The Winter Tree rises from ashes of Magus, a recognized prog rock band formed by composer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Laitres (Robinson). The music of this eponymous debut is quite quiet ambient melodic rock. It's so suspiciously calm to be nearly lacking ambition Loads of synth layers rule the day here, with some light drums, light acoustic and electric guitar thrown into the mix. The vocals play over this. Turning up the volume doesn't really do anything, except make this soothing serenity louder.
Exceptions come in three songs. Now That You've Flown offers acoustic guitar and piano, but moves to a lively, yet still, light rock tempo. With Stranger, you get piano and vocals, and then it picks up into some bolder stronger rock but, again, not overtly heavy. It's possibly the best song here. The final, and longest song, The Adventures of Prince Caspian, an instrumental, is likely the closest thing to progressive rock here. The substance of two-thirds of the arrangement is Laitres invoking the realms of synthesizer and electronica. Then later some big drums come into undergird them, and moves to a more traditional prog rock feel. Yet, as with most of this album, it can easily escape your notice.
And perhaps that's the ruling characteristic here: the music, lacking urgency and intrigue, moves with blissful complacency. If you like your prog quiet, unassuming, and not necessarily challenging, then The Winter Tree fits.
The Winter Tree is quiet and unassuming melodic rock that moves with a blissful complacency; it may be over before you realize it.
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