Peter Swart - Rofloré
Rofloré is the fifth solo album by Dutch musician and professional psychologist Peter Swart, although the first album we have reviewed at DPRP. The album is a concept about the minstrel Rofloré who sets off on a voyage through all the souls in the planetary system in which he resides to experience their artistic expressions and experience self-realisation and personal growth. After 200 years he returns to his home planet and becomes the Master of Aräda. Or something like that. The story, lyrics and narration is by Peter van der Laan, who was the singer in Morphosis a band that Swart was also a member of. The only other musician on the album is drummer Koos van Reeven.
Some, like me, may be a bit sceptical about the presence of a narrator, being under the impression that such inclusions are only really justified when the speaker has the gravitas of Richard Burton on War Of The Worlds. And my worst fears were realised when at the end of the first track, The Dawning Of Nylyo - Roflorés Creation van der Laan starts his narration. However, it is very brief, setting the scene of the tale and only making a reappearance at the conclusion of the album. The bulk of the album is instrumental although when Swart does sing it is with a pleasant and somewhat plaintive voice. The music is quite symphonic in nature with lots of light and shade, mixing acoustic and electric guitars with piano and 70's style synths to very good effect. Generally, the style is fairly laid back which makes the heavier, electric sections appear that more intense.
The playing throughout is very good, with the acoustic sections in particular showing that Swart is a fine technician. The classical guitar work on Impression - Feelings Of Affection - Misdeed is of particular note, which mutates into a lovely melody. There are plenty of cascading melodies and it has to be said that Swart is also a fine composer, particularly in the way that he intermingles themes and effortlessly moves between different tempos both within and between tracks. The electric guitar is used to good effect drawing on a sonic palette that enhances the variety of keyboards that are used. Apparently the album was originally going to close with a big ending but Swart decided to simply revisit the theme of Roflorés Creation in an acoustic setting because, in Swart's own words: "Whatever the course of personal growth, the core is always preserved". If I hadn't already mentioned that Swart was a psychologist, you could probably have guessed it from such a sentiment!
Casting aside such flippancies, Rofloré is one of those albums that has the ability to get under the skin and in the right environment is a positive joy to listen to. Certainly not an album for listening to whilst driving but in those more relaxed moments of peace, quiet and solitude, it makes a pretty fine accompaniment.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10