Morphelia was a progressive rock band from Germany. They released two albums.
Prognocircus in 2003 and the masterpiece Waken The Nightmare (see review) in 2009. Outside of Germany the band was best of all known in the Netherlands, playing concerts at the legendary Progfarm festival (2005) and the Northern Prog Festival (2014, see review). But they also played in Belgium at the Prog-Resiste Convention. Unfortunately the band doesn't exist anymore and we can nowadays only enjoy their neo progressive rock albums. However the good news is that their former keyboard player Günter Grünebast released under the moniker of Johannssohn his first electronic album entitled Minoan Encounters.
You have to know that Grünebast had a classical musical training in piano, church organ, accordion as well as harmony, musical composition and training to become a D-church musician in organ. He told me that his first solo effort is a concept album with four tone poems as long tracks about the four great Minoan palaces of the Greek island of Crete. Furthermore he told me that stylistically there are many different elements of progressive rock, classical music and of course electronics on this release.
To record this album he used the following analog and digital instruments:
ARP Omni 2, Korg MS-20, Minimoog, Moog Satellite, Moog Prodigy, Nord Stage 3, Roland Jupiter 4, Roland Juno 106, Roland JX-8P, Yamaha SY 77, Yamaha EX-5; Spectrasonics Omnisphere, Software-Instruments from Digital Audio Workstations
The conceptual idea of the album came when he and his wife visited the island of Crete many times. He had always admired the excavation sites of the Minoan palaces. During one of his last visits he asked himself whether these unique Bronze Age buildings could be set to music. Which he managed to do. He composed four long compositions for the album and chose the four well-known large Minoan palaces in Malia, Phaistos, Knossos and Zakros as an inspiration. Those tracks are most of all about archaeological, architectural or geological features as well as extraordinary artifacts, such as the Snake Goddess from the Palace of Knossos. Every palace has a central courtyard. A central musical theme therefore also represents the respective central courtyard. It was also used by the Minoans for artistic events. That's why sometimes a catchy danceable theme was chosen. On the four tracks he takes you on a musical trip through each palace in the present, but at the same time you are also in the past and you can imagine how impressive everything must have once looked.
Every palace is unique and so is also every composition on Minoan Encounters. I will not go into detail about what you hear music wise on each composition. But I can tell you that on the four tracks which last from 17 to 20 minutes, you can hear that Günter has a musical background in the progressive rock scene but also is influenced by the big names in the electronic music scene. Names such as Jean Michel Jarre, Klaus Shulze, Vangelis and Tangerine Dream come to mind when you hear the four instrumental tracks. The only difference with those acts is that he uses more progressive rock influences compared to them. Several times he uses the sound of an impressive church organ, which he named the queen of the instruments. Or the Mellotron kind of choir sounds, which is very much loved by many well known prog acts. Strong synthesizer solos and melodic keyboard parts, which every proghead loves, can be enjoyed as well. He combined all of this with strong modern rhythms and synthesizer sequencers. All together he brewed it into a very delicious musical dish. A musical dish wish can be recommended to everybody who is into progressive rock mixed with electronic music. Furthermore the classical influences are also notable, but for me are they not the most import influences. Even though you can hear them from time to time!
I can only say to you out there to take the musical trip to the palaces of Malia, Phaistos, Knossos and Zakros. You will not regret it because you get a treat on a musical trip which is very, very, very enjoyable. As said before, highly recommended to everybody who is into progressive rock mixed with electronic music. Well done Günter Grünebast or should I say thumbs up for Johannssohn. Because Johannssohn = Günter Grünebast and Günter Grünebast = Johannssohn!!!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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