Despite the German name, Druckfarben is a progressive rock band from Canada. 'Druckfarben' is German for 'printing ink'. The band consists of five professional musicians from the local Toronto scene. According to their biography Druckfarben started in the mid-eighties in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto. Guitarist Ed Bernard and drummer Troy Feener shared the same school. They both listened to bands like Yes and Gentle Giant, so it was difficult to avoid making music together. After seeing some black barrels with the strange word 'druckfarben' they had a name for the band. Will Hare, who so far had only played the music of Bach and Rachmaninoff, became their keyboard player. It's said that bassist Peter Murray was recruited because he could play YYZ by Rush in a proper way. From Rochester, New York, they found lead singer Phil Naro. He already had a professional background as a musician since he fronted the metal band Talas alongside bass player Billy Sheehan. After a number of rehearsals and concerts they could show their mutual love for progressive rock music to the prog community by releasing their eponymous debut album.
The album not only shows how talented these musicians are on their instruments, but also the great vocal capacities of their singer. This promising debut with catchy and tight arrangements combined with intelligent compositions covers a wide field of sounds and influences. However, the majority of the material has been strongly inspired by the music Yes recorded in the eighties. This comparison is mainly due to the guitar play of Ed Bernard and the voice of Phil Naro. The first one is clearly influenced by Trevor Rabin - listen for instance to Dead Play Awake - and the latter comes pretty close to the vocal ranges of Jon Anderson. But I also hear strong influences of a musician like Billy Sherwood. Sometimes you've got the impression to listen to songs performed by Circa: or World Trade. In these bands Mr. Sherwood played many instruments and he did the lead vocals as well. The quirky and complex music of Gentle Giant is also integrated in the compositions Seems So Real, Sons Of Anakim and Smaller Wooden Frog. On the latter track influences of guitarist Alan Holdsworth and U.K. are present. The jazzy guitar arrangements and the strong organ parts are quite similar to the kind of music you can hear on the eponymous debut of this super group. I even heard traces of Spock's Beard in the strong opening piece ELPO. The closing piece Nonchalant contains some beautiful violin playing by Ed Bernard.
All in all the five musicians of Druckfarben achieved something special on this debut album. Maybe the music still sounds too much like Yes, Circa:, World Trade, U.K., Gentle Giant or Spock's Beard, but for me that wasn't an obstacle to enjoy their music whole-hearted. I'm sure that more people who fancy progressive rock will embrace this band. Especially Yes-fans have to check out this album!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013