Monday, 21 July 2014

A Secret River - Colours of Solitude

Scandinavia has a long, rich and varied heritage in the world of Progressive Rock music and seems to produce more than its fair share of exceptional bands. One of the recent crop of groups is A Secret River, whose debut album 'Colours of Solitude' has just been released. Made up of Andreas Ålöv - Bass and lead vocals; John Bergstrand - Drums, percussion and vocals; Mikael Grafström - Guitars and vocals & Björn Sandberg - Keyboards and vocals, they say of themselves:

Out of the fertile musical soil of southern Sweden comes A Secret River, a band intent on exploring and creating innovative sounds, while still keeping the song in focus. From its humble inception as a duo some ten years ago to the four-piece it is today, A Secret River is steadily building a following around the world, with songs that are undoubtedly progressive and intricate, yet remain easily accessible to listeners from all walks of life. Lush vocal harmonies, unusual song structures and multi-layered sounds are just a few of the things that make A Secret River stand out from the crowd.

Do they achieve that? Well, the eight songs which compose the album are certainly a varied collection with what appears to be a vast array of instrumentation in evidence. There are a variety of time signatures on show (the opener, 'Blinding Light', seems to be in 5/8), solos from keyboards and guitar which enhance the songs without dominating as some solos can, and vocal harmonies which, although not as involved as those of compatriots Moon Safari, nonetheless bring a depth to the music.

The band seem to draw their influences from a wide range of sources. There are elements of jazz evident in 'A Place to Start', more rocky passages towards the end of 'Starbomb', and echoes for me of the mellower end of Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd in 'No Way To Say Goodbye' and reminiscences of Martin Orford in the instrumental title track.

This is gentle, lyrical, textured progressive rock music which draws you in with its subtlety and style and keeps you entertained throughout (though the penultimate song, 'Passing Grace' struck me as a little weak.) All in all a good debut: I look forward to more great music from these guys in the future.