Aisles – 4:45 AM

2013 (Presagio Records)

1: 4:45 AM (4:06)
2: Gallarda Yarura (4:32)
3: Shallow And Daft (4:52)
4: Back My Strength (4:54)
5: The Sacrifice (5:08)
6: The Ship (0:57)
7: Intermission (5:02)
8: Sorrow (6:57)
9: Hero (8:11)
10: Melancholia (10:41)

By referring to Aisles from Santiago (Chile) as a neoprog formation only you don’t give them there well earned credits. They display a great amount of eclecticity. On “4:45 AM” from 2013, their third album, they  manage to portray overtones from fusion in a tasty way again. There also is more than ever temperamental playing on the acoustic guitar, so there is a certain world music aspect to be heard. In addition, the band always is busy with cinematic sound effects, voices and spacey bleeps so the thought that Aisles makes busy music actually makes sense. Now don’t jump into any conclusions yet dear reader. Fortunately, Aisles will prove you wrong.

The Chileans are excellent musicians with a good sense of composition and arrangement. In addition, guitarist keyboardist and founder Germán Vergara produced the album really beautifully. The sound is crystal clear and because of the transparent overall sound, it always is a comfort to the ears. The album simply isn’t hard to digest, not even after repeated listening. This is also due to the fact that Sebastián Vergara, Germán’s brother, can sing so flawlessly in the high regions. Which fits right into a very nice neoprog-label.

The ten songs on the album have hardly any exuberant highlights nor will you encounter any weak passages.” 4:45 AM” is supposedly quite constant in experience. Aisles therefore enervies in subtleties and there are plenty of them here.

The opening title track, with its loose drumming and its extensive singing together, creates a wonderful atmosphere which lasts till the end. The instrumental Gallarda Yarura follows. First you hear some vocal fragments, after which the joy for the ears starts by the depth that the buzzing bass guitar achieves. The subsequent Shallow And Daft is the most catchy song of the album due to its casual 80’s sound. Surprisingly, it closes with a DJ, as if it were a Zappa album. With Back My Strength, Aisles takes a slightly different approach. The song sung by Germán Vergara has bombastic powerchords and contains an excellent double guitar solo.

The album has two subdued ballads with The Sacrifice and Sorrow and surely the string arrangements are of added value. The parts on the acoustic guitar also lift the song up. Of the four instrumental songs, the sizzling Intermission is perhaps the most striking. A constantly repeating guitar loop forms the heart of the song. The closing epic Melancholia brings you the best of what Aisles has to offer on this album for more than ten minutes. Are you listening in ?

“4:45 AM” is a welcome addition to any neoprog collection. You don’t have to be afraid of weird jumps, Aisles makes honest music with their  hand on heart.

Daniel Baird-Kerr: bass
Felipe Candia: drums, percussion
Alejandro Meléndez: keyboards
Rodrigo Sepúlveda: guitar, backing vocals
Germán Vergara: guitar, vocals, keyboards
Sebastián Vergara: vocals, keyboards
Constanza Maulén: vocals (1,3,8)
String quintet: (5,8,9)
David Núñez: violin
Diana Brown: violin
Valentina Maza: viola
Alejandro Barria: cello
Nelson Arriagada: double bass
DJ’s: (3) Chris Tout, Nicoló Rossi, Trinhity Tran
Special effects: (2,6) Rodrigo Martinez
Mother and child: (2, 10) Soraya Castillo

© Dick van der Heijde 2022