Chris - A Glimpse Inside

(CD 2009, 48,36 Musea MP 3086)

The tracks:
  1- Somewhere on Someday(07:30)
  2- A Glimpse Inside(04:33)
  3- From Time to Time(05:56)
  4- Under your Spell(03:03)
  5- A new Life(04:14)
  6- For all who care(03:46)
  7- The Fainting Game(04:10)
  8- Out in the Dark(06:21)
  9- Another Day(03:58)
10- Masquerade(04:46)

Chris Website        samples        Musea Records

Christiaan Bruin is a 21-years young Dutchman who recorded his debut album A Glimpse Inside under his artist name Chris (see interview). He played all the instruments on the album himself. Moreover, he was responsible for the production, the artwork and the mastering. Chris is a student of the Conservatory of Rotterdam and in addition, he participates in the live-crew of the successful Dutch prog band Knight Area. Before this project, his only live experience was drummer in a local metal band...

Somewhere On Someday, the first track of the album is a fine example of the musical skills of this young and talented musician. It’s a melodious track influenced by The Beach Boys and Camel. A Glimpse Inside is a very lively song with a nice chorus. The song From Time To Time reminded me of Freddy Mercury (Queen) with a tuneful guitar solo at the end. The first ballad, Under Your Spell, begins with piano playing, has some plucking guitars and ending with a typical Andy Latimer solo. A New Life is a track with layered vocals, but it is not very special. For All Who Care is more or less a copy of all the previous tracks with the same ideas: many layered vocals, nice up-tempo rhythms and guitar solos mostly reminiscent of Bryan May (Queen). Out In The Dark starts as a IQ song, but after two minutes it already sounds equal to the tracks I heard before. I have to admit that towards the end of the album all those layered vocals really got under my skin. The sound of the final two songs Another Day and Masquerade just repeat all the elements I heard before. Having reached the end of the album, I was less positive than I was in the beginning. It’s just a pity that only half the album is unique, while the other half is just repeating all the things we’ve heard before. Although Chris did a great job in making an album on his own, he has to add more variation both in the music and in the compositions next time.     

**+  Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Where to buy?

Interview with Christiaan Bruin ("Chris")

(Text by Henri Strik, edited by Peter Willemsen, pictures by Arthur Haggenburg)

Christiaan Bruin is a 21-year old musician and producer from The Netherlands. As Chris, he released his first album called A Glimpse Inside (see review), on which he sang and played all the instruments himself. He wrote the lyrics, the music and he did the production as well. This was the reason for Background Magazine to catch a glimpse inside of this extraordinary talented young musician.

At what age did you start making music and by whom are you inspired? I heard strong influences of The Beach Boys and Kayak on A Glimpse Inside.

“At the age of fourteen, I started playing the electric guitar and I formed my first band. At that time, I’d never heard of progressive rock at all. In fact, I was more into melodic metal bands like In Flames, Arch Enemy and that kind of stuff. I’d played drums before, but it wasn’t until then that I started writing my own songs. After a couple of years, I got interested in playing keyboards as well and that’s where the symphonic rock comes in. By then the bands that I played in, had all split up, so I decided trying to record my music on my own. At the time I finished A Glimpse Inside I was nineteen.”

“Some bands that have been of great importance to me were IQ, Genesis and Camel. When I heard Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys for the first time, I was astonished and very impressed by their harmony vocals and vocal arrangements. Yes, The Beach Boys definitely left their marks later on. You also mentioned Kayak, but frankly speaking I've practically never heard anything of Kayak’s music, so if my music resembles Kayak I guess that’s just a coincidence.”

Where did you get your musical education? Did you attend a musical school or a conservatory?

“Well, I had drum lessons since I was about eleven years old. Later on, I taught myself to play the piano and guitar. At the moment, I study Music Production at the Conservatory of Rotterdam, where I learned studio techniques and all that stuff. That’s about all the musical education I’ve got.”

Why did you choose the artist name Chris for your album?

“I spend quite some time playing in local bands, but aside from that I’ve always been very busy recording my own songs. Since I did everything on the album myself, I thought it to be a silly idea to come up with a mysterious sounding band name that would just represent me. Chris is shorter and simpler than my full name, so I thought that to be a nice alternative, since there was no such thing as a band at the time.”

What is your favourite instrument to play on?

“I must say I still feel most comfortable when playing drums, since I have played that instrument from my childhood. While playing with my band I like to sing and play keyboards. That’s also great fun to me.”

Did you use real mellotrons or samples? Can you tell me what instruments you played on the album?

