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(44:26, ‘Fosfor Creation’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Kicking and collecting 7:05 2. Land of Plenty 7:34 3. The Weight of the Knowledge 6:52 4. Dragonfly 8:21 5. Between Extremes 2:13 6. Sunrays 6:35 7. The Water 5:46 LINEUP: Carl Westholm – piano, synthesizers Nicklas Flink – vocals With: Stefan Fanden – bass, bouzouki, e-bow Jejo Perkovic – drums Ulf Edel?nn – guitars ?ivin Tronstad – b/v Cia Backman – b/v
Prolusion. The Swedish combo CARPTREE was formed by Niclas Flinck and Carl Westholm back in 1997, and released their self-titled debut album four years later. 4 more productions have followed, of which "Nymf" from 2010 is the most recent.
Analysis. Composer and keyboardist Carl Westholm is a busy man. Besides his involvement in Candlemass and various side projects of that band, he's also set up the progressive metal project Jupiter Society in recent years. But Carptree appears to be his main creative vehicle, and with 5 albums released in 9 years for this project alone one may wonder where he finds the time to attend to all of his endeavors. My exposure to Carptree's previous efforts has been limited, and I'm more familiar with Westholm's metal-based side venture Jupiter Society. And it struck me pretty soon that there are a fair amount of similarities between the two. Dark moods, expressive, emotionally-laden vocals and a certain emphasis on melancholic moods are very much features shared between the twain, so is the tendency to craft majestic, richly-layered movements. The main difference seems to be the lesser role given the electric guitar in general and riff cascades in particular, at least if "Nymf" is a good example of Carptree's previous works. The compositions tend to be dominated by vocal passages which are often free, at least initially, of a somewhat more dampened nature. Flinck's expressive voice is used to good effect – both to provide fragile moods either contrasting with a darker, massive instrumental foundation or enhancing the qualities of an instrumental score as gentle and fragile as the vocals. On select occasions he also showcases that his pipes are just as effective in the deeper ranges, and he makes talented use of his capabilities, apt to enhance the contrast between the outer limits of his voice from one movement to the next. Westholm crafts the symphonic-inspired themes from his various tangents in a rather similar manner to Flinck's vocals, but obviously with several options not available to a vocalist. He knows when a fragile piano motif enhances the dynamics, even if put in the middle of a massive, dramatic score, and displays an effective manner in transforming a light and gentle backdrop into a majestic, richly textured cascade of sound and then smoothly transforming it back again. The additional musicians, collectively described as the No Future Orchestra, subtly enhance the landscapes conjured up by the band's main duo. I think most if not all these songs could have been worthwhile experiences without the addition of bass, drums, backing vocals and guitars, but the occasional darkly-tinged drawn-out guitar riffs, the downtuned, distorted bass guitar, the immaculate drumming and the backing vocals all add elements that to a lesser or greater degree make the songs more interesting as a whole, first and foremost by adding tension by way of subtle details or, in the case of the drums, maintaining and enhancing momentum. In short, what we're served on this fine album are elaborate compositions with a foundation in symphonic art rock, with an emphasis on contrasts and richly-textured soundscapes, with occasional tendencies towards progressive metal courtesy of the bass guitar and electric guitar. The moods explored are generally dark and slightly brooding, with frequent use of lighter contrasting details crafting a melancholic rather than depressive tinge: well-made, -performed and -produced.
Conclusion. The slightly bleak symphonic art rock universe explored on "Nymf" might be something of an acquired taste, but those who have enjoyed the previous efforts by this band as well as those who have a soft spot for Westholm's metal-based endeavor Jupiter Society should feel right at home with this CD. As far as further recommendations go, I'd imagine that many who enjoy acts like Porcupine Tree might appreciate this one, and those who tend to be captivated by the gentler and sophisticated varieties of progressive metal might be an additional possible audience.
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