Although much of the Progressive Rock coming out nowadays still has a tender spot for 1970's bombast, the past decade has seen a distinctly modern sound coming from a wider selection of bands. Although this four-way collision of Post-Rock, Alternative Rock, Metal and Psychedelia has not sought to homogenize the Prog Rock scene, greater numbers have been adhering themselves to this style, given the fairly convoluted label of 'Post-Progressive Rock.' Dutch rockers A LIQUID LANDSCAPE are a recent addition to this trend, and already have performed live with some of Post-Prog's finest, including ANATHEMA and KARNIVOOL. Taking the melodic sensibilities of Modern Rock with the ambient ear of Post-Rock, their debut "Nightingale Express" is no doubt a product of its time; not falling back on the 70's legends for something tried-and-true, but failing to progress beyond what has been already mastered in recent years.
A LIQUID LANDSCAPE fall on the 'Rock' side of Post-Rock. Although their music is layered with plenty of guitar ambiance and soothing textures, melody remains a focus. The band themselves describe their sound as "a glimmer of hope . . . somewhere in the twilight between desperation and surrender." Pretentious, maybe, but the description does manage to convey the sense of melancholic emotional energy that drives the music forward. With the higher register vocals of Fons Herder combined with the ambient guitar riffs, A LIQUID LANDSCAPE drew a sharp comparison with COHEED AND CAMBRIA's debut, "The Second Stage Turbine." With regards to songwriting however, "Nightingale Express" fails to have that consistency that made COHEED's freshman attempt so lively.
Introducing themselves with a 12 minute title track, A LIQUID LANDSCAPE plant themselves firmly within modern Prog territory. Especially considering that this is the first earnest output of the band, the production is brilliantly done. The instruments are mixed comfortably, and the ear-candy ambiance is emphasized just enough to make it important, without interfering with the songwriting itself. In regards to their performance and execution, A LIQUID LANDSCAPE excel; the musicianship is bright and the sound is professional. What makes "Nightingale Express" less than impressive as a whole however, is the composition. That is not to say that A LIQUID LANDSCAPE sound uninspired with what they are doing, but - like that ALCEST album that came out earlier this year - the sound relies so much on pleasant, soothing musical ideas that any sense of challenge or effort from the side of the listener is lost. Some may find this a refreshing change of pace from the more abstract approach taken by more adventurous artists, but the end effect is one of anesthesia, rather than brilliance.
(Online May 10, 2012)