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Far Corner - Far Corner CD (album) cover

FAR CORNER

Far Corner

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.94 | 24 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Pnoom!
4 stars Wild. Untamed. Unpredictable.

There are two things that my mind associates with those three words: wilderness and Far Corner. And why not, given just how intertwined the two are. Far Corner seem to have a wilderness motif that flows throughout their music. Just look at their song titles and album covers. The songs on this album have titles such as Something Out There, With One Swipe of Its Mighty Paw, Outside, and Tracking, and the cover art is of a snowy landscape with a prominent evergreen tree. On their follow up album, Endangered, the cover has some sort of wild beast (wolf, perhaps?) on it, and the songs have titles such as Inhuman, Creature Council, and Claws. There's more to it than that, however. This wilderness motif pervades the actual music as well, and it is generally in the forefront. The music is instrumental, but it is still, as I said before, wild, untamed, and unpredictable. Not once on my first listen to this album was I able to turn my attention away, because I knew that I would miss something worthwhile. There were no points where I could tell what was coming next. It was an entirely captivating listen, and subsequent listens have only deepened my appreciation of Far Corner's magnificent debut effort.

Far Corner create a unique blend of music styles, forming a mixture most accurately described as "avant- chamber-metal." And they do it without a guitarist. Like Finnish band Alamaailman Vasarat, Far Corner uses a cello (though only one - Alamaailman Vasarat uses two) instead of a guitar. Not only do they replace the guitar with a cello, they use the cello exactly as they would a guitar, including distortion. It is from this that they base the metal aspect of their sound, and I must say that if you have never heard metal played on a cello, you are missing out on a lot. The cello in general is a much heavier instrument than the guitar (in the sense of music, not weight), and is thus much better suited to the metal style of playing than the guitar (at least in my opinion - I rarely enjoy metal played on guitar, but when a cello is used, I often find myself going "googly-eyed"). Keep in mind that, despite all my talk of metal, this is not a metal album. Metal is merely one style of playing they go through, one element of their music, which, as I said earlier, encompasses many styles. Far Corner pull metal into their avant-chamber music bass, making themselves unique in the process.

In addition to the heavy cello, every other musician, all of whom are clear in the mix, treats us to fine performances. Kopecky on bass is ever-present, never stealing the show, but always making himself known, and he is clearly an essential part of the music. His textures are clearly evident at all times and contribute mounds to the quality of the music. Craig Walker on drums is always pounding away, keeping the songs alive and giving them the energy that every other band member feeds off of. Like Kopecky, he is not the star of the show, but he still gives an excellent performance and is absolutely essential to the music. The cello may be what most stands out about this band because it makes them unique, but the keyboards (courtesy of Dan Maske) on this album rival the cello work in every way. Maske blazes away with the ferocity of a shark that smells blood, and in the moments when the band is going full speed, Maske is often the one leading the way. Even in their softer (but no less ominous) moments, he is there furthering the music in every way he can.

This album is long, that's true, and other reviewers have commented that it drags on at times. I can almost see where they're coming from, but in the end, I have to disagree. The only moments where it seems to me that they even venture into "dragging" territory is their more avant-garde moments (such as Something Out There part 3) or their somewhat slower openings (like the one on The Turning). The avant-garde moments greatly add to the sound of the band, however, and make them much better, even if they are rather hard to deal with. As for the slow openings, it's really only that one, and I will admit that that is the weakest (in very relative terms) moment on the album, but it soon picks up the pace and the intensity, and I hardly think that two minutes of music that could be improved counts as "dragging on."

Every song on this album is a winner, from the opener, Silly Whim, to the closer, the sixteen-minute monster that is Fiction. In between these we get a wealth of excellent material, such as the three part epic, Something Out There, where each part is quite distinct (and each has a vastly different feel from the other two), showing each side of the band (part one is mostly chamber rock, part two is mostly metal, and part three is mostly avant-garde). With One Swipe of Its Mighty Paw is probably the strongest song on here, as the metal for cello on this song is perhaps the best I've ever heard. The song Tracking perfectly portrays the emotion and drama of a hunt (of a predator chasing its prayThe rest of the songs are no slouches, either, perfectly fitting with the mood of this album while maintaining the band's wild, untamed, and unpredictable mindset.

What all of these elements boil down to is an amazing seventy minutes of music, progressive to the core (and "prog," too). I own both of the band's albums, and I can safely say that this album is by far superior to its follow-up, Endangered. If you like bands such as Alamaailman Vasarat, Univers Zero, Present, Sotos, Ahvak, or any of their kin, you may like Far Corner. If you've never heard of any of those bands, you absolutely must check them out (Far Corner included), because avant-chamber music is some of the best there is. Far Corner have created their own niche within this style of music, and it's a fine niche indeed. Recommended to all fans of progressive rock, and essential for all fans of avant-chamber music.

Pnoom! | 4/5 |

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