Rites at Dawn, the 2011 release from Wobbler, opens with Lucid; a short track that reminds me of Vivaldi’s Spring. There’s a lot going on in this 1:40 song. The first 30 seconds or so sounds like an orchestra warming up… the warm tones of strings, the flutter of woodwinds that crescendos into a great big wall of sound. A light open mood changes in a flash with the addition of dark piano undertones that lasts but a few bars & we’re already into our 3rd progression in just over a minute. Lucid is a time-lapse trip and an excellent introduction–my interest is piqued.
Lá Bealtaine is all about celebrating the Celtic spring festival. This song dances an ancient pagan dance with a modern flair. Sitting listening to this song I can picture people dressed in white gowns wearing masks dancing around the ceremonial fire. Lyrically the music calls the listener to join in on the chanting that has been going on for untold years. Musically the first thing to grab attention is the bass line & the harmonies are impeccable.
Futuristic is the first word that comes to mind when In Orbit begins; then there’s that surprise moment where everything slows down to become almost folk in sound. The progressions in this song took me by surprise…there was no predicting where it would go. The vocals are beautiful & otherwordly. Starting in a near acapella the vocals go to another stratosphere. We’re on a fantastic voyage far beyond the stars we can see & I’m loving every second. As the music builds I can feel every cell in my body surging forward on the edge of the guitar riffs. A section of slow pastoral music & we’re off again. This motif repeats & each time it feels like we are catching our breath only to launch higher the next time.
This Past Presence opens & I’m taken to a solitary place where dawn is breaking. The music starts just as those first pink hues touch the horizon. Again the vocals are gorgeous– rich harmonies & lilting scale runs. As I relax into this quiet there’s a swell of piano that turns into a full-fledged race of guitar & the sun bursts out in full oranges & yellows. The music backs off when the main vocals begin.
Walking in an ancient world/ among a sky I dream / a playful past I’m searching inwards & nothing’s like it seems /
The best way I can describe this song is as jazz fusion progressive folk metal. Seriously, you HAVE to listen for yourself.
I’m onto the fifth song and all expectations or thoughts of knowing what I’ll hear next are completely abandoned. Bright notes begin this song but there’s a dark heart beating just beneath. A Faerie’s Play once again packs a lot into a little space. If these guys were movers they’d pack your 42 room mansion into a 2 bedroom apartment. I listened to this track with my eyes closed & when I opened them I half expected to find a faerie ring or something darkly magical in my living room.
If the second track on Rites at Dawn is a celebration of spring then The River has the crisp feel of late fall. A darker feeling prog is funkified with a little sax. This song has all the elements that make this album great– rocking guitars, vocals that linger richly in the harmonies & lyrics that take us out of the every day world into one filled with magic rituals. The end of the song flourishes with power guitar & I’m feeling the prog in my blood.
Lucid Dream is the winterlike bookend to this album. It reminds me of the first truly cold day when snowflakes flutter down & begin to stick in small clumps. The chiming bells provide a glimpse of frosty sprites playing. The curiosity that was piqued in the beginning has not been sated so I hit the repeat button for another listen.
- Lars Fredrik Frøislie - keyboards (and some vocals)
- Kristian Karl Hultgren - bass guitar
- Martin Nordrum Kneppen - drums, crum horn and recorder
- Morten Andreas Eriksen - guitar
- Andreas Prestmo - lead vocals
- Tony Johannessen – vocals
- Ketil Vestrum Einarsen - flute
- Aage Moltke Schou – percussion, vibraphone, glockenspiel
- Sigrun Eng – cello
- Ulrik Gaston Larsen – Teorbe and baroque guitar
- Pauliina Fred – recorder