(2021 - self release - GERMANY)
The opening of 'Snapshot' by cHoclat FRoG, out of Bad Camberg, Germany, takes the listener on just a few of what will be a massive amount of influences , once you complete the album. The first track has dimensions of King Crimson, Babal, Frank Zappa, and importantly many avant-pop masters from catalogs of RER (Recommended Records), especially being able to imagine Fred Frith on guitar in places, adding split seconds of the early trippy Gong (Daevid sprinkled), French experimentalists like Etron Fou Leloublan, Jac Berrocal, and fusion outfits like Morglbl, and RIO in living color. This is only a taste. Added to the whole sumptuous affair is spots of Panzerpappa, Outer Limits, Uz Jsme Doma, Stabat Akish, and more than I can list here. Take note that I am emphasizing the word "spots" with this, as you will not find a cure all label for this band, nor will you be able to latch on to any one band and claim your allegiance to that. The single aspect that I can speak with utter delight, is THIS IS SUPERB and full of multiple colors, styles, and a platter of upper echelon musicianship.
I spoke with Tim Ludwig about the band and he revealed a few insights. I was curious as to why Tim had the surname of his father in law and wife verses her taking his. Tim explained that his own family was a mess growing up and when he met Nora (his wife) he felt a part of a family for the first time. So he took their last name to become a true family. Rainier was a big help in schooling Tim in the progressive rock world of the 70's and also encouraged him to expand not only styles, but also instruments. So between the two of them, an entire group is accomplished. Tim cited some newer bands they listen to as well as the classics, which include A Helmet of Gnats, Anglagard, Aisles, District 97, Haken, Karmacanic, Steven Wilson, Stickmen, The Aristocrats, Transatlantic and Animal as Leaders. He noted that John Wetton was his bass hero and early King Crimson is absolute for him. Rainer has a vast history of musical exposure from King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, ELP, Zappa and Yes (just to mention a few) but the sound cHoclat FRoG is anything but buried in the past. Listeners will be happy to know that the band is already at work on a new release with 13 minutes of music completed so far. Tim did not know if this second release will be a concept work or not but it is nice to know fans will get another dose of cHoclat FRoG.
How did this duo evolve? A short experience with a former band called THE STOCK release one album titled 'Humanize' (in January 2018) which consisted of three extended tracks of progressive music more in the mode of heavy prog, although many turns to more melodic nearly Radiohead stylings. That group being a trio including Christof Engel, soon dissolved (due to Christof leaving) so Tim and Rainer Ludwig decided to continue in a much broader scope. In fact, they began recording music without composing it first, otherwise known to many as jamming. The ideas were plentiful as evidence proves. Both members also took on additional instruments, so the recipe was rich with ingredients. This new adventure became cHoclat FRoG, which involves Tim Ludwig: all basses, guitars (most of them) and additional voice in Pt III Intro/ Rainer Ludwig: vocals, drums, percussions, keyboards, synthesizer, guitar, whistle and programming. Guest musicians are: Pt II and Pt IV- Christof Engel (guitar solos)/ Pt IV - Floyd Anthony (screaming voice)/ Pt V - Dietmar Appel (guitar solo)/ Pt VII and Pt VIII - Uwe Grunert (guitar solos)/ and Pt X - Monica Ludwig (additional kid voice).
Compositions and arrangements all by cHoclat FRoG, and words by Rainer and Tim. In addition are citations used from John Locke, Jean-Paul Sartre, Luís de Camoes (Lusiadas), Jean Sibelius and Friedrich Nietzsche. You are presented with 11 songs full of spark and sprout. The phrase 'everything but the kitchen sink' applies very well on 'Snapshot' as with each listen, the audience (if attentive) will pick up a few more elements. Surf, beepy electronica, David Byrne at his best, just no predicting the pocket that will reveal itself, all wrapped in a surprise package that is most surely a gift to all those who purchase the recording. I fully recommend the physical format of a limited edition compact disc (see the Bandcamp link I provided at the header) to not only preserve your copy as long as you live, but to support the band and allow a 2nd release to occur. This release fit all so perfectly into the world of BIG BEAUTIFUL NOISE music magazine with all points checked, an innovative, unique, and highly engaging chronicle of a father and son in law, coming together to create lofty works. No progressive music junkie in their right mind will want to bypass this one. 100% HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 9 - 19 - 2021