Arabs in Aspic — Pictures in a Dream
(Black Widow BWRCD 152-2, 2013, CD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2013-09-08
Arabs in Aspic — an odd name for an excellent Norwegian prog rock band. Pictures in a Dream is their fifth release. For this outing, the band (Jostein Smeby, guitars, vocals; Stig A. Jørgensen, Hammond, piano, synth, vocals; Erik Paulsen, bass, fretless bass, vocals; and Eskil Nyhus, drums, percussion) is joined by guest vocalist Rune Sundby from the legendary 70s Norwegian band Ruphus. Arabs in Aspic make no apologies for their love of 70s prog music. The 11 songs on this disc are an amalgam of hard rock, prog rock, analog synths, and Mellotron. The opening song, “Rejected Wasteland (Pictures in a Dream),” is a symphonic prog rock number that borders on stadium rock and draws comparisons to Werner Nadolny’s current version of Jane. I am not sure if “Let U.S. Pray” is a slam against the United States, but the music is excellent heavy rock. “You Are Blind” is another hard prog rock song with a definite Beatles vibe running through it. Many of the songs segue seamlessly from one to another, making for a very enjoyable listening experience. One of the standout songs for me is “Lifeguard at Sharkbay.” The song has an energetic beginning and after a minute it becomes peaceful with great Hammond organ riffing and Mellotron. Then it transitions again with twin guitars leading to a solid 70s ending. The closing song is an acoustic version of the title track, “Pictures in a Dream,” and it contains memorable hooks that make you want to sing along. In addition, Arabs in Aspic has a YouTube channel with many videos of their recent live performances.
Related artist(s): Arabs in Aspic
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.