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Wobbler - Hinterland CD (album) cover

HINTERLAND

Wobbler

Symphonic Prog


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5 stars Finally...just finally!! As from The Laser´s Edge: "WOBBLER´S DEBUT CHANNELS THE HOLY SPIRITS OF THE ANCIENT GODS OF PROGRESSIVE ROCK. EPIC IN SCOPE AND PURELY UNCOMPROMISING, "HINTERLAND" OFFERS ELABORATE COMPOSITIONS FILLED WITH THUNDEROUS VINTAGE KEYBOARDS, DELICATE FLUTE WORK, SEARING GUITAR AND DYNAMIC RHYTHMIC INTENSITY" That´s just true!!! I preordered the CD from the label some days ago, as the official release will happen just in next September. 3 real Mellotrons were used by the also White Willow keyboardist, Lars Fredik Froislie. But the vintage elements don´t stop here: even the drummer sticks are from 1975. Intense music. Intense Mellotron. That´s why I love progressive rock so much. Thank you Wobbler for this marvellous debut effort and keep on the excellent work. Wish could attend their coming perfomance this weekend at NearFest...

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Send comments to elpprogster (BETA) | Report this review (#38778)
Posted Thursday, July 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
TheProgtologist
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4 stars This symphonic gem is the Norwegian bands debut album and they lean heavily on the influences of King Crimson,PFM,Genesis and Gentle Giant and newer symphonic acts like Anglagard and White Willow.This album is chock full of densely layered keyboards,fluid guitar melodies,great bass work and crisp,jazzy drumming although I do think the vocals are a little weak.This album consists of four tracks:Serenade for 1652 which is a short 41 second prelude to the 28 minute long epic Hinterland followed by Rubato Industry which alternates between pastoral and heavy,intense instrumental passages and closes with the instrumental Clair Obscur.This album harkens back to the glory days of symphonic prog and is a must have for your prog collection.4 stars,highly recommended.

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Send comments to TheProgtologist (BETA) | Report this review (#40125)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was at nearfest and I saw WOBBLER they are a young band who has to work on their stage presence and that's normal but the music was exactly like the cd.Not to much singing and that's ok too.If you like bands like WHITE WILLOW-ANGLAGARD-ANEKDOTEN KING CRIMSON ECT...You will love that band.And after seeing them live I find the cd even better.I give 4 stars to this album and it's worth every penny of your money.A very good addition to any prog collection. POTS

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Send comments to pots (BETA) | Report this review (#40390)
Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Did you saw that tv ad where a guy's drinking a Diet Pepsi, saying :' I'd like to kick it old school.' ?

When it comes to 'kicking it old school' there's many types of albums:

1) the bands who adore their idols SO much they downright copy every move of them; Glass Hammer being one of them. Results: a pastiche of the 'good ol' times'.

2) the bands who tooked some admiration for the work of past musicians, added a lot of their own stuff and finded a good balance between yesterday's sound and today's production; Anglagard being a good example. Results: fresh sound, nostalgia included...and Wobbler fits right in this category.

Wobbler is definitely doing it old school. Soaked in mellotron and vintage keyboards (litteraly, no kidding), they managed to blend a rather tormented kind of music and giving it a supersonic approach so you could almost believe this could be a blast from the past. It's litteraly a melting pot of the pentagonesque giants of prog: ELP, Yes, King Crimson, Genesis and Gentle Giant. This is not by any means a pastiche or a clone, it's simply a tribute album where you feel 100% comfortable with the fact that they carbon copy their musical heroes. And it goes so smooth, you'll see. They can go from mellotron a la KC and switch with ease to a tribute to GG vocals. Simply the best I've heard in many, many years.

Norway and Sweden are exporting a lot of their talents oversea, and with talent like Wobbler, all I gotta say is keep 'em coming boys.

To me, THE album of 2005.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#41237)
Posted Monday, August 01, 2005 | Review Permalink
NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This new Norweigan band sounds very much like their counterparts, dark, brooding and steeped in 70's nostalgia. Parts Yes, Gentle Giant, Genesis with newer bands like White Willow, IQ and Anglagard. They are like a beef stew, but I hate to say, without the beef. Starting off with track one, it's 41 seconds and one has to scratch your head and ask, "what's the point?". Track two, "Hinterland" is the opus, and here is where all the problems begin. It's a meandering massive track with bits and pieces of all the bands listed above. Don't get me wrong, they play very, very well, but with all the false endings leading to new sections, there's nothing to bite your teeth on, hence the beef-less stew comparision. The vocalist doesn't help things by singing in such a hushed tone. Granted, there's a theme, somewhat, but it never grabs you. It just pops up every once in awhile, and the ending builds and builds then ends rather weakly, very disappointing. Track three, "Rubato Industry" is the best track up until about 7 minutes in, then the ugly false ending monster appears, streching the song out another 5 minutes of meaningless twadling. Missed opportunity, but better singing. The last song is instrumental, "Clair Obscur" is a song akin to Anglagard, and they do a good job of it, buts it's the classic case of 'been there, done it before'. So in retrospect, all musician, especially Froislie and his mountain of endless keyboards, do a respectable job mimicking the masters, (Squire, Howe, Banks), but, like the creature on the excellent album cover, it lulls you into a restful slumber. I'll look forward to a second album which, I hope, will be tightened up a bit more and condensed. Good, but definately not essential!

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Send comments to NJprogfan (BETA) | Report this review (#42911)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Early this year a befriended proghead told me the xciting news that the keyboardplayer from Norwegian band White Willow had just founded his own band and it was expected to be Mellotron-drenched! Wow, I thought, let's wait and hear! This weekend we had our annual progrock meeting with the Background Magazine reviewers and finally I got the opportunity to listen to the Wobbler album. The first composition "Hinterland" (almost half an hour) is a tribute to the Seventies symphonic rock dinosaur sound with lots of musical parts that are obvious derived from YES, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT and Keith Emerson. And I trace also strong echoes from ANEKDOTEN and ANGLAGARD. The whole album is layered with vintage keyboards as the Mellotron, Moog synthesizer and Hammond organ, this always sounds very pleasant to me. But I also notice that the vocals are mediocre and at some moments the compositions lack direction or tend to sound too longwinding. I won't nail Wobbler as just a derivative, I won't hail them as an excellent addition, for me this is a good album, no more or less, just enjoy the wonderful vintage sound.

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#43721)
Posted Sunday, August 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
Kotro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ...And thus Wobbler invented botled prog. The band took the dye of all their major influences and soaked the fabric of their music in it. The result is a real game of "spot-the-influence" throughout almost 57 minutes of music you may think you have heard before. "Is that Gentle Giant?", you might ask, quickly changing your mind to King Crimson or ELP. When it's not either, it might be Genesis, Anglagard, Gryphon, Yes or even Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield and Queensr˙che... Yes, if you're anyone in the prog business, you were probably emulated somewhere in "Hinterland". Far from a masterpiece, somewhat lacking in originality, the album makes such a collage of progressive music than I would not hesitate in presenting it to some absolute stranger to Progressive Rock as a more than suiting introduction, with the certainty that if he enjoyed this album, he would be converted to Prog for life... For that, 4 stars!

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Send comments to Kotro (BETA) | Report this review (#59754)
Posted Thursday, December 08, 2005 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars WOBBLER are pure and pure ear candy for this music lover and "Hinterland" is anything but a cold barren wasteland of songs! Imagine the aggression of WHITE WILLOW, KING CRIMSON and ANEKDOTEN mixed with the gentleness of ÄNGLAGARD and you are not far off the musical landscape this band live to tell. "Hinterland" sounds like a bit of the past and a bit of the present mixing majestic mellotron passages with heavier complex grinds. Wobbler are Lars Fredrik Frĝislie (WHITE WILLOW keyboards), Martin Nordrum Kneppen (drums), Kristian Karl Hultgren (bass, sax), Tony Johannessen (vocals) and Morten Andreas Eriksen (guitars). Sonically these guys move from dark mellotron moods to all out heavy KING CRIMSON'ish rally points to gentle cascading Scandinavian folk like parts. The album is essentially 4 epic tracks which hit all the right buttons for me making this simply a grand album.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#64310)
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars On first hearing this CD you are welcomed by no other than Triumvirat. The sound is there and also the spirit. So many ghost passing by: Genesis, Emerson and Yes and sometimes you feel you are in the middle of Grendel of Marillion. So this is a record for people really into prog rock, if you are reading this I am sure you are one, so give it a try, spint it at home. There are no memorable passages but all in all it is a good record made by some very good musicians and a so so singer. I hope to hear the next outing of this band.

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Send comments to steelyhead (BETA) | Report this review (#64823)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hinterland is influenced by the classic 70's prog with music which is driven by keyboards and synthesizers. The album uses mystical music to create images of hills and valleys in you mind. The album is flawless from start to finish and shows master musicianship from the band especially Lars Fredrik Froislie the keyboardist. The use of saxophones, Flutes and recorders gives it a more diverse sound than other up and coming progressive bands, there is even a kazoo used that's a first. Really Hinterland is an essential album to all progressive rock fans it reminisces on the old stuff while also incorporating modern elements as well.

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Send comments to Thufir Hawat (BETA) | Report this review (#66567)
Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
oystein.k.han
4 stars Well, well. First review for me at the forum, and the first mail order for me ever.. It was something special to go and wait for the album to reach my mailbox, and it was great that it was such well spent money.

For Wobbler's Hinterland is a very good album. What great musicians! That is what you come to learn about Wobbler, they may not be as great as Genesis, Yes or Jethro at coming up with the spine-chilling parts, but they are awesome musicians.

It is a bit sad that the epic song Hinterland doesn't have any fantastic parts, or an ending to remember, because it is just very good but not exceptional.

As said before about this album, i don't either understand the starter wich is Serenade for 1652. Just seems meaningless to me.

I have been looking forward to sit down and listen to this record, and all in all it is a record that would do no harm to a progfans record collection AT ALL. It is a very descent debut from a band that I really would like to hear alot more from.

If the band would search a bit further on for those really great pieces of music, I am sure they will find it, 'cause they have the talent!

Please Wobbler, give us another one. Give us a gem.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#68702)
Posted Tuesday, February 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
richardh
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars As much as I like classic prog from the likes of Yes and ELP,Wobbler just feel like a pale imitation.They sound to me like a cross between Flower Kings and Anglagard who they would obviously like to be.Unfortunately too much of this is like the worst meandering stuff that Flower Kings churn out and lacks the direction and compositional qualities of Anglagard.On the plus side they use real Moogs and Mellotrons and have avoided any 'glossing' of the music.You get an authentic sounding seventies prog album and that has some appeal but I would rather listen to Par Lindh Projects 'Gothic Impressions' or Anglagards 'Hybris' in this respect.But just for their efforts and for the fact that you won't hear many more albums that sound like this, I would give them 3 stars but don't approach this album with too many high expectations.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#69207)
Posted Monday, February 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album may have been released in 2005, but the sheer range of vintage keyboards at the disposal of main man Lars Fredrik Froislie give it an unabashedly 70s sound. Thankfully, Wobbler isn't just about the sounds, because the songwriting also works to great effect. While Froislie was last heard as the keyboardist on White Willow's album Storm Season (2004), Wobbler is more of a direct descendant of Scandinavian neighbours Anglagard, and at some points in this excellent release actually surpass even that fine "retro-prog" group.

