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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Canvas

Digital Pigeon

Review by Gary Hill

This studio outfit has released its second CD in Digital Pigeon. A killer piece of music this one features great hooks in strong prog rock arrangements. While I’ve heard comparisons to Alan Parsons on this (and those are at times warranted), this is in no way limited to the sounds of one group or genre. A lot of the music reminds me of Echolyn, but you are likely to hear Chicago, Yes and even some definite fusion and pure jazz in the mix. It’s a strong release that should please both fans of modern progressive rock and those who like their tunes more in keeping with the traditional prog of the 1970’s.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dark Side Of The Sun
We get a bass beat that brings in drama and a sense that something great is about to happen. This builds gradually until keyboards signal a shift towards more melodic, ala Alan Parsons Project. It moves out into the song proper, a harder rocking prog motif for the verse. They stay pretty close to this territory for quite a while, but we do get a tasty guitar solo mid-song. As they move out to a more open arrangement, with an almost reggae-like guitar sound, it feels more like neo-prog. The chorus on this, “we’ve made a special place for you / prepared for everyone,” seems to be unsettling in a way. It’s a cool track and a nice way to lead things off.
The Spectacle
The moody, acoustic guitar based motif that starts this feels quite a bit like Pink Floyd. We get wisps of instrumentation that seem to move it in other directions, but the overall mode remains consistent.  They flirt with some other musical concepts and move out into a more full arrangement for an instrumental passage. Flute brings in comparisons to Jethro Tull. They work through this for a time and then drop it back down to the early segment to continue. This builds for a time, becoming more Floyd-like. Then it explodes out into a faster paced instrumental motif with keyboard solo that reminds me a bit of Yes. Flute once more brings in the Tull-oriented sounds as they continue onward. It eventually drops back to the song proper, but it’s far less Floyd-influenced at that point, feeling more like any number of moody neo-prog outfits.  A retro keyboard element brings those Floyd-leanings back and a tasty guitar solo adds to the illusion. Flute returns on this extended jam that’s rather jazzy. The guitar soloing really calls to mind David Gilmour quite and a bit and the keys at times have Rick Wright’s signature all over them. We get more Tull with another flute solo before they end.
Spiders
This comes in feeling like Alan Parsons project, but then shifts out into a full jazz arrangement ala Chicago. After they finish with the faster paced, more rocking motif it drops way back to an even fuller jazz sound. They rock out a bit from there. As it turns more dramatic in a retrospective and sedate way we get more Alan Parsons sounds, but this once more gives way to more jazz textures. The cut seems to alternate between these two motifs with varying instruments taking the lead here and there. This instrumental is dramatic and powerful and also a great change of pace.
Ghost Town
Dramatic, but still mellow, sounds bring this in. It again feels a bit like Alan Parson. When they shift it out to the song proper I’m reminded of Echolyn. This has a very catchy chorus that seems to combine Parsons and Echolyn. This is one of the cooler pieces on show here.  The guitar solo on this one at times reminds me of Pink Floyd and at other points it feels like a melodic metal band.

Armchair Voyager
In many ways this is an open, fast paced fusion number. It has a definite smooth jazz approach to it. We get some killer horn work that calls to mind the jazz greats. Some “whacka whacka” guitar brings in a retro texture. This is another highlight of the CD and a nice change of pace.
A Reptile Dysfunction
With a bit of a funky texture, this track comes in feeling very much like Yes and other prog bands of that ilk.  When they drop it to the song proper I’m once again reminded of Echolyn. They take it down to a more stripped down approach, still in that Echolyn mode after a time. We get a burst of prog jamming to bring in the Yes leanings again later. These alternating stylistic approaches serve to create the bulk of this track. A more modern sound makes up the vocal based segments while we get retro prog from the instrumental movements that occur throughout. This ends in a jarringly abrupt way.
You
The sedate motif on this one calls to mind a more jazzy sort of prog/fusion style. The flute gives one minor impressions of Jethro Tull. When they shift out to the fusionish, retro sounding verse section it’s quite cool. This becomes much more of pure melodic prog ballad. We get a rock and roll styled guitar solo and some killer emotional delivery on the vocals here. It’s a good track, but not one of my favorites.
Calmsy Downsy
I hear more of the jazzy prog stylings from the 1970’s here. Chicago comes to mind on this one, too. The keyboard dominated sections that come and go bring more pure progressive rock textures and the expansive jam calls to mind neo prog quite a bit. They throw a killer arena rock instrumental segment in later.

On Second Thought
This instrumental wanders the fertile ground between ELP, Yes and Alan Parsons with a little Pink Floyd thrown into the mix. They also manage a nod or two to Chicago on this one.
Catwalk
With a killer fusion meets hard rock approach this has a bit of Survivor vibe, but combined with more definite progressive rock leanings. The Alan Parsons comparisons are somewhat valid here, but this thing really rocks out. It’s a standout track.
Funk Shui
Here we get a bouncy, mellow ballad-like number. While the title would make you think we’d have a lot of funk here, it’s not really the case. This is a pretty piece of music that’s rather restful. Don’t get me wrong there is a little funk here, but its not overpowering or dominant. We get some more Chicago stylings on the outro.
Lost In Transit
This has the most unusual air of familiarity, like you’ve heard it a million times before. A bouncy, balladic prog cut, this is so catchy it’s scary. It seriously had me checking the credits to see if it was a cover. We get a cool classic prog instrumental section on the cut.
Teen Town
Pure jazz leads this off and then it shifts to a classic fusion groove. The instrumental number is pretty much pure fusion.
Move The Earth
This cut does a great job of marrying all of the elements we’ve seen throughout into one cohesive piece of music. We get the thoughtful neo-prog ballad, the harder rocking progressive rock and the jazzy sounds all rolled into one ever changing motif. This has some decidedly soulful vocals and some killer instrumental movements. It’s a great way to tie things all together and end it on a high note.
 
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