Arabesque - The Union - 2002
Arabesque are a group of musicians coming from Holland that started playing long time ago and that are trying to do something worthy with their music. And when I say worthy I mean that they try to transform their work by adding keyboard lines and some other sorts of forms coming from different sources and styles. I don’t know much about their history and their evolution as a band, whether their profile was built long ago or if they have suddenly bumped into prog-rock (the latter would be rather uncommon). Nevertheless, what I really feel is that they have experience with music. They aren’t a group that was born yesterday, and that starts just trying things out, there’s a self confidence and a sense of security that seems to be their best feature.
They are Joop Wolters (guitar), Katja Salemi and Nicole de Seriere (vocal), Frank de Groot (bass, vocal), Rene Ubachs (keyboards) and Marc van Mierlo (percussion).
The music is hold together by well-driven guitar work, a guitar that enriches the rest of the elements and makes them shine. One of these elements are the voices that are driven mainly by two more-than-correct singers. We also can find some “grunting” from Mr. De Groot. This and the keys which provides a good atmosphere and an athletic bass, makes the group feel complete and in perfect harmony.
The compositions that fills this record called "The Union" are long, and I just say long because they seem to enjoy enlarging the pieces like chewing gum, and with that, what they do is falling into repetition. You have to be just like Transatlantic, for instance, to make an endless song that firstly had to last four minutes and succeeding. Anyway, there are some good or even very good moments where the timing is right and where the musicians get on it with intelligence and skill.
“Freaking” is the opening piece with a very good atmosphere on the keyboards and a good and well-dosed guitar that stops in some moments leaving a freeway to some interesting solo works that makes the music colorful.
If you are fans of female vocal work, this is your record. Although the voices are not like, for example, Nightwish’s that are sweet and celestial tunes mixed with metallic edges; these voices are more dark and more in tune with the rest of the instruments. “Naked” and “Captured” are acceptable compositions that give some space to the keyboards becoming the main character and connecting with some good vocal effort.
“Instant Daydream” may be one of the best pieces with an excellent guitar noting and profound keyboard playing that leads to a guitar explosion, ending again with the keys. “Heal me” is a nice and relaxed song with great vocal performance. Towards the end of the CD the work turns to some hard edge prog-metal stuff like in “The Union”, or entering in some hard-rock area like “Emotions”. The record ends with a tour de force between the voices and guitar; too much sticky for me.
Well, as a conclusion we would say that we are in front of a experienced band that feels like connecting with the audience but, on my opinion, a band that can not appeal much to the standard prog-rock listener. A group that I think it bounds for getting the fans who like the hollywood-melodic-prog-metal with female voices.