The RMR deck crew can sometimes be more elitist than others in the reviewer’s blogosphere actually are. And that applies to the progressive and alternative spectrum of the rock and metal arena. For instance, RMR here was eternally daunted by the intricate patterns Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon launched our way. His work will forever fascinate the occupants of our mighty office suite. Yet, his records are virtually impossible to review, he’s so much out there in outer progressive space.
Then, you got those juicy and irresistible pieces from Steven Wilson (when prog was still his thing) or again Caligula’s Horse that still dwell way out there in progspace’s woozy nirvana. But – in the end – both of them are way more accessible in a progressive environment than the true nerds of the realm.
Now, here Jonas Lindberg & The Other Side appeared on our mighty music radars. Lindberg himself was yet another one-man show who understood the jack-of-all-trades thing and got himself a few musicians for added quality. And that’s always a great thing, considering. Because very few of the die-hard multi-instrumentalists really cut it for the duration of a record.
Now, Miles From Nowhere1) serves you some sort of a variant of that endless Progressive Rock that the aforementioned Ayreon is so famous for. And sometimes you just feel Lucassen’s ghost2) standing behind you.
In a way, the record lives where Tull and Tool shake hands. Jonas Lindberg managed to fetch colorful illustrations from the past and mix them with the modern world prog undercurrents. And whilst the massive overreach of some 76 minutes of airtime took me aback, the record was able to hold my attention for the duration.
So much so, that yours truly here often lost track of the written word and roamed those tasty soundscapes brought about by these boys and girls from Sweden. We can of course argue back and forth what the perfect length of a record should be. But it’s simple, if an album can hold your attention for way over an hour, it should get the quality stamp for it. Records are complete and complex works of art, and an album should thus represent that. More often than not, new releases just turn out to be loose playlists, yet this one here got us good with its accessible approach to the prog art.
Not that Miles from Nowhere is without sins. I am usually rightly wary of records that sport too many tracks beyond the 10-minute mark. And this one’s no different. The massive title track of over 25 minutes – for instance – wins no brownie points with a friggin’ 6 minutes or so of instrumental noodling at first. And that, even if its Pink Floyd-ish airs later really won our cold metal hearts over. Yet again, that one sports Roine Stolt‘s excellent guitar work that stunned the RMR crew every time it flew by. Or take the refreshing Oceans of Time, the one with that terrible video the band released earlier. It’s a good piece by and in itself, yet it is also prone to endless repetitions of known passages with little new material to show for.
Lindberg also freely hunted in other proggers’ backyards. The excellent Why I’m Here – for example – is so Steven Wilson3), the latter probably has recurring nightmares about someone hiding under his bed. Yet, the track truly excels in what true prog should sound like. Then again, Astral Journey got us that warm fuzzy feeling of great music from the past. With a tune that kinda harkens back to long-gone times when Genesis roamed freely.
Yet, the refreshingly dreamy and somewhat laid-back Summer Queen perfectly encapsulates the essence of the record. Even if it also tends to bloat some, as other tracks do on the record. The song accommodates different sub-themes, changes of tempi, and a tune that just sounds right. Besides, ’tis also Jenny Storm‘s true moment to shine.
In the end, Miles from Nowhere brings us a pretty snazzy slice of that well-lit type of prog we enjoyed over the past years. Those mainly came from actors in the European North, and this one’s no different. Jonas Lindberg & The Other Side outdid themselves with a high-quality yet somewhat nerdy piece of Progressive Rock. And whilst they’re not quite in the lofty realms of true prog geekery (yet), this is a remarkable record from a band to be watched for more such goodness in the future.
Ed’s note: Similar, but not same, yet still somehow connected. That’s how Face The Day would sound together with Lindberg here. Try some.