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(56:41, Mylodon & Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Wharf That Holds His Vessel 11:20 2. Uncertain Lights 4:04 3. Clouds Motion 7:06 4. The Rise of the White Sun 4:56 5. The Shrill Voice 4:59 6. The Scarce Light Birth 7:34 7. Grey 16:39 LINEUP: Luis Vergara – piano, keyboards Sebastian Vergara – vocals; flute German Vergara – el. & ac. guitars, bass Rodrigo Sepulveda – bass, el. & ac. guitars Alejandro Melendez – keyboards; programming
Prolusion. Here is yet another CD that arrived without any supporting material: “The Yearning” by our contemporaries from Chile, AISLES. I had to visit the band’s website to learn that this is their first official album, released last autumn.
Analysis. It’s easy to perceive “The Yearning” as a late ‘70s classic symphonic progressive recording, since its makers succeeded in reproducing the spirit of the time as well as most, if not all, of what I view as the best characteristics of the style at that period. The music arouses associations with Yes’s “Drama”, Genesis’s “And Then There Were Three”, Wishbone Ash’s “No Smoke Without Fire”, Camel’s “You Can See Your House From Here” and Eloy’s “Colours”, the references being listed in line of descent depending on how frequently they come to my mind while I play the disc. Now however, I must note that the similarities take place for the most part only in the album’s stylistic department, so this is not a case of talking about any direct borrowings, but is instead a cause to welcome the musicians, since the CD is fairly pleasing from its first note to the last, even though some of its seven songs (no instrumentals here) are more diverse and complicated than the others. Unlike the other four, the last of the aforesaid connections reveals itself not too often even in its latent form, being really evident only on the pieces that take the opposite positions on the track list, The Wharf That Holds His Vessel and Grey. These epics cover three fifths of the recording, so it comes as no surprise that they’re the most progressively advanced compositions here, both appearing to be containers of a few different styles, symphonic Space Rock and Metal included. It’s only on these that the sound can at once be busy and heavy, revealing numerous theme and pace changes, and also some classically pyrotechnic sympho-prog movements. Nevertheless, the former piece leaves a better impression, surpassing its track-list counterpart in terms of progressive saturation while being noticeably shorter than it. Both stand out for some amazing acoustic guitar-driven interludes, but those on the disc opener are deployed within the otherwise predominantly fast-paced, intense, hard-edged arrangements (electrically-driven and mixed ones as well), thus making all the transitions there sound contrasting, besides increasing a sense of variety with the music in general. This is also the sole track here featuring a classically-inspired move that, while only having a string ensemble and piano in the arrangement, is highly impressive, enjoyable throughout the 3 minutes of its length. The closing composition could have easily embraced more instrumental maneuvers than it does, but the musicians seem to have somewhat exhausted themselves after they crossed its imaginary equator. Free of any distinctly hard textures, Clouds Motion and The Shrill Voice are the pieces that best of all suit the stylistic definition in the first sentence of this paragraph, both reminding me in a way of a crossover between Undertow (within their vocal sections), Machine Messiah and Wait by Genesis, Yes and Camel respectively. The Rise of the White Sun and The Scarce Light Birth have quite a good deal in common with the previously described tracks, but at the same time both may come across as lacking energy compared to those, due to the more restrained nature of most of their arrangements, the acoustic guitar- and piano-laden ones being generally balladic. This is not criticism, however, and is merely remarked on, because both are very beautiful songs, possessing a lot of their own virtues, as also does the remaining track, Uncertain Lights, only containing two acoustic guitars and vocals. Two of the participants, German Vergara and Rodrigo Sepulveda, handle all the varieties of guitars the band has in its arsenal, and the last-named piece is only one of the many examples of their twin guitar leads (which in turn is the very link between Aisles and Wishbone Ash). Both are versed players, though I have no idea who of them, well, reminds me of Steve Howe and who of Andy Latimer in approach. The keyboard parts are highly impressive also, ranging from power synthesizer leads to refined piano passages to lush string patterns. Luis Vergara and Alejandro Melendez both at times challenge the ear with their fast, ripping solos that bring to my particular mind Geoff Downes’ style on “Drama”, which contrasts with most of his playing in Asia and Rick Wakeman’s technique also. Finally about Sebastian Vergara’s vocals: dynamic and rich, delivered in a classic progressive manner, they now remind me of something halfway between Trevor Horn (on “Drama”, again) and Frank Bornemann, now of anyone else, the latter remark being relevant as regards all his bandmates as well. His accent is slight, akin to Frank’s, the quality of his singing itself being also comparable with the Eloy singer’s. When typing the lineup above I noticed the absence of a drum kit in the band’s instrumentation, but quite frankly I never recalled the matter when listening to the CD, and I can’t remember when the last time I heard a recording where the drums, while being programmed, would sound as believable as on this disc.
Conclusion. Just like Dave Kulju’s “Abstract Expression”, Aisles’ first outing, while not setting any new criteria, is overall a refreshing and enjoyable recording, demonstrating a fairly non-typical approach to stuff that has been the most widespread progressive rock style since its appearance, and so is still liked by probably most of the genre’s disciples in general. Although personally I’m more into highly complicated Prog, I really appreciate this effort and find it to be bordering on a masterwork in its category.