Review Summary: Beautiful...
Like many progressive hard rock acts before them what makes or breaks an album is how capable the album is of telling a desired story. For the Sydney progressive rock newcomers Breaking Orbit their first story of their music career comes in the form of the ambitious debut album The Time Traveller. The Time Traveller combines gorgeous thought provoking artwork with a brand of rock that allows listeners to embark on one epic journey over the course of twelve tracks. As the album title suggests Breaking Orbit are trying to alter familiarity, bend the conventional restraints we as humans are accustomed too and use music as an attempt to connect with a much deeper meaning. The possibility of the band achieving this with The Time Traveller can accurately be summed up with their own lyrics: “Will we ever make it through? Only time will tell...”
The lyrics above are drawn from ‘Echoes’ the opening cut off The Time Traveller which begins what is a sixty minute journey traversing the wilderness of time and space. Ethereal spacey effects warp and stimulate the senses, as if being lost in space or between the fabrics of time. ‘Echoes’ establishes a daunting atmosphere through the use of these effects along with heavy bass, soaring guitar, precision drumming and solid euphoric vocals that seem to float out of the unknown. By the time steady opener subsides it becomes time for ‘Conscious Self’ to bathe in the limelight. After a minute build-up lead singer Matthew Quayle’s rich voice begins to resonate with a crunching bass line. A sense of intensity can be senses in the atmosphere of this song and soon erupts in the chorus. Faster drumming drives the pace shift in which the pleading, catchy lyrics feed on. The vocals here are layered with effects to the point they fade into the melody, which is extremely beneficial for the direction of the song. ‘Conscious Self’ feels like the mysterious being this album is focusing on is quickly speeding through the vast reaches of things thought previously impossible and they a storm may be gathering in the distance. Not all the songs on The Time Traveller are this complex either, with ‘My Direction’ sculpted to sound like friendlier straight forward rocker still accompanied by some of their own unique traits. Unusual drum beats introduce ‘My Direction’ and get quickly paired with hypnotic guitar picking and much clearer vocals to give the album some diversity.
Whilst Breaking Orbit are weaving this interesting story for listeners, they also provide a number of instrumental pieces where people can collect their thoughts and enjoy some exciting musicianship. The first instrumental ‘Machiguenga’ begins rather slowly, but continues to gather pace throughout the entire track. The use of a Quena (Bamboo Flute) gives the track and an ancient feel, and really pushed the sense of time travel. It’s like listening to what you know mixed with the unknown influences of another civilization and seeing how both connect and prosper. These instrumentals also give a chance for the band to show off how good they are at telling a story without using any words. The next two instrumentals are short and sweet, but both give off an integral sense of heartbreak. This suggests that perhaps being able to traverse the sands of time is more of a burden than a gift and what was once a thought to be desired is now feared. From here electronic tones and the earthy effects of a baron wasteland found in ‘Ice Warmth’ suggest that our story is coming to a close, with a sense of optimism. The entrance of haunting desperate guitar and symbol heavy drum use suggest what was once building is either ready for one final battle or coming to a close. This fades out into the catchy opening lyrics to the second last track ‘Orion’. The chorus is epic and hopeful due to the traveller coming to grips with the potential to be lost in the abyss of time forever. The guitar work and various electronic nuances begin to wash over you like a calming ocean yet, quickly changing like the sea to show off its unbridled ferocity in a massive crunching conclusion. ‘Silence Seekers’ sees the album end with a somewhat sense of resolution and understanding. Showing off an accumulation of everything the band has done so far on the album and finishes it with the sound of acoustic guitar being echoed into the unknown.
Breaking Orbit has managed to successfully tell one hell of a story and take listeners on an amazing atmospheric ride with their debut album The Time Traveller. I cannot label one word to accurately sum up the feeling of emotion, power, captivation and atmosphere that this album allows you to experience. Combine this with some brilliant album artwork and you will not be taking this album lightly. Listen to The Time Traveller in peace and quiet, if you would like to take advantage of all it has to offer. The sixty minutes it took me to listen to this album did not feel like an hour had passed. So perhaps the beauty of this album is by investing enough time into it, it will allow you to feel involved enough with the storyline to walk free to a place where time cannot define you.