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Wobbler - Hinterland CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.85 | 470 ratings

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5 stars 2005 seems to have been a really good year for prog. While I wasn't born in, or even saw the year unfold in my very eyes, it was the year that gave us Ghost Reveries, Frances The Mute, Octavarium, Alaska, and today's topic of Hinterland, the debut album for the eccentric retro prog rock group of Wobbler. I have known about the existence of Wobbler since I decided to get more into modern prog, and after listening to From Silence to Somewhere, I've been enjoying their fairly short, but very consistently good discography. They are one of those bands that take pride in quality over quantity, usually taking their sweet time in creating and perfecting their albums that only have 4-5 songs on each, with the only one reaching past that being Rites At Dawn. However, I'd say their best work yet has to be their debut strangely enough, that being Hinterland.

Maybe it is the recency bias with this being the last Wobbler album I have listened to, and the fact it is the only album from them I got on vinyl, but this is such a great record in my opinion.

This feels like a huge love letter to prog rock from the 70s, more so than retro prog already is. This album is like one huge fusion between the very classical inflictions of Keith Emerson's keyboards, the pastoral folk sounds of Gryphon, the medieval charm of Gentle Giant, a very Yes-like approach to scale and ambitions, and sections that feel very in-line with Comus or Spirogyra. Whilst others may find this to be ripping off these wonderful bands and their style, to me they aren't ripping off, but doing what works, and giving it their own unique spin on flavors. Tracks like the big 27 minute epic of Hinterland, or the very profound Rubato Industry, may have moments that feel like Gentle Giant or ELP songs, but they never distract from the entire grandness of such songs.

In fact, I'd double down and say these qualities enhance these songs. Without the very ELP sounding keyboards on the beginning of Hinterland, or the almost Apocalypse in 9/8 movement from Clair Obscur, this album, and Wobbler as a whole wouldn't have been the same for me. It is kind of like an I Spy book, if you just remove all the objects from the book except for the ones you have to find, it just becomes boring. Without the clear inspirational material, Wobbler would be left in a blank state, making their music feel pointless. You need all those objects in those pages, you need the very elaborate, but very nice to look at set pieces. Wobbler is like the creator of these pages, using whatever they find; their own little toys to create this wonderful set piece.

Musically, I think this is one of the finest retro prog workings. The band really lets their work flow shine, adding on so much to these big grand suites, not holding back in the slightest. It is said that Hinterland was once a lot shorter, but the band kept adding on and on to it, making it the big epic it is now, which I think is a delightful fun fact. Obviously the two other songs on here (not counting Serenade for 1652) would probably get overshadowed by this giant epic, which is probably the only critique I can give to this record, but even then they are still really good songs that deserve much recognition. Overall, what Wobbler crafted here in these tracks, whilst quite long, are quite eventful and packed to the punch with amazing musicianship.

If there is one Norwegian prog rock record that I'd give to someone looking for some really great symphonic prog, I would look no further than here as this is a mighty fine gemstone. It is a prog rock album that does more than just the fundamentals and not only crafts a very rewarding, but very celebratory album. It is a celebration of the past, and one that I can see others looking at in fondness and inspiration later down the line.

Dapper~Blueberries | 5/5 |


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