Alan Case - Dark Matter - 1999


I must admit that the expectations set in my mind for this CD were clearly out of proportion when seeing the final result. This phenomenon that drives me in many instances to disillusion, is provoked, at least in my case, for a series of external elements that make me have false ideas; opinions from certain readings, images… Factors that should not influence a purchase and that once confronted with the reality of the album, leave you with a sentiment of stupidity. In the end, the product is what it is and you are the one that feels bad.


Ernst van de Kerkoff, well known in the prog scene as Alan Case, stays with great stability in his place with "Dark Matter". He is a Dutch multi-instrumentalist which has had to fight hard to make an impression and that can’t be denied. Battered by a kidney disease, Alan dedicates great part of his time to develop his elegant music composing and arranging it in his own studio

The musician, rescued by the label of his country Bee & Bee Records, after publishing his work previously in a Japanese label, with null results in the Western world, is helped by an array of effective musicians. The result is faultless symphonic pop music, seasoned with progressive drops. The most appropriate references would be Kayak or The Alan Parsons Project. The 16 compositions of the album are of short length, between 4 and 6 minutes, and this that could seem negative when speaking of progressive, is not a problem in this case.

"I wonder why" opens the album and from the start, shows the way for the style of the remaining pieces. It is a composition without big pretensions, of an AOR perfume, with a rigid musical thread, only broken up in the central part with some seconds of brilliantly executed keyboards. "Mindless" is a pleasant slow piece of soft keyboards and the collaboration of a circular sax. The songs copy themselves as clones, copying the symphonic-light structure with minimum prog moments. "I don't need a lover", "The borderline", "Dark nights", "All about you" remind me from the albums of Alan Parsons in the nineties. Nothing changes at all in "Mistake of a lifetime". "Nighteye" maybe is more interesting, with a series of cuts where flutes and violins rise the quality level.

"Fast asleep" is another interesting song, where he provides a good example of his abilities with the keyboards and gives a small sample of his prog influences. But… why does the musician not develop his virtuosity in a full prog fantasy?. With "Crawl out of these mountains", "Make it happen" and "Innocent eyes" we return back to more of the same thing, continuing with "Celebrate your life" and "The harting". "Wide awake" is an instrumental piece, that with the multiple rhythm changes and the goings and comings of the keyboards, becomes the most prog piece of this album. "Het nieuwe land" is an anecdote that ends the CD, as it is sung in Dutch.


As I commented previously, as Argentinean soccer trainers say, this is an album whose only use is to have a space in the progressive bookcases. It is a pity, since Alan Case's progressive attitude seems sincere and it is sad that such an over-dimensioned production has hidden its quality.

author - date - rating - label

Jordi Costa - March 2000 -   - Bee & Bee Records