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Wobbler - From Silence To Somewhere CD (album) cover

FROM SILENCE TO SOMEWHERE

Wobbler

 

Symphonic Prog

4.49 | 372 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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A teneris unguiculis

From tender little nails, from the earliest childhood

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As the golden age of progressive rock gradually weakened under the weight of its own agglutinating overindulgence thus rendering an alienation of the uninitiated as it ballooned into unthinkable complexities, the musical genre was banished to the underground during the course of the ensuing decades as simpler musical expressions usurped its initial popularity. Despite this great fall from grace, there has always been a steady stream of artists who have never broken their fixed gaze on the pinnacle of the compositional fortitude that was seemingly beamed down from the heaven's for a small span of time from the latter years of the 60s to the midpoint of the 70s. Throughout the flow of time that has elapsed ever since, there has been a small but dedicated following whose sights have not been set on creating newer more contemporary forms of cutting edge progressive music that seeks to eschew the curricular guide of the past masters but rather have had their sight secured on the Holy Grail of prog from the era that provided a hitherto unexperienced syncretism of musical genres with the mission of expanding the pop and blues oriented rock universe into the new realms fortified with Western classical, psychedelia, folk, jazz and beyond. Such results yielded a big bang of creative and expressive albums that have hardly been matched yet a few ambitious artists have taken it as their mission to revisit the past and ever since have tried to replicate its majesty in all its splendiferous glory.

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A fonte puro pura defluit aqua

From a clear spring clear water flows

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Once upon a time near the town of Hønefoss, Norway, the industrial hub of the Østlandet region of the country, not too overly far from Oslo, the small city of 14 thousand plus residents wasn't exactly famous for exporting progressive rock classics to the world but rather more known on the world's stage for its Olympic gold medalists and enthusiast ski jumpers. However in the midst of whispers of the frigid white winters were progressive rock dreams thawing near the fireplaces and sweated out in the saunas were unfolding far from the English countryside from whence they spawned decades prior, the band known as WOBBLER was born in 1999 when Kristian Karl Hultgren, Lars Fredrik Frøislie and Martin Nordrum Kneppen discovered they shared the same burning passion for all things progressive rock that were heard in the bands before their time and became obsessed with emulating the very progressive prowess of bands like PFM, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Yes, ELP and so forth. Staying true to the sounds of their heroes, they implemented all the expected characteristics of era specific prog with healthy doses of mellotron, hammond organ, minimoog, rhodes, clarinet, ARP, piano and harpsichord fortified with healthy time signature rich guitar riffing, Rickenbacker bass lines and complex compositional arrangements. The band caught the world's attention with their debut album "Hinterland" which utilized all the techniques and trademark styles of the musical maestros but somehow, something wasn't quite complete. Despite all their efforts they hadn't seemed to have gone that extra mile to completely separate themselves from the legions of retro prog worshippers who were growing and multiplying every single day seemingly like cane toads in the Australian outback. However something special was gestating. The question would be only if it was allowed to express itself in time before it would become suffocated in its nascency.

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Materiam superabat opus

The workmanship was better than the subject matter.

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While "Hinterland" set the tone and cemented the band's unique spin on the golden age of symphonic prog properly seasoned with the eclectic influences of the entire prog universe, WOBBLER appeared to be going through the motions on their next two releases. While "Afterglow" showed even more development in their retro prog approach and compositional development, "Rites At Dawn" sounded more like a band that had peaked and was on the way down rather having the mojo to pull off anything far more visionary and grander in scope as it sputtered along in a seemingly endless Yes mode with every prog check list accounted for to maximize retro appeal. While brilliantly performed, the compositions just didn't feel like they had their own soul and the end result found "Rites Of Dawn" feeling somewhat hollow despite the Herculean instrumental workouts performed at every single cadence and crescendo.

Something seemed amiss and hunches are that the band themselves could sense the stagnation as they hesitated for several years before they would initiate any thoughts of a followup album. As the years passed, WOBBLER became ever more inspired by the spirit of what made the retro prog they were trying to copy. The spirit of grandiose inspiration had finally hit them and in a profound way. After six long years of self reflection, healthy work habits and reinventing the wheel in order to suit their needs, WOBBLER emerged at long last in 2017 with their not so anticipated fourth album FROM SILENCE TO SOMEWHERE. This sounds like WOBBLER but something had changed. No longer did the band sound like they were desperately seeking to become the heroes of prog greatness. Suddenly they sounded like they themselves were admitted to the very club that so many have tried in vein to replicate with few capable of grasping their lofty visions turned to dust. Even upon first glance of the cover illustration from the Cabala's esoteric texts there is an insinuating feeling that there's a King Crimson "Larks' Tongue In Aspic" connection in either complexity or magnitude. And after an initial listen, it was apparent that this will be one of those albums that requires some time to investigate.

