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(45:07; Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST 1. River 3:51 2. Long Way Back 3:38 3. Golden Lullabies 5:28 4. Ride The New Wave 5:06 5. The Butterflies 4:23 6. Let It Be Known! 3:21 7. One Hundred Memories 3:59 8. The Summer Days 4:47 9. '22' 3:33 10. (It Will Be) October After All 7:01 LINEUP: Rhys Marsh - vocals, instruments with: Arve Henriksen - trumpet Kaare Kolve - saxophone Tale Vang Ellefsen - chorus vocals Roar Oien - guitars Rohey Taalah - chorus vocals Silje Leirvik - voice, chorus vocals Anders Bjermeland - chorus vocals, keyboards Tim Bowness - voice Ole Kristian Malmedal - chorus vocals Vilde Aakre Lie - chorus vocals
Prolusion. Norwegian based composer and musician Rhys MARSH, in addition to various band activities, has a solo career that stretch back to 2008, with seven albums to his name so far. Following a few years of silence he returned as a recording artist at the start of 2019 with the CD "October After All", which was released through Norwegian label Karisma Records.
Analysis. If my memory serves me right, conventional progressive rock doesn't make up too much of the repertoire Marsh has as a solo artist at this point. This latest album of his doesn't set out to change this too much either, as his take on the genre this time around comes from a more mainstream and arguably radio friendly foundation. Art pop is perhaps a good word to use here. "October After All" isn't the album to flaunt any daring or excessive instrument details, nor does it want to impress with challenging structures and demanding arrangements. Many of the songs are relatively straight forward affairs as a matter of fact, albeit with a few more alterations in terms of intensity and instrument layers than you'll find in a more regular chart placed rock album. Fairly careful arrangements are paired of with more majestic and dramatic ones throughout, the former with delicate guitar and keyboard details, the latter with more extensive and expansive keyboard arrangements in the driving seat. Vintage 70's keyboards as well as what sounds like 80's synthesizers have their place here, to provide floating textures, majestic orchestral-inspired backdrops and even the occasional cosmic laced details. Further flavoring used for a select few songs are jazz-pop-oriented saxophone overlays, of the kind that gave me a direct association to Bendik Hofseth's album "Amuse Yourself" that was released back in the early 1990's. Some rhythm and piano details also provides the occasional jazzy touch, while concluding cut '(It Will Be) October After All' further expands the palette with a few instrument details with a touch of folk music to them. But while instrument details in general and the use of keyboards and synthesizers in particular adds a lot of flavoring to this album, the vocals are perhaps the main engine throughout. While I'm generally not inspecting the lyrics all that much myself, the manner in which the vocals are placed in the mix as well as how both lead vocals and vocal harmonies are used throughout indicates to me that Marsh has something on his mind he needs to share this time around. Which may or may not be the reason for the more atmospheric laden mood that runs like a red thread throughout this album: That this is a production made to highlight the lyrics to a greater extent than the instrumentalists contributions. The songs, while often fairly easygoing in many ways, ebb and flow in intensity and makes clever use of instrument details to maintain tension throughout, to the extent that even the token ballad strikes me as a worthwhile addition, which for me at least is a surprise.
Conclusion. While those that crave challenging music most likely can disregard this album, those who enjoy atmospheric laden progressive rock explored inside a pop-rock oriented context should find a lot to enjoy on this album, and then in particular those who treasure an artists that makes good use of layered keyboards to control the ebb and flow of intensity in a song.
Progmessor: June 27th 2019
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