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Wobbler - 2011 - "Rites at Dawn"

(44:56, Termo Records)


****+
                 

TRACK LIST:   

1.  Lucid 1:40
2.  La Bealtaine 7:51
3.  In Orbit 12:30
4.  This Past Presence 6:14
5.  A Faerie's Play 5:19
6.  The River 10:05
7.  Lucid Dreams 2:19

LINEUP:

Lars Fredrik Froislie  keyboards; backing vocals
Kristian Karl Hultgren  basses; saxophone
Morten Andreas Eriksen  el. & ac. guitars 
Martin Nordrum Kneppen  drums 
Andreas Wettergreen  vocals
With:
Ketil Vestrum Einarsen  flute
Hanne Rekdal  bassoon

Prolusion. Formed at the very down of the new century, Norway's WOBBLER is led by keyboardist and songwriter Lars Fredrik Froislie (who is also a member of White Willow and In Lingua Mortua). Rites at Dawn is the bands third studio recording, made up of eight tracks. The reviews of its other albums, "Hinterland" and "Afterglow", can be read here and here respectively.

Analysis. That being said, the most striking thought that came to my mind when I listened to this release was Tut! The number of clone musical creations has once again grown, but why the hell has Wobbler decided to become a wannabe? As before, there are plenty of intricate instrumental arrangements here, and the musicianship level remains high, but wheres the originality that typifies either of the bands previous albums? Rites at Dawn sounds like a missed mid-70s Yes creation well, almost so, as not everything went off swimmingly in the cloning department, so to speak. I have no idea whether Tony Johannessen (original singer) left Wobbler on his own wish or was fired. However, I know for sure that Andreas Wettergreen, who replaced Tony, isnt on a par with him as a vocalist, first of all because his delivery lacks distinctiveness, to say the least. He merely imitates John Andersons singing, doing it thoroughly, yet with not enough feeling to be fully believable (unlike, for instance, Citizen Cains Cyrus Scott, whose vocals are 100% comparable with Peter Gabriels). And thats really most of the problem I have with the album, as the instrumentalists are much more effective when imitating the Yes musicians playing, even though theyre somewhat inferior to those in technique. Appearing as a crossover between Dont Kill the Whales, Wondrous Stories and Open Your Eyes, the second track (the first full-fledged composition on the album) La Bealtaine depicts this to an extreme. The vocal-based moves arent too spectacular, besides which theyre done in Yess late 90s style, but everything, say, settles into shape as soon as the band starts on its all-instrumental flight. A Faerie's Play and This Past Presence are also representative in that respect, but to a lesser degree. In both cases, instrumental sections alternate with vocal ones not as strictly as those on the above song, sometimes revealing a full-out ensemble playing in the best traditions of vintage symphonic Art-Rock. The only time I was reminded of someone else besides Yes was within the first movement of the former piece. Featuring acoustic guitar, Mellotron, piano and flute, it instantly brings to mind Genesis, albeit the vocals are still Anderson-esque. The winners are the two longer tracks, In Orbit and The River (12:30 and 10:05 respectively). Both of them are very intricate and elaborate compositions, almost totally on a par with those that form Side B of the Close to the Edge LP. The music is truly sophisticated, going through a series of time and key changes, and the effect is indeed almost like classic 70s Yes. Youll hear the Rickenbacker-sounding bass and good/old-style Gibson guitar (which are played very much in the manner of misters Squire and Howe respectively), Hammond organ and Mellotron. Strangely absent from the vintage instrument leads are only bright, distinctive read Wakeman-esque synthesizer ones, whereas the music evokes the classic Rick-era Yes exclusively. Anyhow, almost everything is borrowed from the bands newly-found (born-again actually) benefactor, some of the moves by these newly-converted Yessers sounding not unlike the originals, such as the bass and organ-driven theme from the latter piece, which replicates the opening move of Heart of the Sunrise. Even the most originally-sounding compositions, Lucid and Lucid Dreams (the first and the last track on the album respectively) may evoke Yes. Both of them only feature keyboard instruments and are fairly simple musically, no matter that, besides the linear synthesizer passages, there are also swirling as well as reversed organ solos.

Conclusion. Clones, clowns, strange etudes The only clone album I do like, absolutely, is Somewhere but Yesterday by the above Citizen Cain. Wobblers Rites at Dawn is by no means a clown creation, but neither is it a full-fledged clone one. If the band would have taken Close to the Edge in its entirety, managing to reproduce not only the style, but also the spirit of that album, on all levels, their latest release would have certainly left a better impression. As it is, I only can rate it as a merely good effort at best. Please get back to your roots, men. Your first two albums made you a cult band, and you have a lot of fans all over the world. Dont let them down anymore, please.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: March 13, 2012
The Rating Room


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