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Sfumato (Germany) - 1999 - "Demo 1999" (45 min)


1.  Wrong
2.  Jake the Grain
3.  Spleen
4.  Take2
5.  Paranon


Sven Schmidt - drums & vocals
Jorg Schmider - guitars
Bernd Reinbold - keyboards & vocals
Roger Clawbauer - bass
Maarcus Doff - vocals & keyboards

This is a new band on the German prog scene. The only thing I know about them is that they are a supporting band on the shows of Versus X. (Read the detailed review of that band.)

1. Wrong. One of the best tracks on the album. Excellent work of the rhythm-section, regular changes of moods and tempos, very original guitar solos, some interesting interplays between keyboards and lead guitar - these are the main trumps of this stylistically very innovative song. No rhythms, no themes, constant development of arrangements. Wonderful cello-like guitar passages. Stylistically Wrong placed somewhere between Progressive Metal and Classic Art Rock, and the only minus here - very ordinary singing of lead vocalist.

2. Jake the Grain. Begins with the gentle keyboard intro, mysterious synthesizer flashes. Vocal themes develops into the accompaniment of the excellent guitar arrangements, though all vocal melodies on this track are very accessible. On the other hand, varied arrangements give no rest for the tempos and moods. Especially interestingly and unusually - immediately after the typical "Art-Rockish" keyboards based theme in the middle of the song - sound the wasp-like guitar fast and diverse passages. Original bass lines, soft percussion and very dynamic drumming. On the whole, Jake the Grain is not very complex composition, however it contains several quite original solos and interplays. Nearer to the end of the song, the music turns into the typical "Art Rockish" ballad with some original fluid guitar and bass solos. Light composition.

3. Spleen. Begins with the gentle interplays between bass and electric guitar. Stylistically compared to previous track. Endless acessible guitar solos all over the song, some poppy vocal themes. Very usual, ordinary lead vocal. Not complex, but nice dramatic arrangements in the end of the song. On the whole, Spleen is the worst song on the album.

4. Take2. Begins in the style that's typical for Progressive Metal. Quite innteresting and original guitar solos and interplays between electric and bass guitars. The majority of keyboard themes are just rhythmical. Guitar work is diverse and sometimes highly virtuostic, though not the virtuosity, but originality plays the prominent role here. Arrangements develops with very unusual simultaneous playing of electric and bass guitar. Later we hear guitar based Art Rock with some gentle electric guitar solos. Fast virtuostic guitar passages sound more like the end of this only all-instrumental track. One of the album's most interesting tracks together with the debut song Wrong.

5. Paranon. Begins with soft guitar passages. Next theme - more rhythmical. Vocals very ordinary - probably the weakest thing on the album. After very poppy themes - some accessible but more or less decent arrangements with the interesting keyboard effects. The second part of the song is absolutely similar to the first. The same rhythms, very ordinary, absolutely non-interesting vocals. Compositionally there is very little space for more or less profound arrangements in Paranon. However, a few interesting solos by various instruments nearer to the end of this song turns this quite usual piece to be quite ambitious in some ways.

Summary. Quite innovative style. However, this program doesn't contain only real Progressive compositions and arrangements. Some of them sound good, but accessibility will never become a friend to a real profound Progressive Rock performer. Incidentally, the majority of guitar arrangements I've heard here shows that the band is finding its way, I'm almost sure of it. I could predict that this band will become one of the strong progressive rock acts to come from Germany, if these guys will replace their vocalist and keyboardist. content

VM. December 19, 1999


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