I don’t often get to review instrumental albums, but two good ones came my way so…
Dynamo Bliss “Night and Day”
Prog-poppers from North Sweden Dynamo Bliss had a pretty cool single in 2011 called “Circadian Rhythm,” so the band felt they could build an album around the entire concept. Mikael Sandström (electric and acoustic guitars, banjo, accordion, pedal steel), Stefan Olofsson (vocals, keyboards, zither, guitar, bass, percussion), and Peter Olofsson (drums) give us an album that is mostly instrumental, it starts with a gentle acoustic guitar of “Morning On Mars.”
The synth led “The Day The Empire Fell” is an light arrangement in the vein of Godley & Creme. Another gem is “Solemn Undulating Wave” and of course the amazing “Circadian Rhythm.” Lots of atmospheric instrumentals are between the highlights, some work better than others. Overall highly effective.
Wharton Tiers Ensemble “Freedom Now!”
Wharton Tiers was born in Philadelphia, but ended up playing in a few NYC bands (Theoretical Girls and Laurie Anderson) and produced with others (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and Helmet). He put together the Wharton Tiers Ensemble to showcase his guitar compositions.
“Shoe Nu” is a richly layered rock song without words and “Freedom Now” uses horns on top of the guitars to deliver the melody. “The Randomness of Insects” is a steady marching riff in a loop and “Last Train Out” is based on the surf guitar sound. Each track offers something different and interesting. Towards the albums end it gets a bit more experimental or improvisational (“Suite #23”) – but there is enough here to sink your headphones into.