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Wobbler - Rites At Dawn CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.98 | 491 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars There are times when I buy a CD and I know very soon that I am going to love it. Since discovering this site and that I really enjoy this music, I have been going Prog wild, you could say. I've been checking out the early classics, the neo stuff, the 90s, and the greatest of the latest. There have been winners and losers and in-betweeners in any period, but always there is the excitement of finding something to treasure in my ears and between them.

Wobbler showed up one day while cruising Amazon and the cover attracted me. I sampled the album and decided it might just be good enough. Great choice!

A lot of people here have been pointing out the similarities to Yes, and certainly there are many similarities: electric guitar distorted and clean, acoustic guitar, all flavours of keyboards, cool bass guitar, choral-style singing, odd time signatures, and everything you could want in symphonic Prog, including flute! However, I don't think the vocals sound as Jon Anderson-like as some have written and the music sounds quite distinct to my ears. To say Wobbler sound like Yes is like saying Uriah Heep sound like Deep Purple. There are similarities but still enough differences.

The album opens with a short peaceful instrumental and then goes straight into the totally retro symphonic Prog of 'La Bealtaine'. We are off to a good start.

But it's the thrilling musical ride of 'Into Orbit' that is the first real treat off the album. Rocking with distorted guitar and some ripping organ and Moog solos, quick temp and time signature changes, slow moods and rollicking quick sections, this song has become one of my recent favourites. There's even a short vocal part that sounds like the Moody Blues.

'This Past Presence' opens with gentle acoustic guitar, flute and piano, accompanied by the vocals and a bit of mellotron. But about 1:40 into the song, the pace suddenly changes and there's a wild guitar solo followed by some fast fingers on the ivory before the pace slows again. The group chooses to stick with the melody and pretty music rather than jump around all over the place. There are some hurried steps and then a powerfully symphonic segment led by mellotron before shifting back to the rocking piano which supports a short flute solo. A cascade of piano notes brings the song to a close.

'A Faerie's Play' is the shortest song on the album, aside from the bookend instrumentals. It begins peacefully but quickly drops a Moody Blues-ish burst of drama, followed by a quick jazzy Yes segment, which then rolls of into something more like Glass Hammer. There's a marching snare drum, more mellotron, Moog, and just overall wonderfully crafted music. I find the vocals, though good enough, don't stand out as particularly skillful at times. Wobbler do a great job of placing just enough vocals into the music so that it works without ever becoming tiresome.

Next up, 'The River', and my favourite track off the album. A mini epic in composition, the song starts with an instrumental introduction in a rock out style with some sax that reminds me of King Crimson. Introduction over, a gentle and haunting clean electric guitar sweeps us to the first lyrics. Here I find the vocals sound a bit weak, but the building music keeps interest high. Mellotron. Flute. And then a very Yes-like shift, a softer segment, and an eruption of symphonic prog rock. I'm in heaven when the chorus comes in, three voices at least, singing a beautiful melody and one of the vocal highlights of the album.

The song pauses and enters a very classical-influenced instrumental passage where all musicians and many instruments contribute to one amazing piece of music. If someone asked me what progressive rock sounded like in a single-song summary, I'd have this song ready for their ears.

If I have anything to say negatively about this album it's that the vocals usually lack a little in skill. The opening and closing instrumentals might not be necessary but they give the effect of entering a special sonic place where this remarkable retro sound exists. Then we awaken and the CD ends. It's not a bad thing at all.

Finally, the length of this album is just right. I have listened to some albums that sound great at first but seem to overstay their welcome after 50 or 60 minutes.

I would love to give this album 5 stars. I was thinking to give it 4 and say 4.5 but as I listened to it again I found I liked it even more. A strike against it might be its retro approach or its somewhat weak vocals but I think it's a really well-crafted piece of work. Others have said Wobbler have really improved since their first two albums. If that's so then they have reached that high place. So I will give it 5 stars and recommend it highly. If you disagree with the 5-star rating you might still likely give it 4.

FragileKings | 5/5 |


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