The Imaginary Direction of Time
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
As one might suspect, The Imaginary Direction of Time is not easy to wrap your brain around. Winds has turned in a mind-boggling album that, once digested and scrutinized, is clearly an artistic triumph ... and a damn good listen. These high-minded (or perhaps just high) Norwegians have ascended the mountain of space and time whereupon mighty brained thinkers like Arcturus, Aesma Daeva, and Borknagar ponder the complexities of the cosmos. Luckily, their musical theorems and dissertations are more listenable than your average lecture on astrophysics.
Winds employs a neoclassical musical approach to illuminate their discoveries, eschewing synths in favor of live instrumentation. The song arrangements typically combine traditional metal fare with piano and violin. They are both progressive and regressive at the same time, bringing together the sound of classic acoustic instruments with the forward thinking, spacey melodicism often associated with the 'progressive' moniker. Wiggling guitar solos flavor the music with plentiful prog, but the piano and vocals are the heart and soul of the album.
Lars Eric Si has a distinct and singular vocal style, with a very straightforward delivery that I thought I might hate at first... until I listened to the album a few more times, and realized that it fits the music perfectly. He doesn't succumb to the overly florid tendencies of some of his contemporaries, but instead dishes out earnest lyrics filled with a subtle intensity uncommon in an age of theatrical histrionics. Andy Winter's piano lines provide a more ornate means to embellish the music, reminding me more of Debussy or Schubert than anything metal. This unlikely duet of sounds surprisingly merges into a cohesive and powerful whole.
If cosmic rock-metal gets you going, then its a'going you should get and head to your local music store (or portal to the infinte vastness of universal consciousness) and grab this album. Winds melds rock, metal, classical music and starry-eyed wonder into a thoroughly engrossing forty-eight minutes of music suggestive of what might erupt from a union of Queen and Borknagar. If envisioning that doesn't melt your brain, you definitely need to point yourself in The Imaginary Direction of Time.
Winds Official Site:
The End Records (US):