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The Former Life - Electric Stillness CD (album) cover

ELECTRIC STILLNESS

The Former Life

 

Crossover Prog

3.88 | 21 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Electric Stillness' - The Former Life (7/10)

The Former Life is a band fuelled by the musical partnership and chemistryof Matteo Ballarin and Andrea De Nardi, two young proggers with a vested love for many of the prog rock legends. With half of the full band having been in a Pink Floyd tribute band, it wouldn't be beyond the realm of reason to guess that this new Italian act is largely mellow, soft and melodic. Although the influence of Floyd and other progressive acts is clear in The Former Life's sound, they fuse this vintage inspiration with the likes of jazz fusion and modern rock. "Electric Stillness" is a meeting place of the old and new, and with the retrospective recent addition of an eighth track to the album, The Former Life have given their debut a flow and structure that the original version lacked.

If anything, it is clear that Ballarin and De Nardi are incredibly inspired musicians, putting several years worth of ideas into this album. "Electric Stillness" feels as such for the variety of sound and style that's been put into it. Although the opener "Sundering Jewel"s atmosphere oriented piano gives the initial impression of the band fusing a strong classical sound into rock, "Hijacked" goes for something new, treading close to jazz fusion instrumentation and the syncopated rhythms of post-punk. Although The Former Life flirt with the prospect of sounding scattered and aimless by incorporating so many different sounds into their sonic brew, "Electric Stillness" saves itself by reintroducing these styles again throughout the album. "London Rain" takes the listener back to a bouncy fusion sound, sporting the not-inconsiderable axe skill of Ballarin. The most pronounced element of The Former Life's sound consists of a modern-sounding take on progressive rock.

Perhaps somewhat like the style legends Porcupine Tree, the vintage prog sounds of synths and soaring guitar leads are fused into what is otherwise a rock style very aware of its contemporaries. Indeed, this idea of fusing the old and new is a concept about as old as progressive rock itself, but The Former Life do it a good service. Often, the band will explore several different styles within a different song, and the transitions are kept smooth, thanks to a focused approach to songwriting. Even above the impressive guitar work, the vocals are the strongest part of the band. They're both pleasantly dramatic and melodic, and do well to compliment the music's slightly melancholic atmosphere. The Former Life do all of these things with a generally mellow approach, and although it would have been nice to hear "Electric Stillness" leap out with something more assertive once in a while, each song is solid and memorable, thanks largely in part to the vocal melodies.

In its original incarnation, "Electric Stillness" accomplished a strong consistency from song- to-song, but as an album, the flow was left feeling like a broken circle, working towards something but never reaching it. This issue has been remedied by the addition of "Fragments of the Jewel", a piece that gives me the impression that The Former Life came to the same conclusion. Although it works well on its own as one of The Former Life's more atmospheric pieces, it provides the denouement that "Electric Stillness" lacked otherwise. Connecting to "Sundered Jewel" with its title and even reprising some of the album's most memorable ideas from "Belong to the Stars", "Fragments of the Jewel" is a very welcome addition to the experience. If you got the chance to hear the album last year, I'd recommend you hear it again with this revised finale. It gives the album the conclusion it deserved. The Former Life aren't yet doing anything of a truly original or distinct nature on "Electric Stillness", but they have demonstrated some great skill here, both in regards to their compositions and the way they have conveyed them in the recorded medium. I look forward to hearing where they go next!

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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