Escaping the gloom of our times, progressive group advance towards the fires of the future and take their fellow travelers on board.
“It’s easy to slip through a crack in the world”: it’s impossible not to relate to one of a few – and, thus, precious – vocal lines on this international ensemble’s third record whose music is of the sort that seeps into the listener’s skin to creep up on their psyche and pump ethereal enlightenment into their veins. A follow-up to "A Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows" which saw the light of day exactly two years earlier, “Back From The Brink” can be seen as a rebound from the pandemic-related state of affairs, but there’s much more going for the album’s subtle, yet utterly impressive, sonic landscapes. Of course, aural imagery and sensory assault go hand in hand with deep meaning here.
Floating into focus with subdued grandeur, the elegant “Rectify” may seem austere, its billowing synthesizer waves pinned by bass, until they swell up, reveal a groove and get fleshed out for hope to appear on the piece’s increasingly clean, nigh on crystalline, horizon. It sets the scene for the flute-flaunting and violin-delivered “The Minutes After” to be infused with unbearably delicate folk sensibilities before Eric Bouillette’s changes his bow for a plectrum and weaves an enchanting strum, and Dave Hilborne’s ivories fold out a cosmic tapestry. Freshly charged, this image is emotionally embossed on the riff-ruffled, symphonic surface of “There Is Always A Way” and passed on to the tremulous, if solemn, and almost intangible “Phantom” that will exude the sweetest tune to accompany the song’s verbal philosophy, letting the piano move “Classroom Keys” towards baroque romance and the heartbeat-propelled “The Hill” to celestial, electric uplift – pregnant with creepy expectancy.
All the elements of the collective’s instrumental arsenal and stylistic palette come together in the titular epic that’s possessed by orchestra-drenched drama, its wondrously adventurous sweep laced with acoustic nuance which could form a weighty worry had “Long Winter” not soothe this latent anxiety with softly intoned words. The result if it all feels warm as a milk, gently stressing this album’s human kindness – exactly what the world needs now, moving back from the brink into the brighter future.