Incredible how many euphoric reviews Shamblemaths have generated with this second album Shamblemaths 2 (after their also acclaimed eponymous debut CD from 2016), tons of “highly recommended” and “album of the year” conclusions! So lots of praise for this Norwegian project, led by Simen Å. Ellingsen (soprano, alto, tenor & baritone saxophones, electric & acoustic guitars, soprano recorder, tin whistle, vocals, chant, whispers, saxophone samples and occasional keyboards) and Ingvald A. Vassbø (drums and xylophone), with the collaboration of a wide range of guest musicians (bass, vocals, keyboards and bassoon).
This is my first musical encounter with Shamblemaths, to me their second effort sounds like a hot stew of Anglagard (more experimental second album), King Crimson (avant-garde inspired early Seventies) and Il Balletto Di Bronzo (album Ys, a Classic Italian Prog gem). The compositions are very adventurous, daring and captivating, but also pretty complex and quirky, or even mighty close to cacophonic. Room for vintage keyboards, from sumptuous Hammond organ eruptions to majestic Mellotron choir layers. And more room for brass/ woodwind, often in the avant-garde style, not my cup of tea. At some moments I am blown away by this music, but in general it is too nerve wracking for me. For sure this Norwegian formation delivers interesting music, to say the least, only the vocals sound mediocre.
I am not planning to buy their albums after my listening sessions, as an Old School symphomaniac, but thumbs up for these creative and adventurous minds, going their own way in the amazing world of prog.
***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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