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Athelstone - The Quiet Before The Storm CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

2.98 | 17 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Athelstone are primarily an instrumental band that focus on musical textures to convey dark and light shades of emotion. One can take what they wish from the music on 'The Quiet Before The Storm' as there is little in the way of conceptual frameworks to latch onto. I found this to be one of the drawbacks though as the music that most resonates with me contains some kind of story line or at least a concept that draws me in deeper, such as Echolyn's 'Mei'.

The pieces are arranged well in terms of structure, beginning with unusual atmospherics that transported me into an airport, waiting for a plane where sounds fade out over time and become drones as the planes come and go, and the boredom sets in of delayed flights. I related to this and really enjoyed the way the music builds in volume and intensity as waves of keyboards wash over cascading down in a beautiful soundscape. The music spirals and swirls, melted and tangled together by the guitars of Daniel Cassar, the bass of Ryan Vella Bonello, the cello of Rachel Attard Portughes, the drums of Matthew Vella and a myriad of dissonant sounds.

'Jaaz' opens with stripped back acoustic jazz in an improvised laid back style. It is joined by swinging percussion; very relaxing and feels like you are sitting in a jazz club sinking back a few margaritas. The cool scat vocals by Dana McKeon further augment this mood. Suddenly things get out of control as the guitars distort and contort and the drums become frenetic waking you up with a jolt. It settles into a heavy guitar riff and then it dies again into the smooth jazz sounds. The saxophone of Fabian Bonello has a nice tone along with those dirty guitar drones. There is another tantrum of noise before it ends with the guitars and sax battling for supremacy.

Finally we wind up back in another epic 'Coming Full Circle'. Ambient atmospherics are heard over swells of keyboards played by Daniel Cassar. This time it sounds like we are in a train station; perhaps the metaphor of waiting is here too. The music builds with an effective drone and some fast guitar rhythms. There is peace and a lonely acoustic vibration is heard playing a jazz melody. The mellotron sounds lovely by Matthew Vella, and it has a nice percussion tempo. There is a scorching sax solo that comes in at 11 and a half minutes, along with shimmering Hammond. The effects of children playing echoes eerily as violining guitar and a resonating percussion emanates; a stunning passage of music. A heavy guitar riff locks in and some nice vibraphone and harmonics. The music switches to a heavy polyphonic riff and some spacey synth washes.

The cello joins the landscape and then it builds to a crescendo ascending to a droning guitar ringing out. The sound is a psychedelicacy of simmering feedback in a sonic cauldron. When all goes quiet a measured percussion begins and some glissando space rock guitar echoes into the night. It is reminiscent of early Pink Floyd in their spaciest mood. This is a lengthy piece of immersive music but undoubtedly the highlight of 'The Quiet Before The Storm'. The album takes a few listens to grab your ear but overall this is an atmospheric and compelling album with a lot of variation of style.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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