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Re-Evolution - Volume II

Review by Sonya Kukcinovich Hill

With two independent CDs to their credit and a massive writing and recording project underway for a third CD, the band deserves greater notoriety as they bring something really unique to progressive music. Their second release completes the story line begun with the first. Whether viewed as allegorical a la C. S. Lewis' writings or more metaphorical a la Tolkien, Thurman's story is clearly based on truth to which we can all relate. Good and evil exist. Right and wrong exist. The Messenger is a time traveler living in a post-apocalyptic environment who travels back through time and space to right the conditions which led to man's destruction in the apocalypse. The Messenger is pursued by an evil antagonist the entire time. Thurman plans on completing a written summary of the entire story which will eventually be added to the Navigator website. This should make the musical effort even more compelling as people begin to grasp the concept in understanding the music.

Originally founded as a trio, the band for Re-Evolution Volume II is comprised of Thurman on drums, Randy Schul on bass, Bob Piper on guitar, and Marcangelo Perricelli on vocals and keyboards. The CD is represented by very cool vintage musicianship with lots of textures, occasional ambience, multiple time signatures, and tight, well integrated parts. I also want to point out that each song can easily be extracted to stand on its own. Any epic writing that doesn't get bogged down in self indulgence, but rather retains its musical nature, is certainly worthy of a listen. The CD stands up to that test strongly. Many of the tunes have ambient or atmospheric style introductions. There are both extended and very short excursions into a great variety of time signatures, with lots of emphasis on 5/8, 7,8, 11/8, etc. The 6/8 stuff is just wonderful, especially with Thurman's tactile feel for what he plays. The recording quality is very high, especially for an independent artist on the verge of breaking through to greater notoriety.

Perricelli's vocals have a very interesting quality. It is certainly not a classical voice in the sense that one might find on a Rick Wakeman composition. But, he is more soulful, as one would expect from an American band, even though Navigator has both American and Canadian roots stemming from its home base on the border. Indeed, there is a soulful rock quality that is often present in artists from the Buffalo area. That said, he stays in tune and delivers every phrase with relative ease. Likewise with Perricelli's keyboard playing. Piper does a nice job with guitar phrasing, both legato lines and staccato shredding, so that it fits well with the tradeoff with Perricelli's keyboard work. Listen for this in the longer instrumental sections. It lends itself to a very smooth vibe, assisted by the understated but always fit-like-a-glove lines from Schul's bass, but always with intricate action going on around the groove. Speaking of groove, Rob Thurman is simply an incredible and stellar drummer. All kinds of musical comparisons come to mind when I hear him play. He plays on a Yamaha set, and clearly works very hard at both the sound overall and the tuning involved. He is a strong proponent of the double bass, probably because he's one of the few players who can pull it off so cleanly. While the bass, guitar, and keyboards have a beautiful balance in interplay throughout, it is Thurman's playing underneath that connects all the points and keeps them there. His musicianship is simply superlative.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Call To Conscience
With the piece progressing at about 150 bpm, the opening is in 5/8 time followed by a groove section in 11/8, and Thurman's presence is felt with the double bass on his expansive Yamaha kit. The melody line, in 7/8, is pleasant, symphonic, and somewhat ambient.
Feeding Ground
Dark chords and a mysterious, almost spy-like quality grip the listener. Thurman's sixteenth note phrasings and fills meet Schul's tasty bass line. The piece is actually danceable, but that's no insult. It makes you want to groove with it.
The Path
A dark, almost Pink Floyd feel grips the listener. Perricelli's phrasing is excellent. Very slow tempo; the percussion dynamics are superb. The guitar work is ethereal, and the bass line ponderous while the keyboard chords sounds dense and colored. This is an introspective work.
Deep Sea
This is also very slow, but much brighter in sound quality. The guitar ride is tasty over the keyboards. The snare rolls are minimalistic and cleanly executed, and the vocals expressive. I like the positive feeling to this piece.
The Noble
A tasty and bright Mooglike quality to the introduction feels quite ambient. This piece has a nice 6/8 feel to it, and Thurman makes the most of his opportunities with it. Again, the vocals are strong. This is another piece that feels delightfully positive while starkly serious at the same time.
ReEvolution
The opening is symphonic and mid-tempo with net percussion rolls connecting measures. The up tempo section gets going with shades of Kansas. This is a hot groove that leaves you wanting more.
Harvest in Our Passion
Slow tempo, linear guitar lines, and a very smoothly flowing composition with some cool changes pushed forward by Thurman's subtle articulations make up this one. It’s an impassioned, moving piece!
Through A Scheme
This number is very musically interesting. Structured with a 6/8 feel primarily carried by the B-3 sound played on the Korg and lyrically pleasant and subtly intense, Thurman added his touch by playing with that oh-so-pleasant 2 versus 3 feel that would make Steve Gadd proud. This is a five star piece in my opinion.
Sky of Moriah
The introduction is atmospheric, becoming almost celestial sounding. There is a very pleasant ambience to it. The vocal entrance is strong, and Perricelli's phrasing and intonation are superlative through some difficult interval skips. This is quite a soothingly well-written vocal solo feature and very relaxing to listen to.
In The Vice
This song is so very cool! With a genuinely excellent hook in the bass line, and the triplet fill breaks add a little variety to the chordal build that starts with the bass figure. The harmony stacking in the vocals sells very, very well! It’s another five star piece.
The Last Estate
There are so many influences in this piece! It sounds Pink Floyd-like initially, with Spock's Beard style arpeggio fills, then breaks into a neo-reggae feel. This is an absolutely beautiful mid-tempo composition.
Unveil the Prize
I really think this particular chart would do very well on internet radio. The melody is catchy, and appealing, as are the multiple time signatures and phrases. I found myself thinking that if the vocals were removed and an electric violin added, one might believe this was Jean Luc Ponty's band, especially when the double bass is added toward the end of the piece - simply excellent!
 
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