I must admit, I’d not heard any of this Norwegian band’s music before, though I did buy the Night Blooms album by The Opium Cartel (another project from White Willow’s Jacob Holm-Lupo) but I was keen to hear the album due to the involvement of no-man’s Tim Bowness on the track Kansas Regrets.
The album appears to be based on an end-of-the world concept (a progressive concept album, oh no I hear you cry!), but it works well. Yes, it’s a very progressive album, awash with retro synths, mellotrons and shifting time signatures, all trademark progressive tools, but it’s also made up of some very strong songs and one of the best productions I’ve heard so far this year.
The albums second track Snowswept is driven by a powerful drum track and a crystal-clear vocal from the bands singer, Sylvia Erichsen. The third track is co-written by Tim Bowness, who takes over lead vocal duties on Kansas Regrets. The most acoustic, and at the same time probably the least progressive sounding track on the album, Kansas Regrets is a highlight nonetheless.
“Those country boys just left you cold
The local girls they acted old.”
The track features some gorgeous vocal harmonies and lovely harmonics scattered amongst the guitar playing. Have a listen to the full song in the video below, which was filmed, edited and directed by Dion Johnson.
If you are a fan of Bowness or no-man, Kansas Regrets will probably be the track that appeals to you straight away. If you have any appreciation of progressive music, and the wide, colourful musical palette used in this genre, Terminal Twilight will quickly become one of your most cherished albums.
Red Leaves is streamed in full on the White Willow website – I’ve added a link below.
Red leaves by White Willow
There are times (especially on this track) when I’m reminded of Jeff Wayne’s War of The Worlds album from 1978, though the story on the White Willow album is told through the lyrics and the music only, no need for narration and so thankfully no appearances from David Essex required! Some wonderful Gilmouresque guitar solos round off Red Leaves.
Floor 67 is fast becoming my favourite track on the album. The lyrics really set the mood on this track, and capture the feeling of isolation and despair, as the apocalyptic weather destroys all in its wake, whilst the subjects of the song try to ride out the storm living in their own world, stocked up with alcohol in a high-rise building.
“But we stayed on through the winter
As the empire crashed and burned
And we heard the world grow quiet
And the voice on the radio said its goodbye.”
The chorus is very moving and I love the way the song ends, with snatches of ghostlike voices, almost like lost radio transmissions.
The mostly instrumental Natasha of the Burning Woods leads into the longest track on Terminal Twilight, the 13 minute Searise, the heaviest track on the album, which lyrically hints at the outcome of the song subjects quest for survival. Terminal Twilight closes with A Rumour of Twilight, a drone / acoustic guitar led instrumental piece.
So a new group for me to investigate, and a surprising contender to become one of my favourite albums of 2011.
Hawks Circle the Mountain
Natasha of the Burning Woods
A Rumour of Twilight
Buy Terminal Twilight at Amazon UK
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Buy Terminal Twilight from The Burning Shed