"Aurora is a Dutch symphonic tree-piece band, with a catchy, sometimes orchestral bombastic atmosphere".
This is their own description and can be found in their biography, which accompanied the demo-CD progVisions received.
After the demisal of Scarlet Dawn, Eric Bontekoe (drums) decides to form a symphonic band in the summer of 1996. Because a solid rhythm section is the foundation of a good band he starts looking for a suitable bass player. In March 1997 Dave Pijpers (bass) joined the band and by the end of September of that same year Rob Zuljar joined on keyboards. This line-up worked out fine and they decided to remain a trio. By the end of 1999 the band decides to use three directly to ADAT live-recorded songs as a demo they also could use for promotional purposes. They only made some additional overdubs in the studio. In this year they will be doing some live shows to test which material has to be on their forthcoming debut-CD which hopefully will appear by the end of this year. So the Aurora line-up is as follows: Eric Bontekoe - drums, backing vocals Dave Pijpers - bass, vocals, Rob Zuljar - keyboards.
As earlier mentioned this demo consists out of three tracks with a total running time of 21 minutes, and is recorded at "De Boerderij, Zoetermeer" in the Netherlands. The first track is called "New entry" - (5:04) and after a heavy keyboard intro this song starts up-tempo. Immediately we hear the catchy melodies on keyboards and vocals on top of a solid rhythm section. I like the symphonic/orchestral atmosphere of the keyboards. The refrain of the vocals is very catchy. It is a nice compact song. The second one "Dreamcatcher" - (6:00) has more the feeling of a ballad. It starts with keyboard sounds a la Paul Ward's "For a Knave", synth-choirs and the first vocal lines. Then the bass and drums are joining. Dave Pijpers has a nice fat bass sound. The song has some tempo changes, and Eric Bontekoe is doing some spoken words on this track (reference: Marillion's "Script for a jester's tear").
"Lake of a thousand tears" - (10:03) The title track is the magnum opus of this short demo-CD. It starts with electronic waves and the sounds of a singing whale. Followed directly by a slow synth solo with a beautiful melody. Robbie Zuljar makes use of keyboard strings as a basis over which he plays the synth melodies. The tempo of the songs builds up and the first vocals are sung. The synth solo returns and the sound of it reminds me of the great Eddie Jobson (UK). After five minutes the track slows down and the whales are there again, followed by a frettless bass, drums and keystrings. Then there is another tempo change in the music and again the tempo of the piece is building up to a climax and at that point the delicious synth solo returns. After the vocal refrain the song is up-tempo with keyboards of an orchestral atmosphere which reminds me sometimes of another Dutch band who last month did their farewell concert; Egdon Heath. This is my favourite track; fresh sounding keyboard orientated sympho.
Maybe Aurora can take that open place in the Dutch sympho scene. Because of the fact that this recording is only a live-recorded demo the sound quality is not perfect. But especially in the last track we can hear a band who can make a really nice mature sympho sound. When I was preparing this review I was trying to find some references to describe their music but I failed. The band has already a sound of their own. And I realised that I never missed the guitar. Robbie Zuljar creates nice sounds and is a young keyboard talent. I hope that all three band-members, who have normal jobs during the week, find the time and the budget to make that debut album.