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Wobbler - Rites At Dawn CD (album) cover

RITES AT DAWN

Wobbler

Symphonic Prog


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poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Fragile part II

It's really amazing what a progress can be seen in this symphonic prog band from H�¸nefoss, Norway with the release of this magic album - Rites at Dawn! I named my review Fragile part II, because of the similarities with legendary album Fragile by symphonic prog godfathers - Yes. I don't mean to mention the term similarities in negative aspect, but as spiritual inspiration and continuation of the classic way of songwriting and playing symphonic prog in modern actualities of 2011. Without imitating roughly the old classic, Rites at Dawn by Wobbler carries the tradition of making the exact same type of symphonic prog album in precise manner.

It fills my soul with absolute same type of emotion as the above Yes' classic; but only as positive power and continuation. On the other hand, it distinguishes from both previous Wobbler's album with maturity and clarification of the conception and ideas, turning into breath-taking and well-constructed masterpiece. From the first note till the last one the album enacts the purpose it was created - to shine and astound the listeners with hypersonic and highly-saturated level of musical waves in typical symphonic prog tradition. Highly recommended and strong candidate for album of the year. 5 stars

Report this review (#451367)
Posted Monday, May 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars, really. I´ve been listening to Rites At Dawn for quite some time now and I found it to be one of those records you just love it when you´re hearing it but as soon as it is over no melody line sticks to you. And I really don´t know why. for this CD is far more focused and better composed than their first album Hinterland. What previously sounded like a mishmash of influences without hooks nor a defined melody line, now is definitly structured and objective. It is ok that the band is not that original. Yes is undoubtly their mighty heroes and you can hear all over the place: the Jon Anderson-like singing, the Squire-ish bass runs, even the keyboards and guitars timbres are unmistakingly derivative of Wakeman´s and Howe´s.

Of course some other influences creep in here and there. On the third track In Orbit, for instance, the vocal harmonies are definitly in the Gentle Giant mold, making it an interesting mix of Yes and GG voices.The bad news are that is clear that the band is trying too hard to emulate their heroes. And Wobbler is still too far behind them to step into their shoes.The good news are that the songwriting here is far superior than on Hinterland. Those guys are evolving and I see this CD as a transitional one. I guess they´ll reach a sound of their own sooner or later, as the 10 minute epic The River shows. This track is the CD´s highlight and proof that Wobbler now can write good symphonic stuff and be different at the same time. Of course their musicanship is awesome as ever and the production is excellent in all aspects.

In the end I think this CD is quite pleasant and promising. They are on the right path. If you like symphonic retro bands in general and the classic Yes/GG sound in particular and don´t care much for originality, this CD is very recommended.

Report this review (#453942)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I looked forward to this release with some anticipation. It's been awhile since WOBBLER's last release, the superb 'Hinterland', which was more of an EP than an album lengthwise. 'Rites At Dawn' thankfully gives us a slightly longer playing time at about 46 minutes.

WOBBLER remind me of ANGLAGARD, but without as much angst or venomous edge, or of LANDBERK but with less 'vemod' and melancholy. However, they combine elements of many other facets of prog rock too, including their very own hallmark of originality. They are one of the few current bands who for me can actually create valid music that is awash with a genuine 70s prog feel. In terms of validity this music is like real gold rather than the gold plating some other bands may offer. The band originate from Norway, it seems that the Scandinavian countries are continuing to offer outstanding talent in all areas of music, including progressive rock.

If you are a fan of 70's progressive rock and you have not heard WOBBLER before, I urge you to listen to this album, I will be astounded if you don't like it. It has more than lived up to my anticipation, in fact it has exceeded it in bucket loads. The musicianship, composition and production are superb. There is less of a medieval essence to the music than expected and there is more plagiarism than I would associate with previous WOBBLER releases, mostly similarities with parts of 'Fragile' by YES. Strange indeed as I haven't noticed that much (if any ?) YES influence in their previous releases !! However, rest assured, overall this is not a bad thing and there is also an original validity to everything.

The album offers 2 very short tracks and 5 longer tracks varying between five and twelve minutes in duration, they are as follows:

'Lucid' : a dreamy and short instrumental intro which sounds unlike its name !!

'La Bealtaine' : a rustic theme is joined by mellotron and then those YES like vocals enter the fray, think 'South Side of the Sky' or even 70's band DRUID on their debut album 'Toward the Sun' . However, it is only about 4 minutes into the track that any YES influence sounds through in the actual musical lines (shape shifters - indeed !!!) and in reality the ideas taken from YES largely adorn and embellish a very original composition.

'In Orbit': pastoral acoustic guitar and oboe take us toward a complex YES like theme that develops into a virtual YES theme, that sounds more like YES than YES !! Those vocals are there again and even that Chris Squire bass line. Five minutes in the themes also owe something to GENESIS circa 'Selling England' including at 6.09 an awesome keyboard run that Tony Banks would have been proud of . However, the whole twelve and half minutes of this epic song is also indelibly stamped with WOBBLER's own trademark sound.

'This Past Presence' ; a pastoral and dream like affair where the occasionally more aggressive passage, contrasts with flute and acoustic guitar and some gorgeous use of mellotron.

'A Faeries's Play': another gorgeous blast of original and 70's influenced prog, possibly the highlight of the album for me.

'The River': more aggressive than some of the previous tracks but still steeped in melody and atmospheric mystery and with some nice use of bassoon.

'Lucid Dreams': rounds off the album where we started, with a short dreamy and angelic instrumental outro..

I'd like to give this album five stars, essentially I feel it's that good and it deserves it, but due to the overly strong homage to YES (which I further state is no bad thing !!), I feel I can only offer 4.5 rounded down to 4. Still, please do listen to it if you can !!

Report this review (#453953)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars (Too) Close to the Edge.

My hopes are high towards that band, and I know my wishful thinking will not change one iota of the result of an album. But I like to think that Wobbler is MY band, my personnal secret island, only playing for my own pleasure. So when I heard something like a song that Yes never recorded but existed, I was anxious. I thought that my little island just been discovered and invaded by the ''Yes Army''.

Wobbler is not a static band, but I deeply (underline deeply) enjoyed their Gentle Giant/ King Crimson/ Harmonium blend...and I wished it stayed the same. Alas, the Norweigan Warriors changed for other winds, sailing more into the Yes waters. Do we need another Yes attempt? Well, we have Starcastle and Yezda Urfa if you want the Good. We have England if you want the Bad. And the latest Glass Hammer if you want the Ugly. Where is this album in all this?

It's above the rest, hands down. Wobbler gave us a smogasboard, an all-you-can-eat of vintage sounds from Gentle Giant to Genesis and their own colors, showing more and more with time: their vocals are to die for (especially 'In Orbit'), the keyboards make me drool like a zombie from a Romero film and the drumming is intense but restrained at the same time. The drummer concentrates on hi-hat / ride, snare and cymbals, definitely a small kit but super-well used. Good job Kneppen, you have my quiet admiration.

It's a record that take more it's time than the other 2, but I do not fear one second to recommend you Rites at Dawn. It's like gazing at nature at dawn, actually. Forms and shapes can be hard to distinguish, but with time the whole thing harmonizes in front of you.

A powerful and well crafted tribute to the 70's...gnome beards and shaggy carpets not included.

