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[Follow links for full reviews below]

“Album of the year? At least in the retroprog genre! 14/15”*
T. Kohlruss, BabyBlaue

“One of the most stunning albums I have come across in some time! 6.5/6.5”
O.M. Bjørnsen, Progressor.net

At once sounding like everything and nothing else (...) brilliantly bonkers music”
G. Moon, PROG Magazine

Shamblemaths have delivered some of the most daring, formidable and ambitious music ever. This group is the revelation of 2016. 5/5”*
D. Gonzales, Highlands Magazine

I declare Shamblemaths to be the best Norwegian prog band these days.”*
B. Nørsterud, Scream Magazine

“Shamblemaths leave no choice but to integrate their music into your brain, soul, body and mind. 9/10”*
M. Haifl, Streetclip.tv

A pristine distillation of the best that prog has to offer”
M. Matheson, canthisevenbecalledmusic.com

“A great album. You've got to hear it!”*
J. Meurer, Empire Magazine (Germany)

“Without question a contender for Album of the Year”
J. Davie aka Mellotron Storm, ProgArchives

“One of the most intriguing albums I have heard all year. 3.5/4”
J. Neudorf, Sea of Tranquility

“The great discovery of 2016 for me so far! 14/15”*
N. Brückner, BabyBlaue

“One of the highlights of the year so far! 13/15”*
J. Meurer, BetreutesProggen

“A coherent creative expression that works superbly on a number of levels. 8/10”
O. Davis, DPRP

“I've heard worse.”
R. Trenwith, The Progressive Aspect

*) Translation from original language. See original review below.


In English:
DPRP.NET score: 8/10
PROGRESSOR.NET score: 6.5/6.5
SEA OF TRANQUILITY score: 3.5/4
CANTHISEVENBECALLEDMUSIC.COM
PROG MAGAZINE
THE PROGRESSIVE ASPECT

In German:
STREETCLIP.TV score: 9/10
BABYBLAUE #1 score: 14/15
BABYBLAUE #2 score: 14/15
EMPIRE MAGAZINE
BETREUTES PROGGEN score: 13/15
PROGGIES.CH

Other languages:
SCREAM MAGAZINE (in Norwegian) score: 5/6
CHROMATIQUE (in French) score: 5/5 (sheep in love)
HIGHLANDS MAGAZINE (in French) score: 5/5
ARLEQUINS (in Italian)





Reviewed by Owen Davies
August 28th 2016
Original review

My neighbour Addfwyn Cyllell burst into my garden yesterday. Inspired by TV adds extolling the wonders of virtual reality technology, he was clutching his own home-spun device and lilted: "It's for you Owen, to help you with a difficult review. To help you experience the music in a sensory way. To help you fuel your imagination and to make an album stand out from the pack."

The fitting was painless; smoke-lensed eye goggles to colour my thoughts, a necklace of herbs to stimulate olfaction and a textured belt, snuggly-fitted with twenty pouched compartments. These contained an array of carefully chosen textured materials to heighten my sense of touch.

His barked instructions were clear: "Listen to the music, bathe in the aroma and explore the pouches."

As Shamblemaths' opening epic Conglomeration began, it was apparent that Addfwyn's device was a distraction. Nothing but the music was needed to colour my imagination. The device was not necessary! The interest created by this challenging, yet accessible piece quickly filtered through, to gain my full attention.

Shamblemaths is a Norwegian duo made up of Simon Ellingsen on vocals and assorted instruments, and Eirik Mathias on bass. The duo is joined by a number of guests who provide extra layers to the multi-faceted compositions. The album consists of three lengthy suites. Conglomeration weighs in at over twenty-six minutes, A Falling Ember lasts almost ten minutes, and the final piece, Stalker, unravels its story in just under twenty.

The duo's appreciation of DPRP and the pair's commitment to progressive rock was set out in the personal note which accompanied their album. It read 'Thanks for the great work DPRP does for the strange music we love'. The duo's unfailing love of all things prog is proclaimed loud and proud throughout their self-titled debut.

During the course of this album, a wide variety of styles associated with prog are entwined with care and skill, to produce something that sounds familiar due to its points of reference, but is ultimately totally unique. The album includes sections that has some avant-garde moments but also channels such diverse bands as VDGG, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, Magma, ELP, Hatfield and the North and more modern influences such as Porcupine Tree.

The instrumental sections are wonderfully constructed, and somehow the pair tie together all of the disparate styles into a coherent creative expression that works superbly on a number of levels. Those who appreciate complex cerebral prog will find much to ruminate over in this release. There are also many carefully constructed pastoral moments and tune-based melodies to enjoy. These are brush-coloured by an acoustic palette of instruments. As a contrast, the release also contains a plethora of virtuoso instrumental performances. The organ, saxophone and guitar work is impressive throughout.

Conglomeration is outstanding in every respect. The lyrical subject matter is dark and relates to loneliness, depression and isolation. This is brilliantly counterbalanced by the music, which for the most part is positive and spiritually uplifting.

The caustic lyrical nature of much of the suite is reflected in the titles of some of the sub-sections such as, The Different Tastes of Sick and Life is Tough (when you're me). Taken as a whole, the suite has a self-effacing, tongue-incheek air that is also suggested by some of the darkly-ironic humorous lines that occur.

In the midst of the suite, there is even a musical reference to Ian Anderson's Sossity composition entitled Saucy Tiara Woman. It is an imaginative piece which consumes Anderson's bright melody and regurgitates it with a heavily-disguised makeover that many ardent Tull fans would not recognise. It is however, a palatable banquet for those who are interested to hear an imaginative restyling of this beautiful tune.

If I had any reservations about the album as a whole, then they would relate to the vocal sections. They are well sung and skilfully executed, and often act as a bridge between the instrumental sections. However, I enjoyed the instrumental interludes so much, that I would have liked them to have been longer. This is a matter of personal taste though, (I usually prefer instrumental albums) and on the whole, the vocal parts in Shamblemaths do not detract from the overall excellence of the album.

For many who discover the album, the vocal passages will be viewed as an integral part; vital for communicating the concept, and as a gateway to access the more challenging instrumental parts. The vocal sections successfully achieve both of these roles.

The remaining pieces do not reach the heights achieved in the opening suite, but are successful in their own right. Falling Ember is a bright tune that wears its classic prog influences of Genesis and the like proudly in its fire-lit arrangement. The bass parts are particularly full-bodied and firmly-toned, in this piace and also in Stalker. The sleeve notes state that they were recorded in the 'Room of Mystery and Magic' and one can only imagine the fun the duo had on those occasions.

Falling Ember is also garnished with some classic two-part vocal harmonies and ample acoustic guitar parts. The mood changes at the seven minute mark, with baby cries and some enchanting, retro-styled Mellotron. The end part of this piece is strangely evocative, and conjures up an image of kaleidoscopic lights and the pungency of psychedelia.

There is somewhat of a Canterbury vibe in the opening section of Stalker, although the vocal phrasing brought the work of Genesis to mind. The chorus of this piece, for a prog composition, is unfashionably catchy, and its full bodied arrangement cries out Euro-pop. There is nothing to fear though, as contrasting passages jostle and emerge to take the composition onto a rocky outcrop surrounded by unpredictable, bubbling, progressive waters. The electric guitar tones are expressive and the playing emulates the melodic style of Andy Latimer. It is perhaps though, the full-fleshed tone of the excellent saxophone passages that ensure that this piece stays in the memory long after the sweet vocal melodies have dissipated.

