Lee Speaks About Music… #88

From Silence To Somewhere – Wobbler

W - FSTS

Introduction…

Since the release of the bands last album the Rites At Dawn in 2011 and the departure of the bands guitarist Morten Andreas Eriksen. I would of thought that a lot of people might have got the impression that the band Wobbler were finished and given up on them by time it took this album to hit the shelves so to speak in 2017. One might have thought that it took a lot of time for the band to find a new guitarist. But that was not so much of the case and the band did not have to look that far to find a replacement either.

Marius Halleland was no stranger to both Morten Andreas Eriksen and the bands bass player Kristian Hultgren. The 3 of them were inseparable in their early adolescence. The first band they was in together morphed into one of the two prototype bands that eventually evolved into Wobbler.

Whilst Eriksen & Hultgren wanted to explore and delve into vintage prog rock, Halleland had his own musical avenues he wanted to explore, and was perhaps more into metal than prog rock. He too had also enjoyed a long stay in the metal band Thunderbolt the same band that Wobbler’s former singer Tony Johannessen was in. Occasionally Wobbler’s now former guitarist Morten Eriksen would step in and play bass for the band to back then as well.

It was whilst the band Wobbler had a small tour of Italy planned that they invited their old friend to fill in the vacant spot on the guitar for them. What was supposed to be a temporary gig soon led to him joining the band on a more permanent basis. Just like all the members in the band Wobbler they all have a regular job and the band are not popular enough to live off their music alone. Besides being the bands new guitarist Marius is an high school teacher who teaches Norwegian to high school kids and refugees. He also teaches guitar to students in his spare time.

Marius Halleland officially joined the band in 2014 and once again the band went to work on a new album, an album that once again was quite different from their other albums and so far no Wobbler album sounds alike. But could they maintain their consistency of producing one great album after another. We shall find out, but first let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork as usual.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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The limited edition (only) comes in a 2 panel gatefold Digipak and unlike both their albums Hinterland and Rites Of Dawn which came with an inside pocket to store the booklet in. The booklet is stored in the sleeve itself like a vinyl album. The 10 page booklet comes with all the linear production notes, plus a couple of pictures and the lyrics. However it does not come with any information regarding the making of the album, or even mention that they now have a new guitarist.

So its perhaps not that informative enough for folks like myself who like to write reviews, but you can find more resourceful information on the bands website and since writing these reviews, the band have also kindly told me that they would be more than happy to let me know any information I would like to know. Although I do tend not to ask and enjoy doing a bit of research myself for my reviews. So I would not take my own reviews as the bible so to speak, and their is a bit more room for error in them as well.

Overall the Digipak is nice and neat, small and compact and does the job very well.

The Artwork.

The album covers artwork is an illustration of the Cabala Mineralis by Simeon ben Cantara, courtesy of The Warburg Institute. To be honest on the CD version they may not look much in relation to the vinyl album, they do not even appear to be that interesting either. But having done a bit of research myself I certainly got more from this artwork than just looking at the CD.

Image 1

There are quite a few books or parts on the Cabala Mineralis and they are actual manuscripts where the artwork has been engraved onto the pages of them. The images are hermetic emblems and the emblems we have here come from the second book and are based on levity.

Basically this is all part of medieval neologism and it’s just as well the band decided not too base the concept of this album around the part of the manuscript that features the sea horse on urine. Otherwise they might have been taking the piss :)))))).

The other interesting piece of artwork is a gatefold picture of painting that you will find  in the booklet. And here we have a very fine painting done by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Robert Hughes. The painting pictured below he done in watercolours and it was inspired by one of Christina Rossetti’s poems entitled “Amor Mundi” (‘Love of the World’). Part of her poem reads the following words:

“Oh, what’s that in the hollow, so pale, I quacke to follow? Oh, that’s a thin dead body, which waits the eternal term”. It could be that our dead friend in the picture here needs a spot of medieval levity to raise it from the dead so to speak. But whatever it’s all quite fascinating stuff.

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The artwork was provided with courtesy of the Royal Watercolour Society and no doubt both Andreas Prestmo and Kristian Hultgren who wrote the lyrics for this album, have been hard at work and studying hard.

