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23 Jun 2011

Review: Restless in Flight (Forest of the Soul)

Forest of the Soul
Restless in Flight
Bindrune Records, 2011

Forest of the Soul is the newest project from Nechochwen’s Andrew Della Cagna and Aaron Carey. Given the excellence of Nechochwen’s folk-black metal fusion, I had high hopes for Restless in Flight, which sees Della Cagna’s intimidating multi-instrumentality paired off with Aaron Carey’s talented guitar playing. Excellent though it is, I unfortunately fear that this release does not sit as well with me as Nechochwen’s work.

Restless in Flight is acoustic guitar-driven folk rock with occasional lashings of electric guitar and a free play between bucolic tranquillity and strident force. The guitar playing is intricate and flawless; the bass and drums are expressive and flowing. Instrumentally speaking this album straddles the divide between “music for musicians” and “music for everyone else” with effortless flair.

Yet somehow as an album the songs just don’t quite hang together. Perhaps part of the problem is that Della Cagna’s vocals somehow don’t sit right in the music. It could be to do with the way they’ve been mixed, or perhaps something in the timbre or technique of his singing. They just don’t convey the same power as the music.

Consequently, Restless in Flight starts to feel longer than it is, and at some point begins to drag. Strangely, my criticisms were to a blunted after switching to listening to headphones – perhaps the more immersive sound field helped the music to carry the day. But even so it just doesn’t dig into the fluid emotional power and magic that Nechochwen’s music evokes.

It really pains me to not give a totally positive review to such exemplary musicians, and I want to emphasise that despite my misgivings this is an excellent release. Perhaps I am foisting unfair expectations on Forest of the Soul precisely because of my admiration for Nechochwen. Sometimes an artist’s brilliance can hamper the reception of subsequent releases.

I have also found that this album is a bit of a “grower” and certainly deserves time and effort for the listener. The effort is well rewarded…but somehow it feels like it falls short of its potential.

Anyone who likes folk music or progressively-tinged rock is likely to enjoy this musical outing, which despite my complaints is still a quality release. Perhaps when Forest of the Soul make their next album the kinks will be straightened and an unreservedly sublime listening experience will be the happy consequence.

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