Cliffhanger - Mirror Site

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4242.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:11:00

Well, I started out liking this album, as the first track, "Rainforest" begins very nicely, beautifully, hauntingly, with an almost Celtic feel, melding into a more guitar led track, with fat bass lines that give it a 70s prog feel. This ends up being a fairly complex arrangement, but the album gets less likable after this track ends.

"The Final Frontier" ... the closing track is "The Undiscovered Country" ... ring bells? Hmm ... Star Trek, perhaps? Now, when listening to "Final Frontier" you won't immediately make this association ... well, you will now, ... but in looking at the lyrics, I was brought to mind of a particular episode of Star Trek, "The Way To Eden." You remember the episode; Charles Napier as a singing space hippie looking for Eden. Because the music makes this convincing, lyrics like "People proclaim that he's insane / But happiness is his only game / He's setting course to outer-space / Behind the stars there lies a place /" don't come across as ... Buck Rogers in the Twiddly (or whatever) and Dr. Zeopolis days. The chorus here reads: "Back to the gardens of Eden / is there a way / To the gardens of Eden?"

Cliffhanger's overall sound on the title track, a three part opus taking on our new dependence on computers and the Internet (and a good 25 minutes), is an attempt at combing classic Genesis with elements of pre-pop Genesis. It might have worked but for the production, which is rather muddy; surprisingly so for a Musea release, especially one that isn't a reissue. The arrangement for this is, for the most part, thick, heavy, ... not like metal, more like sludge. I think this has more to do with production and than with performance. I mean, these guys play their instruments well, and there are some perculating moments here (I thought of Marillion's "Grendel," feel-wise). I'm not impressed. There are those who have covered this concept so much better; Rush and Shadow Gallery come immediately to mind, but it is, in fact, "Dot Com" from Jethro Tull's latest that's been the best I've heard thus far...

Jumping ahead, I like the closing track ... production aside ... Rinie Huigen's playing here is emotional and heartfelt ... a slow burner ... this is really the best track here and has redeemed this album for me. "The Undiscovered Country" is the name of the track. It sounds so much like ... Egdon Heath, circa maybe ... The Killing Silence (which, coincidently, I have just published a long overdue review on). It must be a Dutch thing ... this is a great track.

There are hints here and there of a Marillion/IQ/Pendragon influence, too. Production aside, the music can be fairly complex at times ... the instrumental "Sunny Afternoon" is a bit better, this being a sonic excursion for guitarist Rinie Huigen, but they're the riffs you've heard before, and played better.

Being a fan of neo-prog, I feel I should be eating this up, but ... aside from that middle suite, Mirror Site is just ... okay. Grudgingly recommended for the 5 non-title-track cuts; but I'd borrow it or get it on a trial basis before making your own final verdict. I do see promise ... curious, somewhat, to see what their new one will be like.

[As I was adding this review to the database, two names here - Huigen and Koopman - were tugging at my memory... a little checking reveals that they are both members of Knight Area; though Huigen doesn't appear on the debut CD, he was with the band at NEARfest 2005 - SS 9/05]

Rainforest (7:16) / The Final Frontier (4:57) / Mirror Site I (11:35) / Mirror Site (9:51) / Mirror Site III (5:23) / Sunday Afternoon (4:27) / Truce (4:43) / The Undiscovered Country (8:51)

Rinie Huigen - guitar and vocals
Dick Jeijboer - keyboards and piano
Gijs Koopman - bass, bass pedals, and keyboards
Hans Boonk - drums

Cliffhanger (1993) (cass.)
Live (1994) (cass.)
Cold Steel (1995)
Burning Alive (cass) (1995)
Not To Be Or Not To Be (1996)
Mirror Live (1997)
Mirror Site (1997/1998)
Hope And Despair (1998)
Live At De Boerderij (2000)
Circle (2000/2001)

Genre: Neo Prog

Origin NL

Added: August 1st 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 927
Language: english


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