Saturday, January 9, 2016

Amenophis - 1983 - Amenophis


01. Suntower (5:18)
02. The flower (7:31)
 a) The appearance
 b) Discovering the entrance in the shadow of a dying bloom
03. Venus (7:03)
04. The last requiem (24:32)
 a) Looking for refuge
 b) The prince
 c) Armageddon

Bonus tracks available on cd.
05. Bonjour, magnifiques Champs-Elysees (1:45)
06. Notre dame tres honorable (4:01)
07. Le vivant montmatre (2:17)
08. Une promenade sur la rive de la Seine (3:47)
09. La vue de la tour eiffel (2:52)

- Stefan Rössmann / drums, keyboards, acoustic guitar, synthesizers
- Michael Rößmann / guitars, keyboards
- Wolfgang Vollmuth / bass, acoustic guitar, keyboards, vocals

Amenophis was founded in 1978 by Michael Roessman, Wolfgang Vollmuth, and Stefan Roessmann. The name was taken from an Egyptian Pharoah, and was meant to have international appeal.

They recorded their first album in their own apartment / studio in the summer of 1983. Lack of sales forced them to sell all of the equipment, thus breaking up the band.

In 1987 fate smiled with an offer to record a second album. This lineup would include Kurt Poppe on keyboards, René Kius on drums and Elke Moehle on vocals. Stephan was replaced (with his blessing) due to health problems. The tour for "You and I" lasted until the summer of 1989. Afterwards, with commercial success still eluding them, the band broke up for good.

From the beginning constant touring aided in honing their skills. Yes, Camel and Genesis are cited as major influences. A commitment to complex progressive music, and their own compositions, kept them from continuing with careers in music.

 Yet another symphonic rock gem I would never have discovered without the benefit of the Progarchives, Amenophis are a lost treasure of the progressive past resurrected courtesy of the rush by many labels to build up their CD catalogs in the nineties. This is one of the keepers.
The arrangements on this album remind me a whole lot of Camel, with the notable exception that these guys don’t have a flautist, although they do a good job of creating some synthesized flute-like sounds. The net effect though is that this album sounds like what Camel might be without Andy Latimer’s flute, and with an acoustic guitarist who tends toward Spanish flair at times. All three band members play a variety of keyboards, so there is a great blend of sounds on the album. Most tracks are instrumental, and on the ones that have vocals the tone is mellow, soft, and rooted in the seventies.

It’s not surprising given the 1983 release of this album that it didn’t take off, but I would imagine it would have gotten a much better reception a few years earlier. Typical of seventies symphonic rock, the album is divided into four rather lengthy tracks, each somewhat distinct but having a loose sort of coupling, mostly in the consistent arrangements. The vocal reverb effects are a bit sophomoric, but considering these guys were basically amateurs when they recorded this, they can be forgiven the occasional cheesiness.

The recording quality isn’t the best I’ve ever heard, but presumably the Musea version is a cleaned-up one, so it probably sounds better than the original vinyl, which almost no one likely has anyway.

With song titles like “Discovering the Entrance in the Shadow of a Dying Bloom” and “The Last Requiem” one doesn’t have to have much of an imagination to visualize the type of music on this album – mystic, earthy, and often highly orchestral even if delivered almost exclusively from keyboards and acoustic guitar. The electric guitar parts and more elaborate vocals hint strongly of a Genesis influence, but closer to ‘Wind and Wuthering’ than to ‘Trepass’ or ‘Nursery Cryme’.

The bonus tracks on the CD version are pretty much live, and for some reason the titles are French. These are interesting, are even more mellow than the original album itself, and are more inclined to acoustic guitar and what sounds like an electric piano. The timbre of most of these tracks sounds French as well, and frankly nothing on this album really hints at its German origin. A real anomaly in all respects.

Too bad these guys didn’t hang around to make a career of music, as I think they would have had a long and fruitful career had they arrived either ten years sooner or twenty years later. As it stands, they delivered a great album full of symphonic and emotional music, and it makes for a great bit of mood music today. Highly recommended to hard- core symphonic fans

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