a composer. There have been many similar examples down the years; look at Bob Dylan, he's written many a great song but can't sing them for toffee – pretty much anyone sings his songs better than he does.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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It begs the question why the artist can't hear this for themselves? In such situations I find myself thinking "why don't you get a proper singer in?"

As I listened to this album a comparison immediately popped into my head, that of The Tangent both musically and vocally. The more I listen the more the similarity appears cogent; although Andy Tillison has a slightly more expressive voice (on record anyway). There's also the sort of idiosyncratic Peter Hammill (Van Der Graaf Generator) quality to his vocals which will probably prove to be a Marmite factor.

With either a decent singer or as an instrumental album I think I'd really enjoy this album, but as it stands it doesn't pass muster and that's probably why the band has never crossed my radar before. Compared to all the superb albums that have been released thus far this year in the Prog genre, I'm afraid this pales by comparison.

Definitely a case of an album you need to hear before you buy. You never know, it might just float your boat.

Gary Marshall

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