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Fourteen Twentysix - In Halflight Our Soul Glows CD (album) cover

IN HALFLIGHT OUR SOUL GLOWS

Fourteen Twentysix

Crossover Prog


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Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'In Halflight Our Soul Glows' - Fourteen Twentysix (8/10)

Fourteen Twentysix- the project of one Chris van der Linden- has seen quite a development in the time since its last album. With the debut 'Lighttown Closure', the band was essentially a one man outfit; an outlet in which Chris could express himself through a brooding post alt- rock hybrid. As dreary and laid back an album as it was, 'Lighttown Closure' certain opened doors both for Chris and the Fourteen Twentysix. This has since developed into a professional full-band, and as such, Fourteen Twentysix's second album is quite a bit different than they were the first time around. A year in the making, 'In Halflight Our Soul Glows' is no longer simply the work of Chris van der Linden, but now an entire ensemble of talented musicians, and the new wealth of insights has paid off.

Like 'Lighttown Closure', 'In Halflight Our Soul Glows' is a grower of an album, albeit for very different reasons. While the sleepiness of 'Lighttown' took me a while to sink into it, 'Halflight' is much the opposite. Ambition has been in no short supply this time around; 'In Halflight Our Soul Glows' has expanded Fourteen Twentysix into fullblown concept album territory, although the themes within are more abstract than some straightforward narrative. Musically, the thing that 'Lighttown' needed most- that being energy- is handed up in generous amounts, with a more consistent flow of interesting ideas. Although the archetypal prog community may initially turn their nose at the prospect of shorter songs, it really does work in Fourteen Twentysix's favour. There is little to no gap between these songs, and as many of these songs can get quite eventful, the song lengths are deceptive.

Musically speaking, there is a strong pop sensibility here, although- like Porcupine Tree- a prog rock approach is asserted through the way the pieces are arranged and produced. Fourteen Twentysix has never been a stranger to electronics, and there are plenty of synthesized bits of ambiance here to embellish the music. Many guitar lines are layered over like post-rock, but they never take long to get where they need to go. I could joke and call this latest incarnation of Fourteen Twentysix 'Prog Cab For Cutie', as that's certainly the impression that I draw from many of the songs here, particularly one of my favourite songs, the nostalgic 'Summer Snow'. Besides citing Death Cab, Radiohead and even U2 are other bands I could draw comparisons to, although by that same measuring stick, Meshuggah references may even pop up, as evidenced by a quirky break in 'Sleepwalker'.

Chris' voice has always been part of Fourteen Twentysix's sound that helped distinguish them, and that rings true on 'Halflight' as well. His voice has certainly improved over 'Lighttown' and the 'Songs To Forget' demos, and there is a greater confidence to his delivery; once again something that I felt was lacking on 'Lighttown Closure'. On top of Chris' vocal offerings, band mate Tom van Nuenen gives a similar, yet distinctive style of singing to counter Chris, either as a background vocalist, or pulling leads of his own, all to the music's benefit. It's also well worthy of mention that Mick Moss of Antimatter helps play a song here, the single 'Every Line', which is driven by the band's virtually omniscient electronic beats and quirky ambiance.

'In Halflight Our Soul Glows' is a very futuristic-sounding album, and could be compared to what Peter Gabriel did with his album 'Up'. There is a lot happening with this album, but the music is based in a deceptively accessible brand of alternative rock. Not all of the band's experiments work- 'Rush Run' feels like a dabble in noise that misses more than it hits- and as a moderate backlash with the album's pacing, there is the definite feeling that some of these songs and ideas could have blossomed if they were given a little more time to develop and mature. Regardless, 'Halflight' is among the best albums I've heard so far in 2012, and while it may be downright silly to declare so early in the year, I have a hard time believing this won't be somewhere on my top albums list in December. An excellent and enveloping album, and it's been well worth the wait.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#640782)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I was looking forward to the release of this new effort by Dutch outfit, Fourteen TwentySix. I regarded its predecessor album, Lighttown Closure, as an excellent album, if a little bleak. That album was, essentially, a solo vehicle on the part of the talented Chris van der Linden. In Halflight Our Soul Glows, by contrast, is very much a band effort, with the other four members now contributing fully to proceedings.

As with Lighttown Closure, this is an album which demands many listens before putting fingers to keyboard for a review, and the listener is rewarded for such patience.

Aside from the increased involvement of band personnel, the main difference between the two albums is the more accessible nature of this one. For sure, there are some desolate moments here, notably the extremely bleak Sleepwalker which features an incredible blend of sound effects accompanying a doom-laden guitar riff. The album also continues the post- rock sensibilities on tracks such as For A Second, reminiscent to me of some of Radiohead's more tuneful moments in the past ten years or so.

The overall mood, however, is far brighter, and this is a healthy progression (pardon the pun). It's not a bundle of laughs, far from it. Not for this outfit the playful lyrics of an Ian Anderson. I refer here, however, to the overall textures of the music itself. As enjoyable as Lighttown Closure is, it is not an album that you will play regularly - you have to be "in the mood". By contrast, In Halflight.... is an album that I have played, and will continue to play, on a frequent basis. The longest track, The Crossing, is sublimely brilliant and will be a clear highlight of 2012 with its excellent lead guitar, throbbing rhythm, and build-up of huge intensity, before the climax takes us down gently with a beautiful acoustic section.

