As promised in last week’s edition of Bite-size Prog, we at Progulator have been brainstorming ways to give you more variety in our weekly reviews. Today you witness the birth of our first (I use the term liberally) experiment: having several staff members collaborate on a single edition of Bite-size. You may find this ludicrous or you may be relieved to know you do not have to listen to my exclusive opinions. For me, I just think it’s cool that I get to still pretend like this is my article series while my colleagues make my job easier. With that said, let me reintroduce you to the clever cynicism and humor my esteemed collaborators, Markus Cueva and Tyson Nordgren; that is, after you get through my review of the fantastic Autumn Chorus first (unless my boss and chief editor Mr. Nordgren decides to put his review before mine, that is).
Autumn Chorus – The Village to the Vale
by Matt Di Giordano
Warm, lush, and melodious are words that come quickly to mind when listening to British proggers Autumn chorus and their stunning debut record, The Village to the Vale. This album instantly caught me off guard with it’s huge, but peaceful symphonic soundscapes and brilliant ethereal melodies. The band describes themselves as post-rock/post-classical; I’ve always been bored to tears by post-rock, but this is a different beast all together. Loads of traditional instruments fill in Autumn Chorus’s arrangements, lending a very natural touch to The Village to the Vale. Robbie Wilson’s heavenly vocals really make the songs come to life, adding a very subtle touch to a collection of songs that are already tastefully saturated with musical texture. Epic tracks like Rosa show a deep level of maturity for a debut, showing the extent of variety and compositional excellency that Autumn Chorus knows how to offer. From tender and folky to immenesly symphonic, the piece is able to walk the perfect balancing act between restraint and going all out. Without question, The Village to the Vale is a very satisfying release that will grab fans from a variety of prog genres and leave them with their mouths watering for a sophomore release from Autumn Chorus.
Frequency Drift – …Laid To Rest
by Tyson Nordgren
With vocals reminiscent of Carla Kihlstedt, and slow yet powerful movements, Frequency Drift delivers a haunting and emotional album. The songs are slow paced, slow building, and incredibly beautiful. Most of the tracks feature pretty minimal arrangements, but utilize all the space for sculpting a very nice picture. The album gets heavy at times, but is mostly quiet and driven. I first listened to this album really early in the morning, when I was still a little bit groggy, and it blew me away. It painted some very strange images in my mind, and it was the perfect album for that mood when you can kind of just zone out and let the music take you far away. If you have some free time, a little bit of patience, and are in the mood to get completely absorbed in some music, give this album a listen. You will not regret it.
Northwinds – Winter
by Markus Cueva
Pay no mind to this band’s genre label on Prog Archives. The French prog outfit gets slapped with the dreaded cliche of “Progressive Metal”, a name that evokes technical licks, double bass pedal and Dream Theater. In reality, Northwinds is about as “metal” as any 70’s hard rock band, with roots firmly grounded in the bluesy sound of the era. Hell, the drummer was even in a Saint Vitus cover band. I’m not familiar with their other material, but their fourth effort, “Winter”, is basically a progressive homage to these influences. I hear a little bit of Black Sabbath, especially in the doom metal-style pacing on the album and the thick, British guitar tone – and the vocals are right off of a mid-70s doom metal album. The guys manage to keep it entertaining for progressive-minded listeners, though, packing the tracks full of plenty of keyboards and organs, throwing in a fair bit of folk instruments, and even gracing us with a 22-minute track. What happens when a bunch of Frenchmen who grew up listening to Ange and Sabbath try to start a Progressive Doom Metal band? I’ll let you decide, but I’m in.
**Stream these albums for free on www.progstreaming.com and let us know what you think! (While supplies last!)