|My initial reaction when hearing of Freestone’s mixing the tenets and mysticism of Freemasonry with music on ‘The Temple Of Humanity’ was, ‘It sounds strange enough to be interesting.’ But it’s not so strange. After all, the Scandinavian black metal bands routinely blend norse paganism with music; Rush’s Neil Peart looked to secular atheism and the philosophical objectivism of Ayn Rand for his lyrical inspiration. Freestone principal Harm Timmerman is a Freemason, and decided to merge the ideas with modern popular music. In the end, Timmernam has succeeded quite well.
Most people would probably associate Freemasonry with its popular symbols like the dollar bill or the ‘National Treasure’ movies rather than consider its history, philosophy or mysticism. It’s more often perceived as a curious oddity and organization where men greet each other with secret handshakes and wear funny clothes. Essentially, however, it is a sect that preaches free thinking, the ultimate goodness of humanity, and the subsequent of evolution of man to a higher state of consciousness; all this is attained through the pursuit of the secret knowledge to which the elevated masters have attained. It’s basically humanistic gnosticism (and an inherently flawed philosophical proposition). Now if, at this point, you don’t sense a little mystery or mysticism in Freemasonry, then you will probably not get the tenor and taste of ‘The Temple Of Humanity.’
The music is atmospheric melodic rock bordering on progressive rock; the arrangements intend to establish a mood of airy mysticism equal to its subject. Timmerman and company use elaborate and often provocative keyboard layers (The Ancient Of Days) and Floydish guitar work (Seven Step Staircase) to creative a sense of mystery and intrigue. This is further compounded by the controlled but provocative use of horns on many songs, the best being ‘Brotherhood Of Men’ and ‘Masonry Dissected.’ Yet, generally, the sum of this work is eerily mellow melodic rock with a mesmerizing effect: to bend your mind and proselytize you into the Brotherhood, or at least to pique your curiosity to explore more. But, I’m being over melodramatic now (or creepy, if you prefer).
In the end, Timmerman and Freestone’s ‘The Temple Of Humanity’ is a noteworthy accomplishment for the character and quality of it smooth melodic progressive rock, and not just its blend of Freemasonry thought with music. Regardless of your current or future interest in this mysterious folklore, the intriguing music certainly portrays the character of Freemasonry well. Very recommended.
iOpages – Magazine for Progressive Rock
Sometimes – in amongst all the reissues and the umpteenth albums from derivative and repetitive artists – something will come along that gives you a pleasant surprise. In this case it is a project by Freestone, who has drawn on the philosophy of Freemasonry for lyrics and musical inspiration. The impressive artwork for the album was also inspired by Freemasonry. There is in fact a story behind each song and all of the artwork in this well presented Digipack. And although I haven’t been converted, I must say that Freestone’s album is an exceptionally well-made, top-quality product.
Not only did producer Harm Timmerman compose its twelve tracks, but he also played guitar, bass and synths and can take the credit for its balanced production. The second key figure behind the record is Diederik Huisman, whose exceptionally fine voice and outstanding transatlantic pronunciation help lend this album its international allure. The music can be described as pop music with a progressive and symphonic twist. Alex Simu’s flute and saxophone give it a rather jazzy slant, which is particularly clear on a laid-back song like Walking Through This Sacred Place, in which a ‘fiddling’ piano figures prominently in the foreground and background. The shorter tracks are typically ‘poppy’, whereas the instrumentation and the often brilliant yet melodious progressions have more in common with progressive rock. Although there are shades of Double, Pink Floyd and No Man, such a comparison short-changes Freestone’s compositions, which do not simply recall the work of others; instead Freestone seems to be mapping out a route of its own through musical heritage.
There are countless details and effects that help Temple of Humanity stand out from the crowd. A critical eye has been cast over the structure and content of the music; this is no run-of-the-mill fare. For instance, the almost Floydian Documentum Intellige is exquisite, with a choir to give it a unique Gregorian twist, while the opening track – the single Turn The Key – is one of the catchiest and amongst my favourites. Seven Step Staircase is a fine instrumental track, driven by Simu’s flute.
Audio clips can be found at www.free-stone.org, although Freestone and its musicians remain shrouded in mystery. This is a fine album indeed. Highly recommended!