Alter Echo - Alter Echo


Year of Release: 1997
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FG 1201.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:21:00

If I were to describe Swedish band Alter Echo's sound in 15 words or less, I would say that they play melodic progressive pop interspersed with Gentle Giant-inspired parts. That seems to be almost an oxymoron of sorts (pop and Gentle Giant?), but the mix of styles works well. Moreover, Micke Wedberg is a strong singer, kind of a Swedish version of Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, & Nash fame). The vocals are, except for one song, all in Swedish, but Wedberg's pleasant timbre and ability to hit every note right on will fall lightly on the ears of those not used to Swedish singing.

As an example of the fare here, the first song, "Gulnat Vatten," opens like a long-lost Gentle Giant composition, but changes quickly to more melodic lines, typical of, say, Spock's Beard. Still, reminders of Gentle Giant dart in and out of the mix. Genesis also gets their due in the longer instrumental passages. In fact, most of the album's songs are a Gentle Giant/Genesis/Spock's Beard hybrid. Another example is "Jordbom," which starts off in a Gentle Giant/Happy the Man vein, but whose vocal sections stick to the pop side of prog. "Eremiten," on the other hand, sticks with the Genesis tradition, featuring acoustic guitar and a Gabrielesque vocal melody backed with a keyboard choir and Tony Banks-like synth fills.

Another strong song (musically, not lyrically) is "Daffodils," which sounds like a Neal Morse/Ian Anderson collaboration. This acoustic song is, by the way, the only track on the album with English lyrics. Other influences include the Dutch prog guitar bands. For example, "Oleg" moves at first in a Gentle Giant direction, sounding like an instrumental that could have been on one of the earlier GG albums. However, Dutch prog gets a nod later in the song with guitar soloing that could have been wrung from the axe of Jan Akkerman.

I could go on, as there's a lot of good stuff on the disc. Of course, that's not to say that there aren't a couple of weaker tracks. The song "Axel I Stan" is okay instrumentally, but the verse melodies aren't as strong as on other pieces and don't blend well with the backing instruments (nice, hooky chorus, though). Another track I'm not especially fond of is "Hem," which, probably due to personal taste, just doesn't grab me. Still, all in all, Alter Echo is a pleasing, often even great, listen.


Tracklisting:
Gulnat Vatten (5:59) / St?mman (4:15) / Eremiten (4:47) / Innan Strax F?re (4:28) / Axel I Stan (3:24) / Daffodils (2:59) / T?nk Om (4:38) / Oleg (5:29) / Hem, Prelude (2:32) / Hem (6:09) / Jordbon (4:09) / Falska Banor (7:01)

Musicians:
Pele Alsing - drums, percussion
Lars Guldbrand - keyboards
Hans Hagstr?m - guitars, bongos
Henrik Nordgren - bass
Micke Wedberg - vocals

Discography:
Alter Echo (1997)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: April 19th 2001
Reviewer: Clayton Walnum

Hits: 1361
Language: english

  

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