Realisea -Fairly Carefree

Posted: 011122

Review Lex Dresianes

The fairytale world of Realisea

Realisea is the brainchild of Brian de Graeve, frontman and founder of Dutch neo-prog band Silhouette. This is a symphonic rock project with folky influences. All songs are written by him, he co-wrote them with his partner, singer/flutist Marjolein de Graeve. Their debut album “Mantelpeace” was released in April 2020 and was full of melodic, progressive rock songs with sometimes a folky touch. Guest appearances were provided by Michel St-Père and Jean Pageau (Mystery) and a selection of Dutch musicians with a background in progressive rock. The album garnered much praise from both press and public.

Now there is a new album, "Fairly Carefree", recorded between January 2020 and May 2022 in the Bird of Paradise Studios in Utrecht. No longer with a group of (inter)national guests but this time with a regular group of musicians including Rindert Bul (Novatia) and Mark op ten Berg (Progressive Rock Night) who have performed live with the band before, plus Jos Uffing, former drummer and vocalist of Silhouette, who are responsible for the symphonic rock sound on the new album. Also Ton Scherpenzeel (Kayak) appears to have made a small contribution.

What is particularly striking upon initial listening are the beautiful melodies that De Graeve lavishly sprinkles with. A lot of work has clearly gone into writing and arranging the songs, you regularly hear the individual opening themes returning, as befits a good prog rock song. This is especially audible in the two epic songs, opener I Could Never Learn, clocking in at 11 minutes and Trilemma, at 15 minutes. I often think of a recent experience: the Great Illusion, a walk in a fairy-tale illuminated part of a forest. Realisea's music would be the perfect soundtrack to this event. But also in the other, shorter songs, De Graeve and co are generously distributing brilliant melodies, just listen to personal favorite, the closing Malgré les Vagues.

De Graeve's voice resembles that of Mark Smit’s (ex-Knight Area and Broeders & Klazinga), at times a bit soft, whereas I think it could be a bit more ballsy. I'm not that keen on the harmony vocals with Jos Uffing, a somewhat strange combination of voices, maybe a matter of taste. But listen to those great guitar parts, literally heavenly soloing, courtesy of Rindert Bul. A bit in the vein of Mark Bogert (Knight Area), nice and sharp and rocky yet melodic. The keyboard parts are relatively simple and largely act as rich sound tapestry and support for Bul's mighty guitar parts.

The music sounds a bit like a combination of Knight Area, especially guitars and vocals, and Mostly Autumn, not so strange, both with female vocals. The songs vary between ballads (Pretending), up-tempo rockers (Your Lies) and sweet folk songs (Sheltered Dreams) plus the two aforementioned long songs. It's quite a varied offering. The intriguing cover design initially reminds me of the artwork for “The Last Forest”, the debut album by Edward Reekers (ex-Kayak). Again this referral to a forest. But you can still see/hear the music for the trees: there is plenty to enjoy.

Once again an excellent Dutch product, in the vein of Broers & Klazinga and Leap Day, harking back to classic symphonic rock sounds, an excellent initiative that deserves to be followed, kudos.

Brian de Graeve - Vocals, 12-string acoustic guitar
Marjolein de Graeve – Vocals
Christophe Rapenne – Keyboards
Mark op ten Berg - Bass guitar
Jos Uffing – Drums, vocals
Rindert Bul - Electric guitars

1. I Could Never Learn (11:17)
2. Crackled Colorite (6:28)
3. Your Lies (4:15)
4. Pretending (3:59)
5. Out in the Cold (7:26)
6. Sheltered Dreams (5:36)
7. Trilemma (15:16)
8. Malgré les Vagues (5:15)