has been more a challenging and busy year, with the appearance of many
Progressive Rock bands. As well as those that for some time were in deep
silence and out of the prog scene, that return with new formations and
launch excellent works. The last six months were brilliant, and an excellent
period, especially for Europeans bands, where some were silent for sometime
and returning to prog scenay in grandiose style. And one of the important
responsible for accomplishing these wonders, is the record company and
Promotion Records", one of the most important record company
in Europe, located in Germany. Well, after listen and listen their respective
albums from many different Prog Rock bands from various parts of the world,
I can say, it was was bery hard choose one to become the band of
july's month, but among all that I heard, I choose one, which surprised
me, by its musical references, by de amazing music and a gorgeous instrumental.
Apogee is back. Originating from Germany, a magnificent and successful
musical project led by multi-instrumentalist Arne Schaefer, also a member
from the Germany band "Versus X". After nine edited albums and all
with great reviews on several renowned sites, Apogee or Arne
Schaefer returns with his tenth work titled "Conspiracy of Fools."
Arne Schaefer never hesitated to adventure themselves into the long instrumental
music, always creating a perfect orchestral balance, always well
driven by symphonic progressive arrangements, adding wonderful vocal layers
evident in all the songs. Apogee offers us a travel and an adventure
around the Progressive Rock School, exploring a wide variety of the symphonic
musical traditions, around the same styles from bands such as "Yes",
"Jethro Tull", "Genesis", "Gentle Giant", "Rush",
"Van der Graaf Generator", "Peter Hammill", "King Crimson",
"Manfred Mann", "Dream Theater" and "Magellan",
with well elaborated compositions, full of feeling, adding some new discoveries,
combined with a high musical culture, filled of magnificent arrangements.
Around the designing musical from Apogee, some instruments constantly
dominate the arrangements, at first, the keyboard solos are extremely well
done, and conveys a wonderful symphonic atmosphere, while lush guitar's
solos, with stunning passages, complements the arrangements, where the
vocals show a stunning effect, of course, a courtesy by Arne Schaefer,
everything well connected, with all others instruments, in a perfect interaction.
"Conspiracy of Fools" shows a range of stunning musical moments,
including many symphonic and melodic elements, with amazing arrangements.
The album is divided into six tracks, almost 70 minutes, from six tracks,
five are long. However, all the songs are so perfect, that more time for
the album would not be necessary, the six tracks and the total time are
enough for you listen many times. All tracks have an excellent musical
performance, but I have my favorites songs, and they are "Conspiracy
of Fools", "Incomprehensible Intention", "Colors
and Shades" and "The Whispering from Outside". "Conspiracy
of Fools" have a intense musical depth, with an assurance of a
strong name into the progressive rock around the world. In fact, you should
sit down comfortably and listen and listen many times this wonderful album,
you'll be amazed with the musical skills from this talented musician. The
album "Conspiracy of Fools" is another one important acquisition
for all the Progressive Rock's lovers around the worlds. Brilliant and
fantastic, an amazing album and band, highly recommendable...
line-up on Apogee album and actual band are:
Schaefer - Lead and Backing Vocals, Electric, Acoustic and
Slide Guitars, Kyeboards, Bass Guitars, Orchestral Arrangements and Performance
Graeff - Drums and Percussion
Schaefer: All instruments, compositions and vocals (except accoustic drums
on various Apogee albums by Uwe Völlmar, Thomas Reiner and Eberhard
born June 17, 1962 and began playing guitar at the age of 14. Before that
I used to play Beatles tunes together with a friend who played guitar.
His name is Thorsten de Winkel and he is now a well known jazz guitarist.
Back then I played some sort of drums (washing powder casks and a tambourine)
and both of us were singing.
a self taught musician and the first thing I became interested in, after
having learned to play some beatles songs on the guitar, was to compose
my own music.
the early days we used to improvise on chord progressions, trying to create
some kind of "jazz-rock", in which we succeded to a certain extent.
this time I discovered Yes, ELP, Gentle Giant and
having listened to Jethro Tull and Frank Zappa from an early
age through the musical taste of my father. My mother practices ballet
dancing and introduced me to some modern composers like Stravinsky
and Prokofiev who also wrote a lot of ballet music.