Report this review (#456703)
Posted Friday, June 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have been a fan since their debut album "Hinterland" came out, which I loved instantly. The same with "Afterglow", though I think it's not as good as the debut.

So my hopes were high when I learned that Wobbler was going to release another abum called "Rites at Dawn"!

But I am disapointed.

I have listened to it over & over about 30-40 times, and I like what I hear, but the melodies dont stick and are uninteresting & directionless. Mutch of what I loved about them is gone, and instead they are trying to be Yes. Their previous efforts sounded more like King Crimson & ELP, but that's almost completely gone.

A good thing that the analog keyboards are still there, but they are a lot more in the background than on their previous albums, and there is a lot more singing than before.

"The River" is for me the most interesting track on the album, it actually sounds good and it's got a lot of emotion, but the harmony singing near the end sounds too mutch like Yes for me.

What your'e ending up with is a Yes-clone. I love Yes, but I'm not comfortable with Wobbler trying to BE Yes. I just want them to sound like Wobbler.

A disappointment..

Report this review (#457644)
Posted Monday, June 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars As others have mentioned the YES flavour is strong on this album.There's plenty of Steve Howe-like guitar melodies and the vocals recall Jon Anderson but they almost sound like a cross between him and Niklas Barker (ANEKDOTEN). The Rickenbacker bass is all over this in a Squire-like fashion. Having said all this you'll notice the 5 star rating, it's because this is an incredible album from beginning to end despite the apparent hero worship.The drumming is fantastic as well and there is also more mellotron on this baby than their past two records. Bottom line is that "Rites At Dawn" has a sound that reminds me of that Scandanavian,mellotron drenched melancholy that I love combined with that seventies Symphonic Prog that YES did so well. A match made in heaven. And the sound quality couldn't be better.

"Ludic" opens in an atmospheric manner as the sound builds then settles late. "La Bealtaine" has prominant guitar, bass and drums as the organ joins in. It settles back some with mellotron then kicks back in with vocals. Howe-like guitar 2 minutes in.The organ and mellotron after 3 1/2 minutes are brief as the vocals return and lead. "In Orbit" opens with strummed guitar before it kicks in at a minute. A calm with vocals before 2 minutes then it kicks back in with chunky bass, guitar and drums.Vocals follow. Another calm with acoustic guitar then the vocals join in as it gets fuller. More great sounding bass follows. Howe-like guitar 8 1/2 minutes in then a calm returns a minute later as it builds with vocals and more.

"This Past Presence" opens with acoustic guitar and flute as reserved vocals join in. Piano too then mellotron. It kicks in before 2 minutes. Nice. I like the guitar here. A calm before 3 minutes then mellotron a minute later. Vocals, piano and bass lead 4 1/2 minutes in. It kicks in at 5 minutes reminding me of ANEKDOTEN with that storm of mellotron. "A Faerie's Play" opens with delicate sounds then it kicks in reminding me of the MOODY BLUES.The mellotron, bass and drums sound great before 2 minutes. It's YES-like around 3 1/2 minutes and vocals follow.The vocals remind me of ANEKDOTEN after 4 1/2 minutes.

"The River" opens with some excellent sounding organ, bass and drums.The guitar then comes to the fore followed by a calm before 1 1/2 minutes. Piano and reserved vocals here. Pure emotion after 2 1/2 minutes with mellotron as it builds. It settles again but not for long. Another calm before 6 minutes then it slowly builds again.Vocals are back 8 minutes in.This is so freaking good. "Lucid Dreams" ends it with a dreamy atmosphere.

For me WOBBLER has hit a homerun with this album. Right from the first listen I knew this was special and it gets better with each listen. So impressive !

Report this review (#471592)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Unashamably and amazingly accurately recreating the sound of Fragile-era Yes - this is a remarkable album. If you can overlook the fact that Wobbler did not create this soundscape from scratch and appreciate it purely for what it is - an incredibly close replication of Yes' sound circa 'Fragile' and 'Close To the Edge', but with a freshness and invention that most bands seeking after that sound seem incapable of - it is an absolute joy. To my ears it's way more inspired and uplifting than the latest offering from Yes - which as a longstanding Yes fan since the 70's is kind of hard to admit. I have found myself grinning as I listen to this album for simple joy in discovering a new album that brings the same pleasures as first hearing the Yes albums of the seventies used to bring when they were released.

As other reviewers have noted, there's no shortage of would-be Yes-clones on the market - what makes Wobbler the exception for me, is that they are producing music Yes could be proud of rather than the uninspired aping that is so often on offer.

If another band taking up the baton of a classic sound irritates or frustrates you this is definitely a CD to avoid, but if you simply want to enjoy hearing what could very easily have been an unheard Yes album recorded between Fragile and Close to the Edge, this is one you certainly should give a listen.

Report this review (#491129)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Rites At Dawn' - Wobbler (8/10)

It seems to be something of an unfashionable trend in the prog world for bands to look to the past to find their sound. Although prog was originally meant to push the envelope of popular music and do new things, so many otherwise brilliant bands have been passing me by as clones of a rather small selection of innovators from the '70s. Even this year, I have come across bands such as Magic Pie or Beardfish whose contribution to the new decade may have been ironically suited to have been released a few decades back. Historically, I have been fairly vocal regarding my disdain for these bands worshiping a decade they may have only experienced as infants, and Wobbler's latest album 'Rites At Dawn' comes to me as something of a surprise on the account. Although there is no trace of modernity to this music save for the production, Wobbler's savagely Yes-derived music manages to strike a real chord with me, and even though 'Rites At Dawn' is an album that will never outshine the legacy of its influences, Wobbler may very well have created the best 'tribute' prog record to come out in a long time.

Listen to a minute of the complex twangy riffs or sporadic, upbeat higher register vocals that Wobbler does here, and it becomes near impossible to not get impressions of Yes; hell, there are even times here where I feel I am listening to a long-lost Yes record. That is not necessarily a bad thing; the music here is done with enough vintage confidence that its a bit too easy to convince oneself that this is an undiscovered '70s masterpiece. I can certainly enjoy the album tons, hearing it from that angle. After all, Yes is perhaps my favourite of the classic progressive bands, so any band that can do their sound with comparable strength certainly merits some due respect. Blanketing their sound in rich keyboards and mellotrons, Wobbler's vintage appeal feels much more sincere than much of the paradoxical retro-prog I have heard. The compositions are filled with ideas, but are bound together by a fairly uniform vibe and pallette of sounds. The album flows remarkably well, and I found myself surprised by how much the album grew over listens. If I could bring myself to take 'Rites At Dawn' out of context, I could likely see it as being a masterpiece of symphonic prog.

But this is still a Yes clone we are dealing with.

Regardless of the fact that Wobbler does their style immaculately, it is near impossible to ignore the fact that despite the magnificent and convincing execution of the album, Wobbler are still more than content to fall under the banner of another band, they even seem to be doing everything they can do be a clone of Yes. Symphonic prog has often passed me as being a very derivative genre, and as a result, the truly masterful albums are usually those that both execute things brilliantly, and bring something new to the table. Wobbler has certainly done one of these things with near-perfection, and while I will no hesitate to say that I really like 'Rites At Dawn', its musical excellence still does not discard the fact that Wobbler is playing another band's ball game here.

