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Various Artists

Emkog Records Sampler

Review by Gary Hill

This sampler features bands on the Emkog records label. All of the bands qualify as progressive rock. Only two of the tracks here (both from All Over Everywhere) feature real vocals. This is quite a cool disc and showcases some great new progressive rock bands. It should be noted that I’ve reviewed the All Over Everywhere CD in this same issue of MSJ, so the track by tracks of those songs are modified from that review for the sake of consistency.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Solitude of Miranda - Deluge Grander

There’s a definite world music texture as this starts. They build on this through a frantic progressive rock jam. Eventually this is powered out into a series of changes and at times it feels a lot like Emerson, Lake and Palmer. This is a fiery prog jam for certain. There are some definite Steve Howe-like moments in some of the guitar soloing. It gets rather weird at times later, before moving out into a piano driven jam. ELP-like drama is added to the mix further down the road. More world music elements are introduced later. A section later makes me think a bit of Yes.  This instrumental (there are some non-lyrical vocals) is really a twisting turning powerhouse.

Birds Flying Into Buildings - Birds and Buildings
If someone tried, they might be able to convince you that this is the same band. It’s a fusion dominated powerhouse that’s definitely more jazz (but far from really falling into jazz) than the previous cut. They take us through some killer alterations. At times this resembles Frank Zappa, but it also gets quite orchestral at points. Like the opening track, this features some non-lyrical vocals and also some ELP-like sounds. It turns a lot more playful and rather strange, though, feeling quite a bit like Morglbl at times. A jam later somehow makes me think of modern Yes, but turned more towards jazz. This is really quite a dynamic and far reaching piece. One of the movements just before the outro makes me think of Red era King Crimson.
Art of the Earth - All Over Everywhere

Intricate and powerfully pretty music makes up this track. It’s sedate, yet involved. The arrangement is lush and reaches upward. I can see comparisons to old Genesis and also to Renaissance. It gets an infusion of energy and power as it continues and twists a bit towards weirdness (but not so much that it falls anywhere outside standard progressive rock territory).

Yucatan 65: The Agitation of the Mass (excerpt) - Birds and Buildings

Somehow, parts of this make me think of Hawkwind. There is a bit of Genesis vibe, too. Then again, this leans towards being more classically oriented than either of those bands. This becomes much more flamenco, but the pure progressive rock leanings still dominate. I love some of the later keyboard textures.

Nine Against Ten - Cerebus Effect

This has a much more traditional progressive rock texture to it. I can hear a lot of Yes on this, but there are plenty of other elements, too. It’s another smoking hot instrumental prog jam and it does work out towards fusion at times. It gets into some powerful and lush territory as it continues. They make change after change and this just plain rocks while still covering lots of musical territory. They take us into some noisy soundscapes later.

Pigeon (early version) - Birds and Buildings

There are definitely a lot of similarities to Morglbl here. They careen between playful fusion and more hard rocking sounds in the same vein.

Aggrandizement (excerpt) Deluge Grander

We get a definite chamber orchestra sort of texture to the opening motif here. It builds up from there becoming more real rock. The piece gets a lot more rock based as it continues. It’s a real hard edged piece at times, but still maintains the classical elements. It moves through one variant to another and another. The transitions are quite organic and this is one heck of a powerful piece of music. It becomes very hard rocking later in the composition. They just don’t quite with the variations and alterations on this beast. It keeps shifting and changing. Red era King Crimson shows up eventually to end it.

Gratitude - All Over Everywhere

This epic weighs in at over ten and a half minutes in length. It features a lot of the same musical elements as the earlier track from this group, but it is all taken to new levels. I definitely make out Yes and Genesis at different points along this ride. The powerful jam that ensues later is very much like a cross between Genesis and Yes with some King Crimson and Renaissance thrown into the mix. It’s one of the most rock oriented points on the disc and gets very involved and powerful. They definitely saved the best for last. This thing is just plain amazing. The jam that builds later in the piece to serve is particularly Yes-like and really calls to mind the Going For the One album to me. The resolution from there also makes me think of Yes as does the outro.

A Big Blob of Demos and Early Versions of Forthcoming Music - Various Artists
Well, that title pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? The thing is, it doesn’t feel like a bunch of pieces put together, but rather like a cohesive, yet meandering, piece of far reaching progressive rock.
 
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