CD & Vinyl Releases…

From Silence To Somewhere was released on Karisma Records an independent record label based in Bergen, Norway. I have to say it seems rather odd that the band practically have their own record label Termo Records which was jointly owned by the bands keyboard player Lars Fredrik Frøislie and Jacob Holm-Lupo. Makes me wonder if they just changed the name of it. But whoever owns it no doubt perhaps named it after The Famous Charisma Label :))))))).

Vinyl

They also released the album with a choice of coloured and black vinyl. Both the Transparent vinyl with black marbling & Transparent orange vinyl with black marbling were limited editions and only 500 copies were pressed. They are long gone now. But the black vinyl album is still very much available as it was not a limited edition.

They also released it with 2 CD versions. The only difference between the 2 is that the limited edition comes in a Digipak where as the other edition comes in a standard jewel case. The limited edition is also sold out. However I did manage to obtain it brand new from left over stock from a shop in France called Season Of Mist.

But it did cost me a lot extra and I ended up paying £18.42 for it. I could of got the standard jewel case edition for £11. But because I have all their other 3 albums in cardboard Digipaks & DigiSleeves I wanted to match them up, and I do think jewel cases are a bit outdated these days.

Musicians & Credits…

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All songs written, arranged and produced by Wobbler. Composed & Recorded at LFF Studios and Vilthagen Studios between 2014 – 2017. Engineered by Lars Frøislie. Mixed by Lars F. Frøislie & Wobbler. Mastered at Tinfoil Audio by Jens Petter Nilsen. Front cover illustration from “Cabala Mineralis” by Simeon ben Cantara, courtesy of The Warburg Institute. Gatefold illustration by Edward Robert Hughes, courtesy of the Royal Watercolour Society. Band photos by Terje Skår.

Musicians:
Andreas Wettergreen Strømman Prestmo: Lead Vocals/Guitars/Glockenspiel & Percussion.
Marius Halleland: Guitars & Backing Vocals.
Kristian Hultgren: Bass Guitars/Bass Pedals/Bass Clarinet.
Lars Fredrik Frøislie: Keyboards & Backing Vocals.
Martin Nordrum Kneppen: Drums/Percussion/Recorder.

Additional Musicians:
Ketil Vestrum Einarsen: Flute (On “From Silence To Somewhere” & Foxlight”).
Øystein Bech Gadmar: Crumhorn (On “Foxlight”).
Renato Manzi: Spoken Word (On “Fermented Hours”).

The Album In Review…

Wobbler’s 4th album From Silence To Somewhere was released on the 20th October 2017. The album contains 4 tracks and comes with an overall playing time of 46 minutes, 33 seconds. There is no doubt that the band had a bit of Yes vibe going on with there previous album Rites At Dawn. On this album we get more of an early Genesis thing going on. No doubt there is a ton of other influences here too, and thankfully you are not going to get Peter Gabriel like vocals, like we got with Jon Anderson like vocals and harmonies on there last album.

The album From Silence To Somewhere sparked quite a bit of interest and it was very well received upon its release. It was voted the best prog rock album of the year in 2017 by Progrock Archives dot com. To some that might not seem like that much of an achievement. But for me both progrockarchives.com and Classic Rock have been my go to bibles of progressive rock for the past decade and more.

I even used to write album reviews on them many moons ago and only stopped when I lost my password and could no longer get into them. I could of registered again with them, but did not fancy starting all over again under a new name. So these days I prefer to write and post my reviews here instead.

There is no doubt that the band Wobbler have still managed to maintain a steady relationship, and still have a very capable band line-up to produce such well crafted music despite the couple of line-up changes to the band. If anything the band are getting stronger and stronger and this promo video for their latest album From Silence To Somewhere shows you just how well they are all getting along with each other.

The band are getting stronger and stronger I feel with each new album release, and the fact that they are incorporating more vocals into their music is working very well for it. Like I have mentioned in my previous reviews of the bands albums, one of the only other possible bands I could think of today who can create 70’s prog rock like it was from that decade are the Swedish band Änglagård.

Earlier this month when I posted my review of Wobbler’s 2nd album Afterglow in one of the few prog rock groups on Facebook. One of the guys in the group who liked my review and the band suggested that I should also have a listen to another Swedish band who go by the name of Sinkadus. I managed to locate their debut album Aurum Nostrum on Youtube and gave it a listen.

