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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Aziola Cry

Ellipsis

Review by Gary Hill

If you like instrumental prog in the style of Djam Karet, but would like to hear that sound carried out with a bit more metal to it, then Aziola Cry is the band for you. These guys do have quite a bit in common with that other band, but they also share musical textures with Rush, Dream Theater and some metal bands. This is a disc that takes a while to permeate. With the first few tracks you may have a certain sense of alienation (I did), but by the end the ride has been so captivating that you'll find yourself ready to start it all over again. For more information (including how to get the disc) stop by the band's website. It should be mentioned that when I talk about keyboard sounds or guitars in most cases the music is actually coming from Stick, but to the average listener it will probably seem more like the instrument I mention. For those unfamiliar the stick is an instrument that in many ways is similar to a combination of a bass and electric guitar - as one instrument. It is, however, capable of creating sounds that closely mimic many electronic instruments.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ellipsis I
This one comes in with a sine wave sort of sound and the track carries like this for a time. Then, eventually, a mellow but pretty guitar sound emerges, then a pounding sort of jam takes the cut. It drops back later to a section of keyboard dominated mellower music, but jumps quickly back up. A staccato rhythm that feels a bit Rushish takes it to serve as the outro.
The Trembling Edge
The quirky start and stop texture at the beginning of this one is a little annoying. Once it's gone, though, the band launch into something that feels like a dark, but still playful modern King Crimson for a time. Then they move out into a very mysterious sounding jam for a time that still holds elements of the original. It shifts after this into a new more triumphant sounding progression that holds the cut for quite some time. Then a super fast paced bass section brings in a pounding fusion like segment. This moves through the varying elements at different points in the track and gets pretty powerful at times during this piece. Also, there is a tasty fusion like guitar solo segment that works quite well. A killer Rush-like section later is the high point of the track with its mysterious and dramatic tones. This segment takes the track through a number of changes via the altering soloing over top and eventually serves to end it.
In Your Dissolving Arms
A pretty picked guitar sound starts this and layers of acoustic come across the top as it begins building. This acoustic guitar carries the melody of the track in pretty lines. After sort of a false ending, then they come back to what was before with the addition of some electric leads coming in on the top layers of the piece. Percussion eventually comes in as a hint of drama yet to come, but the track, while feeling like it's going to explode out, doesn't. Instead, it continues moving in the same established patterns. It drops later to a percussion solo only broken by one segment of bass. Then it bursts out into a very Dream Theater like jam that is the best on the disc thus far. This doesn't stay around long, though; instead giving way to the drumming that preceded it. However, after a time in that mode it bursts back out into this triumphant fury. Eventually it moves into a new jam that is nearly as strong as this one. The crescendo then drop it back the opening section. After staying there for a time they use it as the outro to the composition.
Ellipsis II
Backwards tracking begins this. A nervous, odd sort of sound takes over from there until the band pound out in an almost funky sort of heavy prog jam. This gives way a reprise of that "nervous" section. It only stays for a few moments, though; instead giving way to the return of the jam that preceded it. This time they crank it through varying changes, making up the main structure of the song. This, as the title suggests, shares some musical ground with the opening number, but at the same time it is its own piece. Personally I like this one better than the other.
Shadow Lies
More heavy DT like jamming starts this one off. After running through for a time they crescendo then more atmospheric, but still substantial jamming takes it in a fusion like manner. They modulate into another new jam later that is quite effective and a bit like Djam Karet. This serves to end the piece.
When Soft Doves Die
Mellow guitar sounds begin this and start building slowly. The band work through some small changes in this format, but more or less continue the track as is for a while. Eventually, though it gives way to harder edged jam that is sort of part Dream Theater, part Kansas and part King Crimson. This is another of the more effective passages on the disc. This eventually turns the corner into a more free form open progression that is along the lines of a lot of the classical/jazz oriented RIO. Then a guitar solo takes it for a time before they wander back to the ground that came before it. This modulates into a more powerful jam after a time. They drop it back towards the more sedate fusion arena a bit later. Then there is a tentative jump up from there that eventually gives way to a full on (and quite tasty) guitar sounding stick solo. This turns after a time to very noisy metal. It actually turns a bit death metal after a while, but before they end they turn the corner back towards the more prog DT-like sounds. A short sedate outro serves as the actual conclusion.
Then Wake to Weep
Starting with a cool percussion groove, waves of fusion/metal like guitar come over the top. The band begin working a melody over the top of this backdrop. This doesn't really move far as it is a very short cut. It is also highly effective.
Ellipsis III
The closing cut starts with a fast paced rhythmic riff. Then waves of metallic guitar begin to play across the top. They turn this after a time into a very furious jam. This one is probably more metal than prog for a while, but then elements of something akin to A Farewell To Kings era Rush come in and battle for control with the metallic fusion textures. After a slightly different take on this theme they drop it back to a more mellow progression for a time, but then burst right back out to where they came from. A crescendo, though, gives way to a new mellow and very potent segment that begins a gradual building process. This segment is dramatic and very pretty. A short false ending gives way to a reworking of this theme into a more complicated sound. It is extremely potent. After a time it shifts gears to a new frantic fusion like jam, but then elements of the earlier theme seem to come in, but reworked in a format more in line with this new sound. As this moves through varying incarnations it becomes the most powerful and intriguing segment of the CD. If this one doesn't impress you, nothing here will. They crescendo then a short atmospheric interlude gives way to a quick "reverse crescendo" effect to end the album. Frankly, there isn't a better choice for a song to close the disc. This one leaves you wanting to hit the play button and start all over.
 
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