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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Michael Barry-Rec

On The Road to North Mountain

Review by Gary Hill

Sometimes words just don't do justice. Such is the case here. The problem is that in many ways this music is fairly simple, but it gains so much power and drama from the use of overlayers of varying textures and sounds. If I had to describe this music on it's own merits I'd have to say that a healthy helping of instrumental folk music with hints of blues and country is combined with arrangements that often times call to mind early Pink Floyd. That comes close, but it really does not convey just how strong this disc is. Frankly, it's hard to hold a fully instrumental disc together. Usually they drag because there isn't enough variant in the music to make it interesting. Well, that only happens at one point on this disc. The sounds are changed up enough and interesting enough to keep your attention. I suppose you could say that this music has parallels to California Guitar Trio, but again that only gets so close. I guess I would say that you probably should just check it out yourself. It might be a little tough to find, but you go to his website you should have it all under control.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
In Your Waking Hours
Sedate and pretty guitar melodies make up the main focus of this cut, but the overlayers bring in all the drama and lots of the beauty. To me, this feels a bit like some of the more mellow Pink Floyd.
Funky Side Up
This one seems to rise right up from the track that preceded it. While that one was restive and calming, though, this one seems to have a pent up energy. It tends to the bouncy side of the spectrum and has definite elements of folk and even bluegrass music. Again, the layers that are piled upon this base bring a lot to the table in terms of the sound here. This drops way down to the sedate to close out.
Bo Kata 1
Now, this one comes in with a rocking sort of bluesy texture, perhaps a bit like the Allman Brothers. There are certainly more country and bluegrass elements that come across here, but rather in the way that California Guitar Trio might use those kinds of sounds. The guitar soloing on this one again reminds me a bit of David Gilmour's work. This one is a nice change of pace on an album that really doesn't suffer from a lack of variety. Certainly those Pink Floyd textures appear quite a bit on here, but I'd have to say that it's more Meddle era Floyd. This definitely rocks out more than anything to this point, but it's still fairly laid back music.
Cold Sun
The acoustic tones which lead this one off are more tentative and mysterious. This builds much slower and more languidly than the previous pieces, but there is still just a hint of that Pink Floyd type of sound on this, but it's much less prevalent than on some of the other music. This one is dramatic and powerful despite its understated approach. It gets more energized as it carries forward and those early Pink Floyd like sounds start to become more noticeable. This is one of my favorite tracks on the disc. It's pretty amazing. In all honesty, words can't do this justice. It gains so much from the added layers of sound that you just can't really explain that with the English language.
Go Fly A Kite
This one is definitely less dramatic and more textural. It is pretty and a little playful. While the cut is no slouch, I wouldn't put it among my favorites here.
...Thru The Fog
This cut is a very short (46 seconds) full rock band approach. It's pretty cool and has some of that Pink Floyd like sound. I would have liked to have heard more of this one.
Verge Street
This one starts off rather like a lot of the rest of the material here, but like the last piece, it gets a more rocking sort of arrangement later. As it does some of those old Floyd echoes reappear. This one is one of the more effective cuts on the disc.
A Chance to Dream
A more standard folk approach starts this cut. As it builds it begins to take on more of the textures of the rest of the disc, and this is the first point where it begins to feel like it needs a change.
Elements
That change comes with a bluesy rocking jam that's a lot of fun. It has a more full arrangement and will get your foot stomping. It still has plenty of the cool instrumental work that makes this disc as special as it is, but it ups the ante a little.
Rain Or Shine
This one is a lot more laid back, at least in comparison to the last track. Harmonica lends both a bluesy and a country texture and leads me to think of early Neil Young a bit. This one is pretty and rather fun. It definitely turns more energized later and is one of the more rocking pieces of music on show here.
Braking Point
This one starts very tentatively with a distant sounding guitar arrangement that seems hesitant. It grows ever so slowly from there, but never really goes very far. While this cut is not bad, I'd have to say that I think there were better choices to close the album.
 
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