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Apogee: Endurance Of The Obsolete

With an impressive work ethic, Arne Schäfer offers us his tenth Apogee album in just fifteen years. The Versus X man now almost solely focusing on what initially was deemed a side project. Once again the multi-instrumentalist works almost single handedly, with all vocals, guitars, keys, bass and orchestral arrangements coming from his hand. Aided only by drummer and percussionist Eberhard Graef, it’s a true feat of endeavour that Apogee always sound like a band and a fully realised one at that.

Much of the German prog master’s basis comes from a much more English base, with a pastoral feel bringing us into a land that the likes of Gentle Giant once roamed proudly. And yet Endurance Of The Obsolete - which comes replete with impressive artwork from Bernd Webler, which is a true joy on the eye - is no overtly respectful homage, instead adding new elements to the familiar themes.

Schäfer’s voice is something of an acquired taste and if you are looking for a pure voiced frontman, then his much more honest and heartfelt style may prove something of an ask. However, his storytelling style isn’t all that far removed from that of The Tangent’s Andy Tillison and while the humour and idiosyncrasies of the latter don’t quite shine through in the same way here, if you can connect with one, then there’s a clear path to the other. There is also a real flow to the album, the feel that the journey is almost as important as each stand alone moment welcome indeed. That said, the playful brightness of “Spirits Disengage” which operates against the more obviously melancholy side to this album does make for a stand out track, while the lengthy mood veering of “The Complex Extensive Way” arguably illustrates the inner intentions to a much greater extent.

The real strength, however, comes from the sympathetic blending of some heavier sections in Apogee’s attack to the clean and acoustic meanderings, with the different aspects making the journey from “Interpretations” and “Waiting For The Dawn” through “Overruled” and the 12-minute plus title track an ever varying journey that still somehow operates within quite a strict set of stylistic boundaries. It may not be an album for all occasions, but this latest release from this one man project turns out to be neither an endurance, or obsolete, even if its title suggests otherwise.

Track Listing
1. Interpretations
2. Waiting for the Dawn
3. Endurance of the Obsolete
4. Spirits Disengage
5. The Complex Extensive Way
6. Overruled

Added: December 22nd 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Endurance Of The Obsolete on bandcamp
Hits: 1014
Language: english

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Apogee: Endurance Of The Obsolete
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2020-12-23 04:52:11
My Score:

Here is one of my favourite albums of the year. The band is Apogee, hailing from Germany, led by Arne Schäfer and really this is as close to a one-man project as one can get. The only other musician on the record is Eberhard Graef supplying drums and percussion. He has played on the band’s last four albums, starting in 2012. I began my Apogee listening journey with their 2015 release titled The Art Of Mind followed by 2018’s Conspiracy Of Fools, both fine albums in their own right. I really think on this latest titled Endurance of the Obsolete, Shäfer has hit it out of the park. This is one of those albums that could appeal to many people but that is not to say this album is not complex because it is. Lots of sideroads and detours to keep any progressive rock listener transfixed but the melodies and arrangements are so thought provoking and engaging one almost does not realize this is a progressive rock album.

As can be expected all the instruments are played with absolute skill and consummate professionalism. The disc begins with “Interpretations”, a near ten-minute foray of stellar electric and acoustic guitar, complex vocal arrangements ala Gentle Giant, dynamic shifts in sounds and textures and some nice melodies to hold it all together. Pretty guitar arpeggios and richly layered keyboards highlight the melodic “Waiting for the Dawn”. Some excellent bass lines in this one as well. The title track is a true epic with a running time of just over twelve minutes, twisting and morphing from one soundscape to the next, with total fluidity and ease of execution. The guitar here is simply sublime, using both acoustic and electric instruments. This one has some heavier crunch at times adding grittier shades and textures. “Spirits Disengage” is another excellent track featuring lush keyboard work and more outstanding guitar playing. Shäfer is one excellent musician.

Endurance of the Obsolete is certainly one of my favourite Apogee albums and one I can easily recommend to any fan of high-quality rock music.

A Progressive Promotion Records’ release.

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