When you listen to When I Depart, the opening track of Destiny the latest CD from the German progressive rock band Abacus, you don't get the idea that you're dealing with a band that has a long history. This piece has a very modern keyboard sound that mostly all new bands in the prog scene have. However, if you listen to the other songs on this album it's evident that the big prog names are very familiar to them. On the title track and the second track Promised Land we hear the sound of Keith Emerson due to the Hammond-organ and the tasteful synthesizer parts played by Jürgen Wimpelberg. The Genesis-influences of the eighties are clearly present as well; especially the lead vocals by Stefan Mageney are quite similar to the voice of Phil Collins. On the longest piece The Light we can hear hints from Greenslade: we can enjoy the same kind of beautiful seventies keyboard sounds just as on the many Greenslade-releases, but there are also hints of Dutch band Kayak. Especially the final track The Fight contains many characteristics of this band.
You might get the impression that Destiny is a keyboard-dominated album. That's not the case as we can hear at the end of The Light: fine playing on the acoustic guitar and impressive cello parts prove that also other instruments are involved. The many aforementioned influences might give an indication that Abacus have been around for quite a long time. Well, that's true; the band started in 1971. At the time, Krautrock was just being invented in Germany. After several contracts with record labels that released their albums, Abacus became 'victims' of the so-called Neue Deutsche Welle. The band kept unnoticed when bands as Nena and Trio ruled the music scene in Germany. This led to a split-up in 1983. However, several years later they picked up their instruments and after 28 (!) years they released in 2001 Fire Behind Bars.
Hopefully their new concept album Destiny and the help of the internet will bring the band back into the spotlight. They most certainly deserve it because Abacus, formed around Jürgen Wimpelberg, have the quality to write fantastic progressive rock tunes. Destiny is a very professional sounding album that will attract people who enjoy the music from the bands I mentioned in this review!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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