After a debut album, Nightingale Express (2012, see review) that quite impressed me and numerous live performances, Liquid Landscape was ready for a successor. The quartet that hails from the north of the Netherlands still has Fons Herder as frontman, vocalist and guitar player. Brothers Niels van Dam and Robert van Dam remain guitar player and bass player, respectively and Coen Speelman continues providing the music with a strong backbone on his drums.
The first things that made me point my ears was how the sound has changed and still, in a way can be seen as a progression of a band developing. Where the debut album has strong influences of post rock; mainly in the extended instrumental parts, the focus on The Largest Fire Known To Man seems to have shifted to the songs themselves. Sure, there undoubtably must have slipped in the professionalism of Bruce Soord, who was willing to help with the mix and co-produced the compositions. I don't know how big the influence of The Pineapple Thief's main man was, but what I hear are beautiful songs, sometimes with a PT twist in them. From the moment the album starts with A Brief Moment Of Future, Fons Herder's voice grabs me. Even more than on the previous album, his relaxed way of singing puts a mark on A Liquid Landscapes music. Musically, the band has created a perfect balance between the strong guitar riffs and melodies and post rock style soloing. I guess the song Open Wounds was one of the compositions that stood on the base of the slight change of style. When I first heard the song live when they supported Kristoffer Gildenlow in May 2013 (see review), it stood out, because of the different atmosphere, but now it sounds like a bridge to a new era. When the album continues, the intimacy grows with songs like Drifting Star, Along The Lines, The Largest Fire and Keystone which are close to brilliant, stunning compositions, filled with vocals that reach into your soul, backed with amazing music. Hurled Into The Sun takes you back to the early days of A Liquid Landscape; a strong instrumental where bass and drums lay a strong base for the experimental sounds of Niels and Fon's guitars. The result is a sort of progressive soundscape filled with a post rock crème. Paige also is a song I heard the first time at the concert I referred to. This composition gained some expression and emotion, since I have seen it perform live. At that time it still was a quite emotional song, but now in its matured form, this song keeps giving me the shivers.
It is great to see/hear how a band develops. The road of A Liquid Landscape has been bended a bit towards a style that could help them gain an even bigger audience. The songs are more vocally minded and a perfect mix of progressive and alternative rock, a twist of post rock and filled up with strong and passionate vocals.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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