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Wobbler - Hinterland CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.83 | 346 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Wobbler was talked about quite a bit for a few months back when they released this debut album. I was curious, but only recently I decided to check out Hinterland. Using only vintage instruments, Wobbler give us a hint as to what classic progressive rock records would have sounded like if they had some of the technology we have today (if only, if only...). With said instruments, they perform an amalgamation of basically every classic prog style. I'll make it clear: I never frown on retro-prog type bands for being derivative of 70's bands (whether you admit it or not, The Flower Kings and Neal Morse have developed their own sound) and frankly, I even prefer some of them. Wobbler, unfortunately, may be a bit too derivative though. Where as in Roine Stolt's music, I can hear influences, in this music I can hear replications. The instrument choices must be the reason, but surely there are other ways to use them. Let's look at this album a little deeper:

The album opens with a short instrumental that is apparently recalling some event from 1652 - Battle of Plymouth? death of John Cotton, founder of Boston? You decide - and it's OK I suppose. It doesn't serve much of a purpose. Then we move into the near-28-minute epic title track. The musician's strut their stuff and that stuff is solid. The sound's atmosphere is very rich and saturated with nostalgia. Nostalgia, however, must be anhydrous, because the vocals turn out to sound very dry. They kind of put themselves in a Catch-22 with the vocals here because while it was a good idea to keep the amount of vocals low, epics that contain some vocal parts here and there often make the song feel disjointed and/or incomplete. This is definitely the case here. To make matters worse, the epic seems to have been written as an epic for the sole purpose of the length. Epics either need to be connected by narrative lyrics and/or by recurring musical themes. Regardless of whether or not the lyrics are telling a story (I apologize for not being able to locate the lyrics), there aren't enough of them to make it seem unified, and the music doesn't present any images to me to help out either. It has all the ebb and flow required for an epic, but, besides becoming intolerably boring, it feels like a bunch of random ideas that the band meticulously fit together. Flow is useless without direction.

Fortunately, the next two songs don't suffer as much from the faults of the first half. The next track is probably what the first one should have been. It is less than of the length and just as dynamic. I still don't feel like I'm getting anything special out of them, but I'm content with listening to it. Then, the closer is a 15-minute instrumental that has all of the same strengths and weaknesses as before, but it does benefit from being instrumental.

This music is good, there is no doubt about that. I don't mind that they sound very much like other bands, but that gives me one more reason not to listen to them. When your sound doesn't stand out, you have to compare compositional value. While the riffs are good - each one is well thought out and executed - the album just feels like a collection of individual pieces that feel like a collection of individual riffs. The pieces sound like they belong together, and the riffs sound like they go together in the small picture, but in the big picture it turns out to be quite incoherent.

Moatilliatta | 3/5 |


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