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The Bollenberg Experience - If Only Stones Could Speak CD (album) cover


The Bollenberg Experience

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars John Bollenberg gathers some of prog's (and particularly neo prog's) biggest names for this consciously ancient sounding release. If you enjoy a Celtic or even medieval vibe to your prog, you will probably find "If Only Stones Could Speak" to be to your liking. I am happily in that group.

To get a further idea of what we are dealing with, this collaborative effort features two of Mostly Autumn's main members as well as the venerable Rick Wakeman. Throw in some Roine Stolt, Bjorn Johannsen and Per Lindh to almost complete the picture, but there is something Bollenberg about it...perhaps it is a Flemish sensibility, so that the album avoids the pitfalls of sounding like a musical wrestling match. He tames his assistants to fulfill his own vision rather than theirs, which is admirable given the strong musical personalities involved.

My personal favourites are the very catchy "Ursus Bruggia", which makes me want to snuggle up to the bear, and the genre busting "Cafe Vlissinghe", that incorporates Wakeman's most spirited synths into a traditional sounding yet funky jig, and adds vocals without a misstep. A reference point might be the celtic rock group TEMPEST or even HORSLIPS circa "The Tain", but these are only broad allusions. "No Words" is a haunting piece in which the fate of a man who ostensibly slept around with the queen lies in the hands of the king. Although I love it, I cannot listen to the last few seconds...I won't say more.

"Anna from the Well" has some similarities to "Ursus Bruggia", a gentle Celtic melody enhanced by strings both organic and synthesized. In Bollenberg's hands these distinctions do not matter. Sometimes I think of AMAZING BLONDEL as I listen, but this is again just a general allusion. But by "The Story of Three" and "The Goodnight Knight", it seems like some of the same ideas and motifs are being recycled in a less succinct and more meandering manner which I find less appealing but certainly not devoid of merit. It just seems like, given the additional time allotted, there is surprisingly little development. Still pleasant if a bit precious.

Bollenberg has done a good job giving voice to the inanimate and a glimpse into the past on this project that should appeal to folk prog and some neo prog fans.

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Posted Monday, November 24, 2008 | Review Permalink

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