German project FUCHS is the creative vehicle of composer and instrumentalist Hans-Jürgen Fuchs. While he may be an unknown to many, he has a long history in progressive rock. He produced and performed on four albums released by his wife Ines in the 1990's, produced several albums for the WMMS label in the same period, and produced a number of bands in his own Roxanne Studio. In addition, he has written, composed and directed several musicals over the years, the majority of these designed for school performances. Too Much Too Many is his 6th solo release.
This release is musically quite diverse moving from power prog-pop to pastoral environments to straight-ahead symphonic prog all performed with precision and heart.
The album opens with the somewhat pop-oriented Don't Get Me Wrong which is very reminiscent of Phil Manzanera/801's Listen Now album and features a lead vocal call-and-answer which bounces from left to right in the stereo mix as well as some excellent harmonies. Unfortunately this may be the weakest track of the album as it has just a few too many pop cliches.
The next track, Of Hopes And Dreams And Bitter Tears reminds me of a Kerry Minnear fronted Gentle Giant track with beautiful harmonies and an almost hypnotic repeating musical phrase and brilliant synthesizer solo.
Challenge Of Lifelong Learning features amazing vocal harmonies accented by very powerful drumming from Florian Dittrich.
The next track, And Once Again, immediately brings to mind the works of Anthony Phillips, including the early albums from Genesis.
The epic The Middle Years comes next and creates a wonderful pastoral atmosphere and yet still carries a powerful under-current which keeps the piece from ever becoming dull.
Mad World features more very effective drumming from Dittrich with bass interplay from Henrik Mumm and another almost hypnotic score while the lyrical story unfolds. The song defies classification as it blends styles and influences, sounding at times like a pop song only to drop into the world of prog a moment later without ever losing the flow of the piece. The song ends with a narration which has elements similar to Fish and A Plague Of Ghosts.
Another epic track follows, Here In My Void, which showcases the keyboard talents of Fuchs and his wife Ines. The track starts with a carousel-like keyboard driven intro, followed by a very pastoral section. Once the vocals begin you are hooked. The full band and vocal harmonies kick the song into whole new territory and then comes the brilliant synthesizer and guitar solos. The song concludes with an incredible strong build up and return of vocals and harmonies. Just a fantastic track, which surprisingly never gets overly complicated. This track alone is worth five stars!
The album wraps up with My Life, which again takes us down another different musical path. Beautiful lead vocals flow over a percussive-driven backing track which slowly, and almost imperceptibly moves into a symphonic inspired climax including an amazing “uncredited” sax solo and a brilliant guitar solo. Another excellent track.
Throughout the album the lead vocals of Michael Wasilewski and Baggi Buchmann ground the musical flights of fancy, and as I have mentioned several times the vocal harmonies are just unbelievable.
Guitar duties on the album are shared by Fuchs and Andy Bartzik.
Overall this is truly great album which I am sure will make its way into my Top 10 of the year. Do yourself a favour go get yourself a copy!
****+ David Carswell
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