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The Windmill - Tribus CD (album) cover

TRIBUS

The Windmill

 

Heavy Prog

3.96 | 181 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

mental_hygiene
3 stars Tribus is the 2018 album from The Windmill, a band that is new to me. Right off the bat, I was skeptical of the band's categorization as Heavy Prog from the RateYourMusic tags (which are also wrong) that claimed this was "pastoral". This is a really decent release of psychedelic influenced prog. It also verges on Neo-Prog at times, but I'll talk about it later.

My biggest problem with Tribus is the opening track, the Tree. It was such a misstep that I turned the album off while listening with one of my friends after just that song. It starts with a lush acoustic guitar and flute soundscape. After 3 minutes of a vamp, the Windmill brings in the synths and psychedelia. It almost reminds me of some moments off of the most Solina-heavy Tangerine dream songs. It blends into a verse that is very so-so. The vocals sound strained and slightly awkward at this point, especially with the anthemic vocal harmonies that feel inappropriate with how saturated and "large" they are. The hook is really shaky, rhythmically awkward, and lyrically questionable. However, the worst part of this song is the jazz section that starts 10 minutes in. The riff is so childish and hokey in a way that doesn't seem intentional. The piano comping is so undynamic. It brings me back to high school jazz, where the charleston rhythm is basically the only driving thing to this section. It moves into an acapella section that is just laughable, cheesy, but ultimately goes nowhere. I'm not saying bands can't have fun with eclectic styles, but it is completely out of place, has no thematic drive (what does this even have to do with the tree?), and is immediately made inconsequential by a hard transition back to the psychedelia and "prog". It then moves into a laughably white "funk" section that at best has a passing semblance to something from the Wall-era Pink Floyd. It again has no thematic development and gets erased by a (admittedly really cool) riff that takes the song into a harder Jethro Tull styled section. After some 8 ish minutes of musical wavering, it goes back to the original "hook". These lyrics are particularly naive. I wish they had explored a story instead of starting it halfheartedly, doing absolutely nothing for 10 minutes, and then closing it with an emotional arc that we didn't get to experience. "I like it now"... why? What changed? This is bad storytelling, and an amalgamation of styles that they clearly aren't compentent with. Again, I'm not saying that they can't be eclectic, but the Windmill seems very out of their league when they're doing funk and jazz (and also very good when they go back to psychedelic prog rock).

I apologize in hindsight for writing so much. I take huge offense to prog "epics" that don't deserve to exist, and I feel like it drags the genre down to expect people to pay attention to something that should be either multiple different songs, or not exist in the first place. Thankfully, however, the rest of the album is very good!

Storm is one of my favorite tracks from this album, slightly more in the "heavy prog" vein (although this album is not really heavy prog at all). It's atmospheric and develops in a way that's satisfying to my ears. It proves to me after the huge misstep of the first track that they do know how to chain ideas in a composition. Additionally, as an instrumental, it has none of the Neo-Progesque wavering "choruses". I love how they shift from flute and piano (acoustic instrumentation) to electric sounds so freely.

Dendrophenia follows Storm as a single-worthy short track with a noted hard rock sound. The songwriting on this track feels a lot more tight and organized, and the singing is a lot better. I don't have much else to say other than that it's alright!

Make Me Feel is another highlight of Tribus, featuring again tighter songwriting. In addition, the vocal harmonies actually feel appropriate as they are. The instrumentation actually reminds me of early Marillion at times. I think this is secretly a neo-prog album. Part of why this 9 minute song is successful is (hammering this point in again) it doesn't detour into a bunch of unrelated ideas. It ends with a solid climax with symphonic elements and more beautiful flute playing.

Play with Fire closes the album with an acoustic opening. This song sounds like a lost Jethro Tull song, for better or worse. They do play with the Tull influence in a way that makes it not derivative. It's not an epic closer track, but it's a nice single-worthy song that doesn't do much wrong. I love that it ends on an acapella refrain!

Overall, this album is a mixed bag. The "singles" are alright, but not exactly songs I would go back to. Storm is probably the best part of this album, a really cool 10 minute sonic journey. Make Me Feel comes in second place, tying in with a neo-prog flare. At the bottom is the Tree. When summarizing this album, I have to take into account that the Tree is 24 minutes long and is only good for about 5 of them. I think The Windmill is a cool band, but if they focused on making songs like Make Me Feel and perhaps more instrumentals like Storm, they could produce an excellent album. That said, the potential isn't exactly in practice for more than 20 minutes of this album, leading me to say that this is probably a good, but non-essential record. I would recommend it to anyone who's interested in a fresh take on Neo- Prog. If you're expecting a heavy prog album, you probably won't get that experience from Tribus.

mental_hygiene | 3/5 |

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