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Mutatis mutandis

The things that ought to have changed having been changed with the necessary substitutions having been made

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Against all odds and to the amazement of prog fans of planet Earth, WOBBLER delivers one of the least anticipated albums of the year and dazzles the listener with the aura of an instant classic. Perhaps it was the ghost of Chris Squire who was not ready to leave this dimensional plane and decided to create his own astral plane version of American Idol where he could personally choose a successor to the giants of the past. Perhaps he chose WOBBLER who had already come a long way in the prog world and simply needed that extra spark of divine mojo to fully ignite their compositions in a way that only come from higher planes of reality. Perhaps they won the inspirational lottery. Perhaps. However unexplainable these things may seem, it matters not for WOBBLER clearly had something going for them and with FROM SILENCE TO SOMEWHERE they indeed have climbed their way into the top ranks of the progressive rock high arts that not only worships the heroes of the past with all the appropriate boxes checked, but infuses a whole new updated spirit to this creative fusion and delivers one of the absolute best albums of 2017. While instantly addictive with rich melodies and driving dynamics ranging from contemplative pastoral symphonic segments to hard rock riffs, like any classic prog album invites the listener to dig deeper and settle into a new musical world that only becomes more comfortable after each experience.

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Contra felicem vix deus vires habet

Against a lucky man a god scarcely has power

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FROM SILENCE TO SOMEWHERE contains a mere four tracks with the second "Rendered In Shades Of Green" serving merely as a two minute intermission between the twenty one minute opener and the two final tracks.

The opening title track immediately sets off an air of epic proportion as a synthesizer eerily enters the soundscape and ushers in a rock guitar riff and followed by mellotron and keyboard rich atmospheric buildup that continues to grow immediately bringing the classic opening sequence of Yes' "Close To The Edge" to mind as it delivers a moog rich jamming session as the Rickenbacker bass line and guitar riffs conspire to create munificent melodies until after a few minutes things calm down and a slow and haunting melody replaces the raucous roar with a theremin type tone reminding of the sequence of Rush's "Xanadu" that serves as a bridge between segments.

The melody established remains the backbone of the track henceforth and variations seem to revolve around this single catchy hook alone. In comes the poetic lyrics finding a major improvement in Andreas Prestmo's vocals which grace the epic aura even further into magical territories for let's face it: music of this magnitude demands a skilled vocalist and i would testify that Prestmo's vocals are the make it or break it element of this whole album's success.

Close to eight minutes the eerie slow lyric driven pastoral segment breaks into heavy keyboard rich rock with Steve Howe inspired guitar riffs, Keith ELP derived keyboard runs and expansive melodic developments. After nine and a half minutes, the style shifts again and creates and arpeggiated guitar segment with heavy bass and drum accompaniment that goes down a strange road of changes as the guitar driven segment gives license for a free-for-all jamming session where the keys and guitars take turns going wild around the melody.

About twelve and a half minutes in, the melody changes again and becomes less folk oriented and more melodic rock dominated with guitar licks and fuzz-fed riffing playing around while atmospheric keys churn out heavenly counterpoint melodies. Silence hits after fourteen minutes and as Prestmo vocalizes the melody before a pastoral folky segment streams on as the complex melodic shifts that are interrelated never once sound out of place and the beginning vocal section regains its hold only Prestmo's vocals are warmed up now and goes for it and hits the next logical notes higher on the register. There is more instrumental gusto this time around and the band erupts into a heavy bass driven groove rock with the expected mellotron drenched atmospheric drama alongside.

At eighteen and half minutes in the pastoral segment reprises as Prestmo sings his heart out while slowly winding down the momentum as the percussion has died and a medieval flugelhorn type of riff is heard bringing a medieval folk funeral to mind or something equally as somber until finally the long and winding road down the track ends and only contemplation and the desire to hear it again rings in my ear.

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Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito

Yield not to misfortunes, but advance all the more boldly against them

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"Rendered In Shades Of Green" is nothing more than a short classical piano piece that is slow and sombre with a touch of mellotron echoes behind it. A violin and viola enter and add a sense of deepening dread and urgency as if a great friend has died and a battle for the kingdom is to come. Very epic soundtrack sounding as this one but bridges two distinct halves of the album.

