Monday, September 4, 2017

Coda - 1986 - Sound Of Passion

Sound Of Passion

101.  Sounds of Passion 29:14
a) Prologue 2:16
b) 1st movement 7:10
c) 2nd movement 4:05
d) 3rd movement 5:35
e) 4th movement - Finale 10:00
102.  Crazy Fool & Dreamer 4:25
103.  Defended 7:07

Bonus on CD:
104.  4th Movement Single Version 4:43
105.  3rd Movement Single Version  2:28
106.  Crazy Fool & Dreamer Single Version  4:24
107.  Central Station 2:06
108.  Reverberating Sounds 4:03

The Demos

201.  Sounds of Passion Demo 31:25
202.  Nevermore 4:25
203.  Defended Demo 6:53
204.  True Melody 3:19
205.  Crazy Fool & Dreamer Demo 4:31
206.  What A Symphony-1 Demo 4:48
207.  What A Symphony-2 Demo 5:16
208.  Reverberating Sounds Demo 2:52

Erik De Vroomen – keyboards; bass pedals; percussion; vocals
Jack Witjes – electric & acoustic guitars; b/v
Jacky Van Tongeren – fretless bass
Mark Eshuis – drums

Karel De Greef – el. & ac. guitars
Jan Stavenuiten – drums
Maarten Holz – bass

Pip Van Steen – flute, piccolo, recorder
Auke De Haan – saxophone
Roel Strik – narration

CODA was a band from the Netherlands, which caused quite some interest when they released their debut album "Sounds of Passion" in 1986, selling out two pressings of the discs in three weeks. Although interest in the band was high, they never got around to doing live shows to promote the CD, as what they wanted to do live wasn't financially realistic to take on. Their debut was reissued several times over the following years, but it wasn't until 1996 that the follow-up album, “What a Symphony”, was released, and this proved to be the final release by Coda as well. In 2007 Pseudonym Records released a special bonus edition of the band’s debut, with the original album remastered and all sorts of bonus material added, resulting in the ultimate reissue of "Sounds of Passion", as a 2 CD set.

CODA is a Dutch concept band created and headed by multi-instrumentalist Erik DeVroomen. With a strong emphasis on melody, their material is lushly symphonic and focuses on swirling keyboards (grand piano, novatron, clavinet and various synths played by DeVroomen), climactic moments and a few but heavily conceptual lyrics - imagine VANGELIS with some killer guitar and super-spacey segments. Between 1986 and 1996, the band released two albums and a mini CD.

Their first full-length album, "Sounds of Passion" (1986), features a 29-minute suite with lots of organ, horns and strings that give it a highly 'symphonic orchestra' feel. It is also full of mood and tempo changes as well as grandiloquent (and fortunately sparse, accented) vocals. As for the two short tracks that close the album, they are quite dispensable. Their second full-length cd, the ambitious "What a Symphony", is best described as classical music performed with modern instruments (a couple of nods are given to Mahler and Bach, in passing). Ranging from aggressive to pastoral moods, the flow is somehow unfortunately broken with frequent jazzy solos that don't quite fit into the picture. Overall, however, it is a highly melodious album and boasts a much improved production over "Sounds of Passion".

 Classic Dutch eighties album! Because it is not very well known, I thought I might just as well add a review. The original LP consisted of just one epic track, which is completely instrumental (okay, apart from some introductory spoken -word poetry at the start of the album, Gregorian chants somewhere in the middle, and some warning shouts elsewhere in the album). I haven't heard the extra cd with the demos, by the way, I just know the original cd, with the tracklist as mentioned above (the last two tracks are bonus tracks, added for the cd version of the album).
The band is being called Coda, but as the liner notes say: it was originally intended to be an Erik de Vroomen solo project, and you can hear that: the keyboards of Erik de Vroomen are central to the music. Erik de Vroomen is also the only composer, and was producing the band as well. In short: this is Erik de Vroomen's vision. The rest of the band can be heard as well, but they are not very upfront in the mix, with the possible exception of the (great sounding) lead guitar from time to time. Oh, to be clear: it is a real band that is playing, it is not like the Alan Parsons Project (without degrading the latter). And the band could play hard and fast also, as well as subtle like a well integrated seventies symphonic prog band.

The music is... I'd say neo progressive in form, but symphonic progressive in content. The sound is state of the art mid eighties, and keyboardist Erik uses modern equipment, but in retrospect the sound is somewhat artificial, and one would wish that more room would have been given for either acoustic instruments or vocals. Still, Erik de Vroomen is a master at the keyboards, not virtuoso sounding, but on the other hand quite skilled. And, on top of that: Erik de Vroomen is an excellent composer. Sounds of Passion is a very mature sounding, carefully designed multi movement suite! De Vroomen is s musical perfectionist, who was definitely aiming to make a masterpiece of progressive music.

In the cd version there are two vocal tracks added, which are like extended songs, but they have the same quality as the instrumental epic, and make the record a bit more personal. In fact, the two songs are very well composed, and well sung by vocalist Jack Witjes (style: somewhat like Greg Lake / John Wetton). Defended is especially memorable, because there is a majestic instrumental climax at the end, in the best symphonic progressive tradition.

The album is very good, but still not what it could have been. Erik de Vroomen has worked for years and years on it. But in those days, in the Netherlands, it was very difficult to find support for that kind of music. The drums especially are a bit weak, a fact underscored by Erik de Vroomen who really wanted to add a drummer like Pierre van der Linden (Focus) on the album, which in fact almost happened. Probably the second cd of the re - issue gives some more insight on what the music could have been.

Still, even when the weak points are being kept in mind, the album is still an almost - masterpiece, worth four stars. The compositions and playing are legendary for the biggest part. Also the music is being helped by the concept matter that Erik adds in the liner notes and in the spoken words on the cd: about a search for truth, and the tragedy of man often being inclined to choose the lie. Erik is inspired by the writings of Günter Schwab and that does add to the atmosphere of the music.

This album should be much more heard than it is now!



  2. Hi,
    can you please upload What a Symphony in the double cd version? :)