CD Presentation Kristoffer Gildenlöw – The Rain

Kristoffer Gildenlöw and a wonderful band of musicians were at Boerderij Cultuurpodium tonight for the CD launch party of @The Rain. A surprising set up, certainly for photographers, with the band playing behind a transparent screen that was used to display short movies, and video clips while the music was played. It made ‘traditional live pics’ almost impossible, although some kept trying, and led to some interesting effects once I changed my mode of taking photos.

In my album review I said that this music requires attentive listening, and I was afraid it would be hard to make that possible live – using the screen next to the music turned out ot be the perfect way. Kristoffer’s band was in good shape – the guitar, violin and keyboard sounded exactly as they should, after hearing the album. The music built the atmosphere of fear and emotion the main character in the album’s concept – a man suffering from dementia – goes through. This was accompanied by still and moving images on the screen, that when looked at from the right angle, put the band in the middle of the presented scenes. The music was good, the atmosphere was fitting and the set up surprisingly photogenic, despite being hard to capture perfectly.













Headspace – All that you fear is gone

The opening of Headspace‘ new album, Road to Supremacy, and certainly the vocals made me feel like listening to an 80s or  90s AOR album. Maybe one by Survivor or Foreigner or perhaps Don Airey‘s magnificent album K2 – Tales of Triumph and Tragedy. When the music speeds up, that quickly changes – the music moves into solid heavy rock, with sometimes Yes or Rush like bass, and high pitched, wailing keyboards in the background – before going back to a soft piano tune. As solid, and more in vein of a lighter (older) Dream Theater is Your Life Will ChangeHeadspace

The band is capable of doing that, but also of other things – as they show on Polluted Alcohol, a track they described in an interview with iO Pages as having amore ‘Paris Texas’ vibe. Also on Kill You with Kindness, which has a melodic, melancholic midsection, or the somewhat psychedelic The Element does the band show it’s potential for variation.

The musicianship is great, and I love the tightness of Adam Faulkner‘s drums, the growling of Lee Pomeray‘s bass and the vocals of Damian Wilson. I’m not too fond of the wailing keyboards but Adam Wakeman shows he can do other things as well, and Pete Rinaldi is far form your average shredder. [acfw id=2]

This musician ship as well as the variation in music are as evident in the 13 minute track The Science Within Us as in the album throughout, however, I have a hard time spotting something that is really new and original – or something that really catches me and makes me go back again and again. Maybe the album needs more getting used to, maybe it just isn’t there. Overall, it’s a solid album to have, but not as special as it could have been, given the resumes of the band members. Try before you buy, just in case.

Kristoffer Gildenlöw – The Rain

When I interviewed Kristoffer Gildenlöw last year, he told me that his debut album Rust was inspired by a dark period in his life. A period that he needed to come to terms with. His next album, the one I’m listening to for the umpteenth now, would be less dark he expected. To some extend he was right, but The Rain is far from party music. The concept album tells the story of a man fighting his oncoming dementia, giving in only shortly before dying. A theme that is all to common, in a world where we are still dealing with Alzheimer. From that perspective, giving some tracks of the album their first airplay during Rock against Dementia on March 19th of this year was a logical thing to do.therain

After the sounds of rain, the first violin notes of After the Rain Part II (Part I is on the 200 copies limited edition bonus EP) make clear that this album is full of emotion and melancholy. Kristoffer’s voice carries the melancholy, which is joined by Paul Coenradie’s equally emotional guitar to set the stage for the rest of the album.

On Holding On Pt. I  Kristoffers voice is joined by that of violinist Anne Bakker, resulting in a  duet full of questions and despair. The effect of the vocals, and the use of vocals as another instrument becomes even stronger on Seeking The Sun  Pt. I, where a complete choir (Popkoor Zuilen) joins in with the other two voices to create an intricate and touching layering of melodies. This matches perfectly with the piano and guitar melodies in the instrumental The Sun Pt II.  [acfw id=2]

The short piano (Fredrik Hermansson) and male vocal piece Worthy found me staring out the window into the dark of the night, ‘waking up’ to the slightly faster violin (and cello?) of Holding On Pt II. This leads up to the slow See it All, which starts with dark drums and then a piano to accompany Kristoffer’s low voice, again joined by the choir – putting down the emotions of the dementing man wanting to see it all once more. The cello (Maaike Peters) and violin on Peripheral Memory, accompanied by a low guitar riff and almost haunting drums (by Gazpacho‘s Lars Erik Asp) lead to the soft, slow Breath In, Breath Out. Here, the man gives in, knowing the end is near. The piano and Kristoffer’s voice give me shivers, reminding me of family members who died, no longrer aware of who they themselves and those around them were.

With The Evening, which starts small and ends big, and the acoustic It was me, the album works it’s way into the haunting Drizzle. This song starts with a very low voice (Norman Ebecilio) and the sound of chains and cart wheels and develops into something that is not a blues but certainly has the feel of one. A very dark one that ends in the sound of rain.

The complicated melody of the instrumental second half of She is one of the highlights of the album for me – with a lead role for the alt violin. After this, three short tracks All for You, and The Funeral Pt I and II remain, reflecting the sad ending to a sad story – with the piano and the sound of rain and distant church bells ending the album.

