Wobbler -
Dwellers Of The Deep

(CD 2020, 45:41, Karisma Records)

The tracks:
  1- By The Banks(13:49)
  2- Five Rooms(8:28)
  3- Naiad Dreams(4:24)
  4- Merry Macabre(19:00)

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Dwellers of the Deep is the fifth studio album by Norwegian proggers, Wobbler, one of those bands who never fail to delight with their very contemporary take on classic 70s prog. They often sound more Yes than Yes!

Like their previous albums, you can hear all those lovely Yessisms running through all four tracks, especially the highly pitched vocals and lush close harmonies, the piping organ, thundering bass and driving rhythms.

All these qualities are in plain sight on the stunning opener By The Banks, that simply has everything - the harmonies, the symphonics and a guitar/keyboard sequence, which comes close to the Canterbury sound at times. Majestic and magnificent, fresh and fabulous, it never sounds derivative or contrived throughout its entire 13 minutes.

Starting with the sound of a gentler keyboard and long sustained notes, it's not long before Five Rooms explodes into another Yes lovefest, complete with a choir-boy vocal section while its instrumental passages hark back to bands like Caravan.

Naiad Dreams is a delicate acoustic song which sounds like a folk ballad with added dreamy synths. This is a prelude to the darker side of Wobbler as they embark on Merry Macabre, nearly 20 minutes of prog sorcery of the sinister kind. From its piano-dominated introduction with shimmering cymbals, it evokes an eerie inner battle, full of drama and swirling sonic patterns, in which all five band members show off their musical chops. However, the voices on this track are more Chris Squire than Jon Anderson. The piece includes a passage of pure delight where one of Lars Fredrik Frĝislie's keyboard solos could have come straight out of Yes's South Side Of The Sky. It ends in a huge synthesiser-led frenzy.

It's right up there with the best of 2020.

**** Alison Reijman

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