Addfwyn Cyllell called by today to collect his device. I smiled enthusiastically and nodded politely when he asked whether it had helped me experience music in a different way. I didn't have the heart to tell him that Shamblemaths' album did not require any buoyancy aids to keep it afloat and make it stand out from the pack. Instead, I simply handed him this review.

8/10





Reviewed by Olav M. Bjørnsen
July 21st 2016
Original review

Prolusion. The Norwegian band SHAMBLEMATHS is a direct continuation of the earlier band Fallen Fowl, which was active in the early 2000s, but went into hiatus due to certain life events following three EP and demo releases. A decade or so later, the two permanent members of that band, Ellingsen and Husum, decided to continue as Shamblemaths, and recorded their debut album under this new name with the help of a number of guest musicians. The final result was the self-titled CD "Shamblemaths", which was self-released in the spring of 2016.

Analysis. Those who tend to fancy bands within the progressive rock circles that are described as challenging can, at this point, probably stop reading and head out to check the material of this band straight away. I'm not the biggest fan of extremely challenging endeavors myself, and due to that, I can say with some certainty that when I do encounter bands of that nature that I really, really like, then chances are good that this will be an album that will make quite the impact with just about anyone that favors this breed of progressive rock. This is a CD that has just about anything those with a taste for the more avant-garde and eclectic varieties of progressive rock crave. Dramatic choral Magma-style vocal sections? Check! Expressive saxophone solo runs? Yes, indeed, there's a bountiful of them spread throughout this album. Long, multi-sectional compositions? Check again: there are three songs on the CD, and with enough alterations in pace, themes, changes and developments to make any progressive rock fan happy, without loosing any sense of cohesion or identity when it comes to that. Powerful organ and guitar riff combinations? Yes, indeed. Sophisticated, multi-layered vocal harmony sections? Yup, very much present indeed. Mellotron? Yes, indeed. Eclectic, fragmented interludes? Oh, yes, used sparingly and to very good effect. Pastoral sequences and movements? Check. Twisted, dark and brooding guitar escapades? A few of those are indeed present. With elegantly controlled quality lead vocals, a top-notch mix and production and a few whimsical oddities thrown in for good measure, this is an album of multiple styles, with a firm foundation in jazz rock that incorporate both vintage and modern hard prog as well as some more symphonic lpassages and with a few Flamenco-oriented acoustic guitar details to boot. This isn't an album that is lacking in variety in any department, to put it that way. Uplifting, melancholic and brooding, ominous sounding atmospheres are all a part of the tapestries woven; the whimsical archetypal English sound just as much present as the Scandinavian melancholy, as well as a slight touch of fiery Latin passion. As far as flaws are concerned, the only extremely minor gripe I have is that concluding epic Stalker isn't quite at the same level of hypnotic allure as the opening two excursions. And, perhaps, a notion that this is an album it'll be difficult for the band to follow up in a good manner.

Conclusion. Shamblemath's self-titled debut album is a joyful whirlwind of excellent, challenging and eclectic progressive rock with some distinct avant-garde leanings. I can't imagine too many people with an interest in music described in this general manner that won't be intrigued by this creation, and in addition, I suspect that a lot of people with the notion that this type of music isn't their thing will actually enjoy this album if they decide to seek it out. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the most stunning albums I have come across in some time now, and comes with my glowing recommendations.

6.5/6.5 (Or rather 6! which is top score)





Reviewed by Matt Matheson
August 24th 2016
Original review

In a remote cabin, at the base of some foggy mountain, lived a hermit, who knew only two things in life: survival, and progressive rock. One morning, he looked through his collection, in reverse chronology – Spock’s Beard, Dream Theater, Marillion, Van der Graaf Generator – and settled on a record by Egg, which he dusted off and began to place on his turntable. Just then, a quite unexpected knock came at the door. Answering it, he saw a man much younger than himself, panting breathlessly from his journey.

“Are you the prog guy? You’re him, right?!”

Silently, the man beckoned his visitor into his home and poured him a cup of water. He then motioned to his guest to proceed.

“So…I’m in this class on the history of prog rock, from like 1968 to the modern stuff. But I kinda slept through most of the classes, and now the final exam is coming up, so I need some magical wizardry to help me cram. Can you give me, like, the whirlwind tour of prog real quick?”

A strained look came over the old man’s face – a complex mixture of pride for the visitor’s desire to learn the ways of prog (and his recognition of the man as the authority on it) and disappointment that he had not taken his education seriously prior to this. He rose and ambled toward his enormous array of shelves, lined with records, cassettes, and compact discs. Carefully, he began to extract key selections – In the Court of the Crimson King, Foxtrot, Thick As A Brick, Close To The Edge, Dark Side of the Moon – and the visitor began to stack the records on his lap. Several albums later – Hemispheres, Tales from the Lush Attic, Misplaced Childhood – the increasingly nervous guest had accrued a stack a foot high. Without pause, the frenzied hermit pressed on – Operation: Mindcrime, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory, Stardust We Are – before the visitor finally shoved the heap of music aside. “Um, I probably should have mentioned this before, but…the test is in an hour.”

