In 2009, the Dutch progressive rock band Leap Day recorded their debut album Awakening The Muse (see review), a very professional album of an international calibre. As I mentioned in my review, Leap Day were the result of a perfect cooperation between six musicians. This could also be noticed during live performances as I found out at the Star Sound Studio in Utrecht, October 2010 where they gave an excellent concert (see review). During that gig they already performed some new tunes from their upcoming second album. The audience could enjoy great songs like Road To Yourself, Walls and Skylge's Lair. The latter has also been chosen as the title track of the new album that saw the light of day early 2011.
Due to the intro of The Messenger, I had no idea that I was listening to the new CD recorded by Leap Day. Surprisingly the sound of the sequencers strongly reminded me of a musical style that can be described best as the Berlin School introduced by artists like Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. After a minute or so, when the other musicians join in, it became evident that Leap Day had recorded the same kind of wonderful music they'd made for their debut album. The melodic guitar parts played by Eddie Mulder combined with the outstanding keyboard sounds of Gert van Engelenburg and Derk Evert Waalkens still indicate the influences of a band like Camel, just like the duets between the guitar and the synthesizers. Especially on tracks as Home At Last and Skylge's Lair this can be heard. It strongly reminded me of the duets of Camel's Andy Latimer (guitars) and Pete Bardens (keyboards). However, on a number of tracks the spirit of Pink Floyd is never far away. Listen for instance to Time Passing By and Walls of which the latter even contains some Yes- influences. In some parts I recognized the same texture as in Awaken.
The new album is also well-balanced containing up-tempo pieces, mellow parts and ballads. This can be heard on the instrumental track Humble Origin and on The Willow Tree. On the first one you can hear Eddie Mulder playing very relaxed on his acoustic guitar, only accompanied by the sound of a string-synthesizer. The second track is more of a band effort. While the acoustic guitar plays a fine guitar riff singer Jos Harteveld wonderfully sings in a more falsetto style of singing accompanied again by the string-synthesizer. Occasionally the sound of an electric guitar shows up to give the song something extra.
After I had listened to the album for the first time I had a big smile on my face. After the final notes of Time Passing By fade away there's nothing to be heard for a couple of minutes, but when I got up to my feet to get the disc out of the CD-player the music suddenly returned. You hear somebody searching through the recorded material and then a part of the title track fills the room dominated by the electric guitar. It seems as if Eddie Mulder decided to re-record one of his solos. While he plays on you hear somebody shouting his name. Eddie finds out that he has to stop playing otherwise he will be probably locked up in the studio. This nice gimmick ends an album that proves that Leap Day belongs to the top of the neo-prog genre in The Netherlands. Skylge's Lair can also easily compete with albums recorded by many foreign neo-prog bands. Therefore I have to make my compliments to all musicians involved.
The next release of Leap Day will be recorded on a live stage. It's planned to be released on February 29, 2012, their first anniversary leap day. Until that time I will enjoy myself with both studio albums of Leap Day.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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