CD REVIEW A Liquid Landscape

Band : A Liquid Landscape
Album title : Nightingale Express
Label : Glassville Records
Distributor : /
Release date : 17/02/2012
Release : CD

Just so you stand warned, this Dutch Prog Rock band has nothing to do with electronics act Liquid Soundscape. Also, although A Liquid Landscape only did its debut gig in late 2009, the members (lead singer/ guitarist Fons Helder, guitarist Niels van Dam, bassist Robert van Dam, and drummer Coen Speelman) had been playing together for some years prior, albeit with a different musical direction.

Since then, ALL have managed to play support slots for the likes of Karnivool, Anathema, Riverside, and Thrice, and in such important venues as Utrecht's 013 and Amsterdam's Melkweg. They made it into the finals of the 2010 Nederlandse Grote Prijs (translate as “Dutch Grand Prize”) contest, and sold out 3 gigs at the Noorderzonfestival. Along the way the band developed their material into a concept for their first album (it is “...about finding a place to belong, a brooding sense of uncertainty and, ultimately, self deception, reaching out to renowned producer Forrester Savell (has worked with Karnivool and Helmet, among others) to record the album. One person who'd already grown impressed with the band's musical output, is Dutch filmmaker Lex Vasseur whom, hired by the band, put together a very nice 18:15 short film based on and with the band's music. A teaser bit was already released 8 months ago, and the short film was premiered on September 24 of last year. But the band has also used the visuals in their show, using a live VJ to trigger the film bits.

As far as the music goes, expect occasionally softly meandering stuff, with a front guitar sounding almost acoustic, and a more electrified one screaming at diminished volume in the back (both alternating in intensities depending on the music's needs). There's a lot of build-ups alternating with calmer passages here, and it's what makes a person able to get through the album opening title track without losing attention for even one second during its 12:40 length! One of the guys gives the lead singer (who's got a nicely melancholic nasal whining voice which nevertheless succeeds in avoiding to get a nagging quality) frequent vocal backings with a quality which harmonizes quite well with the lead singer. The absolute high point of this comes when towards the ending of “Come On Home”, the harmonizing is done in two layers, one chanting the title of the song, while another backs up the lead singer...and all the while the guitars do some harmonizing on their own... I just lóve that passage! I mean, when I was giving the album its initial listening session, thàt was the deciding moment when I stopped simply listening and started paying real serious attention to the album...and darn damned if I haven't been re-discovering it with every session I gave it from then on! Before closing the album with the male/ female duet Secret Isle (no details were given about the identity of the female singer, but I guess it could be Sofie Letitre, whom was also present at the album release party), the band also brings a really véry nice instrumental entitled “Storm”.

Oh yeah, Nightingale Express will make my year-lists alright, and with flying colours too! At the band's own site (www.) aliquidlandscape, you can watch the short film in the “Movie” section, and in the “Media” section you'll find some pre-selected live video material (plus a link to much more stuff on YouTube). Check it out, and if you have any affinity for Progressive music, you're sure to find a new favourite band!