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Look To Windward - In Fantasy CD (album) cover

IN FANTASY

Look To Windward

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.00 | 1 ratings

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TCat
4 stars "Look to Windward" is an Experimental / Post Metal project started by Andrew McCully from New Zealand in 2008. After a few years of work, the first album was released in 2010 along with an EP. Since then, one other EP was released in 2014. "In Fantasy" is the project's 2nd album released in May of 2019. Andrew gathered together several musicians to help out with this album including himself on vocals, guitars, keyboards and programming. There are two vocalists; Emily Looker and Benjamin Morely. Jonathan Sawyer provides drums and percussion on 2 tracks. Also in the line up are Guy Harrison on trumpet, Sam Loveridge on violin, Russell Smith on clarinet, Andy Smith on lead guitar, Alex Selman on piano and acoustic guitar on the track "Real Flames", and Oli Smith who provides the growling vocals on a few of the tracks.

The songs started out with no intention of being tied together in any way, but Andrew soon discovered that they seemed to have a common theme of the descent and self-destruction of humanity. "Early Morning Forecast" was written 10 years ago for one of Andrew's previous bands (Microfiction) but was never used until now because it fit in well with the album theme. It starts out heavy with a Rush-like beginning, but soon mellows out when the vocals begin while retaining it's fast tempo. The original riff reappears from time to time between verses. Things slow down quite a bit in the middle and vocals continue surrounded by keys, soft guitars, percussion and lots of layer percussion before it resumes its heavier nature. "Shells of Ire" has a Heavy Prog beginning and has three vocalists, one of them sings with dirty vocals, so be aware of that. The beginning heaviness and rough voice suddenly gives was to quietness, some meandering before clean vocals start against a pleasant sounding synth, quite a contrast to the beginning. The melody and structure is more complex than the first track. In unison dual vocals come in later and they later harmonize. A sudden jump in intensity bring in the dirty vocals again for a section before solo female vocals finish it all out.

The title track "In Fantasy" is a bit longer at just over 8 minutes. It starts with the tolling of a bell and a more laid-back style. Emily begins singing a lovely melody with some frantic drum passages keeping things on the edge, but for now, things stay lovely, and for the 2nd verse, harmonies are added and a trumpet plays along as support. Things quiet down before the halfway point as electronic percussion keeps a slow beat as a violin plays, then sudden dark, chanting style vocals come in and then Emily eventually starts singing again, the track remaining on the soft side, but teetering on the edge of becoming heavier, as it does later retaining the same tempo. The keys work to keep the vocal sections on a brighter side when they come back in. This is an excellent 5 star track with a lot of styles and textures and beautiful vocals. Very nice!

"Hydrocarbonsoul" is a guitar-heavy instrumental track that remains quite progressive throughout. Frantic drumming pushes the track along, but does so as the meters changes from time to time. Andy Smith plays a complex solo later. "Calming Waters" comes next, and is an epic style track at over 10 minutes. It begins with spoken words passed between three characters know as "The Travellers". Soft guitar then precede melodic vocals. Drums establish a slow, soft rhythm as the violin soon joins in as Benjamin's vocals continue. There is a sudden increase in heaviness and Emily begins to sing another melody. Vocals trade back and forth as they take turns telling the story as characters. The music grows in complexity and steps up in intensity as it goes on. The progressivness also increases as the instrumental section begins around 4 minutes. A trumpet comes in for a while, then the track suddenly goes a lot softer, choral effects begin as synth layers and shimmering guitars meander along, but the atmosphere is dark and foreboding. The trumpet rejoins later, but the atmosphere remains as before. At 8 minutes, an acoustic guitar brings in another sudden increase in loudness and an exciting guitar driven section pushes forward. Emily's vocals return at 9 minutes and soon after, things get soft again. This is another excellent track with a lot of dynamics and progressive passages.

"Real Flames" is another older track written at the same time as "Early Morning Forecast". This one has a somewhat tropical feel at first, is a bit brighter, but gets heavier as it continues. A nice effect is added when the string effect adds a staccato sound. The music goes off into a soft, jazzy style and bring in another melody in the vocals. The sound of this track is quite a bit brighter than the other tracks on the album, but it remains quite progressive changing in intensity, meter and style. Even though overall the track is bright, it still ventures into darker and heavier territory from time to time. The main theme that it keeps returning to is light though. There is an excellent guitar solo at the end. After this, there is a quick transitory track called " . . . (the anthropic burn-off)". It's a menacing sound produced by keyboard layers. Next is the track "Glint", which is a re-recording of a track from the "Kepler" EP. Programmed drums provide a insistent beat and layers of noisy guitars create a wall. Clean vocals begin, and then the trumpet joins the fray and dirty vocals begin. Later, the vocals pass off to Emily and later heavy guitars pound out a tricky progression while the trumpet begins again on top of it all. Soon, dirty vocals return and pass off to clean vocals again. All of this happens in a short 4 minute track.

The last track is the 9+ minute track "Aquamarina". It begins quite softly with acoustic guitars and minimal synths. Wordless vocals from Benjamin meander along with the music, but the spotlight gets handed over to a clarinet that continues to play softly. After 2 minutes, Benjamin continues to sing, the melody as meandering as the instruments. A sudden interruption later brings the song out of its trancelike state as the full band comes in with a heavy progressive section. Strange harmonies come in later in vocal layers. The music soon returns to the softer sound and the clarinet returns with some glitchy electronic effects and electronic percussion, which work to build the intensity back up slowly. Instead of any burst of energy however, there is an excerpt of Carl Sagan's keynote speech at NCSU on February 9, 1990. When this finishes, there is a great guitar solo from Andy. A final vocal section closes off the track in a dramatic ending.

This is a great album, but I can't help but think the two older tracks tend to take away from the entire experience a bit. Those two tracks are not bad, its just that they distract from the power of the rest of the album. At the same time, there are some definite 5-star tracks here that make it all very worth while. The longer tracks are quite epic, but even some of the shorter tracks pack quite a lot of dynamic and progressive qualities, with maybe only the first track being the most "pop" sounding of them all. Nothing else on here is really standard enough to be considered pop. The progressive aspects definitely outweigh everything else. In the end, this is definitely an album worth checking out, especially for the stronger tracks. The album is by all means worth all 4 of its stars that I give it. It only misses the highest ranking because of the few weaker tracks that take away from the power of the album. The combination of vocalists and their styles definitely work towards the greatness of the album.

TCat | 4/5 |

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