Aether - Illusional EP
Reviewed by Andreas on 6th August 2003
Scotland. Not quite the place that instantly jumps into your head when you read the words "rock band", is it? Anyway, there have been a whole lot of bands coming out of Scotland as of late and here's another one. Aether. This is a band that's been going for quite a while, having released two EP's and apparently working on a third one.
Getting down to business, I can say right away that the main problem for the band is the lengthy songs that drag on a bit. Unless you're already a fan, then you'll love it. I wouldn't call myself a fan just yet, so the fact that all songs are 5 min+ doesn't really give the band more credit in my eyes. Second problem for the band is a less-than-forgiving mix, the vocals are usually a bit too up front, and consequently block out parts of the music.
All problems aside, the songs this band has got are good, much better than I expected, actually. Opening and title track, Illusional, has a certain Joy Division-esque mood to it, vocalist Derek Shanks could at times have won Ian Curtis sound-a-like competitions. Haunting melody, intense vocals and a dark mood cuts this song out as the best one on the EP. Second song, Crystal Lines, is good, but it's nothing compared to Illusional, really. Like I initially said, the fact that the songs are so long doesn't help one bit. Same rule applies to Crystal Lines. It's too long, and is full of repetitions, really. The band is obviously exploring their pop sensibilities, and not doing a too great job of it. Stick to the rock, guys!
I was initially very impressed with the band. Then "Girl In The Shop" came on. This song drags the EP down as a whole, unlike the two other songs, which had a great mood going on, this is just... shallow, is the best word for it. From the guitar effect-y intro to the chorus and to the outro, this song's closest relatives are college rock bands from Canada. Sorry guys, absolutely horrible.
Thankfully, closing track, Unreachable sees them back on form. The brooding instruments once again make an appearance, and although the initial sounds of this song aren't too promising, once the chorus kicks in it's really quite good. Although I'm not a fan of flanger guitar effects, it's still catchy. To a degree. Kind of like the drum work on this one, more so than the other three songs, it seems more complete.
Still, I feel there's something lacking in the recordings. Where it could be massive, it's just teething the edge, really. The mix is also slightly dodgy at points, the vocals are a bit too high up in places, but no big thing. On a whole though, I'm afraid I can't give this EP top marks. I don't see the songs, Illusional itself being an exception, ever doing "great" in the world. Yet, they've got potential and sure as hell play enough gigs, so I don't see why they shouldn't be able to actually make a brilliant record some day.
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