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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Phideaux

The Great Leap

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve been trying to work Phideaux (the older releases) into Music Street Journal for a while. So, it’s a happy coincidence that I received the new CD in the process of creating the new issue. This is included in progressive rock, but it’s not a traditional type of prog. Instead this is more of the moody prog style that is created by Marillion, Blackfield and others. Not all the inspiration on this comes from prog either. You might hear Gary Numan on this or early David Bowie. Still, there are also elements of Pink Floyd and others here. The result is a unique musical texture that conveys emotions and power quite well. I really like this album (and all of Phideaux’s discs) a lot.

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
Wake Up
This one comes in with a hard-edged grind and gradually begins to work up from there. As the vocals enter, drama comes with them. They drop this back to a mellower plodding section for the verse with lines of keyboards screaming across the top at points. This moves out into a cool world music meets avante-garde prog sound for a short period at the end of the verse. This is rather dark, but also extremely potent hard edged rock simply oozing progressive rock textures. There are some extremely tasty flashes of instrumental explorations woven into this arrangement. This makes for a high-energy strong album starter.
You And Me Against a World of Pain
Drums lead this one off. Then it turns into a bouncy, slightly odd ballad-like structure. The vocal arrangement on the chorus segment with its combined male and female vocals is a nice addition. They shift the track out later into an expansive journey that has some great keyboard textures. As good as the previous track was, this moody number is even better in my book. There are some interesting changes and the instruments and voice create a lot of dramatic musical flavors. I particularly like the diverse grouping of instruments on the outro that bring alternating classical and jazz sounds to the playground with them.
The Waiting
This feels like something that would have come from Jefferson Airplane (sort of like “Lather”) in its musical textures. The arrangement here isn’t as intricate and full as some of the other stuff, but this cut works quite well, nonetheless. It really feels a lot like an updated version of the 1960’s rocking modes. This is one of my favorites on the album. I particularly like the space-opera sounding instrumental break.
Abducted
This one feels dark and mysterious. It’s rather twisted in texture. This one is one of the less prog pieces here, and in fact reminds me a bit of Gary Numan at times. It’s good, but not one of my favorites. The middle part of the track, though, does turn more prog-like and is cool.
Rainboy
Some of the most blatantly progressive rock music shows up on this track. A vocal arrangement with walls of sound create the introduction here with instruments entering in an almost classically tinged motif. This gives way to a guitar based ballad approach. This feels a bit like David Bowie and Mott The Hoople at times, with still more of that Gary Numan approach. All of those sounds are run into a blender and thrown into a progressive rock moving arrangement to create this cut. This one is amongst my favorites on show here. It turns to a metallic grind later.
I Was Thinking
Mysterious tones start this and a guitar based progression in a pretty prog ballad style begins to rise up from there. This one is essentially a powerful progressive rock track that has elements of psychedelia in the form of early Pink Floyd and also some Beatles-like textures. All of this is combined into a killer hard rocking motif that is among the best on the disc. It has a lot of diversity in the form of mellower and harder edged sections replacing one another in a repeating pattern.
Long and Lonely Way
This has more of that psychedelic approach. It is a cool soaring jam that merges and old and new sounds into a fresh motif.
They Hunt You Down
This enters with a nearly acapella approach that really calls to mind early Bowie. This grows ever so slowly on that format. Eventually it powers out int a Beatlesque prog arrangement for a time. Then it drops back to the earlier modes to end.
Tannis Root
A mysterious sounding number, this one really has a great texture to it. The early portion feels at all points ready to explode out into a psychedelic frenzy. This one is a great mood piece with lots of trippy musical explorations. It turns to harder rocking territory later in an expansive jam that’s one of the best on the disc. A great prog bass line drives a lot of this. This might be my favorite cut on the CD.
One Star
This one has more of an 1980’s alternative rock sound, but the prog elements and psychedelia are not completely missing. I’m not overly crazed about this one. It’s alright, but not a standout. The retro based keyboard jam later is a nice touch, though.
Last
Another pretty and rather melancholy guitar based ballad sound leads this off. It starts slowly intensifying. It takes this one a while to get really going, but it is such an emotionally powerful piece of music. I love this one, and it makes a great conclusion to a strong CD.
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