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(52:36, Oskar Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Messenger 7:33 2. Road to Yourself 7:12 3. Home at Last 8:27 4. Humble Origin 1:39 5. Walls 9:14 6. The Willow Tree 4:23 7. Skylge's Lair 6:23 8. Time Passing By 7:45 LINEUP: Gert van Engelenburg – keyboards; vocals Derk Evert Waalkens – keyboards; vocals Jos Harteveld – vocals; guitars Eddie Mulder – guitars; vocals Koen Roozen – drums Peter Stel – bass
Prolusion. LEAP DAY, from Holland, was formed in 2008, consisting of veterans from the Dutch Neo-progressive scene. They were signed to Polish label Oskar in 2009, and their debut album "Awakening the Muse" was given a generally favorable reception. "Skylge's Lair" was released in the spring of 2011 and is their second full-length production.
Analysis. Some people are of the opinion that progressive music in general should aim at challenging the listener, seek to transcend musical boundaries and eliminate the confinements of the genre system. An opinion that can't be faulted really, but those who feel that way will most likely be less than intrigued with the contents of this disc as Leap Days' take on this kind of music follows a different path entirely. Camel and Genesis are some of the names to conjure with when describing the contents of this disc - the dampened and mostly harmonic parts of these bands in general and, possibly, with most frequent associations towards the album "Nude" by the former: Richly-layered, refined and harmonic keyboards applied as a generous soft coating on most compositions and all of the lengthier ones, dampened guitar motifs and dream-laden soloing akin to Andrew Latimer’s and, occasionally, David Gilmour’s, lead vocals with more of a laid-back delivery in a manner reminding one of Peter Gabriel and, to some extent, Fish. Steady, dampened bass and drums underscore neatly and tightly and, performance-wise, we're pretty much in the land of the flawless and faultless. The production is one that enhances the smoother aspects of the compositions, and the overall sound is warm with something of an analogue touch to it, and is less compressed than what is customary these days, which in itself should be a pleasing detail for all sound aficionados. What this adds up to is close to an hour of harmony-dominated symphonic progressive rock of the neo-progressive variety. The emphasis is on elegant moods and melodies and richly-layered themes in smooth arrangements, focusing on light-toned motifs and dream-laden atmospheres without any major contrasts to speak of and pretty much void of instrumental details that can be described as challenging - as seen from the point of view of a progressive rock fan at least.
Conclusion. If I should sum up this disc in one brief sentence, it would be that it is as smooth as silk and as soft and elegant as that fabric is too. The melodies are pleasant, and those fond of dampened harmonies will get their fill and then some. Personally I tend to enjoy material with a bit more contrast and nerve, but I can easily see this disc as one that will find its way onto many a list of the most beautiful CDs of 2011, in particular amongst fans of neo-progressive rock.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 14, 2011
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