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(63:04, ‘Project Patchwork’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Beginning 3:58 2. Oblivion 13:24 3. The Turning Point 6:55 4. Elysium 0:51 5. Land of Hope and Honour 5:14 6. Not Yet 5:10 7. Every End Is a Beginning 6:16 8. Oblivion Things Reprise 3:25 9. Incomprehensible Demo 17:51 LINEUP: Gerd Albers – guitars; keyboards; drums; vocals With: Matthias Becker – bass Yossi Sassi – guitars, bouzouki Martin Schnella – guitars; vocals Marek Arnold – saxophones; keyboards Johannes Hahn – keyboards Claudia Orth – vocals; flute Dagmar Albers – vocals &: 20+ additional musicians and singers
Prolusion. The German venture PROJECT: PATCHWORK is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Gerd Albers. He has been working to record material he has written for a number of years, and with some help from a large group of friends and relations he managed to finalize an initial album, "Tales from a Hidden Dream", which was self-released in 2015.
Analysis. It takes a lot of skill to create music. Composing songs is one aspect of this, performing them another facet, recording them a third one, then mix and production, etc. Having the skill set to employ fellow artists at what they are best at another dimension to this obviously, and writing and rearranging material to suit their strengths a further skill set one needs to have or develop if one has the desire to create material that will make a strong impact. I kind of get the impression that Gerd Albers first album as Project: Patchwork has been quite the adventure in discovering all of this and more, and I'd wager a bet that the journey to finalize this album will be filed under the section "a learning experience". Just reading some of the liner notes here indicates that this has been a massive project: The number of vocalists and musicians involved here is more extensive than even most, if not all, of the Ayreon albums, which reveals a lot to those who keep track of that kind of information. Albers isn't at the level of Arjen Lucassen obviously, as one really cannot expect that from someone having a first go at such an ambitious venture, and as such this is, indeed, in many ways a patchwork experience. There are some gems to be found here, though. The opening track Beginning is a stunningly beautiful example of what one can achieve with a less is more approach to music, blending aspects of classical music and jazz in a delicate, ethereal and most beautiful and stunning manner. Second track Oblivion is a quality example of the epic progressive rock creation, wandering back and forth between a classic hard rock sound and later day Pink Floydian moods and movements. Later on Elysium showcases just how effective well arranged layered vocals can be when executed in a quality manner, a beautiful creation inspired by and referencing to a tragic and horrific news story from back in 2012. Land of Hope and Honour also works rather well, albeit perhaps not in a manner as interesting to progressive rock fans, with its firm acoustic ballad developing into a power ballad at the halfway stage. The rest of the album doesn't quite manage to impress at a higher level. Concluding epic Incomprehensible is a decent enough creation in a neo-progressive rock meets hard rock kind of way, but suffers from some less than sophisticated details here and there and a rather horrible guitar sound in the earlier stages. The Turning Point is a nice enough metal song with a few folk-tinged details here and there, and Oblivion Things Reprise is a revisit to the final part of the track Oblivion, a fairly beautiful orchestra-like affair, but with a funny spoken words section added in at the end that really should have been separated into its own track. At last we have Not Yet, a creation that blends world music details with cinematic effects and a dime a dozen take on classic hard rock with funk and wah wah guitar details tossed in for good measure – a song much more interesting to describe than to actually listen to.
Conclusion. "Tales from a Hidden Dream" is indeed a patchwork project, with some details more interesting than the others. The epic-length compositions, alongside the stunning opening track Beginning, will be the main selling points for a progressive rock-oriented audience, and those with an interest in an artist that adds in some hard rock and metal bits to a production with a progressive rock foundation may well be seen as something of a key audience for Gerd Albers' Project: Patchwork. This isn't a finely polished gem though, but rather a rough diamond with some facets shining bright.
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