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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Green Milk From the Planet Orange

City Calls Revolution

Review by Gary Hill

Once upon a time there was only 1970's style progressive rock. The musical textures were based on folk, classical, electronic fusion jazz, psychedelia and other forms of hard rock - but never any real heavy metal influence. Then came Dream Theater, taking that sound to a new level by incorporating heavier metallic sounds into the mix. Neo prog was born, respecting the original elements of progressive rock, but also infusing it with a new energy and power thanks to the metal influence. I really feel that the leap made in terms of musical style that Green Milk From the Planet Orange makes is just as big and just as vital as that change. I honestly think there is a very real possibility that ten years from now people will be looking at this as the album that launched a whole new subgenre.

The band has created a very unique sound by marrying classic prog song structures, timing changes and the like with punk, energized garage rock, psychedelia, jam band elements, old school jazz (the harder edged stuff) and power rock trio music. While I won't say that there aren't things that I don't like about this CD, an entire section of the closing cut (a nearly 40 minute epic) could be done away with from my way of looking at it, and I haven't been able to fully get my brain around the vocals yet, I will say that this may be the most important disc for the genesis of prog rock to come around the bend in a very long time. Honestly, overall I like this quite a bit, and I really hope that this fiery version of prog rock does turn into a movement because it's very cool.

There are times when you might think of King Crimson, even a rawer Yes, but there are plenty of other sounds here that are a lot less common in prog rock circles. The vocals tend overall to vary between a rough around the edges punk and something close to early Devo. There are moments that will probably call to mind Hendrix and maybe even Cream. All in all, this is really a disc that needs to be heard to be appreciated. Green Milk From The Planet Orange seems to be light years away from any other progressive rock, and possibly the sound that will shape a new generation. This Japanese trio certainly will change the way you hear prog.