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Homo doctus is se semper divitias habet

A learned man always has wealth within himself

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"Fermented Hours" is the heavy rocker of the album. Although it begins with a keyboard cry that sounds like no other once the heavy rock hits, it sounds like a mix of Steve Hillage's "Fish Rising" in hypnotic guitar riffing with the extra heft of the heavier era of Porcupine Tree. As the riffs are cranked up the keys add their own ferocity but alternates with a slow spoken word part that adds an interesting contrast but slightly over the two minute mark the heavy rock ends and a slinky key and bass exchange that sound like a TV series soundtrack of the 60s bounces around for a while as Prestmo is allowed to recite his lyrics without shouting over the heavier din aspects of the track. His vocal counterpoints bring back the folkier feel of the track as symphonic mellotrons frost the horizon.

A slight calm eventually allows another recitation in Italian to usher in a heavy instrumental workout where all the cast members are allowed to jam on for a while and play off each other while the vocals join in singing about barley and esoteric symbolism and such but at six and a half minutes the guitar riff changes as it provides an anchor for the more extensive jamming segment and changes the melody that builds up more tension that leads to a very Yes sounding segment once again reminding me of key transitional points on "Close To The Edge," however nothing remains long on FROM SILENCE TO SOMEWHERE and the band slowly inches their way back to the opening melodic heft of the heavy rock only with a sizzling guitar solo and extra oomf. As the track ends it builds and builds and builds until it collapses under its own reckless abandon. Way cool.

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Horas non numero nisi serenas

I count only the bright hours

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With a title like "Foxlight," how can one not immediately conjure up images of Genesis' "Foxtrot" album. Just like when you're told not to think of an elephant, well, what do you think of? This track indeed starts off like a classic prog era Genesis track with calm bucolic guitar arpeggios, flittering flute runs that sound like bird wings flapping in the breeze as Prestmo augments the melody with intermittent vocals. The flutes give it away as they slowly intensify and the keys follow suite by creating more vigorous waves of notes sway in classical piano style with touches of jazzy overtones. When it seems like the track is set on autopilot at over three and a half minutes in, a sudden burst of energy occurs and a guitar driven prog riffs with a melodic yet time signature riff leads the way. Instead of changing things up totally, the track builds upon what came before. The main theme breaks for some guitar riffs with extra gusto as well as flute solos. After six minutes the main riff slows down as the instruments play polyrhythms with each keeping different times and a bizarre tension is created in the process but once again Prestmo is the glue with his outstanding never-miss-a- beat vocal delivery.

At over ten minutes in, the vague atmospheric scatterings of the instruments unite to create a final rock intensive melodic outro which plays off the main melody which seems to tie the best aspects of Yes' virtuosity with Genesis symphonic style along with Gentle Giant type vocal polyphony, Tullish flute lines in more of a Comus type folk style. As the series of la la la la's build to end the track and album it all ends with a final bang and before you know it, it's all over leaving me wanting more but also leaving with a sense of leaving us hungry is the perfect strategy as WOBBLER realized the prog attention span has weakened over the decades and that the classic running time of a 70s album seems to scratch the itch without causing infection.

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Gratia placenti

For the sake of pleasing

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I can hear the skeptics opine of whether it is the case that we need to revisit the golden era of prog in 2017 when so many classics were delivered to our earthly plane during that unique historical era. The obsession for continuously striving to recreate the perfect synthesis of the golden era classics may indeed seem tantamount to reinventing the wheel and adding new artistic treads and bright shiny colors. It may even seem like an overindulgence in musical excess like a drug addict never finding that final fix that leaves him/her in blissful satisfaction however as the 21st century churns on after decades of experimental paths into the hitherto musically unknown, there is something very comforting about the divine balance of elements that occurred in the classics of the past that are becoming as timeless as the Cabalistic images that grace the cover of FROM SILENCE TO SOMEWHERE.

True, we may not need yet another prog reinterpretation of the past just like we didn't need one more beer at that party last Saturday night, however when a group of musicians is so utterly determined to take their passions to the ultimate heights of expression, then how can i fault them for doing what they love. After all, it's the results of the fruits of their labor that matter in the long run and in the case of FROM SILENCE TO SOMEWHERE, everything came together in an eerily majestic way, therefore after playing these over and over purposefully trying to pinpoint a single little peccadillo to tear it down to size, i in all honesty cannot detect a single flaw that inhibits my enjoyment and reverence towards the brilliant fusion of different classic albums of yester- millenium. WOBBLER have undoubtedly created one of the most satisfying progressive rock experiences of the year and possibly of the decade as they impeccably delivery the goods without missing a beat and all this comes after a third album that seemed to show the band waning instead of building up to such outstanding summits of eminence. Yes, indeed. A modern day prog classic with unlimited re-listening potential has been born. Hallelujah!

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siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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