Aisles - 4.45AM

(CD 2013, Presagio Records)

The tracks:
  1- 4.45AM
  2- Gallarda Yarura
  3- Shallow And Daft
  4- Back My Strength
  5- The Sacrifice
  6- The Ship
  7- Intermission
  8- Sorrow
  9- Hero
10- Melancholia

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Aisles hail from Chile and can be considered to be one of the best progressive rock bands from the South American continent. Their musical style can be described best as a fine mixture of elements from mostly British prog rock and Latin American music. The music of bands like Marillion, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Yes have inspired them to write prog rock tunes. So far they recorded The Yearning (2005) and In Sudden Walks (2009); in 2013 their third album 4:45 AM came out.

4:45 AM is a concept album about the nastiest hour of the day according to Germán Vergara (electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards and background vocals, see interview). All songs cover a precise time of the day and they all reveal different situations within the urban landscapes of a large city. What makes people to be awake at 4:45 AM? What made them leave their beds and what makes them wander the streets alone when everybody else is sound asleep? Germán Vergara: “This concept is about darkness and light, about twilight at the edge of the night before daybreak. On the one hand the pain, loneliness and misery of the human condition; on the other the strength that some noble spirits have to overcome adversity and find a reason to fight for something truly personal and meaningful. This existential approach with a self-empowering conviction is what provides 4:45 AM its strong atmosphere.”

Beside Germán Vergara, the other musicians on this concept album are Sebastián Vergara (lead vocals), Felipe Candia (drums, percussion), Rodrigo Sepúlveda (electric and acoustic guitars), Daniel Baird-Kerr (bass) and Alejandro Meléndez (keyboards). The ten compositions on 4.45 AM are all of a high level, so you won't find any weak track here. I enjoyed listening to this album until the last dying notes. All of the musicians master their instruments, which means that you are treated to a lot of amazing guitar and keyboard solos. However, not only the instrumental parts are top-notch, but also the outstanding vocals with a lot of Latin American passion sound splendid and without any accent at all; it all sounds very professional. Other strong and interesting aspects in the band's music are the way they build up to climaxes and the dynamic parts in one song. Sometimes they manage to sound rather heavy; at other times they're playing mellower and more relaxed.

For Sorrow they asked Costanza Maulén to sing a duet with the band's lead singer Sebastián Vergara, which really sounds awesome because of the emotions this duet evokes by both singers. Aisles worked with a string quintet as well, which really helped either to build up tension or to give some songs the natural symphonic sound they needed. The musical style on 4.45 AM is comparable to the previous two efforts, which means clear influences of the aforementioned British (neo)-prog bands blended with Latin American music, jazz-rock and fusion. And last but not least: the wonderful artwork created by Omar Galindo. In the booklet, all individual tracks are accompanied by a great drawing which clarifies the story behind a song.

I would like to advise people who want to know more about this excellent band to read the profound interview I had with Germán Vergara (see interview). Of course you can also check out the music on their websites. I think you won't regret it because the music is worth listening to and they certainly deserve the attention of more prog heads.

**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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