I felt the music they did was very good, but for the life of me I just could not get accustomed to their vocalist and that is the very thing that prevented me from seeking out the 2 albums they made and actually buying them. For me personally I cannot fault both the vocalists who have been in Wobbler and this is where I also think they have the edge over both of these Swedish bands.

What I am also liking a lot more about Wobbler now is not only are they incorporating more vocals into their music, but also the lyrical content is also a lot stronger and like most prog rock bands they are looking and reading into good source material to base the lyrical content upon.

The Album Tracks In Review…

The album From Silence To Somewhere is like a continuation of what the band were doing on their previous album, in that they are both quite like concept albums with the subject matter of the lyrics that was written for them. Though both are different regarding the subject matter and they are not really intended to be concept albums in the way of a story with how the individual tracks have been placed on the album.

In some ways I can see what the bands debut album Hinterland could of been like when I look at this album and how they both have 4 tracks on them. The fact we have more lyrics and only 1 instrumental track on From Silence To Somewhere I personally feel works better, but no doubt both albums have their own strengths. Though I do like how the band have progressed since then and how all of it’s members are working more closer as a unit, and they are all contributing to the written material.

The bands new guitarist Marius Halleland comes with an array of different axes, and the picture below displays his weapons of choice.

Guitars

The only one of these guitars that never got used on the album is the Gibson Firebird. It’s quite a nice collection indeed, however I do feel that Marius needs to add a few acoustic guitars to his fine collection.

Now let’s take a look at how the album all panned out, as I go through its 4 tracks.

Track 1. From Silence To Somewhere.

The album opens up with its self titled album track which is quite an epic piece of work that weighs in at 1 second under 21 minutes. For me personally this is the main feature of the album, it’s also the first time any of Wobbler’s albums have kicked off without some short little instrumental ditty, and it appears that they are in a hurry to present to you their latest masterpiece of a track. A masterpiece it certainly is and it’s my personal favourite track on the album and merits the albums top spot award.

I would also say that this is the bands 3rd masterpiece to date, and the only album of theirs that never really had one was their last album Rites At Dawn. Though never the less it’s still very much a strong album with all 5 vocal tracks that were written for it, and it makes up for it. But what I love about this particular track “From Silence To Somewhere” is that the band are very much walking down the same long and lengthy road that we got with it’s other 2 masterpieces “Hinterland” and “Imperial Winter White“.

It shows that the band have not lost a thing over all these years, especially when it comes to constructing lengthy pieces such as these. You have to keep any piece over this distance interesting by using the right progression and smooth transnational changes to make it work so well in the first place. Any piece over this distance also needs to go in many directions for it to work so successfully to keep the listener attentive all the time, and this is where this band have nailed it, and in doing so, you end up with a piece just like this where there is never a dull moment.

The way the track opens up with it’s mysterious dramatic eerie dreamscape, one would think they was in some thick dense fog in the woods and some raging ravenous beast was about to pound on them and rip them to pieces. But no fear cause Martin Nordrum Kneppen is here and he rolls in around the 19 second mark and bashes the living daylights out of the beast with his sticks and allows the rest of the guys to play happily ever after :))))).

Play! the guys certainly do very well indeed for a good 2 and half minutes and it’s like they have combined Mountain’sNantucket Sleighride” with some other stuff from  Procol Harem and The Doors with how they are racing along here. The band simmer the action down very well and around the 2:45 mark we get this beautiful soothing early Genesis like section played on the guitar, synth and mellotron. This fine melody allows Andreas Prestmo to come in on the vocals around the 3:35 mark.

This vocal section and its fine melody is like a cross between Genesis and Magna Carta with its folky vibe and essence (it also gets repeated towards the end) it builds it’s way along up to around the 5:25 mark and we get a bit of Jethro Tull thrown in with the flute, and from the section that runs from 6:09 – 6:57 we get perhaps even more of a Genesis influence with the mellotron, acoustic guitars, recorders and flute. It’s very much a gorgeous section and runs back in with the Tull vibe again and starts to build up more with electric guitars over the vocal section and eventually comes down to allow a transitional change around the 9:30 mark.

