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TRACK LIST: 1. Conglomeration 26:51 2. A Failing Ember 9:29 3. Stalker 19:52 LINEUP: Simen Aadnoy Ellingsen – guitars, zither, harp; sax; keyboards; vocals Eirik Overland Dischler – keyboards Eirik Mathias Husum – bass Jon Even Scharer – drums Halvor Lund – organ With: Jan Roe – guitars Colin Howarth – sax Marit Hoye Aadnoy – vocals Karl Yngve Lervaag – vocals Eivor Aadnoy Ellingsen – vocals Helene Hesselberg Rendal – vocals
Prolusion. The Norwegian band SHAMBLEMATHS is a direct continuation of the earlier band Fallen Fowl, which was active in the early 2000s, but went into hiatus due to certain life events following three EP and demo releases. A decade or so later, the two permanent members of that band, Ellingsen and Husum, decided to continue as Shamblemaths, and recorded their debut album under this new name with the help of a number of guest musicians. The final result was the self-titled CD "Shamblemaths", which was self-released in the spring of 2016.
Analysis. Those who tend to fancy bands within the progressive rock circles that are described as challenging can, at this point, probably stop reading and head out to check the material of this band straight away. I'm not the biggest fan of extremely challenging endeavors myself, and due to that, I can say with some certainty that when I do encounter bands of that nature that I really, really like, then chances are good that this will be an album that will make quite the impact with just about anyone that favors this breed of progressive rock. This is a CD that has just about anything those with a taste for the more avant-garde and eclectic varieties of progressive rock crave. Dramatic choral Magma-style vocal sections? Check! Expressive saxophone solo runs? Yes, indeed, there's a bountiful of them spread throughout this album. Long, multi-sectional compositions? Check again: there are three songs on the CD, and with enough alterations in pace, themes, changes and developments to make any progressive rock fan happy, without loosing any sense of cohesion or identity when it comes to that. Powerful organ and guitar riff combinations? Yes, indeed. Sophisticated, multi-layered vocal harmony sections? Yup, very much present indeed. Mellotron? Yes, indeed. Eclectic, fragmented interludes? Oh, yes, used sparingly and to very good effect. Pastoral sequences and movements? Check. Twisted, dark and brooding guitar escapades? A few of those are indeed present. With elegantly controlled quality lead vocals, a top-notch mix and production and a few whimsical oddities thrown in for good measure, this is an album of multiple styles, with a firm foundation in jazz rock that incorporate both vintage and modern hard prog as well as some more symphonic lpassages and with a few Flamenco-oriented acoustic guitar details to boot. This isn't an album that is lacking in variety in any department, to put it that way. Uplifting, melancholic and brooding, ominous sounding atmospheres are all a part of the tapestries woven; the whimsical archetypal English sound just as much present as the Scandinavian melancholy, as well as a slight touch of fiery Latin passion. As far as flaws are concerned, the only extremely minor gripe I have is that concluding epic Stalker isn't quite at the same level of hypnotic allure as the opening two excursions. And, perhaps, a notion that this is an album it'll be difficult for the band to follow up in a good manner.
Conclusion. Shamblemath's self-titled debut album is a joyful whirlwind of excellent, challenging and eclectic progressive rock with some distinct avant-garde leanings. I can't imagine too many people with an interest in music described in this general manner that won't be intrigued by this creation, and in addition, I suspect that a lot of people with the notion that this type of music isn't their thing will actually enjoy this album if they decide to seek it out. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the most stunning albums I have come across in some time now, and comes with my glowing recommendations.
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