Belgium is just across the border from where I live. Belgium is also the country where Pink Floyd, Gary Moore, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, The Doors and Lynyrd Skynyrd live. They all live in the house of Stef and Yolanda Flaming, and the houses of their band members in Murky Red. Actually, in the dark 1960’s and 1970’s I suspect various members of aforementioned bands got together in some weird orgy that led to the procreation of Stef, Yolanda and their fellow band members Patrick Dujardin, Luk Lantin, Rene Marteaux and Marie Vancamp. There is no other way to explain the influences of all these bands in the music of Murky Red.
The starts immediately in the first track, I Came A Long Way, which starts as a rock song, but quickly goes into a slightly psychedelic mood, topped by a Pink Floyd like instrumental section, with a guitar solo in the same vein.
In the follow up On New Year’s Day, Stef sings about what we all want – peace on earth and fireworks to celebrate on New Year’s day. This is accompanied by another mellow, slightly psychedelic acoustic guitar initially, but a wall of guitars is quickly build up to make this into a very solid, dark rock song.
The slow dark guitar track Galadriel is something completely different. There is a guitar riff in the opening that reminds faintly of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man, and the feeling of the song is as dark as that one, until suddenly not Iron Man but Iron Maiden takes over, with a Wasted Years like guitar supported by a growling bass. That builds into an almost symphonic piece, with keyboards, bass and a choir like backing vocal support a melodic guitar solo and the voices of Stef and Yolanda repeating the list line of the song.
Then the scene changes and we find ourselves in the land of the blues, with Cold Outside. This song starts as a slow blues, where the guitar seems to be based on a marriage between Gary Moore and David Gilmour. How much mo(o/u)re can you put in single song? The deep, and slightly raw voice of Stef tells a real blue story, making this a great blues rock track.
I give my soul puts another set of options in the mix. This is a 70’s rock track, which reminds me of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, but with Yolanda on vocals it also brings to mind Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie. And again… a Gilmouresque guitar solo.
Then it’s time to leave the planet, on a spacy trip to Saturn. This is a somewhat heavy psychedelic rock track, with lyrics that seem like a prayer to the planet with the rings. No Moore or Gilmour here, but loud, dirty guitars near the end, and a surprising little piece of horror movie piano after everything else falls silent at the end.
Back on earth, we jump in Stef’s car and drive off to Last Chance Hotel, which is best described as a ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd meets The Stooges and The Doors on their craziest tracks’. Up tempo, with a fun guitar riff, this track is all over the place. We can only thank Yolanda for taking us to a more quite place on the next track Willow Tree, so that we can dry up from that sweaty road trip. A beautiful, relaxed track that makes you think ‘who was Sally Oldfield’? The backing vocals by Stef are so subtle, certainly for such a big man, that they almost go unnoticed, but have to be there at the same time to make the song complete.
The last three tracks are the best part for me, starting with the dark, sturdy and slightly heavy Boots for Hire, yet partly inspired by (really, Stef said so!) Father Abraham’s Smurph Song. Listen carefully, and see if you notice… This track starts as slow psychedelic rock, but develops into a heavy blues rock, with great driving bass play, while Stef utters the weirdest lyrics on this album. What do you mean, ‘plastic bitches in repair’??
Heal My Bleeding Heart starts a 6/8 blues rock track, with vocals that initially remind me of Ozzy Osbourne, but it quickly develops into something that is more in the vein of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Maybe this is where the band decided to describe their music as ‘Pink Floyd meets the blues’. Yet again, a song featured by a very slick guitar solo. This track features Colin Tench on guitars – who also is responsible for the superb mixing and mastering of this album.
Closing track Black Beast Rising once again confirms the link to psychedelic space rock. It’s slow, dark, yet melodic in a way and builds up what some would call a sound scape underneath Stef’s vocals.
Murky Red have their own sound, which is a mix of all of the above, in different combinations. Still, everything seems to fit together, resulting in an album that contains varied sounds, but always recognisable as Murky Red. We had a discussion on coherence on albums on ProgArchives.com recently – I think this album would’ve been a good show case here.
Tracks that impressed me most are, as said, the last three and Cold Outside. I’m curious to the next album, which is due later this year if all goes as planned. Recommended for anyone who likes to try something new, but also likes the old.