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A Secret River - Colours of Solitude CD (album) cover


A Secret River


Crossover Prog

3.90 | 37 ratings

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4 stars A Secret River is a new band from Gothenburg, Sweden, and it should be in a position to enthrall a vast section of the prog community, as it suggests a wide palette of sounds that are all executed with glittering meticulousness. 'Music for your heart and soul', they announce on their website and they deliver the goods on their debut album, "Colours of Solitude", a strong and confident of bright expressive prog that is ear-friendly , deeply melodic and ultimately, most enjoyable. Some have given comparisons to Anathema, Blackfield or fellow Swedes Moon Safari. The lovely sunlit cover photo actually illustrates the music quite well, a breezy, warm afternoon on a bench, cloudy wisps in the background and just chilling the day away. A strong quartet that seems to be in sync with each other, they offer a wide variety of styles from moody atmospherics, folky inspirations and driven symphonics, to little dabs of metal, neo and even a tinge of pop. Bassist/singer Andreas Alöv holds down the low-end nicely and has a most pleasing voice, breezy yet evocative. John Bergstrand handles all things percussive and keeps time perfectly. Björn Sandberg handles the keyboards and is 'blessed' to be a former church musician, and finally, the acoustic and electric guitars are held down by Mikael Grafström, who has a cool jazzy folk touch.

The compositions are quite appealing though, all pretty much in the 6-7 minute category and for the most part, the music is quite mellow and serene. The guitars and keys are more delicate while the bass and drums really provide the 'push' needed to give the pieces some vibrancy and zest. The vocals are of very high quality, the music quite un-complex, yet highly gratifying in intensity and dynamics.

The opening cut is quite indicative of what is to follow, a meandering, fresh and upbeat river of mellow prog that serves a simple purpose, the ongoing and eternal quest for love in an increasingly complex and technological world. "Blinding Light" is utterly hummable, in a style that the prog ladies out there would swoon to, making us men willing subjects. Reminds me of that ultra-chauvinistic but very true Napoleon comment about" Wine pleases the gentleman when the lady drinks it!". While keeping things accessible and ear-friendly, it does not mean that they are not inventive, as the synths can shriek with the best of them, the mood can be densely mournful and reflective with heavy bass/drum swagger as on the lovely "No Way to Say Goodbye" and some passages within this nearly 7 minute song have some serious jazzy swirl to the gusto, such as the Booker T & the MGs-like groove half-way through, a pure delight. The bass pummels nicely, the drums good and hard, while the soloists flutter in earnest pleasure. The bass can be quite assertive, a sure sign I will enjoy this beyond its otherwise simplistic limitations, as shown on the ebullient "Starbomb". The instrumental title track is another winner, as ornate piano cavorts on top of some sweeping synthesizer thus providing all the necessary magic, with a hint of taciturn imagery. Hint of medieval and baroque, the feel just exudes a discreet confidence which is most appealing. On "Are You Coming With Me?", there is some inspired bass playing amid the twirling melancholia, another unobtrusive but addictive track, laden with all manners of little details that just cry out class. This just blends into the epic (7 minute 41) love ballad "A Place to Start" which could be best described as a mix of 10cc, Split Enz, and such, perhaps the highlight track presented here. Some chugga- chugga is provided on the punchy "Passing Grace", a seductive ditty where both bassist Alöv and percussor Bergstrand really hit a muscle groove, a tight disposition that breezes along with supple synthesizer, shimmering organ and sublime but discreet guitar. The fragile "On the Line" is the menu finale, a thoroughly enjoyable collection of prog songs that get the job done and then some...

If you were expecting another icy and reserved, mellotron-infested doom spectacle, so typical of Swedish and Norwegian bands, well you will be in for a slight surprise, to say the least. Truth is A Secret River is quite original, inspiring and has enough detailed points of interest (the bass is fabulous throughout) to merit a visit, just make sure the little lady is around. She just might pop her head through the door and say "Hey, that is really nice stuff you are listening to, for a change!". You smile, she smiles, you light the candle and she turns off the lights , well, you can guess the rest....

4 clandestine streams

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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