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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Cobweb Strange

A Breath Of October

Review by Gary Hill

I think this is a first. When I originally reviewed a Cobweb Strange album I placed them in the progressive metal category. I didn't think it was a perfect fit, but it was closer than the progressive rock title. Well, with this release I am moving them from the metal archives to the prog archives. That title isn't exactly a glove either, but it is probably the closest you will come. Truly this band is producing a very original type of music that probably would fit into the category of neo-hippie slightly punky prog, if there were such a thing.

With A Breath of October they have given us a disc that shows a band finding their own way in the musical landscape and bringing a new maturity to their sound. It is really an unusual sound, rather dark and a bit strange, but I can't help but like it. I look forward to seeing where these guys find themselves next, as they continue to show more and more promise. For ordering info, or other information, check out the band's site at http://www.cobwebstrange.com.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Drowning Pulse of The Cold Green Sea
Starting balladic, and just a little dark, this cut moves slowly through changes at times feeling almost jazzy in its approach. After an extended intro, the tempo changes, feeling a little hesitant, and the vocals enter. The song takes on a psychedelically tinged texture that seems rather like early Pink Floyd. After a verse like this it wanders into really odd territory for the chorus, feeling weird, but, oh, so cool. Eventually the composition explodes into a hard to pin down instrumental excursion that is very strong. The lyrics feel rather in the vein of some of H.P. Lovecraft's Dream Cycle stories. This 9-minute mini-epic is quite strong and covers a lot of musical territory.
Giant
A great jazzy, bluesy groove makes up the basis for this track. The cut shifts to a strong guitar oriented prog jam for a short time before returning to the earlier basis to continue. This is another piece that has a great style, but is quite unusual and tough to classify.
Empty Shell
This is a slow, balladic number that has a folky texture. It builds very slowly and gradually. The main charm of the piece is the lyrics that seem to show a person finding hope from depression and despair. Musically it carries on a bit long for the fairly simple song structure, though.
Tea For the Sleepless
This is another with something akin to early Floydian weirdness. As the pace picks up the cut borders on creepy and musically feels just a bit like Djam Karet. It has a fusion jazz type styling with a retro almost surf tone that is very tasty.
Pure
This bouncy cut feels a lot like a cross between modern King Crimson and guitar prog bands like the aforementioned Djam Karet, but the band also manage to eave in full on jazz segments here and there to further keep out of categorization. At 11:50 in length, this is the longest piece on the disc, certainly fitting into the category of epic, and the vast majority of it is purely instrumental. It shifts to hard-edged for the chorus, and Wade Summerlin's vocals are the strongest on this track of any place on the disc. The crunch instrumental excursion later in the track has a killer feel. This is a prog jam of many textures and changes, and is the strongest cut on the disc, and arguably of the band's repertoire. This should please any prog fan.
Currents of Nightshade
This dark track has a bluesy rock texture, and again feels a bit like Djam Karet at times. The percussive elements and vocal performance really add a lot to it.
On With The Show
Starting as a mellow proggy ballad, this shifts to raw hard rocking tune for the chorus.
With Evening Falling
I would see this sort cut rather as a dark lullaby.
 
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