• Pancake: Out of the Ashes

    16 Mar 2006, 21:07 by Progbear

    Pancake’s second album finds them moving in more of a typical symphonic mode, as opposed to the quirky Wishbone Ash-cum-Pink Floyd area of their debut, Roxy Elephant. Keyboards (and inaudible violin, courtesy of bassist Peter Indrak) are introduced on this album and the extra texture is appreciated, but this is hardly groundbreaking stuff. Swirling spacey sympho, rather in the vein of Eloy or Neuschwanstein. Competent but rather lacking in identity.

    New singer Rainer Rohm is decent, but he's not a patch on their earlier vocalist (the delightfully-named Hampy Nerlich) or the female vocalist who would replace him (Biggi Zmierczak, on their excellent swan-song LP, 1979's No Illusions).
  • Sensations’ Fix: Portable Madness

    11 Feb 2006, 20:40 by Progbear

    Sensations' Fix were a most unusual band in that they were an Italian prog band that didn’t really sound Italian at all. The Berlin School seemed to be their biggest influence, yet they didn’t quite sound German, either. Most anomalous.

    This, their second album, is entirely instrumental. The band are essentially the vehicle for guitarist/synthesist Franco Falsini, who contributes lots of sustain-laden, slightly distorted guitar leads over a bed of swirly string-synth and drony layers of Moog. Sometimes the album sounds like the backing tracks to Eloy song, but SF tend to be tighter and a little more caffeinated. And, on this album, quite low-tech, at least from a production standpoint. Hard to believe from the sound-quality that this was released on a major label (Polydor).

    “Strange About The Hands” was later remade (with vocals) on the band’s next album, Finest Finger. Another one of the tracks (can’t remember which) also got re-made on Finest Finger with vocals.
  • Pancake: No Illusions

    29 Jan 2006, 21:19 by Progbear

    Each of the three albums by Germany’s Pancake seem to offer something different. The debut Roxy Elephant seemed to attempt sympho-prog with two guitars in lieu of keyboards, a sort of Wishbone Ash gone prog. Out Of The Ashes adds keyboards, and is a rather more typical German sympho affair, in the vein of Eloy or Novalis, though lacking in much distinction.

    The third time round they got the mixture right, switching to an authoritative keyboardist and adding dazzling female vocalist Biggi Zmierczak. Often compared to Earth and Fire, No Illusions does indeed approximate the style of the Dutch band back when they were proggy and interesting (which they certainly weren’t by 1979), right down to the heavy use of Mellotron on most of the tracks.

    One of the more underrated items of German symphonic prog. Worth picking up.