Reviews - Somewhere in the dark
Andrea Bertamino AOR
After almost ten years, Swiss band Deep Thought releases a full lenght cd with 72 minutes of music subdivided into nine songs, so you realize we're in front of a prog rock album with long instrumental passages performed by Marcel Oehler (gt), Dominik Pfleghaar (keyb), Martin Altenbach (dr), Domink Rudmann (bs) and Pat Merz (vc).
Musicians are technically of a very good level and fans of acts like Jadis, Pendragon and IQ in particular, but also those of Enchant (listen to "Morphios") and early Cairo, will find in this Deep Thought's release some rich sounds, changes of time and atmospheres like the above mentioned bands were good to do, with few heavier and psychotic inserts ("Changing The Rules").
In similar occasions, it's hard to describe the cd track by track, so many are the different faces of every tune, each of which with interesting elements raging from a refined instrumental passage to complex arrangements involving all of the instruments, but don't expect to find something like Dream Theater even if the boys know how to hadle their own instruments. I liked particurarly the keyboards solos which use "old" sounds, and a little old fashioned is the whole production looking to the past decades more than to nowadays.
Louis Hesselt-van-Dinter Aural Innovations
Martin Altenbach (drums), Pat Merz (vocals), Marcel Oehler (guitars), Dominik Pfleghaar (keys), Dominik Rudmann (bass). Modern progressive in a Genesis/Marillion mold, called neo-prog by many. This release features nice long instrumental passages with good interplay between synth and guitar. Marcel tends to go for an edgy distorted guitar sound, but since it's not mixed to the very front, it works well. Dominik does both the washes and some very tasty synth runs. The synth sounds tend to be more analog sounding. The vocals a bit restrained, almost thin with no power. For me it's the weakest part of this group. It almost seems like Pat is never truly involved in the songs. There are 4 tracks over 10 min and each track seems to features at least some type of instrumental.
Martin Hudson Classic Rock Socienty
Here's an album by a Swiss band on a Swiss label with paperwok supplied with examples of reviews so far. Well I'm sorry, there prog reviewers must have been listening to a differnt album to me. The vocals are ordinary and the music seems to be desperately trying to hang to the coat tails of what has been created by Genesis and Marillion. It does have its moments in the instrumental departement but the strength of the material is mild and not what you would call gripping.
I thought bands had stopped trying to be the new Genesis but apparently not. Deep Thought is what I would call regressive rather than progressive and it is a pity because as musicians you can hear the potential trying to break through. The keyboard breaks by Dominik Pfleghaar are the highlight but that apart this is middle of the road progressive fare.
Dries Dokter Dutch Progressive Rock Page
I am a Douglas Adams fan, so if a band is named after the first super-computer in his books "Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy", then they have caught my attention. Deep Thought was formed in 1993, but after 3 members of this line-up left the two founders found themselves alone again. New members were found and this second line-up released a demo CD, but as the band did not have a singer at that time, this was an instrumental only demo. Some tracks from this demo have found their way to the first studio album of Deep Thought: Somewhere In The Dark.
I was content after hearing the first few tones of Clock, this could be a nice one. But the voice of Pat Merz stopped my initial enthusiasm. It is not really bad but it is just that I cannot get used to it and on top of that in some songs his Swiss (German) accent really distracts me from the music. However, I listened to this album more often than I had intented to, after the first listening. This could be that I was somewhat reluctant to write a bad review and therefore stalled writing it. Because of these extra listening hours I discovered that some of the songs are not bad, not bad at all, and slowly the album grew on me. On some songs the vocals fit the music very well.
Clock is a nice and complete song because of the original and well played tempo changes. This 10 minute track has some IQ elements, which can be accounted to the guitar sound, the distortion is the same as on IQ's Fascination. Changing the rules is not the strongest song of this album - it is too uneventfull. On Waiting For Darkness I even like the vocals and this is a good song. Simple Man again is a long song that is OK, but it does not have the allure of Clock. The end of Shadows of the Past nicely builds up to a climax that somehow does not come. Drive to me is the song which illustrates the problems I have with the vocals best. Ice was also part of the demo Shadows of the past and if it is an example of the band's music in earlier days they have certainly improved. This song is just not it. The same goes for Morphios which was also on the even earlier demo Morphios. Strange thing is: before mentioned Waiting for Darkness is also part of this first demo and I like that one. Mud On The Hill is a long composition, 14 minutes, and it certainly has its good moments which means I mostly skip the other parts.
I am still not certain on which grade to give this album, some songs are very very good while others on this album are just not doing it for me. Most of the material was technically good though and if all of the songs were like Clock and Waiting For Darkness, Deep Thought would have delivered a super album. I think I might be listening to Somewhere in the Dark again in the future but will stay clear of some of the songs. At times the material reminded me of early IQ - Tales from the Lush Attic and perhaps Nine in a Pond is Here so this has to be a positive sign and makes me certainly curious as to their next album.
