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Like Wendy - Rainchild CD (album) cover

RAINCHILD

Like Wendy

 

Neo-Prog

3.62 | 31 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars I am an unapologetic admirer of Like Wendy from the debut album "The Storm Inside" onward. Just like Steve Wilson's latest transfixion with apathy, both with Porcupine Tree and even more so with Blackfield, the material is similarly focused with death, suicide, despondence and sheer distress. Bert Heinen's music simply contains those ethereal electrodes that recharge my musical brain, soaked in the richest melancholia, smooth atmospherics and tons of emotion on both the arrangement and the lyrical level. Complicated, it is not. Heavenly somber, very much so! Profoundly influenced by the childlike fairy-tale element that characterizes the early Genesis period, replete with sensual Hackettisms and suave keyboard palettes that has Banks stamped all over them. But Heinen's voice is a unusual breed altogether, far removed from the Gabriel-Collins-Fish credo, whereby his exalted vocal laments breathe sorrow and pain like a tormented soul in a most inventive style, a proggier version of the Cure's Robert Smith! Definitely a love him/hate him singer that may take a little practice, at least early on. As soon as the gist of the music becomes clear, the fit appears with sheer clarity. After the brief aquatic "Hymn" intro that sets the mood tempo from the outset, the swirling angst of "Drowned" hits deeply, with Bert's liquefied guitar bellowing graciously and acting as the release foil for a mournful musical pant that stirs the soul, a vocal chorus that majestically cries pain. This tune is simply exquisite in its fragile simplicity. The next piece "Colours of Summer", provides a slightly more pastoral atmosphere, with gentle acoustic guitar, sweeping synths, a delicate lead guitar solo that touches all the emoticons square on and another pulsating vocal from the leader. The next one is "Spaces of the Deep", the longest at just over 8 minutes, featuring some bold lead guitarisms, weeping, howling and forever enticing, spread over a carpet of forlorn keyboard tapestries and an exit finale with acoustic guitar, tambourines and some lucid string arrangements. "Underwater Voyager" resumes the prevalent aquatic theme, with moody piano and whistling synths, setting up the wistful vocal theme, cascading gently and finished off with a modulated sorrowful lead that raises the hair on your skin, simply rippingly agonizing. "1011"is a brief instrumental interlude that preps the quixotic 'Shadow of the Sun", a synth-led melody that provides a fanfarish approach to some more grief-stricken lyrics "What you live is what you love is what you leave", a supplication for peace after so much pain and a sullen mellotron draped curtsy, a drying tear in the corner of the mind. "Skymind" starts off inconspicuously, slowly evolving into an illusory atmosphere. "Four Years" is the other masterstroke here, a lushly emotive appeal, blending the gentle sway of idealism and the harsher presence of reality. The upward engrossing synth line underlines the contrasts with utter genius. An almost "classic" bluesy/rocky guitar led mid-section seals the deal, inviting the 'sizers back for another blast. The main chorus returns with sudden finality, just to nail the coffin shut. "Wings in the Fog", as the title implies keeps the flow going, vacillating melodies merging with ominous moods and finally leading to the final mooring, the simply splendid "The River". By now, you get to appreciate the style here but Bert surprises with a wrenchingly dirty, almost coarse guitar solo, adding some fine two-handed Hammond runs before slashing another luxuriant lead. If you like progressive that is heartfelt, highly personal, loaded with superb six-string flights in the Latimer- Hackett-Gilmour mode and gut wrenching melodies with a strong melancholic feel, you should try a combo from Like Wendy. Most of his discography is worthy of any prog collector. 4.5 slightly acidic tears
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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