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THE SOUND OF A GALAXY SMASHING

Whitewater

Crossover Prog


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Whitewater The Sound of a Galaxy Smashing album cover
3.10 | 10 ratings | 2 reviews | 20% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I'll see you someday 13:31
2. Stardust 4:40
3. Wrong way round a left hand bend 17:54
4. Only to you 10:04
5. Rainbow bridge 5:40
6. Aura Dreamscape 3:15

Total:

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

Stuart Stephens / guitars, keys, bass, vocals
Paul Powell / drums

Releases information

self-release

Thanks to tszirmay for the addition
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WHITEWATER The Sound of a Galaxy Smashing ratings distribution


3.10
(10 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
20%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
40%
Good, but non-essential (20%)
20%
Collectors/fans only (10%)
10%
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)
10%

WHITEWATER The Sound of a Galaxy Smashing reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars Whitewater's 'The Sound of a Galaxy Smashing' is the first musical statement from a duo of astute musicians from England, multi-instrumentalist Stuart Stephens and beefy drummer Paul Powell. The former is a jack of all trades, fluent on guitar, keyboards, bass and vocals while the latter has a drum style closer to bashers such as Bonham, Roger Taylor, as well as presumed cousins Cozy Powell and Alan Powell (Hawkwind). What's in a name, eh? Must be the genes.

The single greatest gift that prog has brought to the music world is eliminating the 'rat race' and blind obedience to record companies (who have somewhat become redundant), as amateur musicians who have day jobs (Lawyers, entrepreneurs, architects, doctors, mailmen, waiters etc...) now can record and distribute their music thanks to modern technology and the Internet. In many cases, the talent is off the charts and is created purely for humanistic and not capitalistic reasons. All it takes is one fan, somewhere out there, half-way around the world who appreciates the effort, for it to be all worthwhile. Paraphrasing the Bible, 'He who delights one person, delights all of humanity'.

This album is quite a revelation, certainly for a debut album, as it's definitely more experimental and atmospheric than its successor, the punchier 'Obscured by the Sun'. There will be some who will, too conveniently, toss this into Pink Floyd-influenced territory, which is an easy and quite unstudied way out. Yes, it has loads of melancholia and special sonic effects but so did the Beatles! However, there are major differences in stylistics, Stuart preferring a clanging guitar sound that is closer to non-household names Franco Falsini (of Sensation's Fix) or Like Wendy's Bert Heinen rather than Gilmour, especially the rhythmic and acoustic work on this somewhat 'purer' recording. His vocals are not Floydian clones but his own personal style which is in a higher register and very occasional, as the focus is on the dense atmospherics and the elastic arrangements that are deliberately kept natural. The production is clear and crisp, albeit often unpolished, which is an added attraction (except for the rare heavy parts which I mention further on).

Three monsters epics are definitely the highlights here for any intrepid prog fans. Opener 'I'll See you Someday' (you can dedicate this to me, Stuart! Hahaha) is an absolute mood setter, putting down the letters of introduction to their burgeoning career in Progland. Carpeted with assorted effects such as telephone ringing, the quintessential baby cries, screeches, pings, beeps and booms, the arrangement creates a highly cinematographic concoction of contrasting moods and images. The drums pound in like depth charges, splashing ever more psychedelia and flower-power confetti, recalling '2000 Light Years from Home' (the only Stones song I ever liked). Great vocals, amazing atmosphere and delirious simplicity. Then, the unexpected bruising kicks in with grungy, oily, nasty and heavily echoed voice. Cling, clang and pastoral ruminations on the guitar. A Walter Cronkite- like voice introduces a nuclear risk proviso that suggests hiding behind a desk or wall (Err'). British humor, Stuart?

The 17 minute+ behemoth 'Wrong Way Round the Left Bend' is a brisk affair, the initial ambient storm shimmer morphs into a monolithic pace that is fuzzed out by trebly arpeggios, deep sonic valleys and searing upward spirals as witnessed by the Falsini- esque guitar solo, a pure delight to any guitar fan. The finale gets hot and heavy, as Stuart shows of his affinity and respect for Iommi, Young and Moore. This is perhaps my favorite Whitewater track of all, a psychedelic space ride that does not fail to impress.

The romantic-inclined 'Only to You' spans 10 minutes of forlorn sadness, a somber piano motif colors the crying clouds, Stuart voicing his inner pain with soporific conviction. Despondent, hopeful, hypnotic at first, precipitously exploding into a gut-wrenching hard blues stomper (Yes, Paul!) but unfairly muddied by barely audible vocals (the only small caveat I can opine for both albums) when the music gets heavier. However, the echoing piano is utterly simple and gorgeous, something out of Roger Eno's catalog. The voice gentle flutters over the careening piano chords in sheer reverence to the meaning of the song.

