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TRACK LIST: 1. No Fair 4:57 2. Bipolar 6:30 3. It Happens 6:14 4. BPMS 4:24 5. Ode to Pain 5:00 6. The Pros & Cons of Linear 6:38 7. Minimalism 4:18 8. Survival Instincts 6:23 9. Slow Suite 4:04 LINEUP: Doug Rasch – vocals; keyboards; bass Gary Wehrkamp – guitars, bass Joe Nevolo – drums
Prolusion. US composer and keyboardist Doug RAUSCH made his initial foray into the world of recording artists in 2009, choosing his surname as band moniker and album title. A production several years in the making, with a lot of blood, sweat and tears shed along the way, judging by the liner notes brief description of excruciating birth pangs.
Analysis. Progressive rock has been a niche genre for quite a few years now. But in a world where the music business seems to be changing quite a lot, the major record companies struggle in their endeavors to create and market music that the masses wants to buy, good old-fashioned art rock has started to attract a bit more interest among the buying public and aspiring musicians alike. Doug Rausch is an example of just that, a young composer and musician who wants and desires to create music that will interest a public looking for something a bit more sophisticated than your regular major record mainstream artist. Many of his compositions seem to have been created on the piano, and the first few tracks on the album blend classical-tinged piano motifs with hard rock in a nice and neat manner, with echoes of Queen hovering nicely in the background. And he isn't afraid to toss in a few more or less whimsical forays into other stylistic departments either, with the tangents as the weapon of choice for inserts of that nature. And very much true to the spirit of art rock as it once was: If I want something included I'll add it in. An approach and philosophy that went out of fashion as the ‘70s drew to a close, kept alive by underground artists and a few daring souls in the metal scene throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, one Tom Fischer amongst the most high profile examples of the latter. But I digress. Following the opening trio of art rock- and pomp rock-tinged excursions, Rausch also makes straightforward journeys into the heartland of the genre, with The Pros & Cons of Linear and Survival Instincts respectively, the former a majestic effort that for some reason made me think of ballads by Savatage and the latter a slightly more metal-flavored epic creation with nice eastern-inspired textures, enriching the proceedings. Both of these are inspired efforts sporting a good level of compositional and musical sophistication, to my ears. The rest of the material at hand seems to reside in the mainstream rock department according to my perception, the introverted guitar and vocals ballad Ode to Pain an example of just that. Well-made and -performed, but without the bells and whistles I would expect from a composition that would be described as art rock.
Conclusion. Doug Rausch is a guy I expect to hear a lot from in the coming years. In interviews and statements of his I've seen, it is clear that he has a strong passion for sophisticated rock in general and progressive rock in particular. And while this initial album may not be a shining piece of prog perfection, it is a diverse and well-made production. I'd suggest fans of ‘70s Queen as a probable core audience, but the perfect crowd for this disc would be someone able to appreciate good mainstream-oriented music as well as art rock. In my opinion, that is. Overall, a promising start for a young composer and musician who should have a long and fruitful career ahead of him.
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