The hermit glared in disgust. Who would dare approach him with the infantile naïvete to think the whole scope of prog could be summarized in an hour? But, after pondering for a moment, his countenance was replaced by a warm smile. He gathered up the records he had previously offered, sat them at the foot of his cabinet, and reached high to procure a single disc. He placed it into his CD player, and then handed the package to the young man. On the cover was a single word: Shamblemaths.

~~~~~

In 2016, there are several great acts carrying the torch of progressive music in ways that continue to push the envelope. Transatlantic’s supergroup approach turns up the bombastic, arena-captivating style to 11 as they pump out long-form slabs of heavy-tinged traditional prog. Big Big Train have refined themselves from 1977-Genesis-frozen-in-carbonite into pastoral minstrels of Britain’s days of yore. The Tea Club have captured the spiritual ethos of the ‘70s and unleashed it in a decidedly modern compositional framework. But progressive rock, while always indebted to its forebears, rarely looks back so purely and clearly as Shamblemaths have on their stunning self-titled debut.

Shamblemaths come from somewhere (namely, Norway) yet also came out of nowhere. Biographies insist that the two core members, multi-instrumentalist Simen Ellingsen and bassist Eirik Husum, played together in a band called Fallen Fowl, a band whose last.fm listenership currently resides in the single digits. So, colloquial pedigree aside, it’s safe to say nobody knew these guys had an album of this caliber in them. And, indeed, despite being out almost five months, Shamblemaths’ full-length has not yet vaulted their name onto the lips of the broader prog community as it should have. This masterful work, which employs far more musicians than just the two men credited as members, is nothing short of a love letter to the whole history of progressive rock, carefully penned with the finest ink and parchment.

The album’s three tracks (arranged in Goldilocks order: “too long”, “too short”, “just right”) span almost a full hour of music, and one look at the titles (and subtitles!) should immediately dispel any doubt that we’re dealing with bona fide prog here. They begin with the aptly titled ‘Conglomeration (or: The Grand Pathetic Suite)’, a ten-part song which cosplays as ‘Supper’s Ready’ when it goes to ProgCon. They pull out one of music’s ballsiest moves: the cold-open to insanity, front-loading the most challenging and avant-garde material in order to scare off anyone approaching this album as a casual listener. After a gentle sprinkling of piano keys, part a (‘Bloody Racket’) kicks in with a mixture of King Crimson’s most intense days and some of the more unhinged sensibilities of an Unexpect or Diablo Swing Orchestra. Dual tapping leads spin vividly over a crunchy foundational rhythm before things open up to a cinematic spread of vocal layers. Two and a half minutes in, a guitar solo enters the frenzy, revealing another facet of the band’s musical mastery. The guitar bows out and a saxophone suddenly takes over – hey, there’s jazz in here too! Then a synth lead gets the spotlight for a moment, which shifts over to mellotron to check off another box on the prog requirement list.

If you’re still around, not alienated by the musical barrage of the opening overture, part b (‘Your Silly Stare’) brings in the true vocals – a very IQ-like, British-flavored timbre – over a classic acoustic rhythm. After a quick verse, the psychedelic jazz reenters in part c (‘A Mockery in the Making’), which gives free reign to that sax we glimpsed earlier. Part d (‘The Different Tastes of Sick’) takes things down a notch, with sparkling guitar and soft organ laying the basis for another clever verse, one that would feel right at home as a calm segment in an Ayreon piece. The rollercoaster ride continues with part e (‘A Mockery Well Made’), with more emphasis on the jazz-fusion elements, and the bass standing out more prominently here than before. Attentive listeners will be able to detect subtly repeated themes from parts a and c here – thematic reuse being, of course, a staple of prog composition. In turn, each component of the band’s sound demonstrates its capability – a brief dual-synth interlude here, a sax run there.

The structural pattern of alternating heaviness and lightness continues, as part f (‘Life is Tough (When You’re Me)’) brings back singing and calm music – shades of Pink Floyd and Genesis are eminently detectable here. Part g (‘Saucy Tiara Woman!’) deviates a bit; rather than a riff-heavy instrumental passage, we get a more technical acoustic section in 7/8 which the band openly divulges contains musical homages to ‘Sossity, You’re a Woman’ from Jethro Tull’s 1970 album Benefit, so, I don’t think I need to tell you which classic prog band this part evokes. The acoustics, piano, and horns are subdued with great effectiveness here, until that shrieking lead guitar jumps back in and the music amps up. This remarkable solo hits a sweet spot blending feeling and technicality, somewhere between “Roine Stolt on cocaine” and “John Petrucci if he experienced human emotion”. Part h (‘Another Pear of Ice’, har har) keeps things steady, hitting on something a bit more Fish-esque and introducing a melodic theme that will form the basis of the song’s next few minutes, including part i (‘Con-girl Omen Ratio 1’ – say it fast, remember the title of the song), which gets back to the more urgent antics of previous parts. This is really the first proper heavy part with vocals; everything else so far, save the unique intro, has been either one or the other. This part also has the most modern sound so far; referential touchpoints enter the ‘90s, with flavors like Fates Warning and The Flower Kings. Finally, part j (‘Overture’) wraps up the band’s massive opening statement by recapitulating lyrics and themes from every previous section, fading out on a vocal-and-acoustic reframing of part b. It is perhaps a deflating ending for what was an exceptional prog opus; typically, you would expect such an anthem to end on a note of grandiosity, like the aforementioned ‘Supper’s Ready’ or ‘A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers’ do. But, of course, this is not the album’s closer, so perhaps such a sense of finality would be premature.

Acoustics and vocals return to gently guide us into the album’s second, and shortest, song, ‘A Failing Ember’. Twinkling keyboard runs accentuate part a (‘Never Innocent Again’), which I would again compare to IQ. Abrasive synth and quirky bass signal the shift to part b (‘The Winding Stair’), which gradually adds layers of sax and percussion before launching into full-blown heavy-fusion territory. This lasts only a moment before the dulcet acoustic jerks us away into part c (‘Three Flowers’), which contains some elaborate picking and back-and-forth vocals, then introduces a western-klezmer bounce that contrasts sax with…jaw harp? Sheesh, what won’t these guys put on the album? A baby? Yeah, they probably wouldn’t put a ba–oh, look, there’s a baby doing vocals on part d (‘Deus Caritatis’). This section has a bit of that brooding, epic outro quality I was anticipating on the first track, although it dies down to let the vocals close the song.

