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A Liquid Landscape: Nightingale Express

Here's a little concept work by Dutch band A Liquid Landscape, meant to go hand in hand with a film project from filmmaker Lex Vesseur. Nightingale Express is a bit of a departure for label The Lasers Edge, as A Liquid Landscape aren't quite prog, aren't quite progressive metal, but certainly use some elements found in both styles to go along with their pop, alternative, and psych leanings. This CD is most definitely a modern rock album, filled with strong vocals, solid rhythms, dreamy atmosphere, and alluring arrangements.

The opening near 13-minute title track sets the stage, and the floating vocals, trippy soundscapes, and mournful tone instantly reminds of Anathema or even some of the mellower Porcupine Tree material. Much of the track is somber and tranquil, though the band breaks out into some dramatic Rush styled bombast towards the finale. It's a powerful statement to open the album with. Unfortunately, those heights are never quite reached on the rest of the CD. Much of the remainder of Nightingale Express falls into a similar pattern that we've seen on the last few Marillion releases. Slow, dreary, mid paced rock songs dripping with melancholy and almost all flowing into each other as if one long track, with the occasional inspired burst of energy supplied by staccatto guitar riffs or a keyboard flourish. "Thieves of Time" though actually works quite well, a trippy little mind screwer at the outset which morphs into a jarring metal/funk/prog workout in the second half. "Out of Line" also follows a similar pattern, and ups the funk/pop factor (hear a little Man on Fire influence perhaps), while the short "Wanderer's Log - Storm" might be the closest the band gets to prog on the album, and features some tasty guitar meanderings and synth explorations for those who can't get enough space rock in their lives.

There's really nothing bad you can say about Nightingale Express. A Liquid Landscape have delivered an album that flows from track to track, and features solid vocals and instrumentation throughout. For these ears however there's not enough diversity to be found, and too many of these songs sound too similar to the next. Perhaps it's best to listen to this while viewing Vesseur's film, as I'm sure it was intended, but on it's own this one might be a bit too laid back for some. If you like dreamy atmospheric rock though there will be lots to love here.

Track Listing
1. Nightingale Express (12:40)
2. Wanderer's Log - You (0:51)
3. June Fifth (4:08)
4. Phases (4:53)
5. The Unreachable (4:59)
6. Wanderer's Log - Me (0:58)
7. Thieves of Time (6:01)
8. Out of Line (4:35)
9. Come on Home (5:22)
10. Wanderer's Log - Storm (2:36)
11. Secret Isle (5:10)

Added: February 10th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
Hits: 4000
Language: english

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A Liquid Landscape: Nightingale Express
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-02-09 19:01:51
My Score:

You would think that any concept album which can inspire a film-maker to create a short movie to work alongside the album's music, has to be interesting enough to deserve your attention. Something which should mark Nightingale Express by Dutch modern Progsters, A Liquid Landscape out to be an intricately and beautifully constructed idea. In practice though Nightingale Express is indeed intricate and beautiful in flashes, yet for long periods it is also tired and staid. All of the songs on this wonderfully titled album fall into somewhere between out and out Prog and Prog Metal category, although there is even a hint of Alt-Rock about the place, with melancholic, gut wrenching vocals sitting atop clean guitars and busy rhythms. The odd burst of distorted rifforama does pierce the gloom from time to time, however the main focus of this album is moody atmospherics.

Reminding of many bands from varying genres, with everything from a mellow Porcupine Tree, the rhythmical styling of Brother Ape, the soundscapes of Anathema and even the jangle, jangle of Jimmy Eat World, A Liquid Landscape do end up with a style of their own, although one that is surprisingly narrow. When it works, as it certainly does on the stunning and lengthy opening title track, the results are nothing short of breathtakingly beautiful, however when repeated across another ten tracks with little variance from the slow, slow, fast, slow, slow, fast, slow formula, the effect is severely blunted. The guitar playing is precise and focused throughout the whole disc, with intricate themes coming and going between more ardent, but less adventurous riffs, while the percussion work is simply immaculate. However - and it is a big however, when listened to as a whole, the songs all become so similar that it is a challenge staying with it and while a the world of playlists and shuffle, that may not be the issue it once was, taken as individuals the songs feel almost lost and in need of a home.

Sometimes it takes more than good performances and decent songs to make for a really striking, memorable album and while there is much to be impressed with, especially in the short term, on Nightingale Express, there's not much here that will keep drawing you back for more.

Well worth a listen, just not quite well worth a lot of listens....

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