Harvest - Northern Wind

(CD 2014, 62:16, Red Phone Records)

The tracks:
  1- Into The Void(1:09)
  2- It All Becomes Clearer(9:28)
  3- This Day(6:17)
  4- Northern Wind(4:02)
  5- Sending Signals(5:07)
  6- Something's Changing(6:09)
  7- Under The April Sky(5:39)
  8- Shadows Behind The Lilacs(3:24)
  9- Rush(6:04)
10- Tonight(6:33)
11- Colours(8:31)

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Harvest hail from my favourite Catalan city, Barcelona, and feature a female vocalist, Monique van der Kolk, from my own country-The Netherlands. Northern Wind is the band's third album, and next to Monique, the band now consists of original members Alex Ojea (drums), Jordi Amela (keyboards) and Jordi Prats (guitars), and a fresh bass player, Toni Munné.

This quintet has delivered a fine album with this one, with their own style, but tracks that are still as varied as the buildings of Atonio Gaudí in Barcelona.

The entry to their own Parc Guell is the short vocal and piano intro Into The Void, with the angelic voice of Monique grabbing all attention - but only because it is accompanied perfectly by the piano. Tracks like follow up It All Becomes Clearer, but also Sending Signals and Tonight mimic the mosaics in Gaudí's work, with their intricate structures and layering. Each of these tracks builds on the great rhythm section - Alex seems oblivious to standard drum patterns, and Toni is one of those bass players that knows that bass can add to the melody of a song. On top of that, Jordi Prats' guitar riffs, but also leads- sometimes in a bluesy style, sometimes more Steve Rothery or Steve Hackett like, take turns in this with the wailing keyboards of the other Jordi.

On This Day and Northern Wind, it becomes clear what Toni Monné adds to the band. J ust have a listen and try to imagine what power these two tracks would lose without that driving, yet melodic and very prominent bass combined with the sometimes floating, sometimes pulsing soundscapes the guitar and keyboards build on for example on the title track, or Colours making this music really work. I've seen it described as boring, but also as something that has to be listened often to grow on you, and I tend to go with the latter opinion.

One weak point of the previous album remains though - as pointed out by colleague Henri Strik in his review of their second album Chasing Time (2012, see review): Monique is a very good singer, with a great voice, but I keep waiting for her to show some power, or even anger maybe, certainly in the rockier tracks like This Day or Rush (in that last one the vocals drown in the music).

Still, a great album, of which I like the tracks Rush and Tonight best, and room for more in the future.

***+ Angelo Hulshout (edited by Robert James Pashman)

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