When it comes to Dutch progressive rock, I dare to say that I am a collector. I have made it to some sort of obsession to collect albums of Dutch progressive rock bands. I am especially interested in bands which have not the great status as for example Silhouette, Enorm, Kayak, Knight Area and so on. So you can imagine that when I got a copy of The Missing Piece's Dream Rider, I was in an exited state.
Personally I never heard of the band. When I took a look at the biography, it turns out that the line-up was as following: Rob Brons (keyboards), Nanna Burger (vocals), Rene van Dalen (guitars), Adri Sleijster (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Nanne Tiggelman (drums, backing vocals). Adri Sleijster was the only name that I knew. Adri played for approximate 18 years is the Dutch hard rock band Exsises. I remember that their debut album was really amazing.
Another interesting issue is the fact that vocalist Nanna Burger left the band after the recordings of the album. She is replaced by Dennis Beenhakker.
The Missing Piece sounds maybe familiar to the elderly prog lovers. The Missing Piece is namely the title of an album by Gentle Giant. The band itself states that they are influenced by this band and by bands from the same time span.
The album opens with Closed Doors. Soundscapes of church organs dominate this track on several parts. The song develops a tight- and up-tempo character. Nanna Burger is an excellent vocalist. Her voice covers mainly the mid- and lower range of the vocal spectrum. I remembered a review of a colleague, in which the voice was compared with Jerney Kaagman. I must honestly confess that I can't find a better one. Her voice has certain parallels with Jerney Kaagman's . Further, I have to mention that in this song elements of the 70-ies are prominent. Resume, the album starts great.
Dark atmospheres by keyboards open the second track Signs. The vocals are modest and the guitar parts are very melodic in this low tempo song. The lyrics are beautiful. As the plot of a good book, I will not describe the plots of this lyric. Discover it for yourself.
Destiny is another seventies associated mid-tempo track. Once more keyboards are prominent in the lead. The vocals are rather dark colored and the guitar parts are in service of the song.
When a song is called Erasmus, then it's clear what the theme is about. The song starts more or less jazzy- or fusion like. Guitars and piano form the base of the melodic parts. The guitar intermezzo's are genius. They deserve to be main role in this song, and you can hear Kayak influences. The song is completely instrumental. Luckily it never bores a moment.
Reflection is a song which is in line with Destiny. Vocals, like the guitar parts are very good.
The title track Dream Rider starts really heavy. Drums are absolutely great, guitars are tight, Saga-like keyboards are amazing. The song is up-tempo and reminds me, as the keyboards, of Saga. The interference of guitar- and keyboard soundscapes are high tech. A better title track wasn't possible. The lyrics are a little about believing. I must say that this issue is approached with great respect by the band.
Shadow is a track which starts rather darkly . The first part is modest, the vocals are in a leading role. Nanna does this with compassion and elegance.
Underneath The Mask brings us back to the Middle Ages. In some way the band is creating an atmosphere which reminds me of this time. Interesting is the fact that they use their regular instruments. The song is low tempo and modest guitar layers make the song, together with the vocals.
The Close, Pt. I (The Days Before) continues initially with the Middle Age atmosphere. But not for long. The song develops into a mid-tempo song. Keyboards are the anchor of this song. The Close, Pt. II (Black Death) is the second part of the song. I think it's a typical Kayak-like song. But it is certainly not a copy. The Missing Piece has his own concept.
The album closes with Maze. In this song most of the elements described are used.
At the end I can say that The Missing Piece has delivered a fantastic debut album. Hopefully Dennis Beenhakker can fill in the place that is left behind by Nanna Burger. I am very curious how the band will develop and how they are performing live. Time will tell.
****+ Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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