Belgian composer Frank Van Bogaert’s new album is a collaboration with Norwegian guitar player Erik Wøllo. It’s also Frank’s first conceptalbum. All tracks together tell the story of a failing Air production machine, the Air Machine. This concept has also been impressively interpreted by graphic designer Michal Karcz. His coverdesign reminds us of the works of Pablo Magne or Hipgnosis. The album has 10 tracks in which Frank and Erik, besides the typical electronic elements, also use a lot elements and influences out of Progressive Rock.
There’s a point just past the halfway mark on “Shake It Out,” the rousing first single from Florence + the Machine's second studio release, when the swelling guitars, organs, and strings, staccato percussion, and Florence Welch's air-raid siren of a voice lock up in a herculean battle over which one is going to launch itself into the stratosphere first. It’s a contest that plays out at least once on each of Ceremonials' immaculately produced 12 tracks. Such carefully calculated moments of rhapsody would dissolve into redundant treacle in less capable hands, but Welch does emotional bombast better than any of her contemporaries, and when she wails into the black abyss above, the listener can’t help but return the call. Bigger and bolder than 2009’s excellent Lungs, Ceremonials rolls in like fog over the Thames, doling out a heavy-handed mix of Brit-pop-infused neo-soul anthems and lush, movie trailer-ready ballads that fuse the bluesy, electro-despair of Adele with the ornate, gothic melodrama of Kate Bush and Floodland-era Sisters of Mercy.