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Apogee - The Garden Of Delights

Apogee - The Garden Of DelightsApogee is the solo project of Arne Shafer of the German prog outfit, Versus X.

The Garden Of Delights is Apogee’s third album on which Arne plays everything except drums which is left to the more than capable hands of Uwe Vollmar.

The album opens with the 16½-minute title track, The Garden Of Delights, and what a piece to start with!  The whoosh of synth makes way for slow purposeful piano creating an air of mystery and anticipation.  The guitar kicks in and raw prog power is unleashed with guitar competing with organ while drums holds it together.  The style of Arne’s organ playing at times touches on The Stranglers and at others Genesis, Caravan and even Tull.  And the Crimsonesque flute and strings, all part of the keyboard sounds, are excellent.  Arne’s style of guitar playing makes use of the grungier lower notes and chords much of the time, testing the bass response and integrity of a hi fi speaker.  Vocals are in English but Arne’s voice takes a bit of getting used to not helped by the lyrics, which seem a bit awkward; I assume the lyrics were originally written in German and translated for the recording.

The power continues with To Keep The Balance, which is just a few seconds shorter than the first track.  Certain sections are phrased like early King Crimson (or ELP?  I can hear Greg Lake but can’t place the music) with a sound to match and there’s some nifty guitar work in the latter part of the track.  Great track with some haunting melodies.

Acoustic guitar with a feel alternating between the styles of Mike Oldfield and Steve Hackett provides the short instrumental The Cassini Division, which effectively falls at the halfway point in the album.

Paying The Bill is full of catchy, powerful riffs and would make a cracking score for the closing credits of a menacing dark drama programme or film.  Well, a shortened version would, as the track is just under 14 minutes in length.  Ignore my previous comment regarding vocals as they fit in well on this one.  The darker edges of Paying The Bill sound like one of Hackett’s ‘nightmare’ inspired tunes or perhaps IQ in Subterranea mood.

Fifth and final track, Swallow The Illusion, is the longest on the album running at a little over 21 minutes (proving to BBC Four documentary makers that the 20 minute prog epic is far from dead).  The styles and tempo changes a number of times with passages reminiscent of Oldfield, Crimson, Tull, Genesis and Argent, ending with a type of Pink Floydian Dark Side Of The Moon with not too dissimilar lyrics (“All that I feel – All that I dream” etc.)

The Garden Of Delights has that powerful classic prog feel that begs the play button to be pressed again as soon as it ends. And again, and again…

Jem Jedrzejewski

Musea

 

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