In Austria, the hills are alive with the sound of prog. Well, not quite. “Götzis is a quiet little town in the middle of nowhere,” says Second Relation guitarist Julian Nachbauer. “Just mountains, cows, not much of a music scene at all.” This young band are doing their bit to change that.
The third album of their nine-year tenure, Eno takes its name, not from VCS3-botherer Brian, but a Korean friend of theirs. It’s a sophisticated, modern, densely musical concept album drawing on Opeth, Katatonia and the vocal harmonies of Spock’s Beard. Singer Bastian Berchtold has been studying jazz in college, and brought his love for Snarky Puppy to the writers’ table. Keyboardist Daniel Fleps has just finished his music degree, while Nachbauer and co-guitarist Simon Gstöhl have completed their studies in business and technical mathematics. Academia saw them scattered across the country, so Eno was recorded entirely on computer. “We didn’t rehearse together at all,” says Nachbauer. “But perfect precision was a focus for us. The music we love is full of detail, and that’s become our style too.”
Drummer Michael Simic completes the line-up. All five were born in the very early 90s and went to school together in sleepy Götzis. They formed the band in 2007, initially inspired by mainstream acts like Coldplay and Kings Of Leon, but Nachbauer – attending his first rehearsal in a Morbid Angel T-shirt – introduced them to Mr Åkerfeldt et al. Their 2009 debut LP Lynette and its follow-up Abiona saw them head in a proggier direction, eliciting favourable comparisons to Porcupine Tree and even Camel.
Their home government were so convinced of the band’s potential that the Austrian Music Fund financed Eno, so they had the budget to get Opeth/Katatonia engineer David Castillo to mix the album, and Tony Lindgren (James LaBrie/Leprous) to master it. They’ve only played a few live shows – supporting Dragonforce and Funeral For A Friend; a slot at Germany’s Summer Breeze Festival – but now Second Relation are ready to really get out there. “We’re at the end of our education,” Nachbauer says, with relish, “so the plan is to focus on the band and see what happens. We’re going to make the most of every chance we get.”
Eno is out now on Long Branch. For more, visit Second Relation’s Facebook page.