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TRACK LIST: 1. War of Thoughts 2:54 2. Aquila Island 4:47 3. The Same Old Endless Story 5:28 4. A Song for the Soldier 4:31 5. I've Waited Too Long 3:42 6. Dark in Light 6:18 7. Memento 7:01 8. I Love You Still 4:15 9. Getting Up 4:49 10. The Great Descent 3:28 11. Love Can Be Found 4:06 SOLO PILOT: Han Uil – vocals; guitar, banjo; keyboards; programming With: Carola Magermans – vocals Eric Healiong – saxophone Jaap Mulder – keyboards Aldo Aldema – guitars
Prolusion. Dutch composer and guitarist Han UIL has been an active musician since the late 1990's. He's been a member of a good handful of band and projects so far, of which Seven Day Hunt is the most recent. He made his debut as a solo artist in 2006 with "Alone". "Dark in Light" is his second solo album and was self-released in 2010.
Analysis. Solo albums can be a number of things: often creative outlets for artists who produce more material than what their current band can use, or an opting to issue material that just doesn't suit the band(s) they are currently active in. And while I can't say that I'm vastly familiar with Uil's most recent bands, Antares and Seven Day Hunt respectively, the descriptions I have come across of their music indicates that Han Uil represents the latter category. Musically we're dealing with an artist who explores a rather broad canvas as far as musical expressions are concerned. The common denominator appears to be that he has an ear for easygoing material with a strong drive and catchy details. Singalong choruses and gentle, beautiful verse passages with dampened jazz-like orientations are as much a part of his repertoire as riff-based driving themes of a hard-rock nature. Uil appears to be rather fond of implementing tools of the trade from progressive rock too, as the Mellotron gets to shine on occasion; gently floating keyboard patterns are an effect commonly utilized, and he's not afraid to experiment with compositional structures either. But, still, as a whole this disc hasn't managed to make a great impression on me. This is a good example of a CD I really should enjoy, but for some reason I'm left rather cold. Not all the time however: title track Dark in Light is a most fascinating excursion, blending a lightly fusion-inspired dampened verse part with a darker, haunting chorus with sax, Mellotron and energetic blues-tinged guitars crafting an elegant and slightly menacing atmosphere which is also carried on to the instrumental parts. The following Memento is another fine effort, taking turns in exploring a harder-edged art-rock theme with gnarly guitar and organ combining nicely with a distinctly metal-oriented construction utilizing more intense motifs provided by the same instruments, and again is dark in tone and mood. But other than these two highlights, this is a disc that to my taste and my perception is rather average. An additional detail that might be particular to me is found in the first five tracks, where there's something that appears to not quite function in the mix and production department. Initially I got the feeling that these songs were broken in some subtle manner, but eventually it would appear that the louder noises and textures on these initial compositions have been mixed in a manner that ever so slightly are at odds with each other. It is a minute detail, I presume most won't even register it, and I doubt that of the few that notice something it will only be a select very few, who are distracted by it. Apart from this slight detail that I assume few will even notice, my general feel for this production is that it's a pleasant effort. Not bringing anything really new to the table and, a few notable exceptions aside, nothing that will make a great impact as well.
Conclusion. Blending elements from progressive rock with relatively easygoing moods and melodies appears to be something of a forte for Han Uil, and he's not afraid to incorporate the occasional challenging feature either. And while his sophomore effort "Dark in Light" isn't one that will get a high place on my list of 2010 productions, it is a disc those who have a wide and liberal taste in music inside and outside of the art-rock universe might want to check out anyhow. Tastes differ after all, and my personal perceptions are just that, a subjective opinion from one single person.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 19, 2011
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