Review Summary: Dutch instrumental symphonic prog with moments of expressive bliss and brief moments of lackluster which hardly hinders its highpoints.
It must be cleared up that symphonic prog is not the same as, per se, symphonic metal where layers upon layers of keys drain out anything worth hearing. No, symphonic prog is the cornerstone in the development of early progressive music with characteristics of complex time signatures, delectable keyboards, explorative concepts, and lengthy song arrangements. The influence of classical-orchestrated, complex movements greatly separates symphonic prog from other progressive sub-genres like neo prog. It’s rather easy to find musical passages similar to past classical greats such as Beethoven and Bach. Yes, the level of complexity is what usually separates symphonic prog from other progressive sub-genres and Finch’s Beyond Expression
is the perfect album to showcase what symphonic prog is all about. Not only is Finch’s second of three outings classically influenced with a strong-even balance of catchy rock and complex song structures, but the 3 lengthy tracks contained herein are vibrant and pack quite a large punch of emotional value as well; besides the fact that the three tracks are entirely instrumental.
begins with the lengthiest track, “A Passion Condenser”, clocking in at just over 20 minutes. Now to some a track length that long may sound rather intimidating being that most modern music sticks to the typical 3-5 minute guideline. But do you remember when you were young and when you were playing and having fun a few hours may have seemed like moments? Well, this whole album is like that, let alone this track. To ease the listener’s mind into a spacey realm of relaxation “A Passion Condenser” opens with airy-mellow expressions where each band member jumps in immediately at the same time and within about a minute’s time a tasty bass groove ala Peter Vink jumps in for the purpose of building up to an even greater section. The keys of Cleem Determeijer are always on par creating most of the lead and atmospheric work; naturally. A few obscure notes and odd-timed signatures precede one of the most fun blues-rock grooves ever at the five minute mark. Personally, my favorite part of “A Passion Condenser” is the dropping mellow transition at the 8-11 minute mark as it feels like the perfect choice to end a plethora of musical changes and virtuoso expressions. This delicate section contains a backdrop of melodic-reverb laced keys which eventually fades out and drones up to an emotive guitar solo from Joop Van Nimwegen. Nimwegen’s guitar style is most similar to Camel’s Andrew Latimer where he blends jazz/rock legatos and staccatos in an innate-lucrative fashion. To some, this array of musical virtuosity could be seen as a setback to the albums integrity but with careful exploration a large amount of necessity can be found to each note used on “A Passion Condenser”. The second track “Scars on the Ego” opens with a heavy rock ballad before resorting to a melancholic spacious setting with occasional bursts of up tempo and solos. “Scars on the Ego” manly serves as a transition track to the closing “Beyond the Bizarre” and comes off mainly as filler which is the main setback on Beyond Expression
. It has good atmosphere but the level of musicality doesn’t hold up to the immense opening and closing tracks.
The third and final track “Beyond the Bizarre” is a perfect example of symphonic prog containing classical elements as the opening sections are laced with classical prelude feels which advance into rock with elegant drumming stops from Beer Klaasse who provides the necessary forward motion. Klaasse’s hi-hat techniques are very tasty and allow for the more simple riffing sections to carry as much depth as the more technical ones. “Beyond the Bizarre” may not hold up to the grandiosity of the opener but it is still a very solid track which contains different moods found nowhere else on Beyond Expression
. I like how this album closes out with a piano uplifting mood transitioning into a rock a ballad, clearly in a major musical key. It’s positive and yet it still reeks with passion and motivation and makes you just want to tell that girl that you always had feelings for that you love her. Damn, how often does music do that? Amongst the plethora of 70’s progressive gems, for the purpose of purely instrumental progressive, Finch’s Beyond Expression
is a definite essential album to that era. Although greatly overlooked, it holds merits as high Camel’s work. It contains moments of utter bliss and inspiration and moments of inconsistency, especially with the mid-second transitioning filler track. Besides the brief underwhelming moments this outing should by no means be overlooked.