Report this review (#491335)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team
5 stars Why must one band have a monopoly on a 'sound' and 'style.' Are MAGENTA, YEZDA URFA, STARCASTLE, MOTH VELLUM and GLASS HAMMER any less enjoyable, accomplished, or worthy of making good records because of their obvious similarities to YES? If YES had made more records in the early seventies, wouldn't we be happy?

This album is, in my humble opinion, as fresh and masterful as the YES masterpieces--with better production and more melody. I find myself remembering, humming many melodies form these excellent compositions. I find myself liking many structural, instrumental, and vocal choices even more than YES. Then there are so many other familiar sounds from so many other bands.

The two "Lucid"-"Lucid Dreams" end pieces (intro, outro) (10/10) are beautiful, brilliant, and perfect--kind of like the "Firebird Suite" used to open and close YES concerts.

"L6 Bealtaine" (9/10) feels/sounds more RUSH-like at the start--until the vocals (and lyrics! How YES!) kick in. Still, this song has so much freshness, unpredictability, and CSN&Y-like feel--even OUTLAWS (guitars picking like "Green Grass and High Tides")-- to stand out far from the YES catalogue. The slow vocal harmony part at 5 minute mark shows a style all their own. Great song.

"The Orbit" (9/10) begins like an AMERICA song before the YES-like electronics take over. At 1:51 there is a brief switch to GENTLE GIANT-like vocals before ripping back into the YES-sounds and speeds. If Close to the Edge had been a double album, this might have been on it. 5:35 sees my favorite part--fresh vocal melody and almost Burt Bacharach-like support. The soli section from the 6 minute mark to 8:45 is great, too. (I like the sax/horns in the background.) The delicate/building section beginning at 9:30 and playing to song's end is awesome--maybe more GENESIS-like than YES. Or STARCASTLE.

The vocals on "This Past Presence" (10/10) are at times so beautiful it's like MOON SAFARI or CROSBY, STILL, and NASH merged with the original KING CRIMSON lineup.

The organ and drums on "A Faerie's Play" (8/10) sound as if they are from SUGARLOAF's "Green-Eyed Lady" while CSN&Y, Pete Giles, Martin Barre, and Robert Fripp (and of course, YES) can also be heard.

"The River" (6/10) starts off far too familiar ("Close to the Edge" in replication) before turning to a JESSIE COLIN YOUNG/RADIOHEAD song. Arrive the mellotron and Pete Giles-like drums with Fripp-like guitar sounds and picking and we get distracted a bit until at the 4:10 minute we find ourselves completely re-emersed in CttE. Easil my least favorite song of the album because it is too derivative, lacking of any of the freshness of the other songs.

People, it's the CSN(&Y) influence that makes this album stand on its own. Awesome addition to any prog lover's music collection. Most highly recommended! And, yes, IMO, a new masterpiece of prog rock.

Report this review (#497011)
Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Didn't really enjoy this album, and I tried really hard, I have played it lots and sorry, I was really excited when I read the reviews here, and ordered the album with great interest, but, I just dont get it. Its all very competent, but I dont sense any real emotion or desire in their delivery, I have their first album, and loved it, played it to death, and maybe thats the problem, but for me, sorry - just dont get it. The Yes similarities are just too much for me, and whilst I am happy to admit, many or most even of the current bands I like dont explore new ground, they ply their trade with feeling and emotion.
Report this review (#497129)
Posted Thursday, August 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the album which has caused a clone debate recently in PA. A debate I understand after I have been listening to this album for some days. To a large degrees, this is the lost Yes album anno Close To The Edge. Or an outtakes album if you want.

........ That if you accept that Yes is a Norwegian band with only Norwegian members..........

The first impression of the album is that this is a clone. But this album is one of these a bit dreaded "best after 7-8 listenings" albums. That is how much time you need to get over the overly obvious references to Yes. And believe me; I have never ever heard an album with such obvious Yes references. Bands like Druid and Starcastle is nowhere as overly Yes cloned as Wobbler on this album.

Then again, after sometime, and after a lot of shaking my head in just exasperation, the Scandinavian flavour seeps through. The melancholic, Ingmar Bergman movies like melancholy. The one cultural export that everyone recognise as Scandinavian. And I am not talking about IKEA flatpacks here although trying to assemble a sofabed from IKEA based on the enclosed written instructions and inadequate tools is a melancholic despairing feeling too.

After this much dreaded "a while", you get zest of Rites At Dawn. Which is a melancholic Scandinavian albums made by English middle class music.

After giving this album a lot of time, this album is a great album which scores low in the originality stakes. Then again, this has never been a major problem for me (more like an excuse when I want to give an album a low score). All songs are great and I love the melancholic, back to the 1970s sound.

But Wobbler is sailing their viking ship very close to the wind here (Read: clone status) and the ship is close to get shipwrecked. I would not like to be a passenger on that ship. I would rather die in a battle than drown out on the open sea.

But still; a great album which also deserve the controversy it has attracted.

4 stars

Report this review (#497718)
Posted Friday, August 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although I have only 2 auditions, this third work of the Norwegian band WOBBLER, I can affirm, without fear of being wrong, that this was it that more it pleased me. Even if I consider their two previous disks excellents realizations (that deserve to figures in any progressive music collection ), I think in this the band gets to their music a "more digestible" format. Maybe such fact is due to smallest participation of invited musicians (2 and no 4 as in the two previous cd). Due to this the music possess a "linkage" of the several passages in each track more pleasants. Besides those initial considerations, it is well-known the approach of the band to the symphonic prog of bands as YES, GENESIS and even of an Ecletic Prog more in GENTLE GIANT "vein", that has a quite distinct sonority of KING CRIMSOM (in my opinion the main influence in "Hinterland" & "Afterglow"), although K C'S influence is still present. The disk is very close of the perfection and for that reason I don't get to detach any Track, because certainly it would be committing some injustice. My rate is 5 stars!!!
Report this review (#498657)
Posted Saturday, August 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Are you an old Yes fan? Would you like to listen to a Yes album? THEN PLAY A YES ALBUM.

Influence is unavoidable and every band exhibits it. But this is not influence. This is copy and pasting. This should interest Yes' legal team. This is a covers band. Your album buying money deserves to go to people who create something, not paste pictures of their own heads onto photos of their favourite bands.

The album is spared one star status for the fact that it is put together nicely and has a good sound. But as one of the most egregious rip-offs of another acts sounds I have ever heard, I cannot possibly recommend it.

Report this review (#500464)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have always regarded Wobbler as a sort of poor man's Änglagĺrd. Not bad, but just not great. Though with this release I now hold them with a much higher regard.

I read here that there is so much debate about whether what Wobbler have produced with Rites At Dawn is copying or not, and if it is, whether it is OK for them to do it.

In my opinion there is no question that Wobbler have made a deliberate attempt to champion the classic period of Yes. However, I don't think they have just stopped there. It is one thing to recreate the sound of a band, but another thing to emulate the song writing style. It is also a remarkable achievement to deliver an album of music of this high standard. Put all these elements together and one can see that Wobbler have taken an excellent stab at making a brilliant Yes album. Something that many Yes fans have been waiting for Yes to do for over 30 years.

4.5 stars from me!

Report this review (#509757)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars An album which is extremely highly rated on the site, and, so, with my Spotify subscription in hand, I was looking forward to listening to this to see if it is worth parting with my hard earned cash for the CD.

