The Round Window - Everywhere & Nowhere

The Round Window – Everywhere & Nowhere

Everywhere & Nowhere is the impressive second album by The Round Window. This is a band from Colchester in Essex formed by the father and son duo of Rich and Tom Lock, in 2018 and subsequently joined by the other son, Jack. With David Brazington on guitar and Dietmar Schantin on bass joining the core family trio, they released a very promising self-titled debut album in late 2022. However, it is with Everywhere & Nowhere, released in December 2023, that the band have fully blossomed in my opinion.

The Round Window produce ‘widescreen’ melodic and progressive rock but are refreshingly not restricted to those genres. They draw on many musical and lyrical influences, including acoustic and classical sounds, together with a strong, story-telling element. Firmly anchored by Rich’s distinctive clear and penetrating vocals, the band eschew the showboating of many progressive rock bands; creating a holistic synergy of sound that honours the integrity of the songs. I hear echoes of the likes of contemporary melodic prog bands such as Kaprekar’s Constant, The Bardic Depths, Abel Ganz, Stuckfish and This Winter Machine amongst others, but they produce a distinctly signature sound of their own.

The album consists of eight songs and have an overall theme of duality. Each one features a thematic clash of elements having both a direct meaning, but also a more general outlook that accommodates the listeners’ own perceptions and experiences. It is these lyrical themes which are as important as the intricacies and depth of the musical soundscapes the band conjure up in support of them.

The Round Window

The Tides starts the album in an epic and uplifting fashion with a delicious slab of melodic rock, as we get a burst of engaging and soaring guitar from David over a simple, but effective, bass and drum rhythm. Rich’s expressive and sharp vocals and harmonies propel the song with exuberance, while Tom paints subtle keyboards patterns.

Lyrically the song looks at the clash between creativity and the authoritarian suppression experienced by the Strugatsky Brothers as they attempted to bring their classic sci-fi novel, Roadside Picnic, to fruition against the backdrop of Soviet Russia. Instrumentally you hear the innocent optimism of artistic freedom and the creative instinct gradually washing away on the shores of obstructive governance and bureaucracy.

After the opening musical theme, there is now a switch to a deeper, bass-driven section, and despite some swirling keyboards, a darker tone is being set. Midway through, there is a poignant interlude of piano and acoustic guitar, which slowly picks up in pace until it reaches a galloping, rhythmic urgency and then a despairing guitar solo, before the sad and repeated ‘One More Time’ refrain over resonating piano notes coalesce into a haunting and thoughtful conclusion – a deliberate contrast to the optimism at the start. It is definitely the highlight of the album for me – displaying the multi-faceted elements of the band, but that’s not to say there are not many musical gems to follow.

All the album’s tracks carry a deeper and often personal meaning behind the shifting instrumentation, and the title track, Everywhere & Nowhere, looks at how true change is an elusive thing, not necessarily addressed by just relocating elsewhere. It is a thoughtful, accessible and well-integrated mid-tempo track with echoing piano, acoustic guitar and expressive bass from Dietmar, with Tom’s gradually emerging keyboards and Jack’s drumming propelling the pace and intensity over the vocals and the catchy ‘Everywhere and Nowhere’ chorus. Electric guitar adds some effective colour towards the end as well.

All Roads Lead Home starts slower, and more reflectively, with a folk-rock feel from the acoustic guitar and Rich’s sad and yearning vocal intonation, over an atmospheric keyboard wash. The song looks at dealing with praise and criticism, and the importance of treating them equally, but processing and acting on them effectively. The bass guitar picks up the pace and a more dynamic tempo develops, with some expressive guitar lines and an increasingly strident drum beat, over which a defiant ‘All Roads Lead Home’ chorus – filling out the sound wonderfully before a gentle finish.

