Album review: The Prognosis - Still Waters (2018)
I came across Still Waters in a box of pre-loved LPs in a flea market in Brighton, UK without knowing anything about the band. The cover and the group's name suggested they were prog so I checked on progarchives and despite the low rating handed over my cash for a near-perfect condition piece of vinyl.
It transpires that they were voted 'Best Unsigned Band' in the 2013 Prog magazine readers' poll and the January 2014 edition of the magazine, Prog 42, featured the band in a two-page spread. At that point they'd released a small amount of self-penned material (the Under Box Hill EP, 2013) and it wouldn't be until 2018 that they'd put out Still Waters.
The band are based in Dorking, which isn't too far away from where I live, and the local landmark is Box Hill, somewhere I'd take myself for a walk and pub lunch when I was single. I like the story-telling and their appropriation of local folklore (Topsy-Turvy, The Silent Pool) which puts them in the Big Big Train or Kaprekar's Constant territory and harks back to early Genesis, though the lyrics all follow a basic AABB(CC) rhyming pattern (which didn't do Pink Floyd any harm!) The sound is less full than Big Big Train but it's equally if not more melodic and the musicianship is of a high standard. Topsy-Turvy is an excellent start to the record, telling the tale of Major Peter Labilliere, a resident of Dorking buried upside down on Box Hill in 1800. The instrumental track Meander is jazzy, like something from Camel's Rain Dances, with lots of fluid guitar and bursts of guest saxophone. In the Deep is evidently very personal, with spoken verses from Psalm 139 appended to the song. It's not a bad song, with some Trick of the Tail-era Genesis vibe but I'm unable to connect with the sentiment, and it's my least favourite track for that reason though it's also the track with the weakest vocals. The Silent Pool is well constructed and attracts more Genesis comparisons, from the vocals to the watery parallels with The Fountain of Salmacis.
Inside My Head is revisited after appearing on the 2013 EP, a track more in the Camel vein, hyper melodic with some really nice lead synthesizer lines. It's the longest track on the album at 10' 33, predominantly instrumental with some contrasting dynamics.
Still Waters is an album with roots in the English prog tradition played and produced with modern values where the sound is bright without sounding like neo-prog. It's not going to set the world on fire but it's an enjoyable listen and of interest to anyone who likes musical interpretations of folklore or lives in Surrey!
A version of this review has also been posted on the progarchives.com website