Saturday, February 01, 2014

Amplifier: "Where the River Goes" (and my favorite albums of 2013)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Amplifier's 2013 album Echo Street doesn't have quite the adventurous grandeur of the band's previous studio effort, 2011's The Octopus, but it's a remarkable album nonetheless. Where the latter is a double-sized album of mind-altering intensity that requires multiple listens to uncover its esoteric space-rock complexity, the former is a more accessible journey into old-fashioned yet still solidly fresh prog rock.

Indeed, were it not for Steven Wilson's glorious The Raven that Refused to Sing (and Other Stories), Echo Street might very well have been my favorite studio album of 2013. (If we're including live / concert albums as well, it's Wilson's Raven and Anathema's incredible Universal. I'd also add Vienna Teng's Aims, God is an Astronaut's Origins, Sarah Jarosz's Build Me Up From Bones, and Patty Griffin's Silver Bells (recorded in 2000 but finally released last year) to the list of my favorites of 2013. Yes, I really like prog rock and Americana / folk / roots. What can I say?)

If you don't know the U.K.-based Amplifier -- they're certainly not widely known on this side of the Atlantic, but they deserve much wider attention than they're getting in Europe -- I strongly encourage you to check them out, especially if, like me, you're a fan of the sort of "post-progressive" sound that finds its outlet through the great Kscope label (home to Amplifier along with Wilson and Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Gazpacho, North Atlantic Oscillation, The Pineapple Thief, and other great artists).

I'll post more from Amplifier in future, but for now here's probably my favorite song off Echo Street (just ahead of "Matmos" and "Extra Vehicular"), "Where the River Goes." (This version was recorded live in Barcelona on May 10, 2013.) Enjoy!


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