The Dutch guitar virtuoso Joost Vergoossen probably doesn't need to be introduced to our Dutch readers, but I'll give some background information for all the others. Most Dutch music lovers will have an album in their collection on which Vergoossen is playing, for he has played on many albums. He's best known for his membership of the symphonic rock group Kayak and Het Goede Doel. Furthermore he had interesting participations with female singer Ilse De Lange and Bert Heerink, the former singer of Kayak. Just as many guitar players do in their spare time, he recorded solo albums with the focus on the guitar. Breaking The Cycle is his third effort, after Hit Home (2001) and A Fool's Journey (2008).
Unlike his previous album Vergoossen used guest musicians to create Breaking The Cycle. This resulted in an album with a real band sound thanks to the contributions of fellow Kayak member Jan van Olffen (bass), Werner van Gool (keyboards) and Sjoerd Rutten (drums). Being a special guest Kayak's mastermind Ton Scherpenzeel plays the Hammond solo on the title track. With these musicians quality is guaranteed. A very strong characteristic in the compositions is the fact that they're based on a seemingly simple melody. Listen for instance to the opener High Roller which sounds easy; soon you're whistling along with the main melody. On my way back from the concert where Vergoossen played with Renegade Creation, I caught myself humming and whistling the songs in my car.
Another strong issue is the diversity of influences he incorporated in his music. The second piece on the album Chasin' The Demon clearly has a Steve Lukather feel and shows the tremendous craftsmanship of this Dutch guitarist. Besides Steve Lukather, there are more guitarists who influenced him like Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and even a country rock picker as Albert Lee. As a reference I would mention the Norwegian guitarist Mads Eriksen, who also blends different musical styles and genres. Blue Light is another song you can easily whistle along with, mixing the sound of Johnson with the power of Lukather. In this piece you'll discover that the guitar isn't always in the centre on this album, since the impressive keyboards get a lot of space to excel. In Stress Factor 9 you can hear the impressive country rock picking side of Vergoossen. The first notes of Shine reminded me of an advertisement for smoked sausages, but don't ask me why. However, this composition really shines with strong guitar lines mixing extended notes with furious playing.
Even closer to Albert Lee than Stress Factor 9 is Got It? that rocks the country blues at its best. Stuck In A Moment shows that Vergoossen is more than just an outstanding electric guitarist. Here his playing on the acoustic guitar reaches a great height. After this moment of relaxation the tempo increases again. The Hard Way combines a kind of heavy fusion guitar with melodic musical lines with soft keyboards in the background. My respect for Vergoossen increases as well, because all these songs sound easy and accessible. Only great composers can create music like this. Brother And Sister is also an example of this statement; just close your eyes and let the music take you away. My Girl has a strong fusion feel, but it's still easy to digest. The title track takes you back to the time guitar shredders ruled the world. It's a strong composition with influences of Randy Rhoads and Eddy van Halen. This proves again that Joost Vergoossen can play all kinds of different styles. The album's closing song 23 is a tribute to the late drummer of Kayak Pim Koopman. This song can also be watched at the Kayak DVD Tribute To Pim. On this album this piece contains some changes; the keyboards have been replaced by strong piano play, a worthy end of an outstanding album.
Just give this album a chance and you'll never forget who Joost Vergoossen is: one of the best actual guitar players from The Netherlands. The perfect compositions and the many mixtures of musical styles make this a perfect CD.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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