Exposé Online banner

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

Castles in the Air Cover artMy Habit Cover art

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.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 7, 1994 releases, 1992 releases

Related artist(s): Dr. Coenobite

Latest news

2017-10-18
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 $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
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

2017-09-26
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

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Herbe Rouge - Herbe Rouge – This progressive group is of the sort that could only come from France in the 70s where a distinctive and idiosyncratic form of weirdness flourished. Like many of their progressive compatriots, Herbe...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues