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WHITEWATER

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Whitewater biography
Whitewater are a UK based Progressive Rock band created by Stuart Stephens and Paul Powell. Formed in February 2013, their first album is entitled ?The Sound of a Galaxy Smashing?. Whitewater have completed working on their 2nd album entitled Obscured by the Sun, which is due for release in April 2014. Stuart and Paul met in 2010 and soon realized that they had a shared passion for rock music, old and new, not just to listen to but to perform . Shortly after meeting they decided to set up a rock covers band, playing the sort of classic and modern rock covers that you generally didn't hear. This project was short lived lasting only around 2 years.
Shortly before the cover band finished Stuart started working on an idea for some original tracks.
After a few samples and a few late nights the start of a song had appeared. Paul had no idea at this time what was happening until Stuart asked him to take a listen to a track Stuart had the beginnings of, Paul layed a drum line down for the track that would become the first song from the album The Sound of a Galaxy Smashing, and so Whitewater was formed. I?ll See You Some Day blossomed from an idea to an almost 13 minute odyssey, that held some personal observations and feelings that had occurred over the few months before the songs birth.
Next to come from these sessions was the second track Stardust, closely followed by Aura Dreamscape, Only to You and the symphonic Wrong Way Round a Left Hand Bend. The last track to be written was entitled Rainbow Bridge. Upon completion of the album Stuart and Paul decided to release the album under their own label of Whitewater Productions.

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WHITEWATER discography


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

3.96 | 4 ratings
The Sound of a Galaxy Smashing
2013
3.68 | 9 ratings
Obscured by the Sun
2014

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WHITEWATER Reviews


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 The Sound of a Galaxy Smashing by WHITEWATER album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.96 | 4 ratings

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The Sound of a Galaxy Smashing
Whitewater Crossover Prog

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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 Obscured by the Sun by WHITEWATER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.68 | 9 ratings

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Obscured by the Sun
Whitewater Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Cascading forth onto the merry shores of progland, the aptly-named duo Whitewater embark on an interesting voyage of sounds and sparkle that should raise of few eyebrows. Stuart Stephens is the main musical conduit with drummer Paul Powell providing some muscular beat support. Their first album 'The Sound of a Galaxy Smashing' was a splashy dive into progressive rock that Stuart humorously describes as a marmite sandwich, either you love it or hate it. This second offering is assuredly much closer to the musical control they envisioned for their craft, a densely electric album that has a peculiar metallic edge. With a cloudy title like "Obscured by the Sun", they certainly stamp some Pink Floyd-isms into the mix ("In the Beginning") but truth is there is a whole lot more going on, as evidenced by the throbbing compressor "Rush", a pure space-rock adventure that hearkens back to the hard-dreamy material proposed by bands such as Sensation's Fix, with a less over- produced sound which is quite appealing. Big drum beat anchored by a trembling bass rumble, shattered by shimmering guitar screeches that saturate and satiate with manic insanity. A hushed voice maintains the push into deeper realms of cosmic bliss. A delectable piece indeed.

The melancholia-laden "Fallen Angel" proposes a metronome beat and intense psychedelia, within relatively simple parameters, a solid platform for a fuzzed guitar outbreak, all shrouded in this special metallic mist. Moody and serene, there is a strong sense of foreboding doom and despair. The leaden "Ordinary Life" follows the same approach, a mammoth beat with jangly guitars and a fierce lead solo, there are all kinds of weighty messaging going on, the axe tone more reminiscent of Tony Iommi or Gary Moore, raging, oily and utterly provocative.

The majestic 9 and a half minute title track is clearly Floydian in influence, a modest lilt that haunts and pacifies, a delicate and insistent piano motif that hides a deep sense of longing, glittering electronics and choir-like effects only heightening the inner malevolence . A clamoring beat kicks in to shove this into the stratosphere, fuzzed anger wrapped around intense sparkle , almost like something Canadian band The Tea Party would come up with (but without the Jim Morrison vocals) . The return to the forsaken theme is a sublime move, seeking to reenlist ones approval and enjoyment. This is a stunning track that surely characterizes this UK band very well. By Jove, I think they got it, screamed out Henry Higgins!

While daring a title like "Breathe" may be a little snarky, there is little similitude to any darker side of the moon, just a little experimental ditty that resonates with profound echo, both from the cottony voice and the fizzling axe. Foreboding, almost toxic and then spasmic, the tortured guitar screams and howls out of er...breath!

This duo excels in the longer pieces, giving themselves more expansive room to ruminate musically and the 8 minute long "Black Light Effect" is no exception, with Bonham-like pummeling from Mister Powell, distortion-laden keyboards, raw bass and slashing guitar rants. The unintentional winks at Sensation's Fix are actually quite rewarding, a spacey style that combines many contrasting elements into one.

A couple of circa 5 minute tunes make an appearance, the sad "Disengaged" coming first up to the plate, another uncomplicated affair that seeks out familiar melancholic territory and a killer guitar solo. The groggy "Without You" is the unjoyful ballad, guitar paining, yearning and panting, the bass obviously disappointed and Powell does slam hard, one of the finer short tracks.

"Fade Away" is the megalith epic, a whopping, nearly 17 minute venture into cosmic journeying, this time putting the synthesizers front and center in a way more symphonic/space rock framework. The pace is unhurried in development which gives Stuart the opportunity to show off some considerable compositional skills. Eventually, the gloomy guitar barrage kicks in with the Bonzo-like drum cannonade, the bad-ass bass raging with authority, stamping their now quite obvious style onto the arrangement. Imagine liberal doses of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Hawkwind as well as eccentric synthesized walls-of-sound effects and you get the picture! A floating mid-section only serves to confirm the talent displayed here, a new band still searching for a clear and permanent identity. Stuart then unleashes an extended fret board foray that screeches and cajoles with the best of them. Within the tempestuous sonic confusion, a new section throttles through the clouds, a deadly rampage full of metallic anger and rage, as both Stephens and Powell kick into turbo-charge. Smartly, the piece ends in a kaleidoscope of sweet sounds and ecstasy. A seductive suite that will please any music fan.

The book ends with "The End" and it fizzles out, synthesized droplets whirring inexorably into the cosmos.

My only slight complaint would be a clearer and punchier vocal recording, as the music's general heaviness is at times overbearing for the microphone stand. I tried to imagine a more polished affair and I came to the conclusion that their 'less is more' style is actually way more interesting. The longer pieces are easily worthy of any progfan's attention, especially if one enjoys that "homey" touch. This is what the future looks like, boys and girls!

4 Solar Oblivions

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