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(55:24 / Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Howling at the Wind 1:14 2. Confused 5:45 3. President Why 5:40 4. The Silent Death of a Mother's Heart 8:10 5. I Never Thought 4:13 6. Bombs 7:56 7. Thunder 4:15 8. Burning Drums 9:18 9. Wolke 0:56 10. Prelude 2:19 11. Memories 5:33 LINEUP: Hans-Jurgen Klein - guitars; vocals Christopher Struwe - drums; vocals Wolfgang Schmidt - bass Peter Schneider - keyboards Annette Schepermann - keyboards With: Edzard Schmidt - bass
Prolusion. After a ten-years hiatus, Germany's SHADES OF DAWN (SOD hereafter) is back with "From Dusk Till Down", a follow-up to the group's debut album "The Dawn of Time" (1997). In fact however, this is a collection of their archival demo recordings from 1994, although four of the eleven tracks present, the first and the last three, were newly recorded three years ago, some of those featuring bassist Edzard Schmidt - son of the band's founder Wolfgang Schmidt, who died of a heart attack in 2000, and to the memory of whom "From Dusk Till Down" is dedicated. When reanimating this, their real first album, SOD reached a decision to continue their work, so their discography will soon be replenished with one more outing, titled "Graffiti's Rainbow".
Analysis. I will certainly get to the four re-recorded tracks, but last of all, because those are vastly different from the rest of the material, three of them being the only instrumentals available. Okay, the shorter songs, I Never Thought and Thunder, both don't completely blend with the album's prevalent picture as well, but in this particular case the difference is really insignificant. The fact is that only these two are inspired exclusively by Yes (circa "Tormato") and are additionally rich in vocal-based arrangements, whilst all the other tracks that, so to speak, have arrived directly from 1994, Confused, President Why, The Silent Death of a Mother's Heart, Bombs and Burning Drums, are largely instrumental, all combining in approximately equal proportions the band's own vision of Symphonic Progressive with their influences, namely Genesis, Eloy and Camel. To some extent Yes remains a reference regarding each of the said six songs too, but the resemblance can only be traced on these tunes' vocal angle, besides which Hans-Jurgen Klein (who possesses a kind of asexual high-pitched voice) does not constantly imitate Jon Anderson, from time to time paying tribute to Frank Bornemann, - without success in both cases, as the man's vocal potentialities leave much to be desired. Drummer Christopher Struwe has a much stronger voice, and I'd have been more enthusiastic about the disc's vocal palette if it were he who would have performed all songs, whereas Christopher only takes the lead on two tunes, Bombs and Burning Drums, now rather convincingly imitating Phil Collins, now singing in an original way. In any event, most of the songs are thankfully largely instrumental, though I see I already repeat myself. Overall, the said eight tracks all show that the band tries all their best to follow the canons of the genres they've chosen, creating a purely symphonic, but at the same time, rather dense alloy of Art- and Space Rock, which normally doesn't provide for the use of acoustic interludes (such can only be found on Burning Drums and I Never Thought, the latter being a complicated art-rock ballad in the final analysis). A cross between "A Trick of the Tale" by Genesis, Eloy's "Planets" and "Breathless" by Camel can serve as a reference point, but only as long as we make SOD allowances for their compositional and performance possibilities, compared to those of their mentors in absentia. Most of the re-recorded tracks are very brief, but what really surprises me is that the shortest one, Wolke, turns out to be the best of these and is in all senses a good piece, delivering beautiful, ever-changing classical guitar patterns with a warm keyboard pillow:-) as a background. Howling at the Wind is expressive space music, seamlessly flowing into its follow-up. The instrumental Prelude and the song Memories are actually both parts of the same composition, whose overall sound instantly evokes "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" by Pink Floyd, even though Herr Klein is still in his element, trying to ape Jon Anderson.
Conclusion. Most of the music on this CD, while never highly intricate, is well conceived and is listenable. However the sound quality of the original 1994 tracks is obviously poor, compared to that of the re-recorded ones. I think SOD should have either re-record the entire material (which is certainly preferable) or left it all as it is. Hopefully the band's new CD will be good in every respect.
VM: June 1, 2007
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