Exposé Online banner

Bittertown — Scenes from the Box
(F2 Records 200808, 2008, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2011-06-01

Scenes from the Box Cover art

Dutch bassist Tom Janssen is the driving force behind this album, though his debut solo outing, Are You Surprised, dates back to 2004. For this concept album he’s enlisted aid from drummer Vincent Bodt, sax player Ewout Dercksen and vocalists Erik van Ojen, Elles Janssen, and Floor Kraaijvanger. Janssen is one of these characters who has formal training and who has played professionally for years in non-prog outfits, though here he’s trying to tap into the sort of melodic symphonic prog pioneered by Genesis and Pink Floyd, and currently practiced by bands like Spock’s Beard. He’s too disciplined to let the playing or arrangements get very edgy. As a result the songs are all extremely well executed and laden with solid melodies — especially in the vocals. And while this album is a step forward from his previous effort, some Exposé readers may still find it a bit tame. That’s not to say there’s aren’t noteworthy moments sprinkled throughout, like the evocative and dynamic instrumental “Kick the Habit” or narrative-driven pieces like “Project Mayhem.” Plus Janssen displays enough of a grasp of modern production techniques to give the entire thing a modern vibe without rubbing your face in it. I just think he’s letting what he thinks good melodic prog should be get in the way of creating something truly progressive. He certainly has the skills (his bass work is especially fine, as witnessed in “The Chase”), so I’m going to consider this a calling card from an up and comer.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 39, 2008 releases

Related artist(s): Bittertown

Latest news

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more

2020-01-07
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Mani Neumeier - Privat – Guru Guru drummer Mani is still going strong, to which two recent Japan visits will attest. Through the 80s and 90s he has kept busy with projects such as L.S. Bearforce, and Tiere de Nacht. This solo...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues