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Autumn:Downpour:Machinery – Fall Ch1: The fall of Darewell Mountain Hold

Good ol’ prog! It has survived years of taunting and ridicule. As we approach 2010, those who sneered, like Johnny Rotten and Iggy Pop can be found peddling dairy products and insurance on television. Now isn’t that ironic? At the height of its criticism, albeit some of it warranted (I’m looking at you Wakeman!), Prog retreated underground to re-group and lick its wounds. It was in mainland Europe were it flourished, free on the incessant scrutiny and bashings from UK weeklies like NME (a joke of a music magazine) and Melody Maker (now deceased). Prog developed at its own pace, now its stock is higher than ever. Punk was a passing fad, nothing more than a fashion statement and it’s thanks to those in countries such as Italy and Germany that Prog-Rock survived.

Which leads me nicely to Autumn:Downpour:Machinery, the work of an Italian chap named Dumb (yes really!). “Fall Chapter 1: The Fall of Darewell Mountain Hold” would appear to be the first installment of a concept revolving around a fictious battle and the track titles here suggest that this chapter details the journey towards this encounter, following a demoralising defeat.

Created entirely with guitar and laptop, Dumb does a good job creating the theatrics and drama of battle, whereby you can almost see the soldiers marching through the mist, the cold grass crunching under the weight of thousands of marching feet. The futuristic-prog leanings of tracks such as “Darewell Mountain Hold Under Seige” and “Hunt Beyond The Frozen Fields” recall latter day King Crimson, circa “The Power to Believe”, with vague hints of Tool prevalent throughout vocally. The brooding synth/brass collision of this number also works terrifically in capturing an ominous tone, perfectly encapsulating the tensions of a cinematic battle. Final number “Prevail! My Brethren, Prevail” provides the final rallying call, erupting with glorious, fanfare synths and guitar thus reminding of Alcest’s “Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde”.

That being said, I have a few gripes with this record. Firstly, the guitars are too clean for my tastes. They lack the grit found in Robert Fripp’s style, though it’s safe to assume that Fripp had much more equipment at his disposal, while it’s also unfair to compare to arguably the most innovative guitarist on the planet. The vocals too suffer, they’re mixed too far back and are rendered non-descript during key moments of the record. A little more work in the production could have ramped up the impact somewhat.

It’s still decent stuff though, Autumn:Downpour:Machinery manages to set the tone of his concept over just 23 minutes and five tracks capturing the saga of battle. At times, the ambition outweighs the execution, but the core tools are all in place. Dumb just needs to iron out those quibbles.