‘Let this music take you to a place you wanna be’
I knew as soon as I heard these lyrics that me and 35 Tapes were gonna get along just fine. I’ve explained a fair amount the transporting nature and potential of good music, particularly progressive music, so I’ll do my best to not repeat myself much here; suffice it to say that it’s very much the vibe here with Home.
35 Tapes are a relatively new project out of Olso, Norway, though you’d be forgiven for thinking the trio was cut in prog rock’s early years in the ’60s and ’70s. Yes, it is boomer prog as I call it – out of nothing but love – but just like so many other great bands I’ve covered here, it’s not so much an imitation or ruthless gripping onto the past as it is a wonderful, tasteful tribute to a time that’s nostalgic for a lot of people.
Home is the band’s second album, albeit the first I’ve heard, yet due to the genre we’re talking about, I can’t help but feel that same kind of nostalgic familiarity with it. It’s like the record is itself a sonic notch in which to nestle yourself, a place to feel comfort and at ease… a home indeed. Across six songs, you get lovely, serene guitar, much of it using what I refer to as a whale call tone, moaning and wailing gently from track to track. Drums are very measured, rarely exceeding what would be considered a quick and confident stammering. The bass is deliciously audible, marching hand in hand along with the drums or flourishing on its own with catchy, bold rhythms. Vocals? They’re there, orated at us with the cadence of a wizened storyteller.
35 Tapes are, apparently, named after the number of keys and notes (or tapes) playable with a Mellotron M400 (thanks, Wikipedia!). Fitting, seeing as Home is also rife with exquisite synthesizer and keyboard work. It’s a cheeky name for them given their mission – ‘…to recreate some of the good feelings this music gave us [during the seventies]‘ – and also speaks to a bit of what you can expect. Each of the albums six songs feels like a journey all their own. Lyrical references to sailing, finding your place, and other escapist porn that I find endearing and helpful for my enjoyment.
If I had to choose a color for this album, it would be a light violet, the kind of shades you get when dark clouds are painted with a setting sun, mixing with the reds and oranges of a burning day’s light. It’s like a blanket to tuck you in at night. In case I wasn’t too clear before, this is hardly talent show prog, hoisted up by excess psychedelia and flashy performances tailor-made for drug experimentation (again, like I’ve said before, nothing wrong with any of that per se). This is deliberate in its execution, but tranquil and enlightened in demeanor.
The songs tend to ride similar waves, but there’s a lot of nuance to dig into with each one. “Wave” (I didn’t plan that, promise) is a jaunt, powered more by acoustic guitar and piano than other tracks. “Onward”, like its name suggests, is more of a driving affair that really cranks that whale wail guitar up to eleven for pretty segments between verses, keeping the mood consistent while also feeling like a natural climax of sorts. “Epilogue” does have a sense of finality with its grand melodies, but in a to-be-continued sort of manner – not a book closed, but a chapter finished, perhaps to be revisited in the years to come if 35 Tapes feel so compelled.
Home is the type of album you should ideally have wash over you, multiple times even. While I’ll definitely understand if it doesn’t make a fan out of an old-school prog skeptic (of which there are many), it’s a truly sensual experience. It’s warm and inviting, like the crew cabin aboard an old wooden ship after being pelted by the blistering cold sea all day. It’s a lantern teeming with oil, providing a guiding light through the woes of life; it’s the portal through which you can leave your troubles behind for around 48 minutes – unless you loop it, which I recommend.