Presagio Records [Release Date: 29.10.13]
The world of progressive rock, in recent years, has been expanded to some of the furthest-flung corners of the globe.
Not only from the likes of eastern Europe, Scandinavia and Japan but from less-expected outposts such as India, Israel and, increasingly, South America.
Step forward Aisles from Santiago in Chile with their own very special take on the genre.
Back in 2012 I reviewed the band’s re-release of previous outing ‘In Sudden Walks’, which, with the occasional faux-pas, was fully deserving of the five stars garnered.
Back then, the band were working on their next release and I said at the time that if it bettered ‘In Sudden Walks’ it could be an album of some significance.
It is an album of some significance.
As good as ISW was, ‘4:45 AM’ has sailed past it both in terms of songwriting and musicianship.
In addition, whereas the lyrical content from the previous album (sung in English) was OK, it gave the impression of perhaps being written in Spanish and translated – resulting in occasionally risible passages.
We forgave them as the music was so good, but no need for forgiveness here as the band have put together a cohesive, strong and believable libretto – the equal of any band whose mother tongue is English.
But it’s the quality of the music that excites.
Taking their cue from a myriad of the finest progressive rock bands on the planet – think Yes, Genesis, Marillion and even a bit of Wishbone Ash (with the twin guitars of German Vergara and Rodrigo Sepulveda very much to the fore), the band have infused the generic progressive template with distinctly South American touches, particularly in the use of acoustic guitars.
Add to this the dulcet tones of Constanza Maulen on three tracks and a string quartet, then mix it all up with the odd touch of jazz here, a swirl of electronica there and constantly shifting tempos all over the place and it produces an ever-changing, don’t know what’s coming next, smorgasbord of prog loveliness.
Highlights include the staccato rhythms and outstanding songsmithery of the opening title track, the Marillionesque instrumental ‘Gallarda Yarura’, the laid-back, wistful ‘The Sacrifice’, the ever-changing ‘Hero’ and the ten minutes plus of sensitive er, melancholia of closer ‘Melancholia’.
‘4:45 AM’ is a major step forward for the band and will fully deserve the plaudits heading in its direction.
This is interesting, thoughtful and exceptionally well played progressive rock that doffs its cap to the halcyon days of the genre whilst pushing its own contemporary and cultural agenda to the fore.
Review by Alan Jones
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