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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

IO

Strange Tales From The Urban Circle

Review by G. W. Hill

In fairly sedate prog modes, this is Canadian prog. The band seems a lot more interested in creating strong melody lines and coherent songs than they are in who is going to take a solo and in what way to enshrine the instrumental break. That interest in songs and a tendency to alternate vocals seem to be trademarks of this band.

The musicians on the disc are Tome Foley, Stephanie Sheri, Darren Poirier, Charlie Morgan and special guest Mark Shannon. For ordering info, go to the website: http://www.iomusic.org.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
75.8
Ambient sounds begin this brief instrumental number. This one really just serves as an intro to the next tune.
Satellite
Based on a solid jazzy groove that really moves, the early moments of this cut are strong. It then switches to a more modern, slightly hard-edged prog rock mode to carry the rest of the song.
Life
Starting with sound effects, the music proper comes in almost as a Rushish take on Yes. This mode makes up the remainder of the introduction. As the verse comes in, it just drops into that segment. Melodic and rhythmically intriguing, this is a potent cut.
Nocturne
Balladic and slow modes begin this track. The song builds organically from there, becoming harder edged and more musically complex for a time, but it eventually returns to the earlier mode. The music seems to alternate between these two styles before dropping back to end.
Fever Pitch
Owing as much to the music of bands like Squeeze as to prog bands, this is a poppy and catchy progressive rock piece. It does, however, take on more definite prog tones as the tune continues to evolve.
Here Now in the Knowing
Percussion begins this song, then rather dramatic musical tones enter. In this rather sparse arrangement, the vocals show up to carry the first verse. Then the arrangement takes on the addition of more instruments as the cut progresses. Basically, this is a strong prog ballad.
Notions
Starting off very dramatic and powerful, this is a standout cut. This song, which features great vocal interplay and a strong prog arrangement is very emotional and potent.
Stolen Land
Hard edged, nearly metallic prog begins this composition. The verse and chorus sections are in a fairly stripped down, but hard rocking format, but the intro shows up occasionally as a brief instrumental break. This song was written by Canadian musical icon Bruce Cockburn. IO changes it into a strong prog number with hard rock leanings.
Five Long Days
Beginning sedate and thoughtful, this one builds naturally. It is another strong prog based song. The arrangement of the latter parts of this tune is quite lush.
Chronomes
Starting with sound effects, a hard-edged prog mode quickly takes over. Rather funky, this is a strong rock groove oriented sort of track. It features some great vocal work and interesting musical tones.
Reverie
Beginning with acoustic guitar, this song is nice soft and pretty ballad. This one features a guitar solo segment that is dramatic and progish.
 
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