Mangrove - Touch Wood

Year of Release: 2004
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 66:36:00

Music must live, that is the motto of the Dutch band Mangrove and this motto is tangible on their second album, Touch Wood. [Whereas] their first album [was] filled with progressive rock songs, Touch Wood is more in the symphonic direction. The main reason for this is the addition of keyboardist Chris Jonker to the line-up, a moment when the band realized they found the missing link to complete the sound and atmosphere of the band. While most members have clearly been inspired by the prog giants of the 70s, bassist Pieter Drost is more of a (hard)rock inspired musician, but so far he is enjoying himself with Mangrove. The line-up is completed with Joost Hagemeijer on drums and vocals and Roland van der Horst on guitar and lead vocals.

It was not an easy task they gave themselves: create an symphonic album, with room for experiments, without depending on the "old ingredients and recipes." To show symphonic rock can still be worthwhile and fascinating in 2004. For the large part they have succeeded very well in that, as Touch Wood is a fantastic album, with great melodies, excellent vocals and superb synths. A lot of attention has been given to the harmony and structure of the compositions and this makes Touch Wood a rock solid album. I am very fond of the keys on the album, like in the latter half of "Help Me" are some soft, almost subtle synths, but they add so much beauty and atmosphere to the song!

Speaking about atmosphere: "Back Again" is a true classic progressive rock gem, comparable to Gabriel-era Genesis stuff and some King Crimson: a bit dark, moody and excellent guitar arrangements in the vein of Hackett. As said, they have succeeded in their mission very well, although you still hear the ghost of the old Genesis / King Crimson in the sound. The vocals are good, but I really love the instrumental parts, Mangrove at its best! According to the press info, the songs were recorded "as a band," not as individual instruments, and the drums and bass in not more than three takes, so this shows some skill. This also contributes very much to the lively sound of the band.

It might require sometime to fully digest Touch Wood, but I think once you do, you can only love the album for its compositions and sound. The band is putting a lot of effort in playing live at various occasions, to let as many people as possible sample their music. Unfortunately they will mainly play in the Netherlands, so if you don't live in the Netherlands, the only chance to hear them is on their album, but that I can only recommend, wholeheartedly. The cover artwork is very tasteful and adds to the atmosphere. Great production and as a bonus, they have added a small acoustic song, only about 2 minutes, an acoustic version of "Fatal Sign," which is a really nice treat.

A mangrove tree is a tree that can bring very tasty fruits, like the sonneratia alba, or mangrove apple, and here the comparison with the band Mangrove also works, as they have produced two different fruits, which are incredibly tasty. So whatever your taste, progressive or symphonic, Mangrove has the music for you. Highly recommended

[This review originally appeared June 2004 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Fatal Sign (9:54) / Vicious Circle (5:29) / Cold World (6:36) / Penelope (7:08) / I Close The Book (5:51) / Help Me (5:29) / Wizard of Tunes (8:52) / Back Again (5:39) / City Of Darkness (8:43)

Roland Van Der Horst - guitars, lead vocals
Joost Hagemeijer - drums, vocals
Pieter Drost - bass
Chris Jonker - synthesizers

Massive Hollowness (2001)
Touch Wood (2004)
Facing The Sunset (2005)
Coming Back To Life (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin NL

Added: May 29th 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 1236
Language: english


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