Elleven is a name that I must have seen before, but somehow I totally forgot about them. They hail from Neuss, Germany, where they were founded in 2001 when former Chandelier drummer Tom Jarzina wanted to make a new prog project together with Stephan Scholz (another former Chandelier member) and singer Julia Graff. They wanted the music to sound more like pop music including retro and progressive instrumental parts. They made an album that I don't know personally, but seems to have been well received. After that things went rather silent, but now after eight long years of waiting the band is back with a new line-up of: Julia Graff (vocals, guitars), Carsten Hütter (guitars), Armin Riemer (keyboards), Herry Rubarth (drums, ex-Chandelier) and Roger Weitz (bass).
The CD offers us mainly long tracks in the 7 to 8 minute range with one track crossing the 11 minute mark and only the final track clocking under 5 minutes. That bodes well for progressive rock fans, but you should be prepared for a somewhat different sound than you may expect.
Opener Try gives us a pulsating electronic start with riffing guitars, a bit indie rock sounding even, but woven into a proggy sound. Julia is a very fine singer with a good and slightly dull voice. I think I'm reminded of for example Alison Moyet (anyone remember her?). Her singing is playful and not like your typical prog singer. The next piece is one of my favourites. Not The One brings some great symphonic/neo prog keys and a wonderful synth solo. The singing is gentle and the piece builds up some nice tension and has a fine atmospheric section in the second half. Sakura Tree is another highlight. Also this song has a poppy touch through the vocals, but this then contrasts with the neo proggy instrumental parts and the great Pink Floyd influenced guitar. Also the next piece, Blurry Road, contains more fine Floyd-inspired guitar that leads the music on. Anyway is a relatively short one and a rather punchy, synth-led track. Interestingly the longest piece Dust And Light starts with reggae like influences, but regrettably it's not the highlight I had hoped for. The final song, Losing Tracks, features acoustic guitar backed by gentle organ. Sound wise this track is a bit different from the rest of the album and maybe a bit too heavy on the vocals.
As a whole I found this a nice CD, but I must say that it doesn't hold my attention over the entire 61 minutes especially during the last two or three tracks where I drop off. But still, there's some good music to be found here and it does serve very well as background music any which way.
*** Carsten Busch (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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