Argos, based in Mainz in Germany, release their fifth album, having recently signed to the excellent Bad Elephant Music label. Argos first came to my attention when I had the good fortune to see them perform a very impressive set at Summer’s End festival in 2014; this encouraged me to buy their then current album, 2012’s Cruel Symmetry. Unfortunately I lost touch with them after that, despite regular playing of Cruel Symmetry, but I am pleased to get the chance to review this album.
The band has created a unique sound, blending Canterbury scene prog with more contemporary progressive rock, with touches of a Van der Graaf Generator. The PR information describes them as “maybe the most British-sounding progressive rock band to come out of Germany”, and I think that is a spot on description. The album was produced and mixed by Enrico Florczak and Thomas Klarmann, with mastering by Enrico, and they have delivered a balanced, clear sound.
It has taken me a long time to write this review, partly due to my enjoyment of the album. When I play it I just become immersed in the sounds, forgetting that I should be taking notes! But this is a good thing, right? The balance between melody, rhythm and hints of quirkiness goes a long way to crafting the sound, and opening song The Hunter’s Last Stand is a seamless movement through different moods. Beginning with a VdGG feel to the keys and vocals, it moves through different musical phases, with some lovely flute, to create some interesting sounds over the seven minutes duration, which passes quickly. The second track, Parade of Unpainted Dreams, has some Kinks influence, but still maintains the original feel.
There is variety to the songs; The Days of Perky Pat offers up a quirky song about a doll, Still Fighting Gravity has a great Jazz feel at times via some excellent saxophone. On Elsewhere things start with a lovely piano refrain, giving way to some wonderful guitar melody to drive the song forward in a gentle way before the guitar gives a more upfront solo. The album features an impressive list of guest artists, notably Andy Tillison (The Tangent), Linus Kase (Änglagård) and Marek Arnold (Damanek), and there’s also some great trumpet work from Johannes Steinbronn.
The album closes with the eighteen minute opus When The Tide Comes In, divided into seven movements which are seamlessly played to make a cohesive whole. Excellent use is made of a variety of keyboards accompanied by some great guitar work, all supported by the excellent rhythm section. There is some wonderful use of the clarinet, which lifts the interest level even further. Ten minute in we get a War of the Worlds style narration before the song continues, the narration briefly revisited at the end of the song to bring things to a close.
With original artwork and design by Bernd Webler, Unidentified Dying Objects gives the band the opportunity to demonstrate their blend of influences to full effect, their timing, precision and song writing create an interesting and enjoyable listen, the choice of instruments enhancing the experience. Argos have continued to develop their own sound, which is now easily recognisable as them.
01. The Hunter’s Last Stand (7:28)
02. Parade of Unpainted Dreams (4:13)
03. Beneath The Valley of Sleep (4:07)
04. The Days of Perky Pat (4:07)
05. Shock Headed Peter (4:06)
06. Still Fighting Gravity (5:23)
07. Elsewhere (4:31)
08. When The Tide Comes In (18:46)
– Of Rivers of Stones
– Waking Dreams
– The Tide is Out
– Traveling Far (Encounters II)
– The Door to the Sky
– In Trance
Total time – 52:41
Thomas Klarmann – Basses, Flute, Acoustic Guitar, Mellotron, Synths, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals (on track 5)
Robert Gozon – Electric & Acoustic Pianos, Lead & Backing Vocals
Enrico Florczak – Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Backing Vocals, Soundscapes
Ulf Jacobs – Drums & Percussion
Thilo Brauss – Organ, Clavinet, Synths, Soundscapes
~ Guest Musicians:
Andy Tillison – Keyboards (track 1)
Linus Kase – Alto Saxophone (track 6)
Marek Arnold – Clarinet, Soprano & Alto Saxophone (tracks 5 & 6)
Johannes Steinbronn – Trumpet (tracks 3 & 6)
Record Label: Bad Elephant Music
Country of Origin: Germany
Date of Release: 20th July 2018