Essentially this album is three tracks long ... if you ignore the pointless 40 second intro, which again is reminiscent of a trick Anglagard used on their Epilog album. As such the 27 minute title track is absolutely crucial, and it has everything! Emerson style organ to kick it off, delicate flute passages that come in around 5 minute mark, melltron washes that accompany the vocal segment at around 7 minutes, superb guitar work from guest Baroque guitar player Ulrik Gaston Larsen that reminds me of Steve Howe, a nice classical guitar/flute interlude at the 12:40 point, a dark riff at 14:30, topped off by some striking synth work. By the 17 minute mark, early King Crimson is the reference pointm while on 22 minutes, a spacey mood threatens to take over, before a return to classical guitar concludes the fun.

Rubato Industry is another sweeping work, full of rich textures, with an infectious melody and music that will call to mind both Gentle Giant and Camel (in the synth leads). The 15 minute largely instrumental (save for the Gothic vocals) Clair Obscur starts off the most pastoral of the three, but develops in a more violent direction after some time, too. If there's a complaint it's that the pieces struggle to establish their individual identity! Also, the lead Vocals of Tony Johannessen are not technically pleasing, but fortunately the melodies are great, and occasionally there are additional choral vocals that lend the album a Gothic air.

Now anyone who's familiar with Anglagard will notice four or five similarities between the bands in my descriptions of this album, but it wouldn't be totally fair to dismiss Wobbler as a knock-off. While I agree that the band needs a little more time to truly establish its identity, I have no hesitation in declaring Hinterland to be the finest progressive rock record of 2005. ... 78% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#69397)
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars VERY NICE!

The album basically consists of three long tracks (except for the intro), and as many have pointed out it's easy to spot the influences. For example it's very Gentle Giant in the way the vocals interacts. In terms of style there are resemblances to Änglagċrd. But no matter the influences! This is just superb and stands for itself! Classic (or modernized) old school prog in it's best form! It wasn't much hesitation for giving it five stars - it deserves it!!

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Send comments to 1971 (BETA) | Report this review (#69509)
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
abbertholet@c
5 stars As all of us who listen to the music and read the pages here, I love progressive music. It was through the web page of The Tangent that I was introduced to Wobbler. I had just purchased "A Place in the Queue" and was interested about what the band had to say about their new release. Andy Tillison had an interesting reference to Wobbler that I wanted to follow through. I ordered "Hinterland" and was intrigued. Though I thoroughly came to understand why this record was voted among the top five of 2.005 by the ProgArchives, I asked myself "what did Andy see about this album?"

Andy is both a composer and a musician. {Brillant at both, in my opinion}. It may seem odd, but as well as being a lover of prog I am a lover of medieval and baroque music. Jordi Saval, of Hespherion XXI, uses orignial instruments to recreate a modern version of the classics using original instruments. There is no mistake that his versions of medieval music are being performed in the early twenty-first century, yet the authenticity lies with the original instruments. The same may be true with Wobbler, and perhaps this is what Andy has paritially found so intersting in conjuction with their elaboratlely composed epics. {I cannot, of course, in any way, whatsoever, speak for him. I am making an inference of my own.}

Wobbler, to my mind, is not imitating the music of the originators of prog music. What they are doing, from my point of view, is recognizing a beautiful and intelligent art form that has now been included into the cannon of western contemporary music. Wobbler plays on original instruments in the way that Hesphrion XXI plays on original instruments, bringing forth the spirit and intent of a muscial genre that may have passed too quickly from the mind of the general public. I do not find myself becoming sentimental listening to their recording, only deeply glad to the extent that they have captured the essence of the music that we all here cherish and that so obvioulsy lives on in their recording. I hear a band playing their very own compostions on original instruments and am pleased and delighted by every transition among what may seem as disperate parts. They are their own musicians, making their own music, using original instruments. I, for one, hope to enjoy many such recordings from Wobbler in the years to come. Thank you Wobbler for your deep appreciation and understaning of the genre. Also your deeply original compositions are very gratifying to this prog/Hespherion listener! {If the compositions are seen as interrelated, the "Sereande for 1.652" will not seem, I think, to be out of place.} Best to all.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#69989)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
robinson@co.i
5 stars The oddly named Wobbler are a relatively new Norwegian band, and this is their debut album. It was recorded this year. I say this not to be facetious, but because, if it wasn't for the evidence of my own eyes, I would possibly not have believed that what I was listening to was a new release and not a long lost archive item from the 1970's. We often talk of modern progressive rock bands taking influences from the classic bands of the Seventies, but Hinterland is so steeped in the sound of the early years of that decade that you're almost surprised that the music comes in CD format, and not on well-worn vinyl in a scuffed double gatefold sleeve. Hell, Wobbler even have the look right, and you feel that were the five long haired and bearded musicians dressed in fur lined coats that adorn the inlay photograph to be transported back thirty five years they'd easily fit in with the fashions of the day.

Wobbler are the almost archetypal symphonic prog band, and take their main influences not only from the oft-mentioned likes of Yes and Genesis, but equally from the less celebrated but equally influential outfits such as PFM and Gentle Giant. It's also clear that Wobbler are from essentially the same scene as fellow Scandinavian progsters such as Anglagard, Anekdoten, Landberk and White Willow. There's a close connection with the latter, in that keyboard player Lars Fredrik Frřislie joined White Willow for their last album, Storm Season, whilst WW main-man Jacob Holm-Lupo is one of the producers of Hinterland.

Frřislie is clearly the key player on this album, and just the mention of his armoury of instruments will make many symphonic fans purr with delight: Mellotron, mini- moog, Hammond, Wurlitzer, clavinet, harpsichord, grand piano - they're all here, and used judiciously throughout.

Of course, just the knowledge that these instruments form a key part of the Wobbler sound, and that Frřislie is more than adept at playing all of them, may be enough for many symph fans, and indeed connoisseurs of vintage keyboards, to rush out and buy the album, but the more discerning music fan will rightly say 'that's all well and good - but does the actual music cut the mustard?'. Thankfully the answer is generally 'yes'.

Following a short (and fairly pointless) introductory piece, we're launched straight into the title track, a near 28-minute epic that shows the full range of Wobbler's song writing skills. As you'd probably expect from a band of this ilk (and indeed a piece of this length), this shifts through a variety of different moods, from laid- back and mellow to dark and dynamic, and a number of musical themes and motifs are established and crop up throughout the piece. Frřislie is the dominant force here, utilising a lot of Mellotron washes during the more reflective sections, yet equally excelling at attacking the Hammond and mini-moog when the pace and tension crank up a notch. Recorder and flute (the latter played by another White Willow member, Ketil Einarsen) are frequently utilised, often in tandem, and there's a particularly strong section where flute is joined with baroque guitar and harpsichord to play a piece which is at once both pleasant and relaxing yet mildly unsettling - something Wobbler seem to excel at.

Its worth noting that, although as mentioned in my introduction, Wobbler do take their cue from the Seventies prog scene, there are relatively few occasions when you can make a direct link to a piece by another band and think 'I'm sure I've heard that before'. There's only a couple of occasions on this track where I had this feeling - one is at the songs conclusion, where layered guitars soar over a wave of Mellotron, immediately bringing Anekdoten to mind, whilst the other are the sections where the band indulge in some acrobatic vocal harmonising, reminiscent of Gentle Giant. It must be said that, compared to the gusto with which the likes of Spock's Beard use this technique, Wobbler's efforts are rather tame.

A quick word about the vocals - these are used sparingly, and are probably best described as adequate. Tony Johannessen has a reasonable voice, which handles the mellower material quite well, but is less strong when called upon to provide a more forceful delivery. These moments are relatively rare however, and the vocals certainly don't detract from the main business in hand, which is of course the lengthy instrumental sections.

After this lengthy opus, there's a danger that what follows could be anticlimactic, but thankfully Wobbler manage to keep the quality levels pretty high. Rubato Industry starts at a high tempo from the off, and generally keeps it that way. Both bassist Kristian Karl Hultgren and drummer Martin Nordrum Kneppen are kept busy here, with the former in particular impressing with some fluid, persistent rhythms. Once more Wobbler illustrate their skill at building momentum, letting it subside then building it up again.

Final track Clair Obscur sees Wobbler dispense with vocals altogether. Once again a variety of moods are created, ranging from the rather whimsical introduction, where grand piano is juxtaposed with some flute playing from the Andy Latimer school, to a section midway through the track where Frřislie really cranks things up, and almost appears to be playing all of his instruments at once. Guitarist Morten Andreas Eriksen is featured a little more here than elsewhere, with his playing vaguely reminiscent at times of both Steve Hackett and Mike Oldfield. In general, Clair Obscur exhibits a more playful, light-hearted feel than the darker, more serious-minded Rubato Industry.

Overall, however, Wobbler have created an impressive debut album. Personally I'd rate the material in the good to very good bracket rather than excellent, partly due to the aforementioned criticism regarding the compositions, but also because there just aren't that many moments (for me) that have that 'wow' factor, that gets the hairs on the back of the neck tingling. This however is obviously more of an individual thing, and I've no doubt that for many symphonic prog fans the 'wow' factor will be here in abundance. Nevertheless, a strong release, and one that bodes well for a bright future for this unashamedly retro outfit.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#72582)
Posted Wednesday, March 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the best symphonic prog album of the year (2005) IMO. It has it's flaws. Some parts of the songs ramble a bit and you can tell the band is young and still learning where they want to go. Their sound is very much in the ANGLAGARD style though with a bit more modern prog touches, borrowing bits here and there from I.Q. and ANEKDOTEN as well as classic bands like YES, GENTLE GIANT and GENESIS. The long and winding songs range from acoustic interludes to pompous symphonic prog delight. If you love complex and lush symphonic prog with mellotron, organ and other analog keys combining with acoustic and electric guitar - similar to ANGLAGARD - then this is a must- have CD. This is TRUE symphonic prog here my friends. No neo-prog masquerading as symphonic. If only more bands would try this style. If you want another band in this style that is less known, give Maxwell's Demon a try! - 4.5 stars.

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Send comments to dalt99 (BETA) | Report this review (#74336)
Posted Friday, April 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first time I listened to this album I thought this band was just like Anglagard. I have listened to it several times, and I read NJprogfan's review, and I completely agree with him. He said "It's a meandering massive track with bits and pieces of all the bands listed above." (bands: Yes, Gentle Giant, Genesis with newer bands like White Willow, IQ and Anglagard.) about track 2, and the album seems to be like that to me. It's a good album, they're good musicians, but I think that it definitely isn't a masterpiece.

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Send comments to DMS86 (BETA) | Report this review (#75071)
Posted Saturday, April 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars WOW! Man . this is the kind of music I really enjoy! Yeah, you may want to check my review on Anekdoten that I really enjoy all of their albums especially "From Within". Why Anekdoten? Because the music offered by WOBBLER is pretty similar with what Anekdoten offers even though I do not claim any sense of plagiarism. No, not at all. All of them are in the vein of early King Crimson music. Wobbler gives a taste of symphonic combined with a bit of avant garde even though still in "accessible" boundary. I kept smiling when I listened to this album - especially "Hinterland" epic track - at the first spin because finally I got the right album to enjoy. No wonder, this debut album is in Progarchives Top 5 albums of Year 2005. They deserved it.

