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Vienna Circle - White Clouds CD (album) cover

WHITE CLOUDS

Vienna Circle

 

Neo-Prog

3.97 | 74 ratings

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Meegan
5 stars Hello everyone this is my first album review as a member of Progarchives. After reading it I would appreciate if you could Give me some feedback on how I did and what I could do better next time, it would be much appreciated.

White Clouds is a concept album, and this is my interpretation of it, I'm not quite sure if this is 100% percent accurate however this is what I have gathered from the album after listening to it 20 or so times:

White Clouds (Beginning) The album begins with the main character sitting on the English shore. Seagulls can be heard in the background. He begins to reflect on his experiences growing up on the English coast, however he feels that he needs to move on. His optimism towards the future is expressed in the line "There will be white clouds beyond the hills." Overall, the song sets up the album well with a kind of mellow but optimistic tone to the guitar.

First Night In Berlin The song begins with the sound of train in the background. He begins to describe his experiences on his first day in Berlin. Then the music begins to pick up in the background after he describes those around him in Germany turning against him as World War I had just broken out. The tone of the album changes from optimistic to hopeless, and the main character begins to feel that he has no hope of returning to a world of optimism. Other then the story transitioning too quickly between optimism to despair, this song introduces the main plot very well. However that could be expressive of how the world changes very quickly when a war begins.

Stars Of May The main character decides that he is going to leave Germany and return to England, however is denied at customs because the two countries are at war. He decides that he is going to have to return to Berlin and try to live life behind enemy lines. He describes what life is like living alone. He then reflects on the outbreak of World War I, and comes to the conclusion that humanity may have it's problems, however violence is not the answer to these problems. Musically this is one of the heaviest songs on the album, and as a big fan of Heavy Prog, it's also one of my favorites. From this point on, the album is a lot more instrumental than it is in the previous two songs. This is the last song that really introduces the character's situation.

The Morning Fields Of Amber Grey I assume that this is much later on in the war than the episode in Stars Of May. The character walks the broken streets of Berlin, observing all of the obvious changes that have come about as a result of the war. His tone of despair is evident in this song. He begins to pray to God to be able to get through the darkness around him (I believe, when I say this is my own interpretation parts like this can be very dodgy...). This is the longest song on the album, at a little over a 11 minutes 20 seconds. The synthesizer becomes more prominent in this song than in earlier songs, giving it more of a Neo-Prog edge to it. The instrumentals in this song are on point with the subgenre. Overall, the song is very good musically, however it is a dull point in the album lyrically.

Argonne Wood This song is just interviews with World War I veterans of both Allied and Central backgrounds reflecting on The Argonne Forest. This battle was in 1918, which further backs up what I said about the previous song. The interviews are pretty interesting, and they add an aspect of reality to the album. The soldiers describe mustard gas and other aspects of the battle.

Falling This is from a solider's perspective in The Argonne Forest. It describes his experience and ultimately his death. This adds to the reality aspect of the album once again. This is probably the heaviest song on the album. This song just adds to the wonderful musicianship that the Davis' brothers have to offer.

A Break In The Clouds This song brings us back to the story. This is a ballad, and the piano riffs are perfect, making the track serene however also keeping the overall tone of the album at this point. This is the point where the main character realizes that his hope of returning to a normal life is the only thing that drives him at this point. He decides that he would rather die trying to achieve his goal than stay lost in a world of despair.

Conquered Air This is in the dying days of the Great War. The character has returned back to Berlin in hopes of catching a train out of the city to somewhere else beyond the German border. While the passengers are waiting to board the train, they look to the sky hopeful that the daily bombing raids won't delay their exodus from the German Capitol. An air raid alarm sounds, and the main character runs for cover and begins to pray to God for safety. The song goes into an instrumental reflective of the bombing run, and then it begins to describe the Allied soldiers gradual advance on the open battlefield into German territory. The bombing lasts through the night.

Her Green Eyes Blew Goodbye The main character gets out from his hiding place during the bombing raid. It is the morning after, and he is describing his walk through the city. Berlin is in ruins. He describes a man grieving over the loss of a loved one in the streets, and he describes the world as having an illness. During his travel on the street, he comes across a pile of rubble. Inside the rubble, I believe that he finds a bible or holy text of some sort ("Then on the ground/ I found the words you left for me"). This is the shift in the album. His tone returns to his former optimistic tone in the early parts of the album. The piano in this song adds a lot to the emotion surrounding his situation. This song is probably the best musically of any on the album.

White Clouds (Finale) On the final song of the album, the main character begins to reflect on his experiences of the last four years. He comes to the conclusion that war is hell, and the only thing that can get you through that hell is the hope that the world will be different tomorrow. The most important line of the album (in my opinion) is in this song.

"Come with me we'll find a place to go/I'll be the one who lifts you up/Look to the clouds and mourn the millions/Gone that kept their pride"

The lyric reflects all of the thematic aspects of the album perfectly (I will discuss them later). The album ends with the line "There will be white clouds beyond the hills", portraying the return to optimism and hope for the main character.

Themes War is hell. The album describes how a man's life is broken by governmental conflict. However it also describes the psychological effects as well as physical effects of being directly involved. The album describes wars as some of humanity's darkest times.

The only way to get through a time of darkness and despair is to have hope in a better future. This theme parallels the last, using the background of World War I as one of humanity's darkest hours. The album suggests that looking to the future becomes our only option when humanity falls into a pit of despair. The main character comes to realize this in A Break In The Clouds.

(Subtheme): Faith in God is the best way to look to a better tomorrow. As you could tell I shied away from the details of the album that I believed to be theist. This is because I am not quite sure that the people who wrote this have a belief in a prime mover, however I did gather some evidence in the album to back up this conclusion. The only points in the middle of the album that the main character seems to have any hope is when he is reflecting his ideas to God (or who I think to be God), which expresses that faith is the best way to remain optimistic.

Pros The album is a musical masterpiece. There is no song that lacks anything musically on the entire CD. The Davis brothers are incredible musicians. Also lyrically, the album has a fairly complex story and has some fairly in depth themes. All of the lyrics of the album seem to tie together and flow very well, allowing for an overall coherence of the album. The music fits perfectly with the portrayed setting, emotions, and lyrics of the album. Truly incredible.

Cons If I had to say that there was anything bad about this album, I would say that it lacked character development. However I do understand that it is an album, and not a novel so creating a very dynamic character is not something that could really be accomplished in 60 minutes of music.

Overall, I would rate the album a 10/10. If you have never listened to it, you definitely should.

Once again, I would appreciate feedback on my review very much. If you have any ideas about what I should do better next time, then let me know. Also if you have any ideas about the album that you would like to bring up to me, that would be appreciated too. I am very open-minded.

Meegan | 5/5 |

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