Timesphere - Tranquility To Tempest


Year of Release: 1998
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:29:00

Every now and then a disc comes along that is very difficult to describe, and also very difficult to understand why one likes it so much. Such is the case with Timesphere. Apparently, this little known band hails from Germany, but does not play in the traditional German power metal or prog metal way that most others do in this genre, except that it is also difficult to put this band in a genre, as they choose to move about the sound spectrum and not stay still long enough to be placed. Overall, this band goes to prove that an obscure, indy band can put out some serious music, as well as some serious sound.

THE STYLE:

This is very difficult to describe. The closest band I can think of that might be in the same ballpark as this band is another German band called Hydrotoxin, who made some waves around here awhile back with their disc, as well as stir up some controversy as to exactly what style of music they play. Timesphere, as well as Hydrotoxin, seem to mix in a neo-progressive sound with a light metal sound, making them light for the metal heads, and probably a bit heavier for the neo-prog heads. The balance is quite interesting, mixing in twin guitars with keyboards, but not for power or strength, but more for flexibility and sound. Both guitars are always playing different melodies. While one guitar plays the traditional chords, the other is playing some atmospheric, Alex Lifeson-like strumming on the other side. The keyboards then accent that sound, which pretty much makes up the nucleus of this band's sound.

It's definitely laid back lots of the time, with no signs of power chords except on some of the choruses, but even then, the level of the sound is laid out so that it doesn't even sound like a power chord. At times, the guitars will play twin leads, with each again going off in different directions instead of the traditional twin sound that most metal bands favor. The songs themselves are long, with mini-stories for lyrics. The band strives on story-like length lyrics, and it's obvious that their main focus is on the "song," not the individual. There aren't any showcases here - all members contribute their parts to make up the thick, rich sounds. It's a very full sound, because of the way they integrate the instruments, and the keyboards really round out the fullness of the sound.

The music is very progressive, always changing in styles within each song, going from the soft, acoustic intros, to the chunky choruses, to stopping again and then heading off into some other style until the song is finished. The only problem (and a good one) is that you never know if the song ended or not and you've somehow missed the intro to the next song.

THE BAND:

Chris Robinson / Vocals
Philip Marienfeld / Keyboards
Tim Ruoff / Guitars
Helmut Orian / Guitars
Ralf Schirmer / Drums
Michael Flea / Bass

As I said before, there aren't any showcases in this band, due to the nature of the laid back music. The emphasis here is definitely on beauty and song, with the entire band lending different sounds to make up the whole of the music. The interesting style of the two guitars playing different melodies throughout each song really add variety and atmopshere to the music. Rarely, if ever, can you hear both guitars playing the same melodies - it's as if both players wrote entirely different parts for the same song and somehow intertwined them into one single sound, but you can distinctly hear what each one is playing. I won't go into the style of each player, because of the emphasis on the combined effort of all players, but if I had to pick out which instrument(s) drove this sound, it would definitely have to be the dual guitars. One is always soft and atmpospheric while the other seems to the be the one that lays down the traditional chords to base the music. If you imagine Alex Lifeson playing some chorused, soft, atmospheric tones like he does on many soft Rush passages, maybe like on Hemispheres, then you have somewhat of an idea of what this might sound like.

[Schirmer and Flea have left; Patrick Schmitt (d) and Ingo Merten (b) have joined {July 2010: Merten has left, last bassist of record is named Alex; not sure how current website is (looks relatively fresh from a design p.o.v.), but seems Robinson also left} -ed. PW]

THE VOCALS:

Once again, I'm at a loss to describe this singer as he really doesn't sound like the traditional singer, nor does he resemble any one singer I can think of. Since his name is Chris Robinson, if you can imagine what the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson sounds like, try to add some Steve Perry type singing with that voice and you might have this Chris Robinson. It's a sort of bluesy, melodic, just a bit raspy version of those 2 singers. The midrange tone to his voice always keeps him in that range, and it's not hard to hear that bluesy tinge to his voice. He doesn't veer off out of his range at all, pretty much staying within one single range, choosing to sing the songs, not to show off his voice. Even the singing seems to emphasize the songs, not the individual. He is not your typical prog singer, but I'd have to put his style more in a neo-prog or a prog rock style than in a metal, and as I said, this borders on the lighter side of metal, if it does at all.

THE PRODUCTION:

This is a perfect example of how an unsigned band can achieve great sound. Even though it's on the light side, I cranked this using a subwoofer and I got some nice, thick, pounding bass out of this disc, enough to rattle some walls. The guitars are perfectly recorded, and they just cry out that they sound crystal clear and really do justice to your system. The drums sound good, and very natural. Just a bit more punch to the snare drum and I wouldn't have to bring this up at all, but the kit sounds so good that it's not even worth mentioning. It's a matter of trying to find flaws in the sound when it's recorded this well, so I'll just go on to say that this disc sounds great, and I have no problems at all withe music is epic at times, with the keyboards leading the way to some adventurous intros, and then the songs get underway, only to change many times throughout each song making it hard to follow where you are on the disc; and this is a good thing for progressive fans. The music structures themselves are never hard to follow, just the direction each song takes within itself. Overall, this will not appeal to metal head, as the neo-prog feel of the disc will limit enjoyment. To fans of atmospheric, laid back, light to heavy neo-prog styles, this should make some waves. If you take out that Hydrotoxin disc that you haven't listened to for quite some time and play it, how you react to that disc will pretty much dictate how you much you will like this band. For me, the beauty and the atmosphere win out with both mentioned bands, and Timesphere is a big winner for me. The fact that an indy band can put out an hour's worth of music that sounds this good gets my support every time.

THE COMMENTS:

It took me some time to figure out why I liked this disc, much less try to describe it. I still don't feel that I can truly pinpoint what this band is about, except that I liken it to a harder edged neo-prog sound, with some of the guitar chords and solos resembling some metal riffs here and there. The balance is quite interesting, mixing in twin guitars with keyboards, but not the typical formula that appeals to every power or neo-prog head.


Tracklisting:
Hourglass (6:05) / Suicidal Tendencies (9:29) / Just A Dream (5:30) / Prism Magic (5:46) / Lonely Irony (6:00) / Pendulum (5:54) / Serpent (5:52) / Poem (8:48) / Phantom?s Sigh (4:25)

Musicians:
Chris Robinson - vocals
Philip Marienfeld - keyboards
Tim Ruoff - guitars
Helmut Orian - guitars
Ralf Schirmer - drums
Michael Flea - bass

Discography:
Tranquility To Tempest (1998)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin DE

Added: July 1st 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.timesphere.de
Hits: 413
Language: english

  

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