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(79:04; Timezone Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Aurora Moon 7:03 2. Silhouettes Floating Down a Rain-Slicked Street 5:17 3. Mer De Glace 2:05 4. Quiet Days on Earth 7:21 5. Wading Through the Waters of Time 5:32 6. The Echoes of Acheron 5:11 7. The Loneliness of the Somnambulist 6:37 8. Durance 3:45 9. The Space Between the Shadows 6:00 10. Adventures in a Liquid World 7:14 11. The Blinding Absence of Light 4:34 12. Eyes Watching Skies 3:54 13. Foggy Postcard from a Barren Land 5:58 14. Into the Great Unknown 4:30 15. Sleeping Under a Green Desert Tree 4:03 LINEUP: Hagen Bretschneider - bass Nico Walser - guitars, keyboards, bass, effects, programming
Prolusion. German band ELECTRIC MUD was formed back in 2011, and since then main men Hagen Bretschneider and Nico Walser have explored their particular variety of post-progressive rock on 5 studio albums so far. "Quiet Days on Earth" is the most recent of these, and was released through German label Timezone Records in 2020.
Analysis. A description such as post-progressive rock can mean many different things in this day and age, and while the associations one gets when seeing this description can be manifold, I suspect rather few would expect to encounter the kind of music that you will find on this specific album. That being said, I also think it is a fairly good description, and this album is certainly both post-something and progressive, and with enough rock music elements present for this aspect to be true as well. In general terms, I'd describe the music on this album just about as follows: The band develop their compositions in a similar manner to many post-rock bands. The compositions ebb and flow in intensity, will often build up, deflate or subside, and then rebuild again. They also use liberal amounts of textured instrument details as well as nervous, fragile sounds and effects, just like many post-rock bands have a tendency to do. In terms of the structure of the compositions, Electric Mud are much closer to progressive rock. Passages and arrangements will twist and turn, sudden and at times dramatic alterations of the material takes place just as often as smooth transitions and gradual developments. In addition they use layered arrangements and an array of subtle effects, all of which can be said to be idioms of progressive rock. The mood, atmosphere and expression of the compositions have stronger characteristics of ambient music however, with keyboard textures, synthesizer motifs and various electronic details often leading the way in an appealing manner that begs for the word soundscape to be used. At least as far as the key features are concerned. That Electric Mud tends to flavor these foundations with effects, noises, cosmic touches and a great variety of other features does add a challenging aspect to this however, and if something can be called an avantgarde take on ambient music some of the creations on this album would probably be fairly representative of that. When the band opts to go for a more rock oriented sound I noted associations to artists as different as Bo Hansson and Pink Floyd, and for the more electronic oriented passages Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream were notes as possible points of reference, alongside Vangelis and, on an occasion or two, the collaboration between Austrian keyboard wizard Gandalf and Steve Hackett from way back in the 90's sometime. In between this we also have some jazz-oriented details adding flavor and variation, a brief visit into Country & Western territories (or possibly Spaghetti Western soundtrack landscapes) as well as a few instances of a world music flavor being applied. That some passages along the way have more of a pastoral feel and a few orchestral sections can be found too probably isn't a surprise at this point. What strikes me most as more of a total impression is the futuristic and science fiction aspects of this album though. Or perhaps cosmic and dystopian are better words here. Still, as something of a science fiction fan my impression is that at least one part of this creative duo is well versed in science fiction, or at least science fiction soundtracks. Parts of this album made me think back to certain moments of some of my favorite books and TV-series in this genre, like Pohl's Hechee saga as far as books are concerned and the ageing but still beautiful series Babylon 5 for the TV show reference point. If there is any truth or relevance to my personal impressions here I obviously do not know, but for those with an interest in music such associations might be useful guidance still.
Conclusion. The music explored by Electric Mud on this latest album of theirs isn't as easy to digest as one might surmise when an album is described in a manner that includes the word ambient. Personally I'd summarize this production as being some kind of an avant-garde ambient creation with post-rock tendencies, progressive rock features and something of a futuristic, dystopian sheen to it. If such a description makes any sense at all, and sounds interesting, chances are good that you'll also enjoy what Electric Mud provides of music on "Quiet Days on Earth".
Progmessor: August 2020
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