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(42:18; Trommfelfell Records)
Track list: 1. Intro. The Breakout Session 3:32 2. And Aphrodite Took the Veil 7:05 3. Stylobat's Travels 25:29 4. Acropolis (The Big Wave) 6:12 LINEUP: The Weever Sands - all instruments with: Daniel Geal - voice Geo Schaller - flute Armin Rave - guitars
Prolusion. German project THE WEEVER SANDS has been around since at least 2015 as a visible public presence, and released their first album "Keep Your face Turned to the Light" in 2016. This presumed studio only project then went silent for a bit, and then their online presence returned to life again in 2019 as work started to commence on their new album. "Stylobat's Travels" is the name of this second album, which was released through local German label Trommelfell Records in 2020.
Analysis. It is an odd one, this album. The music here is remarkable atmospheric laden for starters, and also contains some rather unusual directions and orientations from the moment the album starts to the moment where it ends. It is a most peculiar journey on a few different levels, although I suspect that fans of neo-progressive rock may well be the ones that finds themselves most drawn to this production. Not because the music is within this subset of the progressive rock universe, but due to the atmospheric laden landscapes explored. That being said, those who know and love their Canterbury may possibly feel at home with this album as well, and then for more style-oriented purposes. The opening cut here is one that may actually deter a few listeners. Whimsical and subtly chaotic, with something of a child like innocence and fairy tale sheen to it, but with spoken words rather contrasting the tone of the words spoken and the music accompanying it. Whimsical is a key word though, playful possibly another. This playful and whimsical spirit remains in the next couple of songs as well, while the music also gradually becomes more developed and challenging from one creation to the next. Fluttering, floating and surging keyboards, a presumably emulated saxophone popping in on regular intervals along with a recorder, percussion and rums coming and going, and with the piano and organ in dominant roles alongside keyboards, synths and effects. The songs ebb and flow in intensity and complexity, playfully moving along and moving onward, often with a gleeful smile or three conjured by the instrumentation. Traces of Camel at their most atmospheric as well as Gentle Giant in their more complex moments, but explored in a whimsical, playful mood and spirit. Complete with what sounds very much like a Michael Jackson shout popping out of nowhere and, in the accidental department, some surging electronic noises that sounds just about identical to some of the effects The Chemical Brothers used on their old hit 'Believe'. The concluding song 'Acropolis (The Big Wave)' is kind of the odd one out on this album though, concluding this journey in a calmer, controlled and more melancholic manner. Still atmospheric laden, but strikingly different in mood and atmosphere. A development that for me fueled an association I got when listening through the opening three cuts. One of the recurring details that appear now and then is a cold computer bleep, of the kind you'll often hear from monitoring machines at a hospital. While this may well and possibly is accidental, the association I got when this sound started to reappear is that this album is inspired by someone in a feverish state or coma in a hospital, and what that person dreams about while in that state. Which also would be a logical reason for some of the contrasting elements that appear, especially at the very start of the album. Contrasts that does have a touch of unreality about them. Apart from that, there are some minor flaws to be found on this album. Some of the sounds here strike me as being too clinical and digitized, to the point that I wouldn't be surprised if this project is a one man band using keyboards to create just about everything that the guest contributors doesn't provide. The guitars and guitar soloing on the main composition 'Stylobat's Travels' being one such guest contribution, and it does shine brightly. Perhaps due to not being digitized while many of the other sounds may possibly be of a digital nature. Another aspect of this album that may deter some listeners is that some of the songs start rather slow and repetitive. The five minute build up of the title track here may be experienced as too slow and meandering for some listeners. Hence a bit of patience will be needed to be able to enjoy this album. Just about all the compositions here have various aspects of opening in a not all that enthralling manner before going into full bloom.
Conclusion. The Weever Sands second album "Stylobat's Travels" is a peculiar specimen on many levels. The music may well reference both the Canterbury tradition, jazz and various aspects of symphonic progressive rock, but in my opinion at least it will be fans of neo-progressive rock and symphonic progressive rock that may "get" this album a bit easier than others. Those who enjoy their Camel just as much as their Gentle Giant, and don't mind some imperfections here and there, would be my top picks for a perfect audience for this production.
Progmessor: January 2021
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