Reflection Club - Still Thick As A Brick

Artur Chachlowski

I cannot begin otherwise than to say that we are dealing with an exceptional release. And in every respect. Firstly, it contains incredibly interesting music, presented in a very surprising way, and secondly, the two silver discs (CD and DVD) are tucked into an extremely impressive looking package. And although the album is very serious, the whole thing is served with a lot of humour, a real twist and a wink. In the end, the effect is more than excellent. But one thing at a time...

Do you remember the German band Margin? As a possible reminder, I recommend our MLWZ’s review of the 2014 album "Psychedelic Teatime". Their leader, multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert, founded his parallel project called Reflection Club a few years ago. What was this musical contemplation club of his supposed to do? In short, the idea Lutz had in mind was a kind of homage to the work of Jethro Tull. He invited the guitarist Nils Conrad, known from the band Crystal Palace, the American flutist Ulla Harmuth and the English singer Paul Forrest, who has some Jethro Tull experience, as he is active in a tribute band called… Jethro Tull Experience. In collaboration with songwriter George Boston, the entire international troupe set to work on the album, which is extraordinary in every respect. The title alone - "Still Thick As A Brick" - says it all...

In the past, by the way, Ian Anderson was tempted to make a successful sequel to his epochal 1972 work (the 2012 album "Thick As A Brick 2: Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock?"). The album in question today could boldly be titled "Thick As A Brick 3". I assure you that hardly anyone would notice that it contains music not by Jethro Tull but by Lutz Meinert's band. And I am writing this with great admiration, emphasising the fact how successfully they have managed to recreate the atmosphere of this legendary group under the name "Reflection Club". However, it should be stressed that "Still Thick As A Brick" is not a remake of this masterpiece. Instead, Reflection Club takes Jethro Tull's musical style from the heavily progressive phase of their career, expands it with elements of jazz and fusion, creating an innovative, almost 48-minute-long original composition divided into 11 parts.

Like the classic 1972 album, „Still Thick As A Brick” is a complex and multi-layered concept album. The packaging contains a thick 70-page booklet (actually a book) in the style of a 'music newspaper' "Rellington Stone" (the allusion to the classic Rolling Stone magazine seems more than obvious) in A5 booklet format with numerous articles that serve as background and illustrate the context of the entire album. Not only do you find the song lyrics and album credits (they take up just under two pages of said 'newspaper'), but also numerous articles illustrating the narrative background of the album, album reviews (including a review of the album... "Still Thick As A Brick"!), concert reviews, interviews and advertisements (including for Margin's aforementioned album "Psychedelic Teatime")... There is more to read than to listen to and the individual articles are a perfect complement to the musical content of this release. Everything is presented in an effective and clear way, which is a special charm of this release. It's fair to say that Reflection Club goes a step, or perhaps two steps, further than Jethro Tull did in 1972.

Inside the thick covers of the Rellington Stone "newspaper" there are two discs: the first, a CD, contains 11 tracks (at least some of them, like "Rellington Town", "Sentimental Depreciation" and "Look Across The Sea", could easily stand on their own) and 48 minutes of music, and the second, a DVD, with visuals in the form of a film, or rather a fabulously colourful slide show, backed by an HD stereo and surround sound mix.

I realise that I have spent most of this review describing the context of this release and the extremely impressive packaging. And what about the music itself? Well, I have already mentioned that most listeners will certainly have quite a problem distinguishing whether it is the real Jethro Tull or Reflection Club referencing their work. Moreover, the music composed by Lutz Meinert contains no quotations or, heaven forbid, plagiarisms of compositions by Ian Anderson and co. Rather, it is a perfect presentation of the features, elements and atmosphere familiar from the classic period of Jethro Tull's activity. The omnipresent flutes repeatedly evoke the spirit of that band, Paul Forrest's voice is one hundred percent reminiscent of the young Anderson, and the instrumentation, for which the originator of the whole enterprise is responsible (Lutz Meinert plays drums, organ, piano, harpsichord, harp, bells, electric bass, double bass and vibraphone) is such that all fans of Jethro Tull's output will be overjoyed.

I am. I was thrilled by this album, the idea behind it and the appealing booklet. And above all, I was thrilled by the performance: perfect, professional, definitely more than competent and incredibly pleasant to listen to. Perhaps what I write at the very end will be unfair to Reflection Club, but I have the impression that in the form of "Still Thick As A Brick" we are dealing with another very successful album by... Jethro Tull. So don't be surprised that I put the reviewed release on my shelf of albums under the letter J, not R....

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