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Dennis Rea

Views From Chicheng Precipice

Review by Gary Hill

The rock part of the progressive rock on this is missing throughout much of the disc. Still, this has a lot in common with the spacier side of King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Rock In Opposition. The one unifying factor in the set is a traditional Asian music element that runs throughout the disc, but there are lots of other things like classical and jazz that show up. It’s an intriguing and unique set. It won’t be the right formula for everyone, but it’s quite interesting.


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
Three Views From Chicheng Precipice (after Bai Juyi)

Merge classical music with folk, traditional Asian sounds and jam band and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what this piece of music sounds like. It’s perhaps a bit short on the “rock” end of progressive rock, but it’s very cool and creative. The second half of the cut, though, moves towards more King Crimson-like jamming with a tilt towards RIO and space music. After that section it moves back in the direction of the earlier music, but with an ominous overtone added to the mix.

Tangabata
At almost sixteen minutes in length, this is the epic piece of the set. It starts with the mellower, traditional Asian sounds. After a while, though, it moves out into more jazz oriented territory and works through that in a very understated and slow moving RIO manner. It gets a louder jazz meets classical treatment later for the closing section of the piece.
Kan Hai De Re Zi ("Days By The Sea")
At less than four minutes in length, this is the shortest piece on show here. Combining traditional Asian sounds with folk and a more straight forward classic rock sound, it’s also the most easily accessible. It’s a cool piece of music.
Aviariations on "A Hundred Birds Serenade the Phoenix"
This roughly seven minute track combines some of the standard sounds heard on the disc with a spacey weirdness akin to Pink Floyd’s “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave…” It’s definitely weird. It’s also quite cool.
Bagua "Eight Trigrams"
Percussion rules much of this piece. It’s got plenty of those traditional Asian sounds built into it, too, though. There’s a section later where a soloing guitar is incorporated into the mix.
 
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