Year of Release: 2006
Label: The Laser's Edge
Catalog Number: LE 1046
Total Time: 51:32:00
As with every single album this band has released, the line-up has once again changed. Although the voice of Sylvia Erichsen was present on the band's last three albums, the new Signal To Noise offering does introduce a new singer in the person of Trude Eidtang. Looking at the entire history of the band, only founding member Jacob C. Holm-Lupo has always been in the band. However, apart from the important slot of singer the nucleus of the last three albums has very much remained, including Ketil Einarsen on woodwinds, Lars Fredrik Froislie on keyboards, bass player Marthe Berger Walthinsen and Age Molthe Schou on drums. As with every single release of this glorious band, once again the sleeve design for Signal To Noise is superb, although this band surely deserves a more luxurious foldout digipack at one stage. With nine brand new compositions at your disposal it's time to give the album a well deserved spin.
As always, it's difficult to put a well defined label onto this product, such is the talent and diversity of Holm-Lupo and friends. Our Norwegian friends do tackle a lot of melancholy, which is already present in the short instrumental track "Ghosts." In "Splinters," the rhythm here gives the whole song a more accessible nature with some Paatos accents. It's the second encounter we get with new vocalist Trude Eidtang, after she debuts during the opening track "Night Surf." Although sounding different to Sylvia Erichsen's output, Trude once again delivers the required clear and distinct voice which has become kind of a trademark in the White Willow history. Her pronunciation is perfect without any accent, whilst her range evolves from soft whispering to powerful outbursts. The whole arrangement for "Splinters" comes across as rather commercial without becoming too bland before the atmosphere is switched to a rather solemn experience. White Willow does not inundate you with endless solos, trying to incorporate all sounds in a balanced way. The analogue output by means of authentic mellotrons and moogs is in the capable hands of Lars Fredrik Froislie whom you might also know from his own band Wobbler.
In "The Dark Road," the band displays its love for the folk environment by going for the acoustic approach in which once again mellotron lovers will have a field day. Age's almost military rhythm adds a nice unexpected twist to it all whilst backing vocals add extra spice. With "Joyride," White Willow delivers what could be their first hit single. Not only is the length perfect for radio airplay (although an edit would be even more perfect), but it's also catchy whilst it contains all the right hooks. So without compromising, the band does put an important step forward towards recognition on a larger scale. With "The Lingering," the album's longest track, the band harks back to its pure progressive past incorporating some splendid solos shared between guitar and synths. "Ghosts" contains that dark look on life, again incorporating nice Hammond and melancholic flute whilst certain synth sounds create this rather "ghostly" effect. The most powerful track certainly has to be "Dusk City," which embraces spooky and eastern elements in its rage. In fact there are a zillion and one different atmospheres all condensed into this single composition. For sure producer Tommy Hansen (Helloween, Hatesphere, D.A.D., ?) has done a great job introducing what Jacob has wanted all along: a more modern sound. In the instrumental "Chrome Dawn" Holm-Lupo even treats his guitar as if he's the twin brother of Pat Metheny. This guitar sound blends ever so well with the laidback rhythm and the sea of mellotron in the background.
The album closes with the short instrumental "Ararat," which sees Jacob deliver a very intimate solo backed by sparse keyboards resulting in a calm dreamy piece. Whilst some of the band's earlier work evoked the atmosphere of a drizzling autumn morning, Signal To Noise contains the sunshine that occasionally peeps through the clouds delivering a most welcome warmth. This to me is still one of the finest bands in the universe and I sincerely hope this line-up can stay together for as long as possible. Luv it!
Night Surf (4:12) / Splinters (8:36) / Ghosts (5:48) / Joyride (4:18) / The Lingering (9:25) / The Dark Road (4:17) / Chrome Dawn (7:12) / Dusk City (6:05) / Ararat (1:35)
Trude Eidtang - vocals
Lars Fredrik Fr?islie - keyboards
Jacob Holm-Lupo - electric and acoustic guitars, e-bow, additional keyboards
Marthe Berger Walthinsen - bass
Aage Moltke Schou - drums, percussion, glockenspiel
Ketil Einarsen - woodwinds
Ignus Fatuus (1995)
Ex Tenebris (1998)
Storm Season (2004)
Signal To Noise (2006)
Genre: Progressive Rock