In 2011 I was impressed by the eponymous debut album of the Canadian prog rockers of Druckfarben. On this album the band sounded very much like acts as Yes, Circa:, World Trade, U.K., Gentle Giant and Spock's Beard. Now three years later the follow-up album Second Sound has been released on which they continue the high quality of the debut.
These musicians all prove to be excellent instrumentalists playing extended solos and complex time signatures. Mostly the songs are fireworks of exciting and complex progressive rock. Once more they have recorded an ambitious retro prog style that can be best associated with Yes mainly due to Phil Naro'' high-pitched voice which is reminiscent of ex-Yes singer Jon Anderson. Throughout many impressive rock passages can also be related to bands like Rush or Kansas, the latter because of the use of the violin. This time guitarist Ed Bernard uses the violin more often than on their first musical effort. His way of playing more than once reminded me of people like Jean-Luc Ponty and Eddie Jobson (U.K.), which means that influences from these musicians and U.K. are evident on Second Sound.
It struck me that the influences of Gentle Giant have almost disappeared on the new CD. On the other hand the jazzy elements in their music have increased but without becoming predominant. Listen for instance to songs like Liberated Dream and Surrounds Me which made me think of jazz-rock bands as Bruford and Brand X. The strong compositions on this album are mostly up-tempo. Therefore it's good to have some fine resting moments like Long Walk Down and Another Day as well. The first one starts with a piano before the other band members join in and change it into a kind of Yes tune! The second one is a great ballad in which the acoustic guitar excels and different voices dominate. The longest piece is the title track which undoubtedly belongs to the absolute highlights on Second Sound. Here the band members show their many musical faces and especially their musical influences. During almost twenty minutes you're listening to music in the vein of Yes, U.K., Gentle Giant, Kansas and Ponty, just to name a few. Beautiful keyboard parts performed by Will Hare can be enjoyed a number of times next to the strong melodic guitar parts of Ed Bernard. He certainly makes a difference and he also plays the steel guitar and the banjo!
Second Sound is a fantastic album that will be enjoyed by people who particularly love the music of the above-mentioned bands. It's a highly recommended album and in my opinion this CD is amongst the musical highlights of 2014!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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