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Schafer, Arne (Germany)
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1988 - "Out of the Darkness" (2CD, 125 min, independent release)

1989 - "Die Glaserne Wand" (2CD, 140 min, independent release)
/with lyricist G.Heimann/

1988 / 2000 - "Out of the Darkness"
(2CD, 125 min, independent release)

CD 1:
Border lines  7:41
I will Share It With You  5:55
Come With Me  6:44
Glorious  4:06
Autumn Time  5:42
Scared  6:16
Thinking Of You  5:10
An Aim To Survive  7:06
The Point of View  8:38
Anything That I Can Feel  3:48
All Over Me  4:57
Time will Turn Against You  3:40
Someone Said Goodbye  4:30
Reborn  2:30

CD 2:
The Narrow Way  6:53
The Rancour Grows  4:31
Collideascope  6:36
The Golden Water  5:25
They Still Want More  5:14
The Truth Is Not True  9:21
A Matter of Time  5:01
The Hidden Cognition  7:20
The Voices of Morgoth  3:04
Two Steps Back  4:30
Truth & Fiction Melting  5:57
Perfection Beyond  5:42
Within a Dream  5:08
Someone Say Goodbye (2)  3:48

All music & lyrics by Arne Schafer. Arranged, performed, recorded & produced by Arne Schafer.

"Out of the Darkness" double-album contains the selected songs from the very first recordings made in '86 to '88 by Arne Schafer (also of Apogee and Versus X). It's turned out that it's not too easy to review Arne's first two double solo albums both of which, in the first place, differ much from each other and, secondly, contain some 265 minutes of high quality music (especially regarding the years when these works were composed, performed and recorded). After several attentive listens to "Out of the Darkness" I've found here the roots on which the further Arne's progressive activity as a Solo Pilot of Apogee are based, though, of course, Apogee's creation is more mature, complex and interesting than this one. But lyrics!.. Arne's lyrics were very profound and literary already in the beginning of his creation. And Peter Hammill's 'poetical' influences are really obvious on "Out of the Darkness". You won't find, however, any thematic borrowings even in 'early Schafer', as well as Arne didn't use in his early lyrics even few ideas of Hammill. Thus, although Arne Schafer was really deeply influenced by the poetic genius of Peter Hammill, I can use only the word "school" as a link between these two people: between the ProGfessor of Lyrics and his most talented Disciple and Follower. But as for music, it's too hard to even notice some direct 'Hammillesques' on "Out of the Darkness", though, perhaps, Arne was inspired by the music of Peter's solo albums, too. While Hammill almost always allowed himself to squeeze a wide-variety of his own composing manifestations into one separate album (with a few exceptions, that, however, can be found mostly in his latest albums of 1990s), Schafer tries to follow the united compositional conception at least within each his separate solo album (let alone Apogee whose compositional unity stands out to run all through this project creation; the same goes for Versus X). The only touch I've found in comparing various albums of the Teacher to his Follower's debut work is that songs of varied moods are as intermixed on "Out of the Darkness" as on most Hammill's albums in general (again, with few exceptions, including his best, in my view, album "Roaring Forties" of 1994). Of course, what I'll say in the next few sentences, has to do with my personal view only, though, I think that most of the label owners who could potentially release this album officially, should come to the same conclusion. In other words, if I were the producer of "Out of the Darkness" I would never put songs of different (too polar sometimes) moods in one disc of this double CD. At least I would place songs like these on different discs. This way, the pieces with overall mostly a melancholy mood, which (again, in my view) are better than the songs with an obvious cheerful feel (at least musically), would be thoroughly selected (since most of the songs on "Out of the Darkness", as well as on the following albums with Arne Schafer at the helm) and placed on the first disc. Thus, as a matter of fact, first of all such cheery- merry things as Scared (which is going right after a real progressive 'killer' Autumn Time), Thinking Of You, A Point of View and others of the same mood - with playful keyboard passages and a joyful overall sound (plus such 'neutral' songs as I Will Share It With You) would be replaced with wonderful philosophic-to-dark songs from the second disc. Well, back to Arne Schafer's creation in general, - either as Apogee or as one of the two masterminds of Versus X, - which is never completely based on a cheerful mood, I would select from the two these discs those songs, that already then had Arne's specific firm sound, to collect them for one CD with about 78 minutes of total time in order to release it officially as a full of wonderful musical ideas very important document - the first page, which is also very likely the most important stage, of Arne Schafer's further creation. That said, it doesn't mean at all that all the other songs I would exclude are of mediocre quality (let alone bad). The other way round these songs are also good to excellent, and the only (and the main) point here "to delete them" is that they all (and only they) are radically different from the rest material Arne has ever composed. As for the songs of "Out of the Darkness" album whose official release as Arne's longest CD could make lots of Apogee fans happy, I am ready to name them any time when some of the persons concerned ask me for that.

VM. May 24, 2001

1989 / 2001 - "Die Glaserne Wand" /with lyricist G.Heimann/
(2CD, 140 min, independent release)

CD 1:
Die Glaserne Wand:
 First Movement
 Second Movement
 Third Movement, pt 1
 Third Movement, pt 2
 Fourth Movement

CD 2:
Die Glaserne Wand:
 Fifth Movement
 First Part
 Second Part

Composed, arranged and performed by Arne Schafer. All lyrics (and additional vocals on First Movement) by Gerald Heimann. Recorded in 1988 and 1989 in Neu-Icenburg, Germany.

