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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Divine Baze Orchestra

Once We Were Born...

Review by Gary Hill

Quantum physicists should pay a lot of attention to Sweden. It seems that the European nation is in the midst of a time warp that has it set firmly in the 1970’s rather than the 21st century like the rest of us. I base my hypothesis on the music coming out of that country and this album is a prime example. The music here is set in a hard rock, progressive style that makes on thing of bands like Deep Purple, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Uriah Heep and Yes. These guys are not the only ones. It seems like a ton of killer retro bands are coming out of Sweden – enough to make me consider moving there. Where else can you find music like this these days? If you miss the days of great hard rock in the vein of stuff that was coming out in 1972, you really need to check this band out. You won’t be disappointed.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dance
Ambient textures bring things in, then a noisy, keyboard laden sound rises up – with the song still not moving into musical zones yet. Eventually a cool keyboard riff takes us up into the real “musical” portions of the song. This feels like Deep Purple meets ELP and Black Sabbath. It’s a killer jam. The chorus reminds me of old school Uriah Heep. This is extremely tasty stuff. There is an awesome instrumental break on this one that seems to combine ELP, Nektar and Deep Purple in a psychedelic prog jam that’s heavy and grooving at the same time. This gives way to a more sedate motif for a time – feeling a bit like some of the jazzy rock that came out in the early 1970’s. This doesn’t stay around long, though, as the band pound back out with a very Deep Purple laden jam that still has enough progressive rock in it to keep the prog purists happy.  Eventually we move back to the Uriah Heep like section and that gives way to a short outro.
Choose your green
This comes in with something that feels like Banks era Yes to me. They work through the bombastic opening and then drop back for a moment. This, coupled with the rise upwards has more of that sound. We get a short, more raucous section and then a return to proto-Yes sounds for the verse. The vocals are definitely not like Yes, but the music certainly resembles something from that band’s first album. The thing is, the chorus is about as early Deep Purple as early Deep Purple gets. So, is the first half of the next instrumental movement. They shift it out from there into ultra heavy, nearly Sabbath-like jamming. When they drop it way back for the next vocals they maintain this texture and it feels rather like Sab’s first album or Candlemass. This gets infusions of more progish textures, but still remains true to form as it carries on. We get a killer Yes meets Deep Purple jam after another chorus and then they take it out into a fast paced, Crimson-like jam to end it.
Treta di Mare
This comes in with a definite hard edged blues rock sound. As the whole band kicks into high gear we get a vintage Deep Purple sound. They drop it back for the verse to a sparser arrangement, but power it back out for the jam afterwards. This DP leaning holds the vast majority of the song, although we do get some moments that are closer to true progressive rock and they also take us more in the direction of Mountain at times.
Orange and Turquoise
In a total change of pace, this is a bluesy, understated jazz tune. They throw in a pounding Deep Purple meets prog motif in the center, but for the most part, this one just stays true to its musical beginnings and has its feet firmly planted in even older traditions than the vintage prog and hard rock that roots much of the CD. They do take us out into a killer guitar solo based segment that has much more of a classic rock texture later. This holds the track right up to a short reprise of the jazzy textures joins to end it.
In Search
This comes in with more of a retro hard rock meets progressive rock. It resembles ‘70’s prog without really feeling much like anyone band – although perhaps Flash might cover it – other than the vocals. At around the minute and a half mark this is dropped back to give us more of that jazzy sound. This gets reworked and re-envisioned as they carry forward taking on psychedelic proto prog motifs. It eventually gives way to a reprise of the earlier section. We are treated to retro keyboard and guitar soloing as they move this forward in an instrumental segment. This extended instrumental movement eventually ends it.
Little Man
The hard rocking sound that brings this in reminds me of King Crimson and Pentwater with a bit of early metal thrown in. They drop it back for the first vocals and then power out for the chorus. The opening sounds return after the chorus. This is a cool tune and one of my favorites. It’s not that it varies in style that much from some of the other stuff. It’s just an awesome piece of music that stands out. They give us more of that jazzy sound at times on this one. There’s also a killer fast paced segment that really works well. This is one of the most dynamic cuts here with varying sections taking and holding it for a time before they once more move onward. The guitar solo on this is extremely tasty, too.
The Person
As this one pounds in it’s definitely in that Deep Purple meets progressive rock approach. When they settle into the fast paced, more stripped down, but organ heavy jam that eventually drops away further for the vocals, this feels like it could have come straight from Machine Head. At around the 2 and a half minute mark we get this killer, soaring progressive rock jam, but it leads into a Deep Purple-inspired keyboard solo that smokes. This takes us back into the song proper after a time. They take it bluesy for a time and then pound out into nearly metallic DP-like music. A crescendo gives way to a short drum solo and then they come back out from there into more of the central song structures.
The Man from my Mother’s Brother
This has a great acid rock meets progressive rock approach. They move through some variations on this central theme and then pull it out into less heavy, rather psychedelic prog to carry forward. They work through a number of musical elements as they carry forward, and this is one of the most effective pieces on show here. A drum solo takes it around the three and a half minute mark and the group launch out from their into a smoking instrumental section that’s a bit jazzy at times.  Much of the guitar soloing on this piece calls to mind Peter Banks. We also get treated to a great retro keyboard solo ala Jon Lord. This turns even more tasty as they come out from there into a twisting, off-kilter jam that serves as the back drop for the final vocals of the tune and takes us out.
Closing the Circle
A hard rocking riff opens this up, but they shift out to jazz-like early Yes meets Pentwater sounds for the vocal sections. They pack a number of varying elements and movements into this piece, but the overall compositional patterns remain consist. At times they seem to take us more in the direction of early Genesis, but then they burst out into a vocal foray that calls to mind the early days of Uriah Heep. It’s another killer slab of retro textured, hard rocking prog.
Burned by the sun
Seemingly disjointed sounds that call to mind the more impromptu side of early King Crimson leads this off and holds it for a while. Around the one minute mark they power out into a fast based jam that’s based on a quirky riff. This gives way after a time to the song proper, another full psychedelia meets early prog approach. The twisty riff returns here and there and that section really feels a lot like Red-era King Crimson. We get a funky, retro jam after a time and then this gives way to a mellower, psychedelic sort of sound. This eventually works into a Uriah Heep styled movement. Those who remember how Heep used to take one section and repeat it bringing it a bit higher with each repetition should find this quite familiar. Eventually, though, this fades downward and drops away, leaving just drums to hold it for quite a while. After a time they music that took us to this drum solo begins to rise back up and when it’s just the keys you might think of The Yes Album Yes. As the vocals return, though, Uriah Heep is back in the house. This eventually gives way to a Jon Lord like keyboard solo that takes us to the short, rather undefined, outro. It’s a fitting conclusion to a killer retro ride.
 
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