Resist extols the power of saying ‘no’ and making a defiant stand at times to make sure that any lines you draw should not be crossed. There is lovely, unselfish ensemble playing over the rolling beat, including touches of synths, acoustic guitar and piano – but the highlight is the evocative saxophone playing of Peter Jones (of Tiger Moth Tales), which twists and turns throughout the song, but is eventually behind the fulsome pick up in intensity towards the end.

There is a slower, low-key start to Holes, with piano and acoustic guitar providing a melancholic feel, enhanced by intertwining keyboard and guitar patterns. Even when the rhythm picks up, there is a deliberate weariness in the musical tone and the vocals, as the lyrics recount the tragic and destructive descent of a conspiracy theorist who can no longer separate truths and untruths. String-like keyboards, piano and a short but soaring guitar solo add depth to the musical palette later on, before a forlorn and despairing finish brings us back down to earth.

Ghosts looks at society’s disregard for the wisdom and experience of older generations, compared to youth, and how many are treated as ‘ghosts’ long before they die. Strummed acoustic guitar and accusing vocals combine with solemn organ chords and lift up the music above its steady beat, and some forceful keyboards build the song through to an enjoyable electric guitar climax from David. It is very much a grower of a song and the catchy chorus of ‘Ghost are here, ghosts are here, portraits in the hall…’ slowly seeps into your head rather effectively, prior to the gentle piano notes at the end.

If perhaps the general tempo and rhythmic pacing of the last few songs is a touch similar, there is still enough variety within the song structures themselves to maintain the album’s diversity and flow. However, Parabellum provides a welcome musical contrast at this point, and lyrically tackles the dangers of applying simplistic binary choices to the world around us, and the way it can lead to a ‘cancel culture’ and the polarising isolation of many, and the re-emergence of ‘groupthink’.  Musically, there is a Floydian feel to the undulating keyboards and Nick Mason-like drumming, with a sprinkling of spoken soundbites creating an unsettling atmosphere. However, piano and vocals combine to create rich poignancy, emphasise by the stabbing refrain of ‘Battlelines’.  Piano and guitar teasingly play off each other before a full-blooded guitar solo takes flight and everything steps up another level. Rich’s reflective voice provides a short, reflective musical pause and then the intensity returns, prior to the foreboding sound of an oncoming storm at the end.

There is no hiding the dark nature of the subject matter across most of the album’s tracks, but the sound of bird song leads to a more hopeful Epilogue to finish off proceedings. A deeply personal song from Rich, it is a wistful look at the feeling of loss felt by the passing of someone we cared for, but the realisation that their presence and achievements still shine bright for us, like a timeless beacon of hope. Inspired by the passing of Neil Peart and David Longdon in recent years, it is a song that is easy to identify with. Starting delicately on piano and guitar, with probing bass notes, it steadily rises emotionally with the energised guitar and lush keyboards, to produce something rather uplifting by the end.

Everywhere & Nowhere is a highly enjoyable and thoughtful melodic prog rock album by The Round Window, full of cinematic light and shade and deeper lyrical meaning, incorporating a range of other musical influences to frame their reflective storytelling. This is a well-integrated release, expertly mixed and mastered by Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf) that bodes well for the future and will reward the discerning progressive rock listener who appreciates their songs as whole entities, rather than just structures onto which instrumental complexity and virtuosity is displayed.

P.S. Both David and Dietmar have left the band following this release, but plans are afoot for a new EP later in the year and even the possibility of some live appearances, so definitely a lot to look forward to in the months to come from the Lock family.

01. The Tides (10:58)
02. Everywhere & Nowhere (4:59)
03. All Roads Lead Home (5:23)
04. Resist (6:03)
05. Holes (6:20)
06. Ghosts (5:02)
07. Parabellum (8:54)
08. Epilogue (5:15)

Total Time – 52:54

Rich Lock – Vocals
Tom Lock – Keyboards, Vocals
Jack Lock – Drums, Vocals
David Brazington – Guitar
Dietmar Schantin – Bass
~ With:
Peter Jones – Saxophone (track 4)

Record Label: Gravity Dream (CD, Digital)
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 8th December 2023

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