Skip to main content

Progressive Rock Review: Dawn-Darker

Release Date:  15th April 2014
Label:  Lasers Edge

The album up for review is another of those that might have slipped through The Ancient One’s net, as I had not heard of the band before. The band in question hail from Switzerland and are called Dawn, which did have a little voice singing away in the depths of my mind “Knock Three Times etc”, but this is definitely NOT that same band. Dawn had their debut album, Loneliness, released back in 2007 and now comes album number 2, Darker. Dawn join a little group of excellent bands currently producing great music from Switzerland, such as Zenit, Diaphonic and Divus, and the music that Dawn provide would sit happily in the symphonic prog rock niche.

Dawn is a 4 piece band with the members involved in the new album, Darker, being Rene Desgoumois (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars), Nicolas Gerber (keyboards), Julian Vuataz (bass) and Manu Linder (drums). The influences cited by the members of Dawn reads like a “Who’s Who” of progressive rock and includes Pink Floyd, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Van Der Graaf Generator, Caravan, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Isuldur’s Bane and Gnidrilog, amongst many more.

Darker is a concept album which, as the magazine adverts associated with the release state is, “riddled with the vintage sound of the 70’s.” The album is an 8 track offering with a total playing time of around 68 minutes. The penultimate track, “Lost Anger,” is the shortest at 2:22 minutes and the longest track on the album is “8945” which moves the clock on to 19:02 minutes.

The opening track onDarker, is “Yesterday’s Sorrow” (2:25) which sets the ball rolling with “church organ style” keyboards and shimmering drums merging into a mellotron/keyboard passage which makes you feel that you have been transported back 40 years or so. This is an excellent starting point to the album, which is then taken up by “Cold” (9:43) which introduces us to the very characteristic vocals on the album. The most striking feature of this second track however is the stunning symphonic arrangements, interspersed with some heavy guitar riffs, and the music weaves from symphonic to almost space-rock style sparseness. The title track, “Darker” (10:57) follows and is a much heavier styled track with the “flying synth” sound suggesting early Hawkwind overtones, but it soon evolves into heavy riffing guitars and stronger, more powerful vocals. Sections of more subtle retro sounding keyboards sit perfectly with the heavier sections. Beautiful soundscapes are generated by the more sparse sections of the music, where the gentle bass and guitar merge into keyboard passages. The shorter and much more quirky “Lullabies for Gutterflies” (4:33) stirs memories of bands like Gentle Giant and Yes, with some repetitive keyboards and a very simple hook melody.

The epic track, “8945” (19:02) would best be described as a moody, atmospheric tour-de-force, which is a slow builder for the first three minutes and then heralds in a superbly played guitar passage  which carries the track onto a full band workout. Stunning keyboards around the 6:30 minute point allows the track to start building again with some old radio commentary being heard. This certainly gives a little nod of the head to the sounds of Pink Floyd and King Crimson styled “noodlings” which around the 10:30 minute mark move the track into a much looser sequence of very atmospheric material which just about ends before it becomes “too much” and moves into Deep Purple keyboard territory, more mellotron and more radio commentary. The track moves into an extended repeated passage which slowly builds to end the track.

Track 5, “Out Of Control” (7:44), starts out like a straightforward hard rocker, but settles into a superb track with weaving guitar and keyboards, interspersed with a much more confident sounding set of vocals. Around the 5 minute mark, the sound drops away totally to be picked up by a subdued guitar and swirling mellotron and the return of the vocals. The track ends with the sound dropping down again leaving a very plaintive vocal. “Lost Anger” (2:23) is almost like a little band workout with keyboards and mellotron, very rhythmic bass and drums and a buildup into a symphonic section which then drifts away to the end.

The final track on Darker, “Endless” (10:43) is filled with the sound of Hammond organ passages interspersed with guitars and encompassing some excellent melodic arrangements. The ethereal, floating   keyboards that seem to be here and there in the mix are simply superb. 

On Darker, Dawn has successfully produced a stunning album which encompasses the retro sounds of 70’s progressive music but sounds fresh and up to date. The musicians show that they appreciate those early sounds and can shape them into a sound for the 21st Century. This album should certainly grace the CD shelves of many prog fanatics so, it has the “One to Buy” sticker emblazoned across the front, and makes this listener eager to track down the debut album and also keep an eye, or should that be an ear, out for future material from the band.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Cold, Darker, 8945

Yesterday’s Sorrow
Lullabies for Gutterflies
Out Of Control
Lost Anger


Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk


Popular posts from this blog

Rock Review: Aunt Mary-New Dawn

Release Date: 12th February 2016 Label: Wind-Up Website
Aunt Mary, as a name, somehow suggests an “older” band and it came as no real surprise to find that they are a Norwegian prog band from the 70’s. The band were considered by many to be one of the best prog bands in Norway with their brand of music a mixture of heavy hard rock tunes plus clear indications of a more symphonic nature, although that only really showed itself on their 3rd, and last, studio album, Janus, in 1973. Last that is, until now, with the release of New Dawn. This would appear to be an apt title for a release which follows 24 years after an album of blues covers, released in 1992. 

At their height, Aunt Mary were “up there” with the likes of Deep Purple, Ten Years After, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and many more. After the release of Janus in 1973, the band split up but did a few sporadic appearances, as well as releasing the blues covers album mentioned earlier.

3 years ago, the Norwegian guitar legend and producer, …

Alternative Rock: mariaFausta -Million Faces

Release Date: November 12, 2017
Label: Independent
Website mariaFausta is a European alternative rock vocalist. Recently her album Million Faces became available. I knew that she would probably sing with an accent and she does. Here is the thing with that aspect of a recording artist, either you cannot get past it or you like it, there is no middle ground. After that process and you decide you like it, you realize it is part of the charisma and make up of what the artist is presenting. For my ears things landed on the positive side in all aspects.

Maria’s sound is a varied approach that works very well. It certainly is alternative rock and one of the most original and different albums I have heard in 2017. I hear a ton of instrumental music and sometimes find it difficult with redundancy regarding my words. That is something that all writers worry about. You are cognizant of that fact at all times. Well let me tell you, this music was a total joy to hear and then have the opportunity to p…

New Age Instrumental Review: Anaya Music-AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music)

Release Date: February 2, 2018 Label: Anaya Music Website
Around this time a year ago I had the experience of listening to Anaya Music and providing coverage of Eternity.  It was an uplifting experience and a memorable listen as I recall.
Now with February drawing closer AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music) will arrive.
Once again, the recording features several exceptional collaborations between Anaya Music and a live virtual symphony orchestra recorded in the heart of Prague, the capital of the Czech republic. The orchestra combines members of the finest ensembles in Prague, including the Czech Philharmonic.
I think they should rename the orchestra to “The Live Spiritual Orchestra.” If you have been exposed to Anaya Music you will understand what that means. If this is your first journey with this music you will find out very quickly. Either way, this is spiritually uplifting music that leaves a smile on your soul. It’s like the term digital footprint, there is an everlasting m…