Fans of the former Marillion singer Fish know that his own record label is titled Chocolate Frog. But out there in progressive rock land is a band from Germany who also call themselves cHoclat FRoG, but with a difference. This is in fact a studio-duo project featuring Rainer Ludwig (vocals/drums/keys) and Tim Ludwig (bass/guitar). A musical outfit which is probably unique in the progressive rock scene. Why? Because Tim got married to Rainer's daughter. So he is his son-in-law. They come up now with a brand new release, titled Snaphot.
You do have to know that both members have been playing together since 2003 after the 70's progger Rainer encouraged his daughter's boyfriend to play bass and gradually got him hooked on our beloved musical gengre. After some years of playing together with guitarist Christof Engel in the trio The STOCK they renamed themselves cHoclat FRoG. The main reason was because Engel left the band. Together they started to record their ideas directly without the conventional rehearsals. This resulted into their debut Snapshot.
The idea of Rainer Ludwig for Snapshot was to interlink different parts of life ("Snaps") musically without actually interlinking the mentioned topics or much less continuing a contained story to the end. Basic inspiration was a flow of information similar to a TV-news program, newspaper or social media feed. Well this resulted in an album which is for most people not easy to digest. Music wise you could say what you hear on the 11 tracks is progressive rock. Because they use the typical instruments that are used in this musical genre, Synthesizers, Mellotrons and electric guitars. But they are using them in a different musical setting. Don't expect long solo's or very bombastic musical parts. You can hear that everything is most of all improvised. This makes it for most listeners very difficult to enjoy. Sometimes the music goes towards a musical style which can be labelled as avant-prog. This is an umbrella term that encompasses avant-garde progressive rock. As a style which appeared in the early to late 1970s as the extension of three separate progressive rock sub-styles: Rock in Opposition (RIO), the Canterbury scene, and the band Magma's signature style known as Zeuhl. Acts that come to mind are Thinking Plague, Henry Cow, Motor Totemist Guild or even Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention.
For myself the musical highlights on this release are the tracks Part V (Need To Survive) and Part XI (Where Language Ends Music Begins). Because on those pieces of music we can enjoy fine parts on which they used the Mellotron in a beautiful way. Giving the songs a more progressive rock sound. Mentioning those two compositions doesn't mean the other nine are less enjoyable.
But for me, and I guess many other progheads, it took me a while to get into the music the two musicians recorded for their debut album. The songs they brought out into the open are not the twentyfourseven (24/7) progressive rock tunes I enjoy on a daily basis. Sure there are people out there who will enjoy them all the way right from the start. Most of all those who are into the music of the acts I mentioned earlier. For myself I would advice Rainer and Tim to put on their next release more structured songs with less improvisations. I guess they will make the people in the progressive rock genre more happy while listening to their music. Including myself!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2022