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Crossover Prog

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5 stars SOUP has lived since 2004 with its charismatic leader Erlend Viken at the head of the group; an alternative, crossover, extraordinary rock that distills expressive, dynamic and melancholic notes aided by the GIANT SKY Orchestra whose album is just my album of the year for now. This is their 5th production coming out on colorful vinyl, CD, digital and CD / vinyl mix with bonus atmospheric, art rock, post rock and a bit folk tones. The album cover was again created by Lasse Hoile for a unique visual.

5 titles, a blank to hide some bonuses which I won't tell you anything about, yes you have to have the collector's special! Songs that follow one another like a concept album, 'Burning Bridges' spearheading, intimate, a bit of PINK FLOYD and BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST in the distance and a dreamlike post rock maelstrom in the end. The song with a long crescendo that takes you far to the southern lands. 'Crystalline' versus Genesisian at first crystalline, a dark, melancholy and musical light-filled track that becomes languid before launching into a deafening apocalyptic finale, also ideal for testing your speakers. an interlude on the piano to tie up again to the world and the last two titles which bind to each other with beauty from the angels of the north, impressive melancholy spleen with an explosion even more beautiful than what l 'one can find on the old GENESIS, a little didgeridoo after; moments of bucolic sweetness allied to notes of intimacy that make you ... melt, yes you too a reader; the sidereal beauty is here to take you very far and not to make you come back, beware of danger because introspection may overwhelm you with its divine darkness, the price of this listening far from current musical criteria.

SOUP delivered a still perfect album, darker than her earlier year baby Giant Sky; the sound feels simple, almost flat 'to listen to and then intensifies over time and that's what's amazing. I read somewhere the allusion to a jazzy stroll with stressed ENO who mixes and WRIGHT at the controls as supervisor ... SOUP only needs its members to offer you the music of tomorrow, the one that has not. need a musical label but which gives pleasure to the listening time.

Report this review (#2650079)
Posted Monday, December 6, 2021 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Norwegian veterans of 18 years and six albums are back for another shot at increasing their fan base. Having really loved their 2018 release, Remedies, with their great sense of haunting melodies, and then after hearing Eav's AMAZING Giant Sky project's album release from earlier in 2021, I was filled with HIGH hopes for this unexpected windfall.

1. "Burning Bridges" (15:02) a song that really never is given a chance to get going--is stop and go for the whole of its first ten minutes! I don't get it! Not even Radiohead or Sigur Rós can get away with this! And then the final five minutes is just too repetitively monotonous despite all of the creative additions (violins, trumpets, flutes) and reminds me more of an average Post Rock song. (24.5/30)

2. "Crystalline" (7:02) the flutes and picked acoustic guitars in the opening 2:30 is a nice change--more like the Indie- Pop/Prog Folkiness of the Giant Sky album--or even ANATHEMA's albums of the 2010s. The lyrics seem like quite a little lament for the loss of the world as it was before COVID-19. I just wish the chordal structure was a little more interesting, not so endlessly repetitive. (Though, I get the inference that the world is building up to a big crescendo and blow up.) (13/15)

3. "Skins Pt. 1" (1:19) nice little post-apocalyptic, post-civilization piano epitaph. (4.25/5)

4. "Kingdom of Color" (9:11) gently picked acoustic guitar matched up with piano are nice. The heavily-treated vocal is annoying (and totally unnecessary?) Drums, bass, and keys come in giving it even more of an Indie-Pop MICE ON STILTS sound and feel. Later, violins are a very cool addition--and the arrangement for the rest of the band improves nicely. At 4:35 the Post Rock Sigur Rós explosion and Jonsí vocal is unleashed. But then everything just drops away and is replaced by an arpeggiated chord sequence picked nylon string guitar joined by piano, bass & drums, flute, and bright strings. Simple gorgeous! And the dénouement finishes with some gorgeous piano chord play. Definitely the high point of the album. (19/20)

