King Eider - Somateria Spectabilis

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4632.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:28:00

Yet another new name on the horizon of the new wave of current progressive rock. The rather difficult album title is in fact the Latin translation of King Eider which is a bird that's numerous in the Arctic. In the wintertime they migrate south to Alaska in the Pacific or New York in the Atlantic. In Europe they usually come as far as Norway and East-Iceland. Seeing a King Eider in Holland is a rather rare occasion, which is why this name was chosen by musician and nature lover Hans Gerritse. As a bird watcher Hans regards the King Eider as rare and precious as is the music he composes and records together with his buddy Derk-Evert Waalkens and a couple of good friends. As a member of Nice Beaver, Hans knows how to record a decent album, which is probably why this album has taken so long before it got released. Recorded between 1997 and 2004 at various locations in Holland, the nine compositions on offer here are all originals.

The instrumental title track contains outstanding symphonic textures where elements out of the unique world of Camel and Genesis happily unite around Hans' wonderful guitar playing. Written by Knight Area member Rinie Huigen, "King Of Ducks" contains a kind of Supertramp approach, making the song sound lighter, less complex. "In Detain" is one of the longer tracks on offer here and yet again rubs shoulders with their big example Camel. The short "Hatch, Walk, Fly" could well be an outtake from one of the many Anthony Philips albums on the market, featuring gentle melodic acoustic guitar. With "Arctic Skies," yet another fragile instrumental is delivered. This time around a jazzy kind of guitar sound is used. No doubt the album's pièce de résistance has to be "Atlantis '69" which maybe gets closest to Hans' other band Nice Beaver. The song also approaches the world of Salem Hill, although the acoustic interventions give way for an almost punky atmosphere with rousing drum fills. Twelve string acoustic guitar takes us back to the early Genesis days, which is even enhanced when mighty mellotron roars its ugly head way in the background. Even more acoustic sounds get delivered when also some violin steps in to accompany the backing vocals, and classical piano ends this wonderful track. This remarkable debut, which no doubt has paved the way for bigger and greater things, ends with "Exxon Valdez." Based on the tragedy in which the Exxon Valdez vessel spilled 11 million gallons of oil in Alaska, the final instrumental track tries to set to music the vastness of the incident. Having happened in Alaska no doubt a lot of King Eider birds were killed as well (250,000 sea birds were reported to have been killed). So maybe we should regard this final track as a tribute to everything that died due to this immense accident.

Somateria Spectabilis might not be an easy title to ask for in your record store, so it might come in handy to just mention King Eider. With a sleeve that depicts this colourful duck this Musea release is yet another wonderful release in the label's existence. The diversity and craftsmanship on this CD is strong enough to let us hope that King Eider won't be extinct and will leave us many ducklings!

Hatchling (1:56) / Somateria Spectabilis (10:37) / King Of Ducks (5:08) / In Detain (10:46) / Hatch, Walk, Fly (2:20) / The News (7:02) / Arctic Skies (4:36) / Atlantis 69 (11:34) / Exxon Valdez (2:24)

Derk-Evert Waalkens - keyboards, drums, backing vocals
Hans Gerritse - electric and acoustic guitars, guitar-synth, bass, backing vocals


Dik Pomp - drums
Rinie Huigen - vocals
Eric Holdtman - vocals

Somateria Spectabilis (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin NL

Added: July 13th 2006
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
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Language: english


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