Finally, we reach what would be the longest song on many bands’ albums but is positively tame by prog standards, the 20-minute ‘Stalker’. For the first minute, carefully crafted acoustic chords and lilting vocalizations ease us into the darkness to come (this is part a, ‘Stalker Begins’). Part b (‘Bad Conscience Underneath Your Gown’) enters with a more upbeat fusion part that fades into a tranquil, piano-driven verse. The first “chorus” enters (“I’ll sink to Hell through high water…”), a motif that will be revisited and tweaked as the song goes on. After the third iteration of this section, an abrupt shift to crunching guitar takes us to part c (‘Stalker: Persistance’ [sic]). Right around 7 minutes, this builds to a melody shared between synth and guitar over relatively intense musical backing; but, naturally, this recedes to usher the vocals back in. The song maintains a noir, unsettling atmosphere throughout, expressed next by the pulsing bass beneath wandering sax breaths. At the 10-minute mark, things kick up again with synth leads and dramatic pad swells leading the way. This part concludes with quite a punch before ebbing to an organ transition and the acoustic intro to part d (‘Stalker’s Lullaby’), a mellifluously-modal melodic interlude that re-conjures the spirit of Jethro Tull. The second half of this part recaps the first half but with grander instrumentation, the sax carrying the melody. The 50-second part e (‘Stalker: The Harrowing’) turns the instruments loose for a moment of disorienting chaos, but part f (‘Stalker: Inevitable Anticlimax and Fade-Out’…hmm) brings the piece toward its conclusion with a series of melodic vignettes that, naturally, include some musical callbacks to previous parts, one final chorus, and a reprise of the introductory theme of part b, this time at full power, with a synth squeal providing the cherry to this sundae.

Reflecting on that experience leads to a few summary thoughts. First of all, despite the tremendous amount of verbiage I just expended describing this excellent work, the truth is that you didn’t need my exposition to form an opinion about it. There are two possible responses to Shamblemaths’ self-titled debut: “Ugh, more of this” or “Ooh, more of this!” Like I said at the outset, these guys haven’t reinvented any wheels, they’ve just plucked out four awesome ones and slapped them on a prog-rock Cadillac. If you enjoy prog rock, there’s nothing here to turn you off, and plenty of appeal to suck you in; but if you don’t enjoy prog rock, there’s nothing here that’s going to suddenly make the lightbulb go off and cause you to appreciate this particular album above and beyond the rest. Really, you already know if this is for you or not.

The most novel component of Shamblemaths’ shtick is the seamless and prominent integration of saxophone and jazz-fusion elements. It’s very natural and doesn’t feel forced, and most prog bands either don’t attempt that or don’t get it just right. The rest of what makes them great isn’t new, it’s just classic stuff with solid composition, production, and execution. There are some valid critiques; the long songs don’t quite seem to resolve their internal narratives, making the clever lyrics somewhat tangential, and the drumming is serviceable given the intricate music but at no point does it really shine or wow you.

Out of curiosity, I went back to check out that previous project, Fallen Fowl, that morphed into Shamblemaths. Their 2006 EP Do They Love You Now? is actually quite polished and interesting. It’s a bit lighter, less jazzy and less intricate than Shamblemaths, but you can clearly hear the parallels in composition, especially in the latter two tracks of the new album, which use refined material that was initially written in the Fallen Fowl era. Their penchant for dark and brooding tones is evident on pieces like ‘Happy’, ‘Someone To Abduct’ and ‘Advent’, while their higher-energy skills aren’t developed quite as much. ‘The Silent Gaps’ does contain some sax riffing that foreshadows the fusion that would become a hallmark of Shamblemaths. It certainly doesn’t sound like ten full years of musical growth happening all at once between the two releases.

But I don’t want to negate the massive praise I’ve heaped on the album so far. It should be obvious at this point that I really do think it’s something special. If you aren’t going to be great by being unique or innovative, then you have to take some genre and do it perfectly. My favorite album of last year was Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, a three-hour tour de force of jazz. When you talk to real jazzheads, they will sometimes criticize Kamasi for not pushing the envelope. But they will confess that he’s an excellent bandleader, and that his breadth of styles is commendable. I could write a similar story about some jazz-expert hermit recommending The Epic as a summary of five decades of jazz. As you listen through the album, you go “Oh man, that’s McCoy Tyner…that’s Ornette Coleman…that’s Eric Dolphy…that’s Wynton Marsalis…” and so on and so forth. Kamasi isn’t great because he pushed jazz forward, he’s great because he put together the single most comprehensive and accessible backward-looking jazz compilation ever assembled by one group of musicians. Shamblemaths is, in a slightly less impressive sense, a prog rock version of that: a pristine distillation of the best that prog has to offer. Truth be told, they’re less like a CliffsNotes study guide for a prog class final exam and more like a final project that would be handed in at semester’s end. Their talent is unimpeachable; I will be curious to see if, now that their foot is in the door of the prog world, they break through with a more personal and innovative statement with their next masterpiece.





Reviewed by Jon Neudorf
July 3rd 2016
Original review

From Trondheim, Norway I bring you Shamblemaths, one of the most intriguing albums I have heard all year. The band started in 2004 under a different name although I don't know much about that part of their history. After a long break they resurfaced in 2016 as Shamblemaths and released their self-titled debut. This is a duo consisting of Simen Ådnøy Ellingsen (electric, acoustic and Spanish guitar, alto, soprano and baritone saxophone, vocals, zither, percussion and keyboards) and Eirik Mathias Husum (bass guitar). There are also a number of guests who contribute a variety of instruments, most notably Hammond organ which is quite prevalent throughout the CD.

This is one of those albums that is hard to get immediately as the band's approach is unorthodox and quite experimental at times delving into the avant-garde. That said, there are some wonderfully melodic moments as well so the listener gets a bit of everything with this release. There are only three tracks but over fifty-six minutes of music with the opener "Conglomeration" clocking in around twenty-seven minutes and the band take every opportunity to explore different sounds and genres. It begins with a slightly off kilter piano melody before heavier guitars and a complex vocal arrangement, including choirs, begin to take shape. The pace slows and quickens as the music weaves through various sections, some bordering on the chaotic while others are quite pretty and melodic. The acoustic guitar and Hammond organ, in particular stand out. The saxophone work is another highlight, sometimes leading the music into complete chaos while at other times finding a more melodic groove. "A Falling Ember" starts with a wonderful acoustic melody and gentle vocals with perhaps an early Genesis influence before heavier riffs are injected into the soundscape. More acoustic moments follow and then the band's quirky nature shines through as the music gets more experimental and much more heavier. But wait, the riffs stop and acoustic and Spanish guitar take over. Effects laden vocals add to the unsettling atmosphere. The last track "Stalker" is perhaps the most melodic and really develops a great groove while still retaining a cutting edge sound along with some neat twists and turns.

Whether or not you will be captured with this release is unclear but one thing is for certain, you will not be bored and the arrangements and musicianship will certainly impress.

3.5/4





Reviewed by Grant Moon, Prog 68
August 28th 2016