“No, I wish I had a mellotron. I mainly used VST-instruments for all the mellotron sounds. The drums I recorded at home, in my bedroom to be honest. For the electric guitars, I also used some virtual guitar amps like Amplitube. I recorded all tracks myself in my tiny home-studio.”

What kind of recording equipment did you use?

“I recorded everything at home on my PC. First, I recorded the drums on my 8-track hard-disk recorder. Then I imported the files into Cubase SX and started adding bass guitar and layers of guitars and keys. I used many virtual instruments. Apart from the drums, I recorded everything with one microphone.”

How long did it take you to record A Glimpse Inside ?

“It took me about four months to create the whole thing, and a few weeks to finish it.”

Does the album contain a certain theme or a concept?

“Not really. Essentially, the album consists of ten songs I had written at the time. However, there are some recurring themes to distinguish, I guess. There are quite a few songs with some kind of philosophical twists to it, songs about fate, dealing with a predetermined world where events are just a piece of a jigsaw puzzle in a greater scheme of things. There’s a kind of fatality or tragedy in that, but at the same time a sense of purpose and therefore significant for the things we do. Anyway, I liked the idea. That’s the kind of atmosphere you’ll find throughout the album.”

Did you consider asking other musicians to play on the album?

“Yes, I did, but in the end it just turned out to be a one-man effort. I just started at home with the songs in a very relaxed and efficient way and that worked for me. So I figured that it wouldn’t have made much sense to ask one or two musicians to contribute, since I’d finished the backing tracks before I knew it.”

Do you consider yourself as a progressive rock musician rather than a singer-songwriter?

“Hmm… a bit of both I guess. I don’t consider myself as a musician dedicated to his instruments. My first interest is composing music. I try to develop myself as a singer as well as a producer, but it’s the creativity that counts.”

Did more record companies show interest in your music?

“Yes, in fact I got some good responses from various record companies, but things don’t always work out. For instance, one record label loved the music, but just couldn’t fit another artist in their catalogue.”

I compared your music with the music Bert Heinen made as Like Wendy. Are you familiar with his music?

“No, I’m not and therefore I can’t give you a proper answer, because I’ve never heard of him before actually. I will check out though, thanks anyway.”

You got many positive reactions both from the audience and from the press. Were you surprised?

“Yes I was, sure. I’m particularly surprised with the amount of people still interested in progressive rock music in general. At first, I didn’t have any expectations whatsoever. I didn’t even know whether the album was worth releasing! However, it turned out to get many positive reactions. That’s just a great feeling as you can imagine. Those reactions definitely gave me the motivation and inspiration to start working on a second album.”

I read that you’re planning to perform your music with a live band. Can you tell me something about the musicians? Can we expect some musical surprises?

“That’s right. We started rehearsing a few weeks ago. My brother Arjan Bruin will play drums, Bas Immerzeel plays guitar and we have René de Vink on bass guitar. I will do both keyboards and vocals. I hope we’re able to perform some live shows later this year. On the album, I used many layers, especially vocal layers. Thus, to play this music on a live stage is quite a challenge, but also great fun. I suppose we’ll also play some new songs. And yes, I’m trying to come up with some nice songs to cover, so if you have any requests, let me know!”

You’re also a member of Sky Architect. Can you tell our readers some more about this band?

“As I mentioned earlier, I study at the Conservatory of Rotterdam. There I met Rik van Honk and Wabe Wieringa, two other students who also fancy progressive rock. Later on, we hooked up with singer and guitarist Tom Luchies and bass player Guus van Mierlo. In this band, I’ll play the drums. Together we formed Sky Architect and recorded our debut album Excavations Of The Mind that will be released early 2010, I think. People who like the old seventies progressive rock like Yes or King Crimson, but also bands like The Flower Kings will definitely love this album. So keep an eye out for that one.”

What is your connection with Knight Area?

“Some years ago, I played in a local metal band called Error. We recorded a demo CD at the Knight Area Studios with Gerben Klazinga. The studio is only a 15-minute walk from my house, by the way. That’s how I got interested in symphonic rock music in general. I quite liked Knight Area’s music. At that time, they had just released their debut album. I ended up as a roadie at their live shows, also responsible for the merchandising.”

When can we expect a new Chris album?

“Pretty soon, I guess. The new album will be released somewhere in 2010. I have recorded all the songs and yet I’m just busy mixing now. The album, called Making Sense, contains ten songs and it’s definitely the best work I’ve done so far. Making Sense is a concept album about reincarnation, destiny and the meaning of life in general. What else could you possibly wish for?”

Chris thanks for answering my questions!

“It’s my pleasure, thank you.”

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