Solid third album puts wind in the sails of the Norwegians.
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.
CLASON’S FLUTE ADDS
A WELCOME ADDITIONAL ASPECT.