Finally, Trondheim duo Shamblemaths open their self-released, self-titled debut album with a 27-minute, 10-movement suite called Conglomeration (Or: The Grand Pathetic Suite) (Uproarious rumpus! Bloody Racket! And Rumpus!!). Saxes blare, organs burble, guitars roar and the whole thing burns with ideas, a conflagration of Tusmörke Scandi-jazz/folk, Gong Canterbury, Devin Townsend metal, at once sounding like everything and nothing else. Apparently one of the two, Simen Å Ellingsen, has two PhDs, in quantum physics and political science. Have you ever met someone so bright that they're almost a bit unsettling? Well, this is that feeling set to music, brilliantly bonkers music.





Reviewed by Roger Trenwith
March 14th 2017
Original review

Further proof to my contention that everyone in Scandinavia is in, or has been in a band is offered by the glorious duo Shamblemaths, who hail almost inevitably from Trondheim in Norway. Simen Å. Ellingsen on guitars, saxophones and vocals and Eirik M. Husum on bass, plus guest appearances from Eirik Øverland Dischler on keyboards and Jon Even Schärer on drums make a fine old racket, melding influences such as Magma and RIO, sundry classic prog, jazz rock, and all round general craziness.

As it says in the PR blurb “Ellingsen holds two PhDs, one in quantum physics (the Casimir effect), one in political science (on terrorism with nuclear weapons), and is Associate Professor of fluid mechanics. While a curious piece of trivia, this is naturally quite irrelevant in the present context”. Indeed, but it highlights that there is more than a quantum amount of intelligence running through this wild ride of an album.

Surprises abound, and after the first half of the sprawling 27-minute opener, a smorgasbord (if I may be allowed a little dramatic licence) of musical detours and buried refrains suitably entitled Conglomeration, the pace changes and we venture off into an altogether more melodic territory than the Magma universe of before. This split rather makes me wonder why this beast wasn’t split into two separate tracks, or at least “Part one” and “Part two” as the reappearances of earlier themes are hard to link back to the first half. This is a common trait among prog “long uns”. Very few compositions have the strength to justify a length of over ten minutes in my not-so-humble opinion, and that includes a fair few from the first flowering of prog, and the guilty parties then and now would be better off not letting their ambition get the better of them, or perhaps someone gaffa-taped the stop button?

As for Conglomeration, I’ve heard worse, far worse, and it more than kept my interest until the end. I reckon they know that their enjoyable but rambling excesses will provoke reactions like mine, for Conglomeration is subtitled the ‘Grand Pathetic Suite’ and the lyric to part a) reads:

Uproarious rumpus!
Bloody racket!
And rumpus!

At least they do not take themselves too seriously, unlike some of their more po-faced peers.

The brainiac Simen Å. Ellingsen is equally at home blowing mellifluous or barking sax as he is plucking classical guitar or injecting angry shards of the electric variety, and together with the keyboards, the front line instrumentation is top notch. The second track A Fading Ember, another schizoid affair this time is kept to a mere nine and half minutes, a sensible length for a song that combines VdGG angularity with Renaissance classicism, creaking Mellotronic grand guignol and eerily gurgling babies without a second thought.

Stalker ends the album and another twenty minute composition sees these happily indulgent Norwegians sail up fjords and wander through pine forests pursued by grinning evil bears carrying aloft Mick Box-like guitar breaks, portentous sax, and epic intent. I consider that Stalker works better than Conglomeration as it keeps its eye on the ball a lot more while it thunders along to its heady denouement, after a wistful call and response between guitar and sax that even Professor Ellingsen may have trouble replicating live!

A fun album from a nimble duo of some talent, Shamblemaths are a name to keep an eye on.





Reviewed by Bjørn Nørsterud, Scream Magazine
November issue, 2016

Fra Fallen Fowl til Shamblemaths, jeg aner ikke hva som har skjedd, jeg har aldri hørt om noen av dem, men la oss si det slik; jeg er storfan nå! Norsk prog igjen, det var da fælt så mye som skjer innen denne genren her til lands for tiden. Det er også spesielt hyggelig at diverse band sender oss eksemplarer av sine aktuelle album, for jeg har sjelden vært så gira på noe som på akkurat dette. Albumet kommer i digipak, inneholder tre spor, med varighet fra 10 via 20 til hele 27 minutter. Nei, det er ikke radiovennlig, men for oss som liker det intrikat er det rett og slett pur glede. Så hvordan skal vi beskrive dette, denne musikalske galskapen, denne frie formen for progressiv musikk? Det er ikke lett, tro meg. Hvis jeg sier et dryss "Relayer", et strøk eller to "Trick of the Tail", et par innslag av King Crimson, minst noen innslag fra Van Der Graaf Generator, men mest viktig av alt; Shamblemaths selv. Bandet - eller duoen om du vil - består av så utrolige musikere at det bare er å ta av seg den hatten man ikke har. Simen Ådnøy Ellingsen er en multikunstner av rang, idet han komponerer, spiller alle instrumenter bortsett fra bass, synger og arrangerer som den virkelige virtuos han faktisk er. Jeg bøyer meg i støvet, og erklærer Shamblemaths for Norges beste progband i disse dager.

V/VI





Reviewed by Michael Haifl
July 1st 2016
Original review

Eines der phantastischsten Alben hätte fast niemals das Licht der Welt erblickt. Als Nebenprojekt der Band TIAC gegründet, spielten die beiden Freunde Simen A. Ellingsen (Gesang, Gitarre, Saxofon) und Eirik M. Husum (Bass) seit 2004 unter dem Banner FALLEN FOWL einige Demos und eine EP zusammen ein. Doch in späteren Studentenzeiten wurde das Duo auseinander getrieben, so dass beide als SHAMBLEMATHS erst in 2016 wieder vereint der Welt ihre wunderbaren Songs präsentieren können.

Mit personeller Verstärkung durch Eirik Overland Dischler (Keyboards) und Jon Even Schärer (Drums) konnten sie nun endlich ein außergewöhnliches Werk vollenden. Ein Album mit drei epischen und herausragenden Songs, die haargenau weder die Grenze hin zu plüschigem sowie blümerantem Prog Rock überschreiten wollen, noch die zu abgefahrenen Nischenspielarten. Und da es bei jeder neu erschaffenen Musik auf die Abfolge der Töne, auf die geschickte Aneinanderreihung von Noten ankommt, überraschen SHAMBLEMATHS gleich beim fast halbstündigen Opener ´Conglomeration (Or: The Grand Pathetic Suite)´ in den ersten Minuten. Ein Beginn, wie ihn die Legende MAGMA nicht anders und besser anvisieren könnte. Gleichwohl schweben die Norweger aus Trondheim sogleich über Landstriche hinweg, die sonst UNIVERS ZERO und EGG verwalten, spielen leichter als es BIGELF jemals konnten, machen Rast in der Nähe von GROBSCHNITT und GENESIS, allzeit mit der skandinavischen Schwere, die ANEKDOTEN versprühen. Alles vollkommen leichtfüßig vorgetragen, um mit entsprechenden Hochgesängen den Songs die Krone aufzusetzen. Während das gut zehnminütige ´Failing Ember´ das Duo weit härter zwischen Rock und keinesfalls einschmeichelnder Sinfonik schwanken lässt, begibt sich am Ende das zwanzigminütige ´Stalker´ - eine originäre alte, nie aufgenommene TIAC-Nummer - vollkommen wuchtig auf folkige Steppen, auf rhythmisch ausgefallenes Terrain und wagt sich sogar in irgendeiner Art und Weise kurzfristig den PSYCHOTIC´schen Butterfly zu küssen.

Geschmackvoll ausgefallene Töne müssen leider immer und immer wieder gehört sowie verinnerlicht werden. SHAMBLEMATHS lassen mit ihrem Debüt gar keine andere Wahl, als ihre Musik Hirn, Seele, Körper und Sammlung einzuverleiben.

(9 Punkte)





Reviewed by Nik Brückner
June 29th 2016
Original review

