"This is an album that is jammed packed with atmosphere, urgency and some of the busiest, most infectious grooves and beats that you are ever likely to find on an album full of emotional heartfelt progressive rock.
Describing the Brother Ape sound is satisfyingly difficult, as not only is this an eclectic album, but most unusually these days, it is really quite unique and individual. Yes the influence of everything from Porcupine Tree and The Pineapple Thief to Mike Oldfield and Vangelis via jazz and even ambient dance music is in evidence; however it is seldom more than a nod of the head to these sounds rather than a reliance on any one of them to create the band's vision.
Singer, guitarist and occasional keyboardist Stefan Damicolas writes all the songs featured with drummer Max Bergman co-writing the title track, however this is no one man show. Bergman himself plays a pivotal role in the seductive quality of the music, with his insistent busy, yet uncluttered dancey rhythms being quite a diversion from the fill heavy, round the kit and back again fare usually served up in prog rock. Whether it's the wailing guitar and scything riff on "Lifeprints" or "Footprints" with its Rush with the intensity turned up vibe, catchy hand claps and the singy-shouty vocals, Bergman continually morphs the tracks into massive groovefests.
Contrasting those heavier, intense songs are the beautiful, short guitar led instrumental "Early", alongside "No More" with its evocative, melancholic vocal and some subtle keyboard work from Gunnar Maxen who also plays bass and sings harmony vocals to great effect. The intro to title track "Turbulence" and the haunting instrumental "Autostrada" both evoke a Vangelis meets Mike Oldfield vibe, the later especially with a beautiful almost Oriental keyboard and guitar line that allows the songs to float along on another intricate Bergman work out, is a track that completely lulls you into its floating melody.
Damicolas possesses one of those vocals that isn't a traditional singing voice, however in the setting of these songs, his honest approach fits perfectly and is just one more instrument to work into the music. Tie all that together with a crystal clear production by the band and some great artwork by Bergman in the digipack and this really is a CD that deserves a far wider recognition than the band have so far achieved. Credit goes to Progress Records and Brother Ape for putting together all the aspects that make up a more than worthwhile release.
Turbulence is an impressive, thoughtful album with wonderful musicianship that doesn't take many listens to get under your skin and once it does repeat visits are unavoidable."
SEA OF TRANQUILITY
"There’s always a part of you that wonders when a band makes such an outstanding and original album, whether they can better it on their next release, but following Brother Ape’s 2008 album “III”, there is no question that the Swedish trio have certainly ticked all the right boxes in terms of musicianship, songwriting, originality and production with 'Turbulence' to create one of the most stand-out albums of 2009. The album kicks off with ‘Welcome Future’, with its sitar-esque guitar and orchestrals, gradually morphing into a fantastic fast-paced drum and bass rhythm that forms the basis of the track - something of a trademark, rhythmically, for the band - and then you’re transported along the beautifully melodic, upbeat (and dare I say it, potentially danceable) remainder of the track, layered with the soaring yet simple vocals and rich guitar work of Stefan Damicolas. This is also particularly prominent during the epic nine and a half minute ‘No Return’, an especially outstanding track, including a guitar solo easily equalling the technicality and beauty of those created by Vai or Gilmour, that I could leave on loop for hours and still not tire of it. Max Bergman’s drumming seems to take on a whole new lease of life on this album, creating yet more truly original rhythms never heard before on a ‘prog’ album and the keyboards and slightly distorted groovy bass lines of Gunnar Maxen give the songs great drive and impact. Subtly interspersed with calmer and more emotive tracks such as ‘No More’ and ‘Early’, this is a true journey of an album, and a damned enjoyable one too, that never tires, as each listen unveils another layer that you hadn’t noticed before. The only reason for this album not receiving a 10 out of 10 is that with their track record of progressing further and further with each album, I truly believe that Brother Ape can develop even more as a band and that they can stun us once more with their next release, and I for one cannot wait to hear it."
Rating: 9,5 out of 10
"It took a while before this album opened up to me. A tip: give yourself the opportunity to let this album grow upon you. The opener, "Welcome Future", immerses you right there with it’s infectious grooves, which are characteristic of the group and a trademark for drummer Max Bergman and bassist Gunnar Maxén. The voice and inventive guitar playing of Stefan Damicolas determines their typical sound. A little jazzy with oriental influences, this number to in which direction the group sees itself evolving. The grooves may have a more truly 'rocking' character, as “Footprints” solid guitar riffs, which at times remininding of Led Zeppelin. 'No more' is a very quiet ambient song with melancholic vocals and austere keyboards. The group is also thought by this enormous diversity of Porcupine Tree. After the tough rocker "Who will be the next" and the intimate, acoustic “Early” and the title track with a catchy guitar riff and where Damicolas shakes his sleeve and let some beautiful guitar solos out. “No Return” again sounds a lot quieter and has some beautiful, long drawn-out bluesy guitar solos, it is clear that the keyboards play only a supporting role on this album. “Autostrada” is an instrumental with much strange percussion and synthesizer loops, a little bit as an extension of Mike Oldfield’s music. “Lifeprints” ends the album with a real rocker, although it does not indicate the beginning and repeats the pattern heard in “Footprints”.
Brother Ape's music is complex, brilliant and catchy at once, but whether they actually will have commercial success is questionable. They deserve it of course, but the music in the 21st century still has a lot less ear for quality, but pity that is the reality. Nevertheless, I hope that a group as Brother Ape has a real breakthrough."
Rating: 9 of 10
"Sometimes when you get hold of a really good album with a previously unexplored group it feels absolutely necessary to immediately explore their past discography. That was the case for me when Brother Ape - “III” was sent to me for a review. Unfortunately, I had a lack of time, no opportunity to listen to their earlier works when I wrote my review, (which incidentally can be found on this page during the 2008 reviews) but the previous two albums were purchased straight away.
This first contact with Brother Ape had made me very positive to the band after having listened to their new release, and this feeling increased after listening to their previous albums. It was the band's second album "Shangri-la" which further confirmed my great interest for the group.
When the new album "Turbulence" fell into my mailbox the other week I was a little paralyzed, for how could I objectively reflect on this new album. Pretty soon, however, I came to the conclusion that I neither could nor wanted to be objective just represent my own highly personal thoughts and feelings.
In our country we have, in my opinion, extremely many good and talented musicians / bands. Groups like Flower Kings, Ritual, Freak Kitchen, Anekdoten, Pain of Salvation and Opeth has for years been my favourites, while some newer acquaintances as Moon Safari, Simon Says, Wonderland, Manimal and others, further reinforced the interest in high quality Swedish progressive music. I Can only say that I have not found any band that even come close to how Brother Ape sounds!
For the uninitiated Brother Ape-listener, it is incredibly difficult to describe how their intricate and well played music sounds. The guys in the band have a long history as musicians, where Stefan Damicolas in the late 70s had the Sabbath / Purple / Zeppelin-influenced band Abduhlas Prophets. They already played together in the 80s under the name Little Orchestra, and have through prog / symf and jazz / fusion-inspired periods found their own niche in the progressive rock music .In this melting pot of musical influences, the guys in the band has created something completely unique, and that does not sound like anything else I've heard.
Stefan Damicolas has a quite high soft and a bit "dilute" voice that gives Brother Ape an instantly recognizable sound. His guitar playing is very varied and technically skilled, and in combination with Gunnar Maxéns bass it gets really powerful and intense. His solo guitar playing appeals to me, combined with the sometimes heavy parts, with a feeling, tone and phrasing, which is fabulous. In some parts, it is so beautiful that it almost makes you want to cry and you do not want it ever to end.
Bass player Gunnar Maxén has with Max Bergman on drums also developed the patented Brother Ape-groove, which relies heavily on Gunnar's heavy but still varied bass playing and Max' intensive and highly technically proficient drumming. These rhythms is more typical for each album and it also gives the band its own expression and the hallmark, and sometimes gets "house" or "drum / bass"-inspired. It is groovy and very addictive. Gunnar has since last album also grown as a keyboard player. Unfortunately, since Peter Dahlstrom quit the band after the first album the band have no natural live keyboardist, which makes their live performances rare. This immediately has to change, since this wonderfully cruel band must be heard live!
Since last album Stefan, who writes all the lyrics and music developed his composing talent further, and he has created highly diversified compote of songs. One of Stefan's greatest qualities as a composer is probably his ability to write songs that are so different in character, emotional expression and intensity. Nevertheless, all tracks are equally interesting from the point of the listener when they convey such a broad palette of musical expressions. One track can be groovy and heavy, but at the same time beautiful and researched, without making the song the least fragmented. Compared with its predecessors, the songs are generally longer and slightly more progressive which obviously appeals to an old prog freak. All together, it reveals a song writing talent of God's grace, and in combination with Gunnar Maxén’s superb production it makes "Turbulence" a musical masterpiece, well in class with "III" and the totally fabulous album "Shangri-la". For those who have not had the privilege to become acquainted with this lovely band, I say only: Give the band a real chance and listen carefully! The music is at times very complex and progressive, yet stunningly beautiful and varied. Do not give up if it doesn't catch you immeadetly because I am completely confident that once you opened your ears for the band, then you are sold to Brother Ape for ever!
It feels like an impossible task to appoint any favourite track as they vary from day to day depending on my mood, but I can definitely designate Brother Ape - "Turbulence" (in competition with Manimal - "The Darkest Room"), to best album of the year all categories!"
