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

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Born Again Floozies - Street Music – This Indiana based quintet led by singer, guitarist and songwriter Joey Welch caught this writer's ear a few years ago with their debut EP Novelties, Addenda and Ephemera, five songs that...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues