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Wobbler - From Silence to Somewhere CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.35 | 852 ratings

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3 stars As a fan of classic prog on the whole, retro prog bands like Wobbler have always been of some interest to me, seeing how they take the sounds of the giants of the past such as Genesis or Yes and provide a somewhat more modern spin on it, being able to recontextualise what originally made these artists great and demonstrate their own songwriting simultaneously. However, with that said, I often find myself becoming somewhat disappointed by the end result of this, feeling as if the artists hadn't really gone far enough in ensuring that their sound ends up being distinct from these older bands. This makes them often feel more like revelling in the past rather than demonstrating the next step in the genre's evolution. While this is completely fine, it's also something that I find makes these sorts of albums quite prone to becoming fairly inoffensive, this album being no exception to me, often hitting all the right marks for a competent album, but doing nothing that personally feels exciting in the same way as the bands it's inspired by.

In the case of Wobbler, the clearest influence on their sound is Yes, containing a lot of those more complex, expansive instrumental passages that are utilised both to showcase instrumental virtuosity, but also to build atmosphere and evoke often beautiful, lush imagery. This combined with the fact that the vocalist doesn't really sound like Jon Anderson, who I admittedly am not the biggest fan of, and you get an album that on paper sounds like an incredible album, even if to me, it's unfortunately not. The thing is, none of these individual songs are either completely lackluster nor particularly amazing, often finding a middle ground, being largely pleasant to listen to with a few moments of pure inspiration and greatness scattered through them, with the opening epic especially being prone to the slightly disjointed nature of each track. With that said, I'm a big fan of the opening few minutes of it, demonstrating some great interplay between the keyboards and bass to perfectly evoke that old, symphonic prog sound, with the more clean and modern production on top of it making it stand out excellently. While I'm very indifferent to the vocal melodies that follow this intro, the way the song builds is very well-executed here, with the late inclusion of the drums being able to gradually provide a more profound sense of urgency that carries onto a section that demonstrates talent, but lacks anything to really resonate with me personally. The song continues in this sort of trajectory for the rest of it, switching between more mellow, bland parts that have good ideas buried beneath them, and more intense sections that demonstrate the band in peak form. The moments that I especially love at around halfway through the song where it takes on a much darker tone reminiscent of the heavier intro section of PFM's Apenna un po', but much longer and with even further progression into heavier territory.

After the 2 minute interlude of Rendered in Shades of Green, the album picks up a bit with Fermented Hours, which while it embodies the qualities of the album which I like the least, with the inconsistency between the highlights of the tracks and the rest of it, the highlights end up being so good that it doesn't end up bothering me quite as much, knowing that I have those moments to look forward to to the point where I largely forgive the issues here. It would definitely be interesting to see the band go more frequently into this faster-paced, heavier direction, giving their music that bit of an edge that I personally think would go a long way in highlighting their strengths, and making those more mellow moments far more impactful. The main issue I end up having with this one is that I feel like it ends up not really going anywhere most of the time, and while the parts it has are largely very entertaining, I still wish there were a bit more to it, particularly in the climax of the song, which sounds too close to the intro to truly feel like the intense way to finish off the song. Foxlight focuses the hardest on these softer moments and ultimately suffers for it , not picking up much until 2 minutes in where the flute and clarinets help to provide some further musical depth and atmosphere. The other issue is that this suffers from the issue that I've noticed with quite a few prog bands when they attempt multi-sectioned epics, where the transitions from one part to the next end up feeling very sudden, feeling as if there wasn't sufficient build up to this shift in tone, approach etc., reducing how impactful they end up being.

Overall, I feel that while this album has its strengths, it's not really the sort of album that I feel like I can really get invested in, with a lot of dead air in between moments of greatness preventing these tracks to truly reach their full potential. I also still end up feeling indifferent to all but the greatest retro prog bands when they sound this close to their inspirations, despite the fact that they often end up having some great moments within. This album definitely showcases some serious talent and has a lot of individual parts that are truly great, especially whenever it hones in on the heavier moments where the amazing interplay between the elements of the band are at full display. Overall I would undoubtedly recommend this to fans of retro prog and symphonic prog in general, as I recognise the appeal of the album to avid fans of those genres, but for me, this was fairly run of the mill for the most part, with some excellent moments elevating this to one that I'd occasionally revisit, but not in much of a hurry at all.

Best tracks: Fermented Hours

Weakest tracks: Foxlight

Kempokid | 3/5 |


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