HomeArtist links

Album cover

Nice Beaver - On Dry Land

Artist: Nice Beaver
Title: On Dry Land
Label: first release self produced, rerelease on Cyclops CYCL
Length(s): 52 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2001
Month of review: [10/2001]

Line up

Hans Gerritse - guitar, vocals
Erik Groeneweg - vocals, keyboards
Peter Stel - bass, vocals
Ferry Zonneveld - drums, vocals

Tracks

1) Culley On Bleeker Street 7.12
2) Oversight 6.14
3) Wintersong 8.16 MP3 orRealAudio
4) Hope You Don't Mind 9.01
5) Like This 6.14
6) Where The River Runs 7.53
7) We Are The Sun 6.57

Summary

In an attempt to bring their debut album under the attention of the prog public I got this album to review. Americans (and maybe English as well), might think the name is rather odd for a Dutch band (wondering whether they know what it means). The idea of the name is that like Frank Nielsen in one of the Naked Gun movies the band likes to put people on a wrong footing. The album name does not seem to be a reference to the song Dry Land by How We Live (covered later by Marillion), although one never knows.

The music

Culley On Bleeker Street opens with the sounds of the city. The music of course also starts somewhere, quite hectically in fact. The music seems at first in the direction of the neo-progressive and melodic rock of such bands as For Absent Friends and Marathon, but later in the track we find that there is more going on. Halfway, the melodic intermezzo is certainly quite interesting and original. The following guitar solo is sharp and intense. Although the vocal parts are rather standard, the voice of the lead vocalist is distinctive enough.

Oversight opens in driven fashion with shouted vocals. The music then takes a turn for the mellow for some harmonies, but only for a little while, because then the loud opening part returns. Plenty of variation in this track, where the vocal harmonies are some Gentle Giantish, the complex parts are played fluently and the guitar plays a prominent melodic and energetic role.

Wintersong opens wonderfully, with a promise of dire days. The drummer punctuates, the vocalist is depressed, the tenseness continues to build (by rhythm guitar). The quality of the tracks goes up, this is goosebumps stuff. It is striking that this song lasts for over 8 minutes with so little variation. In fact, this is one of the main features. A slowly building majestic track with an imposing vocalist.

Hope You Don't Mind is the longest track here, opening slowly and moodily with ethereal guitar (think Marillion's Seasons End here). In fact, the music also reminds me a bit of One Fine Day, a later more blues oriented Marillion track. After four or so minutes the music breaks into something else entirely. Was this mastered right? Driven organ and rocking guitars and harmonies feature on this second part, where the vocal melodies are almost like hard rock.

Like This opens with shards of electric guitar and pounding drums turning into something rather complex and full of breaks. The vocals are much like the Police with a reggae groove. With the very catchy chorus this makes three totally different moods in the music. I like the chorus, but the reggae part doesn't appeal much to me. The second part of the track has the obligatory guitar solo and it does not do much for me. Plenty of drive again in this track, but as a song I like it certainly less than the previous ones.

Where The River Runs opens with a guitar line that might remind some of eighties King Crimson. On the whole a rather moody track with slow moody basswork, but one that comes along and passes you by. It does not stick although I do like the atmosphere of the track. The ending is a bit more active again with pounding drums and guitar.

The closer of the album is We Are The Sun. After a good instrumental beginning, the vocal part does not manage to appeal to me. Too little melody. The band turns to rock for the bridge part. The lyrics of the track are similar in subject to One For The Vine. Alternation between very active and passive passages make this again a varied piece of rock music. The band works itself up to a frenzied climax. But why the Arabic music at the end?

Conclusion

With Antares one of the promising new bands. There are some really good songs on this one (Wintersong and Oversight being the best ones), but towards the end the quality of the music goes down, although each of these later songs has its appealling parts. Maybe not so wise to put all these weaker songs at the very end. Every instruments gets its place in the sun, compared to many similar bands the rhythm section has an especially large place in the music of Nice Beaver.

Addendum July 2002

When this album was first released by the band it was reviewed. A year later it was also released on Cyclops with small modifications in the artwork and as far as I could tell no differences in the music. I have listened to the album again. To the freaky neo-opener Culley On Bleeker Street, the frontal guitar/organ attack (it rocks) and the less succesful attempts at Giantesque vocal harmonies of Oversight, and the magnificent Wintersong (I have heard it live since then and my admiration for this song has only grown. My goosebumps get hardier as well, even now when I write this and its flaming hot.). Like This with its abrupt break after a very "primordial phantom of romance" ending part. For the second part think Black Sabbath's Paranoid with some Wetton thrown (yeah, I know it takes some getting used to). Although the components of Where The River Runs are like the ones I write above, the songs seems better to me. Moody, languid, a bit depressed or is pastoral? A strong role for the bass guitar here.


© Jurriaan Hage