(24 April 2011) Harvest is a progressive rock band from Barcelona, Spain, whose thirteen-track debut album Underground Community (Red Phone Records (Spain) B41399, 2009) was released free of charge as a digital download to internet audiences. Their debut received broad and international critical acclaim since original release in late 2009. They can be likened somewhat in their energy and sound to the Spanish band NEXX fronted by Patricia Tapia although Harvest are more melodic, timeless and accessible. Harvest is presently recording their second album.
Harvest, fronted by singer Monique van der Kolk, is also comprised of Jordi Amela (keyboards); Jordi Prats (guitar); Alex Ojea (drums) and Roger Vilageliu (bass). The first three met each other in a previous band. Their union and the influence of mostly progressive and indie rock music have created a non conventional and peculiar but soulful sound to Harvest. Roger Vilageliu and Alex Ojea joined the band after the original formation to complete the current lineup.
Harvest's priority is to be liked by themselves. They say that there are are no commercial barriers and that the composing process is based on freedom of making choice. Harvest's debut album is self-produced, recorded at their own studio and mastered at Musiclan Studios. Also, there's a notable collaboration with the artist Antonio Seijas who designed the artwork of the album. The band frequently perform live and they have played with Marillion in Barcelona.
The songs on Underground Community are generally short and are more accessible than many albums that are considered progressive rock. Track lengths are in the four minute range except two that run over five and six minutues each. The listener is immediately drawn into the project with "Autumn Leaves," an upbeat guitar backed track that introduces Monique's powerful and sweet vocal tones. Backing harmonies provide great texture in the chorus working perfectly with the lovely rock arrangement.
A slower tempo introduces "Beyond the Desert" featuring Monique, this time singing with whispy tones atop glistening electric guitar. Her power shines as she sings solo in the chorus. "No Return" continues at a similar tempo as arrangements are stripped right back at the song's beginning, permitting the singer to carry the song. Lush arrangements build and vocal layers are added in the latter half of the song. The electric guitar and keyboard parts in instrumental bridge begin to illustrate the full capabilities of the band. "Mara" is a mid-tempo rocker with complex guitar arrangements. Monique's powerful vocal part soars above them with ease.
The band's full capabilites are best illustrated in the intricate weave of the effects in the album's title track. It serves as the introduction to the stunning ballad "Change Life," which serves to introduce Monique's tenderest vocal part on the album. Warm keyboard washes and crisp percussion provide the foundation for her vocal work. The track builds to a splendid crescendo full of electric guitar and lush vocal layers before returning to its quiet origins. The percussive elements work opposite thicker guitar parts in the progressive number "Post Disaster" that is more instrumental that vocal.
Monique's tender vocal work glides powerfully over shimmering electric guitars in "The Story of Tim Ballas," one of the album's clear standouts. An incredible electric guitar solo is played against the lead singer's lovely vocalise. Another standout is the upbeat rock song and album standout, "The Horizon." Monique's vocals lead the verse and returns harmoniously in the rousing chorus. "Waiting To Happen" is a lovely rock ballad with gentle electric guitar arrangements that support Monique's tender lead vocal part, a pattern that continues into "She Tries." Listen for the powerful electric guitar solo in the song's midsection.
The acoustic guitar arrangements of the everso soft ballad "Night Comes Down" are a perfect backdrop for the reverb in Monique's vocal part. Additional vocal layers contribute lovely harmonies to the short track. The album concludes with "Interrupted Broadcast." By far the best track on the album, progressive styled arrangements provide the foundation for this upbeat rock number, performed in a very Janison-edge style. Monique's powerful vocals soar above the vast electric guitar excursions. Style changes within the song are quite dramatic. If only it were longer!
Harvest's debut album Underground Community is a timeless project. That the band has provided it to their internet visitors as a digital download shows their confidence in the music and their future.
Harvest are certain to draw further interest with the release of their forthcoming follow-up album. We can't wait!