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Half Past Four - Rabbit In The Vestibule CD (album) cover


Half Past Four


Eclectic Prog

3.75 | 31 ratings

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Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Those who believe progressive rock is defined by lengthy epics, grandiose atmospheres and displays of technical brilliance should look elsewhere, because "Rabbit in the Vestibule" will probably sound to them as little more than an intelligent, sophisticated pop album, almost totally devoid of those elements that have become stereotypical of the genre. Unlike the ever-increasing contingent of 'retro-proggers', Half Past Four are a thoroughly modern band who, while clearly acknowledging their debt to the music of the past, are not afraid to experiment with a new take on progressive rock.

The initial impression of "Rabbit in the Vestibule" may indeed be deceptive, and get the listener to find very little suggesting progressive rock, at least in any conventional sense. It is only as the album progresses, and then on further listens, that its true nature begins to unfold. Like another excellent crossover band, 3rd Degree, Half Past Four also engage in 'defiling perfectly good songs with prog', and this apparently sacrilegious act results in one of the most interesting records of the last few years.

A number of the songs on the album would indeed qualify as 'glorified' pop songs, with a traditional chorus-verse-chorus structure, and plenty of catchy hooks. Most of the tracks run between 2 and 5 minutes, and even the longest of them, "Biel" (clocking in at slightly over 8 minutes), sounds nowhere like a standard prog epic. However, even the shortest items, like opener "Missing Seventh", possess that indefinable quality that lifts them well above the average pop song. Moreover, the individual members of the band all display an impressive level of musicianship and songwriting skills - something that bodes well for the band's future.

Half Past Four's 'secret weapon', however, are Kyree Vibrant's distinctive, riveting vocals. Her delivery, witty and commanding at the same time, suits the band's quirkily attractive music to a T, and adds further interest to their compositions. With a reasonably long career as a singer, songwriter and filmmaker, and a musical background spanning various genres, she is a versatile vocalist who can tackle equally well intense, dramatic stuff such as "Biel" (possibly Kyree's finest moment on the album), or jazzy, relaxed, pieces like the Steely Dan-inspired "Strangest Dream". Hers is a voice that, at first, may not strike the listener as conventionally beautiful (in the way the dozens of more or less angelic sopranos fronting every other modern prog band can be), but whose charm and power are revealed at each listen.

The thirteen tracks featured on "Rabbit in the Vestibule" make for a variegated, often exhilarating listening experience. The slick interplay between the instruments, the diverse influences, the superb vocals keep the listener on their toes. Even though any 'classic' progressive elements are sprinkled judiciously throughout the album, and often come as a surprise - the spacey keyboard sounds in "Lullaby", the Middle Eastern vibe in "Salome", the asymmetrical drumming and bass line in "Bamboo", the guitar-organ interaction in several songs ? they are definitely there, and all the more intriguing because they are not immediately evident.

As previously stated, "Rabbit in the Vestibule" may need repeated listens for all those elements to be discovered and fully appreciated. In spite of its apparently 'poppy' nature, it is a multilayered effort, brimming with humour, creativity, and excellent musicianship. Open-minded listeners, and those who are constantly looking for new twists on their favourite genre, will be sure to appreciate this disc, and possibly be left wanting for more.

Raff | 4/5 |


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