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(26 min, Quixote)
TRACK LIST: 1. Softly There Everywhere 4:20 2. Still Going Nowhere 3:29 3. Stranger & Strangers 14:28 4. Hide Inside-2 3:55 All tracks: by The Amber Light. Produced by T Untucht. LINEUP: Louis Gabbiani - vocals; guitars; keyboards Jan Sydow - guitars Rabin Dasgupta - basses Peter Ederer - drums
Prolusion. This mini-CD, "Stranger & Strangers", is the second official outing by German band THE AMBER LIGHT, following last year's "Goodbye to Dusk Farewell to Dawn", which is a full-length album. Both CDs were released through Philippe Jaehne's Quixote Music label.
Analysis. Unlike "Goodbye to Dusk Farewell to Dawn", there is not even the lightest trace of someone else's influences on this album, which indicates that the band took a major step towards their complete maturity. Generally, The Amber Light's new music is in many respects different from that on their previous output and presents somewhat polar sides of contemporary Progressive Rock. The first two songs, Softly There Everywhere and Still Going Nowhere, are strongly related works. Each features only one brief instrumental section; the vocal parts are built by the standard, schematic couplet / refrain / repetition method; the instrumental background is pretty straightforward, too, and is almost free of keyboard patterns. This is a radio-friendly Prog-tinged mainstream Rock with a touch of Metal, whose only significant virtue lies in its original sound, which, though, is an achievement already in itself. Well matching with these with regard to accessibility, Hide Inside-2 is a simplified version of the eponymous track from the band's debut outing, with only vocals and passages of two acoustic guitars available, and is just a ballad, melodic and tasty, but too refined to my taste. Quite the contrary, the 14-minute title track is abundant in progressive features, still retaining a highly original sound, so typical for this effort. Largely instrumental, with several different thematic sections and large-scaled keyboards maneuvers, amongst others, this is their most compelling, simply their best composition to date from any standpoint. The music is high-quality Neo Progressive with elements of classic Art-Rock and some of those of Prog-Metal, though there is also a rather long section with atmospheric sonic palette.
Conclusion. Although the content of "Stranger & Strangers" is so varied in character, I don't think The Amber Light's only desire about this album was to please fans of simple and complicated Prog simultaneously. This effort is most of all destined to demonstrate the band's different, commercial and progressive, potentials as well as their increased professionalism. I must admit they successfully coped with the task, which has been appreciated and is displayed in the rating.
VM: May 4, 2005
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