Vespero continue to evolve, and on their latest album, Fitful Slumber until 5A.M., they serve up one of their most compositionally and instrumentally sophisticated and exciting sets to date. The band describe the album as a “conceptual piece touching upon the theme of intricate functions of the human subconscious, dream-visions and music”.
The “intricate” and “dream-visions” descriptors certainly resonated with me throughout the set. Vespero are deep into complex Prog territory on this album, while incorporating all manner of Jazz, ethnic and Space Rock influences.
Vision 1: Ogni Fuoco consists of high energy Prog-Jazz-Space Rock. The bass and flute provide the jazzy feel, with an almost bouzouki sounding instrument injecting the ethnic vibe, and rocket propelled synths taking it all into space. The music is clearly composed and very tightly executed, but Vespero manage to maintain a loose knit feel, even drifting off into mellow soundscape segments. After that opening roller coaster ride we’ve got Vision 2: Outer Planting, which alternates between an Ambient-Prog take on traditional ethnic party music and dreamy deep space interludes, with excellent use of mandolin and a sci-fi ooo-wee-ooo keyboard melody. Vision 3: Kamzas Red Sands could be the cool grooving Space-Prog soundtrack to a sci-fi secret agent flick. Vision 4: 1507 mixes Dashes of Discipline-era King Crimson with the Jazz, ethnic and Space Rock influences that pervade throughout the album into a steadily and heavily rocking and rolling sprint to the finish line. Vision 5: Ezel blends bouncy jazzy ethnic Prog with dreamy soundscape excursions and blistering Space Rock. I like the whirling dervish ethnic vibe of Vision 6: Atil and its explosive heavy rocking spaced out Prog-Jazz that at times brings to mind a cosmically ethnic inflected Soft Machine. And Vision 7: Kidish Hail is a darkly reflective, oddly dissonant Space-Ambient-Jazz rocker that closes the set.
I’ve been an impressed follower of Vespero since their launch and have to say this is hands down their best album to date. The musicianship and compositional acrobatics are mind-blowing, but maintain a relaxed freeform feel so as to dispense with any overly flashy pretentions. This is complex Prog that rocks hard and takes chances. Fitful Slumber until 5A.M. will be a shoe-in for my Best of 2015 list. No shit, RECOMMENDED!
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz