A double bill by two rather new and young progressive bands from the Netherlands in a fairly small, but cozy venue in Alkmaar, just north of Amsterdam. The show by Illumion, the five piece band led by conservatory graduate Eveline van Kampen (guitar, compositions) was advertised as a CD presentation. Unfortunately the band hadn't been able to complete all the recordings in time, foremost because all of them have regular jobs and the music is their 'side project'.
The successor to the critically acclaimed debut Hunting For Significance is called The Waves and singer Esther Ladiges proudly informed the audience that in spite of the new album not being finished, the band would perform five new songs. In fact the first two songs Illumion performed will be on new album: Tale Of Kings and Elegy Of Treason. Both songs are in the same vein as the songs on the debut album, characterized by odd meters, changes in tempo and the absence of grunts, double bass drums and heavy guitar riffs. The sound is more gentle and more jazzy than most progressive or female fronted prog metal bands.
The last time I saw Illumion, band member Gerton Leijdekker of S.O.T.E., had to learn all the music in a very short period of time and virtually had to learn to play keyboards, being an accomplished guitarist. It was a joy to see him moving on stage with a lot of confidence, playing his keyboard parts with ease and playing some exquisite guitar licks too. Leijdekker masters the MIDI-technique and demonstrated this throughout the show. I always find it unusual to see someone plucking a guitar and hearing sounds you recognized as being produced by keyboards! The interaction with Gerton's bandmate in S.O.T.E., Peter Boer, was really nice too. Boer changed from bass to his self-made stick and sometimes implemented his newly acquired Moog Taurus bass pedals. A very nice addition indeed! Using the e-bow, Boer proved to be a very versatile musician on stage, as well as in the studio I might add. Drummer Tom Rutgers - whose name Esther Ladiges couldn't reproduce when she introduced the different members of the band - played his parts impeccably but from where I stood, I hardly saw any contact with the audience. Singer Ladiges lost a few pounds and looked very confident and cheerful. Her somewhat jazzy voice matches the 'not everyday' music by Eveline van Kampen in an excellent way and especially her range, her variety in the sound of her voice and her overall performance scored an A+ as far as I'm concerned.
Eveline van Kampen is a gorgeous woman and she looks lovely on stage; she surely knows how to play her guitar, but she is still somewhat shy, and being the modest person she is, it's hard to catch her with her face looking at her fans. The sound was quite good actually, so the music, both new and old, came across very convincingly. The compositions of Van Kampen mesmerize and keep ones attention focused and the show of this band made it very clear that it's all about the music. Combining influences from classical music with jazz, oriental and progressive music results in a most peculiar kind of 'prog' which is kind of unique. It's a pity there were so few people in Alkmaar to witness this performance, because Illumion deserves more in my opinion. I'll be looking forward to hear the new album, because based on the five songs I heard this night it's going to be a killer album!
With the other band, Schizoid Lloyd a five piece hailing from the western part of the Netherlands, the number of people watching the show wasn't much better. I already saw the youngsters in Baarlo where they played on the prestigious Progpower Festival, just over one month ago. In Baarlo I was surprised to see the energy and originality of the performance of the brothers Ruben Kuhlmann (drums, vocals) and Remo Kuhlmann (lead vocals, lead guitar), Thom Lich (lead guitar, vocals), Daan Bovendal (keys) and Guus van Oosterom (bass, vocals). The band played about the same set as in Baarlo and the more melodic progressive songs went down very well; one can hear that the guys got talent and the multi-layer vocals are quite surprising. The more heavy or heavy parts of the songs appealed less to me, but the energy and the emotional cargo came across really well. The music is an extraordinary mixture of rock, metal, doom, classical, progressive and folk music and the band combines all influences seemingly very easy. The songs from their debut EP Virus were more in the progressive vein, while most of the new material - all of them with 'working titles' - seemed to be a bit more aggressive and metal influenced. The sometimes most strange transitions within a song reminded me of another highly talented Dutch band, namley Sky Architect. I do hope that the band will find the right balance in their music when they will release their upcoming full-length album next year. A very pleasant evening in Alkmaar, but too bad so few people showed up to see that the Netherlands got progressive rock talent!
Setlist Illumion (tracks with * are from the forthcoming album The Waves): Tale Of Kings*, Elegy Of Treason*, Scarlet Sin, Into the Labyrinth, Canvas*, Encomium, The Prophecy, Sorrows End*, Adamantine* and Under the Harrow.
Setlist Schizoid Lloyd: Gnoerft, Riflied, Roflied, Nothing Left, Circus, Elfminutenlied, Symfonerdlied, Plorft.