"Hinterland" is a strong debut album that took the prog music industry by surprise. It's true their music is not original and heavily influenced by its predecessor prog bands like Anekdoten, Anglagard, Sinkadus and early proggers like Genesis, King Crimson and Gentle Giant. The unique thing about the band is that their music does not sound like any of early prog bands but it's close to Anekdoten, Sinkadus and Anglagard.

The opening epic - after short opener of "Serenade for 1652" (:41) - which is the album title track "Hinterland" (27:46) was I thought would be a boring one looking at the duration. But I don't have that kind of feeling when I first listened to it and repeated many times. The music flows wonderfully with many style changes as well as tempo changes. In each segment the band crafts the music in such a way that each instrument, be it guitars, mellotron, or flute plays its part in such a distinctive way. AT the beginning the music resembles Anglagard and Anekdoten. But the next segments especially those with flute remind me to Sinkadus music. It's so touchy. Some parts remind me to the fast tempo part of King Crimson's "21st Century of Schizoid Man" around minute 18-20.

"Rubato Industry" (12:44) starts off with a combined works of guitarist Morten Andreas Eriksen and keyboardist Lars Fredrik Frĝislie. It sounds like Anekdoten with mellotron packed sounds and keyboard sounds. The music moves into a bit complex arrangements with King Crimson style. The song is a wonderful adventure with some paradoxes stemming from different sounds of keyboards, guitars augmented with bass and synthesizer solo. It's a beautifully crafted song.

The album concludes with an instrumental "Clair Obscur", which sounds like Änglagċrd's with complex composition. The band positions this track at the end of the album with an intention - I think - to give an impression to the listeners that this is the culmination of their hard work in composing the music they offer.

I agree, there is nothing new you hear with this album as most the music style and approach, I'm sure you have ever heard before. However it's a very enjoyable album at least it fits my personal taste. If you enjoy King Crimson, Anekdoten or Anglagard it's most likely that you would favor this album. It's an excellent addition to any prog music and it's one of best releases of the Year 2005. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#75706)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars oh, where are wobbler's other albums. This is progressive, complex. Certainly symphonic. Not kicking ass pro, and not self-artistic. I'm a new fan. I agree with other revievers here. This is Big band. One of the 10 best bands on my list. Thought it isn't the most über- progressive, i think it is because of the harmony.

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Send comments to progressive (BETA) | Report this review (#75902)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars WOW!!! I`m in deep shock... It was a long time when I heard a better piece of music then this. I was convinced that the album of 2005 would be for me FRACNES THE MUTE by MARS VOLTA but everything changed after hearing HINTERLAND.

The Album contains only four compositions or rather three because SERENADE FOR 1652 it`s hard to consider as a song due to its length (only 41 secounds).I don`t know if it`s good that it standes for seperate song but I really don`t mind. This piece of music may be treated as introduction or overture to masterpiece called HINTERLAND... The title song is maybe the best song on the album but i`m not quite convinced. Here Wobbel`s music is shown at its peak. We have here utterly everything- ELM, YES, Gentle Giant, King Crimson... This climates are the most exposed here. If you like this bands you shouldn`t hesitate to buy this album. It is not only because it reminds of this great bands and simultaneously isn`t ther copies but also it has its own soul that you may really love (as I do). Oh this ala Emerson`s kayboards, Crimson`s melotron and flute... Pure beauty. Secound track (RUBATO INDUSTRY) is the simplest song on the album (if we can even call it in that way). I don`t know if it isn`t favourite of mine... It simply X my heart and as a result I need a handkerchief. oh this vocal... It is so dramatic, so magnificent It is very hard to write about moments in music that you feel it will be in you through the rest of your life. CLAIR OBSCUR starts with very beautiful piano anconpanyed (sorry about the word)by flute. I think it is the most complex composition on the album with a lot of time sygnatures changes. This composition doesn`t yield to the others. It is very interesting and very pleasant.

I`m sure that if it was issued in 70` HINTERLAND may be considered as a masterpiece the same range as CLOSE TO THE EDGE, PAWN HEARTS, GODBLUFF, STILL LIFE, BRAIN SALAD SURGERY, IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING OR RELAYER. For me Wobbler`s first album is the best debiut I have ever heard, mayby even better then ITCOTCC... I can`t wait `till they release new album and hope to see they playing live...

REGARDS FROM POLAND

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Send comments to Wobbler (BETA) | Report this review (#76681)
Posted Saturday, April 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is a masterpiece!

It is pretty much the best album which was released since the millenium. For me it was definetly the album of the year 2005. It might be different for some people to get into, I don't want to deny that, but I loved it as I heard it for the first time. The 5 guys from Norway undestand it to make interesting, diversified music. Prog-listeners, this album is so full of ambiance, you won't belive that!

As you can hear on this album, Wobbler is heavily inspired by Anglagard and Gentle Giant and a bit by Genesis, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and also Yes. Anyhow, Wobbler has its own style.

After the first short song, "Serenade for 1652" which is the introduction for this album, Wobbler directs you with "Hinterland" through the moments of classic progressive rock. They stop at different stations which sometimes sound like Gentle Giant, Genesis, King Crimson, Yes or Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Classic passages interrupt the more rocky parts here.

The title "Rubato Industry" has very interesting and beautiful melodies. This song has a very beautiful chant, in my opinion.

The song "Clair Obsur" starts with a beautiful piano-melody with flutes and gets very rocky and interesting. It ends with a piano-outro with flutes. A felicitous finish, if you ask me.

This album is so full of genious musical work, has such a tight ambiance as no other album had for a long time. What a debut-album! I'm really impressed! It deserves 5 stars!

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Send comments to Badabec (BETA) | Report this review (#80499)
Posted Tuesday, June 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Even if you take out the intro and the last two songs, Hinterland (the song) can be an album in itself. It's starts off with a very interesting introduction that my mom mistook for a ELP song but then the element of suprise comes in and switches to an acoustic-like riff. It stays at the same energy with interesting lyrics and great mellotron use. The drums and bass are extremely tight. About five minutes in, a light flute solo goes on and it works perfectly with the mellotron. Close to ten minutes into the song it shifts into what sounds like a Gentle Giant song with interesting harmonies and great keyboard work. But sadly that only lasts for about a minute. A few minutes later they switch into a acoustic number with harpsichord and flute. Pretty interesting stuff. reminds me of gryphon a tiny bit. Exactly half way into the song comes a great mellotron drenched riff with a great bassline. After that comes what sounds like a King Crimson riff over a Rick Wakemen solo. (Im just writing these similarities so people who haven't heard the song can understand what the piece of music sounds like). The next couple of minutes are taken over by the hammond organ. The 17 min point is when this song gets really good with a very king crimsony guitar riff and then it complete cuts off and leaves you hanging at the edge of your seat for like 15 seconds. Then it comes back with a very good layering of hammond, harpischord, flute, acoustic guitar, and electric. The song lowers back into a very beautiful acoustic guitar section until it yet again bounces back into an awesome riff clocking in with about 5 minutes left. This goes on for about 2 min. WITH THREE MINUTES LEFT COMES THE ABSOULTE GREATEST PART OF THIS SONG. If I only heard the flute section at 24:31 I would've bought the album instantly. The rest of the song is one of the sickest few minutes of any prog music that's come out for the past 30 years! Get this album. You can tell that these guys breathe, sweat, eat, and dream prog and you can tell where they take there influences. If you wanna hear some extremely original symphonic rock, get this album. Mind you, I've only talk about 1 of the three great songs on this album. Also check out there demo songs on there main website www.wobblermusic.com

Thanks for keeping this music alive Wobbler

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Send comments to theblastocyst (BETA) | Report this review (#83572)
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars Never quite sure how to review newer generation prog groups without appearing negative about them if what they do is highly derivative. To call Wobbler (barbaric name) adventurous or groundbreaking would be granting the ProgArchives reader/users for idiots which is hardly the case. Wobbler has everything to please all progheads (except that really ugly artwork sleeve) if that very proghead is not caring about the originality, the inventivity and the personality of the music he listens to. This Norwegian Quintet might just be the fifth generation of descendants of the prog dinosaurs that once graced the blue planet some three millenniums (uuuuhhh!.. decades ;-) ago. The first ancestors being Genesis and King Crimson having given birth to Marillion and IQ (this generation had been almost stillborn) some twelve years later, than rising like a phoenix from the ashes through Anglagard and Anekdoten again a decade later, with the bastard sons of Sinkadus and Nebelnest coming later on, Wobbler is now at the forefront of this relatively easily accessible prog pastures, that is slowly drying up from over-grazing.

So as you might guess from the above paragraph, expecting this Norwegian quintet to renew anything is really not in the order of things (neither do they have the pretension to), but whatever they chose to do, they do it well! Extremely well!! If Anglagard had taken the different influences and mixed them up so well that it was almost new (especially given the relative failure of the previous generation of groups), Sinkadus, the Për Lindh Project (and to a lesser extent Nebelnest which was much more improvisational) did not manage to take over the banner as high (due to their inspiration. or lack of it), something that Wobbler might just be able to do, but it might just be a bit to soon that yell it out loud.

Just three tracks (not counting that useless intro) on this album, the longest being .. toooo long. The main problem I can see compared with the previous generation is that they are trying to go one step further (but obviously from what you can read in this review, they are not succeeding), and if the music stays dazzling, full of all the ingredients we all love, it (the music) seems to drag on a tad as if it was taking the long way home just to kill time as if nothing very exciting was awaiting it home. Yes that 27 min+ title track is impressive, intricate, multiple, enchanting, using and abusing the mellotron and the flute (two guest musicians) characteristic to be found in the following almost 13-min Rubato and on the closing Clair Obscur. All very impressive but unlike their predecessors, it is almost impossible to pick instantly on which track you are listening to when you start blindly throughout Wobbler's debut album.

If I spent hundreds of hours on end listening to the early Anglagard, Landberk and Anekdoten in the early to mid 90's (must've listened those some 200 to 300 times), I doubt I will do quite the same with this debut album. All I can see it doing is providing an acceptable alternative to those groups whenever I need a dose of Retro Prog. And this in itself is already not bad. But the complete lack of personality bothers me enough for them to lose 100 points on my weighing scale and one full star in the ProgArchives rating system.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#84881)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Let there be no doubt, there's an undeniable influence of Gentle Giant and even some other old prog greats may be a reference. However, it's almost impossible to make new prog music with no influences, it would be no prog anymore. Wobbler already has a lot of fans all over the world. Therefore they have used the internet to reach 'die hards' who are on a never ending search for new bands.

A few years ago, they had put two free downloadable strong (long) numbers on their website and this was the way a lot of fans discovered this band. Together with some noteworthy events (Freakshow Artrock Festival Würzburg 2004, Oslo Prog.fest 2004, NEARfest 2005) and their presence at the Progday support sampler, they became more known. All this made them well known, even without any releases. In the spring of 1999, most of the band members, not even 20 years old, formed the band in the idyllic Norwegian countryside (Hinterland?). The goal area: early seventies music and analogue instruments of that time. Lars a fanatically driven mellotron addict together with his companions now reached this goal. This first release is already a very mature piece of music, long pieces with rather complicated structures.

