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White Willow - Terminal Twilight CD (album) cover

TERMINAL TWILIGHT

White Willow

 

Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 273 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars White Willow's "Terminal Twilight" is a Gothic winter album that is more concerned with beautiful and ethereal atmospheres than complex virtuosity. The vocals are delightful by Sylvia Skjellestad and there are some very good tracks on this album.

'Hawks Circle the Mountain' begins it with a bright, upbeat energy and exquisite synths from Lars Fredrik Frĝislie. The vocals are very nice, sweetly sung with passion by Sylvia. The guitars are dynamic played so well by Jacob Holm-Lupo.

'Snowswept' fetures atmospheric sounds and ethereal vocals. The synth pads create ambient, dreamy, Icelandic glacial scapes. The beautiful vocals are so mesmirising; "they are calling in a white out all the experts on tv" and later she sings "but they do not know what scarecrow whispered in my frozen ear" and my favourite phrase "I will stay with him in the snow swept in". The music builds to a louder multi tracked vocals

'Kansas Regrets' features the vocals of Tim Bowness who sings softly with an acoustic. Later there is a duet with Sylvia, and very sweet harmonies. The flute of Ketil Vestrum Einarsen is lovely and the odd percussion works well. This is a a ghostly soundscape, evoling the solitude of a lonely white beach during a winter storm.

'Red Leaves' begins with eerie piano joined by Sylvia's vocals that are a little like Bjork here in the first section. There is a very lush interlude in the middle with 70s keys and majestic vocal intonations. I like how after a lengthy ambience Sylvia comes in and augments the soundscape beautifully. Nice percussion accents from Anglagard's Mattias Olson and good to hear him still drumming progressively. Very strong lead break like Andy Latimer, melodic and soaring.

'Floor 67' has gorgeous flute in intro and reverb guitar, as Sylvia sings phrases such as "like a lost and lonely beast", and "floor 67 where you and I sleep". I can hear the Swedish accent strong again, separating her from other female vocalists fronting prog bands that have been coming out in droves lately. The keyboard is very good, with 70s retro sounds, fizzing and burbling. A duel keyboard is heard over a twin guitar harmony. The music takes a detour and becomes quite jazzy for a moment, there is even a feel of dissonance but then it is drawn back in with a synth solo. Finally the wall is broken with a minimalist piano and floating flute lines. It builds to a loud sound with choral nuances and searing lead guitar, tinkling cymbals and then it builds again with heavier guitars. Sylvia comes in quietly over acoustic vibrations and a warbling keyboard. It takes a few twists and turns into some symphonic landscapes and has a superb finale. Wonderful, and best track here for me.

'Natasha' has Celtic flavours helped by woodwind synths and lingering multi layered intonations with beautiful harmonies. It is an instrumental that evokes wintery snowy mountains and desolate snow capped hills in a grey sky. The imagery is part of the music and it is haunting.

'Searise' is a 13 minute epic track with labyrinthine structure and emotive mood changes. It tends to crawl along patiently and ominously for a while until we get to the verses and a terrific keyboard solo as Sylvia's voice becomes another instrument. The percussion is tremendous and the keys and guitars ascend higher to a key change. There is a fracture in the rhythms and flute echoes with achingly beautiful phrases over a soft guitar. This is flautist Ketil Vestrum Einarsen's shining moment of the albyum. The quavering Hammond sound is spine tingling adding such a majesty to the sound. There is a section with twin guitar and drum roll percussion that is very effective in building tension and then it is released with a huge wall of sound with voclas, scorching guitars and sustained key pads. The bass is important too in bringing the sound together, played well by Ellen Andrea Wang. The instruments are brought down as a guitar tinjers and a low drone is heard joined by angelic choral keys to end this magnificent track.

Last song on the album is a short piece to bring closure. Steve Howe soundalike guitar harmonics on acoustics in the intro are nice, and then an acoustic flourish with intricate finger picking as a ghostly sound is heard by Sylvia's multi tracked vocals. It is beautiful and really has emotion and power.

Also the front cover is quite a captivating image of two girls in white huddling or cowering in fear by some unseen force coming toward them. Or they may be looking at us in fear as they have been caught in secret. Obviously the music is completely non-analogous to this image as it centres on the end of the world and wintery dreamscapes. It is one of those albums that is open to interpretation but the tracks do indeed seem to follow a theme though it is vague purposely to leave the subject open to conjecture. So I was impressed with White Willow's album. The music is ambient, symphonic and haunting. The musicianship is excellent. The lyrics are compelling and Sylvia is definitely an enchanting vocalist. I think many prog fans will enjoy this album as much as I have.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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