Well now, Freemasonry and music…it’s not a new thing, as certain well-known musicians were indeed part of this slightly religious organisation (which has been surrounded by all kinds of conspirational theories since its beginnings due to the several initiation rituals it took on as one of its rules): in Classical music Mozart stands out, in the world of Jazz you had such heavieweights as Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton, George and Ira Gershwin (a songwriter duo from before most of your times anyway) are other examples…but in the world of Popular music, only the guitarist of Madness appears to be part of the Brotherhood!
Well, that’s not quite true anymore. A small eight years ago, the then 29 year-old Dutch musician and music teacher Harm Timmerman got attracted to and initiated into the ancient (its origins are still clouded in speculation) freethinking movement of the Freemason ideology, and eventually the idea came to him to give tribute to his new direction in life by expressing it in a musical project! So, he not only composed the 12 songs on this album and wrote its lyrics, but also played most guitars, and all of the bass and synthesizers involved.
On top, he also takes credit for a real nice production as well. To bring the project as best as possible, Harm also used a host of professional musicians, the most important of which is certainly singer Diederik Huisman (whom also contributed some additional acoustic guitar to the track “Turn The Key”, and helped out with some of the lyrics), as he’s given the project its voice! But do not underestimate the contributions of drummer Theun Supheert (a very diverse percussionist indeed), and additional musicians Alex Simu (saxophone and flute in several tracks), Cas Straatman (piano…an instrument which is present in móst of the tracks), and cellist Floor Groeneveld (the album is dedicated to one J.P. Groeneveld, surely a family member of hers?). Another contribution came from members of ToonkunstkoorBekker and TightBar, who give the track ‘Documentum Intellige’ its Gregorian touch with their Latin chants!
Musically, Timmerman claims Freestone to be the first Freemason musical project in Pop music…which still remains to be seen, as one can only becóme Pop (music) when one becomes popular, innit? But the musical direction is quite all right to fit the profile though! For the most part the music is very acoustic to begin with (only 3 tracks in the middle of the album (namely ‘Masonry Dissected’, ‘Documentum Intellige’, and the instrumental ‘Seven Step Staircase’) contain the kind of electric guitar use Rock fanatics would like), and while it doés contain elements from Classical and Jazz, its most honest filing would be in the category of “easy listening” Prog Rock! “Easy listening”, because the serenity of the music easily invites people to listen to it, but really the music in itself has some very nice layers which will be a joy for experienced music lovers to unravel! Huh…you know, when looking into the list of influential bands and musicians cited at Freestone’s MySpace page, I was somewhat surprised nót to find the Alan Parsons Project…but then again, the list of influences was probably too long for such a diverse musician to think of everything he’d encountered in the past!
If you’re expecting to find all mysteries surrounding Freemasonry “revealed” with this album, forget it! But Timmerman does speak about the suject from a personal point of view! You know, there’s all kinds of myths around Freemasonry, some people even think that Freemasons have enough power to help each other getting into high places in society. Now really, what a load of bollocks, you know! After all, anyone part of àny movement will find at least sóme of the its members interested in bettering the social situation of their fellows…but that just happens to be one of the finer traits of Man (or men), when united in a movement they believe in…and not something to be “explained” through conspiracy theories.
Freemasonry, you’ll find traces of it encountering you in many aspects of life in general, you even find its symbolisms on the one-dollar bill! But when push comes to shove, these people are submitted to many of lives’ disappointments, just like any other person! Proof of that comes with the heartfelt ballad ‘Pathway On My Own’, a song about the breaking up of a love relation. That the Freemasons movement is one of freethinkers, is further proven by the fact that reactions from fellow Freemasons have been quite diverse…from people congratulating Timmerman with the fine product he brought, to those who were slightly against it, feeling that there was no need to “expose” the movement’s traditions. I suppose there’s always sóme with a need for secrecy, but really, how do they expect to keep ànything secret in this day and age?
Time for me to direct you to myspace.com/firstfreestone, where you’ll not only find audio files for the tracks “Turn The Key” (album opener and first single off the album, as I understand) and “Children Of The Widow”, but also a promo video for the album focusing on the album’s nice artwork, and with the music of “Brotherhood Of Men” underneath (further samples of all tracks on the album can be found at free-stone.org)! My personal thoughts about the album are somewhat controversial: while I’m nominating The Temple Of Humanityinto my year-lists, I doubt whether Freestone’s music will have a mentionable impact in the world of Popular music (I mean, I fear the time for this kind of music was rather some 20 years ago…and besides, will the project even have any reasons for longevity, with everything that could be “revealed” already out in the open now?)! History to come might prove me wrong and see the band featured in the Dutch charts after all…and I the fact is I would really cheer with some enthusiasm to be standing corrected, for The Temple Of Humanityis truly a great album!