Once more "The Laser's Edge" had managed to sign a young skilful band. Lars who also plays keyboards with White Willow already proved to be a great keyboard player on their latest album "Storm season" with his composition "Insomnia".

The album opens with a very short (41 sec) mellotron (1652) driven track "Serenade for 1652", which reminds me of the early King Crimson.

The titeltrack "Hinterland" (27 min 47 sec) is in spite of the length a very coherent musical epos, with some beautiful multi-layered vocals. This strong composition is mostly softly wobbling, with some dark vintage keyboard driven parts. Mellotron and Minimoog are playing a leading role in different parts. More in the end there are some delicate flute parts and Lars is also at his best. Martin (Ludwig drums) and Kristian (who uses the two best bass guitars ever; Rickenbacker and Fender jazz) are responsible for the strong rhythm base. They prove to be some of the best students of the GG-school. The Third track "Rubato Industry" (12 min 44 sec) is the central piece of the album. This more complex composition, full of contrasts, with only vocals in the middle section, shows Lars Frĝislie's affinity for keyboards, also Morten is at his best in this track. It provides a real colourful carpet of dark symphonic prog for fans of keyboard driven prog. The closing track "Clair Obscur" (15 min 37sec) has a magic breathtaking acoustic piano part in the intro, like a cross-mark for the rest of the track. The more lyric parts are relieved by more bombastic keyboard parts. At the end, the song is fading away and then there's silence, to make you realise that it's finished already.

The addition of acoustic guitar and flute parts (Ketil Einarsen) gives the listener a bit of time to catch his breath during the journey through Wobbler's Hinterland. The use of the guitar, although Morten is a very well gifted guitar player, is more centralised in the softer parts. Maybe the guitar and the drums have to be brought some more in front, however creating a sound is sometimes making compromises. I honestly hope that the great amount of keyboards and the (guest) flute parts will not be an obstacle on the live performances of the band. Most of the early seventies bands evolved from shorter to longer tracks (for instance Yes), maybe Wobbler is working the other way round?

"The Torch Has Been Passed" is not a hollow phrase, but surely a new generation of prog-musicians has been born. The future of prog seems to be guaranteed once more. What a great musicianship for such a youngsters.

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Send comments to Machiels Luc (BETA) | Report this review (#86801)
Posted Saturday, August 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
infandous@exc
3 stars Well, I'm afraid I agree with Hughes once again. I first heard this band when they performed at NearFest 2005. The music seemed interesting, but the sound was not so hot for them (which happens for some of the bands that are not headliners, but generally the sound is good at NF). Overall though, I wasn't terribly impressed, but I was intriegued enough to pick up this album. In some ways it was better than the performance because I could more clearly hear what they are doing. On the other hand it confirmed my suspicion that the tracks are just too long. The overall musical direction is a mix of the great early 90's bands from the same country (Anglagard, Anekdoten) as well as a fair amount of early 70's prog (some Genesis and Crimson influences). Sadly, they don't do anything new with any of it. This in and of itself doesn't bother me that much if done well, but in the case of this band they need to tighten up the songs and arrangements. I suspect that had this album been broken into 6 or 7 seperate songs, it would have been far more engaging to me. It's not that there is anything particularly bad here, it is only that the tracks just go on and on and on. And I love epic tracks. But they have to go somewhere and I just don't feel that these do. Still, I like the album enough to think that this band shows great promise if they can just focus their songwriting a bit more and tighten up the arrangements. Nevertheless, I will be interested in hearing what they do next. A solid 3 stars, with a star off for meandering song and lack of originality respectively.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#88292)
Posted Sunday, August 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It's kind of funny reading the list of instruments that each member plays, and seeing the long list under Lars' name including mellotron, organ, keyboards, moog,etc. This is really an enjoyable album, bringing to mind SINKADUS, ANEKDOTEN and ANGLAGARD. I wish the vocalist had a greater part in this record because I really enjoy his singing.That's part of what I like about ANEKDOTEN, and I do find the vocals of the two bands sort of similar.

I'm not totally in love with the title song, it has it's moments though. In keeping with the name of the song it has many pastoral passages, and many tempo and mood shifts. I am quite impressed with "Rubato Industry", the drumming is incredible, lots of mellotron, great vocals, flute and a cool keyboard melody. The song gets very uplifting six minutes in followed by flute and piano. "Clair Obscur" is a complex instrumental that opens with mellotron and the song is quite powerful at times.The angular guitars are great too.

I'm looking forward to an even better result on their next album, but until then I will keep enjoying this is amazing record.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#99470)
Posted Saturday, November 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars When I listened to this album the first time about one year ago I've been admittedly highly fascinated by it and felt merely slain down by the massive contingent of analogue keyboard sounds offered here. Retro Prog bands are springing up like mushrooms since quite a while and honestly, as much as I'm adoring this good ol' dinosaur-sound I've to say on the other hand that this fact is becoming also quite tedious meanwhile.

The big problem with an album like "Hinterland" is that as a lover of 70's Prog one can't easily defy its fascination and beauty although with keeping a certain objective distance one cannot deny its antiquated character and huge lack of any innovation. Certainly anyone (including me) who likes the works of early Crimson, Yes, Genesis and the ones by third retro wave bands like Anglagard or Anekdoten will find this album highly enjoyable. Though one could as well say that the band doesn't do here anything else than stringing one Prog cliché to the other and especially the monster title track could be well used as a kind of quiz game to guess who of the big seminal keyboard heroes Froislie cites in which section. Highlights of this little focused and loosely structured composition are for me the (too few) moments when other instruments than the omnipresent keys like flute, acoustic guitar (both providing a nice baroque flair), bass (Squire-esque) and Einarsen's vocals (which are good by all means) are coming more to the fore. This track in a way builds up a permanent tension which yet never comes to any explosion thus it starts to sound meandering after a while. The two "shorter" tracks work much better somehow and are more rewarding, also more memorable and don't sound that much like a patchwork as track #2. They also reveal a slightly more modern sound, closer to Anekdoten's or Anglagard's and especially "Rubato Industry" is the most fascinating one. What I like most with this band and that applies in fact as well to Froislie's main band White Willow and the two former mentioned Swedish ones from the 90's is that their music never sounds overblown or soppy at any moment.

As a conclusion I can only say that I like this debut very much being aware that it's nothing more (and less) than a solid work in a strong retro vein without showing anything new but still it makes me looking forward to Wobbler's next album to hear whether they'll manage to free themselves from the retro trap. For sure any Retro-Prog fan will love this one and to those ones preferring their Retro-Prog to sound heavier and darker than this I'd like to recommend "The Grimalkin" by Noekk which could fascinate me even more than "Hinterland" which I consider nonetheless a remarkable debut and worth 3,5 stars.

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#99762)
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I'VE SEEN THE FUTURE OF PROGRESSIVE ROCK AND ITS NAME IS WOBBLER.

Well, maybe yes, maybe no. But I did enjoy Wobbler's debut album. Although they're yet another Scandinavian band consciously trying to emulate the classic prog bands of the early 1970s, they seem to succeed better than most.

As with The Flower Kings or Spock's Beard, you'll be hearing lots of echoes. The ominous sounds of early Crimson are definitely here, as well as Keith Emerson's percussive Hammond organ, the pastoral mood of early Genesis and lots of tiny bits of Steve Howe-style guitar... Wobbler's music may be a hodgepodge, but they nearly convince me; they're having so much fun that very little sounds forced. And best of all, as far as I'm concerned, their lead singer is not as domineering as Neal Morse or Roine Stolt. (Many reviewers thought Wobbler's vocals were wobbly, but in spite of Tony Johannessen's technical limitations, I think he does an excellent job at catching this album's autumnal mood.)

So although Wobbler may not (yet) have turned one particular style of classical prog into something new and original (as Anekdoten did with 1970s Crimson), I'm convinced their music will be enjoyed by proggers who secretly wish Yes, Genesis et al were still making records the way they did in 1971.

One interesting point: if you look at this site's reviews of Wobbler's first album, many regular collaborators seem doubtful about the band; they've heard it all done better. Maybe they've listened to too much prog. Among the guest reviewers, on the other hand, a remarkable number of people have awarded five stars. Surely that's a good sign; it indicates Wobbler have touched many listeners' hearts.

I agree with all those more sceptical collaborators on one thing: the title track is far too long. It starts out powerfully and meanders nicely for the first 12 minutes or so. Then a new theme appears, played on recorders, classical guitar and harpsichord. At first you think: 'Aha, neo-baroque, typically prog!' But the same theme is continually repeated by the entire band for about ten minutes, until you're screaming: 'Enough already!'

Oh well, it's not too hard to forgive the sins of youth, especially when the final album track then opens with a mellotron theme so striking and majestic I can't get it out of my head. This theme undergoes all kinds of permutations and when it reappears towards the end, it sounds stronger still. For this tune alone, I warmly recommend this album!

Here's hoping there'll be much more Wobbler to come.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#101331)
Posted Friday, December 01, 2006 | Review Permalink
sleeper
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Hinterland is the debut album from Norwegian band Wobbler, one of those bands that are unashamedly retro with quite clear references to the iconic bands of progs past, most notably classic era Yes.

Hinterland is made form essentially three epic songs, the first of which is a rather ambitious 27 minutes for a bands first song. The album starts off, though, with a short prelude, Serenade For 1652, which gives a soft entry to the album. The big difference in the music on Hinterland and that of many other Symphonic bands is that they do not focus on solos so much. Its not that there aren't any, its just that the focus of the band seems to be more on building up a complex and flowing structure to their compositions, whilst still having space for a few solos, primarily on Lars Fredrick Froislie's keyboards.

The only real downsides to this album is that I feel they get a bit carried away on the title track, Hinterland. I feel that this would have been a truly stunning epic if it was shortened to about 20 minutes with some of the instrumental sections getting cut down, they do tend to go on a bit before a change comes but since each section is rather well done it manages to hold a good deal of interest before you want that change. Of more importance is that the songs don't have that final bite, that last something that really grabs people and that singles out a masterpiece from the very good. The main reason for this is that it feels like the band has more to come, or has more to give to create that masterpiece.

Of the instrumentation you get four very strong musicians. In my White Willow reviews I raved about how Lars Fredrick Froislie's addition really raised the bar with the quality of the keyboard playing. He maintains that level of playing here and even expresses himself in a more extrovert manner musically at times than he would normally do in WW, i.e. more extravagant soloing. One thing that did stand out to me was that it seems that it's the keyboards and bass that hold together the melody here, with Kristian Karl Hultgren showing a melodic side to the bass whilst still holding down the rhythm section with subtle, yet very noticeable drumming of Martin Nordrum Kneppen. The guitars of Morten Andreas Eriksen seem to take up the more traditional role of the keyboards by playing more to enhance the effect and atmosphere of the music whilst occasionally taking centre stage. Lastly, the singer Tony Johannessen has a very husky voice that's almost raspy at times and very much unique. I rather like his vocals as they fit the music perfectly but they do have the draw back of a limited range which may prove to be a problem in later releases.

