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Aethellis - Northumbria CD (album) cover





3.06 | 23 ratings

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5 stars Like some other reviewers I feel that one of the major improvements of this album from the first are the vocals. They were fine on the eponymously titled album, but on Northumbria they are powerful and multi-tracked to Heaven! Soaring, choral harmonies predominate on several tracks, particularly "Northumbria" and "The Peace Path." The vocals are all Ellsworth Hall with the exception of Mark Van Natta's impassioned lead on the second part of "The Peace Path." But it sounds as if female backing vocalists were employed to fill out the sound. Other reviewers have compared Ellsworth's vocals to Chris Rainbow and John Wetton and I would agree.

In fact, "Northumbria" and "The Peace Path" are the longest tracks on the album with varying moods and sections and with some pyrotechnical keyboard and guitar playing. Angry and aggressive, the organ on "Northumbria" delves into polytriad dissonance at times; a welcome change from the more diatonic and modal harmonies from the first album. (To be fair polytriads and jazz harmonies also appeared in the first album but were often more subtly interwoven and less aggressively displayed.) And there are thematic elements and leitmotifs that are stated, recapitulated and transmogrified within intelligent song structures on both tracks.

Other tracks such as "The Awakening" and "Exchequer Prague" are progressive riffs on electronica or synth pop, taking the basic earmarks of the genre but infusing them with harmonic and melodic sophistication beyond what their inspirations contained.

I find the funk and jazz influences ("Celui Qui Soit La Bosse" and "Sounds Good") refreshing. Did not progressive rock in its earlier incarnation take from various forms of music and combine them into something new? Classical, folk and jazz were all fertile ground for planting new seeds of artistic directions. So why not now funk and electronica? Eclecticism is a virtue in prog.

bdenim | 5/5 |


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