Project: Patchwork - 'Tales From A Hidden Dream'

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Project: Patchwork - 'Tales From A Hidden Dream'

Whilst the album sits in the Prog genre it's quite diverse with a number of sub-genres touched across the nine tracks.

It would seem that Project: Patchwork is an apt name as this album has been assembled and recorded by multi-instrumentalist Gerd Albers, Peter Koll and friends over an incredible eight-year period. The list of guest contributor list is extensive, including a fourteen-piece choir.

Whilst the album sits in the Prog genre it's quite diverse with a number of sub-genres touched across the nine tracks, two of which are multi-part epics. The album opens with the mellow instrumental, 'Beginning' with a delightful piano refrain, supplemented by a "cool Jazz" saxophone, the player being Marek Arnold of Toxic Smile.

The first epic arrives in the shape of 'Oblivion' of which the first half has much to commend it, unfortunately the second half features unconvincing growled vocals that are slightly embarrassing and spoil a track that was shaping up well. 'The Turning Point' opens acoustically but becomes a Euro Metal/Prog Metal hybrid rather like a second division Iron Maiden.

'Elysium' has the aforementioned choir delivering what I can only describe as an unaccompanied requiem. Mixing up the styles the next track, 'Land Of Hope And Honour', wouldn't be out of place on a Mostly Autumn album with its Folky overtones plus acoustic guitars, flute and a David Gilmour-esque guitar flurry all featuring in the mix. Jessica Schmalle's vocals are beautifully delivered. It has to be said that the quality of the female vocalists is the highlight of the album and kick their male counterparts into next week.

I'm not too sure about 'Not Yet' which sounds rather disjointed and more than a little generic. 'Every End Is A Beginning (Bau' Dir Ein Schloss)' is an acoustically driven ballad which is sung in German by Magdalena Sojka; a very fine job she does too. It's a lovely song.

'Oblivion Things' reprises the second track and features a piano and strings arrangement with strident brass and delicate woodwind adding to a very pleasing musical picture. If I were the Albers and Koll I'd have saved this track as the album's denouement but bizarrely they've chosen to conclude with what is badged as a demo (after an eight year gestation they use a demo? An eighteen minute one at that!) . 'Incomprehensible' is another four-parter that passes through the gamut of Prog genres. Big riffs abound, there's an acoustic section, a rather nice piano refrain and another guest vocalist, Melanie Nocon, whose voice suits the song, all topped off by a searing guitar solo at the track's conclusion.

For me, had they stuck to the gentler material as sung by the female vocalists this could have been a bit special, as it is it's okay.

Gary Marshall

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