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Ray Ashley

Cinema Inferno

Review by G. W. Hill

Although I am listing this disc as being by Ray Ashley, the credit on here is actually to the "Cinema Inferno Orchestra." However, the side of the CD sleeve says, "Ray Ashley", so that is the reason I chose that label for it. The Cinema Inferno Orchestra is composed of Ashley, Freedom Electric, Dema San Tuna, Amy Ksir and Jim Speer. For ordering info on this release, point your browser to Ashley's site at

This disc is an entertaining one with some shining moments. The overall tone is of a jazzy sort of prog mode. The CD is strictly instrumental. The only elements that take away from the CD are a somewhat flat production and the fact that occassionally the keyboard voices chosen are a bit cheesy. However, although those elements give the release a slightly rough-around-the-edegs texture, it is still quite a listenable disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Dialog 1
Soothing, almost playful tones based on the clarinet are the mode for this brief cut.
Cinema Inferno
Beginning with an awesome riff, this one explodes into fast paced hard edged prog based firmly on the touch guitar. This one really cooks in a frree form jazzy sort of prog mode. The keyboard sound does tend to be a bit annoying after a while, and one segment later in the piece gets a bit noodly, but overall this is quite a strong cut.
An acoustic guitar solo type of piece, this one is quite nice.
24 Dollar Island
Strange sounds begin this one, and it begins building slowly on this atmospheric texture. As it kicks into gear, it is in a playful early prog rock mode, a little bit Procol Harum, a little bit Booker T. and the MG's. This is another short composition.
Dialog 2
A very brief one, this song is a bit playful.
Pyramid of Five
This extended piece is definitely a highlight of the disc. Beginning a bit like The Doors' "The End", it begins meandering in a great psychedelically tinged guitar jam style. It wanders around this mode for a long time without straying too far, but avoids becoming boring. After a while it begins to resemble early Hawkwind. During this segment, the mode drops way down. The cut then seems to merge the Doors type modes with the Hawkesque while moving into new guitar driven jazz directions. About ten minutes in, it drops to a very ambient, textural sort of mode, rather spooky in tone. This section, with an awesome sound, ends the cut
This cut is bouncy and fun with a bit of a Latin/Caribbean feel to it.
Dialog 3
A good solid jazz type cut, this is a strong piece.
Nag Champa
"Nag Champa" is another solid jazz oriented composition.
Dialog 5
Based in jazzy, sedate tones, this is a short one.
A fast paced guitar based fusion oriented jam this one wanders around its format quite a bit, feeling a bit retro at times. It gets a bit Allman Brothersish after a time. The piece gets a bit on the overlong side, but eventually drops to a very textural sort of segment with eastern tones, which is a nice change of pace.C
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