After playing in bands like Von Lyx and Voodoo, Hansi Cross decided to go solo, and write music in a more progressive direction. He started to develop the "Uncovered Heart Trilogy". Three albums called; "Uncovered Heart", "Second Movement" and "III-Changing poison into medicine". In 1995 Hansi wrote a "miniature symphony" titled "Paradox" and this 18-minute track was released as a single. The fourth album "Gaze" came to a bigger audience when the English label Cyclops released a different version of it. After that Cyclops also released a compilation album called "Dream Reality" in 1997. In February 1999 the new Swedish progrock label Progress records (who also signed Galleon) released the album "Visionary Fools". And now there is their new album called "Secrets".
The line-up for this album is a trio with some guest musicians: Hansi Cross - Guitars, synthesizers, and vocals. Lolo Andersson - Bases, Taurus. Tomas Hjort - Drums, percussion. Guest musicians: Olov Andersson (Grand Stand) - Mellotron, synthesizers. Tai - Vocals. Lizette von Panajott - Vocals. Lars Borgström - Cello.
I must confess that "Gaze" is the only album I ever heard from Cross, so I can't compare the new "Secrets" to the older material. But I think this doesn't matter because the most important thing is the music of "Secrets". The CD opens with a track called "Bleeding in silence" (8:05). It starts with a heavy rhythm guitar intro followed by a delicious bass and synths as the first vocals lines are sung. Hansi Cross has a special voice that immediately gives the song that special "Cross" feeling. Nice Progrock with a melodic vocal line. In the middle of the track we hear our beloved melotron played by Olov Andersson we all know from the also Swedish band (duo) Grand Stand. (Grand Stand released one album called "In the middle, On the edge" - a must have for keyboard orientated sympho lovers!) I do like the combination of Cross and Olov very much. Olov's playing gives this track some Genesis influences because his playing sounds like Banks in his best days. The Genesis feeling stays with the acoustic guitars of the little track titled "Little one" (1:43) There is only acoustic guitar and bass in this song and it forms a great contrast with the next song "The Core" (8:21) which opens aggressively with heavy King Crimson guitars. The song is a combination of heavy instrumental parts and melodic vocal parts. This is one of the best tracks of the album with great guitar and synth solos. The end sounds as Swedish sympho to me and it fades into "Awakening" (5:26) an instrumental piece with beautiful melodic guitar and keyboards (this time played by Hansi himself!) The next song "Changed reality" (8:33) is the track where it all started. Because of this track "Secrets" came to us. Hansi and Tomas were working on another project when Hansi had to play this new Cross song. They liked it so much that they switched to make the new Cross album first. So this is the central track of the album and has some themes in it, which will return at the end of the album. It opens with mysterious synth sounds of Olov and develops into one of the highlights of the album with nice guitar and keyboards. "Path of illusion" (3:29) could be the single of the album and has some strange rhythms and a nice keyboard solo. The best "Secret" comes in the end. The magnus opus of the album is "Welcome to Utopia" (14:16) It starts with a synth solo which develops into heavy symphonic keyboard layers. On top of it Hansi plays a beautiful melodic guitar solo. Tai who also sings on "The core" sings the vocals. There are delicious keyboards, which from time to time recalls Genesis again. The piece is very melodic and has the ultimate long guitar solo, which goes on forever and forever and builds up to a climax. And then suddenly stops. After three minutes of silence we get a little encore on keyboards, which has a classical feeling. Every time I listen to "Secrets" and the last keyboard sounds are dying away in the distance, I just want to hear "Welcome to Utopia" again. For me this is the highlight of the album. So my version of "Secrets" has always an extra 14 minutes of music!
As I earlier mentioned, I only have the album "Gaze". "Secrets" is much better in my opinion. If you like the Swedish school (bands as Galeon and Twin Age) you must listen to "Secrets" too. Nice progrock with long melodic guitar solo's and a lot of keyboards. Lollo Andersson, Hansi Cross and Tomas Hjort made a very nice prog album. I would like to mention guest musician Olov Andersson also. He creates beautiful keyboard sounds. His contribution to the music of Cross gives an extra flavour to the "Cross sound".