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Snopek (USA) - 1980/2002 - "First Band On the Moon"
(52 min, "Musea")


*****
Tracklist:
1. First Band On the Moon 3:47
2. Dr. Alles 3:40
3. Living Out Lord 4:47
4. Controller's Reply 3:42
5. Highway Ghosts 6:10
6. Avenue Motion 3:16
7. Let's Take a Trip 4:45
8. The Armpit Shuffle 3:27
9. Crazy Angel 7:41
10. Ride In the Dark 3:02
11. Solalex 6:25

All music by Sigmund Snopek III.
All lyrics by Sigmund Snopek III & Byron Wlemann III.

Line-up:

Sigmund Snopek III - analog & digital keyboards;
vocals; (flute on 11)
Byron Wlemann III - electric & acoustic guitars; vocals
Mike Lucas - drums & percussion
Jim Gorton - bass guitar; lead vocals
Keith de Bolt - lead vocals

Produced by Sigmund Snopek III & Byron Wlemann III.
Recorded by Andy Watermann at "Shade Time" studio.

Prologue. The epic and conceptual Rock Opera "Trinity" (2CDs), released by Musea Records in 2000, was the only album by Sigmund Snopek that I've heard until now. To read the review of this unique masterpiece, click here.

The Album. If the "First Band On the Moon" album, initially released in 1980, had been released relatively recently, I would say that Dr. Alles (track 2) is one of the most impudent borrowings I've ever heard. The point is that this song sounds not unlike God's Monkey from the collaborative Sylvian & Fripp album "The First Day" (1993). What is more, while listening to Dr. Alles, I had the impression that these were indeed David Sylvian and Adrian Belew who are singing. Certainly, these famous guys didn't participate on this album, but the resemblance between the voices and ways of singing of them and those of Snopek's vocalists (there are two lead singers on "First Band On the Moon") is just startling. Incidentally, this is the only phenomenon here, though it's really something marvelous. Another track, which is structurally (only, i.e. not even stylistically) similar to Dr. Alles, is Controller's Reply (4), for which kind of a lazy singing to the accompaniment of slow and mid-tempo riffs of guitar is typical from time to time as well. Also, this is the only track on the album that has a slight Country feel to it. The third and the last track, the contents of which do not completely conform to the album's predominant stylistics (I'll describe it a bit later), is the only instrumental piece here, Ride In the Dark (10). The music on this composition is about a normal Symphonic Art-Rock of a moderate complexity. This piece, in its turn, is the only track on the album where the parts of various keyboards play the leading role. Before I begin describing the further contents of "First Band On the Moon", I must say that this is a very original and in many ways innovative album. Doubtless, the music that is presented on it can hardly be compared to anyone. However, I will dare to notice that atmospherically (or spiritually, - I think I can use this word with regard to music), Snopek's "First Band On the Moon" and "A Night At the Opera" by Queen are in some ways kindred albums. Although the remaining eight tracks are similar among themselves by a few of the significant parameters, nevertheless, I find it necessary to divide them into two parts. When I was listening to First Band On the Moon, Living Out Lord, Avenue Motion, Let's Take a Trip, and The Armpit Shuffle (1, 3, 6, 7, & 8) for the first time, the foolish term "English Symphonic Pop", nevertheless, crossed my mind. (This wrong term, by the way, is even currently sometimes used to classify the creation of most of the Progressive Rock Titans in the 1980s.) Yes, all of these five songs were for the most part performed up-tempo with the heavy guitar riffs being often 'at the head' of the rhythm section. So, of course, a lot of the short, yet, really complex stop-to-play movements that the band performs easily and on each of the album's tracks can't be noticed immediately. Soon however, it becomes obvious that a wide variety of the short vocal and instrumental parts that are present on all five of the said songs are not only very diverse, but also alternate with each other almost kaleidoscopically. Furthermore, the instrumental arrangements, consisting usually of varied interplay between solos of electric and bass guitars and synthesizers and passages of piano, flow mostly non-stop on them (as well as on all of the other songs on the album, though) regardless whether there are vocals or not. On the last three of the aforementioned five songs and all the remaining tracks as well, the band use the polymorphous singing of a theatric character, so Progressive Rock Operetta would be, in my view, the best definition of the album's predominant stylistics. All three of the remaining songs (and these are the longest and the best tracks on the album) are either completely free of heavy structures (Crazy Angel and Solalex, 9 & 11) or almost free of them (Highway Ghosts, 5). Stylistically, each of these three songs represents just an amazing Symphonic Rock Operetta with the arrangements that are traditionally regarded as classic. The last composition on the album, Solalex, is the only track here tha

Summary. I won't say that I like "First Band On the Moon" as much as Snopek's Rock Opera "Trinity", which, certainly, should be regarded as his life work. However, it's clear to me that this is one of the most original and unique albums released at the time when Progressive Rock was on the decline almost completely. Thanks to the innovative ideas that this album is filled with, it sounds very refreshing today. Recommended to all the open-minded lovers of Prog, except the die-hard fans of Prog-Metal and Neo-heads. (Being acquainted with many of the fans of Neo, I know about their strange conservatism, which is more than merely rare case among the Prog lovers, not through hearsay.) Almost forgot: those who're into Queen, - try it, too. It is not unlikely that, after a few of the successive listens to this CD, you find it worthy of your collection.

VM. August 19, 2002


Related Links:

Musea Records
Sigmund Snopek III: http://www.sigmundsnopek.com/
"Musea Records" - web site & online store: http://www.musearecords.com/


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