When is an album a homage to the seventies, or a retro copy of that era? That is the difficult question, one which polarises opinion between listeners. Wobbler unashamedly provide music with a retro feel, now this appeals to some and not to others, the band putting it so, “[Wobbler] has a burning desire to create, or perhaps recreate some of the musical expressions of the early ’70s – especially by the use of the instruments of that time.” Well there you have it, their mission statement demonstrates what it is they are trying to achieve. With influences listed as Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, ELP, Gentle Giant, PFM and Van Der Graaf Generator, to name a few, it becomes inevitable that these sounds will be heard in the music, and that is what has happened with this release, there is a great deal of familiarity to what is played. “Is this a good thing?”, I hear you ask, well, that is for you to decide as this is a personal choice. For me, I like this album, as I have their previous three. Yes it is probably a copy of some of the great musical styles of the past, but I find it an easy listen and a comfortable trip down memory lane, so to speak, all tied up with some good song writing.
Wobbler were formed in 1999 in Honefoss in Norway and are now working from Oslo, releasing three previous albums, their debut Hinterland (2005) being followed by Afterglow (2009) and then Rites of Spring (2011) with its very Yes influenced stylings.
So now their fourth album, and first for Karisma Records, From Silence To Somewhere contains four epic songs which total around forty-seven minutes in length, with subject matter including considerations on metamorphosis, change and alchemy. The themes are similar to Rites of Spring but here the overall feel is somewhat darker, although musically there are links to the previous albums.
The album opens with the title track and at over twenty-one minutes this is an epic offering which almost plays like a classic prog rock tick box; we have vintage keyboards in the shape of Mellotron, Moog and Hammond, Rickenbacker bass, flute. These are accompanied by some tight drumming, great guitar and the precise vocals of Andreas Wettergreen Strømman Prestmo. The start has a definite Yes style about it, but when the organ joins in it provides a Canterbury feel before some King Crimson-like Mellotron takes over. The flute has a folksy edge adding some beautiful touches; the second half of the song becomes a little darker, the excellent pounding bass lines creating the mood which then leads back to more gentle atmospheric finish.
The second and shortest track here, Rendered in Shades of Green, at just over two minutes is a piano driven instrumental piece, building as various keyboards are added throughout; the bass lines towards the end certainly make their presence felt with a deep resonance. Fermented Hours begins with keyboards in ELP’s Tarkus territory, before the Yes influenced harmonies, then the song takes off with the bass and drums driving things forward. It begins to ebb and flow with Geir Marius Bergom Halleland adding some sharp and fluid guitar lines as the keyboards fold around the other instruments and Andreas is in good voice.
The last song, and my personal favourite, Foxlight is a near fourteen minute mini epic during which the band stamp their own identity on the music. An almost gentle pastoral start with guitar, keyboards and flute creates some lovely melody, before it takes a change as the rest of the band join in and things get edgier. With the bass providing some great attack accompanied by the drums to give a darker edge, almost counterpointing the melody provided by the keyboards, after what appears to be a harpsichord interlude Andreas’ vocals bring us back to the main drive of the song. Overall the complete piece holds together well and flows seamlessly through its different changes.
This album definitely has a retro feel, the playing by the entire band is faultless and the production values are good throughout. The selection of vintage instruments is very wide, and yes at times it may sail very close in sound to some of the classic ’70s prog bands, so it would be a personal choice if this is for you. I do like this album, the darker edge Wobbler have employed here works well, giving their music a new direction that I hope they will pursue and develop on their next release.
From Silence To Somewhere will be released on CD, Vinyl and Digital Download, if you like your music retro get yourself a copy, I don’t think they will disappoint.
01. From Silence To Somewhere (21:45)
02. Rendered In Shades Of Green (2:08)
03. Fermented Hours (10:34)
04. Foxlight (13:51)
Total Time – 48:18
Lars Fredrik Frøislie – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Kristian Karl Hultgren – Bass & Bass Pedals, Bass Clarinet
Martin Nordrum Kneppen – Drums & Percussion, Recorder
Andreas Wettergreen Strømman Prestmo – Vocals, Guitar, Glockenspiel & Percussion
Geir Marius Bergom Halleland – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Karisma Records
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 20th October 2017