Glow Within


Futuremusic Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Sometimes, uncharted areas are the best to explore.

Friction, a four-piece band from the Netherlands, describe their style of music as a mixture of space rock and soul. When they first e-mailed me to see if I was interested in reviewing them, I was a little skeptical. Was I going to hear true "space" music a la Sun Ra, or was I in for another disappointment on the lines of the 1976 Iron Butterfly reunion?

After a few listens to their import-only debut Glow Within, the verdict was in: hmm, not bad... not bad at all! While I may dispute the soul label (I think of soul, I think of James Brown or Curtis Mayfield), their sound is akin to a marriage of Uriah Heep (bombastic organ work) and Phish (a light, jazzy bounce) - in retrospect, a rather interesting combination of sounds that works well.

The opening cut, "Daredevil," is probably the only true disappointing moment on the CD. The guitar work of lead vocalist/guitarist Steven Revrock seems to be a little stagnant, and Harm Weird's organ work goes a little over the edge. The song recovers enough face to become enjoyable, but it takes a few listens.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Once you get past that one speed bump, Friction kicks into high gear and never looks back. The title track features better guitar work from Revrock, though the vocals seem a little off-key at times. (It should be noted this is the only track that suffers from that problem.) Weird's organ begins to work well in complementing Friction's style, and Erik Nepposch's drum work keeps a steady, though changing, beat for the band. (Hidden in the mix is the bass work of Walter Revrock, which is a disappointment - next time, I'd like to hear him higher up in the mix, getting funky on us.)

"Insane" is a track that, at first, seems to rip off Cypress Hill with the use of the line "Insane in the membrane," until Revrock et al. give credit where credit is due - that is, in the very next vocal line. Possibly the best track on Glow Within, "Insane" captures the spirit of Friction extremely well, and shows how much fun they're having with their music. The band pays its musical respects to artists as diverse as Charles Mingus on this one - possible influences?

Of the remaining four tracks, three are short enough to have a chance of being played on rock radio, and all again capture Friction's free-flow spirit to a "T". (Hence my comparing them to Phish.) The last cut, "Dancing Melody Girl," is Friction's "final exam," if you will - they have the chance to give their all to an almost 11-minute track and not make it sound like it's sagging at any point. Do they succeed? The answer: they pass with flying colors.

What amazes me the most is the professional quality this album has - for a debut effort, it is outstanding. Even for the few rough edges the band still has (having only been together for just under three years), they have put together a work that many established artists can only dream about. My one wish: that it had been longer.

While Friction have been gaining popularity in their homeland, they are all but unheard of in the States. If Glow Within got some distribution over here and they got a chance to tour with a band with similar influences (like, oh, I dunno,... Phish?), that story would change real quick. Glow Within gave this reviewer a warm feeling - and made me hope this isn't the last time I hear from them.

Rating: B

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Futuremusic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.