Solid third al­bum puts wind in the sails of the Nor­we­gians.

Prog - - The Musical Box - NICK SHILTON

While their neigh­bours to the east in Swe­den might be bet­ter known for pro­duc­ing and ex­port­ing nu­mer­ous pro­gres­sive rock bands around the globe, Nor­way main­tains its own proud prog tra­di­tion with Gazpacho, Wob­bler, White Wil­low and Mo­torpsy­cho among its premier ex­po­nents.

The afore­men­tioned bands all sport ex­ten­sive back cat­a­logues to vary­ing de­grees. By con­trast, the out­put from Oslo-based sex­tet The Wind­mill – not nec­es­sar­ily the most al­lur­ing of monikers – has been rather more mod­est to date, de­spite their 17-year his­tory. Tribus is only their third al­bum, and their first for the Apol­lon la­bel, suc­ceed­ing 2010’s de­but To Be Con­tin­ued and 2013’s The Con­tin­u­a­tion.

The Wind­mill style them­selves as a “sym­phonic neo­prog” band in­flu­enced by the likes of Ge­n­e­sis, Pink Floyd, Camel et al. Dur­ing the course of the record, the band dis­play those in­flu­ences, and plenty of other neo-prog ones too, very overtly.

Choos­ing to open the re­lease with the 24-minute The

Tree is a pretty bold move, but it’s not en­tirely a suc­cess­ful one. Build­ing slowly, The ‘Mill risk stretch­ing pa­tience with the first quar­ter of the track con­sist­ing of an un­re­mark­able in­stru­men­tal be­fore any vo­cals are to be heard. The song be­comes con­sid­er­ably more en­gag­ing as it con­tin­ues, greatly en­livened by Morten Clason’s sax and a rol­lick­ing in­stru­men­tal jazz fu­sion sec­tion be­fore reach­ing its con­clu­sion in real style.

Tak­ing up al­most half the al­bum, The Tree dom­i­nates Tribus, but the other four songs have strong points too; for ex­am­ple there’s some lovely fluid guitar on the 10-minute and highly evoca­tive Storm. Two far shorter tracks, Den­drophe­nia and Play With Fire, of­fer some light re­lief from the length­ier ma­te­rial. The for­mer re­calls re­cent Deep Pur­ple, while the acous­tic guitar, lilt­ing pi­ano and flute of the lat­ter is rem­i­nis­cent of Jethro Tull. The only mis­fire is an­other 10-minute track, Make Me Feel, which veers into sound­ing like a half-baked ver­sion of Arena.

There’s noth­ing on Tribus that ac­tively breaks new ground or chal­lenges the neo norm. How­ever, what The Wind­mill lack in in­ven­tion is com­pen­sated to a con­sid­er­able ex­tent by the pas­sion, crafts­man­ship and sheer hard graft that has clearly been in­vested. Hats off to Clason again here; at var­i­ous junc­tures, his flute adds a wel­come ad­di­tional as­pect to what could well have ended up a lit­tle one-di­men­sional. Mixed and mas­tered by Thresh­old’s Karl Groom, the sound sparkles too.



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