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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Elton Dean Mark Hewins

Bar Torque

Review by Josh Turner

The album is a live rendition with an excellent production and two talented musicians. Much in the vein of John Coltrane jazz by way of Elton's sax along with a flair of Canterbury. There are some light progressive rock influences as Mark's guitar sounds like a synthesizer in many places. The album is purely instrumental, and the pieces are quite long with the first one running upwards of 24 minutes and the second and third running a little more than half that time. For the most part, this is improvised jazz featuring the saxophone and pepper sprayed with faint progressiveness.

The duo plays well together. In many occasions it sounds as if there are more than two musicians due to Mark's synthetic guitar. The album is worthwhile, if you can allow yourself the break from rock or metal.

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Track by Track Review
Bar Torque
The song begins like something off John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. The sax dominates. Eventually, a simple sonic atmosphere weaves its way under the music. The guitar licks come and go. This is a very laid back piece with much pause and subtlety worked in throughout. It coasts through easy-listening paradise with some outbursts from time to time. I imagine this is the perfect music to play during meditation. I even found myself getting sleepy listening to it. This is not necessarily bad as it provides a calming effect. Towards the end, the song gets quite spacey, somehow the transition from jazz into space is quite smooth.
Sylvan
This continues with jazz, but it is slightly more edgy. The pace is quickened. Later in the piece, the notes spread their wings and stretch out, taking time in a manner not demonstrated as much in the beginning. This is a great interlude between the bookends of this album.
Merilyn's Cave
This piece is the most mysterious. The music is much like a wandering visitor in a lonely old forest. There are even effects that sound quite a bit like chirping birds. A gentle breeze flutters the leaves. Sunlight flashes through the undulating trees. In the dim light and quiet serenity of this isolated place, your senses become sensitive to the slightest movement and sound. Towards the end, it becomes apparent you are not alone as a spaceship lands. The friendly visitors welcome you on the ship and you are taken away unnoticed. When it all seems safe and happy, the song gets darker. Maybe you shouldn't have taken this flight.
 
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