music is the most perfect music ever written”
Lars Eric Mattson is not only active as producer for Winterlong (see review), but also in his own band Condition Red. In contravention to the rather conventional hardrock/metal played by Winterlong, with Condition Red he produces far more adventurous and therefore progressive music. In this band he takes care of guitars, bass, sitar and keyboards. He is joined by Alex Masi, who plays guitar solos on track 2, 6 and 8, flute Alexander King on keyboards and Gerald Kloos on drums. Last but not least there is Ella Grusner who takes care of the vocals and also plays some violin and flute.
The vocals of Ella Grusner are very intriguing: they create a very dreamy and ethereal atmosphere that on the one hand contrasts with the metal flavored guitar play on songs like track 2 “Eye of a storm” (5:25), but on the other hand fits well within the more easy pieces as “It’s not too late” (6:58) and “Your freedom” (5:02). Her vocals have something hypnotic. The vocal harmonies created by dubbing her voice sound very nice. Because of the use of the sitar in conjunction with acoustic guitar and violin, both the tracks mentioned sound rather “folky”. A nice variation next to the other more heavy styles and sounds we hear on this album
The solos of Alex Masi on the aforementioned track 2 and on track 8 “Why won’t you hear me?” (6:05) are responsible for the metal touch of the sound of Condition Red. Especially the later track is a very good piece with not only solid guitar riffs and solos, but also nice keyboard parts and an appealing chorus. Alexander King provides some fine organ and synthesizer solos, although I am not sure what parts are played by him or by Lars Eric Mattson. As the fast opening chords and solos in “Eye of a storm”, track 8 also features some nice keyboards parts sounding like a harpsichord. In track 4 “Time passes by” (4:46) we hear some nice Hammond sounds and solos.
Very characteristic for this second album of Condition Red is that it offers a sort of structured alternation of instrumental pieces, that are very obviously classical influenced, with more solid rock songs. The first instrumental piece is opening track “The warning” (1:20) that features some (sampled) cello sounds together with brass synthesizer, violin and some percussion. The fast drumming and guitar riffs of “Eye of a storm” are a sharp contrast to this classical introduction. Track 3 “Cycles” is again a “classical instrumental” with a main role for synthesizer and electric guitar. Track 5 “The eagle’s return” (3:03) is a more up-tempo and “rocking” piece with classical themes, where the more easy piece “Rondo” (3:24), as the more title implies is also based on classical themes. It is actually a solo guitar piece with orchestral accompaniment. Track 9 “Seven stars” (3:42) also features synthesizer and electric guitar playing the melodies. It sounds rather Eastern and is therefore a good introduction to “Your freedom” where the sitar plays the central theme. Track 11 “In/out” (2:19) is again instrumental, with short bass solos and orchestral keyboards with brass sounds. Very different from the rest, which makes things even more interesting. “Train insane” (4:21) is a more standard rock song with a swinging Hammond organ solo and precedes the relaxing synthesizer/guitar piece “Out of the red” (2:12), that concludes the album.
It took me some time to fully appreciate this album, but this definitely is a more than average production. It is a colorful blend of (metal) rock, classical and Eastern themes and atmospheres, together with breathtaking female vocals.