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WOBBLER

Symphonic Prog • Norway


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WOBBLER is a Norwegian symphonic prog band that was formed in 1999 in Honefoss, Norway. The line-up consists of Lars Fredrik Froislie (of WHITE WILLOW)on keyboards, Kristian Karl Hultgren on bass guitar, Martin Nordrum Kneppen on drums, Morten Andreas Eriksen on electric and acoustic guitars and mandolin and Tony Johannessen on vocals. This group is strongly evocative of KING CRIMSON, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT along with newer symphonic prog bands like ANGLAGARD and ANEKDOTEN with a dash of Scandinavian folk and classical influences thrown into the mix.

Their debut cd WOBBLER "Hinterland" contains long and complex tracks featuring lush, vintage keyboard sounds, making extensive use of Mellotron, Mini-Moog, Hammond C-3 and harpsichord, along with beautiful electric and acoustic guitar playing, a complex rhythm section along with flutes, recorder, saxophones, mandolins and various other instruments providing a very full, symphonic sound.

Highly recommended for fans of the early progressive greats and symphonic prog music.

: : : TheProgtologist, USA : : :

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Rites at DawnRites at Dawn
Termo Records 2011
Audio CD$14.10
$10.02 (used)
HinterlandHinterland
Alliance 2005
Audio CD$16.51
$14.99 (used)
AfterglowAfterglow
Termo Records 2009
Audio CD$10.35
$9.29 (used)
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WOBBLER discography


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WOBBLER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 235 ratings
Hinterland
2005
3.81 | 191 ratings
Afterglow
2009
3.93 | 345 ratings
Rites At Dawn
2011

WOBBLER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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WOBBLER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Afterglow by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.81 | 191 ratings

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Afterglow
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is a band. A real one. A group of guys so good, who play together so well, they just don't care anymore. It's better to just relax and let them do what they do - e.g. laying down the primaries together in the same room with very few takes or overdubs - than to attempt to perceive them in the normal way one does five musicians & friends. The material was conceived and written in '99 which means by the time these trollkarlars started recording, the pieces had been well-gestated, were more than ready for birth and have an immediacy rarely heard in modern prog albums. Late is almost always better than premature anyway.

When one considers Wobbler's debut was in 2005, the cuts here could be seen as supplemental to, or even predating, the work on Hinterland. If that's the case, it makes Afterglow that much more interesting (and explains the title). A preamble Elizabethan is quickly discarded for the robust and ever-changing 'The Haywain' and though the past is always present in Wobbler's music, they are unique in their brutal authenticity; an animal of uncompromising natures and ancient, earthly powers. These men of the mountains have secrets and they're not going to share them anytime soon. You have to listen and figure it out yourself. At fifteen minutes, 'The Haywain' is simply a joy of compositional alchemy and is as good as anything on their first.

'Interlude', an engaging conversation between Hultgren's basses and Eng's cello, opens 'In Taberna', bookending the album with its second epic full of tight playing, solid charting, and brief peeks of ELP circa 1971, things ending with pseudo-Baroque 'Armoury' and a nod to maestro Wakeman.

I understand why the consensus deems this one the poorest of the three releases so far, and that is probably an accurate judgment. The thing is, with a band this special, it doesn't matter. It's a winner no matter how you slice it.

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 Rites At Dawn by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.93 | 345 ratings

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Rites At Dawn
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by fuxi
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After all the existing reviews (which were mostly enthusiastic) I'd just like to add my two cents.

First of all: this doesn't sound a bit like FRAGILE or CLOSE TO THE EDGE; the first thirty minutes or so kept reminding me (for some reason) of "Beyond and Before", the opening track of Yes's first album!

Secondly: are these guys for real? I know some of them are musicologists who love vintage keyboards and play krumhorns in their spare time, but... When they write songs about rabbits, fawns and faeries; when they pose for an inner-sleeve photograph with a stuffed owl, a stuffed fox and a load of (apparently) plastic food on the table, what are they trying to tell us?

What I mean is that most of Wobbler's MUSIC can't be faulted ("La Bealtaine", the first extended piece here, verges on the tuneless - but let that pass). The bass, the drums, the guitars, the keyboards and everything else is carefully thought through. You can listen to this music again and again but you'll always find new things, and that's just the way it should be. When you finally reach "The River", the last extended piece on the album, it's... it's probably the best Yes-type composition to emerge from anywhere since Yes themselves came up with DRAMA!

