Triumvirat - Illusions On A Double Dimple

Year of Release: 2002
Label: EMI-Electrola
Catalog Number: 1C 538 7953662
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:02:00

I haven't listened to this in a while, and if you want my verdict right off the bat, it's this: This is a really good album. If you don't have time to read on, there it is. Good stuff here. There, I've repeated it just to be clear, and if you have the time, I'll tell you why, Ok?

Triumvirat are probably best known in the USA for their third release, Spartacus. That is a work that borrows heavily from a number of well known tracks by ELP. You like that?

Borrowed. Call it what you will. This second release, as well as their first, Mediterranean Tales, have a more personal sound of their own, still influenced heavily by ELP, but not a knock off in any real sense. Illusions On A Double Dimple (1974, Harvest (LP 11311)) is in some sense, a concept album. It deals lyrically with being poor and the desperation of bad fortune, joblessness, and exploitation. This is not dealt with as, say, Ian Anderson would deal with similar fodder, but from a personal perspective. I'd like to know what real experience the three members of Triumvirat had with the life that bassist, guitarist, vocalist Helmut Kollen, or the bands main lyricist and drummer, Hans Bathelt, describe so well, but taken as a true statement of SOMEONE'S actual material circumstances, they are somewhat striking, even as they entertain. I'll not forget to mention keyboardist Jurgen Fritz, and let's just point out right now, that Jurgen was a classically trained pianist, and I'm not sure how many impoverished families can get a kid into that sort of schooling. So there! Since I'm making such a big deal over the bands lyrics, which I just read right now, and like, let's also note the rather appalling way in which women are treated, and referred to in this, and other Triumvirat lyrics. Bad sexist rock musician! Bad!

Jeez, you'd think I was gonna trash this band, huh? Nope. I told you right off that this was good stuff, don't you remember? This is a very good release, and in some ways, at some points, they do a better job of this kind of music than their ideal, ELP. Illusions is a very, very good example of the classic style of ELP mixed with a quite solid grasp of catchy pop music, something that ELP was mostly incapable of themselves. This album features great vocals, and arrangements, and is overall one of the most pleasant and just plain listenable albums of the early 70s. The music, mostly written by Fritz, is powerful, but not pompous, even hummable no less. Really. The vocalist, Helmut Kollen, making his first appearance with the group, has a nice style, sounding somewhat English, actually. There are no heavy accents to be found on this CD. His singing, as well as his guitar and bass work are admirable, and understated. That may be seen as the watch word of this effort, understated. It is, in all the ways I know how to look at it, a quite classy, and satisfying piece of work by a group that only later developed a somewhat tarnished reputation.

As I said, this is a concept album, lyrically and musically. I am impressed by the way that musical themes are repeated throughout the album. In fact, they use some of the most unique ways to revisit earlier passages I have yet to run across. Yes, there is a repetitive keyboard theme that shows up a half dozen times, but the real fascinating thing going on here is the use of a signature drum fill that keeps popping up here and there. It is simple, but it yanks the listener to attention each time it is used, and I think that it a very cool way to add continuity to this music. There is also an even simpler tool used here, that being a female vocal part that is really no more than a B, sometimes B flat, and it's octave, that keeps turning up, just like the drum lick. Oh yeah, this release has a lot of people playing on it. Triumvirat is backed up at times by the Cologne Philharmonic, a brass section, and additional vocalist's in supporting roles. It is all done very well, and the presence of so many musicians is never an impediment to the core group, or the music itself.

The music here is nicely performed and well written and arranged. Fritz is an outstanding keyboardist, utilizing mostly B-3, Moog, and piano. There is a load of great Hammond playing on Illusions On A Double Dimple, which, by the way, is possibly a cocktail of some sort, referred to in the lyrics. I can't find out quite what it is, but the term also applies to a style of bow tie, and a method of piercing pipe, no less. The things you learn when researching music!

This is not a ELP rip off of any kind. The similarities are there, no doubt, but at this point in Triumvirat's career they had their own voice, their own sound, and they were a fine and original act. At some point in their near future the die would be cast and the follow up to this great release, Spartacus, would, a bit unfairly, put them in the same league as some less talented ELP imitators. For the time though, they could have been proud of an outstanding effort that is still respected today.

So, that's it. The best thing about writing reviews of these old, and sometimes forgotten releases, is that I get to revisit some of the finer days of progressive rock music, and occasionally, I remember just how good a band was. That is the case here, and with the new re-issues of Triumvirat's catalog, you can lay your hands on their first three, and best releases, with far less effort than I had to expend to get my out of print, German CD re-issues several years ago.

Illusions On A Double Dimple: -Flashbacks-Schooldays-Triangle-Illusions-Dimplicity-Last Dance (23:11) / Mister Ten Percent: - Maze-Dawning-Bad Deal-Roundabout-Lucky Girl-Million Dollars (21:21)

Jurgen Fritz ? piano, organ, electric piano, Moog synthesizer, vocals
Helmut Kollen ? bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals
Hans Bethelt ? percussion, drums
Peter Cadera ? vocals
Hanna Dohtisch ? vocals
Venneta Fields ? vocals
Karl Drewo ? saxophone
Hans Pap ? bass, vocals
The Cologne Philharmonic ? Orchestra
The Kurt Edelhagen Brass Section ? brass, horns

Mediterranean Tales (1972)
Illusions On A Double Dimple (1973)
Spartacus (1975)
Old Loves Die Hard (1976)
Pompeii (1977)
A La Carte (1978)
Russian Roulette (2000)
Take A Break Today/The Capitol Of Power (2000)
Illusion On A Double Album (2000)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin DE

Added: March 28th 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 1451
Language: english


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