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Fuchs: Station Songs

The third album from German composer and multi-instrumentalist Hans Jurgen Fuchs, Station Songs, is an interesting concept piece where a frequent visitor to a (possibly train) station relays their thoughts on different, unknown, individuals. However you don’t only receive this perceived perception of the unaware protagonists, with the characters’ own thoughts of themselves also revealed, leaving it up to the listener to decipher which, if any, is nearer to the truth. All of this is captured ‘in situ’, hence we are in the station with the voyeur and the watched, with the location seemingly playing as much, if not more, of a main role in the ‘story’. After numerous listens I’m still only really scratching the surface of what is being ‘explained’ here, but it does make for a slightly more unusual listening experience and in itself that is a good thing.

Station Songs is album number three from Fuchs, but the composer also creates music in a more avant-garde setting for his wife’s band Ines, as well as writing music for 14 to 18 year olds to perform in schools, what with Fuchs main job being that of a teacher. While these two settings may not inform the Fuchs sound, they do ensure that we are in the hands of a skilled and confident composer as his symphonic based but further reaching prog plays out. Hints of the classic Camel sound are in evidence, while the softer end of the neo-prog scene can also be heard with the lighter moments from a band such as Credo recalled in places; just as there are also a few biting riffs and musical interplays that reach into a Marillion, Genesis or Arena setting.

The vocals are shared, Michael Wasilewski and Baggi Buchmann (Ines) doing a strong job of relaying what can at times be an overly busy lyrical situation and while never getting too far out of control, it could be suggested that a paring back of the theme and indeed the amount of words used to relay it, could have helped in places. It’s a minor gripe however, with the tightly constructed tracks captivating as they take us through the character’s journeys and thoughts. “So Many Days/The Great Divide/Under Suburban Skies” providing a winding beginning that unravels beautifully into an exuberant musical workout, where keys and guitars develop into a slightly more aggressive bite without ever over egging the pudding. “Why Me?” leans more on clever arrangements, the vocal layers making way for intricate breakdowns that are more organic in construction and which feel like they wouldn’t be out of place on a Peter Gabriel unsettler. While “Sleepwalking Man” is more gentle in its insistence, as a Steve Rothery-like guitar outburst takes centre stage.

With all the tracks graced with similar care and attention and an ability to grab the imagination and expand it with subsequent listens, the voyage from the opening “The Invisible Man” through to the closing “Will Come What May” grips you tight and seldom loosens it hold. However, there’s a lightness of touch which ensures you are never crushed by this album’s intention, making for a warm, embracing record with real depth.

Track Listing
1. The Invisible Man
2. Even If the Salary is Low
3. So Many Days / The Great Divide / Under Suburban Skies
4. Crowded Boats on Silent Sea
5. Why Me?
6. How Could I Just Ignore Him? / The Night and the Dark and the Pain
7. I'm On My Way Again
8. Sleepwalking Man
9. Will Come What May

Added: December 2nd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Fuchs on Facebook
Hits: 736
Language: english

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