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Meer - Playing House CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.80 | 59 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The 2016 debut of this Norwegian band seem to have passed by without notice, but upon this new second album the addition process was quite fast. (I happened to see MEER suggested here just a couple of days after I got the cd.) However, no one has reviewed this band yet.

My own initial reception, when listening to a few chosen tracks at my friend's home, was frankly much more positive than my thoughts after listening to the whole album a few times. My friend was making a newspaper review and he asked my opinion of referring to White Willow and IAMTHEMORNING. I agreed and didn't invent any better references. One reason for me becoming mildly disappointed must be the fact that the charming and personal female voice plays a smaller role on the whole than I had hoped. She has a notable spectre in her expression, from girlish and purposedly frail innocence to edgier power, slightly comparable to Iamthemorning's Marjana Semkina, or maybe more closely to Courtney Swain of BENT KNEE. The male vocalist with the same surname (husband? brother?) is pretty good too, and his tidy-but-emotional vocals could be compared to the likes of Mariusz Duda of RIVERSIDE.

Both him and the guitarist also play keyboards in addition to the group's main keyboardist. All in all the group has eight members on this album: the usual rock quintet plus the two vocalists, and two string players (violin and viola) to make the Iamthemorning comparison even more valid. The classical/ chamber music flavour is one part of MEER's ambitious sonic mixture. There is also an electrified and at times threatening modern alt-rock soundscape with an occasional Post Rock resemblance. The dynamic variety within the eleven tracks (all under seven minutes in length) is very wide. For example 'She Goes' operates between restricted, minimally arranged moments and powerful crescendo bursts bordering on Prog-/Post-Metal. Add the pop elements represented especially by the vocalists, and it's clear that MEER is definitely not a one-trick pony.

So, as I said the female vocals are sadly not used to their full potential. Perhaps the other reason for my disappointment compared to the very first impression is that the album turned out to be more intense and edgier than I had wished, and if I had had a faint idea of folk nuances la early White Willow, it wasn't really fulfilled at all. But false expectations aside, Playing House offers nearly 55 minutes of carefully woven and deeply dynamic, sonically ambitious modern prog / alt-rock with many various elements. The strings, whenever they're heard, are an excellent feature. Also the basic songwriting is fairly strong, even though it's sometimes buried under the overwhelming dynamic width. Gladly there's some calm simplicity too, on songs such as 'Where Do We Go from Here?'

Taking the question of rating more subjectively, I might easily give this album four stars, but for me personally the music occasionally gets too cold, noisy and threatening. For fans of edgier rock dynamics and heavier sounds (think of Riverside, Porcupine Tree and such) that naturally won't be any problem.

Matti | 3/5 |


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