Hans Spitzen - Fingerprints

(CD 2015, 53:32, The Villa Productions)

The tracks:
  1- Neptune's Exile(10:49)
  2- No Strings Attached(6:06)
  3- What I Would Give(9:07)
  4- Symphonic Sketches(5:20)
  5- The Time Of My Life(12:04)
  6- Touching The Darkness(10:00)

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Recently you could read the following statement on the website of the Dutch progressive rock band Flamborough Head: '...our new guitar player is Hans Spitzen. After the Northern Prog Festival gig (2015, see review) Gert Pölkerman decided to leave the band; lack of time in his busy schedule forced him to make this decision. We thank Gert for his contribution to Flamborough Head; we did some marvellous gigs together in the Netherlands and abroad and he produced our well-received album Lost In Time (2013, see review).'

The band's new guitar player was introduced as well and this is what they wrote about him: 'we welcome Hans Spitzen as our new guitar player, bass player, keyboard player and backing vocalist. Hans released his first solo album Fingerprints in 2015. Back in 2008 he helped us out when Flamborough Head was working on the track Daughters Of Night for the Finnish Colossus Canto-project. Eddie Mulder, our guitar player, had just left the band and so we didn't have a guitarist then. Hans has now joined Flamborough Head as a permanent member and we all look forward to work with Hans again.'

During the Northern Prog Festival in November 2015, I learned that Gert Pölkerman intended to quit the band, but I didn't have the faintest idea that Hans Spitzen would replace him. At the time I also got a copy of Fingerprints to review. Unfortunately and due to busy schedules, I never got the chance to review this solo album until now. Well, I think this is a perfect way to introduce Hans Spitzen to those in the progressive rock scene who don't know him yet!

Hans graduated from the conservatory in Zwolle and makes a living by giving private music lessons in his hometown Steenwijk. Being a wholehearted music lover it wasn't strange that he started to write and record his own music for personal pleasure. I guess somebody must have heard his talents and advised him to record some of his compositions for an album. And so he did; he selected six songs to be recorded between1989 and 2011.

Fingerprints is a solo album in the true sense of the word, because Spitzen did everything on his own. Nobody helped him out on the keyboards, guitars, basses or vocal parts. He even played the drum parts by himself, although I think that he didn't play on a real kit actually, but used the programmed rhythms from a PC, keyboard or drum machine instead. Maybe his voice isn't that strong, but it will do for the moment and it really doesn't matter while listening to the album. So hats off to this effort, because what he recorded sounds very mature and professional. As far as the compositions are concerned, they're all of a high level, very entertaining and also self-written.

I won't review all tracks separately, but the musical style on Fingerprints tends very much to the music recorded by Camel or any other well-known neo-progressive rock band. This album reaches above the average prog album and it deserves much more than the independent release it got now. Unfortunately, that often happens to musicians who don't have a large budget to spend. Maybe his contributions to Flamborough Head will open some doors that will probably lead to an official release on a professional label.

I think it was a good choice for both Hans Spitzen and Flamborough Head to join forces. Most likely their musical collaboration will lead to an album that will contain the finest neo-prog possible. This is already proved by Fingerprints and Lost In Time, the latest album by Flamborough Head. Well done!

**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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