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(53 min, Crimsonic)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dresden Lamentation 2:07 2. Iconoclast 7:26 3. Green Meadow Lands 7:24 4. The Cathedral 19:54 5. Gunnlev's Round 2:51 6. Night on the Bare Mountain 13:56 All music: by Lindh, except 3: Jonsson / Lindh & 6: M. Mussorgsky / Lindh. All lyrics: by Jonsson & Lindh. Produced by Lindh. Engineered by Lindh & Z Westberg. LINE-UP: Par Lindh - synthesizers, harpsichord, Church organ, - Grand piano; bass; drums & percussion Bjorn Johansson - classical guitar; bassoon & whistle Mathias Jonsson - vocals With: Divad - vocals Mattias Olsson - drums Stefan Bergman - drums Johan Hogberg - bass guitar Jonas Engdegard - electric guitar Jocke Ramsell - electric guitar Roine Stolt - acoustic guitar Hakan Ljung - lute Anna Holmgren - flute Lovisa Stenberg - harp Magdalena Hagberg - vocalize
Prolusion. "Gothic Impressions" is the debut album by Sweden's cult band PAR LINDH PROJECT and is internationally regarded as a classic. I haven't heard it before, but thankfully, here is a copy of the CD reissue, which is dedicated to the 10th Anniversary of its initial release, with new mixing and mastering. Many musical parts have been reworked, with new vocals, new drums and lots of new choir added. The booklet was extended to a 20-page full-color deluxe format and features some new artwork. Fans of the band, please take that into consideration, though of course, the review as such is destined above all to novice Prog lovers and those who still didn't have the opportunity to hear "Gothic Impressions" for one reason or another.
Analysis. Just logically, the spirit of Gothic reigns everywhere in this product of inspiration by the Gothic architecture (rather, culture: in a general sense). But while the music is mostly full of dramatics, it isn't as dark as one may think it should be and isn't depressing at all. For many people, the conception of Gothic associates with obscurity etc, which isn't that true. To say simply and unpretentiously, the sun was shining in the middle ages too! In short, the album reproduces a real gothic atmosphere, just as it must be in my honest opinion. The contents are finely compiled: two short, two moderately long compositions and two epics. Three out of the six tracks: Dresden Lamentation, Gunnlev's Round and Night on the Bare Mountain are instrumentals, and I'll begin with them. Although each of them is directly related to Classical music, the shorter pieces have almost a pure chamber sound, with the Mellotron being the only electric instrument used. Due to the presence of minstrel-like passages and solos of classical guitar and the specifically delivered female vocalization, Gunnlev's Round has a more pronounced medieval feel to it than Dresden Lamentation, which, though, is just a particular. What's more important is that despite of their brevity, these are complete music works and are fully integral parts of the album's general palette, which, as many well know, is striking by its grandiosity. So as to the remaining instrumental, this is the really compelling rendition of Modest Mussorgsky's Night on the Bald Mountain. PLP did it better than Mekong Delta. (But then, the rendering of Pictures at an Exhibition, done by these German popularizers of the classics in 1996, is better than that by ELP and has no match in general). The band presents the epic as a concerto for classic keyboard trio and chamber ensemble. No guitars here. The songs: Iconoclast, Green Meadow Lands and The Cathedral can be described as the classically inspired symphonic Art-Rock of the best trade, with elements of Opera. In reality, however, there are a few different manifestations of Classical music, one of which, the organ music of the Renaissance, takes a particular place on "Gothic Impressions". Each song is notable for massive maneuvers of a real Church organ, performed solo and in the context of the band's joint arrangements as well. Those presented in the beginning of The Cathedral, by beauty and dramatics remind me of Bach's Fugue in F. Par really widely uses the instrument here, and this is probably the first case that I hear a Church organ taking the lead in Rock music so often and so properly, to say the least. Finally, it needs to be mentioned that there is not even the shadow of the band's benefactors on their debut album. This is an authentically inspired music, exceptionally original, such as may come exclusively from on high.
Conclusion. "Gothic Impressions" is one of the biggest gems that crown Symphonic Art-Rock of the '90s and not only (I've just recalled the '80s and... my CD collection). If you are a connoisseur of the genre and haven't heard the album, you'll take it as ambrosia. Well, as the curtain fell, I'd like to note that it's enough to look at the title page of Progressor to realize that yours truly is also a big lover of Gothic. I often admire the Gothic architecture and I love listening to Church organ. There is one Catholic cathedral and one Lutheran church in Tashkent, both being situated not too far away from my home. Top-1994
VM: January 18, 2005
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