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Random Touch

A Box and A Word

Review by Gary Hill
I’m not a huge fan of Rock In Opposition. I should say that right up front. Much of this group’s music really has that sort of freeform weirdness going on. The truth is, though, I like this disc quite a bit despite that. It’s a cool album that will probably please those adventurous prog fans who aren’t too sure about RIO – like myself. So, with that declaration I’d be pretty positive that those who like the genre will love this.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Floating in a Spiral
Starting atmospheric and rather dark, this grows gradually. It moves into spacey motifs that at times get a bit noisy and dissonant. It never gets overly strange, though. I like this and it makes for a cool opener.
Tripping So Fancy
Now, this is just plain odd and random from the onset. It’s definitely built for fans of RIO. Weird sounds and textures seem to come and go with no rhyme or reason. This gets louder, but no more cohesive, although, they do get some Crimson-like moments here and there.
On the Way
Percussion begins this and they create a far harder rocking motif. It’s still very RIO in nature, but I can hear both elements of King Crimson and Djam Karet in the midst of this. They take into more pure randomness later. But then work out into some music that’s spacey but almost pretty. The keyboard voicings on this section are tasty.
Dancing in Moonlight
More ambient and pretty in nature this is an intriguing piece of music. It is perhaps more closely tied to new age music and electronica than it is to RIO. We get some cool space to end it. 
Changeable Weather
There’s a lot more energy to this one. It has a tendency to be noisy, but it’s jazz meets RIO motif is captivating and enthralling, too. 
Opera of Vaudeville
Backwards tracked sounds and other elements dance around each other in some kind of twisted circus music. This is definitely in the realm of RIO, but there are some cool and more accessible moments.
The Altar Boy and the Priest
This starts with some backwards tracked stuff, too. Then it shifts into strange music that works despite its seemingly random noise-like patterns. There are spoken words, reminding me a bit of Zappa, on this. I also make out some guitar type sounds at times that remind me of Adrian Belew. 
Steady Flux (Dear X)
There are actual vocals on this one. It’s considerably dramatic and rather ominous in texture. Still, it’s the most “song like” cut we’ve heard so far. There are atmospheric elements, classical elements and a lot of other things going on. It’s quite spacey at points and yet raucous at others. The vocals often have an almost “throat singing” feel to them. This is weird, but also very cool. It moves out to a more RIO sounding louder segment in a rather spacey jam later. There are bits and pieces here that remind me of Hawkwind a little. It turns more to freeform jazz later and gets rather noisy at times. Even then, melody fights to be heard here and there. 
Resplendent
This starts with percussion and the rhythmic structure play a bigger role here than on some of the other music. They bring in some intriguing sounds, but this is less dynamic than some of the other pieces. It’s still got a lot of that freeform adventure to it, but isn’t exceptionally jarring. 
Climbing the Tower
Noisier, this has more of a rock turned extremely weird texture. Certainly one can make comparisons to both Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and Djam Karet in this. It’s quite RIO in nature and gets rather chaotic and noisy. Jabbing bits of sound enter and recede. 
Air Play
More ambient, this has waves of atmospheric textures with random voices over the top as soundbites. This really reminds me a lot of Djam Karet. There is an ominous air to this. We get weird space elements later, but this is another that never really turns to jarring sounds. 
Oh How We Wonder Why
Freeform weirdness serves as the backdrop for spoken, distant words. This is another that has elements of Zappa in the mix, but it’s also another that makes me think of Djam Karet. I like this track a lot. In fact, I might consider it the best song on the CD. 
Not on a Wednesday
Another dramatic, if strange cut, weird textural music, at times feeling like a soundtrack creates a backdrop over which some backwards tracked vocals are delivered. We get some forwards vocals later before it takes us out. This is another highlight of the set. It’s also another that makes me think of Djam Karet at times.
Velvety Wet
Weirdly wonderful, this is made up of spoken words over the top of strange music. It reminds me of both Adrian Belew and Frank Zappa. 
Grass Beneath Our Feet
The main portion of this track doesn’t differ a lot from other music here, but it’s quite cool. They bring into more melodic territory towards the close. 
Over and Under
This is far weirder than the previous piece. Odd backwards tracked bits and other sounds move in and out over a driving rhythmic structure. As odd as this is it works quite well.
 
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