[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(56 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Hatchling 1:56 2. Somateria Spectabilis 10:37 3. King of Ducks 5:08 4. In Detain 10:47 5. Hatch-Walk-Fly 2:21 6. The News 7:02 7. Arctic Skies 4:37 8. Atlantis 69 11:34 9. Exxon Valdez 2:25 LINEUP: Hans Gerritse - electric, acoustic & bass guitars; b/vocals Derk-Evert Waalkens - keyboards; sampling; b/vocals With: Rinie Huigen - vocals Eric Holdtman - vocals Dik Pomp - drums
Prolusion. Basically a duo, KING EIDER is a new studio project from Holland, although at least one of its founders, Hans Gerritse (Nice Beaver), is no novice to the scene, even less so one of the invitee musicians, Rinie Huigen (Cliffhanger, Novox, Knight Area). "Somateria Spectabilis" is their first brainchild.
Analysis. The CD booklet says it took nine years for the duo to make this nine-track album, which sounds impressive - unlike most of the material itself. On "Somateria Spectabilis", Hans turns to the legacy of '70s Prog Rock, which I perceive as his attempt to create something more adventurous than the music his primary band normally plays. Being a lover of classic progressive forms, I should greet such undertakings warmly, but unfortunately not in this case. Perhaps it's just the fact that the album was worked on for an almost decade (in other words, the duo were able to return to the material only on occasion, when time permitted) which has determined its quite lifeless and boring nature. Defects are obvious everywhere - in composition, in arrangement, in sound, the latter having a strong sense of homemade recording, which in turn, is not only by far because Hans's partner, Derk-Evert Waalkens, is not too skillful when handling drum samples or even a drum machine. The numerous traces of others' influences in their music can be overlooked as well. The worst thing is that this music doesn't possess any spark of genuine inspiration, and much of it is in the end just far-fetched. Four of the five instrumental pieces are complete potboilers, Hatchling being beneath all criticism. There is nothing apart from a couple of synthesizer chords monotonously droning throughout, and this is, overall, what the other three shorter non-vocal tracks are built around. The electric guitar (Arctic Skies, to the rubber-like sounding drum machine), piano and sampled violin (Exxon Valdez) and acoustic guitar (Hatch-Walk-Fly) tediously crawl over a similar, incredibly boring 'synthesizer' landscape. The remaining instrumental, the title track, is a pseudo-suite, devoid of any inner coherence, looking in many ways like a random set of musical sketches. Many sections are estranged from each other, substituted often with no hint of a logical development. Contrariwise, within the sections the music evolves say, excessively reasonably and is fully predictable. Sympho Prog, Space Rock, Ambient, Metal are all lumped together, as well as artifacts of the '70s legacy, though the Camel influence dominates over those of Genesis, Pink Floyd, to name a few. The long songs, In Detain (featuring Rinie on vocals) and Atlantis 69 (with Eric Holdtman, who is a much weaker singer), are similar to Somateria Spectabilis in construction, but are notably more cohesive, although not free of unnecessary repetition, particularly in the vocal-based arrangements. While some definite hints of Eloy and Camel can be found on the former, I find it the best track on the CD exactly due to its relative independence from external factors. Atlantis 69 is even more diverse, but it sounds heavily derivative, at times barefacedly resembling Genesis ("Foxtrot"). Both shorter songs, King of Ducks and The News, also refer the listener to the '70s sound, but they are poor compositionally, vocal-heavy, abundant in recurrences on the one hand and lacking tempo changes on the other.
Conclusion. King Eider's "Somateria Spectabilis" is an okayish effort at best, making allowance for the difficulties that most contemporary progrockers meet all around. I wonder why Hans Gerritse decided to breathe life into this primordially abortive stuff. He is much more convincing in Nice Beaver, which, by the way, is a solid Neo band.
VM: Agst 6, 2006
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]