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Poor Genetic Material - Leap Into Fall

Poor Genetic Material - Leap Into fallPoor Genetic Material, or PGM, hail from Germany, a country that is not unknown for innovative bands such as Eloy and Kraftwerk.  PGM has been around for a couple of years and was founded by Stefan Glomb (guitar) and Philipp Jaehne (keyboards) as an experimental project performing soundscape-like material though I cannot comment on this as I’ve no experience of their earlier work.  In 2000/2001 they met up with Philip Griffiths (vocals) and Ludwig Benedek (drums) of Alias Eye fame.  After releasing Summerland in 2001, they were joined by bass player Dennis Sturm thereby becoming a ‘full’ band and the result is Leap Into Fall.

Leap Into Fall (released at the end of March 2002) is predominantly song oriented which is not a bad thing with the superb vocals of Philip Griffiths who is surely one of the best rock vocalists of the present day.  There are six tracks varying in length from just over 2 minutes to just under 17 minutes leading one to assume that it is the archetypal prog album.  Yes there are some very interesting very proggy moments, but there are also some smooth rock type moments falling somewhere between Enchant’s Blueprint Of The World and Landmarq’s Infinity Parade.  This makes the album very accessible to the ‘prog challenged’ of our friends who perhaps would never speak to you again if you played Gentle Giant’s In A Glass House at 11 O’clock at night!

Rush Of Ages, at 16mins 32 the longest track on the album, ingeniously changes from bluesy rock to prog and back again in a smooth unobtrusive way encompassing five subsections.  Second track, Thin Red Line, is again of accessible prog in nature that surreptiously builds into quite a heavy piece at times.

Track three, Star Of Eden, offers the first surprise to prog lovers.  Jethro Tull soft flute sounds (Roots To Branches) with clever tempo changes into a strong defined beat reminiscent of 70’s Tull then Gentle Giant style vocal interplay brought a huge grin to my face.  Top marks.

Title track, Leap Into Fall, is a little on the commercial side but has some good bass and cool bluesy guitar.  Penultimate track, Antares, is the second surprise coming across like a mini prog opera.  While listening to this track, I realised how delicate the arrangements were, i.e. no one instrument is intrusive in any way, the keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and vocals combine (in different doses as required) so you tend to listen to the complete piece and not the individual components that make up the whole.  Naturally on subsequent listens I tried to concentrate in order to follow a specific instrument but each time I was distracted, if that’s the right word, and ended up just listening to the songs as a whole again.  Clever composition and/or clever mixing?  The final track, Fall, is a short song (of despair?) and perhaps this is a good point to look at the lyrics to the album. Now I usually get it wrong when I try to interpret lyrics so I don’t suppose I’ve got it right this time.  And guess what?  I guessed wrong.  Philipp Jaehne was kind enough to email me to explain:

‘The title in fact plays on the double meaning of the word "fall" (fall as in ‘cease to stand’ and, in the US, Autumn). After the last album "Summerland" we were looking for some allusion to one of the seasons. A second inspiration for this Leap Into Fall comes from a very tragic event. A good friend of ours committed suicide last year. In a poem he left he said that he felt like "jumping off a cliff, falling endlessly towards an infinite sea". Knowing this the title track with the lines "take the big leap, prepare for a long sleep, never to rise back from the deep" is probably easier to understand. We were reminded of this topic again while recording the album when two of our musical "heroes" (George Harrison and Pete Bardens) sadly passed away. (George Harrison is actually quoted in Leap into Fall.)  In order to make it not too heavy and tragic and offer at least a glimpse of an optimistic view, we wrote a rather simple, "commercial" tune to go along with these lyrics. ‘Lady’ (Rush of Ages) is a reference to Lady Luck and as this track offers a fairly pessimistic view and sees us as "fallen from luck", we wanted to end the album with some hope "waiting for the wrong to fall". So in the very end the word "fall", associated earlier with loss or even death, gets a positive meaning though still surrounded by uncertainty.’

Many thanks to Philipp for clarifying the meaning behind the lyrics.  To sum up, a very accessible album with thought provoking lyrics, smooth arrangements, well-executed instrumentation and vocals and some excellent proggy moments.  One for prog and non-prog lovers and it’s not often I can say that.

Jem Jedrzejewski

PGM Website

Quixote Music Website


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