Sometimes, you wake up in the middle of the night, and go out to see what is going on in the world – or just lay on your back and fantasise about it. That’s what Aisles’ album 4:45AM is about: a man doing just that, get up and stroll through the city, soaking up all the emotions he feels. Each track on the album fits an emotion he may encounter, from melancholy to sorrow, but also the feeling of strength to correct past mistakes.
All of these are different emotions, and that explains why all tracks on this album are so vastly different, despite the idea of it being a concept album. This also makes it in hard to grasp the album at first – but by the time you reach the end, you just want to listen again. My review notes show this – usually I listen to an album ‘on the fly’ a few times, and then over time I start taking notes as input for a review. Even after playing the album 10 times, my notes still showed doubt about the first few tracks, and more and more curiosity near the end. And I’m playing it yet another time while writing this…
The opening (and title) track 4:45AM opens with a catchy guitar riff, which makes you expect a straight forward rock song. Nothing is less true, this is a full blown, varied neo-inspired track with a lot of very nice guitar and keyboard work. The instrumental Gallarda Yarura that follows is a very well done instrumental piece. At first I found it just a bit too long, but after some time you start realising that more is happening than you hear when listening to casually – a sin when listening to this type of music any way. Now the real confusion of the first few listens starts right after this, with the 80s pop alike track Shallow and Daft, which according to German Vergara in an interview is exactly that – an 80s pop alike track with a message about the shallowness of commercial radio. It grows on you, despite not being the most complicated track on the album.
After this, there’s a lot more on offer, and my personal highlights are The Sacrifice, Intermission and Sorrow.
The Sacrifice is a beautiful acoustic guitar and vocal track, in which Sébastian Vergara shows what he can do (with his brother on backing vocals), and the additon of a string quintet at the end to complete the feeling of the sacrifice being made.
Intermission is a very surprising and addictive instrumental. With it’s pulsating rhythm and the guitars sounding almost as if being produced by a synthesizer, it is an almost psychedelic rock track that stays with you.
Sorrow is the highlight of the album altogether, with a varied mix of melodies, instrumentation and great vocals. It also shows the one weakness of this album: the balance between highs and lows in the mix. It’s not only because my own main instrument is bass that I feel the bass side of the sound spectrum is lacking on this album, only Sorrow seems to be more balanced in this respect.
The two remaining tracks Hero and Melancholia I will not describe in full detail here, but they are of the same quality as the other tracks.
This album is really what some would call a ‘grower’ – and exactly why I never would write a review based on a single play of an album.
(also published on ProgArchives.com, thanks to German Vergara for providing a review copy of the album)