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

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Cast - Legacy – For their ninth studio album, Cast present another strong set of tunes in their established mode. While there are strong contributions from all members, the keyboards of Alfonso Vidales are clearly...  (2000) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues