An Embarrassment of Riches by The Night WatchRelease date: November 15, 2019
It’s been nearly a month and a half now since Canadian progressive titans The Night Watch released their latest offering, An Embarrassment of Riches. The album is the third release for the quartet made up of Evan Runge (violin), Nathanael Larochette (guitars), Matthew Cowan (fretless bass) and Daniel Mollema (drums, percussion and piano). This album is simply incredible. The composition is absolutely mindblowing. I’ve read that the album was seven years in the making so it’s hard to tell whether time perfected the end result or if its perfection is due to the musical genius of the band. It’s probably a bit of both.
As the album cover first alludes to, the concept of the album is set around a “nameless explorer who finds themselves shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island.” Larochette, the guitarist for the band, stated that “An Embarrassment Of Riches was never intended to be a concept record but as the music was being written, a story slowly began to unfold. Each time another composition was completed, a new piece of the puzzle would reveal itself.” As I started to listen to the album I was immediately transported to that scene on the album cover and the musical adventure began.
The album contains a lot of unexpected twists and turns and they use their instruments (and voices!) so well to convey the emotion and tone for each track. As a whole, this album is storytelling through music at its best. The album starts out with the epic track ‘Land Ho!’. The violin narrates while the other instruments play out the scene and at the end of the track they all come together with such force and power. Also on this track, the band introduces some vocals. A few united “Hey” and at the end a “Land Ho!”. The vocals are a surprise and really adds to the theatrical feel of it all.
The fourth track on the album titled ‘Dance of the Mountain People’ is a playful track and somewhat different from the other tracks on the album, an intermezzo if you will. The track is mostly light and more on the jazzy side of things. The band even adds a little “do do do” medley just past the halfway mark. Again, totally unexpected. During the last quarter of the track, I love the reverb on the guitar. The band then kicks it up a few notches and goes metal. An incredible ‘flipped on its head’ track!
‘The Summit (Part I)’ and ‘The Summit (Part II)’ are two of my favourite tracks off the album. For ‘The Summit (Part I), the band collaborated with visual artist Costin Chioreanu (Opeth/Emperor/Wardruna) who animated an incredible video (which I’ve included in the review). I really love how the band comes together on both of these tracks.
With An Embarrassment of Riches, The Night Watch has truly proven that good things come to those who wait. The band are incredible musicians and this album showcases their many talents in both music composition and musicianship.