I know I'm going to be alone in this but this is the kind of album I always wanted Yes to make, were everything always works together, every note, every run and the tone of each instrument as well. As a result I highly recommend this to fans of classic Symphonic Prog, particularly Yes or Genesis, but don't want that slightly clichéd feel that you can sometimes get from The Flower Kings and Neal Morse era Spock's Beard. it's a very good album but at no time does it ever feel like a masterpiece, still I suspect that that is yet to come. A well deserved 4 stars.

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Send comments to sleeper (BETA) | Report this review (#103437)
Posted Sunday, December 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars exciting debut for a new group, this album has it all; every musical instrument is played to its perfection, a looong yet superbly crafted epic "hinterland" for symphonic prog fans and all in all it is a very powerful work, not for a debut album but for any level. some passages remind the listener of old times, 70's and 80's prog music and yet one can easily acknowledge the original genius of Wobbler; not just a shallow copy of the past work, in fact much much more than that!

"hinterland" made me impatient for the next album of this wonderful norwegian group wobbler. strongly recommended to any prog fan...

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Send comments to taylanbil (BETA) | Report this review (#107362)
Posted Saturday, January 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Like said before: A very exciting debut from this new group! I sure hope they can make a next album of the same quality (or even better), but that probably would be very wishful thinking.

This disc really reminds me of the old 70's symphonic prog groups. There's heavy mellotron usage and all other kinds of keyboards that remind you of the good ole 70's. This isn't a shameless copy though, it's all relatively new and unheard (it's impossible to make only new stuff these days I'd say)

The vocalist, even though not a brilliant singer, has a nice deep voice and is really great for this kind of music.

Anyway highly recommended 4.5 stars (rounded up cos it's a debut album in 2005!)

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Send comments to Autoband (BETA) | Report this review (#109107)
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Norwegians know how to play prog! This enjoyable album is upbeat and soothing with lots of nice twists and turns. Hinterland, though very weak in the vocal department, provides some wonderful new sounds in the classic progressive vein.

Serenade for 1652 (55/100 * 41= 22.55) Okay...this is a waste of time, in my opinion. Not only do I need to brush up on my history (to understand the significance of 1652), but perhaps I need to take a class in art appreciation to figure out what Wobbler is hoping to accomplish with this short prelude which in no way resembles any of the other music on the album nor creates any sort of atmosphere. So as the album begins, I must admit that I'm scratching my head at the inclusion of this number.

Hinterland (86/100 * 1667 = 1433.62) Ah...now this is what I want to hear. The title track offers just about a bit of everything, with nice rhythm changes, wonderful flutes and horns, noticeable bass line and even some vocals (which don't sound too bad). This reminds me a bit of Anglagard and Camel, both of whom I like the sounds of very much. This 27-minute treat is full of atmosphere creating almost a sensation of "easy-listening" prog. Of course, ears not used to the crazy time signatures of classical progressive music will find this disjointed and bouncy. But I find that it actually creates a peaceful mood much to my liking.

Rubato Industry (89/100 * 765 = 680.85) This third track is my favorite on the album as it incorporates a lot of nice elements, especially vocals. There are actually understandable lyrics during the first half of this song which is nice to hear. And then the music builds during the second half with some nicely layered vocal harmonies joining in for a wonderfully rich sound very reminiscent of Gentle Giant's song, Three Friends. In my opinion, this is the best track on the album.

Clair Obscur (83/100 * 937 = 777.71) The fourth and final track is a bit indistinguishable as it sounds very similar to the previous track, Rubato Industry. This is entirely instrumental with lots of keyboards highlighted by a great-sounding bass played with some punch.

Overall Score: 2914.73/3410 = 85%

Grading Score for ProgArchives:

5 stars: 92 - 100%

4 stars: 84 - 91%

3 stars: 72 - 83%

2 stars: 58 - 71%

1 star: 57% or less

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Send comments to Lofcaudio (BETA) | Report this review (#113334)
Posted Friday, February 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars One of the collaborators top albums of 2005, so I thought I'd try it...and despite being put off a little by the fact Wobbler are clearly a "retro" prog band, it's actually quite an enjoyable romp. Very well produced, Wobbler (gah - that name!) do have clear references back to some of the 70's giants, including ELP (there's a few Tarkus moments here), Gentle Giant, King Crimson (a recurring theme in Rubato Industry is reminiscent of "Fracture"), and some Hackett driven Genesis moments, as well as some Wakeman like touches. I've read mention about a similarity to Yes, but other than the bassist sounding quite a lot like Squire, I don't share that view.

The best track for me is the aforementioned "Rubato Industry" though its the shortest of the three meisterworks on the album, although the vocals (in English mind) are weak. It has real pace and real structure to it, and for me, this is the way they should go. Great stuff - a 5 star track.

The title track "Hinterland" is good but a little too long - no that's wrong - a little too disorganised. The final track, Clair Obscura, doesn't really work for this listener. Too many pointless chord changes, too much noodling - if I didn't know better, I could believe Wobbler were doing fro prog music what Spinal tap did for Heavy Metal. No guys, you need to keep a structure to the music - more of what you do on "Rubato", that for em is the way ahead.

The musicianship here is all of a high standard, though they avoid - deliberately I assume - too much showing off. This for me is a clear 3.5 star album but given its got to be either a 3 or a 4 star - I've got to go for a 3 star, because however enjoyable it may be, in C21 this is not really "progressive" music - it's retor. Enjoyable, but not forward looking.

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Send comments to Phil (BETA) | Report this review (#114130)
Posted Saturday, March 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars As if they had fallen out of time in the Prog space continuum, somehow in contact with the eternal Prog spirits and unabashedly retro, this Norwegian quintet is doing something remarkable; making classic Progressive Rock with authority and authenticity. These boys summon the ghosts of Gentle Giant, ELP, Rick Wakeman and Jethro Tull with healthy shots of Bo Hansson, King Crimson and even Black Sabbath in a sacred ceremony of mellotron, baroque guitar, Arp synths, heavy riffs and Renaissance rounds that feverishly invoke the Anglo/European progressive scene at its zenith. They also carry on a fine Norse tradition as they conquer the great music of the past, and should be a part of every serious listener's collection.

The band is led by Lars Fredrik Froislie and his barrage of keys and warcraft including a Wurlitzer, Hammond C3, clavinet, reed organ, Minimoog, Grand Piano, harpsichord, Stylophone, and something called a Solina string ensemble. Martin Kneppen (drums) and Kristian Hultgren (bass) support on rhythm, Morten Andreas Eriksen handles a range of acoustic and electric guitars, and Tony Johannessen croons. The album has a few weak moments, the singing leaves much to be desired, the mix could be much better and at times the work is derivative. However, music like this isn't made anymore and these flaws are easily forgiven. Like an opening act that ends up blowing away the headliner, Wobbler may wobble but they don't fall down. Get yours before they wobble right out of your life.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#117090)
Posted Monday, April 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, I'm afraid I agree with Hughes once again. I first heard this band when they performed at NearFest 2005. The music seemed interesting, but the sound was not so hot for them (which happens for some of the bands that are not headliners, but generally the sound is good at NF). Overall though, I wasn't terribly impressed, but I was intriegued enough to pick up this album. In some ways it was better than the performance because I could more clearly hear what they are doing. On the other hand it confirmed my suspicion that the tracks are just too long. The overall musical direction is a mix of the great early 90's bands from the same country (Anglagard, Anekdoten) as well as a fair amount of early 70's prog (some Genesis and Crimson influences). Sadly, they don't do anything new with any of it. This in and of itself doesn't bother me that much if done well, but in the case of this band they need to tighten up the songs and arrangements. I suspect that had this album been broken into 6 or 7 seperate songs, it would have been far more engaging to me. It's not that there is anything particularly bad here, it is only that the tracks just go on and on and on. And I love epic tracks. But they have to go somewhere and I just don't feel that these do. Still, I like the album enough to think that this band shows great promise if they can just focus their songwriting a bit more and tighten up the arrangements. Nevertheless, I will be interested in hearing what they do next. A solid 3 stars, with a star off for meandering songs and lack of originality respectively.

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Send comments to infandous (BETA) | Report this review (#117821)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There is nothing really unique to be found on this album, but they do have a nice sound, due largely to the use of vintage instruments. You can really tell the difference, as these songs have a texture that is lacking from bands that rely on synthesizer (Neal Morse comes to mind). Unlike others, I find the album art and the wicker-haired cover picture to be very tasteful and intriguing. To each his own, I suppose.

Hinterland. There's plenty of good music here, but at 27 minutes, with little variation (or even repetition) of themes, it may as well be multiple songs stitched together. If you like dynamics changes, you'll find them in spades here--I think it sounds a bit gimmicky at times, because it presents difficulties in building momentum. The diversity of melodies and instruments also keeps things from being repetitive. I particularly enjoy the up-tempo parts in the beginning and end, as well as the heavy mellotron sections, though the soft sections drag on too long.

Rubato Industry. After the uneven behemoth opener, you might think that Wobbler has already thrown its best at you. You'd be wrong, because the quality and cohesiveness picks up with the other two tracks. Rubato Industry is much heavier, builds up nicely throughout, and keeps things together with a very catchy melody. Great keyboard/mellotron interplay, as well as some itchily effective percussion.

Clair Obscur. As high in quality as the previous track, this piece has a much more ominous and menacing presence. A haunting, mellow, spooky intro is revisited for an amazing, majestic mellotron finale. In between I hear bits that remind me of Anglagard, King Crimson (Red period), and even some Genesis, but nothing to the point of imitation.

Three epics, and two that are definite keepers. Given the pleasantness of Clair Obscur, I hope this might be a structure for future Wobbler albums: focus on the music, and forget about the vocals. I'm glad to have this in my collection, but don't expect revolutionary stuff--just musicians who know their prog and are working on developing their own signature.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#141570)
Posted Tuesday, October 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Wobbler was talked about quite a bit for a few months back when they released this debut album. I was curious, but only recently I decided to check out Hinterland. Using only vintage instruments, Wobbler give us a hint as to what classic progressive rock records would have sounded like if they had some of the technology we have today (if only, if only...). With said instruments, they perform an amalgamation of basically every classic prog style. I'll make it clear: I never frown on retro-prog type bands for being derivative of 70's bands (whether you admit it or not, The Flower Kings and Neal Morse have developed their own sound) and frankly, I even prefer some of them. Wobbler, unfortunately, may be a bit too derivative though. Where as in Roine Stolt's music, I can hear influences, in this music I can hear replications. The instrument choices must be the reason, but surely there are other ways to use them. Let's look at this album a little deeper:

The album opens with a short instrumental that is apparently recalling some event from 1652 - Battle of Plymouth? death of John Cotton, founder of Boston? You decide - and it's OK I suppose. It doesn't serve much of a purpose. Then we move into the near-28-minute epic title track. The musician's strut their stuff and that stuff is solid. The sound's atmosphere is very rich and saturated with nostalgia. Nostalgia, however, must be anhydrous, because the vocals turn out to sound very dry. They kind of put themselves in a Catch-22 with the vocals here because while it was a good idea to keep the amount of vocals low, epics that contain some vocal parts here and there often make the song feel disjointed and/or incomplete. This is definitely the case here. To make matters worse, the epic seems to have been written as an epic for the sole purpose of the length. Epics either need to be connected by narrative lyrics and/or by recurring musical themes. Regardless of whether or not the lyrics are telling a story (I apologize for not being able to locate the lyrics), there aren't enough of them to make it seem unified, and the music doesn't present any images to me to help out either. It has all the ebb and flow required for an epic, but, besides becoming intolerably boring, it feels like a bunch of random ideas that the band meticulously fit together. Flow is useless without direction.