The short tracks are incredible fun as well, the glittering 'Stardust' oozes with unrelenting angst, snarling guitars and colossal drums, the whole attractively punky, messy and noisy. 'Rainbow Bridge' initiates another stylistic nod to Falsini both in the chiming rhythmic riffing as the blissed-out, effect-pedaled scorching lead electric solo. Echo, fuzz, obsessiveness and delay, all the tones are there to enjoy. Adroitly, Paul boom-boom-tchaks nicely and muscles the mood along. The fragile 'Aura Dreamscape' professes nothing more than to further the cottony gleam, piano and guitar licking each other with glee, highlighting their experimental tendencies with finality. More voice effects samples are added to the mix. A gentle fade away.

Comparisons to early Sensation's Fix albums (Fragments of Light and Portable Madness) are absolutely vivid, though Whitewater has its own very original style. The gorgeous cover art only coronates this fine effort even more, a phenomenal work on its own merits.

4 exploding universes

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Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars UK project WHITEWATER was formed by Stuart Stephens and Paul Powell in 2013, following the conclusion of a cover band project they both were involved in. Stephens is the main composer of the band, and it was due to him needing a helping musical hand with his material that Whitewater was born. "The Sound of a Galaxy Smashing" is their debut album, and was self-released in 2013.

It would appear that the musical landscape explored by this project can be more or less described as a simplistic take on the more atmospheric side of Pink Floyd, possibly with some psychedelic rock details adding additional flavor to the proceedings. As far as progressive rock is concerned this is a production that relies totally on moods and atmospheres, those with an eager interest in experiencing musicians flaunting their technical abilities will have to look elsewhere. Much the same can be said about those that favor structurally challenging compositions, as the songs on this production are fairly predictable in nature as far as this aspect is concerned, and not all that advanced in the structural department as such really.

Whitewater tends to operate with a set number of different arrangements on this production. The greater majority revolves around frail, slow paced resonating guitar motifs, with or without drums supporting, and with a second plucked guitar motif or a guitar solo added on top when vocals aren't present. The main alternative are plucked guitars combined with hovering, smooth keyboards, and to a lesser degree we're also treated to harder edged guitar riff driven constructions and atmospheric laden, cinematic sequences, sometimes with more of a cosmic quality to them.

The main challenge when opting to explore material of this kind is to be able to create sounds interesting enough and compelling enough for the listener to continue listening. To be able to construct a stunning atmosphere, a truly strong performance that intrigue just as much on a technical level as the atmospheric one, or to be able to produce the music well enough for the audiophiles to become fascinated by the sheer audio quality. Unfortunately I don't think Whitewater manage to succeed on any of these levels.

I find the themes and motifs fairly pedestrian in nature. Pleasant enough, and with a certain beauty to them, but lacking in nerve, contrast and otherwise any details that makes them something truly special. The performance is adequate enough, but again without any bells and whistles that creates within me that urge or desire to stop and listen again. Adequate is probably a key word here. Still a pleasant enough production as far as the compositions and the performance part of it goes.

Mix and production is another chapter entirely however, and I'm afraid that this is in a negative understanding too. Lo-fi is a word that comes to mind, demo quality another. The drums are loud and often the sound of them breaks. The vocals sound like they were recorded in a big empty room, adding a cold echo effect that won't be to everybody's taste. And in the instances where guitar riffs are applied, they drown out the vocals almost entirely. I'm afraid that my perception of the mix and production of this album is one that concludes with the word inadequate, and for me and my experience as a listener and reviewer this aspect is seriously detrimental for the total and overall experience of this album.

From how I know musicians, the guys behind this project have invested a lot of heart and soul into this production. So I apologize for being relatively blunt and bluntly honest in my assessment, as I know that most creators of music will hurt emotionally to a lesser or greater degree when someone describes their art in such a manner.

As far as a recommended audience goes, a prerequisite to be able to enjoy this production is that you're accustomed to and generally tends to enjoy productions of a lo-fi mix and production quality. Those who found demo tapes to be more honest and interesting than label releases back in the 1980's an example af a perfect crowd for this album. If you have recognize yourself in such a description, and also tend to enjoy atmospheric laden, relatively uncomplicated music that appears to orient itself towards the most atmospheric material from bands Pink Floyd in terms of general style, then this album is one that merits a check. Especially if you also favor music with a subtle psychedelic coating.

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