Poor Genetic Material, founded by Stefan Glomb (guitar) and Philipp Jaehne (keyboards), started as an experimental project mainly working on soundtrack material. In 2000 they met the German art rock band Alias Eye which gave them the opportunity to work on more song-oriented material. Singer Philip Griffiths, son of Martin Griffiths, the legendary singer of Beggars Opera, joined the original duo to work and record together. In the last few years Poor Genetic Material made a name for themselves in the prog and art rock scene. The seasons series, a long term project covering the four albums Summerland (2001), Leap Into Fall (2002), Winter's Edge (2003) and Spring Tidings (2006) generated a lot of interest for the band. Island Noises is a double concept album based on the play The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Yet the album doesn't try to re-tell the story, but rather explores certain ideas, atmospheres and characters from the original play thus becoming a work in its own right.
I'll try to give you an idea of the content of the most important songs of both CDs. The first CD begins with the up-tempo song Roarers that has a nice Genesis-like intro beside rather good lyrics taken from the original text of the legendary Shakespeare-play. A Dance So Strange is another good song wherein the dramatic way of singing of Philip Griffiths has a prominent role. However, Brave New World is something completely different; it's mainly acoustic and sounds like a soft-pop American radio tune in the vein of Neil Diamond, America or Dan Fogelberg. The first real progressive rock song is Let Them Beware, a rather strange piece with heavy guitar outbursts and spoken words. Caliban's Dream can be characterized as a romantic song, a kind of piano and flute ballad. The twenty-minute epic title track contains dramatic voices, flute and guitar solos that kept my attention from the beginning until the very end. Never a dull moment, since this is a progressive rock epic as it should be played. I would buy this album only for this epic with its nice stereo effects, fine ballad-like passages and great prog rock with lots of variation that gradually builds up to a climax.
On the instrumental opening track Banquet Of Disillusion of the second disc I clearly noticed influences of Camel and The Moody Blues. It ends with an energetic and howling guitar solo. Assassins And Sleepers is a ballad dominated by the piano and the acoustic guitar in which Genesis are never far away. In my opinion the best songs of the second disc are Drowning The Book and Dreamstuff. The first one is a nine-minute pop-rock epic with fine lyrics. It will certainly become a classic audience favourite during live performances. In the middle-section the atmosphere changes to a darker and sadder sound with a superbly played guitar solo in the vein of Camel's Andy Latimer. It kept my attention the full nine minutes. The final piece Dreamstuff is a kind of up-tempo ballad intended as an epilogue with again strong lyrics. Bass player Dennis Sturm certainly deserves a compliment here for he does an excellent job. The last minute has been reserved for another lively guitar solo by Stefan Glomb.
If you're in for good progressive rock music without sharp edges or heavy breaks, try to get a copy of Island Noises. Listen while you're sitting in a comfortable chair and you won't be disappointed by the elegant music of Poor Genetic Material.
***+ Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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