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(81:39, Presagio Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Poet Part I: Dusk 10:10 2. The Poet Part II: New World 4:19 3. Year Zero 4:36 4. Upside Down 6:25 5. CH-7 12:37 6. Terra 8:06 7. Pale Blue Dot 9:54 8. Still Alive 4:48 9. Nostalgia 2:14 10. Club Hawaii 9:20 11. Falling 2:15 12. In The Probe 6:55 LINEUP Felipe Candia - drums Sebastian Vergara - vocals Rodrigo Sepulveda - guitars German Vergara - guitars, vocals, piano Daniel Baird-Kerr - bass Juan Pablo Gaete - keyboards, piano
Prolusion. Chile based band AISLES was formed back in 2001, and came to some prominence when they released their debut album "The Yearning" in 2005 through Mylodon Records (South America) and Musea Records (France). Since then they have set up their own label, Presagio Records, and have released a further three full length albums. "Hawaii" is the most recent of these, and was released towards the tail end of 2016.
Analysis. When Aisles started out, they were by and large considered to be a band that followed the patterns of the second wave of neo-progressive rock bands, drawing in inspirations from both classic era symphonic progressive rock as well as the first wave of neo-progressive rock, blending the arguably more accessible aspects of both these traditions with an emphasis on mood, atmosphere and melody. Since then the band have developed towards more of a melodic rock general expression, while still holding on to some key aspects of their original roots and foundation. As "Hawaii" is a double concept album with a futuristic setting, that bit alone will interest many fans of progressive rock. That the story itself is dystopian is a nice offset to the otherwise lighter tones used in the compositions, although light tones here does not equal light mood as such. Instead, I guess mild-mannered desperation is a key vibe I get from this album as a whole, or perhaps a desperate longing. The music tends to be accessible throughout. Many of the songs appears to revolve around a gentle, ballad-oriented foundation, where the piano and acoustic and gentle electric guitar details have the main support roles. On occasion with eruptions or sequences built upon the aforementioned neo-progressive rock legacy, at other times with more dream-laden atmospheres not too far removed from the likes of Camel, but also with detours into more psychedelic territories as well as landscape of a more eerie character that makes me think of King Crimson in general and Robert Fripp in particular. But while there is a liberal amount of candy foe the die hard progressive rock fans here, the greater totality is one that focus on the accessible, and the majority of the songs will have a potentially broad reach. I also notte that the band, by plan or by accident, also adds in a few subtle but expressive instrument details that for me comes with associations towards good, old jazz. Mainly bass and drums, but those details are noted anyhow, whether planner or not. What drives this album onward and forward, besides clever arrangements and developments that maintains tension quite nicely, are the lead vocals. The vocals are a dominating aspect of this album, clear, melodic and at times highly emotional, and that dimension of the band have more of a mainstream rock touch to it than anything else. For better or for worse, depending on taste, but for me it is always a good thing to hear a progressive rock band that focus on delivering top quality lead vocals. As is certainly the case here. The use of various electronic effects throughout is inspired as well, be it the use of sequencers for a one-off occasion that for me comes with associations towards bands such as Tangerine Dream to the more subtle effects that creates associations towards landscapes cold, alien and industrial. Much the same is the case when the band shifts towards a more psychedelic expression here and there, using this to create more of an otherworldly vibe.
Conclusion. "Hawaii" strikes me as a solid album through and through, and one that have been assembled with a lot of care. If not a brilliantly shining diamond then at least a gold nugget. A production well worth seeking out if melodic, accessible progressive rock is to your general liking, and in particular if a double length science fiction based concept album is explored within this specific context.
Progmessor: December 26th
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