NEUSCHWANSTEIN – Alice In Wonderland

Musea 2008 / Explore Rights Management 2022

Engrossingly adventurous reading of surrealistic classic by Deutsch pursuers of progressive symphonies.

Alice In Wonderland

Given the fact that Lewis Carroll’s most famous novel has been a tangible fiber of rock fabric from The Fabs onward, it’s genuinely flabbergasting that nobody succeeded in delivering a concept album based on the book. This German band’s 1976 full-length demo was probably the first attempt at doing so – only the platter, originally performed live two years earlier, didn’t see a proper release back in the day; and when the CD version of “Alice In Wonderland” arrived many a listener found the Deutsch narration laid over the otherwise instrumental canvas quite confusing, although not muddling the melodic tapestry’s beauty. Which is why, in order to enhance the record’s allure, the author’s text replaced the previously translated lines – read now by Sonja Kristina who can turn any paragraph into impassioned reverie as the lady’s own “Melinda (More or Less)” showed aeons ago – yet the Völklingen group’s music doesn’t really require classic quotes to still impress the audience.

Rippling into stereo panorama, piano and synthesizer float into focus for “White Rabbit” to appear on the scene and pull an aural spectator in, but once “Gate To Wonderland” has been opened the symphonic ivories get under the chanteuse’s voice whence Klaus Mayer’s flute flurries flutter before their flight is grounded by Thomas Neuroth’s organ until Roger Weiler’s guitars dissolve the gloomy “Pond Of Tears” in a delicate glimmer and engage the entire ensemble in a Victorian dance, with Rainer Zimmer’s bass dictating the groove. As players’ parts tighten up, folk-influenced tunes captivate one’s psyche more and more, especially when multipart, majestic epics “Palace Of Wonderland” and “Old Father’s Song” counterbalance compositional complexity with lightness of touch and cosmic fantasy that shine through the less-then-perfect sound quality – and unexpectedly marry baroque fugues to jazz passages to proceed to “Five O’Clock Tea” and beyond. And after Hans-Peter Schwarz’s drums quieten the thunder for “The Court Of The Animals” to unfold its romantic frivolity and let the artists impersonate various representatives of fauna, “Alice’s Return” sees the reprise of the suite’s main theme.

Truly riveting if endearingly imperfect, this trip to Wonderland deserves to be rediscovered.


February 3, 2023

Category(s): Reissues
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