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Conor Fynes
3 stars 'The Village' - Innerspace (6/10)

Although I'd probably tend to cite Voivod as my favourite Canadian band, this country has a proud legacy of warm, melodic prog rock, both from the mainstream and underground circles. In this sense, Innerspace does not surprise me too much. Of course, a band's sound and style are not necessarily dictated by their region, but I've heard some great artists from the East recently (Druckfarben and Ken Baird, to name a couple) that remind me somewhat of what this Quebecois band are up to. "The Village" is their grand introduction to the world, and they have instantly tread into some fairly deep, ambitious waters with it. Although Innerspace's laid back, dreamlike approach to melodic rock can at times feel overdone, it's a promising start for a band I think we'll be hearing great things from in the future.

I don't think I'm alone as a listener when I cite Pink Floyd as a reference point. Everything from Phil Burton's rich vocal tone to Paul Aubry's spacey keyboards and Thomas Sauvé's cinematic rhythms gives the impression of something Roger Waters may have secretly been a part of. Although most Floyd-inspired bands sport their influence most through the guitar, Simon Arsenault's lead style betrays a metal influence that doesn't feel so much shared by the rest of the band. Listeners should still keep their ear out for a few Gilmour- esque solos, however. Especially considering their relatively young ages, Innerspace are capable performers. Paul Aubry's contribution here may be the most subtle, but it is the most enjoyable and interesting for me- his textures always seem to work for the mood of the given song. For a debut record, the production is fairly impressive; the atmosphere is warm and Phil's vocals sound full and clean. Unfortunately, the rhythm guitars tend to feel pretty dead in the water productionwise- it doesn't sound entirely 'off', but the more distorted side of the rhythm spectrum does not bode well for the band's recording style.

Pink Floyd feels very prominent in the band's songwriting as well. "The Village" is a concept album of sorts, and though it's not overt enough to get a good idea of what's going on without the help of a booklet, there seems to be a theme of the individual versus the institution within; something Floyd would not have likely objected to. The songwriting is generally pretty melancholic, and though only a few songs on here stand out as being great, it's clear that Innerspace have a firm grasp of songcraft. "Jack" is my favourite tune here- a simple, yet emotionally deep ballad-type track. On the whole however, it feels like "The Village" gets itself too trapped within a formula of slow-to-mid paced tracks. There is a bit of dynamic within the songwriting, but Innerspace never really seem to change gears until "Land of Reason." As if my request was answered before the album even came to a close, Innerspace throws out a tune that allows itself a much greater prog metal influence. As a result, the instrumentation gets more intense, and the tempo gets a much needed boost. Phil Burton's vocals are certainly better suited for the more laid back style, but there's no complaint here.

"The Village" accounts for its lack of dynamic with a final, epic close, but the change of heart feels a few songs too late. Innerspace execute the mellowed out, Floydian style well, but the homogeneous sound can wear thin unless that's precisely what a listener is looking for. It would have been great to hear Innerspace take a more varied approach to their music, because- as the last track bears witness- they have it in them to tackle multiple gears successfully. "The Village"s flaws are visible, but it's accomplished the most important mission of a debut; it's proven that these guys have potential.

Report this review (#805089)
Posted Thursday, August 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Innerspace is a new progressive rock band from Canada formed in 2010. They introduced their debut album The Village to the prog rock world in the summer of 2012. They instantly have been thrown in at the deep end with this concept album, but it impressed me right from the start.

The Village could be a concept album containing all kinds of stories. Though it's not explicit enough to get a good idea of what it's all about without the help of the booklet. On the one hand there seems to be a theme dealing with the individual versus institutions, a theme against which Pink Floyd wouldn't likely have objected. On the other hand it could also be that they refer to the movie with the same name. In this film the population of a small, isolated countryside village believe that the alliance with mysterious creatures inhabiting the forests around them is coming to an end. But even by using several sounds-capes like footsteps, closing doors and human voices − which provide the story of The Village an extra dimension - it's difficult to determine what the concept's all about.

Maybe the music on this CD isn't that original because throughout you can hear music that's particularly inspired by Pink Floyd. That didn't discourage me at all because music wise they have much to offer. However, Innerspace's interpretation of Pink Floyd's music is totally different if compared to other bands that regard Pink Floyd to be their major influence. The music on The Village is mostly tranquil and laid back. They have a dreamy approach to melodic rock which fits this band perfectly. Sometimes the music tends towards a band like Airbag, although the melodic Floydian guitar parts are the main ingredients of this band. Phil Burton's rich vocal tones remind me a lot of the way Dave Gilmour sings and that even applies to the sometimes hoarse vocals. In addition Paul Aubry's spacial keyboard sounds remind me of the late Richard Wright. Even the mellow rhythmic parts resemble Pink Floyd. Sure, the guitar solos hold a certain link with Gilmour, but not as much as you should expect from a band that's strongly influenced by this great British band. However, the use of female backing vocalists and a saxophone player increase the similarity with Floyd's music. Anyway, the musicians of Innerspace are capable performers otherwise you can't record an album that sounds so professional and mature.

To mention musical highlights isn't easy because most tracks are of an equally high level. Maybe Slippery Case, part I with a great synthesizer solo and the final track Land Of Reason with great bombastic keyboard parts slightly exceed the other ones. One thing's for sure! Innerspace recorded an outstanding debut album that will be loved by many Pink Floyd fans. The Village is a good starting point for their career. Hopefully they will develop a style of their own on their next release like so many other bands did that initially started by taking influences from their musical heroes. I'm sure this band is talented enough to record an original album that's hard to compare to other bands except for Innerspace! For me it's a strong 4 stars!

Report this review (#1191457)
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2014 | Review Permalink

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