by Aaron Gidney
Two-man Progressive Rock project, Whitewater released Universal Medium in 2017 following their signing to the London-based Bad Elephant Music label. Consisting of singer/multi-instrumentalist Stuart Stephens and Percussionist/Programmer Paul Powell, the band’s third album collaborated with Mike Kershaw also of the Bad Elephant music family.
The duo formed in 2013 and have developed a unique sound that probably only a duo could. Listening to this record, there is a freedom of expression that comes through each of the tracks – a freedom that most bands rarely are able to express. This makes for an experimental album that ebbs and flows naturally, transitioning between traditional Floydian Prog in places, to chilled out ambient soundscapes that take their time and never feel rushed or unnatural.
There’s clearly unique interplay between the two musicians, leaving plenty of space for each other to experiment and express emotion through their instruments. Vocal contributions from Mike Kershaw’s guest vocals add a nice touch and a different vocal timbre and range, complimenting the other vocal tracks sung by Stuart Stephens. There’s a hint of Stone Roses’ Ian Brown in Stuart’s vocals, offering a laid-back delivery and whenever it appears, adds a different overall tone to the songs. It’s great to hear a vocal style so different to most Prog bands these days.
The one word that kept popping into my mind whilst listening to the album was ‘patience’ – the album exudes patience – nothing is rushed, tracks take time to build and gradually add layer upon layer dependent on the mood of each track – there’s simply no rush to finish the tracks in a hurry.
Lush and expansive synths pull the listener in, whilst the experimental drum programming a provides a more electronic-leaning feel coupled with some Gilmour-esque guitar motifs and melodic leads.
The use of acoustic guitar is also a most welcome addition proceedings and is a highlight of Seconds Fade Away Pt. 1 and Filtered Haze, whilst Seconds Fade Away Part 2 is a mesmerising journey and is perhaps the most immediately accessible track to the casual listener.
It’s an absorbing, worthwhile and pleasant listening experience for those who like their Prog less immediate and slightly more free-flowing and abound in an ambient wash.
- Light of Day
- The Soldier and The Poet
- Seconds Fade Away Pt. 1
- Seconds Fade Away Pt. 2
- Filtered Haze
- Easier To Breathe
- Moon Pull Pts. 1-4