It was in 2013 and across the next couple of years that Chilean proggers Aisles would all of a sudden hit the radars of the wider Prog community with an impact with their third album 4:45am (Presagio Records); a splendid release which showed particular homage to Rush amongst other prog greats. That it did so without aping too much and bringing in their own identity showed that they were ones to really watch for. Now, with latest effort, the double-sided Hawaii(Presagio Records), that potential proves more than realised.
With a concept which depicts the establishment of space colonies after the loss and destruction of Earth, and the exploration of new artistry of this future time; Hawaii showcases a much richer soundscape which, when digging deeper, reveals more contemporary influences and wider directions than on previous releases.
The familiarity of Rush and Van Der Graaf Generator sit alongside the at times melancholic likes of Steven Wilson and the otherworldly air of Sound Of Contact and even the uplifting but brooding of Riverside. Once again though, rather than a cocktail of strong and maybe polarising influences; Hawaii is a bold and unique experience with a sound which is wholly theirs. Sebastián Vergara’s voice proves very distinctive and versatile, perfectly complimenting the album’s various moods; emphasised further with the smooth guitar work of Rodrigo Sepúlveda and Germán Vergara. A rich palette and layering and atmosphere makes for newly discovered nuances with various listens and matches up with the explorative story arc.
With a fast growing audience since the release of their third album, Aisles have backed up an increased interest with their boldest, packed and strongest album to date. As a long player it of course will prove time-consuming, but Hawaii proves a compelling and effortless listen otherwise and should prove one of the biggest surprises for many people this year. An essential listen for anyone partial to the ways of prog.