Happy The Man – The Muse Awakens

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Happy The Man – The Muse Awakens With their sophisticated music, Happy The Man were one of the most original prog rock bands at the end of the 70‘s. Both albums which were released by the Americans are regarded as milestones of the genre and they have been re-released several times. After two more CDs with live as well as demo material in the 90‘s, there were rumors of a reunion in the year 2000, and now the faithful fan community can finally look forward to a new studio album by this quintet. “The Muse Awakens“as an album title is pure understatement. Those who know “Happy the Man“(1977) and “Crafty Hands“(1978) also know that hardly any other group of the genre was so creative. And this has not changed with the new album. Happy The Man play as daringly as Yes, as melodically and harmonically as Camel, as well as in the same secluded and contemplative manner as the Penguin Café Orchestra, without sounding classical in any way. The band also adds a little bit of jazz to the carefully arranged instrumental songs as we know it of Canterbury groups like Henry Cow or Soft Machine. The opener “Contemporary Insanity“ makes a great start: a swift 10/8 bar track, so cleverly phrased as it could only be done by Gentle Giant, provides the basis for a cavalcade of dense walls of keyboards and gripping solos. While “Stepping Through Time“ with its reflective piano chords and dreamy flute melody is one of the quietest parts of the album, it later on provides some unearthly moments with a few odd bars. The almost Wagnerian “Barking Spiders“is the most solid track with fast rhythm changes and a high fun factor. It’s hard to say what will happen with this extraordinary band in the future but one thing is for sure since Stan Whitaker says: “It definitely won‘t take 25 years when we come back with another album.“

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