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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Gak Omek

Alien Eye

Review by Gary Hill

While there are several artists listed as being responsible for this release, a careful eye will note that the names of all but one are a shill. This is a one-man project by Robert Burger. It is his first album under the name The Gak Omek, and it is a very cool prog disc. It is nearly completely instrumental, only the "Oh yeah"'s in "Baby Gotta Visegrip" takes it out of that realm. It combines elements of fusion, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Steve Howe solo, Led Zeppelin, Kraftwerk and even a little Art of Noise into a musical treat that is all Burger. This one should please just about any fan of prog rock. Personally, I tend to get put off a little by discs that are exclusively instrumental, as they tend to drag. This one does not have that problem. It never feels overly redundant or slow. This keeps moving and always entertains.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Black Holes Colliding
Starting with ambient sounds, this builds into some noisy guitar screeches then drops back to near silence to carry forward. It gradually begins to rise up from there, subtle pretty prog textures forming melody ever so gradually. After a time percussion takes it and the cut is reinvented into a cool prog groove that builds quite organically. After working through this for a time it drops to near ambient weirdness, feeling at once like more experimental Yes and old King Crimson. This stops, then the melody that preceded it returns. Then a new hard edged, slightly ELP like jam takes it before this moves into new jazzy territory. There it carries forward reinventing and exploring its various themes until a crescendo gives way to sound effects to end it.
Here Comes the Aluminum Man
Understated ambience starts this and builds ever so slowly. Eventually guitar weaves lines of melody over top, then the percussion enters and this becomes a very Crimsonish yet fusion oriented, slightly cacophonic jam. A dark melody emerges to carry it forward. This builds for a time, then drops way back. A new excursion slowly starts off of this. Once again themes are invented, worked through and reinvented. At times the guitar sounds a lot like Steve Howe. This turns to a very Crimsonish display of crunchy sounds. Then that fades out to end.
Tourniquette of Roses
Percussive bass starts this and builds gradually and dramatically with keys. Guitar eventually weaves a web of sound overtop, and this is gradually build up in a very natural way. Again the guitar at times feels a little like Howe. This one keeps moving forward by reinventing these themes 'til eventually a very thick melody line takes it in one of the coolest sounds of the album.
Moon Burn 3 AM
This is more melodic instrumental prog. It doesn't vary much from the song that came before, but it's good nonetheless. This has some dramatic overlayers and tones and some very tasty guitar work. This takes on an almost Latin jazz texture later in the form of a bass and percussion break, and this is merged with the previous elements as it moves back up. A staccato segment here is very cool, as are the keyboard lines.
Baby Gotta Visegrip
This comes in with a bit of crunch and includes the only vocals of the album, not really lyrical other than "oh yeah". This is a fun rock and roll stomp and features some Zeppelinish riffing. This is a great change of pace and a killer fun jam.
Dancing Bologna
A rhythmic pattern a bit like a skipping CD starts this and the bouncy melody emerges over top. This is another entertaining prog cut and one that feels a lot like a Steve Howe solo composition. This really seems like it could be that or a modern Yes track.
Robotomy
Electronic sequencing starts this, then atmospheric tones come in. The riff-oriented segment that emerges here is very Yesish with R2D2 like chirps overtop. Once again this feels a lot like modern Yes, along the lines of "Minddrive", with just a bit of Kraftwerk alongside it. This has some killer instrumental work, particularly the guitar.
The Squiggly Parameter
First off, this one gets kudos for the title. Starting with an almost funky bass line, this is a multi layered fusion extravaganza that is one part Dimeola and one par Miles Davis with a little mid era Genesis thrown in for good measure. Thanks to a lot of differing textures on one musical theme, it's a classy way to end the disc. There is also a little Art of Noise here from time to time.
 
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