Written by: Kev Rowland
I’m not sure if this has been released on CD, as the only reviews I have seen are for the DVD, but I only have the audio files so will have to treat this as an album. I’m not sure if new drummer Antonius Gruetzner knew exactly what he was walking into with the first Toxic Smile release after he joined, but in many ways this was a very special event indeed. There have been many instances over the years when a rock band has joined with an orchestra to perform a more symphonic version of their music (Kiss, Metallica), or even performed a totally new piece of music (Deep Purple), but in each instance the band stayed electric. But, Toxic Smile decided to do something quite different, and instead put away the rock instruments and instead went acoustic, and arranged songs from their first two albums to work in a brand new context.
If that wasn’t enough, they decided to perform this in front of 50 invited guests in a castle! Paul Momberger of the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt ( who are viewed as one of the top crossover orchestras in Europe, formed in 1996) was conductor for the evening, while the orchestra itself mostly consisted of students and graduates of the Weimar Conservatory. The Condé vocal ensemble were also in support (and actually open music), while Robert Brenner showed what an impact he can have on double bass, Antonius took to the task with relish, Uwe was obviously at home playing an acoustic in a very different style to the way he approaches electric, while Marek is as happy on an acoustic grand piano as he is on banks of keyboards (also providing saxophone and clarinet). Then to top it all we have Larry B., who interestingly came across a little different in this environment than in the studio, as when he is singing rough and raw there is more than a little bit of Roger Chapman about his performance, and when he moves into falsetto it feels very natural indeed.
This album, in many ways, is for those who are already aware of Toxic Smile and their music, but even if they are new, a listener will get a great deal out of it as it is just a seamless marriage of forms that it is almost impossible to think of them in their much heavier format. The amount of work must have been substantial, and this album was self-released without record label support, so all power for the band for undertaking an experiment and risk that certainly paid out in spades. A truly magical album.
Voix du passé // Horns // Fall Down // Confidence // Escape // O.T. // Cold Run // JB // Thought Away // Steps Back // Pyramid // Could it be // Medley