From here on up to the 14:12 mark we get an instrumental break section that goes through many transitional changes and the band get to do their thing. You get some nice phasing guitar from Marius Halleland at first and later on it lets the guitar rip a bit more. Meanwhile Lars Fredrik Frøislie is ripping his way along on the hammond and even throws in some synth and is perhaps a bit reminiscent with ELP’sWelcome To The Show” sort of thing.

You get more Ian Anderson like flute thrown in from their regular session player Ketil Vestrum Einarsen. Kristian Hultgren punctuates his way along on the bass as good as ever and Martin Nordrum Kneppen is holding the fort up on the drums. These guys are even bringing in some great melodies and theme work along the way of this great instrumental section, and it all grinds down to an halt to bring in a short chanting section, and then falls back into Genesis mode to bring back in the vocals.

From here on we get some short instrumental passages in between the vocals and it builds itself up more powerfully and grinds down to an halt at the 18:35 mark. The final section is rounded off with Prestmo’s great refined voice and harmonies and is accompanied by some lovely guitar, dreamy keyboard sounds, bells and Hultgren contributes a bit of bass clarinet that gives it a nice touch too.

The lyrical content is once again based around old pagan religious beliefs that derive from Norse Mythology and Heathenry. However the Heathens differ from the Wiccans to which the lyrical content was more based around on their previous album, and neither do Heathens follow the Wheel of The Year. They do however believe in reincarnation and other gods and also told folklore stories just like we have here.

Track 2. Rendered in Shades of Green.

Well I suppose there had to be an instrumental piece somewhere and on this album and they have shifted it to the 2nd spot on the album. The piece is constructed from the piano and is backed up by strings to orchestrate it that bit more and has a sense of drama about it. It sort of works as an interval I suppose, and its short enough not to get in the way of things. Not really sure it was needed though, and it does not really speak with the excitement the rest of the material on album does for that matter either.

Track 3. Fermented Hours.

This is perhaps the more stranger of the other 2 songs left on the album and it’s one of those that does need further spins I feel to get a bit more accustomed to liking it a bit more. To be honest “Fermented Hours” I do not think will grab everybody like the first and last track of this album will, and even though like I said further spins may help you to get a bit more accustomed to it and liking it. It may not necessarily be the case at all.

Lyrically this one does go down more of the Wiccan road and they have broken away from the Heathen side of things and brought in a spot of witchcraft. To be honest I am not that struck on the lyrics we have here and it’s a bit along the lines of a cookery lesson that gives you the recipe and shows you how to bake a cake sort of thing.

The following lyrics from the song give you an example.

Then three onions and fresh water from the sea
Add lead and bring to a boil
Some cloves of garlic and the roots of ancient trees
Leave overnight to soak

Oh, barley
The food of gods and men alike

Grind it to dust
And mix it with
Beaten eggs and the salt from a toad

Two pounds of golden apples dug out from the earth
Slow cook until tender throughout
Peel gently and decompose them one at a time
It should be moist with no lumps

I am sure there is a lot more to the witchcraft thing the band are trying to put across here, but for me personally when looking at how the words have been written. It’s a bit like picking up a cookery book, opening it up to a page with a recipe on it and singing the words from the recipe to a tune. Funny thing about it is, that I have done things like that for a bit of fun in the past. But I would not have recorded it :))))))).

The song also features some spoken words in Italian from Renato Manzi. It adds a sort of dramatic bit horror to it. They really are cooking the books here and the Gnocchi Gnosis may just be all a bit too Fugazi :))))).

Musically its perhaps cooking on gas at the speed the band are flying along on it, they are perhaps cooking this nosh on high heat. It’s opening intro sort of reminds of a bit of a cross combination of “Sound Chaser” by Yes and “Impact” by Patrick Moraz. There is also a bit of Eastern vibe going on here with the music in parts too. It also features some great hammond organ and bass lines, and it has the power to rise to the occasion and fall down in the right places.

Overall “Fermented Hours” perhaps does not speak highly to me like a lot of the output this band have put out. I certainly do not think it’s a classic Wobbler song and even though there is some good progression here, it perhaps does not go in many directions and can say the same thing to me a bit more on that score. But I can still get a lot more out of this than “Rendered in Shades of Green” particularly from the music side of things.

Track 4. Foxlight.