An intricate composition, where lyrics, vocals melodies and instruments work together as an orchestra to convey a story. Production of the album is crystal clear, making all the  layers of the music shine through. Highly recommended, but requires attentive listening.

This review is dedicated to my uncle Josef (Sjef) Hulshout, who is going through the final stages of his earthly life – no longer aware of who he has been and how he has lived.

Jartse Tuominen – Untold Stories

Finns have big hands, at least, that’s the impression I get from the few Finnish friends I have – and that is a number that is closer to 10 than to 0. Knowing that, and how small the neck of a guitar really is, it’s a miracle someone like Jartse Tuominen can play a guitar at the lightning speeds he sometimes reaches. However, Finns also get older, and on his new album Untold Stories, even Jartse slowed down – compared to his previous two albums, 11 and 15 years ago. I don’t think he can’t do fast anymore though, but on this album he’s nowhere near the frantics he exposed on Progressiveuntold stories

What he brings us a nice jazz rock album, with a lot of guitar (no surprise), accompanied by a really tight band. On the first three tracks (Extraordinary, Hybrid Fusion, Mesa), it’s well performed jazz rock, which reminds of Progressive, but more relaxed and with a nice percussion interlude in Hybrid Fusion.

Time To Go, released as a single in January as part of the Finnish release of the album, is a melodic, melancholic electric guitar ballad with an initial riff that reminds me of Eric Clapton’Wonderful Tonight every time. It works, but leaves me wanting for a conclusion when it ends. This in contrast to the title track Untold, which is just as emotional but has a stronger build up, from acoustic guitar to electric and then to a crying end. In fact, when you think it’s done after 4 minutes, the guitar starts crying again. [acfw id=2]

In between these two tracks are  Simppa Goes to Töysä (is this Finnish phonetic for Simple goes to Tulsa?) which jazzy but not too much and has a nice guitar solo, and the straight forward blues rock track Trouble Shuffle. An odd piece on this album, but as a break in the middle it works for me.

Nine Lives is the low of this album for me. Not bad in terms of guitar and keys, but a bit too long (because of it’s repetitiveness), but the follow up Yeah Right, another well done jazz rock track makes up for that, together with the heart felt Gary Moore like guitar work on closing track Farewell.


So, Jartse did slow down a bit, but hasn’t lost the touch. If you like instrumental, guitar oriented music that leans toward jazz rock, give this a try. If you don’t, do the same. It’s not Jartse’s best album, I have a life long weak spot for Progressive, but still recommended.


The Tea Club – Grappling

One of the bands for which I reviewed every album, maybe the only one. That’s The Tea ClubNot because they sent me a complimentary review copy of every album, but also because I like their music. It’s not what I play most, but every time I play it, I hear something that catches me. With their 2015 release Grappling that’s no different. grappling

The intro of The Magnet immediately grabs my attention, although I have no idea why exactly. It just works. Maybe it’s the combination of guitar and keyboard melodies, or the vocals of the McGowan brothers, Dan and Patrick, no idea really. With Remember Where You Were (a song which’ title reminds me every time of where I was when I heard David Bowie died earlier this year), that only continues. The emotion in the vocals combined with the organ in the background are ear candy. [acfw id=2]

The darker and gloomier Dr. Abraham contains interesting musical moves, as does The Fox In a Hole, which at first hearing seemed to start with a violin. In earlier reviews of The Tea Club albums, I referred to their nice blend of influences, which never becomes a copy of what other bands do. On The Fox in a Hole, it’s the first time I was under the impression I was listening to an old, unreleased Genesis track, with a little bit of Caravan mixed in. Still, it’s a unique thing, not a copy attempt, and still very welcome in the midst of all the 70s clones of the past few years. The same can be said about The White Book, the closign track of the album. No copies, just influences.

Now I skipped quickly Wasp in a Wig, in order to make it into the closing paragraph of this album review. This track is a bit guitar heavier than the rest and giving a bit more foreground to the bass. It starts slow, almost melancholic in the vocal sound, but moves on to a dual vocal, very varied track. It changes and comes back, without loosing coherence, and is very much my favourite on this album. An album that shows that even after 8 years, the quality and musicianship of The Tea Club is still on the same great level. Highly recommended.

Dream Theater – The Astonishing

Do you know that feeling of magic, that you felt when you first looked into the eyes of the love of your life? The sparkle you saw there and felt in your heart? That’s what I felt when I heard Dream Theater’s  When Dream and Day Unite, way back in 1989. TheAstonishing

That feeling started disappearing after Falling into Infinity, with Metropolis Pt.2. After that, their albums started feeling like showing off (certainly on Petrucci’s end) instead of making music for the fans. With Octavarium, I thought they were on the way back, but they lost me again after that. [acfw id=2]

Now, with all the fuss around The Astonishing, I was hoping the fire had once again rekindled. Listening to the album this week, having ordered it last week only after weeks of doubt, I am once again disappointed. The album is too much, too long, and too uninventive to win me back. I listened, and only found things that have been done before, and probably better, by the likes of e.g. Ayreon. The music may not be bad, but it’s not worthy of the Dream Theater I once knew.
First it was the shredding that turned me off, now they’re trying to create a musical and failing…. A pity really. The genuine energy and enthousiasm of the first four albums are what made Dream Theater for me, and it’s all gone.