Well, if your idea of heaven is to have a band in 2011 doing a replica (note the word replica, not influenced by or moving forward) of Yes circa 1970 to 1972, and sounding for all the world as if they recorded the said work in the Large Hadron Collider Tunnel, then this is, undoubtedly, a masterpiece as other reviewers have stated. Regrettably, for this reviewer, this is not my idea of prog heaven in 2011, and I fail to see the appeal at all.

The vocals are not, as has been mentioned, reminiscent of Jon Anderson. Thankfully, the band avoid that particular trap. No, the lead vocals are such a dead ringer for Squire, you have to look twice at the credits to see if the great man himself has not done a bit of moonlighting. Come to think of it, the very strong Rickenbacker bass by Hultgren is also very much in the Squire mould, but I say this as a compliment.

There are many Scandinavian bands who produce some great symphonic prog, and I count The Flower Kings especially as amongst my favourite bands. They wear their influences on their sleeves, but, having said that, they do mould their influences and create an utterly unique sound with it. It is a recognisably TFK sound, not a Yes sound. You can say no such thing about this, and, whilst they are undoubtedly a very talented bunch of musicians, what you get in a track such as In Orbit is basically Fragile in drag with Squire singing lead vocals instead of Anderson and, quite frankly, a mess of a track. It worked at the time for Yes - nobody had done anything like the spaced out jazz rock fusion that they produced then. They were also the best at it, and this lot could not, even by their most ardent fans, be described as such. Yes also had, amongst all the noodling and experimentation, a definite structure to their songs. This does not. It is just noodling for the sake of it.

The melancholic This Past Presence changes the mood a bit, in favour of debut and Trespass era Genesis, flute and all chucked in for good measure, and the intro is rather pleasant. Unfortunately, what could have been a pleasant, if rather unoriginal, pastoral piece swiftly bursts into life with Howe, Wakeman, Bruford, and, especially, Squire and we are back to Fragile.

It is not often that I condemn bands for their influences, and neither should we on the site. I love neo-prog rock, but what neo detractors need to realise is that the best bands within that sub-genre took their influences (mainly, but not exclusively, Genesis) and turned them into something both special and unique to that band. As an example, I give you Marillion and Pendragon. Both were clearly, in the early days, influenced like this, but no two albums by those bands sounded anything like each other.

So, this album is not symphonic prog. It is actually a neo prog album, and a very poor one at that. Whilst the musicianship is never anything less than good, the vocals are annoying, the production is absolutely shocking, and there is barely a trace of originality here at all, and the latter is the biggest sin of all.

This album, in my opinion, really is for collectors only - collectors who have to own absolutely every version on God's earth of The Yes Album or Fragile. For those who like their neo-prog, like me, to have a semblance of originality and a well produced album, then please stay away. Spend your money on the far better releases of 2011.

Two stars, and I am being generous.

Report this review (#511239)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Wobbler's 3rd album turns out to be a divisive one. They've always been a retro act, which I don't mind actually, but in an attempt to be more Yes then Yes the band let go of their earlier King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Genesis influences. Also that 'Scandinavian' feel got missing somewhere. Unfortunately, these multiple elements were exactly what made their previous albums into such an interesting cocktail.

The main weakness on the previous works were the vocals. Wobbler used to keep them to a minimum but this time they obviously wanted to put more lyrical content in so they attracted a new vocalist; one that immediately brings Yes too mind, especially that magnificent bass player with the voice that I don't like that much, mr Chris Squire. Well, unlike Squire, Wobbler's guy can keep a tone (in the studio at least), but I don't find the vocals very attractive. Too derivative, in tone as well as melodies and harmonies.

Conclusion, despite not really caring for the whole retro issue, trying to mimic just one particular example is not stimulating for one's creativity and this album proves that again. The band voluntarily got their own hands tied by their formulaic approach, and even if the music may be composed and played with skill, there's no soul or personality in here. Still, i think this is better then Yes themselves these days so this should be a satisfying release for dedicated Yes fans. But it's not a Wobbler I'll be playing a lot.

Report this review (#517366)
Posted Thursday, September 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Let me first say that Hinterland and Afterglow are two of my favorite albums from trhe past few years, so I was really anticipating this one.

One thing I've always enjoyed about Wobbler was their obvious devotion to seventies style prog while keeping their sound decidedly original. Here, there is a clear reference to the classic music of Yes. I wouldn't go as far as to say it is a clone of Yes, but throughout the album the vovals, the bass, sometimes the guitar and keyboards appear to be trying to pay homage to that great band.

Happily, enough of Wobbler's own style comes through to make this more than an imitation album. The Genesis, Gentle Giant, and even Gryphon influences (What's with the "G" bands?) are all on display as well, making this another winner of an album.

Besides, I love Yes.

Report this review (#518749)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't frequent this site much any more; this is partly because I feel PA has turned into a sort of parody of itself. The new favourites are just rehashes of the old favourites, and most seem bent on defining the great sound instead of understanding what made it great.

When I look through the top albums of 2011 - ignoring the tech and post-metal - I see remakes of the 70's stretched to their very boundaries in an attempt to make them more edgy than their predecessors.The Psych and Symph prog in particular seem like bland and painful to the ears.

So why give 4 stars to a blatant Yes ripoff?

Well, it's obvious when you listen to this album. This isn't just an imitation of the 70's, this IS the 70's. All the frenetic energy and excitement of the very best parts of prog history. In the rush to capture a sound long dead, we've forgotten what made the sound magical.

It wasn't the 10/8 solo, or the atonal tertian harmonies.

It was how the music was played.

So no, it's not a masterpiece, because there's not a new idea on the album. But it's getting back to the roots of what progressive music was, before we got swamped with prog.

Report this review (#522005)
Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars In the world of pop and rock music it is probably safe to use the cliche that there is nothing new under the sun, everything has been done. Even in the mad world of RIO although there are bands who make some extremely interesting noises, they all wear their Faust/Magma/Henry Cow or whatever influences on their sleeves. Norwegian band Wobbler with their album Rites At Dawn get round this irksome problem by throwing in the towel completely to create a parallel universe Yes album that could easily have been recorded between Fragile and Close To The Edge.

The album is a labour of love and also a slavish copy of the sound Yes created in the early seventies, right down to the self imposed restrictions of using ancient analogue equipment. The band make no qualms about their aims on their Myspace page, stating "a burning desire to create or perhaps recreate some of the musical expressions of the early seventies". Not exactly progressive then, eh?

Previous albums reference fellow Scandinavians Anglagard and Anekdoten, giving their sound an at least justifiable influence, and maybe some new direction, but this album is something else entirely. Musically relocated to England circa 1973, the singer mercifully does not sound like Jon Anderson. but could easily be mistaken for Mr Squire, but his lyrics deal with the same concerns as the diminutive Lancastrian. I wonder if they had cardboard cows in the studio, or if the keyboard player has a predilection for takeaway curries, simply to authenticate the experience of course! Rites At Dawn to my ears it sounds more like a musical archaeological dig than an exercise in making modern music. If there were such a thing a a phD in 1970s analogue symphonic progressive rock, then the makers of this album would pass the exam with flying colours.

In prog circles, particularly in the USA it seems, there is a big market for this kind of through a glass darkly sonic worship, but, like the Picture of Dorian Gray, I cannot see any good coming of it, either for the band or their audience, or the scene they doubtless feel part of but are actually helping to stifle. Two big prog festivals in the USA have had to be cancelled recently, at least partly I'm sure because these retro-fans would not support the newer bands playing their own new music, musics for the most part that truly are progressive (look the word up in the dictionary), not just a slavish recreation of something that was laid down forty years ago.

