Aisles – Beyond Drama (2023)


Here’s another one. An album that only gets positive reviews but I just don't hear it. That is, of course, my fault and the fact that, according to some, I lack the ability to keep up with the times. (Well, this is not too bad when I see lists of all-time favourite prog albums with Genesis, Pink Floyd and Yes always at the top.) I read everywhere that the album Beyond Drama by the Chilean band Aisles is a very modern form of neo-prog. Is it? I don't hear it, at least I don't hear neoprog in it.

The Chileans return after a seven-year break in a slimmed-down form with only three permanent band members. However, three guest musicians are also added so that we really hear a complete line-up and these guys can really play well. The lyrics reflect all the difficulties and problems they encountered over the past years and so this explains the Drama.

The first thing that comes to mind after listening to Beyond Drama is a kind of panic. Boy, this is busy and chaotic music and the melody lines are sometimes difficult to follow. This music makes me very restless. I also can't get used to the sometimes somewhat wining vocals of Israel Gil. I can't call a song like Needsun prog with the best will in the world. The earlier work was much more in that direction. Now that is of course a choice of the band and I have to make do with it. And of course there are always listeners who like a bit of chaos and cacophony. Even in the past some people loved Genesis and Alan Parson's  Project and others  loved  Emerson Lake & Palmer, King Crimson or Van der Graaf Generator and we all call that prog.

Opener Fast is exactly what it says on the tin, fast. Bass and drums are very emphatically present and determine the high tempo. The fast rhythm guitar work also leaves its mark on this busy song that unfortunately does not impress me. And there will be a few more.

Megalomania I think is a nice song despite the sometimes disturbing vibrato in Israel's voice. The chorus is pleasant to the ear and the piercing keyboard work of Juan Pablo Gaette creates a nice atmosphere. Definitely one of the better songs on this album. Israel's high pitched voice also fits well with the atmosphere of this song, which has more quiet parts.

Thanks to Kafka also has those overcrowded vocal lines in which too much text is crammed into a sentence or just delivered in a drastic way. Also in this song the dissonant guitars stand out and above all the overzealous drummer, Felipe Candia, who filles all the spaces. Still, the chorus is quite nice and so this song is more pleasant to listen to.

Disobedience is a somewhat longer song of more than seven minutes and here too drummer Candia stands out for his fierce playing.  He is very, very present. I don't hear neoprog now either, but a fairly chaotic song with some jazzy influences.

Maybe the more subdued songs can calm me down a bit. Time (a Conversation with my Therapist) maybe? No, I can't really get into it here either. I don't even think it's the intensity that bothers me so much as the lack of memorable melodies.

Then I play it safe and try the longest song The Plague of more than eleven minutes. And as so often I like a longer song better, but to say that I'm jubilant, not really. German Vergara's guitar work simply cannot touch me while the man can play very well. The chosen sound of the instruments doesn't do anything for me either. It sounds a bit shrill and cold. I also have this with the Norwegian band Oak, for example, who are also very popular with some fellow reviewers. For me, however, the best song from Beyond Drama.

Surrender certainly has its moments and Israel remains a bit calmer in this song and I actually detect a nice melody. Still, the pitch at which he sings is not pleasant, at least not for me.

The short Needsun doesn't do anything for me at all. Something for the radio maybe? Most of the music there doesn't do anything for me either.

Closing track Game Over, great title, is quite a heavy instrumental song in which they move towards prog metal with dexterous parts and heavy bass work.

No matter how often I listen, I can't pick out things that make me change my mind. Well, that is not always necessary and we do not all have to follow the same fanfare. (Dutch saying) Where I sometimes read in other reviews that fans of Pink Floyd and Marillion will also like this music, I highly doubt that because I don't hear much similarities.

So Beyond Drama won't get a place in my annual list and I'll probably never listen to it again, but luckily for them there are plenty of people who appreciate it. They deserve that too because they have been working hard on this album with a lot of love and attention. Just not my thing and that's okay.


Music 49

Cover 76