Endlich! Über zehn Jahre nach ihrem "Fallen Fowl"-Projekt veröffentlichen Simen Å. Ellingsen und Eirik M. Husum "Shamblemaths", ein Album an dem sie jahrelang gefeilt haben.

Und! Es! Ist! So! Geil!

54 Minuten und nur drei Stücke? Yep, sieht aus wie Prog. Aber dieser Prog ist nichts für schwache Herzen, und gleich die ersten Klänge zeigen, wo es lang geht: Düstere Klavierklänge, Sekundenintervalle lassen Schlimmes ahnen, dann skandiert ein magmaesker Chor "Uproarious rumpus! Bloody racket!" (Tobender Krach! Verdammter Lärm!) - und ebendieser bricht in Form von dissonantem Gefrickel über den Hörer herein.

Geil.

Die Band zitiert Magma, Univers Zero und Egg als Einflüsse, und tatsächlich: all das gibt's schon in den ersten 20 – nein, nicht Minuten – Sekunden zu hören! Klassischer, dissonanter, experimenteller Prog, Zeuhl und Avant Rock (mit großem R), das trifft das Album auf den Punkt. Sehr. Sehr. Geil.

Ellingsen und Husum machen keinen Scheiß. Endlos mäanderndes Retro-Sympho-Wischi-Waschi: Fehlanzeige. Hier ist jede Minute - jeder 20sekündige Abschnitt! - mit Ideen nur so vollgestopft: Pointiert, präzise, auf den Punkt. Wer Prog, insbesondere klassischen und/oder Retroprog mit Experiment, Intensität, Herausforderung assoziiert, dürfte hier ein Album vorfinden, wie er es lange nicht gehört hat.

Die Musik kombiniert Rock, mal heavy, mal verschroben, mit Elementen aus Jazz und (Neo-)Klassik - genau so, wie guter Retroprog eben sein soll. Musik für Herz und Hirn sozusagen. Das Ganze erinnert, wenn an die Siebziger, dann an Bands "links" von ELP, ist aber durch den modernen Gitarrensound heftiger. Das Ganze erinnert, wenn an die Gegenwart, dann an niemand Geringeren als die großen Änglagård, ist aber sogar noch etwas vielseitiger. Schlagzeug, Bass, alte und neue Keyboard-Klänge, komplettiert wird das Klangbild durch flirrende A-Gitarren, Saxophone und bei alldem überraschend angenehmen, unaufdringlichen Gesang.

Das erste Stück, "Conglomeration" ist genau das: Ein aus mehreren Teilen zusammengebauter, komplexer Siebenundzwanzigminüter, der zu Beginn in seinem schnellen Wechsel verschiedenartiger Parts - frickeliger Instrumental- und straighterer Gesangsparts - ein wenig an ELPs "Tarkus" erinnert. Und immer wieder eben an die großartigen Egg, eine weitere Orgelprog-Band aus den Siebzigern, weniger bekannt, aber nicht weniger experimentell als die drei großen Vettern. Und so gibt es immer wieder dissonante, krummtaktige Orgelgewitter, als wäre 1973 noch lange nicht vorüber. Ab der Hälfte wird es etwas ruhiger, die die Parts wechseln nicht mehr ganz so schnell ab, anspruchsvoll bleibt es dennoch. Ein jazziges Saxophonsolo über einer auf der Akustischen gespielten 7/8-Figur lädt die Maschine wieder auf, dann bricht die volle Wucht der Shamblemaths wieder los. Dass einem die vielen Teile nicht um die Ohren fliegen, dafür sorgen die beiden Jungs mit ständig wiederkehrenden Parts, melodischen und rhythmischen Motiven; so schieben sich instrumentale Elemente, die vom Beginn des Stückes stammen, am Ende in einen klimaktischen Gesangspart, bevor "Conglomeration" überraschend ruhig endet. Groß!

"A Failing Ember" ist Shamblemaths in ihrem, sozusagen, Sympho-Modus. Das zweite Stück bewegt sich zwischen Acid Folk, hartem Rock und epischen Ausschweifungen, allerdings nie im Sinne plüschigen Symphoprogs, sondern immer dissonant genug, um Weicheier auf mehr als Armlänge zu halten. Das großartige Stück ist gespickt mit überraschenden Wendungen und allerlei Seltsamkeiten, die den Hörer beständig auf der Stuhlkante halten. Selbst hier, bei dem vielleicht einheitlichsten Stück des Albums, gibt es kaum Verschnaufspausen.

"Stalker" beginnt folkig, angenehm hörbar, aber in verschiedenen, immer subtilen 7/8-Rhythmen. Dann, nach etwa 5einhalb Minuten, bricht sich ein herrlich seventiesiges Gitarrenriff Bahn, das durchaus Jethro Tull zu seinen Vorfahren zählen darf. Gesang und Saxophon deuten das Riff polyrhythmisch um, und weiter geht es in einen modernen, Breitwandabschnitt. Trotz dieser Wechsel bleibt das Stück im Großen und Ganzen etwas – nur etwas! - weniger frenetisch als die beiden anderen, dafür rockt es wuchtiger, ja, es weist sogar Einflüsse aus dem New Artrock auf, ist aber bei weitem nicht durch den nebligen Trübsinn jenes Genres geprägt.

Sein achtminütiges, massives Finale, unterbrochen von letzten intensiv frickelnden Instrumentalpassagen, beendet nicht nur "Stalker", sondern auch ein Album, das nicht weniger als großartig ist. Shamblemaths – für mich bislang große Entdeckung des Jahres 2016!

14/15





Reviewed by Thomas Kohlruß
June 29th 2016
Original review

Sternenzeit 2016, zwei Norweger brechen auf in die Weiten des Progressive Rock und entdecken dabei famose Klang-Landschaften, die kein Mensch zuvor je gehö… nein, das nun gerade nicht. Aber der musikalische Reisebericht der Shamblemaths führt zu den Kultstätten der über 40jährigen Prog-Geschichte und sorgt immer wieder für wohlige Deja-Vus. Von Magma über Yes und Genesis bis hin zu King Crimson erforschen die Norweger bekanntere und unbekanntere Höhepunkte.

Und warum machen sie das? Na, weil sie es können! Shamblemaths brauen aus Zitaten, Querverweisen und Inspirationen ihre eigene Musik. Klontum ist nicht ihr Ding, sie erschaffen neue Musik aus den Rezepten, die uns die großen Alten zurückließen. Mit der Akribie eines Archäologen legen Shamblemaths die musikalischen Wurzeln frei und erschaffen daraus neue, mitreißende Musik.

Und warum ist das mitreißend? Weil die Norweger bissig, spielfreudig, kraftvoll, voller Hingabe musizieren und keinesfalls nur einen schlaffen Aufguss liefern. Auf den Punkt gespielt. Selbst ein Longtrack an die 27 Minuten hat da keine Längen. Im Gegenteil feurige Gitarren, wirbelig-flirrende Tasten, kratziges Saxofon, stürmische Schlagzeug befeuern einen dynamischen Cocktail aus Retroprog-Passagen, Jazzrock, folkloristischen Elementen und fettem Hardrock. Guten Gesang gibt es noch oben drauf. Da bleibt kein Auge trocken und Langeweile hat keine Chance.

Faszinierend wie frisch das alles klingt. So trocken und doch so wohlig in die Gehörgänge kriechend. Ha! Album des Jahres? Mindestens des Genres Retroprog… ein Einhorn lässt aus der Ferne grüßen.

14/15





Reviewed by Jürgen Meurer
October 30th 2016

Shamblemaths sind ein norwegisches Duo, das vor knapp zehn Jahren bereits unter dem Namen Fallen Fowl ein Album veröffentlichte, sich dann auflöste, um in diesem Jahr mit diesem fulminanten Album zurückzukehren. Das Album enthält lediglich drei Songs mit entsprechend teils satten Spielzeiten, doch alle sind in einzelne Sektionen unterteilt. Was in diesem Fall viel Sinn macht, denn die Norweger springen permanent von einem Genre zum nächsten, legen immer wieder wilde Sprünge hin. Das mag hin und wieder etwas zerstückelt wirken und im ersten Moment vielleicht ein wenig erschrecken, doch schon bald lässt sich feststellen, dass die beiden Norweger mit tatkräftiger Unterstützung einiger Gäste hier ein sehr beeindruckendes Album vorgelegt haben. Melodieverwöhnte örer mögen anfangs irritiert sein, doch dieses Album sollte eben nicht nur RIO/Avantgarde­Fans ansprechen. Der erste Eindruck ist, dass dies ein typisches Album für das italienische AltrOck­Label sein könnte. Kopf der Formation ist Simen Ådnøy Ellingsen, der unter anderem für Gitarren, Keyboards, Perkussion, Saxophon und Gesang zuständig ist. Nach dem ersten Durchlauf bleiben neben den Stimmungswechseln hauptsächlich das feine Orgelspiel und einige Saxophoneinlagen hängen, weitere Durchläufe lassen immer mehr Feinheiten erkennen. Dabei kommt auch der Symphonic­Prog­Fan auf seine Kosten, wunderbare Mellotron­Einlagen inbegriffen. Wilde Bläsereinlagen und krumme Takte gehören ebenso dazu wie solierende Akustikgitarre oder komplexe Chor­Arrangements. Dabei hört man mal Magma, Gentle Giant, Flower Kings, Zappa oder auch Yes heraus, ohne dass allerdings zitiert wird. Auch der in Englisch vorgetragene Gesang weiß zu überzeugen. Ein tolles Album. Muss man mal gehört haben!