I'm a big fan of Porcupine Tree and all things Steven Wilson, and although PT are not the most original band in the world, at least they have carved out their own strongly identifiable sound, and are the sum and result of their influences, unlike Wobbler who just seem to be an auditory mirror. I do not negate Wobbler their right to make whatever music they so desire, but to me music is about being challenged by the new as much as it is replaying old classics. Maybe I'm lucky in that I'm old enough to recall prog the first time round (but unfortunatley just a few years too young to have seen those bands in their prime), so I have no need to listen to bands recreating something I heard first hand. While writing this I am listening to David Torn's Tripping Over God, released in 1995, and more "new" than anything Wobbler have come up with on their latest waxing. I know which album will last longest on the shelves chez moi, for sure.

In the pop world there was once a band formed with the intention of recreating the early Beatles sound, but being British, were possessed of enough of a sense of irony to realise it would only work if used as a comedy vehicle. Featuring Neil Innes of Bonzos fame, check out any videos you can find on YouTube of The Rutles, marvellously wacky pastiches that are genuinely toe-tapping. Unfortunately one cannot imagine how any band in the oh-so-serious prog scene could ever approach copying mid 70s Yes (or any other of the originals) with a sense of humour, God forbid!

This has been a missive from The Grumpy Old Git from the UK. Thank you and goodnight!

Report this review (#539825)
Posted Sunday, October 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Oh, I reckon this album will be dividing Prog fans a lot. And to be honest, I have to admit that I am still confused, even after repeated listens. Should I look for copying evidence, or just enjoy it, risking I will enjoy copycat album ? Never before I felt the need to resolve such issue before (and I've listened my share of "clone" albums).

It is carefully polished, technically perfect (to the tiniest detail) production and super clean compositions. It almost sounds too much calculated, but then again, it's difficult to capture the fine line between such states.

In the end, I simply gave up and said to myself: "Why not." (enjoy this album)

Report this review (#572943)
Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Wobbler: Rites at Dawn [2011]

Rating: 9/10

Rites at Dawn is the third album from Norwegian symphonic progressive-rock band Wobbler. This band made a strong name for themselves after 2005's Hinterland and 2009's Afterglow. These are two superb releases with jaw-dropping musicianship and developed compositional ideas. Wobbler are known for their decidedly retro sound; the band only uses vintage instruments, including the Hammond organ and Moog synthesizer. This aesthetic remains in full force on Rites at Dawn, but it is approached from a different angle. The previous two albums approached symphonic-prog in a dark and hard-hitting manner, comparable to bands such as Anglagard and Sinkadus. However, they have adopted a much lighter approach here. The first two albums exuded heavy King Crimson and Gentle Giant influence, but Yes is the primary influence here. So much so, in fact, that many are dubbing this album a "Yes clone." I can understand why, for the music here is nearly stylistically identical. However, I disagree with the pejorative connotation that such a label carries. This is a lost Yes album, but it doesn't earn that title simply because it sounds like Yes. This is a brilliantly composed and soulfully performed release that manages to recreate everything that made Yes such a great band.

"Lucid" is a brief atmospheric intro that fittingly sets the album's mood. "La Bealtaine" immediately presents the listener with an array of melodic ideas, backed up a driving rhythm section. New vocalist Andreas Prestmo displays his chops here; his voice has a gorgeous timbre that evokes a Jon Anderson feeling without sounding exactly the same. The short Moog solo near the end is a major highlight. "In Orbit" is the album's first mini-epic. The folk influences are prominent here, although there is certainly no shortage of keyboard wizardry to be found as well. The instrumental sections venture into energetic jazzy territory, and the vocal segments are ethereal. The folk side of the band's sound is even more apparent on "This Past Presence." Quiet acoustic guitars and pleasant flute create a rustic atmosphere. "A Fearie's Play" is a perfect example of a successful short symphonic-prog piece. The vocal melodies are immediately memorable, and the Mellotron is nothing short of majestic. "The River" is the second and final mini-epic. It integrates melodious moments with more complex and intricate jazzy passages. The conclusion is suitably bombastic and satisfying. "Lucid Dreams" is a short ambient outro that ends the album in a cyclical manner.

Rites at Dawn is a stunning release, pure and simple. Wobbler's influences are abundantly apparent; I'm not going to argue that fact. However, I don't think that it's a bad thing. This doesn't merely sound like a 1970s progressive-rock album; it feels like one, too. This is an important distinction. Certain music fans are tempted to throw the word "imitation" at an album like this, but to do such a thing would be a grave injustice. Wobbler do not only recreate style; they also recreate spirit. This is a special album because it encapsulates the soul of a golden age in the most genuine manner imaginable. Rites at Dawn is an enormous success that should not be overlooked by fans of this genre. Leave your preconceived notions at the door and simply enjoy the music.

Report this review (#584321)
Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
m2thek
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Wobbler is a retro symphonic prog band whose 3rd album was released earlier this year. Hopefully I will be able to stop saying this soon, but I'm an unfamiliar with anything prior to Rite at Dawn. From what I have read (and can hear on this album), the band plays music in the style of Yes with lots of authentic old instruments. However, while Wobbler may imitate the sound of Yes on this album, they fail to capture the songwriting that made those old albums so good.

While I normally try to stay away from comparisons in reviews and let albums stand on their own merits, it's very difficult to discuss Rite at Dawn without mentioning Yes at all. Funnily enough, the latter released their first album in a decade earlier this year, and frankly Rites at Dawn sounds more like classic Yes than Fly from Here does. Sound is the key word there though. While this album has the sound of the 70s, there's not enough done with it to have anything more than that.

It really is a nice sound the album does capture if it's what you're looking for. The vintage keyboards are in full effect with Mellotron, organ and synthesizers that get you in the mentality of the 70s. The tone of the guitar is also reminiscent of the earlier times, and really if you heard the music out of context, you'd be hard pressed to put the correct year on it.

Though the sound used on the album captures that of classic Yes, the composition is what Wobbler could not capture. The album rarely makes use of its sound to do anything fairly interesting, and most of the songs merely meander forward than really drive to an end. The melodies are just not very strong, and thinking back to the many times I've listened, I find it hard to remember much. There are a couple of really great, exciting moments, but they are far too few to elevate the sound of the album to anything special.

When it comes down to it, the best and the worst that can be said about Rites at Dawn is that its fine; nothing more, nothing less. The album doesn't do anything poorly, but it just doesn't do anything particularly well either. For those of you that are looking for a more modern sounding album, then this is the easiest pass of the year. If you are pining for the sound of the 70s though, this album may briefly interest you, but don't expect to come back to it again and again.

Report this review (#594339)
Posted Thursday, December 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars It's true what many reviewers say: this album sounds like a YES clone, inspired to the golden period of the YES, the one including The Yes Album, Close To The Edge and Fragile. But I don't think it's a bad thing. WOBBLER have been able to put the clock back to the 70s, composing and playing something that , if you don't know, seems coming directly from the 70s.

However there's not only a YES influence. "The River" in example reminds more to the KING CRIMSON (of the Bruford period of course), and they still have that touch of "Scandinavian" that's undefineable, but makes a dotted line which links bands and artists like ANGLAGARD, PAR LINDH, BO HANSSON and also the great PEKKA POHJOLA.

