Dr. Coenobite — Castles in the Air
((Not on label) Monastery CP4CV1994, 1994, CD)
The Coenobite — My Habit
((Not on label) Monastery CP8CV21992, 1992, CD)
by Dan Casey, Published 1995-07-01
The Coenobite, besides being a clever variant on the hideous demon from Clive Barker's novella "The Hellbound Heart," is the one-man project of Dutchman Coen Vrouwenvelder. Primarily a guitarist, rooted in classical and Spanish guitar music, My Habit is also full of synths and digital drums performed by Coen as well. After a fairly dubious demo tape, this album is the result of putting together a home MIDI studio. The half-hour opener, "The Aquarius Man," is full of sub-movements and even sub-movements upon that, but really is more of an exercise in linear songwriting. The music strives to be symphonic, and adds a dash of familiar neo-prog as well. While admirable for its intention and ambition, the piece falls flat on its face whenever the dynamics call for something up-tempo and lively. The reason for this is painfully clear -- digital, bad-sounding programmed drums. Three other tracks fill up the rest of the album, all in the same vein.
In the two years between My Habit and Castles in the Sky, the Coenobite became a doctor. If this is to indicate some improvement, then it is surely well taken as Castles is a much more mature and deeper work, for the most part. Still, the digital drums will make you cringe, and so will the newly added (but scarcely used) female vocals. They are without any real melody, without proper intonation, and the lyrics are simply pretentious. Yet, more of the time here is devoted to quiet, introspective passages, and these shine surprisingly well, with delicate classical guitars and minimalist synth orchestrations. Both the lead guitars and lead synths are more virtuoso as well, and mention should be made of Joost Cornelissen who guested on the heaviest lead guitar solos. As a side note, Castles received backing and distribution from SI Music, but maintained an independent production. The lesson here is clear: practice makes perfect. The Doctor is not there yet, but seems to have potential. And, as is so often the case with these one-man homespun outfits, this music is just begging for a full band arrangement. Unfortunately, both albums come across as simple demo versions of music far more grand in its vision.
Related artist(s): Dr. Coenobite
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Cathedral & Rum - The Moon Is the Lord of Twisted Trees – Cathedral & Rum is essentially LA-based singer/songwriter Chris Hartford plus a host of guest musicians, depending on the album or song. Though make no mistake: Hartford is the creative nexus... (2010) » Read more