(All Album Reviews by avestin)
Those are the words that Jacob Holm-Lupo, White Willow’s main man, uses to describe the themes present in the songs on Terminal Twilight, the band’s new album. As Jacob notes, the songs on the new album, were written some years back and continue the dark concept and atmospheres of Storm Season, the band’s fourth album. The end of the world is nigh on that album; a rather gloomy and bleak sense stems out of it. While the new album’s lyrics mostly follow the footsteps of that album (listen to Red Leaves and Floor 67), there is a sense of hope prevailing in the music itself, intensified by the lushness of the various keyboards used and Sylvia’s vocals. The melodies, while melancholic, offer a ray of hope, a glimpse of a better future; that at least is what I perceive when listening to the album.
Terminal Twilight is in my mind, White Willow’s most adventurous album; the one that is the most compositionally complex and captivating. I am a big fan of their albums, and in particular Sacrament. In a way, this new album reminds the most of that one compositionally, due to the combination of sublime tunes, song structure and rich sounding arrangements. The album is well balanced between the more somber and intimate tracks (Kansas Regrets) to the more flamboyant and energetic songs (Hawks Circle The Mountain).
Another point that makes Terminal Twilight stand apart is the lineup. Sylvia Skjellestad (nee Erichsen) returns to the fold with her gorgeous voice, the voice that gives White Willow its identity. Another former member making a comeback is the wonderful drummer Mattias Olsson (who was last with the band on their Ex Tenebris album; drummer for Änglagård and Pineforest Crunch, as well as appearing on many other albums). Ketil Einarsen returns as well with his flute (he plays for Motorpyscho and Jaga Jazzist). The band welcomes bassist Ellen Andrea Wang from SynKoke (who are also releasing an album this year, called The Ideologist and whose previous album, Hokjønn, is highly recommended for avant-rock fans). And finally, keyboardist extraordinaire, Lars Fredrik Frøislie (who also plays in Wobbler and In Lingua Mortua) who continues to use his museum-like collection of vintage keyboards on this album.
In addition to the lineup, there are wonderful guest musicians on the album. Tim Bowness (No-Man) co-wrote the music and lyrics to as well as sings on the song Kansas Regrets. David Lundberg of Gosta Berlings Saga provides his keyboards skills on the songs Snowswept and Kansas Regrets. Finally, Michael S. Judge (whose praises I sang for his music as Sinthome and The Nerve Institute; I also interviewed him) plays guitar leads on Hawks Circle The Mountain.
Whilte not an easily accessible album, it is fairly easy to fall prey to its charms, particularly for White Willow fans. Terminal Twilight is a beautiful and well balanced modern “symphonic prog” album, one that with further listens, becomes more and more rewarding.