Vertigo Steps

01. Vertigo Dawn
02. The Hollow
03. Silent Bliss
04. Railroads Of Life
05. Tonight I Died, Tomorror I'll Live
06. Doppler Defect
07. Disappear Here
08. Helsinki
09. Someone (Like You)
10. Zepellin On Fire
11. Schadenfreude
12. Nothing At All
13. The Porcupine Dilemma

Bruno A - all guitars, keys & programming, loops & samples
Niko Mankinen - vocals
Daniel Cardoso - drums, bass

Vertigo Steps (2008)
The Melancholy Hour (2010)

Jan Transit - vocals
Stein R Sordal - vocals
Patrik Karlsson - vocals
Sophie - vocals

Produced, Mixed & Mastered by Daniel Cardoso @ UltraSound Studios (Moita)
Co-produced by Bruno A
Engineered by Nuno Pardal
Artwork & Photography by João Pinheiro
Videoclip for "someone (like you)" by Sigurd Svidal Randal

Released 16/4-2012
Reviewed 14/10-2012

ethereal sound works

Vertigo Steps? what is that? Is it slowly walking on a ledge high above the ground, or walking at the edge of the roof of a tall building? I guess it could be either but it is also a Portuguese-Finnish collaboration with two albums behind them, now releasing their third one which is called Surface Light. There is talk of atmospheric and slightly progressive stuff with this album, the cover artwork sure points in that direction and also the name I think. I have never heard or heard of this band before being emailed by them, but I was intrigued by how they were described but I am always intrigued by music so it may not say that much. It has received very good reviews albeit from those sources that usually overrate things and they do play music of a kind that usually tend to get very good reviews as a default as well.

Think atmospheric when trying to imagine how this band sound, not heavy in the sense of heavy music but they are still heavy in another sense. The music is otherwise dominated by the atmospheres and it tends to feel almost like a storytelling device, kind of like they are proclaiming a story to whoever listens. The production signed Daniel Cardoso is excellent giving this band a really good soundscape with an almost diffuse sense of being somewhere else, a bit dreamy you could describe it as. At the same time it is not particularly varied and the songs build upon more or less the same foundation from one to thirteen (a slight generalisation) and it is 55 minutes long.

I think music like this often tend to be a bit overrated in reviews, albeit done well this kind of music is absolutely amazing but more often than not it is quite flawed and the biggest flaw is that they focus so much on atmospheres that they forget about the substance in the songs. This is the case with this album as well, the musicianship and performances are excellent and so it the sound and the atmosphere but where is the direction of the album? It feels as though it is standing more or less still and not really getting anywhere, reviewers compare it it Porcupine Tree or Anathema and both of these have albums that doesn’t get anywhere as well, they are just as Surface/Light very good but when you starts looking a bit further at it there isn’t enough there to keep you interested. For today’s sort of uninterested music listener this is not a problem as it is an excellent album to have as background as it is good enough to just go on and you can like it but it is also inoffensive enough not to distract from what you are doing which means that you have it there but often forget that you are listening to it. It is excellent music to listen to when writing.

So, if you are looking for great background music with a sort of imagination inspiring atmosphere, this is an excellent choice. But if you are looking for something to really listen to and get an adventure out of the music it may not be as good, there is just not enough ear-catching songs to achieve that. The only two songs that do anything for me are the song called Railroads of Life for adorning the obligatory calm part (that seems to be on too many songs on this album, and in progressive music in general) with a spoken word part and Schadenfreude which has a great ending. Otherwise I would say that the songs paints a good landscape but there isn’t really anything there to catch you attention, sort of like the Ultima Cena without the characters. That is not as interesting as with the characters, wouldn’t you say?

Surface/Light is a good album no doubt about that but for there is something missing but it is still a good listen.



Label: Ethereal Sound Works
Three similar bands: Anathema/Porcupine Tree/Green Carnation
Rating: HHHHHHH (4/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm

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