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Progstone: Unplugged

Can there be anything more contradictory than a grunge influenced band from Switzerland called Progstone, recording an acoustic album? The Progstone debut, Out From There, was a surprisingly intriguing reinterpretation of the Seattle sound; a European melodic and subsequently, less downbeat outlook allowed to infuse a sound brought into being through Alice In Chains soundscapes. Here six of those tracks are reimagined into a more naked setting, where the acoustic guitars of Julien Brousset and Alban Wirthner, acoustic bass of Eric Pellouchoud, and cajon and other assorted percussion from Yohan Ravera are augmented by the violin of Gabrielle Maillard and cello of Emille Cavallo. The results allow these reworked songs to sound familiar yet different and amazingly, they may actually be harder hitting in this stripped backed scene than they were in full on amped up mode. "Psychotic Cage" allows Brousset's clear voice to reveal a confident, yet vulnerable character, while the song's natural tension is organically heightened by the sumptuous string work; an element which adds layers of glorious texture to excellently arranged pieces throughout. Often cello and violin not only set the scene, they fix it in place, allowing the guitars to set out their stall in unhurried, yet often surprisingly forceful nature, something the patient build of "Alone Together" illustrates perfectly. While the Out From There highlight, "Blackout", proves once more what a wonderful song it is, the vocals fragile, the atmosphere dark, brooding and utterly unforgettable.

Not satisfied with simply reworking old songs, four new are also added to the story, the true success of this album being that whether the songs were initially imagined for this setting, or a more traditional electric form, the effect is equally convincing. "Neither Alive Nor Dead" allows Pelouchoud's bass thrumming to take centre stage, its ominous hum instantly attention grabbing, before a clipped beat and gently aggressive vocal leads down one path, swooping, melancholic violin another. "All", on the other hand, offers a lighter side to what can be an intentionally oppressive journey, the guitars breaking through like sun forcing pin pricks through thick cloud, flashes of beauty allowed to warm the soul. In itself that's maybe the biggest shock here, for while the pace is solid and steady and the mood often introspective and in search of hope, the Unplugged album is one which leaves you feeling uplifted and full of joy. Although with such excellent songs presented in such an expert manner, maybe it's no surprise at all.

Track Listing
1. All
2. Psychotic Cage
3. Neither Alive Nor Dead
4. Or Else
5. Inner Fire
6. From Loneliness
7. Blackout
8. Alone Together
9. Wanna Leave
10. Carcass

Added: March 20th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Progstone on Facebook
Hits: 1954
Language: english

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