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(54:16, ‘The Windmill’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Cinnamon 5:38 2. The Colour of Seasons 6:52 3. A Day in a Hero's Life 21:43 4. The Eagle 7:10 5. Don't be Afraid 10:03 6. To be Continued 2:42 LINEUP: Erik Borgen – vocals; guitars Jean Viita – keyboards; vocals Morten Clason – keyboards; flute, sax; vocals Arnfinn Isaksen – bass Sam Noland – drums With: Bent Jensen – guitars Svend Borgen – drums
Prolusion. The Norwegian quintet THE WINDMILL has existed since 2001. However, it took a decade for them to release their first brainchild, “To Be Continued”. How soon?
Analysis. This 55-minute album is made up of six tracks, all of which without exception indicate that these musicians have a single, yet highly powerful source of inspiration, namely Camel. The sound here has a certain-to-distinct vintage quality to it, which is partly because two of the musicians play keyboards, focusing much on organ and piano. Nevertheless, the music itself is typical Neo Prog in construction, with debts to the usual symphonic subjects, and it must be pointed out that it never bursts with really intricate arrangements or complex rhythmic exercises, let alone finger-twisting chord progressions. Even if their overall sonic palette suggests the classic ‘70s sound of the English legend, compositionally most of the pieces give a nod in the direction of mid-‘80s work (think the “Stationary Traveller” album rather than its predecessor “A Single Factor”), their creators never reaching the level of artistry of Camel itself. The Colour of Seasons and Don't be Afraid are unhurriedly developing neo-prog songs with a certain balladic feeling. If examined strictly as they are, both would be pretty engaging items. From a classic progressive viewpoint, however, they suffer from an overall lack of variation in theme, as there are plenty of the same moves that are repeated again and again – particularly the vocals-based ones, most of which only differ from each other by the density of their sound. In terms of soloing, there are many incidents of Quixote tilting against windmills, unable to diversify the stuff due to its original structural inflexibility. The 21-minute A Day in a Hero's Life is a more varied piece of music, at times evoking classic symphonic Art-Rock. It features quite a few different sections, albeit some of those – vocals-based and instrumental ones alike – repeat themselves a few times without any alterations to their sound, such as, for instance, its first/next-to-last theme, borrowed from “Stationary Traveller”. Looking over the songs as a whole, I must add that the singer has quite a special (good in the intonation) voice, like a lower version of Andy Latimer-meets-Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, which helps give the music a more or less distinct personality, whereas otherwise the band sounds just like many other followers of Camel. Just logically, it does so on the instrumentals, Cinnamon, The Eagle and the title track, all of which, moreover, suffer from the same afore-named problem, referring to the two shorter songs. Like the epic, Cinnamon and The Eagle both often deviate from the album’s dominant style (lacking a better term) too, leaning towards Camel’s late ‘70s work, but while the first of these, despite being a bi-thematic composition, has a sympho-prog feeling throughout, the latter hasn’t, within its last three fifths sounding almost not unlike a funk piece (don’t remember its title) from the English band’s 1979 release “I Can See Your House from Here”. Only featuring piano and flute, the title track is a gentle tune with a cyclic melody, evoking After Words from “Stationary Traveller” which is, however, half as long as this one.
Conclusion. Let’s forget that it’s almost a wannabe we’re dealing with here. In any event, the writing is good only from the neo prog standpoint, and while the performance is overall fairly solid, nobody particularly stands out. The album wears thin by the end, and I gave it the rating I did considering solely its longest track, even though it can be called a real epic only with great reservations.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: June 13, 2012
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