But is it earth-shattering music? I tend to think NOT. I can't help comparing RITES AT DAWN with Big Big Train's ENGLISH ELECTRIC (part one) which sounded oh so passionate and earnest, and I must conclude something's missing: Wobbler never move me. What a shame.

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 Hinterland by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.83 | 235 ratings

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Hinterland
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by R-A-N-M-A

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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 Hinterland by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.83 | 235 ratings

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Hinterland
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by Dark Nazgul

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 Ŕ nell'eco dei monti, troppo in alto per scendere in noi [...] Chiara essenza divina giÓ 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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 Rites At Dawn by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.93 | 345 ratings

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Rites At Dawn
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings

5 stars There are times when I buy a CD and I know very soon that I am going to love it. Since discovering this site and that I really enjoy this music, I have been going Prog wild, you could say. I've been checking out the early classics, the neo stuff, the 90s, and the greatest of the latest. There have been winners and losers and in-betweeners in any period, but always there is the excitement of finding something to treasure in my ears and between them.

Wobbler showed up one day while cruising Amazon and the cover attracted me. I sampled the album and decided it might just be good enough. Great choice!

A lot of people here have been pointing out the similarities to Yes, and certainly there are many similarities: electric guitar distorted and clean, acoustic guitar, all flavours of keyboards, cool bass guitar, choral-style singing, odd time signatures, and everything you could want in symphonic Prog, including flute! However, I don't think the vocals sound as Jon Anderson-like as some have written and the music sounds quite distinct to my ears. To say Wobbler sound like Yes is like saying Uriah Heep sound like Deep Purple. There are similarities but still enough differences.

The album opens with a short peaceful instrumental and then goes straight into the totally retro symphonic Prog of 'La Bealtaine'. We are off to a good start.

But it's the thrilling musical ride of 'Into Orbit' that is the first real treat off the album. Rocking with distorted guitar and some ripping organ and Moog solos, quick temp and time signature changes, slow moods and rollicking quick sections, this song has become one of my recent favourites. There's even a short vocal part that sounds like the Moody Blues.

'This Past Presence' opens with gentle acoustic guitar, flute and piano, accompanied by the vocals and a bit of mellotron. But about 1:40 into the song, the pace suddenly changes and there's a wild guitar solo followed by some fast fingers on the ivory before the pace slows again. The group chooses to stick with the melody and pretty music rather than jump around all over the place. There are some hurried steps and then a powerfully symphonic segment led by mellotron before shifting back to the rocking piano which supports a short flute solo. A cascade of piano notes brings the song to a close.

'A Faerie's Play' is the shortest song on the album, aside from the bookend instrumentals. It begins peacefully but quickly drops a Moody Blues-ish burst of drama, followed by a quick jazzy Yes segment, which then rolls of into something more like Glass Hammer. There's a marching snare drum, more mellotron, Moog, and just overall wonderfully crafted music. I find the vocals, though good enough, don't stand out as particularly skillful at times. Wobbler do a great job of placing just enough vocals into the music so that it works without ever becoming tiresome.

Next up, 'The River', and my favourite track off the album. A mini epic in composition, the song starts with an instrumental introduction in a rock out style with some sax that reminds me of King Crimson. Introduction over, a gentle and haunting clean electric guitar sweeps us to the first lyrics. Here I find the vocals sound a bit weak, but the building music keeps interest high. Mellotron. Flute. And then a very Yes-like shift, a softer segment, and an eruption of symphonic prog rock. I'm in heaven when the chorus comes in, three voices at least, singing a beautiful melody and one of the vocal highlights of the album.

The song pauses and enters a very classical-influenced instrumental passage where all musicians and many instruments contribute to one amazing piece of music. If someone asked me what progressive rock sounded like in a single-song summary, I'd have this song ready for their ears.

If I have anything to say negatively about this album it's that the vocals usually lack a little in skill. The opening and closing instrumentals might not be necessary but they give the effect of entering a special sonic place where this remarkable retro sound exists. Then we awaken and the CD ends. It's not a bad thing at all.

Finally, the length of this album is just right. I have listened to some albums that sound great at first but seem to overstay their welcome after 50 or 60 minutes.

I would love to give this album 5 stars. I was thinking to give it 4 and say 4.5 but as I listened to it again I found I liked it even more. A strike against it might be its retro approach or its somewhat weak vocals but I think it's a really well-crafted piece of work. Others have said Wobbler have really improved since their first two albums. If that's so then they have reached that high place. So I will give it 5 stars and recommend it highly. If you disagree with the 5-star rating you might still likely give it 4.

