I found this delightful little surprise whilst hunting high and low for some new discovery and it happen to be their videos that got me heading towards the actual acquisition, the band quickly sending me their CD as I was preparing to head off to Italy on vacation. This Swiss duo of multi-instrumentalists Roland Hegi and Felix Waldispuhl will undoubtedly make a name for itself as their craft is simply sensational.
Having spent my formative schooling years in Switzerland, I can attest that there are few more ‘cinematographic’ places on earth, where each nook, cranny, valley, and peak beckons a new visual delight. Zooming off like a turbo-charged racer, “Without Brakes” being quite aptly titled, the initial impression is one of sleek power, with vividly soaring guitars, glowing synths, and thundering drums, that eventually transfers into a more serene landscape, a contemplative high-altitude vista that requires no words, as if sitting on top of windswept Santis looking down into the lush Appenzell canton below. Roland Hegi is a master guitarist, combining technique and emotion in his clever playing, with Felix’s pooling piano rivulets in the background, as he also keeps a percussive handle on things. The pace picks up again with grinding power chords, mellotrons in the gale, as the syncopated muscular rhythms evoke a car ride through the metropolis. What is so cool is that the video offers a different interpretation, a frantic technology that seems limitless in speed being at odds with nature’s implacable beauty and inspiration, as complexity finds its adversary in simplicity. The rat race on one end, through high velocity traffic and corridors of computers and blinking sequencers is quite the statement! The tortuous and extended synth solo is one for the ages. Brilliant video and even more exemplary is the music, as this is one fine opening move.
The ambitious “Ambient Emotions “is an even lengthier segue, where the duo really let their talent shine ever so brightly, as both Roland on electric guitar and Felix on the kit exert themselves to a delectable level of brooding musical inspiration, throwing in classic contrasts that keep the interest level close to the edge, the piano never far away from ever being forgotten. Again, the video impresses immensely, mysteriously voyaging the vaporous passageways of the unconscious mind in dreams and nightmares. There is little doubt that the great wealth of progressive music has served these men well, mostly obvious when the mood increases or decreases seemingly at will, symphonic adornments are placed when needed for maximum accelerations. When in Preparation, the UFO finally arrives, both the body and the arrangement are elevated to absurdly inventive levels, asking if this is real or imagined, and am I only just asleep? And then there is Ascencion, all the things we take for granted, the simple joys of everyday life. Roland unleashes another orgasmic guitar solo, bending notes like that Dave Floyd guy, that defies gravity as well as the odds! It just goes on and end like there is no tomorrow even needed.
The slithering guitar offers an illustration of harmonic beauty on the pristine “Splitting the Sunrise” as Roland hints at his apparent respect for Jeff Beck, all feeling and touch, and really just a soothing piano as companion. “Divided Ocean” is another shorter, even jazzier piece, as the light shines on the Felix’s ornate piano and respectful drums, while Roland lets the bass roll (sorry for the pun!) gently down the alpine road into the freshwater lake, all very upbeat, even when the electric guitar comes on like a gentle series of waves, illuminating the horizon. The piano work here is a major attraction and should draw the greatest praise.
Two more epics to finish off Flow, first we arrive “In Heaven” (literally), begins with childlike innocence being suddenly (and it will be sudden) exploding into a cataclysmic explosion, with heavy tectonic drums, irritable guitar surges and malevolent synths forays ooze into the nightmarish apocalypse like venom in an intravenous as well as the passage into a stairway to hell, where the candles are lit in attempted atonement. Judgement day arrives for us all, consciously unaware perhaps, as the insidious serpents swirl in naked contempt, the vile synthesizer solo screeches its vigorous refrain, the thrashing guitars expect the pain to last for ever and the drums destroy the last remnants of defiance. The video is extravagantly compelling, a magnificent visual to an incredible soundtrack. And some priest named Pete, waits ….
And finally, we arrive at “Out of Balance”, a gripping, audacious and heart wrenching track aimed at describing the sheer lunacy of the war between Ukraine and Russia, a modern-day Abel vs Cain, Romulus vs Remus, once brothers, now enemies. Being an amateur historian specializing in Central and Eastern European history and having seen the horror in the former Yugoslavia from close range, I can only say that it is impossible to fathom why humans follow stupid madmen into carnage. I have written thousand of pages, which upon rereading I just tossed aside as it made no rational sense. The video here is essential as the black and white photos of the suffering women and children is all one needs to cry. No pictures of weapons of war and the young men dying but all the destroyed families who will be without fathers. The intense music is laced with tragedy, despair, and courage. It’s a reality that many have already forgotten! Roland and Felix have crafted quite the eulogy.
Top 10 album for 2023, hands and feet both down! What a ride! The music is utterly expressive, vibrant, and meaningful. No vocals required; the listener can choose his own. I urge all readers to visualize the videos and go to https://flamedrop.bandcamp.com/album/flow for the album. You will not regret it ever. In fact, I accept the expected thanks .