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Reviews Freestone -The Temple of Humanity

 

 

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ambigram
 
 

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
 

 

 

 

Jens

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!

 

 

 

Wisdom, Strength, Beauty: © Jens Rusch

File Under - Magazine for Progresive Rock
 

 

 

 

Lodge

Freemasonry has a very poor reputation indeed. When worldwide conspiracy theories are dreamt up, the Freemasons regularly get lumped in with the ‘bad guys’. This poor reputation is partly down to the Masonic lodges, which have indeed had their problems, and partly down to the secrecy surrounding their rituals and membership. Ultimately I have the impression of a sort of spiritual Rotary Club with the rituals of a secret society for boys. Freestone will probably find that to be highly disrespectful, but the biography in this CD, with its theme of Freemasonry, contributes further to this impression. There is reference made to “an initiate”, rather than simply saying at the outset that the musical driving force Harm Timmerman is a member of the Freemasons.

Nevertheless, mysticism and secrecy do form an outstanding and highly original basis for a concept album. And that’s what The Temple of Humanity is. It’s not just the lyrics – the background sounds and fine artwork match the theme beautifully. And as with Neal Morse, the music on this album is not simply a way of spreading a message.Instead, this symphonic and progressive rock is exceptionally well made.

The “easy listening” label attached by iTunes suggests it will be a piece of slickly produced, unexceptional pop, but in this case that would be an insult. This is prog rock of the gentler kind, in which saxophones and flutes play their part. There is little in the way of heavy rock, but that doesn’t make it run-of-the-mill. The great patience and conviction with which it has been produced is clear to the listener.

Prog rock in the Netherlands is rare – good prog rock is even rarer – but The Temple of Humanity is an album of which the Dutch can be proud.

 

 

 

Paintbrush Tracingboard: © Ko Kammeijer

 

Revolver Magazine
Freestone mixes Freemason ideas with pop music

 

 

 

 

revolver

 

Freestone recently released an album entitled The Temple of Humanity, inspired by the ideas of the Freemasons. With this special and unique record, Freestone has become the first band to explore the mystical world of Freemasonry through pop music. The man behind Freestone is producer and music teacher Harm Timmerman. It was he who developed the concept for the album, writing the lyrics, composing the music and transforming them – with the help of musicians, both friends of his and professionals – into a credible and authentic creation. Rather than relying on mystical New Age sounds, Timmerman makes effective use of progressive rock to explain what Freemasonry means to him, while discounting the many conspiracy theories that have grown up around this mysterious brotherhood through the years. It is pop music with an innovative subject. So we decided to ask Timmerman all about it.

So when did you become a Freemason?

“Seven-and-a-half years ago. I was 29 at the time. I soon realised that music and Freemasonry are connected – music is regularly played at lodge meetings, but it is usually classical music. After doing some research I came to the conclusion that there was simply no pop/rock music based on the ideas of Freemasonry.”

What was it about Freemasonry that appealed to you?

“Since an early age I have been interested in mysticism and the search for inner experiences and truth. I wanted to know how the world worked. I devoured hundreds of books about Tarot, Kabala, Christianity, Buddhism – you name it. Sooner or later though you come across Freemasonry – and the main thing that appealed to me was the fact that it leaves you free to think for yourself. Freemasons use symbols and rituals but interpret them according to their own understanding. The key is that you are encouraged to discover yourself and to think about your relationship with your fellow human beings and your place in the cosmos. You are encouraged to be more aware of things in life. And finally you want to do something with that awareness. I chose to make pop music – and pop music that was about something other than sex and drugs and rock’n’roll.”

How have other Freemasons reacted to this record?

“Well, initially I didn’t produce the album for Freemasons, but for music lovers of any kind, maybe with an interest in mysticism. But fortunately other masons have reacted very enthusiastically – they think that it’s amazing. There have been reactions from lodges in The Netherlands and also from Belgium, Germany, America and Canada. Coincidentally, last night I had a very positive telephone conversation with a Freemason from Northern Ireland. But the record has caused raised eyebrows among some older Freemasons, who have asked whether our valuable heritage, which goes back hundreds of years, should really be brought out into the open like this.”

Does your album answer all the questions surrounding Freemasonry?

“The album should be seen as a musical introduction to the philosophies of the Freemasons. Put simply, we are pursuing an ideal. We aren’t a group of shadowy figures engaged in mystical pursuits. People sometimes think that is the case because we perform rituals at our ceremonies. But once those ceremonies are finished, we get together and enjoy a drink!”

What are those rituals?

“The most famous of them is the ‘Entered Apprentice’ ritual to initiate new candidates. Then you have the ‘Fellow Craft’ ritual, just like the medieval system of guilds. Finally comes the ‘Master Mason’ ritual. The initiation ceremony includes elements of symbolism. For instance, you are blindfolded before being led inside, but halfway through the ritual the blindfold is taken off. This symbolises the fact that things are being revealed to you. While you are still blindfolded you stumble over an obstacle on the ground. This is something you need to overcome and is symbolic for overcoming the obstacles within you.”

Are there other pop musicians in the Freemasons?

“Not as far as I know. Many great minds from the past have been members: Mozart, Goethe and a number of US presidents. Jazz musicians such as Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton were Freemasons, as were George and Ira Gershwin. But when it comes to pop music, only the guitarist from Madness belongs to our brotherhood. However, there are pop songs that make passing references to Freemasonry. For example, George Harrison wrote a song called P2 Vatican Blues about all sorts of conspiracy theories, American Gangsta rap has also speculated about the Freemasons, and the cover of the Ultravox single Hymn depicts images from Freemasonry. But otherwise the subject has been left untouched. There is a British dance duo that calls themselves The Freemasons – but they aren’t actually Freemasons at all. Nevertheless, artists and musicians have always found inspiration in the mystical and transcendental. Take the Beatles for instance. You also see mystical symbols on the covers of albums by Led Zeppelin and Alan Parsons. And Steve Vai is another highly spiritual musician. Many pop musicians have been inspired by mysticism, but we haven’t yet seen Freemasonry in pop music.”

 

 
 
 
 
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