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For such a small country, I never cease to be amazed at the quality of music coming out of New Zealand. For those who are not aware, although geographically we are somewhat larger than the UK, when it comes to population, we only have some 5 million people. A third of those live in and around Auckland, and then by the time you take out Wellington and Christchurch (the next two largest cities) there are not many people for the rest of the country. It used to be said there were more kiwis per square mile in London than in New Zealand, and it really would not surprise me if that were the case. Here we have an album being publicised by a Welsh-based PR company, who sent it to Norway, who in turn sent it to me, which is when I got in touch with the band to find out more. Only five of the eleven songs contain lyrics, and the album actually starts with two instrumentals, an incredibly brave move in some ways, but it really works as I was somewhat surprised when guitarist Tonnie ten Hove started singing. The rest of the band are Anthony Rose (keyboards), Todd Thompson (bass) and Justin Chorley (drums, saxophone) while they have also brought in a few guest musicians to provide additional elements in flute and clarinet. This is all about atmospheric progressive music that also contains elements of metal when the time is right, bringing together Anathema, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Pineapple Thief, and others. There is delicacy, but inside there is a core of steel, so it never feels as if the music is meandering, rather there is real purpose and direction. Long keyboard chords are often the prominent sound, yet the guitars cut through while never being forceful, in a very Gilmour like manner. This is their second album, some four years on from the debut (which I have not heard), and I am rather surprised these guys are not more well known as this is highly polished and impressive progressive rock. “Time Dilation” may only be six minutes long, but the variety contained within is hugely impressive, and when those guitars kick off to a crescendo the only thing to do is to bring in a flute! This is music to be listened to intently, with headphones being a real bonus, and ensure there is enough time to sit through this from beginning to end as at the times when I have had to walk away from it for some reason, I have felt it just is not the right thing to do and when I return, I again start from the beginning. Powerful and passionate, if this band were based in London then I know the likes of Prog Magazine and the major music journals would be all over them, but for now they are another band hidden away in the darkest depths of Aotearoa. If you are one of the many who unfortunately are stick in yet another lockdown due to this awful pandemic, then I suggest you discover their Bandcamp page and marvel in what is a truly wonderful album.
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