Issue 2018-005

Eddie Mulder - In A Lifetime (Duo Review)

Eddie Mulder - In A Lifetime
Country of Origin: Netherlands
Year of Release: 2017
Time: 50:29
Track List:
Daydream (3:27), The Innocent (2:33), Driven (6:32), Choices To Make (2:53), Best Intentions (3:13), Mystery Land (2:59), Waiting (3:38), Expectations (3:14), Cold And Grey (3:23), In A Lifetime (17:13), Meeting Tommy (1:20)
Geoff Feakes's Review
Guitarist Eddie Mulder is no stranger to the DPRP having performed and recorded with several Dutch prog bands since the turn of the millenium including Flamborough Head, Trion, Leap Day and two Floyd tribute acts Pink Floyd Project and Pink Faces. More recently he has also found time to release three solo albums, Dreamcatcher (2015), Horizons (2016), and this latest In A Lifetime (2017).

Although this feels very much like a solo effort with Mulder and his acoustic guitar dominating, it features a number of familiar guest musicians, most notably keyboardists Edo Spanninga and Gert van Englenburgh from Flamborough Head and Leap Day respectively. Flamborough Head singer Margriet Moomsma is also present but as this is a strictly instrumental affair, it's her talents as a flute player that are showcased.

Mulder's acoustic technique is clean and precise, and very easy on the ear without being overly complex. He also manages to avoid referencing any particular genre with folk, classical, blues, country and jazz all absent from his playing. Apart from Choices To Make however, which has a particularly evocative melody, the solo acoustic tracks were for the most part pleasant diversions that passed me by without leaving any lasting impression.

Best Intentions and Waiting on the other hand benefit from the addition of pastoral flute and vintage Mellotron bringing to mind early Genesis whilst Mystery Land with its rippling guitar could have been lifted straight from an Anthony Phillips album.

The albums focal point and most proggy offering is the 17 plus minute In A Lifetime. It's a piece that grows in stature with each successive listen and the electric guitar harmonies in particular are a real delight echoing Andy Latimer. The combination of guitar, flute and synth is reminiscent of not only Camel but also Ant Phillips's debut album The Geese & The Ghost.

If guitar-led instrumentals are your thing, especially the acoustic variety, then this is well worth checking out. Fans of melodic prog will also find a good deal to appreciate here. And whilst for me it's a welcome excursion into the more mellow side of Eddie Mulder's musical personna, his work with Flamborough Head in particular remains the most satisfying. Ironically, in 2016 Mulder rejoined Flamborough Head not as guitarist, but as the bass player.
Mark Hughes's Review
Eddie Mulder should really need no introduction as the guitarist of Flamborough Head, Trion and Leap Day, amongst others, as well as carving himself out a strong solo niche, he has been on the prog scene for several decades. Although his band activities have a focus mainly on progressive rock, his solo material is rather more acoustic, laid back and, in many ways pastoral. In many ways one could consider Mulder as the Dutch equivalent of Anthony Phillips. On this latest all instrumental album, the third under his own name, only two of the pieces feature a 'band' line up of keyboards, drums, bass and guitar, although one of those numbers is the 17-minute title track, more of which later.

Seven of the pieces, Daydream, The Innocent, Choices To Make, Expectations, Mysteryland, Cold And Grey and Meeting Tommy are solo guitar compositions but each displays a deftness of touch in the performance, a lovely tone and, of course, some fantastic playing. The lightness of Daydream is very uplifting, the more jaunty The Innocent has a touch of the medieval about it, and Mysteryland breaks the solo mold in the last 30 seconds with the addition of a lovely sounding glockenspiel.

Meeting Tommy deviates from the classical guitar with a totally different tone, largely because it is played on a totally different guitar with added electricity! Nevertheless it provides a fitting end to the album. More substantial contributions from other instruments to the solo acoustic guitar include flute (played by Magriet Boomsma) and keyboards (played by Edo Spanninga) on Best Intentions and Waiting which are complimentary musical enhancements that, if anything, reinforce the guitar presence.

The two longest pieces are the aforementioned group numbers Driven and In A Lifetime featuring Gert van Engelenburg, Willem Friso Wielenga and, on the title track only, Edo Spanninga on keyboards, Margriet Boomsma on flute, Albert Schoonbeek on drums and Peter Stel on bass. If having up to three keyboard players sounds a bit excessive, never fear they don't overwhelm proceedings as they just contribute to the creation of mood; first and foremost the guitar(ist) is the star. The first of these numbers reminds me of early Pat Metheny and is a glorious ensemble piece.

The epic title track can most easily be described as a collection of individual compositions cleverly combined into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Perhaps that is a bit too simplistic as the piece is not at all disjointed and flows seamlessly throughout, although I suspect that if it was a vocal number it would be split into numerous different parts, no doubt with each one reflecting a different stage of the 'lifetime'. Of course, the electric guitar has greater prominence but it blends in so well with the overall piece that its appearance is not a stark contrast, a jolt away from the acoustic, but a natural development of the musical picture.

A fine, fine album that captures the imagination and delivers something refreshingly different. Even if you are not particularly a lover of largely acoustic instrumental music this album just might make you reconsider, just don't let the fact that Mr Mulder looks a bit like Jerry Garcia on the album sleeve put you off!!
Geoff Feakes: 7 out of 10
Mark Hughes: 8 out of 10