The Dutch band Solution was formed back in 1966, and in a career that lasted until 1983 they explored quite a few different types of music prior to calling it a day. Their most interesting productions from a progressive rock point of view have generally been subscribed to their self-titled debut from 1971 and the following years production "Divergence". Both albums have been unavailable for a number of years now, until the UK label Esoteric Recordings decided to reissue them on CD in the fall of 2012 as usual from this fine label, complete with a nice and good quality digital remastering.
The 70's in general and the start of that decade in particular is by many regarded as a golden age of progressive rock music. This fascination for days gone by isn't totally without reason, and the debut album by Solution documents quite nicely some of the reasons for it. It is a fairly eclectic production, of the kind that you can't really pinpoint into a narrowly defined specific style, and fairly innovative to boot. Fine musicians given more or less free reigns, creating their music without bothering too much about a target audience as such, I suspect. Kicking off in a fine manner with jubilant brass fanfares in a song that from then on flirts with majestic symphonic art rock, traditional 70's jazz rock, a careful and fragile version of the same sporting a nervously resonating piano motif as well as a gentler variety of symphonic art rock again with flute and careful keyboards as main features.
While piano and flute are used fairly often on this production, it is the organ that dominates these proceedings. Employed alongside the saxophone for the aforementioned jubilant opening piece Koan, these two instruments also take the lead when Solution hits the traditional jazz rock territories. The organ returns for the brief interlude Preview, alongside the piano, and the following construction Phases also features the organ in the initial part, now combined with flute and backing vocals to explore a fragile cosmic inspired theme.
With bombastic organ driven passages explored later on, in a manner similar to early Van Der Graaf Generator, a revisit of the careful, Pink Floyd-evoking territories and in the only sequences sporting lead vocals on this disc we're treated to themes that sound like a direct continuation of Jethro Tull's classic tune My God, albeit featuring organ instead of the traditional flute that could have been employed. Trane Steps and Circus Circumstances aren't quite as eclectic and broad in scope, but again we're treated to a band that effortlessly and gleefully wanders back and forth in stylistic expressions also on these two compositions, now mostly staying put within a dual jazz rock and symphonic art rock universe.
Both of the pieces are a treat to experience, and on these efforts, as well as on the album as a whole, the bass and drums of Van Der Sande and Waterman respectively add striking and intricate details to the proceedings. It's easy to loose oneself in the keyboard displays of Ennes and the flute and sax of Barlage when describing this production, but the rhythm section is just as much of an essential feature as the more striking parts of the instrumentation here. Impeccable and skilled performances are needed to pull off such an adventurous mix of music, and this foursome is all equally capable in that department.
As far as debut albums go, "Solution" is a very interesting one. Innovative, adventurous and broad in musical scope, I'm slightly mystified as to why this album isn't high on the list of classic albums progressive rock fans should sample. The very eclectic nature of this disc will not be to everybody's taste admittedly, but for those with a broad range in musical tastes and a keen interest in early 70's progressive rock Solution's debut warrants a keen inspection.
by Olav M Bjornsen
1. Koan (Tom Barlage, Willem Ennes, Hans Waterman) - 7:52
2. Preview (Tom Barlage) - 0:59
3. Phases (Tom Barlage, Willem Ennes, Hans Waterman, Peter V. D. Sande) - 12:19
4. Trane Steps (Tom Barlage, Willem Ennes, Hans Waterman) - 10:21
5. Circus Circumstances (Jacques Ibert, Emmerson, Tom Barlage, Willem Ennes, Hans Waterman) - 7:05
*Tom Barlage - Flute, Alto, Soprano Sax
*Willem Ennes - Piano, Electric Piano, Organ
*Peter V. D. Sande - Bass, Vocals
*Hans Waterman - Drums
*Steve Boston - Congas, Cowbell On "Phases"
the Free Text