Rating: 10 out of 10
"Fans of progressive rock should not miss out on this one. Superb!"
"Brother Ape´s new and fourth album: "Turbulence" at first disappionted me, but as a true music freak and reviewer (one can imho not judge music after just a few listenings) I listened and listened again! Then...one morning in the shower..i was humming a tune and sure enough one of Brother Ape´s creative compositions has got to me! Little by little one song after another invaded my senses and lodged itself into my music heart. This is a superb album!!
Brother Ape has their own unique style and sound, developed over four albums.
If I were to describe the music on this new album I would say: A mix of powerrock with progressive tendencies, with light ambient tones now and then, blended with the occasional jazz/fusion tune!
That may sound strange, but believe you me..this is a killer album!!
Opening with: "Welcome Future" intro: a soft heartbeat drum with sitar like guitar soon to grow muscle in form of thundering fast paced drumming, bass and great vocals..sometimes vocals with unison guitars!! Superb track!! Very addictive!! 8:22 min. of sheer bliss!!
"Footprints" again fast paced theme, with excellent playing from all involved. Damicolas´s guitars (and his vocals) are quite frankly brilliant, on this track. Well...his work is amazing through the whole album!!
"No More" is a beautiful ambient like tune (very addictive) with spacey vocals and piano/mellotron (?)
I love this track!!
"Who Will Be Next" again BA creates a thundering theme, that could have been on one of the latter Porcupine Tree albums!! Superb guitars, solid bass and excellent drumming by Bergman!!
"Early" Acoustic guitar beauty interval.
"Turbulence" Title track starts of like a homage to Manfred Mann´s Earth Band, soon to be a certified BA tune! Great hookline and superb delivery from these three fabulous musicians!! I have to mention (again) the masterous guitar play of Damicolas.
"No Return" Opens with a soft Leslie-guitar solo, leading into a beautiful ballad like song..which holds several incredible guitar solo´s by Damicolas (yet again!). Beautiful stuff!!
"Autostrada" a fusion track....think Pat Metheny crossed with No-Man!
Different from all the other tracks, but GREAT!!
"Lifeprints" Once again, a track that could have been on one of the later Porcupine Tree albums!! Powerfull stuff...really excellent delivery from all involved!!
I find it quite amazing that these fine musicians, this fine band is a trio!!
Well..everything is possible in a studio..I hear you say!
I dont care, this is one hell of an album!!
So, go out and buy it...before your friends do!!
And please learn from my early statement, listen to it more than twice!!
You will be greatly rewarded, promise!!"
"Both thumbs up!"
Rating: 4,5 out of 5
" 'Turbulence' is the fourth album from this Swedish band right now. They originally started as a four-piece band but are stable with three members through the recent years. I only knew some song samples before which appealed to me. So consequently it was about time to check out a full album some day. First of all - if I should define a stylistical category for the music I would completely fail. However - this is one advantage though to state that they sound rather unique.
The damn grooving opener Welcome Future is a great invitation to the album - music which will move the crowd during a concert really. So this one makes out the highlight for me - skillfully provided with sawing and oriental mooded guitar plus classical strings implemented here and there, coming from the synthesizer I assume. As for the rhythm basics this is rather fusion adapted - Max Bergman's excellent jazzy respectively nujazz drum appearance coupled with a deep rumbling bass.
Footprints comes with multi-layered guitar work in a heavier outfit where No More is something mellow silky on the contrary, only presented by synthesizer/piano and vocals. Don't know why, but listening to the next song it immediately reminds me of the 'Manic Street Preachers'. And looking at the song title Who Will Be Next then this even confirms it surprisingly. Is it Damicolas' voice which puzzles me or even more? Well - in its entirety this one appears in a heavier mood though and more tricky.
Leaving the short acoustic interlude Early the band follows a new path with the gripping more jazz rock tinged Turbulence turning into No Return - a long emotional ballad including wonderful guitar presence. Autostrada holds a quite nujazz vibe with interesting percussion attendance and leading synthesizer activity. Finally Lifeprints returns back to heavy impressions with riffing guitar and a special cumbersome rhythm.
As for a conclusion I would say I'm listening to an album which is art and jazz rock bordering - not often to find with such a styling. The more I listen the more I sense the implemented ethno flavour - nice. The songs are presented powerful, melodic and atmospheric. In order to say that 'Turbulence' is essential really I wished they had worked out one or two more high caliber songs on the same level like the opener. Anyhow - this album is a fine effort - an enjoyable one - upward tendency with 4 stars now after some more listening sessions."
Rating: 4 stars
"Definitly their best, and most progressive, album this far"
More Reviews coming soon