It's difficult to believe that the German progressive rock band Poor Genetic Material have already released ten studio albums between 1999 and 2013. However, for most insiders it is not a great surprise, and what the band delivers on their releases is of a very high level. Therefore, probably the same strong musicianship will be revealed on their brand new album Absence, their eleventh album. Will it again provide the same strong musical quality as on their predecessors? Some listening sessions might reveal the answer!
On this new album former Beggar's Opera lead vocalist Martin Griffiths, has joined his son Philip Griffiths in the line up after his guest appearances on the bands previous two albums. Almost equally father and son now share the vocal parts and provide spine-tingling moments, often resembling Saga's lead singer Michael Sadler. They are joined by Stefan Glomb on guitars, Philipp Jaehne on keyboards, Pia Darmstaedter on flute, Dennis Sturm on bass, and Dominik Steinbacher on drums.
Once again on this new release the great creativity of the band members provides variety and a pleasant atmospheric flowing of the music. You can again enjoy interspersed flute solos which are very much welcomed in the colourful and enriched keyboard accented songs. The sometimes melodic Pink Floyd kind of guitar solos occasionally take the lead but it is the distinctive, soothing voices of the Griffiths duo which shine throughout the entire album. Sometimes the music has beautiful ambient parts and you can hear this on the title track that is divided into two parts. Absence Part I and Absence Part II start and end the album creating half hour of amazing music. In between them you can enjoy shorter songs, except for the ten minutes long Absconded. All of them are of a very high level and contain excellent musicianship of the seven band members.
The focus on the album is the theme of absence and this intense engagement is reflected impressively in the music. Whether melodic, catchy or complexly powerful - everything has a subordinate place which sound great without becoming too bombastic or too commercial.
The main conclusion is that Absence is an album on which Poor Genetic Material peak from start until finish. They have set a very high musical standard for themselves. Therefore they probably might have a problem to sound even better on their successor. But who cares as long as you know that only fine compositions can be heard on this excellent new album. The rest is for the future to come.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Dave Smith)
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