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
Concrete City Breakdown
Sci-fi like blipping sounds gradually give way to a steady modifying keyboard segment that is modulated out from. The cut begins building slowly from there, feeling a bit like Pink Floyd at times. After an extended period this accelerates and intensifies. Then it just stops suddenly and a super-fast, rather heavy and psychedelic prog rock jam takes the cut in super-energized frantic explorations that wander at times into jam band territory. The vocals come in with an almost punk rock texture and much of the energy and intensity on this calls to mind punk, too, but the complex song structure and rapid fire changes (not to mention the sheer length of this nearly 20 minute epic) remove an doubt of its style. This is one of the most original forms of neo-prog I've ever heard and is extremely powerful and energized. It drops to a bass solo with a noisy segment of funky chirped guitar over top. This moves into an incredible instrumental break that moves through many changes and features fiery instrumental wanderings from all the musicians. This moves into near space, but still backed by a frantic rhythmic structure. Eventually just bass and drums remain and the guitar returns as the band turn down the speed and volume. Overtop of a weird free form jamming more lyrics are spoken. It all drops away, then one line is spoken and percussion returns. Then the band launch into something the feels like a slightly raw Yes circa 1973. This takes on more free form jazz textures while still wandering in this new and unusual format. After a time like this, it drops to just the rhythm section and processed vocals are thrown overtop in a weird half spoken/half shouted pattern. The ramp it back up to the energized, somewhat raw prog jam, then a Hawkwind/Nektar like segment appears at points. They create another frantic jam out of this to take it though to its conclusion - and after this ride all you can say is "wow!"
OMGS
This one starts with the frantic chaotic crescendo and the band launch it into a free form weird chaotic jazz like structure. Then it drops back to just percussion as the group turn this into a pounding grind that feels a bit like a raw modern Crimson with almost early Devo like vocals. They pound away in new patterns after these vocals creating a noisy jam that is very interesting. This one is furious and after another verse bursts into more frantic prog wanderings with screamed vocals accompanying them. The stomp it out after this point. Once this reaches a killer crescendo they drop it back to just drums and bass and move it forward like this, gradually increasing the tension. Then they explode out again in a noisy, but oh so tasty melody line. This intensifies in terms of speed power and volume, then drops to just the rhythm section and a vocal line that's part whispered/part shouted. This gives way to more pounding/stomping percussion that ends the piece.
Demagog
A stripped down jazzy take on modern King Crimson starts this. The band works through that, then launch into an expansive new excursion that is another that simply scorches. They drop it to just percussion, then a punky vocal line is laid down over this frantic, but stripped down arrangement. The band then fire back into the previous prog like jam. It repeats the earlier pattern, then after the new verse launches into a killer instrumental segment. Feedback and drums give a short false ending, then metallic elements emerge to carry this forward thorough a power trio like stomp. They jump it up, then move to more frantic prog jamming. This is simply an unbelievably powerful instrumental excursion and includes a purely smoking guitar solo. This turns neo-classical at times, but is still super energized. The section before the final verse is remarkably strong and then the band launch into another killer jam, then drop it to a slower grind that serves as the power trio outro. Noisy feedback serves as the actual conclusion.
A Day In The Planet Orange
This starts extremely ambient. The ambience grows ever so slowly adding in more and more layers of percussion to carry forward. As the other instruments come across its in echoey textural tones. This begins to get noisy and cacophonous at about the three-minute mark. Then a short strummed melody leads to the false ending at three and a half minutes. Percussion comes in, then a crunchy thick guitar line and ultra heavy bass line gradually begins a building process on this. As vocals come over there are somewhat dissonant and non-lyrical. Then dark lyrical passages start up. This one keeps moving as a rubbery stripped down dark jam that builds up ever so slowly. The vocals on this one are the first that feel like "prog" vocals, albeit neo-prog understated one. The cut continues by alternating vocal lines. Eventually after almost six minutes like this the bass and percussion hold the cut for a time. Then the guitar comes in noisy and very tasty over top to turn this into a late '60's power trio jam gone prog. This is raw like Hendrix was at times, but very involved and powerful. In fact, there are sections that call to mind Mr. Jimi. They drop it down, then crank it back up as they carry forward. Eventually the guitar line turns more towards a psychedelic jazzy prog journey. The cut shifts to a very '60's oriented fast paced riff that sounds like it could have come from any number of psychedelic bands. This is exceptionally effective and powerful with all of the instruments pulling their share of the attention. It moves into its next change over in the form of a switch out to a jazzy Nektar meets Hawkwind mode, then turns back into the super-energized '60's psychedelic jamming with echoes of Hendrix all over it. Eventually they merge and alter this into a new melody based on the same rhythmic texture. Then another change over brings in more traditional prog textures, if not a more traditional prog arrangement. This feels a bit like Red era Crimson as it crescendos, then the track turns back to ambience at around the 21-minute mark. The band start slowly working that theme back upward. Eventually this begins to climb in a noisy, hypnotic droning textures with layers of percussion over top. This gets quite intense as it moves forward. Then it shifts into an almost Pink Floyd like segment to carry on. Eventually just bass remains. A new guitar line enters and the bass drops away. Then percussion joins and as the bass comes back in a vocal line, mostly spoken, enters and a jazzy, mellower prog journey is under way. It drops to just bass and voice later, then a false ending gives way to the sound of a phone ringing. It is answered and a conversation is heard on one side. A loud scream comes in, then a series of noisy crescendos tell us that the band is back in the house. This gets very cacophonous and the piece could really do pretty well without this whole strange segment. This is the first time on the album, though, that I thought they went over the top. They eventually rework this into another super high-energy prog jam that has moments that feel like Yes. This has some incredible changes and textures moving through in frantic fashion. It continues being work and rework in an awe-inspiring flurry of jamming that is one of the best on the album. It crescendos for another false end, then a more atmospheric, but loud, section takes the cut. The vocal line returns as we are back to the song proper, the segment the group left nearly half an hour earlier. Eventually this gradually drops down. Another false ending gives way to more ambience that finally ends the track.
 
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