Versus X — Versus X (Remastered)
(Musea FGBG 4868.AR, 1994/2010, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1996-08-01
Some may have checked out Apogee's The Border of Awareness that we reviewed in the Musea overview a few issues back, which is essentially the solo project of Versus X bassist / guitarist / vocalist Arne Schäfer. The Versus X album pre-dates the Apogee by about a year, but (probably because it's a completely independent release) it's extremely hard to track down here in the states. Versus X is a trio, with Ekkehard Nahm handling all the keyboard duties, and Stefan Maywald on the drum kit. Their sound is a heavy symphonic progressive with a gothic touch, and – though each of the tracks features vocals – their overall approach is more instrumentally oriented, smoothly moving from quiet introspective passages for piano and voice to grand and elaborate structures that the band carries full throttle. Since Schäfer writes all the lyrics, sings, and has a hand in writing all of the tracks, it follows that if one is acquainted with his solo project as Apogee, it should also be understood the music contained herein is basically in the same quarter. Schäfer's voice falls somewhere along the axis between Greg Lake and Peter Hammill with an evident, but not overbearing German accent. The overall sound is very original and for the most part defies easy comparisons, but due to lengthy multi-part compositions and the instrumental approach fits within the limits of what is typically considered progressive rock (not neo-). This is an album that may take a few listens to reveal itself, but should appeal to fans of bands like ELP and Van der Graaf Generator. Recommended.
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more