Exposé Online banner

Bittertown — Scenes from the Box
(F2 Records 200808, 2008, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2011-06-01

Scenes from the Box Cover art

Dutch bassist Tom Janssen is the driving force behind this album, though his debut solo outing, Are You Surprised, dates back to 2004. For this concept album he’s enlisted aid from drummer Vincent Bodt, sax player Ewout Dercksen and vocalists Erik van Ojen, Elles Janssen, and Floor Kraaijvanger. Janssen is one of these characters who has formal training and who has played professionally for years in non-prog outfits, though here he’s trying to tap into the sort of melodic symphonic prog pioneered by Genesis and Pink Floyd, and currently practiced by bands like Spock’s Beard. He’s too disciplined to let the playing or arrangements get very edgy. As a result the songs are all extremely well executed and laden with solid melodies — especially in the vocals. And while this album is a step forward from his previous effort, some Exposé readers may still find it a bit tame. That’s not to say there’s aren’t noteworthy moments sprinkled throughout, like the evocative and dynamic instrumental “Kick the Habit” or narrative-driven pieces like “Project Mayhem.” Plus Janssen displays enough of a grasp of modern production techniques to give the entire thing a modern vibe without rubbing your face in it. I just think he’s letting what he thinks good melodic prog should be get in the way of creating something truly progressive. He certainly has the skills (his bass work is especially fine, as witnessed in “The Chase”), so I’m going to consider this a calling card from an up and comer.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 39, 2008 releases

Related artist(s): Bittertown

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Fromuz - Audio Diplomacy – Fromuz is short for "From Uzbekistan," the homeland country for this inspired quintet that took Tashkent by storm a few years ago. Guitarist Vitaly Popeloff leads the band in a series of fusion and...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues