Top Bar
Musique Machine Logo Home ButtonReviews ButtonArticles ButtonBand Specials ButtonAbout Us Button
SearchGo Down
Search for  
With search mode in section(s)
And sort the results by
show articles written by  
 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Norman Westberg - After Vacation [Room 40 - 2018]

Swans guitarist Norman Westberg steps out of the shadow cast by his former band to release his latest solo opus After Vacation on Room 40 Records. Westberg has been a huge influence on a generation of guitar players having played on the vast majority of Swans releases, enjoying three separate spells with the band, the first from 1983 until 1991 taking inall of their classic early material. He briefly rejoined for the album The Great Annihilator in 1995 and was a key figure in the band’s resurrection in 2010, when Michael Gira reunited the band for a run of rather excellent albums. He stayed until the end appearing on all of the band’s albums that were recorded during that final run.

After Vacation is a real departure from Swans style. Firstly, this doesn’t follow traditional rock guitar song structures. The album is completely instrumental and whilst the guitar is the only instrument used on the record, you would never know it as it is used in a far more experimental manner. Westberg uses effects to create an Avant Garde, ambient experience that is reminiscent of something that was recorded with a bank of synthesizers. Such is the experimental nature of the sounds within this record.
Opener Soothe the String is an atmospheric slab of minimalist ambience built around string like drones and the merest hint of plucked guitar. Beautiful and brooding it sets its stall up and leads the way for the rest of the album to follow. Drops in A Bucket is up next and provides more of the same dark atmospherics. Dense and surprisingly detailed the track draws the listener in, creating a truly immersive experience. Sliding Sledding is incredibly evocative of wintery conditions. This wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack to a Raymond Briggs animation. One can almost feel the nip of Jack Frost in the air and hear the crunch of snow under foot. Norman Seen as An Infant follows in similar style, the music ebbing and flowing almost like an orchestral recording. The album’s centrepiece is surely the epic twelve-minute Levitation. Beginning quite sparsely the track begins to unfurl over time taking the listener on a journey through a winter wonderland. Once again, I am reminded of Raymond Briggs – this particular piece would be an appropriate accompaniment to scenes of the snowman and the young boy flying above the beautiful snowy countryside. Finally, the title track and album closer After Vacation features some rather wonderful folky picked guitar work that recalls Led Zeppelin’s Black Mountain Side and the work of great guitarists like Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. It comes as a real surprise to hear a guitar played in such a traditional manner when the rest of the album provides such an experimental experience for the listener.

Overall, After Vacation is a lovely album that perfectly evokes images of winter. It is a real change of direction from Norman Westberg’s work with Swans, however it is a very welcome one. The guitar playing is largely understated and sparingly used, instead Westberg uses his instrument to create beautiful droning soundscapes through a series of effects. The result is a triumphant record that’s filled with emotion and takes the listener on a journey. One, I shall be taking time and again in the coming weeks.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Darren Charles
Latest Reviews

Norman Westberg - After Vacation
Swans guitarist Norman Westberg steps out of the shadow cast by his former band to release his latest solo opus After Vacation on Room 40 Records. Westberg h...
130919   Tissa Mawartyassari & Cronaca...
130919   Akio Jissoji: The Buddhist Tr...
130919   Devils Of Darkness - Devils O...
120919   Uniform & The Body - Everythi...
110919   The Hills Have Eyes Part II -...
110919   Todd Anderson-Kunert - Conje...
110919   BROKEN_CANYON - Drain
100919   Mascara - Mascara(Blu Ray & DVD)
100919   The New Blockaders - Live At ...
100919   Joli - Alone In The World
Latest Articles

The Early Years Of Allerseelen - ...
For over 30 years Allerseelen has stood as one of the most innovative, genre-eccentric and creative projects within the European experimental & post-indu...
040919   The Early Years Of Allerseele...
240819   Leyland James Kirby (The Care...
060819   Stevan Mena - A Cut Above The...
280619   Michael Ridge - From Tools O...
250619   Merzbow/ Merzbow & Balazs Pan...
110619   Elsewhere Music label intervi...
170419   Damien De Coene - Pedal Chai...
120419   Raison D'Etre, Desiderii Marg...
290319   She Spread Sorrow - Who are y...
190319   Stephen Thrower - Harvesting...
Go Up
(c) Musique Machine 2001 -2017. Celebrating 16 years of true independence!! Mail Us at questions=at=musiquemachine=dot=comBottom