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Womega - A Quick Step CD (album) cover

A QUICK STEP

Womega

 

Eclectic Prog

3.03 | 13 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars An obscure group from the mid-Seventies who delivered a single album (hmm, perhaps they were thinking "We'll show all those prog bands that it's not only Italy that does the `one-and-done' thing!"), Belgian band Womega released the sadly prophetically titled `One Quick Step' and promptly vanished. Their eclectic sound was equal parts rock, jazz, and a kind of fancy AOR with clever progressive rock leanings, perhaps not far removed from German band Message, although this debut is not always quite up to the standard of their first three albums. Predominantly vocal- driven pieces were enhanced with the addition of brass instruments, flute and plentiful keyboards here, with all the musicians revealing keen instrumental prowess grafted to strong song-writing structures.

Take note - some listeners may dismiss the album right from the first spin due to the polarizing lead vocals of Herman Merken! Perhaps similar to Greenslade's singer David Lawson, it's not exactly that Herman can't sing or lacks confidence, but he sometimes has a rather dorky quality that initially makes moving through some parts of the album a bit of a chore. But stick with it (even the second play onwards should raise an eyebrow in impressed surprise!), because he not only eventually reveals a distinctive charm, but repeated listens of the disc show just what a talented group of musicians Womega were and how varied and exciting their instrumental arrangements could frequently be.

Beginning with the first side, the bafflingly-titled opener `Nympho's Belly Button' gets the album off to a great start! With chiming twin electric guitar runs and sprightly acoustic breaks, spacey synths bubbling in the background and punchy drumming, it saunters with a casual groove before taking a darker symphonic turn in the second half. Nice sighing harmonies and laid back bluesy guitar fills unwind throughout the mellow `Along Came You', contrasted with fleeting up-tempo bursts of flute dancing cheerfully behind pumping bass and furious percussion. `Christo Said' marries a delirious vocal with sprinkles of Hammond organ, saxophone and playful twisting electric guitar, with a mournful Pink Floyd-like solo to end on behind gorgeous rising Mellotron veils. The main tune of ` (Sweet) Sleeping Sixteen' is a bit daggy, but the whole piece is full of an energetic playfulness, and the darker jazzy turns in the more instrumental second half of murmuring bass, sax and flute is lively and thrilling.

Side B opens with a brief but exceptional acoustic guitar instrumental `Bagtel' that immediately confirms what skilled musicians were in this group, and it easily rivals those Steve Howe interludes on the classic Seventies Yes albums. The unpredictable `Heros of Flames' holds a foot-taping infectiousness to its Santana-like slinking jazz/fusion urgency of exotic percussion and fiery electric guitar embers, and `Tearful Thoughts' is the longest and most ambitious piece here at just over seven minutes, and is probably the highlight of the album. A heavy mood holds a mournful vocal that grows more urgent as the track progresses, Caravan-like flute floats in and out duelling with twin-guitar battles and hypnotic Hammond organ, and there's a cool call-and-response vocal passage between Herman and the rest of the group as they play for their lives. Despite a fairly frazzled and loopy vocal, the twisting guitars of closer `Tu Qouque' mean the track could have easily come from any of the first few Camel albums, with heavier blasts, cheerful group harmonies, dirtier sax and a lovely jazzy stroll worked in for good measure too.

The best progressive rock collections should include less well-known albums, bringing a good overview of mostly unknown acts that offered their own interpretation of adventurous rock music from the golden Seventies prog period. Those looking to add a quirky and energetic title should investigate `A Quick Step', an album that quickly improves on repeated listens and really shines with skill and professionalism very quickly. It's a shame Womega disappeared after all the potential shown here, but listeners who can happily appreciate song-based prog rock as opposed to endless lengthy instrumental showboating soloing may be in for a treat here.

Three and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |

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