As a child, you probably played the old folding paper game Consequences – You know the one. You get a piece of paper, write a word, fold and pass the paper onto the next person and so on until a story of sorts is formed. Listening to ‘Spiral’ EP from Belfast band Windfall gives the impression this is how they do their song writing. The ‘Spiral’ EP is disjointed, running off in different directions without any particular element feeling coherent or relative to what is going on around it.
From a musicianship stance, Windfall are no mugs and their playing cannot be faulted. This type of prog rock demands dexterity and they are not found wanting in that department, though playing well should be the minimum requirement. Spindrift opens in stop start fashion interspersed with deft fretwork; it eventually settles into a mid-tempo pace with sporadic spurts of hustle. While perhaps it is a whole load of fun to play, the various elements don’t gel into a tune that hooks you in.
Spindrift also displays another problem in the form of Nathan Lacey’s narrow vocal range and monotone singing. It’s hard to feel excited about listening to the ‘Spiral’ EP repeatedly because Lacey’s tone remains steadfastly at one level without generating much emotion or depth to the songs. Some production decisions are also questionable; for example, the backing vocals on Wow Them With Science sound out of place. The overall quality of the mix is barren with a hollowness to the overall sound, which does not suit the type of songs they are constructing.
Prog rock at its best is dynamic, shooting off in unexpected directions leaving you guessing what will come next. However, that doesn’t mean it has to lack atmosphere, hooks, melody, or intensity. Windfall do try to build atmosphere on Space Cowboy but can’t quite achieve it. There are the beginnings of some sound ideas on Lost Inside but these aren’t fully explored and instead wind up lost in the urge to show musical virtuosity rather than letting the song be the star. The ‘Spiral’ EP is the work of a band starting out, yet to realise how to maximise their songwriting potential.