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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Bill Holt

Dreamies: Program Twelve

Review by Gary Hill

Coming with the subtitle, “Where Big Brother Meets Cowboys and Islam,” it seems a foregone conclusion that this adventure is going to be filled with political commentary – and it is. Fans of Hawkwind should really like this album (Holt's third release) quite a bit. While this is much heavier on soundbites and effects, the music really falls into a keyboard dominated “space rock” category that feels a lot like some of Hawkwind's music. Don't get me wrong, this does power up to more rock oriented territory, too, it's just that the textural space keys sound makes up a bigger chunk of the disc. Holt does a great job of changing things up from track to track (and in fact within each track) to keep it interesting.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Station
Ambient sounds and textures merge with textural music and other elements to create a moody introductory piece. At almost three minutes, I'd have to say that this goes on a bit too long. The sounds of a train finally come in to end it.
Times Square (The End is Near)
Keyboard sounds with cool vocals rise to lead this off. It settles into a catchy, but still quite tasty excursion. This has elements of keyboard dominated progressive rock and pop music vocals. It's a great and moody combination. This has an almost techno nature in terms of the rhythmic structures and vocal delivery later on. As the music turns more textural soundbites are played over top and the actual “vocals” are far down in the mix. It's a great example of how something that's catchy can still be innovative and insightful. Whether you agree with Holt's politics or not, you'll be entranced into listening. The music on this reminds me a bit of Hawkwind's “Void City.”
Move Your Zucchini
The sound of a diesel truck and a residential neighborhood start off here. Then as other soundbites wander over the top a person scanning their groceries is heard. Music begins to rise tentatively. Rather than come to the fore, though, these sounds drop away. This is basically a piece of ambient strangeness, but works quite well.
Connie's Confusion Part 1
The musical texture that leads this off again feels like Hawkwind. As it grows it becomes more of a bouncy sort of rocking jam that still has Hawk-textures. The vocals seem to be delivered by a “good old boy.” More waves of soundbites wander across the top as do space keyboards. It drops back down later with more of those vocals. Keys and soundbites take over for a while. This is quite a strong piece of music.
Connie's Confusion Part 2
This really should have been included as the same track, I think. It flows straight out of part 1 and doesn't differ from that one at all, just coming across as a continuation of it.
Are You A Friend?
With a recurring question of “are you a friend or foe?” this is another keyboard based musical exploration packed with soundbites and great textures. Soundbites from the film “1984” are alternated with clips of President Bush and news coverage of the war on terror. Whether you agree with these comparisons or not, you'll find that it is effective and thought provoking.
Do You Know Where You'll Be?
A change of pace, Eastern tinged sounds played on acoustic instruments start things off here. They don't remain long, though. More soundbites and textural keys enter and take over. A vocal line that reminds me of Pink Floyd is barely heard in the background. As it starts to grow and seems about to move into the forefront a piano solo wanders across the surface. Then the vocals finally rise (now feeling more like folk or country sounds). It turns very dark and eerie later when the soundbites take over, but it moves back out into a playful, understated movement from there. This is weird, but very cool. This has more clips from “1984” that should get people thinking.
Anarchy
With an almost militaristic drum beat and a playful melody of “Yankee Doodle,” this has some thought provoking lyrics, delivered in a off-beat (They Might Be Giants-like) way. “The rich get richer and the poor are getting sent to the War / It's just the way it's always gonna be so it don't bother me no more.” This turns noisy in the middle of the piece. That segment is a bit hard to take, but overall this is great number.
Home on the Range Part 1
This has an almost pop rock approach with electronic vocals. It's an interesting contrast of sounds. It's also one of the most “song-like” segments of the CD. This is a cool track, even if it's a bit odd.
Home on the Range Part 2
This time we get a big change from part 1 to part 2. This is a lot more ambient with sound bites and a traditional verse or two of “Home on the Range.” the modes from the previous section do return very late in the composition.
Rosy
This has a “good old boy” texture and a dark, but almost pop oriented tone. It again reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd. Less effects and soundbite dominated, this serves as a great way to bring the listener back down to Earth.
 
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