A few months ago I met "Wendy" at a local radio station. He is a friendly musician who is living for his music completely. After the discovery of this guy by a small record company, he made four albums in just a few years. The first one entitled "The storm inside" was one of the best Dutch releases that year. Soon a second album "Rainchild" was released. I must admit to you that I never bought those albums because they sounded not very progressive to me. A lot of great sounding things, but I heard them before by other sympho and neo-prog bands. So I can't compare the new CD with his first two releases.
Bert Heinen - all instruments and all vocals, Mark-J. Heek - additional vocals on "Flame of live" and "Inferno".
reviewOn the third album "Tales from moonlit bay" he used some leftover tunes and brewed a fantastic long suite of almost 21 minutes from it. The music of this track has a lot of variation because he used every tune only one time in this long composition. I like the album but again .
The sympho lovers and press liked the albums and he got some very positive reviews. But Bert Heinen wanted to develop further and does not want to make the same album over and over again. I think this is a great attitude and also a progressive one! He even wanted a completely different cover. So no drawings of fairies this time, but a simple and modern design on a black background colour. He told me he wanted to make a modern album with a dark atmosphere. So the look of the cover has the same atmosphere as the music, which is on it.
But what is happening? Yes, it is the same old story again. (Remember Marillion?) When a musician is trying to come up with something new he is getting bad reviews because he did not make that same album again. I hate this narrow minded opinions. I see this is happening with prog fans and sadly enough also with reviewers.
Another example is the thing, which happened with the electronic drums he is using. On his first albums he put a name on the sleeve and the "drummer" was praised in reviews. When he told he was programming the drums by himself, suddenly the same reviewers had something negative to say about those same drums. OK everybody (including myself) will say that a real drummer is always better. But if electronic drum programming is well done, then please admit this fact and don't pronounce a bad judgement only based on the fact that it is electronic.
What about the music? First of all, I will not compare "Summer in Eden" with "Tales from moonlit bay". If you read the long intro, you know why. As I told you already, this album is different. It is modern and more influenced by alternate rock. But if you listen well you will also discover the old elements of his previous albums. The music is fresh, light and relaxed but at the same time it has often a dark (melancholic) atmosphere. I will not review all nine tracks one by one but will say something about the tracks I find special.
First there is the opener "Flame of life" (6:12), which starts with very beautiful mellotron samples. This melodic track has beautiful keyboards, nice vocal lines and a guitar solo in the end.
The intro of "Eden" (7:36) reminds me of Fish's "one and only good record" "Vigil in a wilderness of mirrors" and is directly followed by a Marillion synth solo. But on the other hand also the name of keyboardist Paul Ward came into my mind. Bert has come up with some nice melodies. And if you listen carefully you can hear a dozen of different keyboard sounds. It is a songmatic track with all kind of sympho/neo-prog influences in the instrumental parts.
My next pick is the fifth track called "One last breath" (8:03). It starts slow and relaxed and I like the beautiful melodic vocal-lines. The instrumental middle section has a little more power. But the ending is again slow and the beautiful vocal melody returns once more. My favourite track because of the melodies!
"Holy ground" (11:07) is the longest track of the album. The combination of synths, acoustic guitar and the slow vocals gives the track a Porcupine Tree ("Signify" album) atmosphere. Again Bert has found some great melodies. This long stretched out track is ending with a guitar solo and those typical Porcupine Tree melodic vocals.
Last track of the album "Cathedral" (7:18) is opening with an acoustic guitar. Again a slow melancholic melody (don't fall asleep Bert :-)). But besides the slow melodies with vocals this track also have some nice keyboard pieces.
It is a good album to listen to after a stressful working day. I still enjoy listening to this album a lot. It just relaxes me. The album has some great vocal melodies. It is completely different from his previous work. I think it is more songmatic. So the Like Wendy fans that only wants old-fashioned symphonic keyboards solos have to listen to it at their local music shop first. It is not a spectacular album that everybody will like. But my opinion is that it is a good album, which has some beautiful treasures inside. And I think it is a very positive attitude to search for new directions as a musician.