We have to listen to plenty of rubbish music here at Grumpyrocker. But sometimes we’re sent something so wonderful to review it makes life worth living. Bruce Soord’s collaboration with Katatonia’s Jonas Renkse is such a record.
The resulting album – Wisdom of Crowds – is a real treat for fans of progressive music. In some ways it’s the album I expected from Steven Wilson/Michael Akerfeldt’s Storm Corrosion collaboration. Instead that duo gave us something much more odd – but no less compelling. But I digress…
No, what we have here from Bruce isn’t an album that strays too far from his day job of The Pineapple Thief. Soord plays all the instruments – delivering a delightful blend of modern progressive rock, folk, pop, electronica and industrial. Fans of The Pineapple Thief would feel right at home, as would fans of Pink Floyd, Marillion, Anathema, The Gathering, The Porcupine Tree or even Muse.
What sets this album apart is the choice of vocalist. Don’t get me wrong – regular readers will know what a big fan I am of Katatonia’s work – but I wouldn’t have pegged Jonas Renkse as the ideal vocalist for such an album. I would be wrong though. Even shorn of the numerous ethereal effects he enjoy’s on Katatonia’s records Jonas sounds phenomenal on Wisdom of Crowds. He lends the whole album an air of melancholy. Bruce Soord wrote the album with Jonas in mind and it tells, it’s not often you here something that sounds so right. Even though here’s nothing approaching metal to be heard on the album Jonas sounds just perfect for the role.
So no metal riffing, but there are some very pleasing noisy guitar moments – particularly in the powerful second half of Frozen North, one of my favourite tracks from the album. There’s plenty of instrumental moments to enjoy; soulful soloing, interesting sound effects, powerful electronica beats and epic soundscapes.
Just as impressive as the bombast is Bruce Soord’s restraint. Here we have nine songs of modest length for progressive rock, with only two tracks just slipping over seven minutes. Other bands may have been tempted to record their
ripoff of homage to Echoes, but there’s nothing so indulgent here. Instead it’s genuinely beautiful music married with perfect emotive vocals.
I’ll shut up now. Just go buy Bruce Soord and Jonas Renkse’s Wisdom of Crowds, a major candidate for album of the year. Take a listen…