Fuhrs & Frohling


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Shicke, Fuhrs & Frohling were not quite the Emerson, Lake & Palmer of Germany, simply because that title went to the overtly ELP-esque Triumvirat, but they were in the running. The keyboards/guitar/drums trio spent the mid- to late ‘70s crafting a top-shelf brand of instrumental prog that combined the influences of classical, rock, and jazz, in the grand, symphonic prog style. After their second album, however, guitarist Heinz Frohling and keyboardist Gerd Fuhrs splintered off from drummer Eduard Schicke to record the duo project Ammerland. The album's title comes from the pair's bucolic home county in Lower Saxony, and the music evokes that verdant, wooded landscape as well.

By removing drums from the equation entirely, Fuhrs & Frohling pretty much take the "rock" out of prog rock, focusing more on the classical side of the old SFF sound, where the trio had injected more jazz and rock elements into the mix. The result is a much lower-key approach that finds Frohling concentrating more on classical-style acoustic guitar melodies, though Fuhrs still mans an impressive array of keyboards to color things in, including piano, organ, synth, and Mellotron. At times, the mellower tracks suggest a precursor to new age music, though never dipping into the sappier end of that sonic pool. There are moments of undeniable pastoral beauty here, especially when Fuhrs lends his lyrical touch to a melodic statement on the Mini Moog. Things really take off toward the end of the album, though, with the epic-length "Every Land Tells a Story." Worth the price of admission by itself, it's a tour de force that moves suite-like through everything from spacy synthesizer swirls to contemplative piano, for a feel that's close to the prog rock glory of SFF, who would make one more album together before Fuhrs and Frohling continued down the duo path.