The final track on the album sees the band return to the more early Genesis side of things. It starts off beautifully with some fine arpeggios over the chords on the guitar and has that folky sweet melancholic vibe like some of the songs on the album Trespass that had Anthony Phillips on guitar. As it transcends along a bit more you get to feel and hear the beauty we have here. Lovely job on the vocals/flutes/guitars/keys and percussion.

Around the 3 minute mark some fine electric piano comes into play and you start to get perhaps a bit more “Suppers Ready” vibe from the piece and as that track came from the album Foxtrot that may have also influenced the title we have here. The piece builds its way along and comes to a sudden stop at 3 minutes and 44 seconds. Then the band bring in a bit more power with the bass and drums to take it on another journey sort of thing.

The vocal section contains some really great interplay from the band in between the vocal sections that runs up to 7:18 mark, then we get this lovely subtle instrumental break that sort of has a nice Pentangle feel about it, it also runs into something that sounds like the opening main theme of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells which allows the vocals to come back in subtlety and it even falls back into a Genesis vibe with the flutes and it grinds down nicely to an halt.

At around the 10:08 mark the vocals and some more fine interplay comes into play for the last 3 verses of the song. They even bring in a nice bit of Crumhorn into the instrumentation played by Øystein Bech Gadmar to round it all off very nicely indeed. “Foxlight” is the 2nd longest track on the album and weighs in at 13 minutes and 19 seconds and is another really fabulous piece of work the band have put together here.

Summary…

Well in answer to my question at the beginning of my review to if the band can produce another great album. I very much think they have certainly achieved it. Wobbler’s 4th album From Silence To Somewhere may not be a solid album, but 2 of the tracks on this album make up a lot of the way to it being a very strong album, and perhaps an album one cannot simply ignore.

The albums self titled track “From Silence To Somewhere” is without doubt another masterpiece the band have come up with, and “Foxlight” is also a very strong composition, and for me personally these two tracks are the highlight of this album. Not that there is that many tracks on the album at all. The other couple of tracks are far from disappointing either, but I feel they do not have the same strength to be in with contention with the other 2 tracks on the album.

Conclusion…

The album From Silence To Somewhere may have won the best prog rock album of the year and in my personal opinion it quite rightly deserved to as well. Just like the albums Hinterland and Afterglow it very much contains a masterpiece. And to be perfectly honest when I gave the album Hinterland a 9 out of 10. I did so on the strength of its albums self titled track, and for me that is still the most outstanding piece of work this band have ever done.

My overall score for From Silence To Somewhere may appear that it’s my least favourite Wobbler album. But it’s far from the case. In reality I have gave it the score the album Hinterland should of had and is more of an accurate judgement to the strength of the written material on the album.

Wobbler Albums

All 4 of Wobbler’s albums stand very highly in my record collection and they sit proudly on my shelf. Right now this band are very much my in thing and without a doubt have contributed magnificently to the world of prog rock that is produced in this day and age. This is one of the very few bands who have the ability to bring to you the sound of prog rock from the 70’s and so far they have done it differently with every album they have produced and released.

Making music like this is not about having the best musicians in the world. It boils down to the art of composition. This to me personally is music that is made to last and will stay with you for the rest of your life. Just like all those classic prog rock bands did back in the early 70’s. It does not mean that Wobbler are better than Yes. Genesis. and many more of those greats who made such great music in the early 70’s to last you lifetime.

There is also no doubt that the band Wobbler have taken certain elements from those influences of those greats from the early 70’s. But their real skill lies in how they go about making their music, and that their music is highly original, and they have gone about things in their own way with how they present it to you.

I have a lot of respect and like a lot of bands in today’s world who are still keeping prog rock music alive. Whether it be neo prog rock, progressive metal and what any other form of prog you can think of. They are all great in my opinion and I have brought a ton of albums and still do of the many who are still making this great music today.

But deep in my heart Wobbler have come up with something that is a bit more special for my personal taste in this world of progressive rock. And I just hope I am still alive when they get around to releasing yet another album :))))))).

Proof Of The Undying Truth Beyond These Walls.…

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. From Silence to Somewhere. 20:59.
02. Rendered in Shades of Green. 2:05.
03. Fermented Hours. 10:10.
04. Foxlight. 13:19.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 08/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 8/10.

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