Thonk, Earth Vision Impact (Galileo Records) Thonk are a three-piece keyboard trio who apparently hail from Germany and play instrumental progressive rock. Thankfully, despite the traditional keys/bass/drums set up, the band has very few other similarities to ELP, and would be better compared to King Crimson, UK, or even Metamorfosi. Another thing that gives Thonk a leg up on ELP in my mind is that keyboardist Marc Grassi carefully utilizes a wide palette of keyboard textures. He actually spends the much of his time on the piano, but spices things up with hammond organ, harpsichord, and old and new synthesizers (including Mellotron!). The emphasis on piano serves the music very well, Grassi plays it excellently and saves many of his most gorgeous themes for it. But this is not merely the keyboardist's show, in fact, the drums and bass are more integrated in the sound than most bands of this kind. Fredy Schnyder's bass is subdued when it needs to be and prominent when the music calls for it, and his contributions on guitar (particularly some excellent acoustic guitar and some powerful electric leads) should not go unmentioned. Drummer Falvio Mezzodi keeps the music driving and navigates time signature changes intelligently without calling attention to them. The compositions are very good throughout. They generally mix King Crimson-like build-ups ("Sulm" and "Thonkland"), majestic classical-tinged fanfares (the end of "Thonkland" and "Pomme," which sounds like a lost Shylock opus!), vaguely Eastern-tinged fusion ("Garden"), and traditional keyboard-heavy prog ("Ela," "Rak"). There are a few missteps, such as "Square Root," which has sections that feel a tad repetitive, but in general little fault to find with these guys. Earth Vision Impact is an excellent specimen of modern keyboard-driven prog rock. Highly recommended for those who enjoy the genre or think they might. ~Jon Murphree~
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