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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Sunny Era

Connection Lost

Review by Gary Hill

In many ways there seems now to be more of a current of breaking down musical barriers than there has been at any other time in history. Take this CD for an example. Certainly the closest comparison would be to early Pink Floyd. Such a concept would lump it into psychedelia and progressive rock. The thing is there are also elements of post punk and alternative rock. This mellow blend of sound almost defies definition. I personally find that there are times where the CD drags due to too much similarity of the music. Still, this is an entertaining and potent album because there are plenty of strong cuts to outweigh the weak points.

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
Connection Lost
They lead this disc off with the title track. The sounds of a symphony tuning up start the track. Then it drops to something that resembles a retro ballad (with church organ over the top). The vocals come in with a mysterious, leisurely texture that brings with it echoes of early Pink Floyd. This whole jam has a lot of that late ‘60’s Floyd sound. It’s a nice start to the disc, but not the strongest musical concept.
Saturn Blue Smoke
This follows in the early Pink Floyd approach, but here it’s with a bit more of a jingle jangle guitar approach that also seems to call to mind the sounds of '80’s bands like The Church.
Marked By Expectation
A slower, ballad-like groove that feels a bit like Procol Harum opens this. A dark twist on this theme brings with it more of those Pink Floyd echoes. This pretty instrumental is actually one of my favorite pieces on this disc. It has plenty of drama and dissonance and lots of intriguing layers. It gets extremely powerful and lush later.
Hope Beyond
Psychedelic bouncing guitar patterns weave the trail of this piece. The vocals bring in a more limited version of the Pink Floyd sound. This one just doesn’t seem to work for me. It feels unfinished and a bit amateurish compared to the rest of the material.
The Briefcase
A faster, more energized mode begins this. This one is not so prog rock oriented, but it does have a Radiohead like texture. Certainly many consider modern Radiohead to be prog. This one is another that leaves me wanting a bit. Still, there are some charming sections.
Night/Fall
I suppose the best description of this one would be The Doors take on a balladic fashion with lots of elements of Mazzy Star. This instrumental is pretty and spacey and also includes moments that are Floydian.
One Hour To Go
This energetic cut is solid, but it’s kind of faceless, not really setting itself apart from the rest of the music here.
Heart of Chrome
Now, this is better. A droning style starts this off, and then they move it out into a spacey Floydian ballad treatment. This is pretty and gloomy.
Greetings, Dialogue One
A lullaby type sound begins this, but they quickly begin to move it out into a rather odd piece of spacey texture. This takes on a melancholy ballad-like bent, but still with plenty of the off-kilter sounds that the band seem to make their stock and trade. This instrumental is exceptionally powerful and effective. It’s also one of my favorite pieces on the disc.
Rules of The Game
A swirling guitar based ballad approach leads this one off. As the vocals enter those Floyd elements return with them. This is a rather accessible, but still somewhat challenging arrangement that calls to mind not only the Pinks, but also Radiohead and others. They include a killer instrumental break on this one.
Secrets Bought and Sold
Guitar begins this with a tentative start and stop approach. They eventually launch into another track that’s a bit too much like the rest of the music here. This isn’t bad; it’s just that by this point in the album it’s all starting to sound the same. Still, the driving bass line helps to life this a bit.
Pictures of Your Older Life
Another that begins with guitar based balladic textures, this one starts building slowly. It’s rather dramatic and extremely effective with its poignant approach and serves to lift the album back up from mediocrity.
The Casual Fix and The Shaped Wrong
Weighing in at almost ten and a half minutes, this is by far the longest cut on the disc. This is an oft-times noisy jam that includes a lot of instrumental exploration. This is certainly a lot like early Floyd, but there are other elements in the mix, too. It’s moody, but also very strong. I’d have to say that it’s my favorite piece on show here.
It Was Nice Meeting You
That seems to be a very appropriate title for the closing cut on a CD. This mellow ballad definitely calls to mind early Pink Floyd. It’s a classy (if understated) way to end the disc. I like this one a lot, too.
 
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