The vocals are high pitched, but not so high as Anderson and Squire can be, maybe more similar to Rabin, but apart of mentioning the possible influencer this album is first of all a collection of excellent songs, containing all the things that one can expect to find in a prog album: odd signatures, sudden changes, solos, strong bass and percussions, contaminations with jazz and classics (not too much but there's a bit).

In terms of rating, even though it's non essential as it doesn't contain anything really "new", is a so goos album that everybody can enjoy on different levels. First for the pure listening pleasure, then for the impressive musicianship of the band that from a pure technical point of view doesn't have anything less than the bigs mentioned above.

That's why I think it can find its place in any collection and rate it with 4 stars.

Report this review (#597757)
Posted Thursday, December 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Retro - prog at it's finest!

I've picked this album as my first review probably because of the emotion it stirred inside of me. I've been a progressive rock fan ever since my introduction to 'Dark Side Of The Moon' and ' In The Court Of The Crimson King' around 1975. I was 11 years old at the time and for the next 10 years or so, invested heavily in progressive rock albums of the seventies. With the advent of disco, then punk and new wave at the end of the seventies and into the 80's, instead of 'going with the times', I went backwards, assuming that the wonderous music that I had grown up with was never to be heard from again, unless of course, from those who had come before.

What a revelation then for a 40 year old, the discovery that prog was not dead and that the internet was the place to find it! My favorite music never died, it just left the airwaves and went into cyber-space and for me, 'Rights At Dawn' is where the 20 some odd years of lost time comes together.

For those of you who like your prog fresh, new and innovative, stop reading now. This album probably isn't for you. This is mid-seventies inspired prog with modern day production that blows me away every time I hear it! From first note to last, these guys reach the top level of intricacy and melody, with top notch musicianship and great vocals. The guitar and keyboard work are outstanding, the drumming is as good as any Yes or Genesis album and special mention goes out to Kristian Karl Hultgren, who transforms his bass into a lead instrument, that can be listenned to by itself, with great pleasure. There is just enough flute and mellotron added to this album to make it the perfect listen, for a 47 year old prog head, that was stuck in the 70's for way too long.

After the short introduction ( 47 seconds ) of Lucid, this album takes off and doesn't land until the final note of Lucid Dreams. In between, we're treated to music as good as the mid-seventies classics. In fact I dare say that, had this album been released in 1974, it would be considered a classic today. My favorite song is 'This Past Presence'. With light acoustic guitar, flute, piano, mellotron and soothing vocals to begin, it doesn't take long before a time change and short lead guitar and piano jam. Then we change tempo again and slow down, then we change again and then again..........well you get the point. Toward the end, when the mellotron really kick in, it's prog heaven. I purchased well over 80 albums this year and yes, this included what can be described as new and fresh progressive rock. However, when it's all said and done, this song and this album sits at the top of the heap, in a great year for progressive rock.

I guess maybe, I haven't gotten out of the seventies just yet.

5 out of 5 for me.

Report this review (#610680)
Posted Monday, January 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Review originally written for www.therocktologist.com

They did it again!

Wobbler is still a young band, however they sound like they were on the musical scene for ages, because of the outstanding compositions they create, along with the high-quality performance of the musicians. Now in this past 2011 they released "Rites at Dawn" which is their third studio album so far, and a musical piece that challenges the big names of progressive rock. This album consists of seven compositions that make a total time of 45 minutes, divided in two short pieces, three mid-length ones and two epics.

The album opens with one of the short tracks. Almost two minutes in which "Lucid" shares a dreamy atmosphere. I imagine someone waking up, opening the eyes and see a new dawn. Later when everything is relaxed, a fast and busy day begins with "La Bealtaine", where the already own Wobbler sound can be appreciated, with the great interaction between guitars and bass, accompanied by drums, voice and the prominent keyboards. Since this first longer song we can realize the complexity of their music, and the great musicianship of the members. I really love how they combine the instrumental passages with the vocal ones. Stunning!

"In Orbit" is one of the epics, with twelve minutes of first-class music. It starts with acoustic guitar, accompanied by a wonderful bassoon (congrats for adding this instrument) which produces a beautiful yet somber sound. A minute later we will listen to a drastic change in which all the musicians create complex, bombastic and vertiginous music that give as a result a very interesting passage. Another drastic change comes when the previous passage vanishes and a delicate vocal sound appears for some seconds, preparing the scene for guess what, another vertiginous change. The keyboard work is awesome during the whole track and album; the bass creates great melodies that do not sound ordinary or plain, following that complex spirit that Wobbler offers since their first album. There will be a moment in which Yes will come to your mind, I assume that classic band influenced them in a way, but it is worth clarifying that Wobbler is never a copycat band, never. Just listen to this wonderful and original song, so you will appreciate their own style.

"This Past Presence" has a mellow and pastoral sound at first. A laid back and peaceful sound where we can appreciate acoustic guitar, a delicate voice, flute and piano. But when you think the song will continue like this, it explodes all of a sudden creating that heavy symphonic tone they use to share. A series of mood and time changes will be found here, loyal at Wobbler's style. "A Faerie's Play" is like the second part of the previous track. The sound is pretty alike, with that lush mellotron accompanied by excellent guitar figures, the always imposing bass and of course, the top-notch drums. This song is simply amazing, it perfectly flows and offers us five minutes of pure heavy symphonic ala Wobbler prog. One of my favourite compositions!

A new element is added in "The River", given the exquisite saxophone they implemented since the very first seconds. A vertiginous sound is shared here for the first minute and a half; later it slows down and creates a calmer rhythm that reminds me of some 70s acts such as Pavlov's Dog (the music, not the voice, of course). Once again, the band put several jigsaws that together form the puzzle, each and every of them are essential to the success of the song. As I mentioned earlier, I love how they decide in which moments the voice enters and in which doesn't, always in the precise moment. Here after four minutes we will listen to the probably most Yes-like sound in the whole album; later it slows down again, sax and acoustic guitar play for some seconds just before the music explodes once again. This is another excellent composition (which isn't?).

Finally, this wonderful album finishes with "Lucid Dreams", which is like the reprise of the first track, but this time with a glockenspiel playing. Now it is time to sleep, rest, relax and dream. Wobbler strikes again with "Rites at Dawn", an album that symphonic rock fans should not miss, but that is highly recommendable to any progressive rock aficionados.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#624798)
Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9/10

Unabashedly retro. Incredibly good.

I can not tell if I have a soft spot for bands that openly "clone" or inspired by the sound of the giants of progressive rock of the 70s, partly due to my own lack of experience in this subject, but all I can say is that if all of them are like Wobbler in his Rites at Dawn, then I will develop a crush!

This young Norwegian band has been one of the main representatives of this movement in recent years, but from what I read she was inspired by other bands (Gentle Giant, King Cimson, etc..) To compose the dark sound of his next two albums. But Rites At Dawn they returned to the Yes and composed an album that can certainly be compared to Fragile and Close to the Edge (though not reach to the efficiency of these masterpieces).

Here the band uses the typical instruments you hear in one of these albums: acoustic guitar/ soaked blues-guitar (Steve Howe), a pungent and notorious bass (Chris Squire), a portion of pianos, Hammond organs, synthesizers and mellotrom (Rick Wakeman) , simple but refined drums (not as jazzy as the Bill Brufford, perhaps) and a singer in a tone much like that of Jon Anderson. Add other instruments like a flute (which seems to be more reminiscent of Genesis), saxophone, glockenspiel and even a bassoon and what we have? An album unapologetically nostalgic already among the bests of the year, in my opinion!

