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TRACK LIST: 1. The Tall Trees 1:52 2. Cassiah 11:37 3. Ocean 10:18 4. Countdown 1:20 5. Colors Collapse 7:58 6. Sleepwalker 3:33 LINEUP: Julien Sournac vocals; instruments With: Gulrim Choi cello Rafael Leroy bass Julien Patoue drums Hadrien Guegan bass
Prolusion. The French project WOLVE is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Julien Sournac, a project he started developing back in 2010, which eventually led to the creation of a full-length studio album. The finishing touches to this creative cycle came into place in 2014, with the release of the CD "Sleepwalker".
Analysis. Sournac, still only in his twenties, showcases a remarkable degree of professionalism for his first steps out as a project leader in an endeavor that has by now turned into an established band-project. A lot of effort appears to have gone into eliminating unneeded material, and all the compositions come across as well developed entities that give an impression of having been altered and tweaked extensively. In a good way, I might add. The transitions are fluent, the shifts in moods, pace and intensity organic and smooth, the arrangements as such coming across as carefully planned. This entire production appears as one that has been developed with care and a strong attention to details. In terms of style, we're dealing with a band hovering on the borders of indie, alternative and post rock somewhere, but an artist adding enough themes, structural developments and stylistic changes to the table to firmly place his creation within a progressive rock context as well. Modern progressive rock that is, as this is progressive rock in terms of structure and sophistication rather than sound. You won't find too many parts here that can be traced back directly to the golden decade of the 70s, and the one exception at hand doesn't really point towards progressive rock from that era either. Artists like Muse and Radiohead are perhaps better indicators as far as possible sources of inspiration go, alongside some of the more well known post rock bands that started out in the 90s. Besides two brief singer/songwriter creations, sporting delicate acoustic guitars and stunning lead vocals, and an ambient, electronics-flavored cinematic mood piece, Sournac combines his various inspirations into three long creations, two of them stretched out to beyond the 10-minute mark. And these are constantly intriguing compositions all of them. Finely combining delicate acoustic guitar and vocals sequences with layered, textured affairs, sporting light toned post rock guitars, majestic sequences with additional keyboards, supplementing layered guitars and firmer, harder-edged sections with dampened guitar riffs and acoustic guitars combined, all along with effects added to the mix, from resonating frail guitar notes to subdued textured electric guitars. Sections with more of an ambient feel and with careful electronic details added in have their place here too, and somewhat surprisingly there's also room for a select few, but effective, groove-oriented darker parts with more of a stoner rock or perhaps even grunge feel to them, of the kind where it's easy to draw a line back to Black Sabbath as the originators of this specific sound. That there are also a few sequences with delicate jazz-tinged details added to this mix merits a mention as well. While this may come across as a chaotic production by way of these descriptions, the reality is that this is a very well developed affair. While not at all a predictable album, all the developments and shifts in style and intensity come across as natural and logical, and if there may be a weaker section here or there, you can be sure that a sampled voice or some of Sournac's splendid lead vocals will be applied on what turns out to be a foundation for voices or vocals. This is an album that touches upon the shores of the truly magical from start to finish, and while it doesn't quite manage to land, this is a solid and often stunning creation that should earn the project many fans from inside as well as the outside of the progressive rock realm.
Conclusion. "Sleepwalker" is a high-quality and, in my opinion, extremely well developed and crafted debut album by Wolve. Delicate moods tend to dominate this production, with plenty of nods to singer/songwriter types of music as well as frail, emotional indie rock, but also with subtly soaring and carefully majestic excursions that hone in on post rock, with occasional detours into stoner rock landscapes. I'd suggest that fans of a band like Radiohead should seek out this album first and foremost, and liberal-minded post rock fans might also be intrigued by the landscapes explored on this album. A high-quality debut album by a highly talented young artist.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 1, 2015
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