Not A Good Sign are actually more a project than a band. In 2013, band members of Yügen, Ske and La Conscienza Di Zeno joined forces to create an album under the moniker of Not A Good Sign. The idea was to create music with the progressive rock sound of the seventies, and to have a slightly more accessible sound than the avant-garde and RIO bands that are typical for the record labels Altrock and Fading.
After a well-received eponymous debut album (2013, see review), the project recorded a second album called From A Distance. This album still seems to follow the idea of re-creating some of the sounds of the seventies with the right instruments and with the necessary influences from, for instance, King Crimson. However, the background of the project members and their own bands also shine through, making this album a mixture of early seventies prog, bits of post rock and avant rock. The music on the album seems a bit incoherent to me, but I'm not sure whether this is caused by that kind of mixture or not.
Some parts are really inspired by the progressive rock music of the seventies; others are akin to the music of bands like Echolyn or Änglagård, leaning heavily on the keyboards in all cases, but also heavy guitar riffs or almost experimental piano notes show up. I played the album many times before writing this review − the only way to get a proper review after all − and I often wondered whether I was still listening to the same track or that I had missed the transition to the next one.
That phenomenon already starts with the opening track Wait For Me, which has a heavy intro with guitar and keyboards, but soon it changes into a mellower keyboard sound and an emotional vocal section, only to return to the power of the intro at the end. Flying Over Cities is the most complicated one in this respect, going from a heavy guitar opening that changes after ten seconds into something more keyboard-based, to a King Crimson-like instrumental. It never returns to where it started, but it doesn't feel like a single piece.
Overall, this is certainly not an easy album to get into, or one that will easily stick into my memory. From A Distance is not necessarily a bad album, but try before you buy.
***+Angelo Hulshout (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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