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 Rites At Dawn by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.93 | 345 ratings

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Rites At Dawn
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Whereas Wobbler's earlier albums had impressed me with the sheer range of different prog bands of the past they drew inspiration from, on Rites at Dawn they seem much more focused on paying tribute to Yes, with a few other bands only getting occasional look-ins (such as in the fairly Gentle Giantish vocal harmonies - but even then, golden-age Yes wasn't averse to playing around with vocal harmony a bit either themselves). I'd be disappointed if this proves to be their new direction for the long term, but for the space of one album I think I can just about forgive it - they do a really very good impersonation and update of Yes at their best, after all. I just hope the band don't get caught up in a Yes-worshipping rut.

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 Afterglow by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.81 | 191 ratings

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Afterglow
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Wobbler's Afterglow is a short but sweet album, the band clearly feeling that quality outweighs quantity. In this case, I'm inclined to agree with them. In an era when all too many symphonic prog bands are relying on the same old influences - Yes, Genesis, a bit of King Crimson and add ELP to taste - Wobbler draw on a much more diverse field, with sections on this album reminding me of classic-era Gryphon, the darker moments of Anglagard, and the best aspects of Fruupp. This is clearly symphonic prog composed by a band with a nigh-encyclopedic command of the genre and who aren't afraid to take the path less followed, and as such is more than a worthy followup to Hinterland.

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 Hinterland by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.83 | 235 ratings

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Hinterland
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by 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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 Rites At Dawn by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.93 | 345 ratings

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Rites At Dawn
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars I have begun my day with this album many mornings. The difference in comparison may be subtle, but I would say that on this album, Wobbler sounds a little less like Yes and more like Starcastle. I appreciated Wobbler's debut. Their second album was less impressive. This one is by leaps and bounds their best. Bookended by peaceful instrumentals, nearly every minute of this album is charming and stimulating.

"Ludic" A swirling, malleable introduction waxes and wanes.

"La Bealtaine" Granular guitar and stout bass burst into the first song. There's the first of several incredible and creative vocal refrains, and the band shows how well they've evolved vocally through the use of counterpoint. Mellotron soars through at one point, while the rest of the ensemble remain consistent. Just over halfway through, a second impressive vocal melody comes through alongside acoustic guitar. If that isn't enough, Wobbler dazzles with a third. I am amazed how this composition flows, because when I think back on this album, my mind separates these melodies into different songs, so each time I come back, I am astonished that they are parts of one stellar whole.

"In Orbit" The lengthiest piece begins peacefully before a jarring guitar and bass interaction occurs. It temporarily subsides, revealing peaceful, Gentle Giant-like melodies. The fourth wonderful melody happens over rapid instrumentation. The fifth arrives just before keyboard solos that are both playful and more menacing. The remainder of the piece is reminiscent of Relayer, particularly "To Be Over," and is nearly just as uplifting.

"This Past Presence" Acoustic guitar and elegant Mellotron and piano weave a dreamy atmosphere. A rattling guitar solo fires off over a dense rhythm in 6/8. The final passage is soaring and brilliant, with Mellotron in both strings and flute mode.

"A Faerie's Play" Cascading Mellotron and loose drumming help make up a beautiful piece of symphonic progressive rock. This is, I must say, despite its ingredients, the most forgettable song on the album. It is not at all a flaw, only the weakest comparatively speaking.

"The River" The band adopts a sound closer to classic Kansas here (sans violin and with Mellotron, of course). Midway through gives us yet another fascinating vocal melody backed up by an interesting harmony and quite like Starcastle all around. A bass interlude leads to an instrumental section that once again reminds me of Kansas before launching back into that wonderful theme.

"Lucid Dreams" The final piece is an airy mood similar to the beginning.

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 Rites At Dawn by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.93 | 345 ratings

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Rites At Dawn
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by sorcerer kermes

5 stars Simply the best album of 2011, Norwegian band Wobbler, this time made an album with the least weak points and got more and more near to what they want to produce : a classic Prog album by all means near to what supergroups such as Yes managed to make in the golden years of seventies , in order to to make this happen Wobbler record albums in 70`s studio atmosphere with no modern technologies and MIDI things. the musicianship here is unique, never heard it like this in any modern Prog groups, the pleasant complexity of the tracks easily reminds you of seventies Prog with a modern touch. I like every tracks and every moments in this album and I thinks La Bealtaine and In Orbit are the best in the album and one of the best tracks of Prog in a decade. the only disadvantage of the album is its vocals ( i hope they manage to fix it in the next album ) therefore i cant give it a full five stars. but 4.75 realy! ( I call it a Prog masterpiece )

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