5. "Skins Pts. 2-3" (7:23) begins as if a continuation of the previous song but quickly establishes itself as something totally separate (at least, musically). The loose, almost acoustic instrumental arrangement seems but a haphazard and perhaps unsettling background for Eav's message-filled vocal. (It seems to be about the struggles to maintain mental health and healthy relationships during the fear-filled time of the pandemic.) But then it all coalesces into a beautiful, cohesive whole--as an instrumental. Very Pink Floydian. Nice finish to the album. (13.5/15)

Total Time 39:57

B/a solid four stars; an excellent contribution of melodic prog to the Prog lexicon; strongly recommended.

Report this review (#2672082)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2022 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars SOUP is the project of Norway's own Erlend Aastad Viken starting out as a one man band and releasing that debut as such before becoming a four piece on the followup album and expanding to a five piece here on album number six. Erlend takes the time here in the liner notes to do a proper thanks as he puts it to the many who have helped along the way. Mentioning the kids in Volda for rooting for the one man band back in 2005. Mentioning Lasse Hoile as a collaborator since Lasse heard the song "My Justine" on MySpace in 2005. He did the cover art here. There's a couple of guests helping out with strings and flute from GIANT SKY a related band. Like the cover art I find the music to be okay, just not my thing overall but I kept thinking the word "interesting". SOUP seems to forge some new territories or at least changes them up enough to make it interesting. Post Rock with the guitars and powerful sections are contrasted with the folky acoustic guitar, piano and fragile vocal sections. The vocals in that mode remind me of Phil Collins and the sound like GENESIS. My favourite sections are those. We do get build ups like Post Rock but these are quicker.

I have a legit copy and the length of this album is 66:19 and the final song almost 34 minutes not 7 1/2 minutes as shown here and mentioned in other reviews. That final track does go silent at 7:23 but it stays that way for 10 minutes before the music returns and man were just getting started. A FLOYD-like section to open "Burning Bridges" but then that GENESIS pastoral soundscape takes over and later a wall of sound like Post-Rock and this track is a good example of what this album is about. The strings are fairly powerful on "Kingdom Of Color" one of my favourites. "Skins Pt. 1" is a short piano piece. More of the pastoral and later wall of sound on "Crystalline" kind of following the example of the opener.

This one got left far behind in the album of the year voting but that is in part because many didn't get a chance to hear it as it was released late in November. Well worth checking out and for many this is SOUP's best album.

Report this review (#2754179)
Posted Saturday, May 14, 2022 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
3 stars What originally started as a one-man project by Erlend Aastad Viken (vocals, keyboards, guitars) back in 2004 is now very much a full-fledged band with Orjan J Langnes (guitars), Oystein Megard (guitars), Jan Tore Megard (bass) and Espen Berge (drums). They have also been joined here by Giant Sky Orchestra who are Liv Brox (violins), Ivan Ushakov (flutes) and Emil Emilson Holemsland (trumpet). This is Soup's sixth album, and is deemed Crossover Prog by PA, and that is probably the best place for it, while there are no doubts they have been heavily influenced by the slower and more orchestral elements of Radiohead while also containing some of the more pastoral elements of classic Genesis (especially 'Selling England' period). They also bring in some aspects of Sixties psychedelia, and they certainly never sound Norwegian, as they feel British to the core.

The problem with music which contains so much drama and is played often quite slowly, is that if one is not really in the mood then it can just pass the listener by. I must confess I was playing this on headphones and it had finished before I realized I hadn't really heard any of it as I had become distracted by something else and there was just not enough bite anywhere for me to be hooked. I have obviously been playing it more since then, but I do find my thoughts wandering and it is a conscious effort not to lose sight of the music itself, and there is no doubt they are clever at what they do and produce some wondrous soundscapes, yet for me it is just too lethargic. I am sure there are many progheads who will argue this is nothing short of brilliant and it should be in everyone's collection, it is just that I am not one of them.

Report this review (#2918737)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2023 | Review Permalink

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