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The Watch - Vacuum CD (album) cover

VACUUM

The Watch

 

Neo-Prog

3.95 | 205 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars To many, "Vacuum" is the most powerful effort by The Watch so far. Now that we are in a moment of prog music when neo-prog seems to have become a paradigm that has noting new to offer to the ever- hungry prog community, The Watch stands out as a musical ensemble with enough creativity and punch to bring out something interesting and engaging under these lines. The "Twilight" album by The Night Watch had been a breath of fresh air, and now this off-shoot that has solidly lived its predecessor has confirmed this first impression. "Vacuum" is great, period. 'Hills' is the 1+ minute long prelude that kicks off the album's repertoire, bringing soft piano chords and e-bow guitar lines in a lyrical fashion. Then, the monster 'Damage Mode' gets in through its eruption of Genesis-based mannerisms in terms of melodic developments and arrangements. The ballsy motifs are displayed in an epic dynamics in which the softer interlude (6 and 12 string guitars plus flute state a bucolic harmonics very much a- la "Nursery Rhyme") meets a proper place to convey a moment of repose. The grandeur of track 2 finds an adequate counterpart in the eerie introspectiveness of 'Wonderland', a track full of captivating romanticism which keeps some sort of mysterious vibe to it: sometimes I feel that it is somewhat related to Gothic rock. Due to the presence of Beatlesque piano in the initial motif, 'Shining Bald Heads' may give the impression that we are treated with the poppier side of The Watch, but as it turns out, this song not only comprises but enhances the epic dynamics that we already found in 'Damage Mode'. It is less accomplished in terms of cohesion but it definitely has a more dramatic feel due to its augmented dose of contrast and colourfulness. 'Out of the Land' bears a similar mood to that of 'Wonderland', albeit with a bigger accentuation on the ethereal aspect - the melancholic spirit of the melody and the sensible use of mellotron help to reinforce this feeling in the listener's mind. 'Goddess' has to be one of the finest pieces ever written by The Watch bunch - it is yet another example of their Genesis retro- prog, with a fluid transition among themes, tempos and moods. The guitar phrases and leads are lovely, and so are the orchestrations and ambiences provided by keyboardist Manzini: "The Wake"-era IQ meets "Somewhere but yesterday"-era Citizen Cain. Complex and catchy in equal proportions, this song and 'Damage Mode' are definitive proofs of the sort of artistic magic that neo-prog can still convey thanks to the specific vision of Rossetti & co. In what seems to be an interacting intercalation of epic titles and introspective ones, 'Deeper Still' reiterates the subtleties of melancholy that we already found in tracks 3 and 5: this piece's peculiarity is that it stands in a shorter time span, and it also relies relatively on the use of digital rhythm patterns, a source of updating modernization for this retro-prog framework. The namesake song is the largest one in the album, as well as the closure. It lasts almost 11 minutes, and that means that the band has plenty of room to incorporate a variety of moods and sections. Some rockier sections are really powerful, with a compact rhythm duo that sustains the flow efficiently. Some keyboard ornaments feel a bit creepy, which is effective when it comes to create a dramatic feel at some passages. At some point, the 'Hills' motif remerges and states a reflective passage that provides a feeling of loneliness right into the end. One may feel tempted to perceive it as an incomplete mood, but with more listens one can notice that it is a very clever (anti-)climax. Overall balance: 4 stars for "Vacuum".
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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