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Aisles - In Sudden Walks CD (album) cover

IN SUDDEN WALKS

Aisles

 

Neo-Prog

3.69 | 64 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Not too many prog fans and collectors have paid much attention to Chilean group Aisles' sophomore release "In Sudden Walks" throughout last year: actually, this may have been one of the 5 most accomplished neo-prog albums of 2009. Shame on us all! "In Sudden Walks" is a lovely collection of inventive compositions and bold arrangements. As impressed as I had been a few years back with their debut "The Yearning", I found it as a half-baked effort overall that didn't manage to fulfill its evidently abundant potential. All in all, a few good things were clear about the band from that debut album: they were inspired writers and they were keen on preparing bold arrangements that made the musicality prevail over the need for pyrotechnics. With a generally suave sonority, the band could sound as majestic as many other louder bands in the symphonic and neo-prog territories. Well, "In Sudden Walks" bears more stamina, equal richness of musicality and a more refined performance level ? the latter factor is in small degree due to the fact that Aisles now comprises real drums and a permanent bass player, that is, a rhythm duo that can work on its own within the global sonic architecture. The opener is 'Mariachi', a sophisticated instrumental that almost clocks at 10 minutes. Without lyrics, the vocal parts are excerpts of sexy dialogues between the male and female characters from a movie. In this way, the whole idea sets out to bear a cinematographic mood to it while remaining a genuine musical item in its own terms. Right from the start, the dynamics shows an undeniable appeal. If you notice some peculiarity about it, that is due to the powerful inclusion of Latin-fusion undertones through the instrumental development. Symphonic neo combined with Latin cadences? This equation works, believe me. Once the slow interlude emerges and settles in, the guest trumpeter adds a extra colorfulness to the ceremonious atmosphere: there is also a guest on contrabass adding occasional nuances to the rhythmic scheme. Eerie passages are predominant until we get to the 7 minute mark, which is when the initial extroverted ambiance is solidly retaken. After this impressive opener, 'Revolution Of Light' shows the band going for the standard of moderately complex catchiness that the most impressive neo songs usually go for: shaded of early 90s Marillion and late-80s Pallas can be traced here, but the time signatures are more demanding (in spite of seeming an almost danceable rocker). 'Summer Fall' partially aims at preserving the agile mood that dominated the extroverted preceding track, but now, in a more ambitious framework, it gives more room to elaborated landscapes of nostalgia and reflection. The now dominant soft passages are patently gentle, making it easy to link the motif shifts through fluid, well-constructed transitions. As soon as the opening motif returns (at the 5 minute mark), the track's architecture concentrates on extroversion and color, including an elegant climax that ends at the 8 minute mark. The last 115 seconds are based on a pastoral descent that bears Camel inspirations. 'The Maiden' is a different beast, something more akin to late-70s Oldfield, classic Anthony Phillips and Renaissance. For this piece, the band leaves the neo-prog standard behind in favor of a more focused vintage symphonic sound where the bucolic environment is dominant. There is also a reasonable utilization of Latin nuances for good effect, making the lovely melodic motifs enhance their natural warmth. Even in those occasions when things are spiced up, the track retains its romantic magic in intact form. With its sharp 4 minute span, the eerie 'Smile Of Tears' is the shortest piece in the album. The featured presence of digital cosmic textures in its main theme openly states a contrast against the preceding song. The piano coda is just lovely. The shortest song is succeeded by the longest one, the 15? minute long epic 'Hawaii'. Right from the start, the ceremonious overtones prevail with a certain mysterious mood. Mixing the cosmic spirit of the preceding track with a powerful melancholic aura, the piece delivers a long-term sense of calm majesty where neo-prog, old-fashioned symphonic and new-age unite. Later on, after the halfway, the track sets a crafty variation, even intensifying the sonic atmosphere a bit for a while. The dual guitars' textures are lovely, and so are the synth lines and harmonic developments that softly go on until the fade-out ends. Like I said earlier in this review, shame on us all who overlooked this beautiful album during 2009: now, our redemption can be assured by purchasing this album and enjoying its plenty of musical qualities. Aisles can be safely regarded as a totally matured band.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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