The Norwegian band Wobbler was formed in the spring of 1999. They had a burning desire to create music which was very much related to the style of music made by bands in the seventies who had their highlights in the progressive rock scene from 1969- 1974. Bands like PFM, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Yes and ELP inspired them so much that in a few months time, the basic ideas for a full length album were made. This resulted in their debut album Hinterland which was released in September of 2005. It was a fine album to start with, but still not a release which would shock the outside world.
In February of 2009, the band released their second album Afterglow. Our reviewer was at the time very positive about this release. He wrote the following words; “On Afterglow you can enjoy the 'lost tracks' that were re-recorded in 2007. This mini-album that lasts barely 35 minutes is superior to Hinterland. What an exciting seventies symphonic rock oriented sound- especially the vintage keyboard sounds of the Hammond, the Mellotron and the MiniMoog which are mind-blowing! Afterglow contains only five songs of which three are rather short and mainly acoustical. This album is a perfect example of 'quality prevails over quantity'. It reminds me of the albums of the classic Italian progressive rock bands from the seventies that last no longer than 33 minutes''. He was indeed very right that the album was much too short and that the band had made a step forward from their debut album.
Early 2011 saw the release of their third album Rites At Dawn. This album again was made by the musicians Morten Andreas Eriksen (guitars), Lars Fredrik Froislie (keyboards), Kristian Hultgren (bass, saxophone & glockenspiel), Martin Nordrum Kneppen (drums) and Andreas Wettergreen Stromman Prestmo (lead vocals). But this time they achieved something which they had not done befor-releasing an album with only great compositions which are worth listening, only too bad that the album only lasts 45 minutes. Right from the start you hear that the band tries very hard to sound like Yes in their early days, something which Glass Hammer also did on their latest release IF (see review). Therefore, I very much compared Rites At Dawn a lot to this album. But I also compared the album to albums such as Fragile and Close To The Edge, both made by Yes in the seventies. I will tell you why! First the lead vocals go very much into the direction Jon Anderson sings in with Yes. Also, the close harmony vocals are much the same as how Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Steve Howe did it so long ago. Secondly you hear so many retro keyboards, just like Rick Wakeman used in the recording studios and live on stage. Instruments such as the Mellotron, Minimoog, Clavinet, Hammond organ and Wurlitzer electric piano are used the right way to give the songs the right retro sound which most progheads love so much. The third reason why Yes is so present on this album is the way the bass guitar sounds. The thundering Rickenbacker bass rules on every track. Chris Squire could not have done it any better. Finally the guitar parts lots of times give you the impression you are listening to Steve Howe.
Also, the compositions move very much into direction of how Yes wrote their songs. Listen for example to the short opening piece Ludic. For a moment I thought I was listening to a small part of the opening section of Close To The Edge. On the third track In Orbit, you even hear Yes as they sounded on their first two albums. Only the keyboards push the music more toward the style that you can hear on Fragile for example. I guess that throughout the whole album, you can hear small musical fragments of the music once performed by Yes. But also a band such as King Crimson pops up from time to time. As you can hear on tracks such as The River and La Bealtaine. The use of the flute, saxophone and Mellotron are the most to blame for this comparison. Also, I also heard PFM a couple of times. A good example is This Past Presence- most of all the intro of this tune which resembles the fine Italian prog from the seventies-most of all the flute and the acoustic guitars that made me think about albums such as Photos Of Ghosts and The World Became The World.
It's difficult to mention any highlights because all songs are of a very high level. Maybe the two long epic pieces In Orbit (12:30) and The River (10:04) could be seen as the ultimate Wobbler songs on this release. But that would not be fair to the rest of the material that the band had penned for this album.
My verdict for the last Glass Hammer album was very positive. I gave them the highest rating possible and called IF a real masterpiece. I recommended it to everybody who loved the music of Yes, Genesis and ELP. It would only be fair to give the same verdict to the latest album released by Wobbler. Therefore, I will call Rites Of Dawn a true masterpiece and will also give it five stars. They deserve it entirely! Without any doubt one of 2011's progressive rock highlights!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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