Reviewed by Jürgen Meurer
August 12th 2016
Original review

Die Shamblemaths sind ein norwegisches Duo, das mit seinem selbstbetitelten Debütalbum ein dickes Ausrufezeichen setzt – dieses Werk hat sensationell viel zu bieten. Bereits vor rund zehn Jahren fanden Simen Ǻdnøy Ellingsen und Eirik Mathias Husum zusammen. Damals brachten sie unter dem Namen Fallen Fowl ein Album namens „Do They Love You Now?“ heraus. Danach gingen sie zunächst getrennte Wege, um sich eine Dekade später wieder zu treffen und gemeinsam zu musizieren. Die Zeit zwischen den beiden Alben scheint Mastermind Ellingsen recht sinnvoll verbracht zu haben, besitzt er doch mittlerweile zwei Doktortitel – einen in Quantenphysik, den anderen in Politikwissenschaft, wo er über Nuklearterrorismus promovierte.

Die Arbeitsteilung der Shamblemaths ist leicht zu beschreiben: Husum spielt Bass, Ellingsen den Rest. Na ja, „den Rest“ stimmt nicht ganz, denn einige Gastmusiker sorgen mit für das ungemein breite Klangspektrum. Ellingsen hat sämtliche Titel komponiert, er überzeugt als Sänger und bedient elektrische sowie Gitarren, Tasteninstrumente, eine Zither, Percussion-Instrumente und Saxophon. Das Album enthält lediglich drei Songs mit entsprechend langen Spielzeiten. Alle sind in einzelne Sektionen unterteilt, was in diesem Fall viel Sinn ergibt, denn die Norweger wechseln permanent von einem Genre zum nächsten, legen immer wieder wilde Sprünge hin. Das mag hin und wieder etwas zerstückelt wirken und im ersten Moment etwas irritieren, aber mit der Zeit stellt man fest, dass dies durchaus stimmig zusammengesetzt ist. So gibt es hier ungemein viel zu entdecken.

Keine Zeit zum gemütlichen Eingewöhnen – die beiden legen im in zehn Abschnitte aufgeteilten 27-Minüter ‚Conglomeration‘ (Untertitel: ‚The Grand Pathetic Suite‘) gleich mächtig los. Hier dürften sich Freunde frickeligen Avant-Progs angesprochen fühlen. Sowohl die Gesangsarrangements als auch die instrumentale Ausarbeitung sind vom Feinsten. Fans der eher melodischen Prog-Variante müssen nicht gleich das Handtuch werfen, denn plötzlich findet man sich in sinfonischem Fahrwasser wieder. Und so geht es immer weiter, die Shamblemaths bleiben mit vielen Stimmungswechseln unberechenbar. Eigentlich ein typisches Album für das italienische AltrOck Productions-Label, Fans dieses Labels sollten direkt zuschlagen. Aber „Shamblemaths“ ist in Eigenregie entstanden. Die erste auf 200 Stück limitierte Auflage ist bereits so gut wie ausverkauft, eine weitere Pressung steht bevor.

Nach dem ersten Hören bleiben neben den Stimmungswechseln hauptsächlich das feine Orgelspiel und einige Saxophon-Einlagen hängen, weitere Durchläufe lassen immer mehr Feinheiten erkennen. Dabei kommt auch der Symphonic-Prog-Fan auf seine Kosten, wunderbare Mellotron-Einlagen inbegriffen. Letztere zeigen einen enormen Ideenreichtum: Wer kommt beispielsweise schon auf die Idee, Babygeräusche und Mellotron miteinander zu kombinieren? Wilde Bläser-Einlagen und frickelige Parts gehören ebenso dazu wie solierende Akustikgitarre, leises Piano und komplexe Chor-Arrangements. Dabei hört man in Ansätzen auch mal Magma, Gentle Giant, die Flower Kings, King Crimson, Zappa oder auch Yes heraus, ohne dass allerdings zitiert wird.

Neben diversen Chorsängern wirken als Gäste mit: [List of musicians, removed for brevity]

„Shamblemaths“ ist eine jener Platten, wo nach dem ersten Durchgang noch wenig haften bleibt, aber auf Anhieb Gewissheit darüber herrscht, dass viel zu entdecken bleibt. Und so ist es in der Tat: Mit der Zeit wächst das Album enorm zu einem der bisherigen Highlights des Jahres.

13/15





Reviewed by Daniel Eggenberger
October 27th 2016
Original review

Wow, ist das abgefahren, was uns da die Norweger aus Trondheim auf den ersten Minuten des Longtracks Conglomeration bieten. Das geht schon fast an die Grenze des Geniessbaren, aber im Grunde liegt auch eine gewisse Faszination bereit. Wenn ich 27 Jahre zurückblicke und den Moment rekonstruiere, als ich zum ersten Mal das wilde Intro von Close To The Edge zu Gehör bekam und es vorerst nicht so richtig einordnen konnte, dann ist es mit Conglomeration nicht viel anders. Zumal der Track im Verlaufe der Spielzeit auch sehr melodiöse Motive offenbart. Was uns Shamblemaths auf ihrer Debüt-Cd bieten, ist alles andere als einfach. Man bewegt sich weit weg von Eingängigkeit, obschon es zwischendurch mal Momente gibt, die man als solches bezeichnen könnte. Aber hier kommt schon eher der Fan des Frickelprogs, der Avantgarde-Bewegung oder der Anhänger von Free-Jazz-Musik auf seine Kosten als der verwöhnte Melodiker. Shamblemaths ist im Kern ein Duo, bestehend aus Simon Adnoy Ellingsen (Gitarren, Saxofone, Keys etc) und Erik Mathias Husum (Bass). Unterstützt werden sie von weiteren Gästen an Keys, Drums, Vocals und Blasinstrumenten.

Fazit: Am besten gefällt mir Stalker. Dieser Track scheint mir am meisten an Struktur zu bieten, was ich im grossen und ganzen zu bevorzugen pflege. A Falling Ember hingegen ist ein sehr eigenartiges Stück Musik, dessen Zugang mir bisher verwehrt blieb. Am Schluss bleibt mir nur euch zu raten, das Teil bei Interesse einfach mal anzutesten. Entweder es weiss zu gefallen oder ihr werdet schreiend davonrennen. Aber das Album ist nicht ganz so komplex, als dass es ungeniessbar wäre.







Reviewed by Jean-Philippe Haas
April 27th 2016
Original review

Une ou deux fois par an, le prospecteur des abysses musicales d'internet voit ses oreilles chanceuses happées par un album aussi démesurément étonnant que son auteur est inconnu. Cette année, le duo norvégien Shamblemaths est bien parti pour décrocher le prix « Aussi Classieux Que Confidentiel » 2016. Pas timoré pour un sou, il a l'audace de nous proposer un album d'une heure divisée en trois plages, chose que peu d'artiste osent encore faire aujourd'hui, y compris dans le prog', par peur de se voir immédiatement qualifiés de « pompeux » ou de « mégalo ». Quand ils ne sont pas tout simplement écartés des platines, sans que leur rondelle ait été seulement tirée de leur emballage...

On serait pourtant bien mal inspiré de tourner le dos aux créations de Simen Å. Ellingsen, hip(pie)(ster) multi-diplômé/ multi-instrumentiste, et de son binôme Eirik M. Husum (basse) sans autre forme de procès. Car ici, pas d'introduction qui traîne en longueur, pas (ou si peu) de plans réchauffés, pas de remplissage pour rallonger le bouzin afin d'aguicher le progueux moyen : « Conglomeration (or :The Grand Pathetic Suite) » est en ébullition permanente et démarre sur les chapeaux de roues par deux minutes trente de Magma à la sauce métal. Les rares accalmies ne durent guère longtemps, bouillonnement et foisonnement reprennent en général de plus belle : classic ou hard prog', passages expérimentaux, impromptus jazzy ou folk, plages instrumentales furieuses se plaçant quelque part entre The Flower Kings, ELP, King Crimson et Dream Theater, sans oublier – parfois aussi – respect plus ou moins scrupuleux du règlement fondé par ces Grands Anciens. Les deux autres titres, « A Failing Ember » et « Stalker » sont taillés dans le même bois.

Si l'attirail prog' – toutes époques confondues – est bien présent, il s'ouvre aussi à d'autres sonorités moins typées, par l'intermédiaire notamment d'une flopée d'invités. Des saxophones en tous genres jettent leurs couleurs sur une toile de fond résolument progressive mais montrant souvent des signes d'insoumission. Il y a certes aussi quelques similitudes entre la voix d'Ellingsen et celle de Roine Stolt, sans qu'on puisse néanmoins parler de mimétisme. Ces marques d'appartenance à une branche à moitié pourrie du rock snob ne font pourtant pas de Shamblemaths l'énième avatar d'un monstre agonisant depuis quelques décennies déjà, mais plutôt un élève rebelle qui, malgré son respect des professeurs, aimerait bien leur botter le cul parfois.

