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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Canvas Solaris

Penumbra Diffuse

Review by Gary Hill

Fans of instrumental prog that has elements of both metal and fusion should eat this up. While the overall musical motif runs to such inspiration as King Crimson and Dream Theater, these guys create their own brand of heavy technical music. The thing is, they know when to drop it down, too. I often have trouble with bands that are strictly instrumental because the disc tends to blend together without much individual identity. This one suffers from that problem, but not as bad as some albums. Certainly the fact that they make the effort to break up the fury with mellower pieces occasionally helps their cause.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Panoramic Long-Range Vertigo
This one jumps straight in with a hard edged fusion oriented King Crimson like free form jam. These guys pound out all kinds of sonic fury in the course of near constant changes. They drop it down for a time in the midst of the track, but quickly pump it back up. This is some major instrumental fury.
Horizontal Radiant
Keys bring this one in with a lot more mellow approach. Acoustic guitar joins and a dramatic progression begins to emerge upward from there. A fairly sedate jazz texture, a bit like Pat Metheny’s music, takes this eventually. This early segment of the track is a much-needed respite after the fiery explosion that opened the disc. Mind you, these guys aren’t content to stay in one place for too long, so they eventually power it back out into more of the fusion interplay that made up the disc opener. Still, they show the sense of restraint to eventually pull it back downward toward the mellow zone at a couple of points in the piece. This cut is more dynamic in terms of sound textures than the last one while losing none of its sense of rapid-fire turns and twists. This actually includes some very pretty acoustic guitar work at times. At almost eleven and a half minutes in length it’s the second longest composition on show here.
Accidents in Mutual Silence
This is more frantic crunchy fusion jamming. It’s not a bad track, but seems a bit too much like the opener.
Vaihayasa
In another well needed respite a pretty flamenco like acoustic guitar pattern begins this. As other instruments enter it begins to take on an Arabic or Indian texture. This one goes through a lot of varying themes without moving into the crunch territory. It’s pretty and a good dosage of variety.
To Fracture
This is more metallic prog instrumental jamming. It’s rather chaotic and jarring at times. I’m not overly crazy about this one, but probably part of that is because it’s start to feel a bit like “we’ve done this before.” Granted, they have the good sense to drop it down to a spacey, funky sort of segment. It would be better if they had started with something a bit different, I think, though.
Psychotropic Resonance
Mellow tones, but rather dissonant and strange, start this. As it moves forward it becomes even more odd. There is nothing pretty about this one. It reminds me a bit of a King Crimson jam called “Groon.” They turn this towards the metallic end later in the piece and crank it out in freeform fury. This one is really a bit much for my tastes. They do pull it back down later, though.
Luminescence
At twelve minutes this is the longest track on the disc. Tribal sounding percussion starts this and gentle tones join in tentatively to accompany this backing. They begin building up from there in one of the prettiest and most effective segments of the disc. Still, they pull enough chaos and dissonance into the mix to keep anyone from getting bored. This grows ever so gradually, building on the themes and modes to create more and more power and drama. At about three and a half minutes in they twist this around a corner into the most incredibly awesome piece of music that has occurred here. This thing is just too cool. It doesn’t last long, though, but they pull it back out into a rather expansive prog ballad sort of approach from that point. They aren’t done rearranging and recreating the track, though, as they continue their musical quest. It turns metallic at about the four and a half minute mark with an explosion of fury and glory. Still, this is one of the most effective movements on the whole disc. There are some great keyboard textures later in the track. This eventually crescendos and then is reworked in the sedate tones again at about the halfway point. They gradually begin working and creating within this format. At about the eight-minute mark the percussion takes over and then the band take the whole thing on a new and quite dramatic (but still rather mellow) journey. They aren’t done twisting and turning this piece around. Indeed they create another new movement that is still sedate, and then crank it out toward the metallic. This track is just so good it’s scary. The problem is this. It is by far the strongest piece of music on show here. The thing is, I really wonder how many people will listen long enough to find this. I have to say that it took me about ten or twelve shots with this CD to be able to get through all the songs and actually hear this. They should have opened with this one.
 
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