Greg Northrup    6-August-2001 Glory of the Inner Force

Finch was a Dutch band that played a style of symphonic-fusiony prog that is reportedly quite similar to that of fellow countrymen Focus. They play an extremely competent style of frenetic, yet melodic, instrumental progressive. Their music is based on the intense guitar/keyboard interplay, which basically renders the album a fairly bombastic platter of wall-to-wall solos and otherwise complex instrumental themes. All four tracks follow the same basic format, extremely technical prog and highly proficient playing, but a style that unfortunately wears a little thin by the end of the album.

"Register Magister" is the track everyone loves, probably by virtue of being placed first, and it definitely rules, grabbing the listener with an aggressive guitar hook and leading one through a complex maze of powerful themes, melodies and solos. The second track, "Paradoxical Moods", is actually my favorite, as it is the most varied, not to mention an intense extended Hammond organ solo near the end. Unfortunately, "Pisces" and "A Bridge to Alice" tend to lose me, as the solos just keep on coming in a generally consistent aggressive tone. Both have their moments, especially "Bridge to Alice", which actually changes things up with some more (relatively) moody playing. The two bonus tracks are good, but again unremarkable. Being placed last on an already sort of tedious album certainly doesn't help. More of the same basically.

Anyway, this is a nice album of instrumental prog that provides a good middle ground between fusion and symphonic tendencies. Glory is a little too bombastic and wanky throughout for my taste, lacking some desirable dynamic effects, though it is enjoyable from time to time. Definitely a must have for fans of flashy guitar work, or otherwise technically jaw dropping instrumental stuff.

Mike Grimes    17-July-2001 Beyond Expression + Galleons of Passion

Finch - Beyond Expression (Belle Antique 9469, 1976/1994, CD)
Finch - Galleons Of Passion (Belle Antique 9475, 1977/1994, CD)

The second and third albums from Dutch band Finch have recently been digitally remastered and reissued on CD, closely following the reissue of their debut album "Glory Of The Inner Force." Finch follows the path they carved with their first release on these two subsequent albums - a full, symphonic, all instrumental sound with guitar and keyboard solos for days. There isn't room, nor is there a need for vocals in Finch. Guitarist and primary songwriter Joop Van Nimwegen (that's such a cool name) is an excellent player who frequently shares the limelight with keyboards, especially on "Galleons ..."

Beyond Expression was originally released in 1976 and is the same four piece band that recorded the debut a year earlier. This is probably my favorite of the three albums. The band sounds really tight and the music really grooves. In 1977, Galleons of Passion was released and had two new players: one at the keyboards and one on drums. Although the sound of Finch is really defined by Joop's guitar, this last album doesn't have the same energy as the first two releases, yet it's still quite good.

Finch is one of those bands that follows a predictable formula (thanks Ranjit), yet are very creative operating within their defined parameters. Essentially every song follows the format: grand symphonic intro, fast instrumental section in odd meter, slow groove with guitar solo, another fast part, keyboard solo, another slow part, etc. You get the picture. Although almost every song is like this, it doesn't get boring because the band is great in this type of setting. One of the strongest points of the band is their ability to switch between these fast and slow sections during a song and make it flow smoothly. Nothing sounds forced or rough. On the down side, as the songs really focus on the guitar and keyboards, there are very few memorable bass or drum parts on either album. The rhythm section remains firmly rooted in the background. They're good, but just not featured that much.

Finch is one of those bands that, if you like any of their albums, you'll like all of them - or vice versa. They can groove and jam with the best of them. Their sound is comparable to Focus, early Pink Floyd, and even Camel (especially "Galleons ..." - the keyboards on that album are the most prominent, not to mention the best, of all three Finch releases.) They really thrive on fast, odd time signature jams as well as slow moody sections. The recording quality of the CDs is quite good, especially for the time period they were originally recorded. The remastering was obviously well done. Have a listen for yourself. Finch is definitely worth checking out.

(Originally appeared in Expose issue 7, edited for Gnosis 7/15/01).

Sjef Oellers 10-Feb-2001 Glory of The Inner Force / Galleons of Passion / The Makings of ... Galleons of Passion/Stage '76

Glory of the Inner Force is an instrumental album of fusiony symphonic rock close to bands like Focus, Camel, and the Argentine band Crucis. A vague Canterbury influence is distinguishable as well. While all these references indicate that Glory of the Inner Force should be right up my alley, the album doesn't work that well for me. Somehow, the compositions seem to go nowhere and the album listens like an endless stream of solos and symphonic themes that don't seem to stick. For example, the opening bars of "Paradoxical Moods" sound simply cheesy to me (although the track becomes more interesting later on). However, it would be unfair to dismiss Glory of the Inner Force as mediocre or average. The guitar and organ playing is good and the other musicians are actively involved in the music as well. The last track "A Bridge to Alice" is pretty varied with a nice acoustic intermezzo, and "Pisces" contains some great, lively interplay between guitar and organ, very much like Crucis. This album is certainly worth a try if you like any of the bands I mentioned above, but I can't get really excited about Finch.

Galleons of Passion, the third album, basically continues in a similar symphonic fusion style, but the music has become more accessible and really a lot less interesting. I would definately call this album average. I haven't bothered to listen their second album Beyond Expression, although it is supposed to be about as good as Glory of the Inner Force. However, I did hear The Makings of .... Galleons of Passion/Stage 76, a double CD with live recordings from 1976, demos, and outtakes. This set of tunes is more interesting than Galleons of Passion. The alternate versions on this 2CD are more lively and inspired than on the regular album, some of the unreleased tracks are pretty good as well, closer to Glory of the Inner Force. The live tracks are well done, but add little to the studio versions. Recommended if you like this band, but definitely start with Glory of the Inner Force.

Mike McLatchey    12-March-2001 Glory Of The Inner Force

Finch - "Glory Of The Inner Force" (Pseudonym/Marquee 9450, 1975/1994, CD)

Dutch band Finch's debut album is acclaimed as a classic by some, and overrated by others, but either way you look at it it's still a must listen. Finch were an instrumental quartet with the emphasis on hard-driving and spirited instrumental play. They borrowed from music like Focus, and to a lesser extent, bands like Supersister, Solution, or Scope, and added fusion and other elements to make a very dynamic and exciting symphonic rock with organs, mellotrons, and blazing guitar. The four compositions display a number of upbeat, exciting jams with plenty of solos, symphonic/classical rock moments, and the occasional 70's lounge-jazz tangent. These latter moments are the type of thing that occasionally pops up in jazz fusion like Iceberg, Cos, Patrick Forgas, and TV commercials that I personally could do without. It is probably the dated 70's elements that prevents me from considering this a classic, but if you're at all into European symphonic rock you should definitely make your own opinion up, as the music is often quite breathtaking. With two good-quality bonus tracks added to the CD version, this is an essential reissue albeit a tad overrated.

(Originally published in Exposť #3, p. 15, Edited for Gnosis 3/11/01)

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