[Review] Swappers Eleven – From A Distance

Swappers Eleven is a project born from the union between 3 winners of the Marillion’s Swap The Band Contest, completing the lineup 17 musicians from 9 different countries. Their debut album “From A Distance” released on CD Digipak on 27th July 2020 by Oskar Records and available on Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, Deezer plus other streaming services. Composed of 8 medium-long length tracks, including two epic tracks of over 13 minutes, with Progressive Rock sounds with atmospheric influences, a common passion of the 3 founding artists. The album opens with “The Collector” which begins with a melodic intertwining of keyboards and guitar on which an expressive singing is inserted, and then after this 1:30 about intro to develop a powerful Prog theme. The keyboards drive the sound, supported by electric guitar riffs, the rhythm session is solid and handles the various tempo changes well. The second part kicks off with a good guitar solo, the voice is stratified for the last verses and the song closes, a decisive departure that immediately immerses us in the sound atmosphere of the album. “Tomorrow” is softer than the previous one and closer to Pop/Prog, the vocals are always of quality and the keyboards make their presence felt and the structure is closer to the ‘song’. In the middle of the song a Sax solo takes the sound to a very high level, interchanging with the guitar, with class and avoiding virtuosity as an end in itself. For drafting and execution, it presents similarities with the sound of Flying Colors, masters of that Progressive mixed with Pop, and Swappers Eleven present here a song that has nothing to envy. “Distance” is the first of the two longest tracks on the album, exceeding 13 minutes in length, starting with an atmospheric carpet of keyboards and a warm and expressive vocal. The intensity increases with the passing of the minutes, developing and processing the track with a hypnotic bass line, the vocal interlacing that alternates different voices and choral inserts. The layers of keyboards, always refined and load-bearing and the punctual and precise electric guitar inserts, with quality tempo changes that highlight the many ideas of the band. In the central part, another wind intervention carves out its space, with the song becoming darker and more elaborate, leaving room for Carmassi‘s excellent vocal skills and a tight synth solo that takes us back to the 70s. . Constantly changing with fine interweaving between guitar and keyboards, organ and synth above all, make this second part one of the highest moments of the record. “Spectrum” characterized by an arpeggio of acoustic guitar and male and female voice that pleasantly duet, with the other instruments that are inserted little by little. The rhythmic session is intricate, with the very technical drum and killer bass lines, creating the perfect structure for the melodic openings created by the guitar and keyboards, on which the two voices, the strong point of the piece, are expressed. Clear ideas and a superfine technique make this track pleasant and smooth, making even the most complicated passages seem simple, with the guitar taking the stage with excellent cues and inserts. A deep female voice and “New Year’s Resolution” kicks off, with keyboards mastering the sound, and with a structure halfway between Prog and Pop, with more space left for the voice and a structure more in the form of a ‘song’. Pleasant synth inserts that elaborate and develop the theme of the song, a softer and lighter passage that dampens the tones. “Open Your Eyes” is the second epic track of over 13 minutes, which begins with a cellphone noise before developing with layers of keyboards and acoustic guitar. The vocal, as always, is best suited to the music, warm and expressive, as always a security and a strength. Unlike the previous one, this long track in my humble opinion leaves less room for musical evolutions, favoring the vocal part, which, however, is a bit heavy on a similar length. A good track anyway, well executed and with positive melodies. “First Light” is the shortest track on the album, a passage with an excellent female vocal over layers of keyboards and electric guitar, which connects to the final track “Hope Is A Stranger.” Intricate rhythmic session and the very expressive and interpreted male vocal characterize the beginning of this final track, with massive guitar melodies and a hypnotic and supporting bass. In the second part it gains power and develops the theme on excellent intertwined solos of guitar and keyboards, and then dampens the tones with piano and voice. Calmer and sung moments alternate with instrumental sections with soloist ideas of fine workmanship, a beautiful piece that closes this work in style. An excellent debut for this international band, made up of 3 very prepared artists and numerous equally valid and technically high level guests. Many ideas and quality cues for an album that deserves the attention of the public and of the insiders of Progressive music, mixing harder traits with other more symphonic ones through Pop, Rock, with music and voice that create a combination of high level. A recommended listening that will surely satisfy different palates and even the most demanding ones, a band that will surely be talked about positively in the present and in the future.

Tracklist

1. The Collector (5:38)
2. Tomorrow (4:06)
3. Distance (13:04)
4. Spectrum (7:28)
5. New Year’s Resolution (3:49)
6. Open Your Eyes (13:23)
7. First Light (2:39)
8. Hope Is A Stranger (7:26)

Lineup

Alessandro Carmassi (Italy) / Vocals 
Gary Foalle (UK) / Bass, Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Backing Vocals 
Luiz Alvim (Brazil) / Keyboards, Electric Guitars and Backing Vocals 

With:

Michelle Aragon (EUA) / Vocals (tracks 4,5,7)
Ian Humphrey (UK) / Vocals (track 4) 
Daniel van der Weijde (Netherlands) / Guitar Solo (track 3) 
Darren Newitt (UK) / Guitar Solo (track 4) 
Carl Wragg (UK) / Guitar Solo (track 2) 
Dave Wruck (EUA) / Keyboard Solo and Additional Strings (track 8) 
Will Addicts (France) / Keyboard Solo and Additional Keyboards (track 5) 
Rik van Dommelen (Netherlands) / Bass (track 8) 
José Luis Ramos (Chile) / Bass (track 5) 
Neil Lough (UK) / Fretless Bass (track 7) 
Marcin Sosnowski (Poland) / Sax (tracks 2,3) 
Rafael Marcolino (Brazil) / Drums (tracks 3,4,6) 
Enrico Rossetti (Italy) / Drums (tracks 5,8) 
Arild Broter (Norway) / Drums (tracks 1, 2)

Swappers Eleven |Facebook Page|Soundcloud|Spotify|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

Leave a Reply