What originally started as a one-man project by Erlend Aastad Viken (vocals, keyboards, guitars) back in 2004 is now very much a full-fledged band with Orjan J Langnes (guitars), Oystein Megard (guitars), Jan Tore Megard (bass) and Espen Berge (drums). They have also been joined here by Giant Sky Orchestra who are Liv Brox (violins), Ivan Ushakov (flutes) and Emil Emilson Holemsland (trumpet). This is Soup’s sixth album, and is deemed Crossover Prog by PA, and that is probably the best place for it, while there are no doubts they have been heavily influenced by the slower and more orchestral elements of Radiohead while also containing some of the more pastoral elements of classic Genesis (especially ‘Selling England’ period). They also bring in some aspects of Sixties psychedelia, and certainly never sound Norwegian, as they feel British to the core.
The problem with music which contains so much drama and is played often quite slowly, is that if one is not really in the mood then it can just pass the listener by. I must confess I was playing this on headphones, and it had finished before I realized I hadn’t really heard any of it as I had become distracted by something else and there was just not enough bite anywhere for me to be hooked. I have obviously been playing it more since then, but I do find my thoughts wandering and it is a conscious effort not to lose sight of the music itself, and there is no doubt they are clever at what they do and produce some wondrous soundscapes, yet for me it is just too lethargic. I am sure there are many progheads who will argue this is nothing short of brilliant and it should be in everyone’s collection, it is just that I am not one of them.