The netherlands The Netherlands – Music For Keyboards

There seemed to be a period early last year (2005) when almost every release I reviewed fell under the broad umbrella of Ambient or Electronica based music. Since then these particular releases have been absent form my CD player, until now that is, and with the arrival of Lars Boutrup’s Music For Keyboards. The album title tells us much about the music with Lars Boutrop undertaking all manner of keyboard duties. His only allie is Fredrik Sunesen who supplies drums and assorted percussion.
Prior to this release the name of Lars Boutrup had totally eluded me, but reading through his biography it would appear that he has been writing and performing since the latter part of the 70s, and recording and releasing music from the late 80s onward – initially with Simcess, then a solitary album with Rasmus Lyberth in 1992, later followed by a string of releases during the 90s with Sing Sing. EPs and albums with Big Bang and Masquerade take us from the 90s into the 00s and finally to this release from 2005. His site also reveals a vast array of compositions written presumably as “screen music” and are listed in his Movie house tour section.

What is evident from an early stage is that Lars Boutrup is a keyboard player in his own right and that Music For Keyboards is not just the product of a imaginative mind, a PC and some clever music software. The compositions show not only a clear musical ability, but also an number of influences garnered from the classical, progressive, new age, and electronic spheres. It is also evident that Lars has listened to many keyboard players in his time. So along with those perhaps more obvious pointers of Vangelis and J M Jarre certainly Emerson and Moraz are noticeable. Add Tangerine Dream to the melting pot and perhaps a clearer picture might start to emerge.

The album had an immediate “ear prick” with the slowly rising chords of The Perfect Stranger – is this some sort of electronic version of Tarkus? These thoughts were soon dismissed. Agent Orange is a bouncy early Jarre-like track, the constant bass drum beat is accented by various percussion parts, adding movement to Boutrup’s string washes and multitude of synthy bass and lead lines. Infectious! Same applies to Northern Lights and to a certain degree to the closing piece, although maybe not quite as successfully.
What was perhaps not immediately apparent with Music For Keyboards was the strength of the writing, and that may have been more attributed to a certain degree of dismissiveness on my behalf, which I apologise for. The minimalist approach of While The City Sleeps was initially a “skip bye” track, however a more in depth analysis of the piece revealed some clever and interesting arranging going on underneath the piano.

The Day After, Flying In The Sky and Emersong (might be a little clue in there) are sprawling efforts, drifting effortlessly across the speakers, whereas Alla Gypsy is a jaunty tune with a very gypsy-like Eastern European melody.

Music For Keyboards was a grower for me. I can’t say that at first I was greatly enamoured by the music, but as I have returned to it over the last few weeks, for the purposes of reviewing it for DPRP, I have certainly warmed to much of the material.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

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Reviewed by: Bob Mulvey

Link to DPRP & review