The 45 minutes (average length for an LP) of Rites At Dawn are composed of seven songs, two of which are basically the same passages, which open and close the album (Lucid and Lucid Dreams). These two short songs do not do much for me, only represent sounds that do not give any idea of what's to come. With La Bealtaine things get much better. This song uses various ideas and themes that are beautifully presented (the use of the guitar is brilliant). Below is the album and reached the mini-epic In Orbit, the longest song here, with 12 minutes. And wow, that music - although I still think she should be in the position of The River (and vice versa), just to be more epic and complex, giving a close fit to this album. For me it is almost impossible to describe it.

"Side B" opens with the beautiful This Past Present, a song that surrounds me every time I hear it. Unfortunately the same can not be said of The Faerie's Play, which employs a similar structure but does not pass the same emotions. Fortunately the brightness of the album is taken up in The River, the second mini-epic, whose only fault is not having an instrumental section longer and more complex - although it has a chorus member "glue" in your mind. The end of the album is equal to the first, and I think it could have been better spent.

But these defects do not take my surprise to hear an album so rewarding. While not the best of the year is certainly in the Top 10. 5 stars!

Report this review (#636172)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Over the last few months, my listening habits felt like they had gone a little stale. So in the hopes of alleviating that condition I've been casting my nets further and further afield. I've found myself experimenting with and being taken by things I never expected. I am truly very glad however, that the most pleasant surprise of my perusal is something pretty close to home in Rites at Dawn.

As many other reviewers have noted, Wobbler have taken more than a modicum of inspiration from one of my personal favourite bands, Yes. Their general sound, especially the singing, is much closer to Yes' later work like Magnification, but their creativity and musicianship are more on par with Yes' progressive peak in the early and mid 70s. That said though, Wobbler is not out there to impersonate Yes. They draw some inspiration from other progressive acts like Gentle Giant, Genessis and Jethro Tull. Ultimately, no matter the inspiration Rites at Dawn is a triumph which belongs to only Wobbler.

The mood of Rites is somewhat moderate. It rarely jumps for joy, but doesn't hit the dumps like say the way Soon does after the cacophony of Gates of Delirium. The result is a very focused and jazzy core to the album which tends to progress in long arcs rather than spasmodically jumping between styles. And so, by necessity Rites is a tightly played and highly progressive package. So much so that the tracks feel like they bleed from one into the next despite there being breaks after each one.

I had given up hope of ever finding a modern symphonic album which was capable of electrifying me in the same way as the genre defining works of the 1970s, but on Rites of Dawn, Wobbler has proved themselves up to the task. I think other symphonic fans will feel right at home on Rites as well. It is a exemplar of the genre and such non-fans will loath it and those without strong feelings will probably remain unmoved. For my part, I am more than happy to give Rites at Dawn a 5 out 5 five. It's exciting to have a current band making music like this. I look forward to reaching into their recent past and even more so to seeing what the future has in store for Wobbler.

Report this review (#641133)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Simply the best album of 2011, Norwegian band Wobbler, this time made an album with the least weak points and got more and more near to what they want to produce : a classic Prog album by all means near to what supergroups such as Yes managed to make in the golden years of seventies , in order to to make this happen Wobbler record albums in 70`s studio atmosphere with no modern technologies and MIDI things. the musicianship here is unique, never heard it like this in any modern Prog groups, the pleasant complexity of the tracks easily reminds you of seventies Prog with a modern touch. I like every tracks and every moments in this album and I thinks La Bealtaine and In Orbit are the best in the album and one of the best tracks of Prog in a decade. the only disadvantage of the album is its vocals ( i hope they manage to fix it in the next album ) therefore i cant give it a full five stars. but 4.75 realy! ( I call it a Prog masterpiece )
Report this review (#645975)
Posted Sunday, March 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars I have begun my day with this album many mornings. The difference in comparison may be subtle, but I would say that on this album, Wobbler sounds a little less like Yes and more like Starcastle. I appreciated Wobbler's debut. Their second album was less impressive. This one is by leaps and bounds their best. Bookended by peaceful instrumentals, nearly every minute of this album is charming and stimulating.

"Ludic" A swirling, malleable introduction waxes and wanes.

"La Bealtaine" Granular guitar and stout bass burst into the first song. There's the first of several incredible and creative vocal refrains, and the band shows how well they've evolved vocally through the use of counterpoint. Mellotron soars through at one point, while the rest of the ensemble remain consistent. Just over halfway through, a second impressive vocal melody comes through alongside acoustic guitar. If that isn't enough, Wobbler dazzles with a third. I am amazed how this composition flows, because when I think back on this album, my mind separates these melodies into different songs, so each time I come back, I am astonished that they are parts of one stellar whole.

"In Orbit" The lengthiest piece begins peacefully before a jarring guitar and bass interaction occurs. It temporarily subsides, revealing peaceful, Gentle Giant-like melodies. The fourth wonderful melody happens over rapid instrumentation. The fifth arrives just before keyboard solos that are both playful and more menacing. The remainder of the piece is reminiscent of Relayer, particularly "To Be Over," and is nearly just as uplifting.

"This Past Presence" Acoustic guitar and elegant Mellotron and piano weave a dreamy atmosphere. A rattling guitar solo fires off over a dense rhythm in 6/8. The final passage is soaring and brilliant, with Mellotron in both strings and flute mode.

"A Faerie's Play" Cascading Mellotron and loose drumming help make up a beautiful piece of symphonic progressive rock. This is, I must say, despite its ingredients, the most forgettable song on the album. It is not at all a flaw, only the weakest comparatively speaking.

"The River" The band adopts a sound closer to classic Kansas here (sans violin and with Mellotron, of course). Midway through gives us yet another fascinating vocal melody backed up by an interesting harmony and quite like Starcastle all around. A bass interlude leads to an instrumental section that once again reminds me of Kansas before launching back into that wonderful theme.

"Lucid Dreams" The final piece is an airy mood similar to the beginning.

Report this review (#650979)
Posted Thursday, March 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Whereas Wobbler's earlier albums had impressed me with the sheer range of different prog bands of the past they drew inspiration from, on Rites at Dawn they seem much more focused on paying tribute to Yes, with a few other bands only getting occasional look-ins (such as in the fairly Gentle Giantish vocal harmonies - but even then, golden-age Yes wasn't averse to playing around with vocal harmony a bit either themselves). I'd be disappointed if this proves to be their new direction for the long term, but for the space of one album I think I can just about forgive it - they do a really very good impersonation and update of Yes at their best, after all. I just hope the band don't get caught up in a Yes-worshipping rut.
Report this review (#770006)
Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There are times when I buy a CD and I know very soon that I am going to love it. Since discovering this site and that I really enjoy this music, I have been going Prog wild, you could say. I've been checking out the early classics, the neo stuff, the 90s, and the greatest of the latest. There have been winners and losers and in-betweeners in any period, but always there is the excitement of finding something to treasure in my ears and between them.

Wobbler showed up one day while cruising Amazon and the cover attracted me. I sampled the album and decided it might just be good enough. Great choice!