Difficile de dire si cette première œuvre survivra à l'épreuve du temps, mais en tous les cas elle réalise ce que la plupart des albums de classic prog sortis ces dernières années n’ont pas été capables de faire : nous maintenir éveillés et enthousiastes pendant une heure. Puis une autre. Et une autre encore.

(Sheep in love - 5/5)





Reviewed by Didier Gonzales
January 3rd 2017
Original review

Le groupe norvégien SHAMBLEMATHS récemment constitué est originaire de Trondheim, en Norvège. A l’origine du projet, Simen Å. ELLINGSEN [guitares, saxophones, vocaux] et Eirik M. HUSUM [basse]. S’étant rencontrés en 2004 ils réalisent quelques démos et un EP avant qu’ELLINGSEN ne se fixe à Londres afin de poursuivre des études.

2016 voit le retour de SHAMBLEMATHS avec un premier album éponyme. Leur nouveau son, plus aventureux et exigeant emprunte pour partie à Magma, Univers Zero & Egg, tout en insufflant une bonne dose de mélodie et de lyrics étranges. Sur l’album, figurent également une pléiade d’invités, parmi lesquels Eirik ØVERLAND DISCHLER aux claviers et Jon Even SCHÄRER à la batterie.

Trois longues suites, Conglomoration (26’54), A Falling Number (9’26) et Stalker (19’52) constituent ce premier opus d’une durée totale de 56’16. Placée sous l’égide d’un rock progressif particulièrement audacieux et aventureux, la musique de SHAMBLEMATHS réunit le meilleur d’ANGLAGARD avec quelques éléments de MAGMA au niveau vocal et rythmique sur l’épique introductif Conglomeration sous-titré The Pathetic Suite.

Attaques solides de guitare acoustique rythmique, zébrures de saxophone déjanté, légions de ruptures de rythme, la musique de SHAMBLEMATHS se montre formidablement dynamique et offensive, toujours tout en finesse cependant. A certains moments, une impression de mystère domine, propagée par un orgue Hammond conférant une approche plus atmosphérique (mais celui-ci peut tout aussi bien devenir incendiaire!) Le piano, dissonant, s’associe à la rythmique décalée, perpétuellement embrasée du combo tandis que le saxophone délivre quelques motifs obsédants. On songe au KING CRIMSON le plus aventureux, même si l’approche de SHAMBLEMATHS apparaît notablement plus complexe, et à certains moments plus élaborée, grâce à l’apport d’autres éléments hérités de l’école Zeuhl et du Rock In Opposition, UNIVERS ZERO par exemple.

L’influence d’ANGLAGARD est tangible, non pas en permanence, mais par séquences, à travers la brillance, l’ambition et la complexité d’une telle musique. A certains moments se révèle même une inspiration classique au niveau harmonique, tandis que le chant, plutôt épisodique chez SHAMBLEMATHS se situe dans la modération, même si mêlé parfois d’une certaine étrangeté. D’autres séquences de piano jazz et avant-garde, associées à des harmonies vocales et des parties de guitare acoustique aventureuses renvoient par exemple à la formation italienne RACOMANDATA RICEVUTA RITTORNO, ou encore au meilleur BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO.

La musique de SHAMBLEMATHS se présente ainsi comme un happening permanent, un mélange ambitieux et inspiré de plusieurs approches musicales fusionnant en un tout supérieur et plus ambitieux. A un moment, l’approche de la guitare électrique peut sembler sale et saturée, l’instant d’après ce sont des fioritures acoustiques, accompagnées de chœurs ou de chant mélodieux qui s’offrent à nous...

A noter la présence d’un Mellotron grandiose, crimsonien sur A Falling Ember. Dans ces conditions il ne faut pas avoir l’ambition de se l’approprier sur une écoute, ni même sur quelques écoutes : un long cheminement vous attend pour en saisir la quintessence, la première écoute pourrait même se révéler quelque peu décourageante. Le maître mot ici est ambition, la musique du combo norvégien englobant plusieurs couches successives, à découvrir, petit à petit, par assimilations successives. A l’arrivée, SHAMBLEMATHS aura délivré l’une des musiques les plus audacieuses, les plus formidables, les plus ambitieuses qui soient. Ce groupe constitue la révélation de 2016.

5/5





Reviewed by Alberto Nucci
Original review

I norvegesi, se ci si mettono, sono proprio dei pazzerelloni, si sa; se poi un bi-laureato in fisica quantica e in scienze politiche (sul terrorismo con armi nucleari) decide di fare un disco Prog, non può venirne fuori qualcosa di vagamente convenzionale. Ecco quindi che Simen Å. Ellingsen (chitarra, sax e voce) si associa con Eirik M. Husum (basso) e crea gli Shamblemaths; ad essi si aggregano come ospiti Eirik Øverland Dischler (tastiere) e Jon Even Schärer alla batteria e quel che ne viene fuori è questo album, Pubblicato in digitale e CD (CDr a dire il vero) a tiratura limitata, contenente 3 suite per un totale di quasi un’ora di musica dai connotati quanto mai variabili ed eclettici.

Ai quasi 27 minuti di “Conglomeration (or: The Grand Pathetic Suite)” (suddivisi in 10 movimenti) è affidato il compito di introdurci il gruppo e, a giudicare dai primissimi minuti, pare di avere a che fare con una band tributo dei Magma: ritmi frenetici e cori zeuhl ci portano decisamente in territorio vanderiano. Le cose cambiano dopo un po’ e il gruppo ci fa sentire che l’eclettismo è davvero uno dei suoi punti di forza. Gong, Egg, King Crimson e Van Der Graaf Generator sono solo alcuni dei punti di riferimento che ci troviamo ad individuare, con slanci frenetici ed aggressivi, caratterizzati dalla continua interazione tra sax, tastiere e chitarre. La suite si sviluppa in modo furioso e concitato per oltre 12 minuti… fino a che un cambio repentino, introdotto da alcune note di piano, ci guidano in una parte rilassata e romantica (con un sax e un cantato addirittura su tonalità ruffiane e ammiccanti) che quasi ci fanno credere di aver cambiato CD nel lettore. Di lì a poco inizia una parte guidata da chitarra acustica su un lieve tappeto tastieristico e un cantato ancora su tonalità romantiche. La suite ha preso definitivamente una direzione pacata e rilassante? Come si può immaginare, la cosa non dura più di tanto: già prima dell’ultimo movimento (intitolato “Overture”!) le ritmiche e i toni tornano ad animarsi, ma la suite si conclude in sfumando, pur dopo una nuova puntata sul pianeta Kobaia!

La successiva “A Failing Ember” dura solo 9 minuti e mezzo e conta 4 movimenti; brano pazzerello anche questo, variegato e multicolore, ma dalle ritmiche in generale più rilassate, senza gli spunti furiosi dell’opener.

La conclusiva “Stalker” (poco meno di 20 minuti per 6 movimenti) risale ad alcuni anni fa, quando i due fondatori degli Shamblemaths, tra il 2002 e il 2005, dettero vita al primo tentativo di fare musica assieme. Stilisticamente non notiamo grosse differenze dal materiale più recente, col solito avvicendarsi tra momenti più rilassati, alternati ad accelerazioni improvvise e slanci momentanei. In generale comunque si tratta di un brano di Prog dai connotati più sinfonici e (consentitemi il termine) convenzionali dei precedenti.

I tre brani dell’album hanno un respiro davvero ampio (un po’ meno il secondo, a dire il vero, più lineare degli altri, anche a causa della sua durata più limitata… pare ovvio ma stiamo comunque parlando di oltre 9 minuti!) che consente di spaziare in libertà attraverso i vari momenti musicali, senza vincoli. C’è comunque da dire che la suite di avvio raggiunge livelli non raggiunti dai brani successivi, mentre quella di chiusura raccoglierà i maggiori apprezzamenti dai Proggers tradizionali. Quale che siano le vostre preferenze, comunque, l’album di esordio degli Shamblemaths è senza dubbio alcuno da consigliare, da ascoltare e riascoltare, scoprendone volta dopo volta ogni piccolo anfratto e gustandone i continui cambi di umore.



New album released March 2016. Not for the faint of ear.

Official home of Shamblemaths.