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Wobbler: Hinterland

One of the most anticipated releases of the year-at least among progressive rock aficionados-is finally here. The curiously named Norwegian symphonic rock act's debut album harkens back to the glory days of King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant and PFM while recalling more recent underground bands like Änglagård and White Willow. Like so many of those esteemed bands, Wobbler's music is chockfull of Mellotron, analogue synthesizers, Hammond organ and intricate guitar textures.

After a very quiet 40 second prelude in "Serenade for 1652" comes the massive 28 minute title track. Actually, massive is probably the wrong word because much of the song is very pastoral, which comes as no surprise given the song title. It takes a few minutes for "Hinterland" to get off the ground and it isn't until about the eight minute mark that it really begins to fly. But your patience will be greatly rewarded because starting with the Gentle Giant influenced vocals that make up this section and forward, "Hinterland" really delivers the goods. The layered Mellotron strings and dark wintry impressions send shivers down the spine, recalling the melancholy of Crimso's "Epitaph".

"Rubato Industry" begins as an angular dual between guitarist Morten Andreas Eriksen and keyboardist Lars Fredrik Frøislie. Finally, the tension is resolved by the Minimoog as it calls in the main theme of the piece about three minutes in. The song is simply a wonderful study in contrasts and alternates moments of beauty with passages of frightening intensity.

The album closes with the instrumental "Clair Obscur", which frankly sounds like an outtake from Änglagård's Epilog. It's probably the most complex piece on the album and it weaves and wobbles (ha ha) through many changes until the awesome climax and chilled out atmospherics of the denouement. If you start foaming at the mouth at the mere mention of Mellotron Male Voice Choir, you'll probably go berserk when you hear "Clair Obscur".

While Hinterland doesn't really contain anything you haven't heard before, it's still a joy to listen to. The recording itself is very warm and open and feels quite analogue-like. I'll happily be taking many journeys to Hinterland. Good old fashioned symphonic rock just doesn't get much better than this. One of the finest albums of the year.

Track Listing

  1. Serenade for 1652 (:41)
  2. Hinterland (27:46)
  3. Rubato Industry (12:44)
  4. Clair Obscur (15:37)

Added: August 26th 2005
Reviewer: Steve Pettengill
Score:
Related Link: Official Wobbler Web Page
Hits: 3861
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Wobbler: Hinterland
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-08-26 09:56:14
My Score:

"Wobbler play pure, unadulterated progressive rock with no compromises."


Yep, that statement from the Wobbler press kit pretty much sums it up. This is prime 70's styled prog, like only a solid Norwegian band can create. Taking nods from groups such as White Willow and Anglagard, plus the obvious influences like King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Genesis, PFM, and Yes, Wobbler's Hinterland is a breath of fresh air for lovers of this style of prog. The epic title track is a work of art, littered with references to classic Gentle Giant and King Crimson, weaving guitar work, boatloads of classic keyboard textures (Hammond, Mellotron, Moog, Rhoads) and stretches for nearly 30 minutes long. Fans of the mighty Mellotron M400S will find themselves drooling over the feast of ominous sounds permeating "Clair Obscur", a virtual Mellotron celebration party.

In the era of digital recordings, the warm analog type sounds on Hinterland are very welcome. Wobbler have the ability to lull you into a relatively sleepy slumber before crashing back with bombastic sounds created by heavy guitars, bass, and classic keyboards, and they accomplish this many times within each song. Should Anglagard never record another album, thankfully we have Wobbler to carry the torch. Recommended stuff here, and sure to make my Best of 2005 list when all is said and done.




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