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Aisles - 2009 - "In Sudden Walks"

(53:02, 'Aisles')

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Mariachi 9:59
2.  Revolution of Light 4:41
3.  Summer Fall 9:56
4.  The Maiden 9:28
5.  Smile of Tears 4:00
6.  Hawaii 14:58  


Sebastian Vergara – vocals; flute
German Vergara – guitars; vocals
Rodrigo Sepulveda – guitars; vocals
Alejandro Melendez – keyboards; vocals
Luis Vergara – keyboards 
Felipe Candia – drums  
Felipe Gonzales – bass 
Rodrigo Galarce – bass (1, 4, 5)
Sebastian Jordan – trumpet (1)
Aline Kuppenheim – voice (1)
Andrea Maturana – voice (6)

Prolusion. The Chilean outfit AISLES was formed in Santiago in 2001, and issued their debut album "The Yearning" in 2007 – at that time with an incomplete line-up, as a regular drummer and bassist were still to be found at that point. Two years later, now as a complete ensemble, the band started to assemble their second production, and in 2009 the end result of this two-year-long process was issued as "In Sudden Walks".

Analysis. With "In Sudden Walks", Aisles has taken a giant leap forward artistically and musically. Their first effort from 2007 was a pleasant creation with a few flaws, set in the heartland of neo progressive rock, and with the people enjoying that genre as most probably their target audience. This time around the band has chosen differently, creating a much more diverse as well as sophisticated affair. Those who truly love their ‘vintage’ neo prog will find moments to enjoy on this disc as well, but, apart from the second track Revolution by Night, it will be limited to select passages and segments wedged in between other stylistic expressions – most of them with a relation to this genre that started in the ‘80s, and key characteristics of this production as a whole are strong moods, distinct atmospheres and a focus on melodic themes. But while the synths are used to create lush and rich backdrops, and the guitar does provide the wandering dampened textures in a manner pretty similar to what this band explored on their first album, gentle staccato guitar riffs and subtle keyboard sounds have been added to their sonic palette; a decent pair of rhythmic providers adds an extra dimension to the proceedings as well, and the end result is often closer to early ‘80s Rush in style than to acts like Marillion. Add in some jazz-inspired passages throughout this album, as well as mellow, space-tinged Pink Floyd-ian themes, most thoroughly explored on final track, Hawaii, and you end up with a creation that offers quite a lot of variety. Clever use of subtle dissonances throughout and intelligent insertions of dampened and fragmented sounds is another asset that adds sophistication to this venture, alongside a few energetic and harder hitting themes for the sake of contrast and tension maintenance. And while a distinctly new wave-inspired track like Smile of Tears might not be to everybody's taste, those who are (positively) familiar with acts such as Spandau Ballet and Depeche Mode should value the credentials of this composition as well, even if it is something of an isolated alien presence on this disc. Aisles may not have reached the territories of pure perfection this time around, but the band is certainly developing into an interesting act. A high quality effort on this occasion, and if its members continue evolving like they have done in the past four years it won't take long for this fine band to create a truly stunning CD.

Conclusion. While diversity and sophistication, at least to some degree, is showcased on this latest effort by Aisles, it is mostly within a framework of mellow and gentle progressive rock where moods and melodies are key elements in the compositions. Fans of the neo progressive genre should still find this album appealing, at least if they have a liberal musical taste, but by and large I suspect this production will have a stronger impact on those with an affection for the lighter and more melodic side of the art rock universe. In particular those who have a soft spot for the material made by Rush in the first half of the ‘80s.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: July 4, 2010
The Rating Room

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