DISCovery - Quantum
The original aim of the blog was to promote discussion about all and any facet of progressive rock but from time to time, bands and musicians contact ProgBlog with new prog-related material that they want to expose to a wider audience; ProgBlog's album of 2017 An Invitation by Amber Foil was one such approach.
The range of styles ProgBlog has been exposed to through this route has helped to expand and challenge my listening habits but time constraints have meant that not all submissions have received the attention that they deserve.
The DISCovery section has been introduced to better serve the requirements of musicians who contact ProgBlog with the aim of increasing the audience for their music; without music there can be no discussion of music.
QUANTUM is a quartet of young musicians from Stockholm who show up on the progressive rock scene with The Next Breath of Air, a very interesting and noteworthy EP.
While listening to the four songs that are included in this release, several bands came to my mind.
The strongest references I have found are with RUSH, both for the style of the singing, the important and central role of the bass lines and for a certain taste in the structure and arrangement of the compositions, while some of the melodic solutions and structures also made me think of RIVERSIDE and WOLVERINE, particularly in the second and third songs (the title track The Next Breath of Air and Dissonance.) Some particular breaks, especially in The Next Breath of Air, strongly reminded me also of A Murder of Crows by DEADSOUL TRIBE, for the choice of effects on voice and guitars that recall the style adopted by Devon Graves in that release.
The bands I have mentioned have extremely different styles, and this could lead to fear that the end result is a confused amalgamation of genres, but this is absolutely not the case.
The music of QUANTUM is extremely coherent: all the songs develop between sophisticated and refined changes of tempo and structure, at times surprising but never trivial.
The harmonic structure is rich and multilayered, with interesting alternations between passages with more lean and simple arrangements and more intense moments that broaden the soundscape. Even more remarkable is the rhythmic variety, with articulated and complex but always melodic and compelling patterns and structures: in this the first piece of the EP, Slipped, a personal favorite of mine, was particularly successful.
The musicians are all very competent: it is easy to recognize the skill of the bassist and singer Anton Ericsson given the central role he plays in some of the compositions, but I found the taste of the guitarists Samuel Walfridsson and Oscar Lundin in the choice of the timbres and in the composition of their lines on point. Even from a guitar solo point of view I really appreciated that they opted to follow the mood and style rather than trying at all costs to give demonstrations of skill at the expense of the consistency of the songs. I want to dedicate a special mention to the drummer / percussionist Marcus Lundberg: I definitely appreciated the quality and style of his arrangement, he adds a great value to the structure of the compositions.
From a production point of view, the level is high, with a good choice of timbres and balance between the instruments; the soundscape is well defined and has an appreciable depth.
There are a couple of things that have not entirely convinced me of this otherwise really good release.
Anton Ericsson is a good singer, with a voice and style that calls to mind Geddy Lee even if not as high pitched, but he has a unique and very personal tone that can be hit-or-miss for listeners. In particular, I enjoyed it very much on Stilled and The Next Breath of Air, while when he tries to push the voice more aggressively on Dissonance, to my ears he assumes a more nasal and almost strident nuance that I didn't like very much.
On the production side, in some places I had the impression that the toms were a little too present and dry, but this can also depend on my personal tastes and in any case it is a really minor gripe.
Overall, I think The Next Breath of Air is a really good calling card for QUANTUM, and I have no doubt that it will convince many listeners and find many fans both among those who love RUSH and those who follow more recent bands such as RIVERSIDE and WOLVERINE, but I would also not hesitate to recommend them to anyone who loves a sophisticated kind of progressive rock.
Quantum - The Next Breath of Air (official video)