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(45:48, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Holy Land 3:35 2. Beauseant 2:10 3. Lamentation 1:08 4. Crusader 6:19 5. Abide with Me 2:05 6. Baldwin 3:18 7. I Cried for You 2:25 8. Exceptional Friend 7:00 9. The Knights Templar 2:55 10. Montgisard 10:23 11. After All 4:12 LINEUP: Jack Langevelt – keyboards; bass; drums David Dexter – guitars
Prolusion. Originally a band formed by Jack Langevelt in 1981, the Dutch outfit SURVIVAL disbanded in 1997. However, after releasing a solo album Langevelt decided to start using the name again in recent years and 2008 saw two releases by what now is the moniker used by him as a solo artist: the privately released production "Con Brio" and the concept album "Crusader", issued by Musea Records in the second half of the year.
Analysis. In the liner notes for this release Langevelt states that his primary influence is fellow Dutchman Rick Van Der Linden, who passed away in 2006, and included with the booklet is a letter by Linden giving praise to Langevelt's skills as a keyboardist. Other stated influences are acts like The Nice and ELP, alongside a general one from classical music and jazz. The style explored on this production is quite clearly one belonging to the symphonic progressive rock genre though. "Crusader" is a concept album, with a recurring theme inspired by the crusades in the middle ages. Somewhat unusual for such a production, there are no lyrics included with the CD; instead there are descriptions of what inspired selected tracks on the album. As this creation is an instrumental one, lyrics as such aren't needed, but it would have been nice to know slightly more of the story conveyed by means of music alone in this case. But I digress. Keyboards dominate this piece through and through. Langevelt adores the Hammond, which is used extensively from start to finish on this creation, more often than not as the foundation for the musical explorations rather than truly dominating in sound and scope. The Hammond is given quite a few soloing spots throughout, but apart from that the instrument is a key element rather than a dominating one. Keyboards and synths are used extensively, too; multiple layers of these dominate the proceedings throughout, mostly floating above the Hammond in the mix. Swirling themes and virtuosic soloing are the dominating facets, while additional layers add nuances and textures to build up rich and highly textured sonic tapestries with a plethora of details and more often than not a majestic overall sound. The piano adds some further details to the compositions, while guitar and bass, although present, rarely perform a function besides adding minor nuances to the songs. The drums are mostly used to provide a basic rhythm to the proceedings: simple and effective, they serve their function but don't add anything to the songs beyond this. Virtuosic is a good word to describe the contents of this CD, as the focus on this outing is the soloing, especially in the longer tracks. The compositions are made up of relatively few elements, with soloing by synths, organ and sometimes guitar as the main element. Langevelt is a more than able performer; how good he is technically I can't vouch for on grounds of musical knowledge but he's certainly no slouch. Many passages sound quite impressive and the praise he got from Linden seems to be quite appropriate. I do find the compositions to be somewhat lacking, though. More often than not they come across as constructions set up to be vehicles for Langevelt's virtuosic soloing, rarely evolving and relatively often staying put in the same repetitive pattern too long. Apart from a strong sacral atmosphere throughout, the individual tracks too often seem to be somewhat lacking in compelling themes and moods in themselves, which may limit the audience interested in this production.
Conclusion. "Crusader" is a creation that will appeal strongly to those who enjoy skilled, extensive soloing by way of keyboards, synthesizers and the Hammond in particular, and should be a treat for fans of the latter instrument too, in particular for those who are fond of Rick Van Der Linden's output and artists like Rick Wakeman and ELP.
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