Fortunately, the next two songs don't suffer as much from the faults of the first half. The next track is probably what the first one should have been. It is less than of the length and just as dynamic. I still don't feel like I'm getting anything special out of them, but I'm content with listening to it. Then, the closer is a 15-minute instrumental that has all of the same strengths and weaknesses as before, but it does benefit from being instrumental.

This music is good, there is no doubt about that. I don't mind that they sound very much like other bands, but that gives me one more reason not to listen to them. When your sound doesn't stand out, you have to compare compositional value. While the riffs are good - each one is well thought out and executed - the album just feels like a collection of individual pieces that feel like a collection of individual riffs. The pieces sound like they belong together, and the riffs sound like they go together in the small picture, but in the big picture it turns out to be quite incoherent.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#165251)
Posted Friday, March 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars Wobbler is the offshoot project from some members of White Willow (in the before last incarnation of this now defunct group) and has certainly received some high praise from many PA members, as well as the global prog fan base. Michael Bennett's stunning artwork is noteworthy and actually quite representative of the mystifying music found within the plastic. This debut album "Hinterland" possesses numerous classic prog characteristics as well as reinforcing that typical "icy" melancholic Scandinavian style that many of us love dearly and especially the highly original Norwegian slant that is even more coolly mystical than the Swedish variety (The afore mentioned White Willow, Shine Dion, Kerrs Pink, Fruitcake, the spacey Bjorn Lynne, Retroheads, the brilliant Kvazar and the new thrill, Gazpacho). Former WW keyboardist Lars Froislie is the main instigator here, displaying a vast array of keyboards (Hammond organ, piano, the glorious mellotron, synthesizers (Moogs and ARPs), Solina String ensemble, harpsichord, Wurlitzer, and Hohner clavinet) which are placed front and center, with inspired guitarist Morten Eriksen actively adding some oblique guitar lines that are wholly original. The rhythm section keeps the arrangements both propulsive and relaxed, constantly brewing new atmospheres. One big whopping epic followed by two shorter tracks are on the wobbling menu. The half minute "Serenade for 1652" introduces a semi-classical mellotron overture, with the massive "Hinterland" clocking in at almost 28 minutes, lustily dishing out everything from swirling Hammond organ swells, gentle vocal passages that swerve into nearly Gentle Giant territory, insistent background 'trons causing all kinds of commotion, flute flights butterflying delicately over the glacial musical fjords, subtly growing in power. This is certainly Scandinavian prog at its finest, with a huge orchestral swirl straight out of the Crimson Court, flinging the story even further into various alternating landscapes (more of those Giant counterpoint harmonies), with guitarist Eriksen stepping on a few pedals to switch from Martin Barre-like growls to more arpeggio riffs that slash the canvas with utmost effect. Some Baroque guitar (with a sound likened to a luth) add an almost Akkerman-like drama, until the arrangement explodes into grandiose bombast, the Great White keyboard churning brightly, a sudden syrupy synthesizer surges from nowhere, sawing away at the heavy theme. The imperial Hammond seizes the throne, blazing dictatorially while the bass keeps some semblance of mood and direction. The ELP, early King Crimson, Focus, Landberk and Gentle Giant lessons were obviously well digested. Long melancholic passages add to the magic, always keeping the listener unaware and on the edge until the collision occurs with wilder, almost dissonant savagery. Totally unpredictable stuff indeed, an amazing modern Norse version of Yes' "Gates of Delerium". This is not pop music by any stretch. Play this at a typical metro sexual party and the nerd and nerdettes will hightail it FAST. What I call "bouncer music". The sterling "Rubato Industry" does not stray far from the established philosophy, with more frenzied playing in an almost free improv style, room to stretch out the technical capabilities of the instrumentalists with lead singer Tony Johannessen getting to expand on the main melody, a classy flute providing brief calm and serenity. Again the mighty mellotron elevates the passion to some lofty heights (what a brilliant instrument, in the proper hands!) that can only force a willing smile. Some serious Crimsonesque percussive folly only adds to the progressive pleasure, showcasing drummer Martin Kneppen's colossal Ludwig kit. The totally instrumental and my favorite track here, "Clair Obscur" reiterates the hegemony of the 'tron , proving again that it can introduce a piece like no other instrument can and its not just a filler toy. The entrance of romantic piano adds a welcome serenity to a piece that, as its title implies, will create extreme landscapes, with furious Hammond, jangling guitar lines, booming bass and precise drumming. Imagine Lark's Tongues in Aspic- era KC with Keith Emerson on organ and you get a pretty good notion of what kind of wobbling is going on here. A charismatic finale on the mellotron takes this piece into the very upper reaches of Prog Heaven. While not quite a masterpiece, it certainly can qualify as an adventurous opening salvo from this Norwegian crew, with surely a bright (or will it be dark?) future ahead, now that White Willow is no more. 4 quivers

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#175827)
Posted Monday, June 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Finally it's there: the moment of the reviewing of Hinterland by Wobbler. I was reluctant to this one for quite a while because this album never gave me much pleasure. After a few spins shortly after the purchase I put it away for a long time, disappointed as I was in the result. Because I expected a lot of wonderful music after the high praise it got from several sources. It also had a high average rating on our site and then this as a result. All I heard was some dark gloomy music with a lot of dissonants and hardly any melody throughout the album.

So every time I thought it was time for the review I hesitated and kept thinking: could I be wrong ? I was sure for a long time that in the end I was going to give it 2 stars. But I also noticed I would be just about the only one ! What is going on here ? Am I not judging or leastening right, am I not giving them a fair chance ? This morning I did the final listening for the whole album and I have to say, a small miracle was happening because it didn't seem that bad after all. Maybe this time because of my low expectations. Anyway, it started with the long epical title track and I have to admit, this is not a bad effort at all. It's quite a good epic at least where the composition is concerned and that is always an important element in my judgement. I did actually hear (some) melody and after the careful listening for almost half an hour I come to the conclusion that this track deserves just about 3,75 stars. The trouble is the other two tracks. I think I heard them most times of the three long ones because they had been on my mp3 for a while and Hinterland never had been because of the length. But both Rubato Industry and Clair Obscur put me off for a long time, the first one due to the first minutes full of dissonant tones and no meldoy at all. Later on this track gets a bit better but never becomes a great one to me. Clair Obscur is more or less in between Hinterland and Rubato Industry where the style is concerned.

All in all Rubato Industry will get 2,25 stars and Clair Obscur 3 so in the end it appears a 3 star effort after all. But Wobbler will never be my band because of their approach of music. Lucky for them they have quite a lot of fans anyway so their music is appreciated by many and they don't depend on me for that. Recommended for lovers of dark symphonic prog that is somewhat in the vein of Anglagard and Sinkadus.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#183792)
Posted Saturday, September 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ACTUAL BAND PLAYING GOOD OLD MUSIC

This is another Norwegian band playing good but derivative music (but they are not the first ones, right?). It is exactly the type of works that could either attract you or make you run away because of these sounds which have already been listened to many times.

But I have a certain tendency to like these sort of bands; except when they really sound as a cover band like ''Starcastle'' and alike.

It is not the case here, because ''Wobbler'' emulates the whole range of prog giants we love. From ELP like the introduction of the first epic of this album: ''Hinterland'' to Yes etc. You can name them all.

The great mellotron draws you back to ITCOTCK of course. The good point is that the singer doesn't try to sound as Gabriel. But this would have been too much I suppose. Although that some ''Gentle Giant '' vocals can still be heard; but it is OK to a certain extent, I agree.

''Hinterland'' is a long piece of music (almost twenty-eight minutes), a beautiful journey in the gardens of the most eminent bands without which this site wouldn't have all its fame: the synth at half time sounds as if it was Tony who would be playing. But I could at least name about twenty passages and refer to the limited circle of five bands which I already have mentioned.

One just need to switch from the one to the other. Even so, it is an enjoyable track because it is a formidable and condensed way to get into the bands we all praise. In less than half an hour. Even mighty Tull is featured for about twenty seconds!

The only one missing is Floyd actually. Maybe for a later track?

The same comments are valid for the short ''Rubato Industry'' (not even thirteen minutes). And I still like it very much. Just like the third track from this album which features more mellotron and is closer to the Swedish new scene.

As I have already said, I like this album very much even if it sounds too familiar. I have just seen on their myspace page, that the band has finalized their second album. I'm looking forward to hear it. Four stars for this one.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#186307)
Posted Saturday, October 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 stars really.... This album is really good! It has similarities to Anekdoten and Anglagard, but there are more keyboards in the mix. There are vocals, but they are pretty few and far between and do not dominate the music. The band's sound may not be groundbreaking, but in my opinion it is not derivative. This band is doing their best to follow in the grand Prog tradition and I think they belong in the conversation with some of the major Prog acts of the newer era. I am curious to see what they wull come up with next time out.

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Send comments to digdug (BETA) | Report this review (#216899)
Posted Thursday, May 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Here is a band that is completely derivative and therefore not derivative at all! Each section of each song really reminds me of a different symphonic progressive rock act, but the pieces flow together so naturally, the band really has a life of its own. The Mellotron is a constant companion throughout the album, and the organ is almost as steadfast. The vocals are admittedly weak throughout, with the singer in "hush mode" throughout. There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but the dish is nothing less than delicious.

"Serenade for 1652" A swirling and beautiful Mellotron begins the album.

"Hinterland" The first thing that came to mind the first time I played this was "Tarkus" from ELP, but I wasn't thinking that for long, as the music completely shape-shifted into something else. After a time, a King Crimson wave of Mellotron blasts by, bringing in gentle acoustic guitar and more substandard vocals. Then there"s the lead guitar, which sounds very much like Gary Green from Gentle Giant, and the complex vocal sections- can I really be sure I'm not actually hearing Derek Shulman and Kerry Minnear? There's also a heavier section with a synthesizer solo that is quite reminiscent of Yes. It is an outstanding piece of music (and outstandingly long) that will take most quite some time to digest because there's an awful lot of variety here and very lengthy instrumental passages; but it is no way boring!

"Rubato Industry" The introduction to this song has a Gentle Giant-like beginning, but it soon becomes heavier, leaning on the electric guitar, organ, bass, drums, and Mellotron. It's a frantic bit of music that just stays exciting. Things eventually calm down, though. The vocal section reminds me a bit of The Flower Kings (with Roine Stolt on lead vocals), the flute segment thereafter is closer to Genesis (the interlude of "Cinema Show" comes to mind), and the instrumental section after that is very similar to Spock's Beard ("The Light" is a good comparison).

