Although I’d probably tend to cite Voivod as my favourite Canadian band, this country has a proud legacy of warm, melodic prog rock, both from the mainstream and underground circles. In this sense, Innerspace does not surprise me too much. Of course, a band’s sound and style are not necessarily dictated by their region, but I’ve heard some great artists from the East recently (Druckfarben and Ken Baird, to name a couple) that remind me somewhat of what this Quebecois band are up to. “The Village” is their grand introduction to the world, and they have instantly tread into some fairly deep, ambitious waters with it. Although Innerspace’s laid back, dreamlike approach to melodic rock can at times feel overdone, it’s a promising start for a band I think we’ll be hearing great things from in the future.
I don’t think I’m alone as a listener when I cite Pink Floyd as a reference point. Everything from Phil Burton’s rich vocal tone to Paul Aubry’s spacey keyboards and Thomas Sauvé’s cinematic rhythms gives the impression of something Roger Waters may have secretly been a part of. Although most Floyd-inspired bands sport their influence most through the guitar, Simon Arsenault’s lead style betrays a metal influence that doesn’t feel so much shared by the rest of the band. Listeners should still keep their ear out for a few Gilmour- esque solos, however. Especially considering their relatively young ages, Innerspace are capable performers. Paul Aubry’s contribution here may be the most subtle, but it is the most enjoyable and interesting for me- his textures always seem to work for the mood of the given song. For a debut record, the production is fairly impressive; the atmosphere is warm and Phil’s vocals sound full and clean. Unfortunately, the rhythm guitars tend to feel pretty dead in the water productionwise- it doesn’t sound entirely ‘off’, but the more distorted side of the rhythm spectrum does not bode well for the band’s recording style.
Pink Floyd feels very prominent in the band’s songwriting as well. “The Village” is a concept album of sorts, and though it’s not overt enough to get a good idea of what’s going on without the help of a booklet, there seems to be a theme of the individual versus the institution within; something Floyd would not have likely objected to. The songwriting is generally pretty melancholic, and though only a few songs on here stand out as being great, it’s clear that Innerspace have a firm grasp of songcraft. “Jack” is my favourite tune here- a simple, yet emotionally deep ballad-type track. On the whole however, it feels like “The Village” gets itself too trapped within a formula of slow-to-mid paced tracks. There is a bit of dynamic within the songwriting, but Innerspace never really seem to change gears until “Land of Reason.” As if my request was answered before the album even came to a close, Innerspace throws out a tune that allows itself a much greater prog metal influence. As a result, the instrumentation gets more intense, and the tempo gets a much needed boost. Phil Burton’s vocals are certainly better suited for the more laid back style, but there’s no complaint here.
“The Village” accounts for its lack of dynamic with a final, epic close, but the change of heart feels a few songs too late. Innerspace execute the mellowed out, Floydian style well, but the homogeneous sound can wear thin unless that’s precisely what a listener is looking for. It would have been great to hear Innerspace take a more varied approach to their music, because- as the last track bears witness- they have it in them to tackle multiple gears successfully. “The Village”s flaws are visible, but it’s accomplished the most important mission of a debut; it’s proven that these guys have potential.
1. Intro (1:30)
2. Land of Hope (3:22)
3. Wild Flower (11:42)
4. Mister Mayor (7:37)
5. Old Wreck (5:15)
6. Slippery Case – Part I (8:23)
7. Slippery Case – Part II (5:53)
8. Jack (4:10)
9. On a Ride (2:14)
10. Land of Reason (4:29)
* Phil Burton – guitars, vocals
* Simon Arsenault – guitars
* Paul Aubry – keyboards
* Thomas Sauvé – drums