Geof Whitely Project is the name Geof Whitely (keyboards, drums, vocals) uses to release his musical ideas, using guest musicians Colin (bass), Luke (vocals) and Sean (guitars), for neither of which a last name can be found in the CD booklets or on the band's web site, to help him out.
The music of Geof Whitely Project is, according to the man himself, “original mater ial in all types of musical formats from prog rock-rock-pop-electronic-instrumental”. A slightly broad and vague description, which however does fit the content of the two albums I got to review: it's a bit of everything, and at the same time a bit of 'the same'. 'The same', in the sense that a lot of tracks on the two albums sound quite alike. One could argue that that is the signature sound of Geof Whitely Project, but after many listens I have to conclude that this signature sound is not the sound that grabs my attention and keeps me listening to the music. After three tracks of keyboards putting down a layer of electronic sounds underneath a guitar playing lead tunes, together accompanying an vocal that is clean, but often without emotion, I find it hard to stay tuned in to the music.
Looking at the two albums, there are some differences though, so it is only fair to discuss them separately below, starting with Hand 2 Eye Co-ordination from 2013. Many of the tracks on this album have an 80s electronic pop rock and new wave ring to them, with the keyboards clearly in the lead and the guitar joining in. The drums and bass are there, but especially the drums are not very spectacular - it's unclear sometimes whether an electronic kit is used or whether the drums were programmed. The vocals on the album are quite monotonic and emotionless.
A few moments of surprise occurred during listening, but never long enough to grab my attention for real. Be Seen But Not Heard for example has a Simple Minds or Japan feel, and a hint of a fretless bass at one point, but its slow tempo makes it hard to stay focused. Similarly, H2O asks for the listener's attention with a surprising vocal effect in the intro, and the combination of piano and electronic drums reminds a bit of early 1980s albums by Eroc (Joachim Ehrig, once drummer of Grobschnitt), but it quickly becomes far more repetitive than that.
Winner on this album is Drop Of The Hat, which is more rock oriented than the other tracks, the guitar has more power and the voca ls are a bit more alive and emotional. Still, like most tracks on this album it never speeds up and that makes it ' just not enough' for me.
On Pathfinder, the musical style is slightly, but not a lot different from the previous album. The 80s reference is less strong, and the album is less 'dark' than Hand 2 Eye Co-ordination. Still, a track like Chinese Burn could've fit nicely on that album.
This applies much less to the opening track Ship To Shore, which starts slow and keyboard heavy, but changes gear half way when the guitar takes the lead, and Never Ending Story. Both suffer once again from the lack of eminent in the vocals though - as if the singer (one or both of them) knows the melody and the lyrics, but doesn't feel them.
However, there is more variation on this album, with the ballad like The Game, the slightly melancholic title track, the pop rock track You Give Me and the also rocky The Riddle. Surprise of the album is Conscience, the only song on the two albums I can really appreciate. It's op ening with piano and the first few lines of vocals remind slightly of The Beatles Let It Be, although the melody is different. The remainder of the song is a 21st century mix of what The Beatles and Moody Blues did in their time, with a folky, catchy chorus. This one really stands out amongst 10 tracks that are based around keyboard sounds (sometimes almost droning rather than melodic) accompanied by electric guitar.
Electronic keyboard rock is not my favourite, but there are many examples of albums in that style that show more variation in individual tracks than these two.
Hand 2 Eye Co-ordination: **
Angelo Hulshout (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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