Selected Ekseption

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Selected Ekseption more than suffices at capturing the progressive rock-meets-classical essence of this Dutch band. Led by Rick Van der Linden's marvelous keyboard artistry, Ekseption's albums of the early '70s fused some of classical music's most renowned suites, concertos, and movements into a modern rock environment, much like what Emerson, Lake & Palmer were doing at around the same time. Without any instrumental theatrics or barrages of percussion and feedback, Ekseption adds electronic energy to Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5," Khacaturian's "Sabre Dance," and Bach's "Toccata" with brilliant progressive flair. Selected Ekseption is a two-disc set, with disc one focusing on the band's classical infusions, including a spectacular collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the famed "Ave Maria." The second disc includes their more rock-oriented material, with highlights stemming from Keith Emerson's "For Example," the overly intriguing "Piece for Symphonic and Rock Group in a Minor," and the astounding ten-minute "Midbar Session." The attention is automatically focused on Van der Linden's experimental keyboard approach. Without being wildly extreme or instrumentally brash, his crisp tempos and bright electronic melodies convey the same type of energy by staying in the lines. Excitement is wonderfully mustered through tracks like "Smile" and "Monkey Dance," while the gorgeously woven "Peruvian Flute" is arranged superbly by Van der Linden himself. After the demise of Ekseption, Rick Van der Linden went on to form Trace, where he played the same type of symphonic rock in which structure once again dictated his sound. Lovers of Yes, early Genesis, and Focus will appreciate Ekseption's material, as will any keyboard or progressive rock enthusiast.

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