Well, well, well... I wonder why Arne didn't even think to release officially at least some of the five (in all) CDs he self-released in the beginning of 2001? I know lots of underrated things, as well as the other way round, but such a thing as self-underestimation I've met for the first time. Frankly, if "Die Glaserne Wand & Schleifen" double CD isn't released officially (classic) Prog-lovers from all over the world miss one of the most wonderful albums ever created in the history of Rock and by far not only. Arne's "Die Glaserne Wand & Schleifen" IS the ONLY album of real Classical Rock Music. No, no, I remember that most of the Isildurs Bane and especially Univers Zero albums are in some ways close to what I'm talking about, but anyway, sorry: that's another story. While those bands tend to concrete forms of real contemporary Classical Music that actually contain just slight traces of Rock (exactly), this Arne's second double album represents neither Classic Rock Music nor Classical Music, but precisely Classical Rock Music (yet another term?). Being composed, performed, recorded and produced by Arne alone (as always in his solo activity - either simply as Arne Schafer or Apogee) using mostly (if not all) electric musical instruments, "Die Glaserne Wand" is that kind of Progressive you may never have heard before, but you're going to love it to death once you hear it. Because chances are you my dear profound Prog-heads can appreciate such a uniqueness even if Arne himself doesn't see it. Can you at least imagine how an album of such "Classical Rock Music" sounds? If I should be asked the same question before I heard "Die Glaserne Wand", I would say I don't know, really. Listening to this album now I still can't but wonder how Arne came to elicit from such antediluvian things as synthesizers-made-in-the-1980s so unbelievably pure classical sounds of church organ, bagpipes, oboe and trombones, though it would suffice to hear how he 'does' various orchestral movements to get really amazed. Who in general did anything really strong within Classic Progressive* in those years (1988-1989)? (I don't want to even mention Neo, as this one was also (already) in decadence by the end of the decade.) You won't name any one masterpiece-album of this* genre, as only bands of Progressive Metal (see PS) tried then to target at least a part of the almost absolutely empty progressive 'niche'. Not only did Arne put out a masterpiece of Progressive, but also created a new form of contemporary progressive music, the first and last exemplar of which still remains obscured for thousands Prog-lovers. So, why do I call the style of "Die Glaserne Wand" (the "Schleifen" suite is slightly different) Classical Rock Music? Although everything on this album was created using mostly electric instruments, everything at least on all the five Movements of "Die Glaserne Wand" kind of breathes Classical Music, - even in its typical Rock-ish parts and arrangements. Overall mood on "Die Glaserne Wand" is almost totally quite dark, though some episodes have at the same time slightly philosophic feel. Parts of orchestral arrangements (sometimes) supported with heavy guitar riffs change with more acoustic interplays between a classical guitar and piano or between the latter and just typically Classical (!) electric guitar (!) solos and double-solos. Simply magic harpsichord and other keyboard passages (yes, I hear such a magic keyboard moments from guitarist Arne Schafer again and again) change with the church organ Bach-alike motives, crossed marvelously with electric guitar solos, and then - with some mysterious spacey "holes", from which - like from the nether world - vocal parts sound quite often (in German, which sound excellent here, though an English translation to the album's booklet wouldn't hurt). Each Movement is full of diverse themes and arrangements, as different in tempos as in moods, though the specter of emotions is limited within the low register, which however is wonderfully rich within itself, too - from dark and gloomy to meditatively philosophic and even pastoral colours. In spite of all (and frequent) changes of musical palettes almost everything here sounds dramatically. I especially love that kind of music - complex and dramatic - that reflects the Earthly life really as it is. The fact that Classic (profound) Progressive Music of all styles in general holds a lot more dramatic feelings (that, all in all, is peculiar to Earthly life) than any other music genre just confirms that Earthly progressive musicians have (of course, just a bit yet) more thorough knowledge about the Universe. So, "Die Glaserne Wand" - "The Glass Wall" - between what and what (you mean), Arne? Maybe, between Life and Death? The "Schleifen" suite consisting of just two parts has a sound more close to what we call Classic Progressive Rock. But, if the first movement has still some Classical Rock Music structures, especially in the first half of it with acoustic guitar and orchestral keyboards as dominating instruments, it seems the second movement of "Schleifen" was composed especially in contrast with all the previous ones. As for me, being the final 'battle' on this album, it reminds me of Apocalypse. Full of diverse and almost always furious and aggressive arrangements with attacks of heavy guitar riffs crushing everything around them and raspy (as the teeth of sinners?) solos, the second movement of "Schleifen" won't spare anyone of those 'who's there'. I don't know German, but if (as it seems) Arne wanted to 'show' a musical solution of Apocalypse in the end of the album, he pictured it quite earnestly. Writing review by review, I keep listening to this most unique in its way album (which is the most unique double album at least for the last 20 years) at least twice a day. Yeah, if I say the more I listen to it the more I like it will sound like a banality, but meanwhile I am closer and closer to a conclusion that this is the best album of the 'dark decade' of the 1980.

P.S. By the way, I just thought it's a shame to call the 1980s 'the dark decade' (the decadence of Prog) since anyone of us considers Prog Metal as a progressive genre too. Should I remind you of the very first purely metallic (without keyboards) yet purely progressive album "Melissa" (Mercyful Fate - 1983) and a lot of other Metal bands whose creation was (almost entirely) truly progressive at least all over the second half of the 'dark' years? Fates Warning, King Diamond, Voivod... More? As for the first half of the 'dark decade', didn't we have three excellent albums from King Crimson, a couple - from Camel, one - from Amenophis, etc, etc? Thus, Prog has never died since its birth - not even for a moment!

VM. May 26, 2001


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