DMI Records [Release Date 22.06.15]
Fusonic is a Dutch symphonic prog rock band whose second album draws on the prog rock giants of the past and reaches for a new musical vocabulary for the present.
The fact they don’t quite achieve their goal should not blemish a symphonic rock album that mixes familiarity with improvisation and only just falls short of its laudatory aims.
The band certainly explores progressive, symphonic rock and electronic influences with plenty of classical references on sub-divided suits of music. There’s plenty of spontaneity and ethereal sounds, all glued together by Harry Ickelsheimer keyboards an electric guitar.
‘Field of No Man’s Land’ is an over extended album which finishes on a philosophical note, as a voice over tells us: ‘we think too much, but feel too little’. This gives the project an unwanted ironic note, as there’s an imbalance between the band’s own search for feel and their arrangements that are not quite strong enough to frame their creativity.
And while that might be a harsh summary of their well played music, there’s too much improvisation and not enough structure. Where they cleverly develop little tensions, they don’t quite provide the requisite melodic releases.
On the opening ‘Natural Evocation’, they all but split one track into three with little pauses, while the aptly titled ‘Movie Theme’ similarly stop and starts like a slowly moving wave gently coming to rest on the shore.
The classical influences often come from Teo’s nylon strings and acoustic guitar, while Ronald Hoogwout provides bombast and context with a mix of cymbal splashes and tight percussion.
The band references Pink Floyd, Camel and Focus among their influences, tempered by jazzy edges that fans of the old ECM label might recognise. And while some of the musical antecedents of the album are self evident, the music only flickers into life in short bursts.
The band seems intent on pursuing any number of interesting but by no means essential musical avenues to the detriment of their musical structure. As a result the album suffers from a lack of imposing themes.
They are at their best when exploring melodic twist and turns and ethereal sounds, but they don’t always follow a progression through to the end, though ‘Thriller of the Mind’ provides an exception. An introductory pulsing bass line and layered keyboards leads to a big moog generated wall of sound while the synth guitar line gives the piece a linear feel.
There’s an unexpected Floydian vocal on the impressive ‘Time Waits’ and they combine a fusion of melody, crunching chords, repeated guitar squalls and a choral accompaniment on ‘Electronic War’.
The singular, sonorous guitar line of ‘Verticals’ provides some welcome breathing space, before they evoke Camel on the melodically strong and keyboard led ‘Solitude’, which benefits from another well delivered vocal.
‘Golden Valley’ is a weightier piece, built on solid structural foundations and is full of sculpted guitar parts and an extended, uplifting, deep-toned horn resolution from Paul van der Feen, which finishes on a piercing note. This track has poise, substance and excitement all rolled into one, on one of their most coherent pieces.
Halfway through ‘Running Hiding’ they slip into an unexpected Zappa style rock/reggae lilt with synthscapes, in sharp contrast to the sonorous guitar-led opening. The Eno style drone ending provides the perfect finish.
Fusonic aim high and narrowly miss their goal, but provide some exhilarating moments along the way. ***
Review by Pete Feenstra
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