Uwe Gronau (pronounced 'oo-vuh grow-now') most definitely has a rather prominent prog-classical heart down below everything else (ambient, rock, space, etc.), and I'm oft reminded of Rick Wakeman's later LPs when listening to his work—here and in previous releases—then of Vangelis, Rick van der Linden next, maybe John Evan (Jethro Tull), and, after that, some of Jarrett's restrained work (Gronau doesn't get into Keith's wildman stuff), a little Brubeck/Guaraldi, and more than a small amount of chamber tendencies. Except for one tasty sax sit-in by Matthias Keidel and then lyrics to Prince of the Darkness penned by Michael Hoeing (not synthesist Michael Hoenig), all writing, playing, engineering, and production on Flight 14 is by Gronau, only the mastering and co-production issuing from other hands (Clemens Paskert).
This disc is mostly a series of highly pleasant float-away musics, 20 selections, though cuts like the title track are smoothly propulsive and exceedingly well done, the soundtracking for a vivacious tour of hinterlands and vistas. The rest are of Gronau's pensive, positivistic, decorous, and disciplined stripped down wont, only occasionally imbued with a touch of melancholy (Gronau's parents passed away last year, and a bit of the wistfulness of that event can still be traced over the course of the disc though he went to work on the CD as a way of getting past the grief).
This keyboardist occupies a niche oft too quickly bypassed because it's been so badly handled elsewhere. I mentioned in the critique for Visions (here) that his sound is akin to some of what the Musea and other prog labels issued when they were really on top of things—which, unfortunately was nowhere near as often as they should have been—too frequently settling for the saccharine staples of New Age or Jazz Lite, tackling the most cellophanic lighthearted fare available, hoping a more simple-minded audience would mistake the result for Satie…but even Erik would have chuckled at the third-grade preposterousness of it.
The differentiating line between very good and very lamentable in that sort of endeavor is alarmingly thin. I'm not sure I can even attempt to define its hazy borders, but you know it when you hear it, and Flight 14 studiously avoids the facile and the syrupy for genuinely engaging compositions. When you ponder the matter, most music is dramaturgy, which is why, when a Devo or a Weird Al comes along, it's readily taken to, a break in the annals of lovelorn soap opera and frustrated rebellion, but Uwe Gronau's work never comes within miles of any of that. Instead, he's like the painter who, in the midst of angst and chaos, displays a series of alluring canvases and says "Yeah, there's all that…but there's also THIS!", and everyone stops gabbling and arguing, sits down entranced, and says "Geez, we'd forgotten all about that!"
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles