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(55:38, Oskar Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. When Leaves Fall 8:42 2. What Would You Do 7:10 3. Secret Gardener 7:01 4. Shop Window Dummies 8:02 5. Eyes Wide Open 8:38 6. Sandgrains 6:35 7. Little Green Men 9:31 LINEUP: Gert Van Engelenburg keyboards; vocals Derk Evert Waalkens keyboards; vocals Eddie Mulder guitar; vocals Jos Harteveld vocals Koen Roozen drums Peter Stel bass
Prolusion. LEAP DAY was formed in Holland in 2008; the bands members are seasoned musicians sporting past tenures in acts like Nice Beaver and Flamborough Head. Soon after forming Leap Day was signed to the Polish label Oskar, which issued their debut album "Awaking the Muse" in the summer of 2009.
Analysis. Holland has supported an active scene for progressive music for many years, and for many it may still be regarded as something of a haven for neo progressive rock following the rise and fall of influential record label SI Music in the 90's. And as the members of Leap Day all to a lesser or greater extent have connections with that era and bands attached to that particular label, it's no big surprise that their chosen field is just that subgenre of symphonic progressive. With two keyboardists in their midst, their sound is obviously heavily dominated by textures provided by various forms of tangents. Often utilizing the organ besides some other vintage-sounding keys and those with more of a contemporary expression, the multiple layers of textures provided by these dominant instruments create gentle, lush and highly harmonic sonic tapestries. Melodic bass lines and guitars support the keyboards, the latter most often in an undistorted mode, further enhancing the strong focus on melody and atmosphere. Dampened guitar riffs add darker sounds to the sonic landscapes explored on select occasions, but it is the light and uplifting moods that are most heavily explored on this production, with touches of melancholy as the most striking feature outside of the realm of purified positive emotions. As far as similarities goes, there are many nods in the direction of latter day Camel, with late 70's Genesis competing for the honor of being the band the listener might find most similarities with. Leap Day does incorporate some striking AOR tendencies to their excursions as well though, and I found myself comparing quite a few passages with the US act Ambrosia's "Life beyond LA" album for some reason or other. Gentle, melodic and harmonic, this is an album that won't appeal to those looking for new music in a creative interpretation of the word. The landscapes explored are well known by mostly everyone by now, and there's really no new ground to cover here. Leap Day are successful explorers though, and while they might not reinvent the wheel or unveil a new paradise, they manage to make this musical journey an intriguing and fulfilling one even if it doesn't yield any surprises as such.
Conclusion. If highly melodic and symphonic music made in a manner that is certified and undeniable neo progressive from the first opening sounds to the fading echoes of the last notes on a CD sounds like something you'd like to check out, "Awaking the Muse" is a disc with your name on it, in particular if you are among those who cherish and treasure any CD in your collection issued by the SI Music label.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 13, 2010
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