Sapphire - Triple - 1999
introSapphire come from Switzerland, a band with more than 10 years of professional career and a consistent curriculum based on several prizes won along their existence. With this "Triple", the third CD in their career, they have moved a step forward, as it is the first one distributed in Europe and the USA. The members of Sapphire are Stefan Howald, a vocalist with an elegant vocal registry close to that of Counting Crows's vocalist, Christian Freiburdhaus on keyboards, Andreas Hidber on guitars, Patric Ruff on bass, and Martín Bammerlin on drums. Also, this CD has a special collaboration from Kathrin Aeschlimann on violin and Alfons Eschle on the theremín.
Before going on, I should stress that this style of progressive rock is not my favorite one. Nevertheless I notice large doses of quality that can serve as a guide to read the review and ask for this CD. Therefore, even if I always do it, I will use here an absolute objectivity.
review"Triple" is an album with nine songs of very different duration, from the 3:32 of "Carry On" to the almost nine minutes of "Ride in Time (The Funeral)". The CD opens up with their single "Cornflakes" (4:40), with a vocal melody that ends up being very catchy and elegant, and in which the rhythm section develops with a lot of feeling and soul touches, above which keyboards lay out multicolored 70s sounds that enhance the elegance of the piece. As I usually say, I am surprised that radios do not program songs like this, since it has everything needed to be a "hit". "Carry On" (3:32) continues along the same path than the previous one: very effective vocal melodies and a great work from the keyboard player, reminding to the American band Chicago. "She Said" (6:52) enters in more progressive lands, with an instrumental introduction between keyboards and hypnotic drums that mix American west-coast and the sound of Porcupine Trees "Stupid Dream". "Shiver with Cold" (4:41) returns to the elegant jazzy sound of the first two songs in a composition that is not however anything to talk about. "Men" (3:57) is a great composition that starts with a drum loop and a dance flair but that develops to become a song full of hooks, with very good keyboards.
For the progheads, amongst which I include myself, the best gift arrives with "Solanum" (8:03) an instrumental composition of pure and hard progressive rock, in which the musicians unleash their wisdom and technique. I could not highlight a single player as if the work of the guitar is very good, then the bass gets you frozen and the keyboard player takes the reins and the song becomes epic with Christian extracting all kind of sounds from the keyboard with great virtuosity. This song is impressive and is worth the whole album. After this nice shock, the calm returns with "Questions" (3:37), a very lyrical piece with an exceptional piano. The CD closes with two mini-suite songs "Ride in Time (The Border)" (5:08) and "Ride in Time (The Funeral)" (8:47). The first is, as the rest of the CD, a mixture of Chicago (they clearly remind me of them), and the Genesis of "Calling all the Stations", but with a central riff and a notable keyboards work, as well as an effective and unforgettable chorus. The second part is more experimental and colorful, developed in an instrumental crescendo in which towards the end, guitar and keyboards join to create an excellent party-end.
Summarizing, a great album for those that enjoy a music full of feeling and elegance although with little risks - made by really good musicians. This is the typical CD that you will be able to listen between listens to King Crimson, and to show yourselves that, sometimes, commercial music can be full of quality personality. A very good CD in its style, although personally I would encourage Sapphire to continue in the path shown by "Solanum". In its category three and a half stars are deserved.