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The Windmill - The Continuation CD (album) cover

THE CONTINUATION

The Windmill

 

Heavy Prog

3.95 | 196 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
5 stars The Windmill are a fantastic bunch of musicians hailing from Norway and this is their second album "The Continuation". From the outset the album shines with some of the most accomplished virtuoso musicianship of recent years; Jean Robert Viita (keys, vocals), Erik Borgen (guitars, vocals), Stig Andre Clason (guitars), Morten Clason (sax, flute, guitars, vocals, keys), Arnfinn Isaksen (bass) and Sam Arne Noland (drums). The opening title track (3:16) is stunning with gorgeous layers of flute, and an ambient texture that has an ethereal quality. This pastoral instrumental is a beautiful relaxing melody and hooked me with its powerful harmonies. My eyes were watering such was the beauty of the melody.

This is followed by the epic composition 'The Masque' (12:50) with very pleasant soothing vocals, melodic piano, and an instrumental breakout that has a glorious guitar solo and wonderful flute and keyboards balancing out the measured percussion and bass. The chorus has an infectious melody; "The Masque can help you to escape from yourself, The Masque can take you away." The soundscape has a peculiarly 70s vibe especially with the grinding Hammond and overall essence. Again, I was simply blown away by the musicianship and structure of the music. 'Not Alone' (9:12) is a quiet balladic song with some angelic piano chimes and lilting flute floating on layers of bass and drums. The vocals are crystalline and emotive, drawing me into the melancholy of the lyrics that centre on loneliness and assurance that there is an answer and a way out. The verses lead to a mind blowing lead guitar solo that soars over a descending melody, with Hammond and flute layers. The vocals return to a higher register; Viita's vocals are impressive with their towering presence.

'Giant Prize' (3:17) is a faster track and the flute is more like the Jethro Tull sound. The harmony actually sounds familiar like an old 70s song, reminding me of Tull the funkadelic reggae rhythm, is agreeable. I love that flute phrase and the way the song switches time sigs to some gorgeous harmonies. The flute and lead guitar break is delightful and then the track moves into a key change. It sounds a lot more commercial that the rest of the album like a single, but this is a great little song breaking up the longer epic pieces.

'The Gamer' (24:42) is the last track and I was actually sad that it was drawing to a close. Then I checked the running length of this and was pleased to see it was a mammoth epic clocking 24:42! Time to sit back for some heavenly headphone bliss. The Hammond pounds out for a while then it breaks into minimalist piano, a pretty melody on flute accompanies, and already I am drawn into this masterful instrumentation. The vocals come in with a melody that has a Marillion quality. I love the vocals, so pleasant and clear, every word is intelligible, and it makes such a difference when you can relax into the lyrics "you'll soon get used to it and the wonders will fade, will this be the end of the day, you need to come with me, you need some help to forget.. open your eyes". The harmonies sound a bit like vintage Pink Floyd, and there are some beautiful images in the lyrics such as rivers, sky, and peaceful landscapes. Eventually the song switches into an instrumental break with swathes of buzzing synths and electronics. The lead guitar takes flight over the measured rhythm, with synths swooping down maintaining a strong melody. The phased effect on the guitar resonates nicely and the track builds up with a wall of sound dominated by keyboards. Suddenly a heavy distorted guitar riff chugs into gear, and the song returns eventually to the main melody heard earlier.

At 9:30 the track changes time sigs with Hammond pads, tinkling piano and a chunky guitar riff striking at the heart of the sound. A heavier guitar instrumental blasts through eventually, and the song takes on a darker quality. The lyrics are more forced and the vocals make it clear; "don't you know who I am?.. I don't want to leave this room.. please just leave me.." The guitar domination is offset by a nice woodwind section, and a piano presence that at times sounds dissonant with irregular rhythms that somehow merge into the heavier textures. At 15:40 the song cruises into jazz cabaret mode with wonderful saxophone sounds and a jaunty rhythm. That rollicking sound is enhanced by honky tonk piano and a solid gold performance on lead guitar and sax. At 18 minutes in the sound returns to a metal sound with distorted riffs and a glorious shimmering Hammond. The lyrics are intriguing; "A feeling of reality somehow hits my mind, suddenly I understand I really haven't died, a slight achievement.. I tried to but I really couldn't manage, I wanted to but the games had all the advantage". The music sounds like Procol Harum in a sense especially the keyboards. Drawing to a close, the track has moved into many twists and turns, but finally culminates in a Hammond and guitar feast for the ears. A masterpiece track on this brilliant album; really the icing on the cake when it comes to the full on progressive approach by The Windmill.

This album really took me by surprise, as I was just after a casual listen to some prog on a Sunday afternoon. I did not expect this to be such a stunning piece of musicianship with some of the most mesmerising melodies that have caressed my ears. On subsequent listens it grown even stronger on the ear. The gorgeous flute passages, the calming atmospheres, the harmonies, the incredible lead guitar that howls to the stratosphere, the intense epic, and soothing vocals with infectious melodies; it was overwhelming to my senses. This is a masterful achievement from The Windmill, and comes highly recommended as one of the best releases of 2013!

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |

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