"Clair Obscure" Mellotrons in both string and flute mode begin this initially somber closer. A lone piano takes over, painting a frosty yet adventurous mood. Gradually, the music becomes heavier and more menacing. The guitar throughout is closer to the electric work of Steve Howe of Yes, which weaves its way in and around (not the lake!) the organ and other instruments. It's easy to get lost in this spiraling instrumental, but the return to piano at the end is like waking up from a slightly disturbing dream.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#217024)
Posted Thursday, May 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars WOBBLER are one of a host of bands helping to introduce a new generation to the sound of 70s prog. You may or may not think this is a good thing - if not, then stay away. Otherwise, you might wish to venture here for a listen - if you like your songs to have an insipid and meandering sound.

Let's begin with the insipid: the vocals are sub-Camelesque. The voice should be an instrument, but WOBBLER use it as a stultifying blanket. Their attempt to sound like GENTLE GIANT (at around the nine-minute mark in the title track) is embarrassing. Likewise, the keyboards buzz and swirl like bees in a dustbin. There is a reason why the sound of 70s synths has largely been abandoned, and you will be reminded of this should you try this album out. There is some nice mellotron, but mellotron always sounds nice.

On to meandering. The title track runs for 27 minutes. Oh dear. It seems far longer. Requisite in the composition of an 'epic' is a strong motif or two: in the absence of such, a song putters on from minute to minute. This putters like a gaggle of octogenarian golfers. There isn't anything resembling compositional strength here.

The best I can say for this record is that it is pleasant in parts.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#230452)
Posted Friday, August 07, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
5 stars Wobbler's web site says that their mission is "to create or perhaps recreate some of the musical expressions of the early seventies,-specially in the use of the instruments of that time and the somewhat "strange" compostions of the progressive rock scene from 1969 - 1974". In that, they absolutely succeed.

When I first heard this fantastic album, my first feeling was that I was home. What I mean is that as soon as the music began, I felt that warm feeling that I used to get more than thirty years ago when I brought home that new Gentle Giant, King Crimson or any of the many obscure records I would pick up each week, put the record on the turntable, and bliss out on the music.

The music here has many elements of the above mentioned bands, as well as hints of ELP, Genesis and even some of the folkier prog bands of the seventies. It helps quite a bit that keyboardist Lars Fredrik Froislie has amassed a large number of vintage keyboards, including mellotrons. His playing, to me. is the most important part of giving this music an authentic seventies feel.

Compositionally, this music rivals much of the best of the classic prog period, with a focus on interesting time signatures, chord progressions, melodies and changes.

I recommend this highly to any child of the seventies, and can't wait to get this band's other album.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#242042)
Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Wake me up when it's over, I should say!!

Ok, such retro-prog (old King Crimson and a bit Gentle Giant-like), in the manner of the dark progressive bands from Scandinavia (do you remember White Willow, Anglagard or bands like these ones?), is good from the point of view their skill, but this kind of symphonic mood is not able to be truly desirable in our times!! The title track is too much long (27 minutes long!) and it's not equal to "Supper's Ready" from Genesis for instance...that is I'm bored when I listen to a typical Mellotron or a synthesizer according to such a Keith Emerson's standard mood, in a sort of never-ending emulation, especially all along their main suite; instead I'm satisfied when a find a great versatility (here lacking so much), for example within the well produced and arranged albums belonging to a more versatile ensemble like After Crying (also paying a tribute to the old "dinosaurs" of the seventies, but keeping their unique style anyway)..don't get me wrong, I don't hate the retro-prog style, cause it all depends on the cleverness of the members! The intelligent emulation or the personal music skill are not enough- in my opinion- to guarantee the final result; in fact such features should be enriched by means of a "secure" creativity, while "Wobbler" lack here, in comparison to my personal exigencies as a musician. But if you think of the retro-style by the melodic "Renaissance" or Anglagard (these latter-along with Sinkadus- closer to Wobbler, you can understand what I mean...) and- moreover- regarding Frank Zappa and Gerswhin like immortal examples of the symphonic music without a time, can you find this important characteristic inside the album "Hinterland"? I don't think so, but make your own choice as usual- once again!!

You could also add an half star, if you're completely into the retro-style without creativity!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#281575)
Posted Wednesday, May 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars One of the secret ingredients to compose a credible symphonic prog album in the decades following the 70's seems to be to go "retro all the way", meaning not only by doing Prog compositions, but also by using vintage equipment, real instruments, flutes, old dusty organs and a vintage production, creating that exact warm early 70's sound. At least, that seems to be what turns me on.

Wobbler shares this dedicated "full retro" approach with the likes of Anglagard, Sinkadus and, more recently, Diagonal and Astra. Hinterland sounds like a lost Genesis album, recorded inbetween Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot. The tracks are long and adventurous, and while instantly accessible, they will ripen with age, when they reveal their intricate qualities layer by layer. The third track is a good one to sample, it's somewhat more aggressive and tighter, and better recognisable due to the main theme that keeps returning throughout the song.

Despite all my references to Genesis, the music of Wobbler can not be traced back to just one band. At times they also sound like Camel, Gentle Giant or VDGG. With their own Scandinavian melancholic touch added on top, they created an album that never sounds like a clone or copy of anyone else. It's one of the reasons why it works really.

One negative point is the vocals. Just like Anglagard, Wobbler do no excel at that. Luckily, the album is mainly instrumental and the sparse vocals are surely never off-putting. Still, more dynamic vocals could have made the difference between 4 and 5 stars here.

Hinterland sounds every bit as good as Hybris to me. I'd say it suits my taste even better because it has a more organic and spontaneous flow then the meticulously structured approach of Anglagard. Highly recommended, at least if you have no qualms with vintage sounding Prog anno 2005. Some people may have no need for it, but if it creates a tasteful album such as this one, I'm perfectly happy with it.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#283708)
Posted Thursday, May 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I had a hard time reviewing this CD. I can´t really make up my mind if I really like it or not. I´ve been listening to it over and over again for weeks. And I can´t still seem to enjoy it as much as thought I would. This band from Norway has all the right influences and the fact that those musicians are highly skilled is beyond any question. Think of bands like King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Yes and the like: it is all there. So what´s the problem? After carfeul listening one comes up with the conclusion that the songwriting here is the main issue.

Not that the songs are bad per se. The issue is that those guys didn´t quite produce a sound of their own. Hearing this CD the impression I had was that of a great cover band, doing impersonations of each of their heroes, one at the time. The songs are like long medleys with lots of ELP-sounding organs, early KC mellotron waves, Chris Squire-ish bass runs, Gentle Giant vocal harmonies and so on. It wouldn´t bother me so much if at least the songs were good, but clearly they lack stronger hooks, continuity and wholeness. Nice bits most the time, ok, but no real cohesion. Unlike some other retro bands (Flower Kings is maybe the major exemple), Wobbler hasn´t found a distinticve musical personality yet.

Conclusion: outstanding musicians still in need to find their face and sound, and mature their songwriting skills. We have all the reasons to expect great things from Wobbler in the future. And I´m loking forward to hear their next works. Rating: 2,5 stars that I will round up to 3 because of their tremendous musicanship and good taste.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#297490)
Posted Sunday, September 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Wobbler: Hinterland [2005]

Rating: 8/10

Hinterland is the debut album from Norwegian symphonic progressive-rock band Wobbler. The Scandinavian prog-rock movement of the 90s is well-known to most fans of the genre. Bands such as Anglagard, Anekdoten, Sinkadus, and Landberk created a Mellotron-laden sound that fused retro-themed symphonic rock with heavy Crimsonian experimentalism. These groups are considered to be some of the most influential arbiters of the post-80s progressive-rock renaissance. Wobbler formed in 1999, during the tail-end of this movement. The band's stated goal is to "create or perhaps recreate some of the musical expressions of the early seventies." The first two minutes of Hinterland make this musical philosophy abundantly clear. I've always disliked the term "retro-prog"; simply because symphonic progressive-rock developed during the 70s doesn't mean that the style is somehow restricted to that decade. However, the term applies perfectly to Wobbler's music. Only vintage instruments are used here: real Mellotron, real Hammond organ, real Moog synthesizers. There are a few signs of modernity (many of the folk passages remind me of Opeth), but the album as a whole sounds like a genuine piece of 1970s grandiosity.

"Serenade for 1652" is a brief Mellotron intro with a medieval atmosphere. It seamlessly blends into the 27-minute title track. This piece is so absolutely cavernous that attempting to describe it would be a fruitless endeavor. There are mini homages to nearly every classic prog band here, and it all blends together wonderfully. The folky sections are gorgeous, and the intense keyboard-driven passages are undeniably invigorating. This track is a tour-de-force in every sense of the term. "Rubato Industry" is a Crimsonian track with fantastic bass work from Hultgren. The final three minutes of this track are absolutely top-notch Mellotron-laden heavy prog. The instrumental "Clair Obscur" begins with a lengthy piano/flute intro, but quickly transitions to hard-hitting and bombastic symphonic rock. There's an enthralling groove throughout the entire piece, and the Mellotron is majestic. A short piano coda concludes the album.

Many prog fans dislike the "retro-prog" philosophy, believing it to be more regressive than progressive. I disagree - symphonic-prog is a style of music, and there's absolutely no reason why it should be abandoned by modern artists simply because it was pioneered 40 years ago. Wobbler have created a superb album with Hinterland, amalgamating various influences to create a piece of work that serves as both a tribute and an original musical statement. All three full-length pieces are incredibly monstrous. However, while this is an amazing album, it's not soulful enough to warrant masterpiece status. These tracks don't leave an enormous impression on me. Regardless, this is an excellent and consistently engaging listen that will be adored by any fan of 70s-prog.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#577539)
Posted Monday, November 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is very good to see a new band with enough courage to create a album which could be easily being recorded in the middle of the seventies. It is a great risk, because it may sound dated , it is going to be compared with albums that is considered as classics in the progressive work. Wobbler did not worry to add something new to symphonic prog in 2005 in order to conquer their space; they only took as their job to create good music. And they got it !!

We have here three songs, one epic with 27 minutes and two more rounding half that long. I have already listened to it several times, and still find beautiful passages to admire. This album is still growing on me, mainly the two last songs, because the listening of the title track request so much attention and gives back too much satisfaction that a give the other two until now not the same amount of energy.

It is good to make two related review, Bacamarte is a band for me that is a lot remembered by Wobbler. So I increased the natural four star of Hinterland to five, because to me it is clearly better than a top 100 Progressive rock album. Also this is one of the reasons I changed Depois do Fim natural four stars to three?

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Send comments to ProggyStudent (BETA) | Report this review (#600363)
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A wonderful symphonic debut!

Some years ago I saw the name of Wobbler, whose debut album 'Hinterland' was having very positive reviews amongst prog rock fans, so I got interested on it and fortunately found a place here in Mexico where I could buy it. Since then I've been following them, because I really loved (and love) what they do. Now at last I am reviewing this debut album, released in 2005, which contains four compositions (one brief, two longs, and one giant) that make a total time of 57 minutes.

