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Needlepoint - Walking Up That Valley CD (album) cover

WALKING UP THAT VALLEY

Needlepoint

 

Crossover Prog

4.09 | 99 ratings

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mental_hygiene
4 stars Walking Up That Valley is the new Needlepoint album, a band that is categorized as "crossover prog", but really should be considered canterbury scene. This seems to be their first album that's catching the attention of the prog community, but is their fifth overall. The most prominent influence throughout this album is Caravan, with Bjorn Klakegg's vocals sometimes verge on sounding just like Pye Hastings. However, I wouldn't reduce this band to just Caravan. The production sometimes reminds me of the softer King Gizzard records. That might be a stretch, but the point is that this is a very interesting blend of psychedelia and canterbury quirkiness in a rather lush and pastoral setting.

Rules of a Mad Man opens the album and quickly envelops your ears with the excellent blend of acoustic guitars, organ, piano, and the rather charming vocals. Their singer has a strong norwegian accent that might get on your nerves if you're in the wrong mood. I've come full circle, and I think I actually really enjoy it. I love how Rules of a Mad Man strips itself down to a quasi-drum solo section. It's things like this that really evoke the Canterbury sense of jazz while still being rooted in psych rock. I Offered You the Moon follows, another excellent track with a real gem of a synth solo halfway through. Overall, I really appreciate the dynamics on this album. It's refreshing to my ears to hear a 2021 album use so much space and atmosphere in a way that doesn't flood the record.

Web of Worry continues to tone down the record, featuring some excellent drumming that is simultaniously fast paced but atmospheric. I think they generally really nailed the sound of the drums on this record. So Far Away is definitely the most peaceful song on here. It's a very warm and well written ballad. There's even a bit of soul influence on the singing of this song. I cannot get enough of how smooth this album can sound.

Where the Ocean Meets the Sky picks the album back up in energy. While a lot of these songs blend together in atmosphere, it never gets to the point where I can't keep track of each song. The guitars switch often from atmospheric and reverb-drenched comping to orchestrated lines with some interplay with the keys. Carry Me Away continues down this path, this time actually evoking Gong to my ears. Or a less chaotic version of Gong. The choir on the chorus on this song is so beautiful, and I would say is the song that's stuck with me the most from this record. it also is the song that depicts the cover art in its lyrics.

Another Day, the penultimate track, continues with the lush vocal harmonies. The keys add a slight harpsichord-esque classical flair that really compliments the song. Walking Up That Valley, the title track, is an evocative and peaceful track that recounts the titular journey into the valley. The lyrics might be a bit cheesy, but I really appreciate this track regardless. It's the most prog-folk song on this record, driven by acoustic guitar and slowly adding soft percussion and bass as it (oh no I'm gonna say it) progresses. I really appreciate songs that take you on a journey and can pull it off. It's a well executed terminal climax. It sadly ends on a bad note, something I was really disappointed by. It closes on a guitar solo that just fades out, which is really bad because it sounds like the album was supposed to continue. It's a shame that the album doesn't properly close.

Overall, Walking Up That Valley is a very calm, refreshing, and beautiful collection of neo-canterbury songs. I think this is a very masterful record, there's so much detail in each song between the production, the mixing, and the orchestration of it all. I'm looking forward to listening to their earlier albums. Needlepoint is an excellent band, and I really hope that this album is their break into the prog community and hopefully broader.

mental_hygiene | 4/5 |

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