ETC - Tales Of Ardour & Deceit
ETC (or Etcetera – no relation to Canadian band Et Cetera) are probably the sole exponents of prog rock in Denmark these days. Formed in 1986, their first album proper was released in 1998, though they do have a couple of self-produced CDs available for purchase via their website.
Denmark is no stranger to prog rock. In the late sixties and early seventies, the country sprouted a number of short lived prog bands but these bands were largely unheard of in the rest of the world perhaps because vocals were in Danish and at the time you had to either produced solely instrumental music or sing in English to gain international interest.
These days music is widely accepted in the prog genre wherever it originates with vocals sung in any language, but ETC have gone that step further and gone down the English route.
Driving force of the band is multi instrumentalist/composer Frank Carvalho on 6 and 12 string guitars, bass, analogue and digital synthesizers and Portuguese classical guitar. Johnnie McCoy takes the helm on drums and various percussion. Joining Frank and Johnnie on this album is Michael Munch-Hansen (lead vocal on the first suite), Per Solgaard (Moog on the Kentish Suite), Torsten Hagemann (saxophones) and Asger Baden-Jensen (Hammond on Kentish Suite).
The album is dived into eight tracks, three of which are subdivided by ‘movements’. It is not easy to give comparisons as the music is very original, yet is does have a feel that certain other bands generate such as early Genesis in it’s delicateness or Gentle Giant in its complexity and a bit of Canterbury twinned with Keith Emerson in some jazzier interludes.
The rather beautiful Lady of Castela has an uncanny Hackett style in the first movement with classical guitar merging with atmospheric synth background wash. However, the second movement to this piece has more of a Gryphon feel initially before moving into fuzz guitar and Tony Banks style keyboard. Pure brilliance.
Though there is no mention of it in the accompanying CD booklet, I could swear I hear the distinctive sound of Mellotron here and there (and I know that the band actually own a Mellotron), particularly on The Ghost Of Yang, which again has that Hackett style (in his eerier works) especially in the latter sections.
ETC has put Denmark firmly on the prog map. Let us hope for live performances in the not too distant future at venues throughout the world.
After the above review was written, ETC’s Frank Carvalho contacted The Hairless Heart Herald to offer some insight into the creation of the Mellotron sounds on the album, and with Frank’s kind permission, his comments are reproduced as follows:
“What you hear IS Mellotron - but in the form of samples that I've collected. I do have many very realistic samples, and among those several samples come from original sources. So I'm not using looped samples or vintage modules or anything like that. Only true full length (8 second) samples.
The tron samples are actually all over the place. It is such an emotionally powerful instrument. In "Lady of Castela" the atmospheric sounds in the background are tron samples processed through a MiniMoog.
The working title of "Lament" really was "Sad Tron".
In the closing section of Ghost (pt I) the tron sound was particularly processed to sound extra gloomy. It was put through a short stereo tape delay, and then into two Vox amps with reverb and then recorded from the Amp speakers to produce a particularly dark sound. That was a lot of fun!
The real tron however did not make it onto this album, as the album was mixed exactly two years ago, and the real M400 was acquired after that. But it will definitely make it onto the next one! But, it (the Mellotron sound) will probably sound more or less the same.”
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