Flamborough Head is a rocky promontory that lies on the east coast of England between Filey and Bridlington. It is a chalky headland that reminds one of a sleeping dinosaur, it is also a walker’s haven and you can see seals at certain times of the year. We visited it last year and had a great couple of hours enjoying its natural beauty. At that time I was completely unaware of the existence of a band that had the same name, so the opportunity to listen and review this album was too good to pass up. Flamborough Head has been in existence for almost 34 years, being originally formed in Friesland in the Netherlands in 1990, they have been through several different incarnations and line ups, peppered with spells of inactivity over the years, and have produced ten albums during that time, mostly on the Cyclops label, then latterly on the Oskar label, on which we find this latest one, ‘Jumping The Milestone’.
The music the band create falls very firmly into the realm of symphonic progressive rock with excellent use of flute, keyboards and very fluid guitar solos. The band are fronted with the excellent soft vocals of Margriet Boomsma who also provides flute and recorders and Eddie Mulder who was the original guitarist but is now the bass player, with Hans Spitzen providing the guitar fireworks, aided by sublime keyboards from Edo Spanninga. Together they make a very good sound, everything a symphonic prog fan could want, expansive and intelligent with lots of interesting reference points. They combine the style of Marillion, Arena and IQ to great effect, there is much to recommend here.
The album has just six tracks, all are of an excellent standard with much happening musically within. I am reminded of Camel at times with the fabulous flute playing and the very lyrical guitar of Hans Spitzen, who makes every track shine.
The Garden Shed is about the joy of gardening and the benefits it can bring to one’s mental health and how, overal,l it can be of positive benefit, a most different sort of track but with good sentiments expressed within. Tomorrow Is Another Day is a further great track with a good opening section with great flute and a surging Hammond Organ playing throughout. The song is about depression and how it can haunt an individual, robbing them of joy in their life. This is all sensitively handled and in a positive manner and has a graceful guitar solo that really captures you as you listen. The song has good insight into fighting depression and some good advice too, I like that it is real and not patronising in its approach but sympathetic and hopeful too.
Start Of A Nightmare is an interesting track in its subject matter of an unwelcome intrusion and the prospect of injury at the hands of an unhinged, unwanted intruder. This is quite a different sort of song with lots of light and shade to depict the unfolding events making it most memorable with strong performances from each member and more great guitar to help carry the song along. The song expresses the lasting sense of unease that any unwanted intrusion can cause you and how unsettled you can be afterwards for a very long time. Fear Of Failure is about insecurity and how the fear of failure can really impact on one in a negative manner. Again, this is handled delicately and with sympathy and dignity. It’s about handling those feelings and facing them down, believing in yourself and the abilities you have. It talks about applying resilience to your situation and overcoming it for yourself, almost a self-help in reality. The music is very strong and supportive and the lyrics are excellent, making for a great song overall that’s very positive in its outlook.
Penultimate song Walls Of Words is about being left behind, overlooked and unappreciated by those around you. It is rather a sombre and maudlin piece but, once again, this is all handled very well, along with it being a well written and realised track with solid musicianship at its core, especially when the song leads to the suicide of the protagonist in the song. Final and longest song, Jumping The Milestone concludes this superb album. Opening with heavenly piano motif alongside an ethereal flute before Margaret’s delicate vocals begin, the track is about growing older and all the challenges that brings. This song handles its subject matter with great intelligence and good insight, it is a celebration of life as opposed to being rather a depressing slide into twilight. It reminds us all of the journey that is life, being one that we all have to undertake, it talks of the good things in life that we can all gather into our own storybook. This piece also tells us to be grateful that we can have these days in which we can age and that we should value these days. The song moves through different sections and movements with aplomb and style, lots of excellent guitar parts and sympathetic keyboard embellishments pepper the track insightfully. An epic for sure but it’s never a dull one at all, excellent guitar solos take the track forward in different directions, all of which are strong.
This is a most interesting and tasteful album of deep emotion and content, extremely well presented and performed by an excellent and talented band. I can only but sing its praises to you and recommend that you listen to it, if you do then you won’t regret it.
Released 3rd November, 2022.
Order from bandcamp here:
Jumping The Milestone (CD) | Flamborough Head | OSKAR records (bandcamp.com)