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Manifest density

Review by Gary Hill

Those who like their prog instrumental and just a little strange will enjoy this. Comparisons to King Crimson, Djam Karet, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and Univers Zero are perhaps the most obvious, but there are other things here, too. The main one is chamber music. In fact, I’d say that in a lot of ways this feels like hard rocking chamber music – and that’s a good thing.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at
Track by Track Review
Save the Yuppie Breeding Grounds
It feels almost like we've jumped into music that was underway before we arrived. This has a lot of world music built around a framework that makes me think of 80s era King Crimson. Djam Karet is another valid reference point. The first section carries it for a while, but then it works to a different jam that's more about the prog elements with some killer guitar soloing. It slows down around the two and a half minute mark and works toward more of a world music element. It drops to just violin for a while, but then electric guitar threatens to rise up and take over. Eventually the cut works onward with both driving it nicely. The guitar takes command as it approaches the closing, soloing like crazy. A quick crash crescendo ends the piece.
Ephebus Amoebus
Weirder and noisier, there’s still a lot of King Crimson in this number. I like this a lot, but it’s definitely less accessible than the previous one – and nothing here is in a hurry to get on the radio.
Nacho Sunset
There are portions of this that remind me a bit of Hawkwind and yet I can also make out King Crimson and even Kansas on this. All of it, though, is delivered with that chamber music element and sound.
$9 Pay-per-View Lifetime TV Movie
The opening to this is more dramatic and powerful and as it carries on the track becomes a bit more like some of that other music here. That said, this is actually more accessible than some of the other stuff. There are some extremely Fripp-like moments later in this piece. We also get some extremely involved percussion work.
Manifest Density
Although in some ways this doesn’t differ a lot from the other stuff on show here, it’s harder rocking and we get some killer guitar work on it.
Uncle Tang's Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The swirling motif that starts off here reminds me of surf music meets something from the old Star Trek. Then it shifts out into a Red era King Crimson styled jam, but then moves to weirdness from there. This is a frantic, crazed, ever changing soundscape. Parts of it remind me of Djam Karet.
Disillusioned Avatar
There’s a bit of a Celtic, world music sound to a lot of this. It has a cool echoey kind of sound, too.
There’s almost a bit of Led Zeppelin in the crunchy riff that drives this, but perhaps more than anything it’s Djam Karet meets King Crimson and chamber music. There’s a cool drop down to mellower sounds mid-track, too. The closing portion here is exceptionally heavy – but not metallic really.
Revenge Grandmother
This begins much mellower and more classical in nature. The chamber music sounds are prevalent, but we get some other things, too. This is a cool cut and a bit of a change of pace from the last few tracks – although there is still plenty of King Crimson in this. The rockier motifs later and quite tasty – and still rather reflective.
This one is quite dissonant and weird – and doesn’t work all that well for my particular sensibilities. It’s definitely got a lot of King Crimson in it, but perhaps also some Univers Zero. This gets pretty crazed at times.
The most accessible cut on the set, there’s a killer rock jam to this with classical strings soloing over the top. We get a cool drum solo and some other great music during the course of this beast. It’s my favorite cut on show here and a great way to end things in style. They include a mellower section on this and overall it’s a great musical journey. A little backwards tracked, processed stuff actually closes it out.
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