There has already been said a lot about the productivity of the Dutch multi-instrumentalist Christiaan Bruin (vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and percussion). So, I won't go into his musical activities with Sky Architect, Adeia, Nine Stones Close, The Mayra Orchestra and other musical projects in which he's involved, nor will I tell you about his previous solo albums as Chris. I think most readers of Background Magazine know what a versatile musician he is. You never know what's going to happen on his solo albums, so I wondered how his new record would sound after the latest one City Of Light (2012, see review). At the time I asked myself how many musical faces Chris has. I ended my review by stating that only time will tell! Well, time is on our side because hardly a year later this productive young musician gave the prog scene his latest view on how music should sound, written and recorded!
Days Of Summer Gone is an album that I didn't expect to be recorded by Chris. Once again he came up with an album that in general differs from his earlier records. For that reason alone this album deserves a positive assessment. But that's not how it works since you have to merit a positive review. Well, after listening to Days Of Summer Gone several times he certainly does! Also this time Chris didn't disappoint me; he made a very enjoyable album with the help of Ruben van Kruistum (cello), Intan Werry (violin), Maxime le Minter (oboe), Federico Dalprà (flute), Peter Bruin (trumpet) and Joey van Doesburg (trombone).
Looking at the instruments in this line-up you already might have an idea in which musical direction this album tends. All these instruments are used by classical orchestras, so I wasn't surprised that the music clearly tends in the direction of chamber music or orchestral classical music. Well, this certainly is the case on many tracks, but on other tracks the music is completely acoustic. Then again his love for retro prog rock emerges as well mainly due to the strong rhythms and the use of beautiful keyboard parts with lots of Mellotron. However, it's hard to deny that Chris is fond of pop music either.
Above all Days Of Summer Gone sounds warm, often gentle or melancholic, sometimes very dark and dramatic. Some pieces suddenly turn into a twisted, menacing inferno of sounds. This musical style strongly reminded me of the albums recorded by the Swedish retro prog band Änglagård, a band that Chris admires a lot! All of the six tracks on this record are high-levelled, so I found it hard to pick out a favourite piece. However, I slightly prefer the four long compositions that almost sound like a suite. The ethereal soothing sequences produced by the string section are of an aesthetic beauty. The various moods occasionally evoke associations with soundtracks as well.
I think Days Of Summer Gone can be labelled best as an orchestral prog album in the best tradition of the seventies. People who enjoyed Chris's other solo albums can blindly buy this one as well. It's interesting to see what the next step of this multi-talented musician will be. I for one will keep an eye (ear) on him because so far I enjoyed all of his solo efforts!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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