A lot of people here have been pointing out the similarities to Yes, and certainly there are many similarities: electric guitar distorted and clean, acoustic guitar, all flavours of keyboards, cool bass guitar, choral-style singing, odd time signatures, and everything you could want in symphonic Prog, including flute! However, I don't think the vocals sound as Jon Anderson-like as some have written and the music sounds quite distinct to my ears. To say Wobbler sound like Yes is like saying Uriah Heep sound like Deep Purple. There are similarities but still enough differences.

The album opens with a short peaceful instrumental and then goes straight into the totally retro symphonic Prog of 'La Bealtaine'. We are off to a good start.

But it's the thrilling musical ride of 'Into Orbit' that is the first real treat off the album. Rocking with distorted guitar and some ripping organ and Moog solos, quick temp and time signature changes, slow moods and rollicking quick sections, this song has become one of my recent favourites. There's even a short vocal part that sounds like the Moody Blues.

'This Past Presence' opens with gentle acoustic guitar, flute and piano, accompanied by the vocals and a bit of mellotron. But about 1:40 into the song, the pace suddenly changes and there's a wild guitar solo followed by some fast fingers on the ivory before the pace slows again. The group chooses to stick with the melody and pretty music rather than jump around all over the place. There are some hurried steps and then a powerfully symphonic segment led by mellotron before shifting back to the rocking piano which supports a short flute solo. A cascade of piano notes brings the song to a close.

'A Faerie's Play' is the shortest song on the album, aside from the bookend instrumentals. It begins peacefully but quickly drops a Moody Blues-ish burst of drama, followed by a quick jazzy Yes segment, which then rolls of into something more like Glass Hammer. There's a marching snare drum, more mellotron, Moog, and just overall wonderfully crafted music. I find the vocals, though good enough, don't stand out as particularly skillful at times. Wobbler do a great job of placing just enough vocals into the music so that it works without ever becoming tiresome.

Next up, 'The River', and my favourite track off the album. A mini epic in composition, the song starts with an instrumental introduction in a rock out style with some sax that reminds me of King Crimson. Introduction over, a gentle and haunting clean electric guitar sweeps us to the first lyrics. Here I find the vocals sound a bit weak, but the building music keeps interest high. Mellotron. Flute. And then a very Yes-like shift, a softer segment, and an eruption of symphonic prog rock. I'm in heaven when the chorus comes in, three voices at least, singing a beautiful melody and one of the vocal highlights of the album.

The song pauses and enters a very classical-influenced instrumental passage where all musicians and many instruments contribute to one amazing piece of music. If someone asked me what progressive rock sounded like in a single-song summary, I'd have this song ready for their ears.

If I have anything to say negatively about this album it's that the vocals usually lack a little in skill. The opening and closing instrumentals might not be necessary but they give the effect of entering a special sonic place where this remarkable retro sound exists. Then we awaken and the CD ends. It's not a bad thing at all.

Finally, the length of this album is just right. I have listened to some albums that sound great at first but seem to overstay their welcome after 50 or 60 minutes.

I would love to give this album 5 stars. I was thinking to give it 4 and say 4.5 but as I listened to it again I found I liked it even more. A strike against it might be its retro approach or its somewhat weak vocals but I think it's a really well-crafted piece of work. Others have said Wobbler have really improved since their first two albums. If that's so then they have reached that high place. So I will give it 5 stars and recommend it highly. If you disagree with the 5-star rating you might still likely give it 4.

Report this review (#823240)
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After all the existing reviews (which were mostly enthusiastic) I'd just like to add my two cents.

First of all: this doesn't sound a bit like FRAGILE or CLOSE TO THE EDGE; the first thirty minutes or so kept reminding me (for some reason) of "Beyond and Before", the opening track of Yes's first album!

Secondly: are these guys for real? I know some of them are musicologists who love vintage keyboards and play krumhorns in their spare time, but... When they write songs about rabbits, fawns and faeries; when they pose for an inner-sleeve photograph with a stuffed owl, a stuffed fox and a load of (apparently) plastic food on the table, what are they trying to tell us?

What I mean is that most of Wobbler's MUSIC can't be faulted ("La Bealtaine", the first extended piece here, verges on the tuneless - but let that pass). The bass, the drums, the guitars, the keyboards and everything else is carefully thought through. You can listen to this music again and again but you'll always find new things, and that's just the way it should be. When you finally reach "The River", the last extended piece on the album, it's... it's probably the best Yes-type composition to emerge from anywhere since Yes themselves came up with DRAMA!

But is it earth-shattering music? I tend to think NOT. I can't help comparing RITES AT DAWN with Big Big Train's ENGLISH ELECTRIC (part one) which sounded oh so passionate and earnest, and I must conclude something's missing: Wobbler never move me. What a shame.

Report this review (#913344)
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
Wicket
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars I give up.

I thought these guys could actually put together a great instrumental album based off of "In Taberna". Instead, they turn into a Yes cover band.

Now, this isn't an insult to Yes at all, rather a compliment to just how good Yes is and was. Indeed, if I was half asleep or hungover, I'd probably mistake this album for a Yes album. The problem is, when you analyze bands that sound like Yes, you can't ever put them in the same category because the Yes sound is one uniquely their own, and so therefore every band afterwards that sounds like Yes isn't going to sound like Yes because they're not Yes. Clear?

So backing themselves up to this benchmark of greatness doesn't help, but then song after song sounds exactly like Yes, except less interesting and exciting. It's baffling. i have no idea why these guys decided to forgo their greatest asset (their instrumental skills) and decide to hide them behind a facade of cover band material.

Then again, maybe they have good drugs up there in Norway.

I gave them a shot but honestly, I just don't understand the praise. I do understand the band's main goal to recreate some of the 70's sounds, which is in essence going backwards, for a reason, but even then I still don't get 70's prog off this album. Just a cheap, imitation knockoff.

It's a shame, really. They could've done so much more, but if this is what they've been reduced to, then they're not for me.

Report this review (#1448962)
Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wobbler is not a blow of fresh air. You'll notice that immediately. They are true lovers of old prog heroes. And as far as this album concerns, it is kind of a tribute album. Mostly based on YES, whit some tips here and there to GENESIS and KING CRIMSON. But for the most part, it is a perfect clone of the masterpiece FRAGILE. If you like YES, you'll get here their best incarnation. I think the guys do not intend to hide that. And I'm not particularly detrimental to prog heroes' tribute bands. We all would like to have a few more discs of that era, don't we? This band is probably one of the best. It takes a lot to reuse YES style. They have sufficient instrument mastery, no doubt, and they reproduce the style near perfectly. At moments you would say, hey, is this a hidden YES album? Waaooh. They play even better, how come? But the singer brings you back to reality with a standard voice not close enough to Anderson's, but how well he gets the spirit. Anyway, even if one may get lost in the amazing instrumental perfection of this people and the richness of the composition, when it comes the bitter moment when you have to compare with the real stuff you would say they are a bit short of inspiration. It's pity because they make an impressive effort, but in the end you don't remember the tracks, even if they play f.... well, and I've given it quite a few turns. That makes the difference for me. It is full of perfect moments but they miss a story line. But they are so elegant! I can't stop to play the album once and again. I would stand up a few tracks, In orbit, This Past Presence, A Faerie's Play, and the best and foremost, The River.
Report this review (#1839345)
Posted Wednesday, December 6, 2017 | Review Permalink

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