There is not one track in excess of six minutes on the work, but the band have managed to create a body of work of which the tracks seque into a whole. Take the wonderful acoustic guitar solo of Noon which effortlessly seams into the electronic mournfulness of Hollow, a standout track which combines bittersweet vocals/lyrics, tremendous synth effects, piano, and a throbbing, relentless bass and drum riff at its core.

In addition to the band personnel, there are two guest appearances on the album. Every Line features Mick Moss of melancholic outfit Antimatter. This track is the first single from the album, and is a very effective mix of soundscapes, riffs, and Moss lending very distinctive vocals to a dark track. It is, perhaps, appropriate here to give special mention to Martijn Jorrisen's brilliant bass playing, very much at the fore here, but never anything less than effective throughout the album.

Secondly, we have Rush Run, a track which starts with a massive rush of noise before settling into a lovely vocal by Vera Dirkx, whom I have not had the pleasure of hearing before, but would like to in future. This is a track of contrasts, because the band provide us with an almost industrial wave of noise before a piano introduces Vera singing an exquisitely fragile vocal. It is only 1:50 long, and is, perhaps, the only track where I wish a greater length had been given to us.

It is always dangerous to make predictions in this business, but I genuinely believe that, on this form, Fourteen TwentySix could develop into one of the most important, and, crucially, commercially successful, of the modern European progressive rock artists. Yes, there are shades of Porcupine Tree, Floyd, and Crimson in here, but, really, it is impossible and pointless to classify this act, for what we have here is utterly unique, marvellously performed, and thoughtful with commercial sensibilities (Little Diamonds has you tapping your feet and nodding your head relentlessly).

This album is very much a move forward from the opener, and is never anything less than interesting, thoughtful, and entertaining. Time has clearly been taken in perfecting the various sonic landscapes provided to us, and I for one hope that this patient work will be rewarded.

The album is available as a download for the ridiculously cheap price of ?3 from the Bandcamp site for the band (this is where I purchased it), and a digipack CD is to follow shortly.

Four stars for this. Very highly recommended modern progressive rock.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#653871)
Posted Sunday, March 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Fourteen TwentySix is the child of Dutch talent Chris van der Linden, a man who has a busy musical life, with different proposals but always with satisfactory results. I am a huge fan of 1426's "Lighttown Closure", there are some songs that I really love, that is why I kept my interest in this band and wanted to get their newest album, entitled "In Halflight Our Soul Glows", which features 15 tracks and a total time of 48 minutes of a good mixture of electronic-alternative-progressive rock.

The album opens with a short introduction entitled "Echo", honestly not the best introductory track I've listened. It leads to "Summer Snow" which is a more elaborated piece, with nice percussion, melancholic vocals and a guitar as background. Seconds later the electronic feeling can be appreciated and will prevail until the very end (that is one of 1426's main characteristics). "Sleepwalker" continues in the same vein, a mid-tempo track, a constant guitar as background while drums play and vocals sing. The final minute is pretty good, more chaotic and different. The next song is "For a Second" which starts with repetitive but addictive guitar notes accompanied by drums and the voice. This is an interesting track, I like its changes and the nuances that are being implemented while the seconds pass. If you listen to it with good headphones your appreciation will be better.

"Decelerate" may be one of my favorite tracks here, I find it pretty interesting, sensitive and ambitious, it also reminds me of their debut album. That mixture of electronics with Chris' voice and the guitar is great. After three minutes an acoustic guitar appears and that makes another beautiful moment. "Noon" is a nice instrumental interlude that leads to "Hollow", which is another good song that sums up what 1426 is about.

"Fall From Gravity" has a heavier feeling, maybe due to the bass sound which is more powerful than the previous tracks. There is also a chaotic moment here after 2:30 minutes we can feel some tension and nervousness, which is something I adore in music, so the musicians do the right work and can transmit emotions. This is a highlight of the album without a doubt. "Every Line" is the first of two tracks that pass the 5 minute mark, and it is also the first one featuring a guest voice. Mick Moss of Antimatter puts his grain of sand here, and give a very good result combined with the cool music of 1426.

"Rush_Run" is a short and chaotic track, seems like a pursuit in the first minute and it all vanishes all of a sudden, until in the second minute a piano and the female voice of Vera Dirks appear. The next song is "Little Diamonds" which has a mellow sound and emotional voices, I like the rhythm implemented by drums and the textures the guitars and keyboards produce, this is a good example of progressive (crossover) rock, listen to it and you will understand. "Halflight" is another short piece with delicate vocals, nice acoustic guitar and a tense background.

"The Crossing" is the longest composition here, it perfectly takes all the elements that the band has previously shared on the album and puts it in one song that may be the pinnacle of this release. I love the tension produced by the guitar that sounds as background, while the voice is still soft and mellow, the drums are always accurate and the emotions like a rollercoaster. "23/59" is a short instrumental piece with an atmospheric sound, a relaxing mood. And the album finishes with "Funeral Fire", a song that clearly says goodbye, just one minute and a half of repetitive drums, sweet guitars and a mellow voice.

Well, I wanted to write this review at least 2 or 3 weeks earlier, but I couldn't because I was expecting to get more involved with it, but unfortunately I could not find what I was looking for, I mean, with "Lighttown Closure" I fell in love almost immediately and is an album I play regularly, but with "In Halflight?" I cannot say I love it, nor it is a step forward to 1426, I am sorry if I sound harsh, but when something does not move you, as much as you wish, you will not fall in love. The album is very good without a doubt, but something is missing, that is why my final grade will be 3 stars.

Enjoy it!

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#830353)
Posted Saturday, September 29, 2012 | Review Permalink

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