Multi-instrumentalist Arne Schäfer is back with his tenth album under the Apogee name and has been joined again by drummer Eberhard Graef. It is safe to say that I have not been the greatest fan of his releases to date, which go back some 25 years, but did think his previous album, 2018’s ‘Conspiracy of Fools” was his best to date, and here I find myself saying exactly the same thing again. Historically I have not been the biggest fan of his vocals, but now we have much improved singing with the music arranged in such a way as to play to his strengths and minimise the weaknesses. It is the arrangements that really make the album stand out, with strong use of acoustic guitar, some nice, dated keyboards, and electric guitar leads which are quite reminiscent of Jadis and Pendragon.
Apogee are generally classified as crossover prog, but this album sees them also move firmly strongly into neo prog. Given my previous concerns over his vocals I am surprised to hear a layered a capella section in opener “Interpretations”, and the use of xylophone during that number also gives it a much stronger feel. The digipak contains all the lyrics in a booklet, and although I must confess, I was not really looking forward to playing this album, I was really surprised at just how good it is. I may not have have recommended Apogee in the past, but this album sees a step change in the music, which means that now really is the right time to investigate the band who are mixing together some commercial and interesting progressive styles to produce an album which is immediately enjoyable.