New Grove Project, The - Brill

Year of Release: 2005
Label: New Grove Music
Catalog Number: NGMCD 0402
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:33:00

New Grove Project is Ingemar Hertqvist on lead vocals, backing vocals, whistling and Brill; Fredy Schnyder (Nucleus Torn, ex-Thonk)) on guitars, grand piano, Irish bouzouki, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, synths, recorders and bass; Hasse Bruniusson (The Flower Kings, Samla Mammas Manna, Par Lindh Project) on drums, percussion, ddrums and clicktriz; Par Lindh (PLP) on Hammond organ, mellotron, and additional grand piano; Jode Leigh (ex-England) on piano, drums, synths and voice; And? Schornos (Swiss L?ndler Gamblers) on bass and double bass; and John "BoBo" Bollenberg on lead vocals. Yes, the same Bobo who writes for this very website (and many other places as well, including Progression).

For me, the highlight of this album is the instrumentation - keyboards, synths, guitars and drums, oh my (and recorder, which ads a nice flute-like element). Sorry, but the vocals are hit and miss for me; neither awful nor terrific... Not in their entirety, as there's a certain charm to them at times, working best on the Beatles-esque "Laughternoon Dream" (Bobo's tune) and on "Cool Fool Floating." At other times, I find them a little... off. But to be fair, I sing horribly, so no, I couldn't do it any better (probably much, much worse). Anyway, I won't dwell, as it's the music that shines here.

My favorite track by far is the mostly instrumental "The Sounding Flood." This is piece has a very lyrical opening, with Leigh gently and deftly tickling the ivories here. It is a beautifully sparse track, a piece that Leigh both wrote and recites. Absolutely lovely! For the first 3 minutes or so. When breathy keyboard washes are added and then a rock drum rhythm is added, it takes on a whole different character. The drums and percussion are the lead instrument, the tinkling piano and keyboard washes mere accompaniment. Four minutes later, organ (or synth) takes over the lead, battling with the drums. Actually, you have bass and guitar in the mix, too. And by the 9-minute mark, searing guitar leads get their say ... and then it's over, with a curt flourish.

I'll mention "Laughternoon Dream" again, but not because it's a Bollenberg penned piece. It very much references the psychedelic period of the Beatles - and we know what the Beatles mean to Bobo (given this site's Beatles' page). Bobo has a very dramatic way of singing, and that gives this piece the feel of a show tune... from a time when musicals populated the stage. The opening flute/French horn like notes recall for me a classic 60s tune - but for the life of me, I can't name it. I hate when that happens.

"Cool Fool Floating" is a quirky upbeat chirpy piece, jazzy guitar tootles along in bouncy rhythm. It's fun and funky, groovy. "Brill" sounds like a group of drunken guys crooning out a warped version of "Happy Birthday" (though that's not at all what they're singing) over some Flower Kings-like symphonic rock passages. It becomes very quickly something very dark and chaotic, churning. Nice organ passage here, suitably twiddily in a classically proggy fashion; brief piano sweeps help to clear the decks for a vocal and guitar passage, which leads to piano and guitar passage (with a hint of percussion), to a rolling piano passage.

The Flower Kings are conjured on the album's title track "Brill," which closes the album. And not just due to Bruniesson's presence, but also to Lindh's bubbling organ. Or due to the fact that it is a lengthy (23 minutes) prog epic, but frankly because it just sounds like something TFK would do, sans either Hasse Fr?berg's or Roine Stolt's vocals (who, incidently, played guitar on NGP's first release Fool's Journey). That rich and elaborate symphonic rock that TFK are known for, more so the TFK of Flower Power rather than the more recent material. The energetic closing segment of churning organ, snappy drums, and whatnot also includes... yodeling! Talk about throwing in the kitchen sink.

Other thoughts I had while listening to this: I'd have to say it sounds very much like the 60s have come back. A particularly European take on the prog of the 60s, as vocally I kept thinking of the stuff - mostly German - that I've been reviewing on the Garden of Delights label. The tinkling keyboards of though have a more modern sound, and maybe it's because the production values are much better than they were forty years ago. That is, this has a very clear sound. I'm listening to "Thoughts Sui Generis" at the moment, the second track, as I write this, and you can hear clearly every element - keys, guitar, mandolin ... And the fuzzed and electrifying buzz-saw guitar here just bursts out at you. A stark contrast to the fragile piano/guitar interlude that follows; a lovely passage that closes out the piece.

Organ breathes over militaristic drums on "The Light Within" beneath a dramatic, theatrical vocal. This is a piece that's music was composed by keyboardist Herbert Herzog, who passed away in 1997, and to whom the album is dedicated. Whereas in "Sounding..." piano tinkled, here it's percussion.

The "silent" members of NGP are Mikael Syv?j?rvi, who wrote all of the album's lyrics, aside from "Laughtermoon...," and Per Sundbom who co-wrote "Brill." This album was mostly recorded in 2002 and finalized in 2004 and finally released earlier this year.

Brill is an entertaining release that is let down by vocals that aren't on par with the music that backs them. Not awful, but not great either, falling some where in between, and just above the middle... they don't sparkle as much as the music does. Worth checking out though for "The Sounding Flood," especially if you love solo piano.

Neon Light Submission (5:45) / Thoughts Sui Generis (7:41) / The Sounding Flood (9:42) / The Light Within (4:36) / Laughternoon Dream (5:07) / Cool Fool Floating (4:05) / Brill (24:34)

Ingemar Hertqvist - lead vocals, backing vocals, whistling and Brill
Fredy Schnyder - guitars, grand piano, Irish bouzouki, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, synths, recorders and bass
Hasse Bruniusson - drums, percussion, ddrums and clicktriz
Par Lindh - Hammond organ, mellotron, and additional grand piano
Jode Leigh - piano, drums, synths and voice (3)
And? Schornos - bass and double bass
John 'BoBo' Bollenberg - lead vocals

The Demos (1994)
Fool's Journey (1997)
Brill (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin VA

Added: December 11th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 962
Language: english


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