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Flamborough Head - Unspoken Whisper CD (album) cover

UNSPOKEN WHISPER

Flamborough Head

 

Neo-Prog

3.68 | 52 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars It's a pleasant surprise delving into the back-catalogue of an artist that impresses you only to discover earlier gems just as worthy of your time as the later works that initially attracted you! That was the case for me with Dutch band Flamborough Head, who's 2013 release `Lost in Time' was one of the albums of that year for me. By sheer luck I was to come across a few more of their previous albums in a local second hand record shop soon after that one, and the evidence is there that great talent, careful melodic skills and sumptuous instrumental displays were already in place within the band right from the start. Despite being their debut and having a different line-up than the one in place today (including a male singer here), `Unspoken Whispers' is full of many memorable classy themes, light gothic theatrical drama and a punchy rock sound, and it quickly turns out to be a winner.

It's certainly brave of Flamborough Head to open the album with repeated lyrical lines that start with "Hey you..."! Hmmm, I'm pretty sure some fairly obscure unknown prog band tried that once before to little success! `Schoolyard Fantasy' offers chiming electric guitars, delicate piano passages and eerie washes of ghostly icy synths that glide around Siebe Rein Schaaf's heart-felt and mannered vocal in the choruses. It all builds to a blistering sky-high electric guitar solo from Andre Cents over glorious rising synths is one of the finest moments to appear on a Neo-Prog album. `Wolves at War' is a short instrumental with duelling synth and guitar battles offering commanding themes on top of drums constantly changing tempo. There's an uplifting quality throughout `Childscream', with an introspective vocal, emotive Steve Rothery/Marillion styled electric guitar soloing and a harder hitting break in the middle.

There's lots of light and shade throughout the 10 minute title track, and plenty of spellbinding atmosphere in the intro. You get darker moments full of creeping gothic piano, brooding synths and think upfront bass that glides over the theatrical arrangement, but it's contrasted with a spirited shared vocal with Andre and Siebe singing a wonderful melody and spiralling Mini-moog solos. The band really deliver again on another instrumental `Legend of the Old Man', lots of spiky energy applied to heavy riffing, victorious synth runs and snappy drumming, with one or two dreamier moments as well. Pendragon fans will adore `Xymphonia', the low-key classical piano, delicate Mellotron and elegant symphonic synths that blissfully weave a deeply romantic and gently whimsical melody is pure Clive Nolan, and the stirring electric guitar strains that ring across the piece instantly brings to mind Nick Barrett. The band closes in a bristling explosion of instrumental energy with `Heroes', loaded with snarling brooding guitars, driving beats and near orchestral synths with deliriously joyful Minimoog bursts over a range of tempos.

While I prefer the later Margriet Boomsma fronted Flamborough Head albums, there is still so much to recommend here. True, it sometimes has that cold clinical 90's production that is the curse of many prog albums for the period, but `Unspoken Whisper' is full of passionate vocals, crisp playing and tasteful arrangements. This is a classy effort that all lovers of the Neo style should own, especially those listeners who appreciate I.Q, Arena and the early albums by Pendragon and Marillion.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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