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Chroma Key

Graveyard Mountain Home

Review by Gary Hill

Chroma Key is the brainchild of Kevin Moore. You might remember Moore as the original keyboardist in Dream Theater. I don't really know what lead to Moore's parting ways with that outfit, but if this album, and the other that I reviewed are the true output given to Moore by his muse, I would bet that the old tried and true "artistic differences" were the reason. Certainly listening to Chroma Key one would get the impression that Moore would have been far more happy playing in early Pink Floyd than Dream Theater. Indeed much of this album feels like it could have come from the Meddle and pre-Meddle era of that band, just with an updating. Moore shows himself to be quite an accomplished musician and songwriter once again, producing an album that really has no weak points.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Acknowledgement
This starts with a vibraphone sound that feels a bit Asian. Percussion and other keys join, building on the themes from the vibes. Weird sound effects enter as this builds into a cool techno prog groove. This instrumental isn't very long, but it's quite effective.
Give Up Some
The sounds of a storm and a barking dog start this. As the music begins to build it feels a bit like a balladic early Floyd cut. Spoken sound bites in the background add to this feel. Even the understated vocals on the chorus contribute to this. It doesn't move far from its beginning, but it's a gentle and entertaining cut.
Come On To Bed
This mellow guitar based ballad again feels a lot like early Floyd.
Radio Repair Man
Sound effects start this one. Slowly it builds very gradually in intensity, but the only real "music" comes in slow moving waves of sound. Eventually a techno percussive beat enters and the percussion is the main focal point as this carries forward, but those waves of keys continue. After a time xylophone sounds begin to weave the first waves of melody and other instruments join slowly. This instrumental builds at a very leisurely pace and remains quite sedate, though. Eventually it drops to just keys that segue it into the next piece.
Graveyard Mountain Home
Beginning with the keys that ended the previous one, this drops to a guitar dominate d ballad that has the most straightforward vocals of the disc so far, and again feels like early Floyd.
He Started With The Cat
This guitar-based piece rocks out a bit harder than any of the previous material, but still is quite sedate. This instrumental again feels a lot like early Pink Floyd.
Before You Started
Sound effects begin this, but eventually a techno rhythm section takes it. The vocals come in over top this and bring with them the early Floyd leanings. The cut is very modern and weird techno musically, though. This gets pretty involved and disjointed. It eventually bursts into a technoish version of an Iron Butterfly sort of jam, but this doesn't last long before more chaos ensues. It does return, though.
Miserable Sufferings
A door slams, and a man speaks in an ominous tone. His narration is punctuated with bits of keys as it continues on. Then a funk techno rhythm enters to accompany this speaking. Eventually only the speaker remains to end this.
Come In, Over
A technoish droning begins this one, and eventually melody lines emerge over top and begin a gradual building. Once again the early Floyd elements present themselves, but in a more modern context. A gentle female vocal line is barely heard at times, but the droning continues as the central element of the piece. After a time a hard-edged guitar line comes in and this becomes the hardest rocking track of the album. Spoken dialog alone enters to end it.
Pure Laughter
Weird laughing loops are laid over top of a Beethoven like piano line to start this. As guitar renters the laughter leaves and a strange melodic journey ensues. The laughter returns late to finish off the piece.
Andrew Was Drowning His Stepfather
A hard rain serves as the beginning here, and other sound effects enter. This, with no "actual music" makes up the entire cut.
Sad Sad Movie
An odd processed narration starts this. After some melody emerges another voice enters and eventually this bumps up into an energetic electronic jam. As the Floyd like vocals enter the picture is complete. This one is rather strange, but quite interesting.
True and Lost
This is another that feels a lot like Floyd. It's a slow moving guitar oriented number.
Okay?
This is a fairly dynamic cut that has both a prog and electronic texture in nearly equal amounts. This mellow and bouncy rocker is one of the most accessible on the album and a strong closer.
 
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