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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Autumnal Blossom - Spellbound - 2016
albumcover

    
“Because I could not stop for death ...”

Autumnal Blossom is a project of classical flutist Pia Darmstaedter, who after playing in different orchestras, is now working as a freelance musician. Originally rooted in classical music, she also feels at home in prog- and art-rock due to her work with German prog-band Poor Genetic Material. On her debut album “Against The Fear of Death” she blended those different music styles. To be honest, I don't know this album. For me the new album “Spellbound” is my introduction to her own music. “Spellbound” deals with a complex web of topics like love, passion, pain, memory, eternity and the quest of finding oneself. The album's lyrics form a fictitious journal of memories that have left their mark on life and come alive again. The listeners may recognize themselves in this journal. “Spellbound” is a mixture of biography, fiction and reality.

Pia Darmstaedter - vocals, flute, piano, keyboards; Philipp Jaehne - organ, synthesizers; Jochen Bauer - guitar; Frank Willi Schmidt - bass, singing saw; Christoph Czech - drums, percussion; Maria Karch - violin; Valeria Lo Giudice - cello; Mark Beers - double bass; Olaf Gramlich - English horn

“Spellbound” consists out of the three parts “Transcendence”, “Diaries of an estranged voyager” and “Paradise”. The middle section of this CD, the part “Diaries of a estranged voyager” is divided into the following parts; “Memories of a child”, “Eternally not yours”, “Beguiling masks”, “Grey masses”, “My blood”, “Ravenous”, “Secrets” and “In these rooms”.

The first part “Transcendence” is based on the poem “Because I could not stop for Death” from Emily Dickinson. “Transcendence” means existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level. This short opener is like a transparent piece of music in which the music seems to come from nothingness. The lyrics are accompanied by delicate and almost transparent synths and the flute of Pia. Slowly the tension of the music of this atmospheric piece is building up.

As mentioned before the center piece of the album is “Diaries of an estranged voyager”. This long suite begins with “Memories of a child”. After a fairy-tale like opening the song develops into a happy tune that illustrates the carelessness of a child. I have always loved the sound of the flute in prog- and art-rock music ... It is such a beautiful instrument with which you can express all kinds of feelings. “Eternally not yours” is a piece with the topic of lost love. A slow song with beautiful and angelic vocals and a sad sounding violin. A delicate song with beautiful melodies. “Beguiling masks” opens with a beautiful flute melody and develops into an uplifting tune. The atmosphere in “Grey masses” is completely different. Accompanied by piano Pia shows what a great singer she is. Only in the second part of this beautiful song the music gets more body. But the music stays on the mellow side of the spectrum. “In My Blood” is a good example of the fusion of classical, prog and even pop. “Ravenous” starts with the mysterious sound of a singing saw accompanied by synths and delicate guitar work. A beautiful atmospheric opening. When the piece develops into an uplifting you can also hear some influences of music from the Middle Ages. In the beautifully sung “Secrets” we find some blissful flute and piano melodies. The last section of “Diaries of an estranged voyager” is called “In these rooms”. The combination of flute and English horn gives the piece a classical touch before the piece becomes more up-tempo. In the end the English horn returns. Again we can enjoy lovely and beautiful melodies, but this counts for the whole album.

The third and last part of the album is entitled “Paradise”. With a duration of more then eight minutes it is the longest track of the album. Mysterious sounding keyboards, beautiful flute, violin and vocal melodies make that this is my favorite song of the album. It is also the track with the biggest prog influence. The vocal refrain of “Paradise” is very beautiful.

You might see Pia Darmstaedter's Autumnal Blossom as a side project of the German progressive rock formation Poor Genetic Material because keyboard player Philipp Jaehne is also on this album. But for me it is more a real solo project of Pia. Not only she plays the beautiful flute parts but she also plays the piano parts and some keyboards. And I surprisingly found out that she has a very beautiful voice and is a great vocalist. This is not a hectic progressive rock album but a beautiful album with a delicate mix of rock, prog and classical music. The atmosphere is mellow, warm and sometimes fairy-tale like. If you like beautiful flute melodies in your music ... Check this out!

Douwe Fledderus - September 2016
rating - QuiXote Music

 

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