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White Willow - Signal To Noise (6/10) - Norway - 2006

Genre: Art Rock / Progressive Rock
Label: Laser's Edge, The
Playing time: 51:28
Band homepage: White Willow

Tracklist:

  1. Night Surf
  2. Splinters
  3. Ghost
  4. Joyride
  5. The Lingering
  6. The Dark Road
  7. Chrome Dawn
  8. Dusk City >mp3
  9. Ararat
White Willow - Signal To Noise

Apparently, Norway’s WHITE WILLOW is hailed as “one of the most significant progressive groups of the current era“ by The Billboard Guide to Progressive Music. M’kay, can’t say I’ve ever heard of them before. Not only is it my first experience with them, but it’s also “The Metal Observer”’s go around with them. Which makes sense; this is a strict Progressive/Art Rock group with no traces of Metal on this CD, despite the fact that it is apparently their heaviest. “Signal To Noise“ is their fifith studio album, all of which have been released on The Laser’s Edge.

 

Album’s like this were meant for such adjectives as “classy,“ “mature,“ and “professional.“ They’re a little more experiemental than the average Prog Rock group, though their certainly not out in the tall grass by any means. New, apparently, to the band is female vocalist Trude Eidtang, bringing with her a mid-range, dignified tone. Early in “Night Surf“ the group introduces us to Ketil Einarsen, their floutist. The instrument comes up several times throughout the album, but it’s not a constant. There are also appearances of electric sitar and a string ensemble, with a guest providing the first moog solo I’ve heard since “Imaginary Sonicscapes“ by SIGH on “Chrome Dawn.“

 

The songs, in general, are very lifeaffirming and light. On “Splinters“ Eidtang nearly does an Alanis Morisette impression for the chorus after an opening that reminds me for something from MOONSPELL’s “Sin/Pecado“ album for no reason I can actually explain. I’m also reminded at times of SIGUR RÓS and any number of softer moments from Progressive Metal bands that escape my attempts to remember and recognize. The band does like to jam at times, most memorably in “Chrome Dawn“ and “Ghosts,“ the latter of which tries to sound tougher and heavier than it actually is.

 

“Signal To Noise” is an acceptable listen if you’re in an especially breezy mood. Ne’er will you bang your head but songs like “Joyride” will fill your mind with incredibly vibrant sunlight. Of course, this is “The Metal Observer”, so there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this you don’t want that sunlight. Folks who like Art Rock should check this out, but those who eat, sleep and crap pure steel need not apply.

(Online November 13, 2006)

Keith Stevens



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