Take some retro instruments, a love of retro prog rock bands, especially a flavour of Yes with a pinch of Gentle Giant, add a modern twist with a sprinkling of technical proficiency and what do you get? Wobbler’s fifth album, Dwellers of the Deep. It is three years since their last, From Silence To Somewhere, and the band wanted to make something different, a progression forwards, and I think they have achieved that.
Wobbler were formed in Hønefoss, Norway in 1999 and over a series of well-received albums have used their influences to forge a distinctive style. The recording sessions for album have been somewhat shaped by the current world event, but this has not changed their dedication to creating some fine music. The lyrical themes deal with “human emotions, and the ongoing struggle between juxtaposed forces within the psyche”. The music is a blend of carefully planned and passionately jammed compositions which have given rise to a move in a new direction for the band, whilst remaining connected to what makes the Wobbler signature sound.
Taking the vinyl format towards timing, we get an album some forty-five minutes in length, consisting of four tracks. Two are of a medium length, one short piece and a longer song at nineteen minutes, all are perfectly and paced. There are moments of pure rock out, but coupled with those beautiful, atmospheric passages, all sitting together well.
Things get off to a good start with By the Banks, a bright and upfront opening with washes of lush keyboards, ably supported by great guitar bass and drums. When Andreas Presste’s vocals join in it fully blends the melodic output of their music. The song ebbs and flows in a way that captures your attention, moments of beauty coupled with full on rock energy, the thirteen minutes appearing to pass quickly.
The lead track released from the album, Five Rooms is next up, a more upfront rock presentation as the band effortlessly motor on. This song could become a live favourite, maybe an encore number (their Roundabout perhaps?). I say this as a good thing as it is distinctly Wobbler. The playing is exemplary with particular note to Kristian Hultgren’s bass work, the band remaining tight and focused throughout, providing an exciting and enjoyable listening experience.
The next track takes a different approach. Naiad Dreams is a lovely gentle piece, creating an almost peaceful and serene atmosphere over its four and a half minutes. This approach is in direct contrast to the last track where the band go off at full tilt.
At nineteen minutes, Merry Macabre is darker in tone than what has preceded it. With a slow build up to start, a frantic organ signals the band to set off at pace, with another change of pace around six minutes in with brief touches of Van der Graaf Generator moodiness, before moving off into almost Gentle Giant territory, but all the time maintaining that unique Wobbler sound. Again, the track ebbs and flows like an aural rollercoaster, great contributions here from all the band with some notable guitar work from Maruis Kneppen, it ends with the band going full out to a thundering climax.
This release is a definite move forward for the band, Dwellers of the Deep is well named as there is so much buried deep within the songs. Repeated plays reveal more aural delights as you peel away the layers and the enjoyment level increases with each listen, from a band who clearly enjoy what they are doing.
01. By The Banks (13:49)
02. Five Rooms (8:27)
03. Naiad Dreams (4:24)
04. Merry Macabre (19:00)
Total Time – 45:41
Andreas Presste – Vocals, Guitar
Lars Fredrik Frøislie – Keyboards, Vocals
Kristian Hultgren – Bass, Bass Pedals, Woodwinds
Marius Halleland – Guitar, Vocals
Martin Kneppen – Drums, Percussion
Record Label: Karisma Records
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 23rd October 2020