The first one is entitled 'Serenade for 1652', and it is just a one-minute mellotron introductory track which will lead to the first true composition, which also happens to be the longest of the album with more than 27 minutes (half the album passes here). This new track has the title of 'Hinterland', and oh man, what an ambitious, intelligent and well- crafted composition they dare to create in their debut album, it is something that we should highlight. Well, in this song we will find a feast of keyboards, creating wonderful atmospheres and a variety of sensations. The symphonic sound is evident in the most of the track, though there are moments where they seem to be more in the eclectic side.

The music is mellow, charming and inspirational. Besides keyboards, there are moments where a beautiful flute sound is included, perfectly complementing the previously gentle sound. I love that the music is flowing deliciously, making some calmer moments whose intensity eventually increases. In a passage, the music slows down, an acoustic guitar plays delicately while the mellotron is in the background; later the voice joins along with drums and a very cool bass sound. Since this first long track we can notice that Wobbler may have taken some elements of their influential bands (who doesn't), such as King Crimson, Gentle Giant or Anglagard; of course, the band just take a little bit of them, but they create their original music. Lots of changes in time and mood are here, including a couple of short stops, but as I previously said, it just flows and creates a strong and wonderful song.

'Rubato Industry' lasts almost thirteen minutes. This piece shows the quality of all the musicians, because here we can appreciate the great combined work of the guitar player, along with the always superb keyboard work, with an omniscient mellotron. The bass is also splendid, better when it stands out while drums and vocals appear. The voice is not the most gifted one, however its colour fits with the music. Just before the fifth minute, a flute appears and creates a beautiful calm passage where one can feel a bit relaxed after the strong opening. But a minute later the mellotron returns and the structure follows the same path as in the first five minutes. Later it makes another change, it stops for some seconds and later little by little progresses, the intensity is higher and higher, creating a vertiginous ending.

The last track is entitled 'Clair Obscur', whose 15 minutes are purely instrumental. Starts with mellotron for a minute, then it vanishes and a delicate almost quiet piano plays some notes which seconds later will be joined by flute, creating a pastoral sound. The song has several mini-stops, passages that are being built and suddenly disappear in order to give entrance to new ones. After four minutes and a half I could say the song is already consistent, with a great communion between mellotron and bass, guitars and drums. Here the symphonic sound is evident, giving us a wonderful example of its particular tune. This is a very cool and complex way to end this excellent debut.

So if you like symphonic prog with intelligent compositions, and with that particular Scandinavian touch, you will surely like this album, and Wobbler, of course. My final grade will be four solid stars.

Enjoy it!

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#619572)
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars This Norwegian Retro-Progressive Rock act was formed in 1999 in Honefoss, led by White Willow's Lars Fredrik Froislie on keyboards with also Martin Nordrum Kneppen on drums, Kristian Karl Hultgren on bass/sax, Morten Andreas Eriksen on guitars and former Guardian's Office vocalist Tony Johannessen.Most of the members are also involved in the Black Metal band In lingua mortua.After a 2-track digital demo in 2003 Wobbler debuted in 2005 with ''Hinterland'', an album released on US prog label The Laser's Edge.

After the short intro come three long compositions by the band clocking overall at 56 minutes!The sound obviously reveals strong vintage influences and comes like a cross between the dark progressive approach of KING CRIMSON, ANEKDOTEN and LANDBERK and the stylish Symphonic Rock of GENESIS, 70's KAIPA and GENTLE GIANT along with some Scandinavian Psych/Folk touches.The arrangements are interesting for the most of their part, mixing decently the Classical inspirations, complex Progressive Rock, a haunting psychedelic mood and a bit of folkier parts and the result is not far from ANGLAGARD or even Froislie's WHITE WILLOW, but with an even more evident retro atmosphere.There is a constant change between electric and acoustic passages, the electric having a clear KING CRIMSON influence, the acoustic though being more in a typical Scandinavian melancholic mood.In general though the musicianship is strongly based on Froislie's work on keyboards: a massive attack of analog keys with extreme doses of mellotron throughout along with organ passages, minimoog solos and fine grand piano.All of his parts is either presented under a supporting role for the rest of the band or in a dominant phase with switches between his keyboard equipment.Singer Tony Johannessen is known for his work with The Guardian's Office, a sensitive and expressive vocalist but with a limited vocal range.The flaws of the album lie on the rather unoriginal sound, the evident lack of trully memorable melodies and the sometimes untightly connecting packs of music throughout the epics.But still the album is a pleasant experience for the most of its length.

The result depends heavily on what you expect from a prog album.If you are a die-hard fan of the 70's, this album is definitely highly recommended.Well-crafted and professional Retro-Prog without though adding anything new to the scene.If you are tired of bands trying to re-produce the Classic Progressive Rock sound you should rather pass by, especially if I consider the lack of some really memorable material on ''Hinterland''.And as usual with these cases, the rating truth always lies somewhere in the middle.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#623271)
Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Wobbler's impressive debut album Hinterland is a great example of what can be achieved by a band who is able both to suss out the compositional and recording approaches of the classic 1970s symphonic prog bands on the one hand, whilst on the other hand showing the good sense not to turn their nose up at the textures and sounds offered by modern advances in genres such as post-rock. Not that there's a great deal of post-rock to be heard on the album, mind - there's not much room for it between the nods to Yes, King Crimson, pastoral-era Genesis and Gentle Giant - but at least a few of the extended instrumental passages seem to benefit from the sort of fragile recording processes some post-rock albums enjoy. A good example of symphonic prog brought into the modern era without going the typical retro-prog route.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#679727)
Posted Friday, March 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars Museo Rosenbach "Zarathustra", Norwegian version?

First of all, a little digression: I do not think it's fair to review an album in a negative way, citing the fact that it is derivative. I mean, it's obvious that a lot of contemporary progressive music is inspired by the sounds of the classic bands of the '70s. I honestly do not see anything wrong with that. Although many bands of the 70s were in turn inspired by other bands of the 60s. Just think about the importance of the Beatles "Sgt. Pepper", Nice "Ars Longa Vita Brevis" and the early works by Procol Harum, for bands such as Genesis, King Crimson, ELP and many others. Provided that some albums are landmarks in the history of rock ("Sgt. Pepper" is definitely one of these, others may be "In The Court Of The Crimson King", "Are You Experience", "Ziggy Stardust" or "Tommy") the truth is that no one has truly invented nothing and all were inspired by others. Therefore, I believe that the only parameter for reviewing an album should be the quality of the music and certainly not the fact that it is derivative or not.

But...there is a limit to everyting!

Is certainly legitimate to be inspired by the sounds of other bands, not slavishly copy their style: and unfortunately, this is exactly what Wobbler does with this album.

For example, the long epic Hinterland seems a kind of homage to the Gods of 70s prog. The epic is the second track of the album, but it is the first truly significant: the first one, Serenade For 1652, is a mellotron brief composition that adds nothing to the album. The instrumental intro of Hinterland is clearly inspired by the first section of ELP "Tarkus" called "Eruption". Then, please notice the mellotron crescendo; the question arises: am I listening to King Crimson's "Epitaph"?. After about 8.30 minutes, Gentle Giant seems to be in action: what is this, "Octopus"? Then, there is a perfect reproduction of PFM style with the use of harpsichord and flute. In the middle of the long epic, the apotheosis! If you have read this far, I ask you to be patient and forgive me if I suggest a little game. This game is called: find the song below. It's not easy if you are unfamiliar with Italian language.

"Volto di luce, mi hanno parlato di te, la tua storia è nell'eco dei monti, troppo in alto per scendere in noi [...] Chiara essenza divina già si nasconde in chi sta vivendo il gioco del tempo nell'attesa di un'alba diversa."

You are Italian? Then, maybe you got it! The answer is "Zarathustra", a long epic by Museo Rosenbach. This is the first section called "L'Ultimo Uomo". After 13 minutes from the start of Hinterland there is an amazing piece of music. First a beautiful guitar/flute/harpsichord part in PFM style, then the voice singing a gentle melody and finally an amazing mellotron crescendo. Nothing to say about the beauty of this part, but too bad is virtually identical to "L'Ultimo Uomo"!

The title-track epic continues in this way. While listening, classic songs of ELP and Crimson comes immediately to my mind (for example "The Gnome" or "Pictures Of A City"). Again and again. There is also space for something contemporary, with part that reminds the Anglagard style, and then, after 28 minutes, the end.

The third track is in my opinion much better. Rubato Industry is the most beautiful song of the album. The intro is a bit insipid, but the rest of the song is very powerful and there is an amazing mellotron part in the central section. Then, harder passages with a lot of rhythmic variations and a convincing great end.

Clair Obscure, the last instrumental song, is probably the worst song. It is clearly inspired by the sounds of Anglagard, especially the "Epilog" album, but not reach those standards. The first part is very calm, with mellotron and piano, guitar and flute. In my opinion, this intro is a little boring. The rest of the song is more aggressive, but it lacks the tension that characterizes the best things of Anglagard and there is too much confusion. However some moments are not bad, especially the part that goes from minute 6 to 8, and the final section (with an effective reprise of the introduction theme).

In conclusion? Musically, I think Hinterland is an album with many ups and downs. There are some great moments especially in Rubato Industry and in the title-track long epic, where unfortunately the references to other popular songs of progressive rock are too obvious. In addition, many instrumental sections appear too elaborate and complicated: the result is a very cold and distant approach to music, surely technical but with little heart, I think. The vocals are also extremely disappointing.

I can rate this album with two or three stars at best. Ultsimately I decide for 2 stars and a final rating of 4/10. Only for hardcore symphonic prog fans, who love complex instrumental music.

Best song: Rubato Industry

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Send comments to Dark Nazgul (BETA) | Report this review (#831483)
Posted Monday, October 01, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars In my apparent quest to judge every album by its cover, I was recently overcome with delight at the apparent coinciding of a tasteful and adroit album cover and equally precise opus ensconced within. The superlatively praised album in question is Wobbler's third album, Rites at Dawn. Being insufficiently sated by a single helping, I have naturally returned to the source for fulfillment. And, for lack of any better motivation, I've decided to begin at the beginning with Hinterland.

As a first album, Hinterlands is a statement about Wobbler. They clearly possess an acute talent and sophistication to match, but have not yet found their intent entirely. The album is constituted by three fairly unstructured epic length pieces which showcase the band's abilities as well as their influences. Rites at Dawn was a clear homage to Yes, but here the inspiration is from more diverse sources like Gentle Giant, King Crimson (especially on Rubato Industry), ELP, Hawkwind and at times bears noticable resemblance to their space rocking American contemporaries Astra (Whose debut this album precedes by 4 years, I'll note.). As with Rites at Dawn, the influences are evident, but not overriding. Wobbler possesses its own brand restrained intensity embellished with European folk, classical and a hint of earthy Norse myth.

Hinterland is an excellent introduction to the band, and is an excellent progressive and symphonic rock album in general. I think the band's talents only continue to develop with time and are ultimately better applied later on, but I'd be completely remiss if I urged you to take a pass on Hinterland. It is quite pleasing for its own reasons. Four out of five.

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Send comments to R-A-N-M-A (BETA) | Report this review (#899106)
Posted Thursday, January 24, 2013 | Review Permalink

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