This year four musicians have come together to create an album full of Anglo-Scandinavian influenced symphonic rock, the members’ pedigrees including White Willow, Henry Fool, Änglagård, Tim Bowness’ band, Weserbandland and Necromonkey. These experiences shine through this music, enhancing and helping to develop the songs, taking them to another level.
The album was recorded across three countries, Sweden, Norway and the U.K., and was sensitively mixed by Jacob Holm-Lupo at Dude Ranch Studios, Sandoya in Norway. Mastering was completed by Andy Jackson, who is well known for his work with Pink Floyd. The album takes the form of three long form songs over forty-one minutes. The songs have an epic, widescreen and cinematic feel; each piece is a cohesive whole which moves seamlessly from beginning to end. The music is melodic, beautiful at times, carefully constructed with all players at the top of their game, giving the listener a very satisfying experience.
Lyrically it’s a loose concept about a night out in a city, the anticipation and disappointments, the pleasures and the pain, the love and the loss. The sound quality is excellent, the balance between all instruments helps to identify the vintage and unusual instrumentation used, including Mellotrons, Moogs, Oberheims and Korgs, along with Stratocasters and Les Pauls. Throw in some Gizmotrons, glockenspeils and a Stylophone and we get an interesting musical landscape.
The album opens with the ten minute The Voice of Beauty Drowned, melodic and atmospheric before the vocals begin and take the song forward with some excellent bass lines, drum support and washes of keyboards. There is some beautiful flute here also. At around six minutes sound effects, which appear to be a helicopter, introduce a change of pace with some prominent keyboards, not changing the melodic feel of the song, just enhancing the scope of this well-paced piece.
The Fallen Angel is again well paced and melodic, at the start the vocals are reminiscent of Tim Bowness in their delivery, the song developing well. There is some lovely use of what appears to be a trumpet and at around ten minute we are treated to a little pop/rock vibe with a section that is reminiscent of Simple Minds. Barbarella’s Lover ends the album, kicking off with a gentle piano and vocal before the bass and drums come in with a pulsating rhythm, supported by keyboards and guitar to drive the song forward. The mix makes excellent use of the Seventies trend with the then new stereo format where the instruments phase between left and right speakers. Here it starts with Mattias Olsson’s drums appearing in one speaker then the next, the effect continuing with the keyboards, making headphone listening special. That said, these effects are not over done, just enough to enhance the experience.
This is an album full of texture, scope and depth, vintage sounds all given a modern production twist, well written and beautifully played. The three tracks appear to pass quickly and this encouraged me to hit the replay button, each play revealing more. This is a great piece of Anglo-Scandinavian symphonic prog rock, which you need to hear; glad I had the chance to review this album, it is has been an excellent find.
01. The Voice Of Beauty Drowned (10:43)
02. The Fallen Angel (15:35)
03. Barbarella’s Lover (15:18)
Total time – 41:36
Stephen James Bennett – Vocals, Keyboards, Guitars, Bass Pedals
Ketil Vestrum Einarsen – Keyboards, Programming, Flute
Jacob Holm-Lupo – Guitar, Bass
Mattias Olsson – Drums, Keyboards, Guitars, Bass Pedals
Record Label: Karisma Records
Country of Origin: Norway/Sweden/U.K.
Date of Release: 20th July 2018