“International daylight” is the first release of the Belgian quintet Mindgames and contains 7 predominantly long musical pieces that are based on the styles and sounds of some great symphonic and progressive bands from the past and present, like Yes, Pink Floyd, Starcastle, IQ and Pendragon. This means complex arrangements, frequent melody, mood and tempo changes or in short interesting music that needs some listening before a thorough understanding and appreciation can take place.
Members are Bart Schram (lead & backing vocals, acoustic guitar & 12-string), Rudy Vander Veken (electric lead & rhythm guitar), Tom Truyers (piano, synthesizers & modules), Eric Vandormael (bass) and Benny Petak (drums & percussion). Additional musicians play flute, flugelhorn, cello and vibraphone.
The “classical” opening of “Mental argue” (5:04) immediately sets the mood for this album: a nice cello melody accompanied by acoustic guitar is followed by a beautiful moody bass solo, where (not for the last time) Chris Squire comes to mind. After a ballad-like vocal part the rest of the band joins in for an up-tempo and varied (instrumental) part that even contains some rock and roll themes with nice keyboard play.
A good opening that is followed by a probably even better piece entitled “Factory of illusions” (11:24). In my opinion the best track of this album. The up-tempo instrumental opening with splendid synths and driving bass shows references tot Yes and Glass Hammer. This piece is very varied, with many tempo and mood changes, complex rhythms and a diversity of instruments, among which mellotron (of course!), flute, vibraphone and church organ (no it’s not Rick Wakeman!). Flashes of Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant come by. The great finale is in my view an ode to Yes and especially the jazzy guitar play of Steve Howe, but also shows similarities to tracks of the (unfortunately sole) album of Blue Shift and the sound of Starcastle
The sound and style of these two bands also shows in the opening of the third track, “Sign from the sky” (8:01). Later on Pendragon “joins the band”. This song has a pleasant break with acoustic guitar and nice piano play and a pleasant “sharp” guitar solo with church organ accompaniment. Again great bass play.
“Beggars Breakfast” (2:40) is a short and easy ballad, with good (harmonic) vocals and beautiful piano and cello play. “An approach to mankind” (12:42) is again a more epic and varied piece, where Pink Floyd meets Pendragon and IQ. Again a beautiful “classic” piano fragment, but also funky rhythm guitar and nice strings accompaniment. Funky stuff, emotional pieces, rhythmic intermezzo’s and an “old fashioned” synthesizer solo. What more do we want?
“Dreaming the circus” (9:11) is served with the same sauce, although the main theme and opening are not too original. Dave Gilmour pops-up for a few short guitar solos and the (real) flugelhorn that shows up is probably the one that also featured the “Wish you were here” album of Pink Floyd. Nice instrumental pieces with great synthesizer play.
“Selling the moon” (17:23) is the longest track and in this track it’s Pink Floyd that definitely has the upper hand, although again in combination with Pendragon and IQ. The opening beats features a typical PF slide guitar sound and later a more rhythmic part is very reminiscent of IQ. Many guitar and synthesizer solos pass by,. An acoustically accompanied easy intermezzo is a resting point in this long epic work and forms the bridge to the second great finale, both of this song and of the album. Before the end however Keith Emerson comes by to show how to play a very classic orientated intriguing solo piano part. Then for the last time drums and bass show how adequately they supported the guitar and synthesizer solos on this album. Alas, the end has come.
As with many symphonic and progressive bands lead vocals are the main demerit, where the beautiful easy track four is a welcome exception. Bart Schram ‘s voice sounds rather sharp and shows lack of dynamics. Happily this main weak point is vary much compensated with splendid musicianship, strong compositions, intelligent arrangements and a good production. Guitar and keyboard solos are just good. With this album this Belgian band shows an excellent visiting card. I’m very much looking forward to more.