Photo by Lennart Schäfer
father bought Jethro Tulls "Thick as a Brick" when
I was about 11 which made a large impact on my musical development. Still
today it is to my taste one of the best rock albums from the compositorical
as well as from the lyrical point of view.
1985 I joined a band called Vague Venture which played a New Wave/New
Romantic style and was founded in 1985 as a trio with drum computer. This
was the first band wich featured myself on lead vocals, although I had
practiced singing with my home taping experience before.
year later Stefan Maywald joined on drums and by the time my own influence
pushed the band concept more in the progressive direction. In 1989 this
finally led to a split up because of musical differences. Stefan and I
convinced keyboard player Lukas Ernst to join the group, but he was never
really satisfied with our musical direction and left again after one year
to work professionally in the film music field.
then the group was named versus X after an expression I found in
a book about physical chemistry (I am a professional chemist). I just thought
it sounded good and it my be interpreted as "against the mainstream".
that time I gave some solo concerts using accoustic guitar, keyboards and
vocals, playing mainly song stuff. At one of these concerts Ekkehard Nahm
saw my performance and his interest was captured. He called me up and soon
afterwards joined the band. We discovered that we had almost the same vision
of musical conception.
paying in various bands I always produced my solo music simultaneously
on an two track tape machine, in the beginning by means of a primitive
ping-pong recording technique. Over the years technical and compositorical
abilities progressed up to what you can hear on the first Apogee
CD "The Border of Awareness".
having played our first self produced versus X CD to members of
the french record company Musea they asked for more material
and I presented to them a selection of songs I had recorded over a period
of five years. They liked it and decided to give me a chance. For presenting
the music to a larger audience we decided to use the "band" name Apogee.
on the first two Apogee Albums and my older Material I mainly used
sample drums, the following Albums beginning with "The Garden of
Delights" feature ex-versus X drummer Uwe Voellmar, current
X drummer Thomas Reiner and on the latest two albums also Eberhard
Gräf on accoustic drums.
the Album "The Garden of Delights" on I was supported by
Uwe Voellmar creating the drum arrangements for the Apogee songs. After
Uwe had to leave versus X and Apogee in 2006, the new versus
X drummer Thomas
Reiner also took over Uwe's duties in Apogee and is now my regular
counterpart on drums and percussion. On the Apogee album "Mystery
Remains" both drummers can be heard. On the album "Waiting
for the Challenge" Thomas Reiner and Eberhard Gräfe are playing
the drums, while on the latest Apogee release "The Art of Mind" Ebi Gräf
played all drumparts. Ebi is also currently working with myself on the
songs for the next Apogee Album.
music is complex progressive rock based on the great progressive music
of the seventies but often emerging out of the established rock field in
various directions. The musical influences of Apogee´s music
are covering a wide range of styles from classic progressive rock into
folk, heavy rock, jazz, baroque and renaissance music, minimal music, and
contrast to versus X where I play guitar and sing, in Apogee
vocals and all instruments except drums are performed by myself via multitrack
I prefer complex structures, combining song-like elements with extended
instrumental parts, featuring odd rhythms, unusual harmonies, mystical
atmospheres and improvised guitar solos.
main thing about composing to me is absolute freedom. I always worked by
the "trial and error principle" and from there my style developed. A very
important thing is a wide arc of musical tension within the longer pieces.
strong contrasts like soft/heavy, quiet/loud, dense/spaced, slow/fast,
etc. Before I record a long piece of music, it´s basic musical structure
has to be clear as a whole. Before that it has been permutated and recrystallized
a lot of times in my head and written down as a series of working titles
for single elements or recorded as rough versions on tape (I am not able
to write or play after musical notation).
Conspiracy of Fools
Override our Instincts
Losing gentle Control
Colors and Shades
is the current Apogee Album "Conspiracy of Fools"
which was released in 2018 by Progressive
Promotion Records. It contains 5 longtracks and one shorter
accoustic song. In contrast to the previous Apogee albums it features
quite a lot of harmony vocals. Once again Ebi Graef was playing the accoustic
drum set while Arne sang and played all other instruments. The Cover Art
was created by Bernd Webler.
you can visit Apogee and Arne Schaefer at:
(Germany) - Conspiracy of Fools (2018)
- Mystery Remains (2009) - Tracing Experience