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(66 min, Mellow)
TRACK LIST: 1. On the Aftertaste 18:31 2. Possessed 11:17 3. How Could I Stop 5:35 4. Hibernation 5:55 5. Falling To Pieces 16:06 6. Don't Take It Bad 10:03 LINEUP: Arne Schafer - vocals; keyboards; guitars, bass; percussion Bettina Boos - female vocals
Prolusion. "On the Aftertaste" is the fourth official CD release by Germany's APOGEE, though this is actually their very first studio album. It consists of the tracks Arne Schafer composed and recorded from 1989 to 1991, i.e. quite long before the appearance of "The Border of Awareness" (1995), which, as of now, can only nominally be regarded as the project's first production. None of the six tracks presented were available previously, of course. Related reviews: Apogee, Versus X and Arne Schafer-solo.
Analysis. "On the Aftertaste" is definitely the best collection of unreleased tracks I've ever heard in my life. Furthermore, this material is as strong and impressive as any other Apogee album - honest! None of the tracks that form its content is a makeweight. Quite the contrary, this set includes only excellent compositions and masterpieces. The lyrics are sophisticated and well match the profoundness of the music itself. The long epic suites On the Aftertaste and Falling To Pieces are perhaps just a bit more compelling than the other tracks, and only due to their more than merely large-scaled instrumental palettes with a distinctive '70s feeling, though the latter factor is quite typical of the entire album. Here is another interesting detail. "On the Aftertaste" seems to be the most cohesive Apogee album, as all six of the compositions are wholly submitted to the laws of a single style, which is symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Classical music, and each can be used as a textbook example for the idiom. Although performed by a single man with the use of numerous overdubs, the material has a saturated, almost genuine full-band sound, save that of electronic drums, which nevertheless is never monotonous and boring. The music is both symphonic and dark, embellished with acoustic guitar and piano, regular shifts of tempo, mood and dynamics. A rich collection of sounds of various chamber, string and woodwind instruments, as well as those of analog keyboards (Mellotron, ARP and Hammond), is well employed throughout, at times creating grandiose orchestral arrangements, which best of all are evidenced on the longer tracks - the two aforementioned compositions and both semi-epics, Possessed and Don't Take It Bad. While being relatively short, the remaining two songs, How Could I Stop and Hibernation, reveal enough trademarks of the classic symphonic Art-Rock genre to be defined the same way as the other tracks, instead of being referred to Neo.
Conclusion. Those appreciating the other albums by Apogee and the project's creations in general will definitely be happy to have "On the Aftertaste" in their collection. On the other hand, I believe this magnificent opus will satisfy any lover of Symphonic Progressive.
VM: May 1, 2006
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