Riders Of The Universe are a rather new Dutch rock band consisting of Bob Crebas (bass, guitar, bouzouki), Hans Crebas (vocals), Arjan Hoekstra (guitar, flugelhorn, bass guitar, vocals, euphonium), Gerard Keijsers (drums, percussion, vocals), Martien Keijsers (vocals), Ronald Louwsma (guitar, vocals) and Robert Wardenier (keyboards). Their first musical effort did they name Amen Road and was released in 2014.
This almost fifty minutes long album contains music which has elements taken from progressive rock, blues, psychedelic rock, space and ambient rock. On the twelve compositions I mainly heard influences which could have been taken from Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and Robbie Robertson (The Band). The first influence could already be heard on the opening piece We Are Riders, Part 1 & 2. The intro reminded me a lot of Pink Floyd's Shine On You Crazy Diamond taken from their album Wish You Were Here (1975). Only this time the band added next to the keyboard and electric guitar parts the euphonium to perform some solos on. However the same track contains also the influences which might have been taken from the space rockers of Hawkwind. This band seemed to be the major inspiration for the musicians because I heard influences of them on most of the compositions. Just listen to tracks such as Consolation, Summarized, Scattered Grounds, In The Rain and the title track and you know what I am talking about! Thank God for the lovers of progressive rock the Floyd influences can be heard on more pieces of music. The best examples are the tracks Time Is Time (with a nice speech of president Obama) and Lost Los Angeles. On the last mentioned title the earlier mentioned possible Robbie Robertson influences seem to be come to the surface. Just like on songs such as Old Song and Wondering Man. The instrumental that closes the album is absolutely a prog tune influenced by classical music. Although Bovenkerk was not performed on synthesizers but entirely on a real pipe organ lovers of the prog genre certainly will enjoy the Bach influences on it. Therefore it was not so strange that this piece reminded me of Procol Harums Whiter Shade Of Pale as well. This in 1967 released famous hit single is often regarded as being derived from Johann Sebastian Bach's well-known Air On The G String.
The overall feeling of this album is without doubt a positive one. But I do know that not every proghead likes what is presented on Amen Road. You certainly have to get a love for blues, psychedelic rock, space and ambient rock as well. Most of all those who enjoy the space rock made by bands such as Hawkwind will cherish this album the most. And if you are digging Pink Floyd as well this might be your cup of tea!
*** Henri Strik
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