Band: Nine Stones Close
Band Website: www.ninestonesclose.com
Label: ProgRock Records
Label Website: www.progrockrecords.com
Release Date: 2010
Nine Stones Close actually has its roots in 2008 and started as a solo project for founder Adrian Jones who recorded a solo effort in that year in an effort to work out some emotional issues haunting him. It was shortly after that he met the others who would then form the band. Today the band is made up of; Adrian Jones (guitar, bass, keyboards, programming), Marc Atkinson (vocals), Brendan Eyre (keyboards) and Neil Quarrell (bass). If you are looking for a sonic reference point, imagine mixing Pink Floyd with a little Marillion and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.
Traces features a mere 5 tracks and yet contains about 45-minutes of music so right off you know there are some longer compositions. Everything gets underway with soft and tentatively at first, with “Reality Check” [4:55] where guitars are softly strumming a melody while the tension builds in the background, then about the two-minute mark the song morphs into huge crashing chords with a nice synth lead taking centre stage. Then as the song progresses the guitars become more prominent. All the while the scope of the song gets larger and larger until the four-minute mark where it all is pared back to the opening scarcity. After a short pause, the second track “Threads” [10:43] begins sounding very mid-period Pink Floyd, all mid-tempo and a bit downbeat. The vocals surface quickly and they’re soft and hesitant, poignant even as the music foments underneath. There’s a lot of mood in these pieces and they quickly turn into something akin to contemporary Marillion although it must be said the vocals here are more clearly perceived which to my ear is a good thing. The song slides effortlessly from one mood to another sometimes using the guitar solo as the transition point and other times the keyboards. It must be said that the overall feel of Traces is a subdued almost placid one. Out of nowhere searing guitar solos come to the fore in a very Dave Gilmour style. At the same time, the keyboards lay a nice wall of atmospherics behind everything supporting a melody that slides here and there. You are drawn into these compositions, drawn in completely.
There is something quite captivating about Nine Stones Close. The music created on Traces has a magical appeal that not only begs you to listen just a little bit more, but also pays off for you doing so without going overboard. The mix of acoustic guitars and electric offer multiple levels of appreciation that few bands take the time to do these days. This is music that asks for your attention and as you invest the time the melancholy tone is richly rewarding. I really liked this and recommend it.