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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Inquisitor Betrayer

Space Elevator

Review by Gary Hill

Dale Kay and Wes Antczak are Inquisitor Betrayer. As the liner notes to their CD makes very clear, they share several major musical inspirations for this project. Foremost – this one is even mentioned in the label on the front cover – is Tangerine Dream. They also provide should outs to Jean Michael Jarre and Larry Fast, though. I’d have to say that they also forgot to mention Kraftwerk and Isao Tomita as I hear both in this mix. Fans of those artists should certainly enjoy the rich musical textures provide by Inquisitor Betrayer’s extrapolations on those type sounds. For more information check out the group’s website and myspace.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Jade Emperor
This one starts with a playful little keyboard theme. Darker more mysterious tones emerge over the top of this backdrop after a time and begin building the piece up in a rather cinematic way. While the more childlike elements play underneath these other sounds propagate to create a powerful sky over the top that is full of emotion. This instrumental keyboard journey creates a nice introduction to the album. Later in the track a child’s spoken voice is heard. Still further down the road they turn this into a lush soundscape that seems to soar above that which has come before. I really like this later movement better than the rest of the cut. Harp sounds end the piece.
Gamma Parallax Light
An electronic voice opens this and as it begins to take shape there are competing waves of sound effects and voices. Eventually all these varying sounds coalesce and crescendo. Then there is a build up that feels both electronic and symphonic, with a definite neo-classical bent. As they work this out from there an electronic rhythmic groove enters and then waves of female operatic singing soars over the top of a Kraftwerk-like arrangement. This shifts downward to melancholy sounding lines of violin like keys over space sounds. Eventually space ambient tones take over on this one. It feels like you may have been dropped into one of the creepier parts of a space opera. This is strange, but oh so tasty. Eventually the earlier mode (with the operatic vocals returns) to finish off the track. It drops back to ambiance for the actual conclusion.
Off World Quantum
A pulsing rhythmic texture enters to start this. Then Celtic sounds enter. A chorus of vocals enters to accompany, but they don’t remain long. Instead a techno sort of keyboard banter emerges. This rises gradually in dramatic tones to carry it forward. The lines of sound seem to dance around each other in swirling patterns of playful sounds. This is actually quite a bit more lush than that analogy would indicate, though. This turns to a powerful, more driving groove based on these musical textures later. Vocals come in over the top of this to move it forward. I like this track a lot, actually.
Dark Crystal
This piece starts more tentatively with chiming sorts of sounds like gongs being hit. Then the textures begin to rise upward like whale song. This is pretty, but a bit strange. Eventually they pull the patterns together a bit better and a melody emerges. There is some Wakeman-like keyboard exploration over the top of this. At just over four minutes in length this is the shortest cut on show here.
Sea of Fire, Fire of Four
A dramatic and dark processional tone starts this, but then it shifts into extremely odd sounds. This feels like a spacey tribal rhythmic structure that has elements at points that feel like weird animals. At other points the sounds of electronic computerized gadgets seems to be prevalent. There is even what sounds like a violin (it’s actually keys) that weaves its way over the top of this during the course of some of the composition. This becomes rather playful later and is another captivating slice of instrumental keyboard explorations.
Ascension
This one starts off rather texturally, but rises up with majesty and beauty from there. It moves through several reincarnations of its atmospheric keyboard textures, then burst out into an energetic groove. This isn’t one of my favorites on the disc, but it’s definitely got its moments. It’s another where some of the keyboard sounds lead me to think of Rick Wakeman.
Garden of Shadows
At over sixteen minutes in length this one is a good six minutes longer than anything else on the CD. A gong sound starts this and they move up ever so tentatively. They’ve got the time to be leisurely about it. There are Asian elements in the mix here. Eventually, though, this turns into an energized reincarnation of itself. They twist and turn this around, raise it up and drop it back through the course of the piece. There are moments of electronic music that could almost be called “dance music” but others that qualify as ambient space. There are even some pretty ballad-like textures. It eventually turns to Hawkwind-like space to occupy the last few minutes of the composition.
Crimson Moon
With the clock ticking away almost ten minutes for this song, it is the second longest piece on show here. Gregorian chant type sounds lead this one off. Then it turns around a corner into dramatic musical textures that are almost Asian in theme at times. They move this one upward and also drop it back into ambient space sounds as it moves forward. They turn this into rather creepy space sounds later. A very pretty, almost classical music meets Asia approach serves to finally end the piece in a rather extended movement. This late in a CD that has this little variation between tracks you could be getting overwhelmed and a bit bored. This track has plenty of drama and beauty to keep that from happening, though. That definitely speaks to the caliber of the sounds that are on show with this album.
Eternal Light
The introduction to this reminds me a bit of Styx’ “Mr. Roboto” with it’s “talking” keyboard texture. The weave in the melody here as a Asian sounding ballad approach that has a definite folk music sense to it. There are some more non-lyrical vocals on this one. Of all the tracks on show here, I’d have to say that this is my least favorite. It has its moments, but some of the keyboard sounds used feel a bit “cheesy” at times. It isn’t a bad piece of music, but I think that it might have been the wrong choice for disc closer. I think I would have set it somewhere towards the center of the disc and left “Crimson Moon” to put the CD to rest.
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