What can I say about the new Dutch prog rock band Leap Day? They made a perfect debut album for which only one word will do: bravo! Well, to be honest it was not a big surprise that a number of musicians from well-known Dutch bands would record together an excellent album like Awaking The Muse. Last year November, drummer Koen Rozen (Flamborough Head) gave me a demo with three tracks from that album. After listening, I knew that we could expect something special this year.
During a performance of King Eider on Progfarm 2007, it became clear that the interplay between the musicians could easily lead to another band or project and so it did. Guitarist Hans Gerritse (Nice Beaver) who had originally been asked to join the band had to cancel, because the distance between his residence and the location to rehearse was too large. Therefore, Eddie Mulder (Pink Floyd Project, ex-Flamborough Head) replaced him. They chose Leap Day as a band name, because their first rehearsal took place on February 29. Many rehearsals and a few live performances made them a solid sounding progressive rock band that managed to write fine material for Awakening The Muse.
The album opens strong with When Leaves Fall. Bassist Peter Stel (Nice Beaver) has a leading role in this fine piece. Nor Chris Squire (Yes) or Mark King (Level 42) could have done it better. Unfortunately, his bass guitar does sound differently on the other tracks. Itís no surprise that guitarist Eddie Mulder has a leading role throughout the album with his fantastic and melodic guitar play. Itís always a pleasure to hear him play in the vein of Andy Latimer (Camel) or David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) in combination with the keyboards. The two keyboardists play great solos and stunning chords. I already knew that Derk Evert Waalkens is a superb player as we can hear on the excellent King Eider-album Somateria Spectabilis. The second keyboardist Gert van Engelenburg certainly is a revelation. Heís not only a fine musician, but he has a great talent for writing outstanding neo-progressive rock as well. His input on Awaking The Muse is substantial and he therefore is responsible for an important part of the overall sound of the band.
Leap Day is the excellent result of a perfect cooperation between six musicians. This means that lead singer Jos Harteveld (The Pink Floyd Project) is also part of that success. Some people considered him to be the weakest link in the band. Well, everybody is entitled to have his own opinion, but I think theyíre wrong. Jos Harteveld is a great vocalist who also plays acoustic guitar when needed. Whether you like someoneís voice or not is a matter of taste. Many people discuss the vocal abilities of David Gilmour, Nick Barrett, Peter Nicholls or even Mick Jagger. Still they sell enough albums to make a living. However, this is not the case with Leap Day. For them making prog rock music is most of all a hobby that makes many people happy including me. It is good to see that another new prog rock band from The Netherlands has been born with such a professional debut album after we already had fine releases of other Dutch bands like Mangrove, Knight Area, Silhouette, Flamborough Head and Kayak. As I stated before: bravo!
****+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)†
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