The latest album from German neo-prog band Crystal Palace is a concept album based on a tragic event in bassist/singer’s Yenz’s life. One day he was climbing the stairs of a lookout in a public recreation area in his hometown of Berlin and saw the words “Still Alive” and “Still There” freshly written on the walls of each new floor. A few days later he read about a double suicide which had taken place on the day he saw the writings, and that became a story he could not get out of his mind so developed this album around what might have happened to those involved to get them to this point. This is a dark subject, and not one which has often been covered in prog music, and certainly not one to be taken lightly.
The colours in the booklet are all white/grey/black, with the lyrics superimposed on photos telling different parts of the story, while the background is included at the rear. Needless to say, the music behind this story is somewhat reflective, and while solidly neo-prog there are often more keyboards than one might expect from this style of prog. That is not to say that we don’t get rock, but it is often abrasive and fitting in perfectly with the storyline. This is a deep piece of work, and it did take me quite a few listens before I felt I had got inside it, as the first time it just washed over me as I was not in the right frame of mind for it. It is dark, yet not always depressing, melancholic in places yet slightly more in your face in others.
This must have been a difficult album to bring together, as while the lyrics are a viewpoint, at the centre of this album is the true story of lives cut short. Attempting to be true to the concept without adding in too much colour or change must have been difficult and striking the balance between entertainment and producing something no-one would want to listen to is also challenging. I can imagine this album will have many detractors due to the subject matter and what Crystal Palace have attempted to achieve, but in reality, it is a complex and complicated piece of progressive rock with real depth.