In 2012 FREIA Music started by means of a contest a search for new progressive rock talent in the Netherlands in cooperation with the websites Progwereld and Background Magazine and the progressive music magazine iO Pages. Later on Progmotion took over from Background Magazine due to unforeseen circumstances. More than thirty bands signed up for this contest and finally eight bands were selected to record about ten minutes of music in order to deliver a full length album of Dutch prog rock (see interview). They called it Dutch Exposure presented as a package containing a double album on HQ 180g vinyl plus a single CD. The following bands recorded one or two songs for this album:
Gallico - The Parallel Universe Of Gallico
Gallico is a solo project of Luke d'Araceno, who is the keyboardist with 5bridgeS. This is the first track he ever recorded that harks back to prog rock of the seventies. It's obvious that the music of Gallico is influenced by Genesis, but also by Focus thanks to the amazing guitar parts by Enzo Gallo. Luke d'Araceno's keyboards sound very strong throughout the track, which provides the music a fine retro sound. Personally I found this piece the musical highlight of this album!
Profuna Ocean - Waiting For The Fall
In 2009 Profuna Ocean released their debut album Watching The Closing Sky (see review). Compared to this album the band currently sounds more professional. Their musical style can be labelled as contemporary prog influenced by bands like Pink Floyd, Anathema and Porcupine Tree. In my opinion this track certainly belongs to the better tracks on Dutch Exposure!
Armed Cloud - Destructible & Got Her By ...
Armed Cloud is one of the three bands that recorded two tracks both with an average length of four minutes. They call their music 'song guided symphonic rock with rock, pop, prog and metal influences'. Other reviewers called their music male fronted gothic metal. Musically these songs tend towards a mixture of the music of Tool and Porcupine Tree. Destructible is one of the mellower songs in their repertoire and almost danceable. Got Her By ... is just the opposite. This real heavy metal piece shows the other side of Armed Cloud.
Sylvium - True Images
Sylvium is an instrumental project of Ben van Gastel. His music is sometimes labelled as ambient prog. He already recorded the EP Purified EP (2011, see review) with drummer Fred Boks. This instrumental track was recorded with a jazz pianist and a different drummer, but nevertheless it contains the same atmosphere as the EP. On True Images you'll hear a blend of progressive metal, ambient passages, psychedelic, progressive rock and jazz.
Trip Trigger - News Feed & Wave Away
Trip Trigger call their music 'hard core progressive', but others name it alternative progmetal. However, what I heard on these two tracks is mainly straightforward music clearly influenced by the music of Muse, Coldplay and Elbow, although I noticed hints of bands as Tool, Radiohead, Incubus and Porcupine Tree as well.
Thirteen - Before I Die & Just leave
Thirteen is a duo consisting of singer Audrey Lahaije and keyboardist Jeroen van der Wiel, who is better known as the keyboard player of Odyssice. Their music can be best described as female fronted prog; it's a mixture of the more pop-rock sound of Alanis Morisette and the gothic progressive rock sound of bands like Within Temptation, Evanescence and Nightwish. The first track is rather up-tempo; the second is a mellower piece of music.
Incidense - Reality Check
Most people call the Incidence's style of music progressive metal. The band already released the six-track debut album Incarcerated in 2011. Just as on their debut, Reality Check has been influenced by Dream Theater and Rush. Although they get nowhere near the level of their models, the music is still worth listening to.
Summer Breeze Project - Concrete
In 2011 this unit already showed what their professionally capable of on the album Unusual Horizons (see review) and the single Hollow. Summer Breeze Project are one of the better neo-prog bands in the Netherlands often compared to other neo-progressive rock bands. Personally, I didn't notice this particular musical style that much. On their latest album some elements of bands like Pink Floyd and Riverside shine through which is also the case on Concrete. This track sounds rather mellow which mostly is their style of music. For me Concrete belongs to the highlights of this album!
The Dutch Exposure album proves that there are many hidden prog rock talents in the Netherlands. However, after listening to the music on this album I dare to say that there's a thin line between the music we review and many other musical genres. Especially the (prog)-metal genre seems to be very popular amongst the participants. Personally I would rather have seen more bands that follow the footsteps of the great prog bands from the seventies and eighties like Genesis, Yes, IQ, Pallas and Pendragon. Unfortunately that's not the case, but that doesn't mean that the musical level on this album is moderate. All participating artists delivered a rather professional product. Although the music doesn't always correspond with my personal taste, it's fair to say that this is an exceptional document reflecting the actual Dutch progressive rock scene. The artists can use this release as a stepping stone to a larger audience. There will be always people out there who enjoy one of these acts presented here.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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