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Aisles - 4:45am CD (album) cover





3.35 | 60 ratings

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3 stars The band's third studio album sees them taking a step toward more radio-friendly pop-oriented songs.

1. "4:45am" (4:06) like a late 1970s AOR song from ART IN AMERICA or RUSH. I have to admit to being a little surprised at the directional choice exhibited by this song--obviously chosen to represent the band's new vision/sound in its being the album's opener. The extraordinary musicianship and dedication to complex minutia is, of course, still obvious, but this is definitely more of a pop-oriented song. (8.75/10)

2. "Gallarda Yarura" (4:32) a long guitar-centric instrumental that could very well have supported vocals makes me wonder if lyricists were either preoccupied with other parts of life or whether Sebastian Vergara was not as heart-fully engaged in the project. (8.666667/10)

3. "Shallow and Daft" (4:52) there's quite a bit of 1980s jazz-pop in this one--sounding a lot like HOWARD JONES, ICEHOUSE, and/or JOHNNY HATES JAZZ. Interesting choices for radio samples they included in the final minute. Melodically quite pleasing but technically and instrumentally quite a step down from the complexity of their past stuff. (8.5/10)

4. "Back my Strength" (4:54) 1980s BRIAN FERRY! Such a simple four-chord song that I feel quite disappointed. Even the beautiful little delicate passage in the middle is diminished by the standard radio fare that it is sandwiched between (though I do like the homage to WHITESNAKE in the instrumental guitar solo). (8.5/10)

5. "The Sacrifice" (5:08) lone acoustic guitar being gently picked shows promise--raises my hopes. Sebastian's delicate vocal (later harmonized) matches perfectly. Gorgeous. But, it never really develops into anything more than this (which leaves it locked out of the prog world, relegated to pop-stage craft). Even the buildup and crescendo in the fifth minute is not enough--more emotion than compositional genius. (8.75/10)

6. "The Ship" (0:57) ship noises--more engine and industrial gear than water.

7. "Intermission" (5:02) the opening weave here seems to suggest that "Side 2" might be more proggy.I love this! The long sustained notes up front make me think that there might be an electric violin involved. Something we might have heard from BRUCE COCKBURN when he had HUGH MARSH working with him. I even love the more percussion- oriented reprise at the end. Great instrumental! My favorite song on the album. (9.5/10)

8. "Sorrow" (6:57) acoustic guitars being picked with more traditional percussion sounds (like talking drum!) and Sebastian and harmony vocals worked into a nice gentle weave. I love the deep throb of the bass play. The interplay of the two or three guitarists alone is magical! I don't really like the way Sebastian's voice is compressed and held in the back. And why is the beautiful female vocalist's name (Constanza MaulÚn) uncredited? My other top three song. (13.375/15)

9. "Hero" (8:11) a slow methodical progression of blues-rock guitar arppegi (using a soundscape quite similar to that of THE GATHERING on the twin towers of "Analog Park" and "Herbal Movement") with support drums and bass and frenzied synth noises flitting in and out turns into a more familiar Aisles style at the 90-second mark with some cool time and thematic twists and turns accented by guitar, synth, percussion, and vocalise flourishes here and there and ended by an almost Gregorian chant bridge at the four-minute mark that takes us into a very ENIGMA-feeling cave/cathedral place for a minute or so. Drums and distant power chords and aggressive but distant guitar play join in during the sixth minute as DAVID GILMOUR/BRIAN MAY-like strummed chords and RICHARD WRIGHT-like synth solos a bit. At the seven-minute mark the joinder and presence of the string quartet becomes quite noticeable. The final minute sees the song resort to beautiful classical guitar being picked over the remnants of the string quartet. Nice ending to a surprisingly long instrumental. hard to believe that these formidable vocalists did not create anything magical to complete the fully-dimensional realization of this one! Still, I call this a win--and it definitely pleases one's prog sensibilities! My second favorite song on the album. (18/20)

10. "Melancholia" (10:41) a little slow in its distorted blues-rock orientation, the full and theatric story and lyrics get a bit lost in the one-dimensional three-chord music that plays pretty much from start to finish. I like the way the instrumental portion of the music recedes over the final 90 seconds while the vocals lag behind, staying forward. (17.333333/20)

Total time (55:19)

Were it not for "Side 2" (the last four songs) this album would not be worth any prog lover's while.

B-/3.5 stars; a bit of a disappointment; as if the band was torn as to which stylistic direction(s) to go and was also kind of forcing an album out while lacking inspired, fully-committed contributions from the full complement of collaborators.

BrufordFreak | 3/5 |


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