From Silence to Somewhere (21:34), Rendered in Shades of Green (2:07), Fermented Hours (10:28), Foxlight (13:43)
Arno Agterberg's Review
Oh my, what an absolute treat! From Silence to Somewhere, the new album by Norwegian band Wobbler, has taken some time to get out into the light, but when it does on October 20th, fans will be very pleased with what the five members of this great band have created.
Wobbler started out in 1999 and released their debut, Hinterland, in 2005. Using instruments from the golden age of progressive rock, their sound is inevitably influenced by the great bands from the seventies like Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis and King Crimson. Their sophomore album, Afterglow (2009), and the critically acclaimed Rites at Dawn (2011) also broadened their sound, and with the release of From Silence to Somewhere the band has evolved in to one of today's best eclectic progressive rock bands.
The sound is a bit more aggressive and somewhat darker than Rites at Dawn and sounds more mature because of the more refined songwriting. The band cites as being due to the new approach they took when writing and recording this album. Being much more of a band product than its predecessors, the quintet have clearly found a way to bring out the best in each other.
With only four songs to sink your eager teeth into, this album still feels like a wonderful journey. With opener and title track From Silence to Somewhere clocking in at just under 22 minutes, the album starts off with a great intro, reminiscent of Yes and The Flower Kings. Once the vocals of Andreas Wettrennen Strømman Prestmo begin, you know this is just what the doctor ordered. His voice is very complementary to the music once again. The multi-instrumentalist did a fantastic job on this track, in particular using his voice in various ways within the different passages of this great song. This could be a real contender for my song of the year.
The sometimes haunting bass parts by Kristian Karl Hultgren also sound great, and add to the wonderful mix during the instrumental parts. The rest of the band is in fine form, with guitarist Geir Marius Bergom Halleland, drummer Martin Nordrum Kneppen and keyboards by Lars Fredrik Frøislie, who created a wonderful piece of dark, moody music on the second track, Rendered in Shades of Green, and a great intro to the third track, Fermented Hours.
The first segments of this song reminded me of early Uriah Heep, and made me hold on tight for what was to come. Lasting for just over 10 minutes, this track is very powerful and strong. The organ and mMllotron sounds, create a landscape that puts you back 45 years to the heyday of progressive rock, while the harmonies between keyboards, guitar and bass are pure class and add to the eclectic mix.
When you think things can't get any better, the fourth and final track, Foxlight, starts with a delicate and beautiful intro where flute and glockenspiel are brought to the mix (again). Once drummer Martin Nordum Kneppen gets involved, the song takes a dramatic but forceful turn. With a touch of renaissance and classical influences, this last song is a great way to finish the album. Fierce guitars and dark keyboards make this another stunner of a track, with great vocal and instrumental passages that are omnipresent on the entire album.
Wobbler has really outdone themselves once again and produced an absolute masterpiece. With Rites at Dawn, the band found a lot of praise, but it is this new album that puts them right at the forefront of the genre. With four wonderful songs and a mature sound, Wobbler deserve a lot of credit for the use of analogue equipment and classic, progressive elements. This album will be on a lot of "best of" lists at the end of the year. It surely will be on mine. And that's a promise I will love to keep!
Raimond Fischbach's Review
With their fourth album, Norwegian sympho proggers Wobbler have created their second full-conceptual album, and it brings them one good step further to their goal, which is to re-create music from the early seventies. But I think it is this aspect that will clearly display the huge abyss that cuts the prog community into two halves. The reason for this is that the band comes so close to their old school heroes, that they almost sound like their heroes themselves, and upon that, the musicians in Wobbler fully lose their own musical identity.
The composition of this three-movement prog symphony is perfect. It is consistent throughout, it has a couple of dramatic crescendos and uplifting de-crescendos, along with some wonderful twists and turns and some wonderful arrangements that keep the piece interesting from the first to the last note. If you look at it like that, you will enthusiastically shout: "Bravo!" and wish to hug them all, because of the greatness of their work.
But what bothers me with all this music that refers to Yes, Gentle Giant, Camel, Van der Graaf Generator, Änglagård and many more, is that we are not listening to music that is simply inspired or influenced by said bands. The point is that it sounds exactly like the originals, with no additional colors added. It's somewhat of a miracle that the composers have managed to create all of this without having added a personal style to it all.
At least in respect to the instrumental part of this music. Because on the vocal aspect, the band has, since the arrival of Andreas Wettrennen Strømman Prestmo for their last album, gained some sort of uniqueness, although his voice is an acquired taste. Once again the line-up has changed, and duties on guitar and backing vocals now fall into the hands of Geir Marius Bergom Halleland. His guitar playing fits perfectly, and his vocal style supports Prestmo.
Wobbler fans will celebrate this album and so will most fans of the golden age of prog. Because from a pure musical aspect, this album is brilliant, even if one doesn't like the vocalist. But it is hard to avoid the fact that From Silence To Somewhere really has nothing new to offer. Thus it is unlikely to attract the kind of proggers that get attracted by new musical turns and twists.