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Nine Stones Close - Traces CD (album) cover


Nine Stones Close



3.93 | 154 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Traces' - Nine Stones Close (6/10)

'Mellow' is the word I would use to describe this band's material. Nine Stones Close is a more recent progressive rock band that leans towards a chilled mixture of Rush and Pink Floyd, creating a sort of music that has a very clear direction of where it wants to go. 'Traces' is the first material I have yet heard from this band, an album that came out last year to some not-inconsiderable acclaim from listeners and reviewers. Is the band talented and deserving of praise? Sure; over the course of this album, Nine Stones Close manages to draw us in with equal parts calm and melancholy. However, is this the masterpiece of modern progressive music I was hoping to hear? I would say not; while there is a clear sense of direction here, the band suffers from a fairly narrow range in their sound, and for all of its atmosphere, it rarely felt to me that there was more to digest here than what was one the surface.

The two integral aspects of the music here are flange-rife guitar strums, and some very brooding vocals. Backing it up are somewhat subtle symphonic nuances, but for the most part, this is a fairly straightforward effort. The songwriting is clever, although never unexpected; each of these songs flows in much the same way as the one before or after it. The one possible exemption may be the acoustic number 'Falling To Pieces', but for the most part, this is a somewhat spacey dive into slow to mid-tempo mellowness and soft melodies. The tones of the guitars seem pasted out of Rush's 'Hemispheres' album, although this is not necessarily a bad thing; Nine Stones Close use the sound in a fairly different way, focusing less on energy and more on what I would consider to be fairly simple parts. The instrumentation here is meant to provide a fairly calming atmosphere, although it is usually the vocal work that dominates a listener's attention, and for good reason. Atkinson's voice is quite heartfelt, and has a much wider range of feeling than many vocalists in prog.

Overall, the instrumentation here is fairly mundane, pleasant to the ear, but prone to falling into the background. The valid exception to this are during the guitar solos, which one again pull out the Floydian influence. Adrian Jones' guitar solo on the title track is really excellent. As a whole though, the album feels just a little too wrapped up in its own mellowness to stay interesting throughout the entire thing. There are real gems to hear- most notably being the vocals- and 'Traces' does well to work one's heartstrings, but as a whole, a little dose of caffeine may have made this album a much more memorable experience.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |


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