aus: Dutch Progressive Rock Page 60/2018

Lukas Tower Band appears to be a band with an eventful history whilst having remained fairly unnoticed by the musical media throughout their existence. The band’s website explains this history in detail. Although “officially” founded “only” in 1984, the roots of Lukas Tower Band go back as far as 1979. The Band went through multiple line-up changes and re-directions of its musical style during the first 15 years of its existence, before a more stable formation developed after the year 2000.
Age Of Gold is only their third release, following (Albedo from 2010)[] (released on the occasion of the band’s 25th anniversary) and (After Long Years from 2004)[] (unsurprisingly hinting at the band’s long musical history), both reviewed by the DPRP. According to the inner sleeve notes, recording and mixing took place between 2013 and 2017 – quite a timespan.
Lukas Tower Band’s current line-up consists of Wolfgang Fastenmeier (guitar, percussion), Fredy Orendt (Keyboards, flute, accordion), both the only founding members (although it seems that a new or additional keyboarder currently is being looked for), Timm Bahner (bass), Thomas Willecke (drums), Angela Maier (vocals), Luluk Purwanto, (violin, percussion), plus guest musicians Jochen Scheffter (keyboards) and Ulla Wilpert (low and high whistles, flute; according to the website now a permanent band member). The band named itself after its rehearsal place domiciled in/around the St. Lukas Church (Lukaskirche) in Munich.
Listening to Lukas Tower Band’s music in my opinion requires a considerable degree of open-mindedness and willingness not to pigeonhole music into distinct genres. The band blends a variety of musical styles including (but not limited to), jazz, folk, world music, prog and straight rock. Folk- and especially jazz rock influences are predominant, though, plus one finds psychedelic moments reminiscent of The Flock and Canterbury-style jamming à la early Caravan as well. Additional musical similarities include Fairport Convention, and Curved Air.
Angela Mayer’s fairly dynamic, and decently melodic singing reminds me of wonderful bands such as Iamthemorning and Ciccada. The keyboards play the role of efficient accompanist without pushing themselves to the fore. Distinct also are both Wolfgang Fastenmeiers’s groovy guitar playing and Timm Bahner’s crispy bass lines. Trackwise, my preferences are for In The Light Of Thought because of its cool grooving rhythm not unlike Santana and for the beautiful folky ballad April.
Positively speaking one may call all this variety, while on the other hand, the band faces the risk of being caught between several labels. In comparison to its predecessor, which I only heard extracts of, the folky elements have made room for jazz-rock influences and the music is more tailored towards the violin, which clearly has become the lead instrument. Interesting enough, while being a German band, most of the lyrics are based on poems by English writers George Byron and William Blake.
Reviewing this release was quite a challenge and brought some drops of sweat on my brow. Wearing my prog reviewer hat, I realised the prog elements I consider as “typical” (e.g. multi-layered song structures, strong melodies, extensive use of keyboards, longer tracks) as not being distinctive enough in their music (some “odd” musical 9/8 and 11/8-beats are present, though). A bit too jazzy and folky, but not enough of that to satisfy the minds of true jazz rock or folk aficionados.
I therefore recommend this release to anyone being prepared to adapt to various musical styles without strictly looking for pure progressive rock as the clearly dominant musical element. For me, this album has some strong moments, but overall, it is something that I will revert to just occasionally in the future. I would rather see them play live. I respect the band’s attitude of never having followed any kind of musical Zeitgeist throughout its existence (according to their own information, that is one of the reasons for having stayed fairly low-key mediawise) and for its consistency in still doing that. For someone like me rather inclined towards musical pigeonholing, I prefer more clearly recognisable progressive rock elements.
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Thomas Otten: 6.5