Abacus – European Stories (2016)

Abacus_EuropeanStories4 out of 5 Stars!

Germany’s Abacus originally formed back in the early ’70s and released a handful of albums before disappearing, only to resurface nearly thirty years later to issue another few albums, with European Stories being the most recent.

Seeing as I’m unfamiliar with the band’s previous albums, however—they’ve all been on my “Wish List” for years and years—I’m unable to compare whether European Stories matches the quality of the original group’s output. But if this newest album is at all comparable to what came earlier in Abacus’s catalogue, then I’m even more interested in seeking out those previous works.

Keyboard lovers are certain to savor much of the material here, which features a slew of rich and layered, heavily Pomp-styled synths atop the pianos, Hammond and pipe organs, etc.

For instance, the opening track “Rome” features a synth lead that’s eerily reminiscent of ELP’s “Touch and Go,” whereas the lengthy “Club De Marquee” has the synths duplicating a brass section, and with the song’s bouncy and upbeat nature, instantly brings to mind the same overall feel and synth accents of “Kiss by Judas” by It Bites.

And on other occasions, the keyboard work (and even some of the lead vocals) reminds me of early Threshold (with Damian Wilson singing), or the types of synth sounds that appear on the ’90s albums by the defunct group Cairo, or even classic Saga or Asia.

Now, whether Abacus purposefully attempted to mimic the aforesaid groups when writing the material appearing on European Stories is anyone’s guess, but at least my comparisons should give you a good idea of what you’ll find on this album.

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