Qualia is the debut album from progressive metal act Traveller, which is the musical project of multi-instrumentalist/composer Matthew Fearnley from the UK. Three years in the making, Qualia is a concept album about a character called the Traveller, and the story follows him through madness & confusion, forcing him into a journey within his mind to discover and explore himself and all his hidden creativity & potential. Along with 9 guest vocalists helping to create all the different characters of the concept, Fearnley takes the part of the 'Doctor', as well as the bulk of the instrumentation here. Apparently the album had practically no budget and all the guests contributed their parts at no charge, so this is a real labor of love in the truest sense.
As Fearnley & Co. take you on this intriguing journey, with all the engaging musical soundscapes and various characters, much of Qualia comes across as an almost prog-metal rock opera. Many of the vocal sections are very well done, especially "Take This Dance" , which has a duet between Fraser Duncumb and Georgia Parker-Hanks. Fearnley creates a lush wall of sound with various synth tones throughout the album, giving it that symphonic edge, while mixing in passages of gentle acoustic guitar in spots and of course crushing electric guitar riffs. "The Animals" is especially heavy, as orchestral keys and pummeling riffs battle for supremacy, and the dramatic "The End" features crushing guitar passages over which the vocals of Chelsea Cleveland-Hurley, Paul Dickson and Georgia Parker-hanks just soar. Closer "The Choice" mixes in majestic prog-rock soundscapes, as all the vocalists make an appearance and guest guitarist Sam Bell lays down a sizzling solo.
Considering Qualia was made on a shoestring budget, the overall results are nothing short of impressive. As it's a complex concept piece, you'll want to give Qualia some time for all the many nuances to fully sink in, but it will be time well spent. Matthew Fearnley has much to be proud of here...well done.
The Best Part Of Our Lives
Take This Dance