Conclusion: 7- out of 10
Terry Tucker European Progressive Rock Reviews
After a gap of nearly two years Deep Thought return with a new release and more importantly for them, this new album is on a fully fledged record label, "Galileo Records". There are 5 reworked tracks and four new offerings which have a total clocking in time of 72 mins.
The move to a record label seems to have done the trick. The overall sound is more complete and professional or put it another way, a better mixed sound that seems to have boosted the band's confidence since I last heard them. Their enthusiasm is apparent throughout this album. The keys, guitar work, drums and bass ooze more depth, class and emotion while Patrick Merz' vocals sound as though he relishes every moment and can't wait to get in and sing, when he does, he does a fine job. The keys shimmer perfectly on the quieter sections on, for example, Simple Man and Shadows Of The Past. They eventually add some nice choral effects at the end of Shadows fo the past. The guitar also adds weight to this track with some crunching chords and wailing solos. The new found confidence is especially evident on the 10:14 sec. Ice where the key work is especially grand to say the least and is a great platform for some thoughtful vocals in the quieter moments. This track has been transformed since I last heard it. The guitar near the end sends shivers down my spine, a classic track that explodes into life in the last quarter. The explosions continue on the complex and progressive Morphios where Deep Thought can be heard in full flight.
As for the new tracks, the opener Clock is a good example of Deep Thought's intent and new found determination. It's full of symphonic sounds driven by progressive rock complexities and is full of interesting turns and swings of mood that even includes a short Kerrs Pink type section. Two years ago this band may not have been able to have done this classic song justice, now though, it's a different story. Another ambitious symphonic track that closes this album is Mud On The Hill, its construction in certain ways resembles early Genesis. I think the thing that hits me about this song and album in general is the overall sound which has more of a symphonic approach, the keyboard work has made giant leaps forward and plays a major part even when it is laying down a platform for the guitar work. I have to admit I never thought that this band were capable of achieving anything like this song and when Jsabelle j. Fischer's vocals enter, this song takes on a whole new dimension and you finally realise that this band have grown and matured into a major act who are thinking harder about the arrangements and production techniques. This cut goes on and on and ends with a tremendous melodic outro of controlled passion from Marcel Oehler's guitar and shimmering symphonic keyboard work by Dominik Pfeghaar.
Another new track is Changing The Rules, sounds very like some of their earlier work but once it gets going the class begins to shine through like a beacon. The one song that at first caused me some problems was Driving which didn't seem to connect with me but after repeated plays I found some reference points to some of "For Absent Friends" more, lets say, uptempo commercial efforts and as it happens I'm a big fan of FAF.
So, to sum up quickly and to repeat myself. What a surprise, I never thought Deep Thought had anything like this kind of standard in them although I did hear potential in their earlier self released albums. I can only put it down to hard work, determination, staying together and most importantly a record label which must have given their spirits/adrenaline/enthusiasm a major boost and also a will to succeed in a business that can crush you with disappointment.
As far as this new album goes Deep Thought can now stand on a higher platform and spread their wings to all parts of Europe which has a loyal fan base for progressive music. 90%
Daniele Cutali Movimenti Prog
The Swiss band called Deep Thought released two years ago this third work. After Morphios, 1998 demo-cd, and Shadow of the Past, EP recorded in 2000, they reach the world-wide distribution by Galileo Records with Somewhere in the Dark. This disc practically officialize the band work and encloses many songs that were in the two previous works already.
Canonical five members formation made by Martin Altenbach on drums; Patrick Merz at the voice; Marcel Oehler at the guitars, with his blond-curly hair that reminds us Sammy Hagar just a bit; Dominik Pfleghaar at the keyboards and Dominik Rudmann at the bass-guitar and Taurus bass-pedals.
The nine pieces of the disc are made by a symphonic new-progressive matrix that descend from a marillionian-genesisian derivation, with guitar incursions in hard-rock, great keyboards arrangements, and the classical changes of irregular times. However, the musical infuences in biographical notes of the members of the band are obvious. From the band Internet website we can evict in fact that the band main references are Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd. References we can hear all in amount, even if sometimes just a little mentioned.
The songs that show up more than the others are in fact those that exceeds the abundant ten minutes of duration. Clock and Simple Man over all, with the classical new-progressive styles all at their place. Good ideas for Ice with excellent and bodily staccatos, beautiful guitar solos and one final fast synth cascade. Mud on the Hill possesses a good melody and groove, with the bluesish female choruses, but maybe is too much prolix even in the good inventions to reach 14 minutes and half of length. Healthy and fluid rock-music transudes from the other pieces, with hard-rock moments, new-progressive and good modernistic heights with the voice and its effects.
