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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Source (California, USA)

All Along This Land

Review by Gary Hill

I love it when I hear a great new progressive rock band for the first time. Such is the experience with this CD. These guys create a great blend of prog rock with Beatles type pop, psychedelia and jazz. The result is a disc that never fails to entertain. There are no weak points here – only strong and stronger. Fans of vintage prog really should check this out. If these guys had been around in the 1970's their name would have been spoken along side Gentle Giant, Flash, Happy The Man and other legends of that era.

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
All Along This Land
Overture
One can see that this is meant as a introduction to the epic. The thing is, usually something like this would be a short piece. In this case they put forth a movement that is over seven minutes. Keys in atmospheric and powerful waves make up the first half a minute or so. Then other instruments gradually join, filling out the arrangement. While not altering the motif, guitar soars over the top in slow and tasty progressions as this moves forward. At around the two minute mark, they drop it back toward more sedate, but quite dramatic tones. Then the bass takes over for a short segment before they crunch this out just a bit. At around two minutes and forty five seconds they drop it back to piano, but then climb up again. A new mode that reminds me a bit of Peter Banks' jazzy stylings in early Yes take over. This gives way to a faster paced segment that really evokes those images in spades. The killer fast paced guitar solo that comes in a bit later has elements of both Banks and Steve Howe. They move through a few variations with the guitar leading the way before dropping back to a drum solo. The group join back in and take off on a new musical excursion from there. The same leanings come in when the guitar takes control once more. They resolve out into a segment that feels a bit like Joe Satriani meets Steve Howe. This instrumental movement is captivating and extremely dynamic. It serves as a great start to this killer epic.
Over and Under The Start and the Sun
Percussion leads this off and they pound out in a funky sort of progression over which Steve Howe like guitar lines weave and bob. The vocals join while the guitar still wanders the mix – always a great touch in my book. I much prefer instrumental meanderings to be interwoven in the track rather than living in their own little compartments. As they carry on they drop it to something a bit more ballad-like before building back up into harder edged, faster territory. Steve Howe fans will certainly enjoy the guitar work on this. It turns a bit more psychedelic / garage band in texture for a time. When they return to the vocal segment this feels a lot like Howe's pre-Yes band Tomorrow to me – mind you with some decidedly Yes like non-lyrical vocals. They slow it back and continue alternating slower sections with the more energized ones in great fashion. You mght make out a quick nod to Rush before they launch out in another decidedly Tomorrow-like instrumental movement. More rapid-fire tasty twists come and go before they drop it back towards psychedelic mellower modes to eventually end the movement.
We Are Here
Piano leads the way here, with a rather Beatlesesque melody. The group join to play within this theme and intensify it. Over this backdrop the vocals are laid. While the overall effect of this movement is that of a catchy pop/rock ballad, there are plenty of prog rock expressions that come to play to please the most discriminating devotee of the genre – and all within a little less than three minutes. They even throw in more of that Howe-like music before weaving into the next part of the epic.
The Fall of Babylon
Coming out of the crescendo from the last segment, keys begin to weave dramatic waves of melody. This is punctuated by full band bursts before finally firing out into fast paced prog fury. I hear a lot of Steve Howe on this mix, but we also get some piano based jazz and some pretty ballad stylings in the ever changing kaleidoscope of sound. At around the minute mark it settles into a more smooth jam. This doesn't stay around long, though. Instead they drop back to more dramatic ballad structures and then work this out into something new and inspired. A full classical piano treatment takes it before the 2 and a half minute mark. That is quickly replaced by more of the Tomorrow type sounds and then a killer keyboard dominated jam takes over. The resolution on this feels at first a lot like Yes, but then turns into almost a garage band version of progressive rock. They turn this out later into a very catchy pop rock excursion that shows off the electric guitar oriented side of the Beatles. A short burst of keyboards segues this into the next movement.
Inside This World
This starts as a piano and vocal ballad approach and builds very gradually. It gets quite intricate at times. A killer guitar dominated jam takes it after a time. They work through a few variations of this before dropping back to mostly keys to continue. This segment is quite potent and pretty. They work and rework this in a very satisfying and powerful motif and it creates a very satisfying conclusion to the epic.
 
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