Hess & Franzen -

(CD 2011, 46:33, Private Release)

The tracks:
  1- Quick Space Threat
  2- Gobi Desert Search For SS Cotopaxi
  3- Three Stripes
  4- Mantis
  5- China Inox
  6- Doomsday Device
  7- When I Get Out Of This Place
  8- Words Mean Nothing
  9- Magic Cat

Hess & Franzen Website        samples       

I received this CD packed in a vinyl-sized cardboard sheet with a CD-notch in the middle. I expected an all-German project due to the names of this duo, but it turned out to be something completely different. Hans Hess is a British musician from Bristol, who got together with his friend Renan Franzen, who hails from Porto Alegre in Brazil. Together they play the keyboard parts, the bass and the sampling on their debut {Closedlockedsealed}. Franzen is responsible for the guitars and I'm afraid that the drums are played by A. Machine, so to say...

On the one hand I think it's a great achievement to create music when one musician lives in the UK and the other one in Brazil. On the other hand you really have to rely upon each other when it comes to putting it all together. Sometimes music recorded this way lacks a bit of atmosphere, which normally flows from composing and recording music at the same time. However, the music on the album is very coherent and combines the writing skills of these two friends.

The music itself is a kind of instrumental prog metal with influences from fusion, psychedelics, electronic music and soundtracks. In all songs the atmosphere changes many times from power metal to a smooth and relaxed guitar sound or a fine snoring Hammond organ. So, there are a lot of things going on in these songs. However, sometimes, like on the quiet pieces Mantis and China Inox, I was waiting for the vocals to appear, but they didn't. Sometimes it seems like there's an opening for the vocals to kick in, but then suddenly the song structure changes which occasionally sounds a bit strange. As I stated above the drums are all programmed, but when the drums go together with other programmed sounds and samples, there's no need to add a drummer of flesh and blood. In songs as Gobi Desert Search For SS Cotopaxi and Doomsday Device the programmed drum sounds work for me. In the slower songs showing the emotional side of the duo, I would have preferred a real drummer like in Words Mean Nothing.

Nevertheless, the music on {Closedlockedsealed} is played very well with some chaotic undertones to make the music more exiting. All the influences come together in a perfect way. I wouldn't recommend this kind of music to the more traditional progressive rock fan, but people who are into instrumental metal with some adventurous sidesteps like the use of electronics, will surely find their way to {Closedlockedsealed}. I think Hess & Franzen may be very proud of this album, but I would recommend some vocals on the second one.

*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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