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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Agua De Annique

Air

Review by Gary Hill

Anneke van Giersbergen is the main person on this project. She’s best known as the former singer of the band The Gathering. This CD might not be pure prog – in fact it tends to wander between progressive rock, metallic tones and more pure pop music. The thing is there is enough progressive rock here to include it into that section and her participation in the Gathering would have landed it there anyway. This CD is a catchy one that never fails to entertain. Perhaps the real charm here, though, is that it manages to do this even while taking the listener in unexpected directions. This is a slightly quirky release that is just plain awesome.

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
Beautiful One
This is based in a dramatic and potent motif that’s somewhat ballad-like. There is a melancholy essence to the music, but yet the vocals are gentle and waiflike. It grows up organically towards a more rocking approach and then explodes out into crunchy territory that doesn’t quite cross into the realm of metal. The vocals become more powerful and “rocking” here. It drops back down to the earlier motif as this carries forward. The later section where the track powers back out is especially effective and the vocal performance seems to be full of desire. This is an intriguing piece of music that is a strong opener for the CD. It drops back to the mellow to take the track to its conclusion.

Witnesses
This comes in with a sense of tension building. It feels a bit like Pink Floyd on the opening. It builds upwards in a dark prog fashion. It gets quite fast paced and powerful. The lyrics seem rather angry and pointed at those who come to your door pushing their God. This borders on metal, but is really crunchy progressive rock in my book. This turns noisier later and does tread into territory that prog purists would label as “heavy metal.” Still, this is a potent piece of music that stands up quite well.
Yalin
This has a far more balladic approach to it, but it does grow upward from there. I can hear traces of The Cranberries on this along with some indie/alternative rock.
Day After Yesterday
Here we get a pretty pure pop ballad, but it is shifted out more towards jazz as they carry forward. This gets quite involved and is an excellent track and a great change of pace.
My Girl
This has a more alternative rock/post punk approach to it. The vocal performance is stellar and the musical arrangement takes it in all kinds of interesting directions while still remaining cohesive. This becomes more metallic at times, but also works out into a far more progressive rock oriented section late that takes it to its close.

Take Care of Me
Coming in with a rather Spanish flamenco sound, this becomes a pretty and rather organic ballad type number. This grows out into one of the more pure progressive rock oriented numbers on the track. It’s quite powerful in many ways. It has an odd sort of “clipped” ending.
Ice Water
Here we get more melodic progressive rock that borders on pop music. This is both catchy and powerful. With additional layers of music and vocals this is worked and reworked growing up into a real extravaganza of wonderful music.
You Are Nice
This comes in feeling a lot like a Judas Priest song. The vocals lend a different quality, but this is still quite metallic and raw. While this doesn’t move far from its origins they bring it more into the realm of crunchy prog through the addition of overlayers of sound and space rock styled keyboards. It’s another potent piece of music.
Trail of Grief
Here we get a dramatic and evocative balladic number. This has a lush arrangement and the vocal performance is impeccable. They build it up into a pure powerhouse prog jam before dropping it way back down to near ambient territory to end. It’s one heck of a ride and one of my favorite pieces on show here.
Come Wander
This is a pretty, old world styled ballad. It never really rises beyond that point, but this is potent, anyway. It feels like it could have been delivered in the courtyard of some ancient castle.
Sunken Soldiers
Coming in a bit like Pink Floyd, this turns more modern in texture as it carries on. With a fairly simple song structure, this still feels quite prog in nature. It drops way back to a rather bluesy rocking ballad sound for the verse. They turn it towards more powerful progressive rock as they move along. Then it crescendos and drops out to something along the lines of a jazz ballad. We move back to the main song structure from there. This is another strong cut, but the disc is full of those. They marry the jazz tones with the harder rocking prog later on in this piece.
Lost and Found
This one doesn’t differ a lot from some of the other music on the disc. It’s catchy and powerful pop rock that climbs into the progressive rock realm in terms of its arrangement. It’s very emotional in its delivery and texture. This gets quite intense at times and includes a Pink Floyd like guitar solo.
Asleep
The album is closed with a pretty acoustic ballad. Gentle and sedate this feels a bit like a lullaby. It’s intricate and very calming. I’m not sure it makes the best closer for the disc, but I can’t think of a better slot for it.
 
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