If there is some note to do it is just about the voice. The timbre is good but sometimes it turns out to be monochord, not aggressive just to the right point when the song demands it, and, very rarely, accuses some dissonance.
After all, it's a honest work and it's above the average of the numerous new-progressive productions of the last years.
Federico Marongiu Music Extreme
Deep Thought is pure progressive rock and metal. Here the main thing is the excellent development of the songs. Each composition here is really well crafted with multiple instrumental passages. And all of them are full of original melodies. Here we have excellent musicians (I have to remark Dominik's keyboard thata re omniprescent through all the album playing progressions, melodies and solos. Here you have a band that knows how to make complex arrangements and how to always add new elements to the songs. The guitars sound heavy and interact well with the keyboards, and the vocals are really clean and versatile without abusing high pitches (I liked the middle range of the vocalist). Pure progressive music with multiple ideas and excellent musicianship.
Fred Trafton New Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock
In 2002, Deep Thought released their new full-length CD, Somewhere in the Dark. Before that, they had released some cassettes, an EP (Shadows of the Past), and some re-recordings of the cassette material but only the EP was still available. For fans of symphonic modern prog, this is a really nice release. It's a well-recorded "neo-prog" album (I suppose you could call it that, though I don't really care much for the term "neo-prog"), with some nice time signature shifts, smooth symphonic keyboards, interesting and well-performed vocals (in English) and excellent guitar work. It also has that hallmark of neo-prog: sounding a bit like a simplified version of Genesis in orchestration and texture. However, don't take this as a negative ... the music isn't really that much like Genesis, it's just a point of reference.
Somewhere in the Dark is definitely song-oriented, though there may be some sort of concept going on here ... if so, the concept eludes me. But that doesn't prevent the vocals from being interesting and well-executed. There's nary a hint of a German (or Italian) accent in these vocals. The compositions are also song-oriented, with definite verses and choruses. As long as you're not expecting ultra-complex academic music with no repeats, it's not objectionable. But don't expect Tales from Topographic Oceans or anything.
Deep Thought performed at ProgSol 2002 to an appreciative audience.
Denis Taillefer Proglands
Switzerland doesn't produced a lot of progressive bands in the past time until today, do we have to remember about DEYSS, CYE and most recently CLEPSYDRA, SCYTHE and FORGOTTEN SUNS - DEEP THOUGHT is somewhere in the same genre than the two first bands mention here, but a bit harder/metal and mostly much rockish and surely also much more complexe than them two. I think the music of DEEP THOUGHT can be compare to PENDRAGON, with shorts hints like GENESIS, MARILLION, ARENA (guitar soloing), IQ, even EMERSON LAKE & PALMER, etc, etc... but in a more rockish format and complexier than them. Almost of the reviews I red, is stipulated in it that MARILLION and early GENESIS are the first influences back to their music, DEEP THOUGHT is also often caracterised by neo-progressive-rock also.
This is the first CD by DEEP THOUGHT with a label, they previously released two Demo, two CD and a MCD on their own production, it mean by the way that these guys are not at their first recording, Marcel Oehler and Dominik Pfleghaar are simply playing and rehearsing together since ten years now, which let behind them a really nice background musically. Released by Gallileo records, this very nice CD is one of the best in the genre for 2002 and to went out from Switzerland, excellent progressive-rock...
Floyd Bledsoe Progressive Ears
The Swiss label Galileo has released quite a few outstanding albums in the past few years from artists like Simon Says, Thonk and Xang and this one is certainly no exception. Hailing from the Basel region of northwest Switzerland, Deep Thought play an excellent brand of melodic neo-prog that will be both unique and also familiar to fans of the genre. Folks who are into bands like Marillion, IQ and Arena will definitely want to check this one out.
The first thing I focused on while listening to Somewhere In The Dark was the excellent keyboard work from Dominik Pfleghar. His playing can be very lush and atmospheric at times and then he'll knock you out with some blazing lead passages. Vocalist Patrick Merz has an excellent almost subdued style that reminds me at times of Under The Sun's Chris Shryack. I also hear a strong Dream Theater influence on a lot of songs but most of the time they aren't really that heavy. Marcel Oehler's guitar playing is very tasteful and melodic. He does add some nice solos to the mix. Overall the band is very tight and ...
The lyrics have a very personal flavor. It seems that they have developed a loose concept centered around dealing with various emotions. I guess that's another reason why they named the band Deep Thought. They do mention Douglas Adams in the liner notes though, so I'm sure the band takes its name from The Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy. However, it doesn't take a supercomputer to know this is good stuff.