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Shades Of Dawn: Graffity's Window

If a good traditional prog album is what you are on the lookout for then you could do much worse than the newest offering from German outfit Shades Of Dawn. Coming together in the early nineties, the slightly oddly titled Graffity's Window is the band's third full release, following on from 1998's The Dawn Of Time and the more recent From Dusk which was released four years ago. In terms of style Shades Of Dawn bring together elements of Eloy, Camel and Floyd, along with a generous helping of early Fish era Marillion. That may all sound slightly generic and I suppose that to be fair that is an accusation that could be levelled at the German five piece, however on the whole the music itself is convincing enough for that not to be a huge issue.

Split into four parts, Graffity's Window is dominated by a twenty five minute closing title track that comprises eight movements and perfectly illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of Shades Of Dawn. Looking at positive first, as they do outweigh the negatives, the keyboards across are a joy. Bombastic and punchy when needed, reserved and atmospheric when other aspects of the band come to the fore, the skills shown by the duo of Peter Schneider and Bernhard Marx range from a very busy Mark Kelly style, to the more spacey, soundscapes of Jean Michel Jarre, especially on the song "Empty Vessels". All through the album it is this side of the music that really gives you something to grasp on to, even when Hans Jurgen Klein is battering through with strong riffs and classy solos, or while Christopher Struwe races round the drums and Klaus Lohr hammers out a throbbing bass lines, time and again it is the superb keys work that stands out. On the down side Klein, who also provides vocals doesn't have the strongest voice, or widest range you will hear. His vocal delivery does have bags of character, but even that struggles to make up for some less than convincing moments on "Empty Vessels" and as mentioned, for those who worry about these things, a lot of this album can fall into the prog by numbers category.

Other little styles and embellishments do get the odd airing, with "Cafe Of Illusion" adding a slightly fusion side to things, while "Letters From Eternity" gives off a very church organ feel that can be a little twee, but does break things up quite well. There is a good mix of instrumental and vocal tracks and in truth the non vocal tracks are the more convincing, with a less spacious attack and more focused musical outlook being employed when the vocals are not involved.

There may be more than a few flaws on this album, but as a complete listening experience Graffity's Window is an enjoyable and cohesive album that will reward those who hanker after a neo-prog approach with some very strong 70's overtones. Not perfect, but still a more than decent effort.

Track Listing
1 - Battle Won... And Lost
2 - The Eternal Recurrence Of The Same (I. Part One)
3 - The Eternal Recurrence Of The Same (II. Part Two)
4 - The Eternal Recurrence Of The Same (III. Part Three)
5 - Empty Vessels
6 - Graffity's Rainbow (I. Nemesis)
7 - Graffity's Rainbow (II. Crossing)
8 - Graffity's Rainbow (III. Mirrors Of Mind)
9 - Graffity's Rainbow (IV. Cafe Of Illusion)
10 - Graffity's Rainbow (V. Abyss)
11 - Graffity's Rainbow (VI. The Poet's Absence)
12 - Graffity's Rainbow (VII. Letters From Eternity)
13 - Graffity's Rainbow (VIII. The Rising)

Added: April 17th 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Shades Of Dawn Official Web Site
Hits: 2129
Language: english

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