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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Monster Island

Dream Tiger

Review by Gary Hill

What an intriguing CD this is! It has a lot in common with early Hawkwind, but you will probably also make out Mother Gong in this mix. Sometimes you can hear The Violent Femmes, too. All the instrumentation is acoustic and we get sitar, toy piano and other instrumentation along with more common things like guitar. The singing duties are split between Cary Loren (male vocals) and Erika Hoffman (female vocals).  For the most part the vocals are nearly monotone with a sort of intentionally flat reading across them. While this might not be the most obvious prog rock disc and might not be your favorite CD, it’s quite cool and intriguing change from more traditional progressive rock.

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
Dream Tiger
The acoustic guitar motif that starts things here reminds me of early Hawkwind. Female vocals come over the top of this in a very gentle delivery. Some psychedelic elements flit across the top here and there.
Hob Goblin
Still acoustic, this has a bluesy hard rocking texture. Here we get both male and female vocals. This is a cool rocker.
The Dead Father
A hard rocking acoustic mode starts this off. This time we get male vocals only. This is essentially just a hard rocker, but the overlayers of guitar and other sounds bring in a definite early Hawkwind sound. The female vocals do return late in the track to join the others on the chorus.
Mothra
If you’ve seen Godzilla Versus Mothra, you’ll know right away that these lyrics are about that big moth. In fact, part of the song is told from the point of view of Mothra. This is a bouncy acoustic cut that combines Hawk-textures with psychedelia. It’s one of the standouts of the album. The vocals this time are the female ones.
Halloween
A dark and mysterious tone leads this off. Once more we have a female voice here. This has a psychedelic texture and reminds me a bit of early Pink Floyd and Mother Gong.
I Love Gorillas
This bouncy little number has a definite psychedelic feel to it and more of those female vocals.
Ghost At My Window
The dramatic motif that leads this off has a bit more of a traditional prog texture. There’s also some jazz in this mix. The vocals this time are male. It turns more towards space rock as they move forward. Definite Hawk-like tendencies emerge in the musical tapestry.
Fantômas
Pretty and intricate, this one features both male and female vocals. The track builds in a dramatic fashion. A section later with a spoken dialogue is downright creepy.
I Am a Cloud
This is a gentle balladic piece. The vocals here are female. We get quite a bit of psychedelia on this one.
Lost Souls
Dark and mysterious, this is one of the best cuts on show here. The vocals are spoken recitation (male) and musical elements swirl and sway with a creepy space rock feel to them. I love the line “Dylan’s blood left on the tracks.” Near the end this shifts to a Hawkwind like section. It doesn’t last long, though and as it appears we might go into a Hendrix inspired jam the cut ends.
Cherry Alive
This faster paced rocker reminds me a lot The Violent Femmes. The guitar soloing is more along the lines of Anubis Spire. This one has both male and female vocals. One later section here has a definite Hawkwind type sound, though. We get some backwards tracking late, too.
Goin' To Nepal
Early acoustic Hawkwind type sounds lead things off on this one. It turns into a bouncing, psychedelic piece with both male and female vocals. There is a cool backwards tracked segment on this, too. This segment makes up probably half of the song and is without any vocals.
Behold the Moon
They close things out with a number that again feels a lot like the acoustic end of old Hawkwind. The female vocals are gentle and the overlayers really make this song.
 
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