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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Mr. Brown

Mellan Tre Ogon Med

Review by Gary Hill

Coming out of Sweden in 1977, this is the first time this great melodic prog album has been released on CD. It seems a given that fans of Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd will really enjoy this disc, as that is the closest comparison. Not all the songs fall closely into that school of sound, though. There are elements of The Moody Blues and Procol Harum, Renaissance and Jethro Tull too, though. For more information, including ordering, check out Record Heaven's website.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Suicide
Spacey keys serve to begin this and reside alone in the mix for a while, resembling the sounds of wind. Then a tentative guitar element enters followed by more keys in an odd ascending scale. The cut begins a dramatic incredibly slow building from there with patterns of sound that create a prog ballad style that calls to mind both The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd. As the cut begins to rise upward the Pink Floyd elements seem to dominate. As it moves into the more song-based segment, while the Floyd sounds remain I also hear a lot of Procol Harum. A saxophone over the top, though, reminds me of Dark Side of the Moon era Floyd. The vocals also bring in that reference. The cut runs through in this general fashion through much of its length, and a tasty saxophone solo is woven over the top of the mix later. This is a very pretty and effective, but still quite moody prog rocker that is sure to please fans of 1970's era of the genre.
Recall the Future
Not to be confused with Nektar's Remember The Future from about the same time, this instrumental comes in a bit heavier and with a touch of a Native American sound, mostly on the rhythm at the intro. They move this through several changes, ramping it up to the more potent fast paced prog. Then a movement that calls to mind Rick Wakeman takes it before they turn more classical in approach, perhaps resembling the music of Renaissance mixed with a bit of Jethro Tull. This jam is considerably more dynamic than the one that came first. It drops to a sedate, nearly silent segment that at first seems like it might move back into the Floydian textures. Instead a piano solo that is quite classical in texture takes it, then the group begin to complement this element in a joint arrangement. It bursts into a very tasty harder edged prog jam for a very brief time, then they move out into more classically oriented melodic sounds again. This turns into an almost AOR ballad-like approach with extremely pretty layers of sounds laced over the top. This resolves out into a more mainstream rock excursion over which the guitar lays a meaty solo. Then they move back to the segment that preceded it. These two segments are alternated with one another for a while. Then a new dramatic musical journey takes the piece in a harder rocking prog fashion. From there it drops to pretty piano to carry forward. As the acoustic guitar enters we are treated to another beautiful ballad-like arrangement. This even takes on some textures of surf music at times, but overall is simply mellow pretty prog jamming with an open motif. The Pink Floyd elements do return on this movement. They move this through, then fade it down to close out the track at over nine minutes.
Resan Til Ixtlan
Pretty, melancholy keys start keyboard solo and carry it for quite a time, simply becoming more powerful and higher in volume. It shifts gear to the more dramatic and classically oriented, then as it moves back out into the more mellow it retains that classical texture. It moves through several changes before shifting to a Brahms-ian playful bouncing sort of movement that eventually serves to end the cut. 
Universe
Tastefully sedate keys begin this and the band starts working through an arrangement based on their themes. This becomes a ballad-like prog rock cut that feels again rather like early Pink Floyd as the vocals enter. After the first verse it takes on a bit of a mellow fusion texture. When the vocals rejoin it seems to combine the two sounds into a lush arrangement to carry it forward. They move through like this until space keys come in to serve as the outro.
Kharma 74
A playful bouncy old world keyboard sound leads this one off. As the band joins it takes on more standard prog sounds, but also has some colonial sort of textures interspersed. They move through like this for a while then a short Tull-like structure takes it to a keyboard solo. This solo moves in classical ways until a new more traditional progressive rock journey, very pretty in texture, takes it onward. Elements of the earlier themes are still represented in this mix. After working through in this manner for a time, then some extremely dramatic piano leads the cut into a new lush movement. Then they turn this into a new stuttering sort of passage that has a feel like harpsichord although that instrument is not present. In other words, the rhythmic structure resembles harpsichord music, but the sound is not related to that instrument. They move this out into a killer fast paced groove that is quite jazz oriented. A saxophone comes over the top to solo as this carries on in one of the most effective movements of the whole CD. Some funky guitar shows up later. They move this one out into sounds that are related to the earlier elements, then drop it back to just piano to carry it to the fade out that slowly ends the track. I'd have to say that this instrumental is my favorite track on the disc.
Liv I Stad Utan Liv
Starting with an acoustic based balladic melody, this one moves into something that feels a bit like The Moody Blues meet Procol Harum and spoken vocals come over the music. As this moves out into the sung portion of the track it is incredibly beautiful and lush mellow progressive rock. They power it into an organ-based take on the earlier themes to bring back the spoken vocals. The lyrics on this cut, it should be mentioned (as opposed to many of the other tracks) are in Swedish. Some odd backwards tracked vocals come over the top in a somewhat disquieting manner before they return to the segment that has sung vocals. They make a complete turn making this a Tull like harder edged jam with some killer classic rock guitar work over the top, reminding me a bit of the more rocking parts of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." Then it drops way back a dramatic balladic section that the next set of spoken vocals is placed over. They move it back out to the harder rocking after this to carry forward. While sections of this track are a bit odd, this is a very effective one and one of the highlights of this very solid CD.
Tornet
This brief (less than a minute) piece is best described as a science fiction Gregorian chant. It's a bit weird, but still quite cool.
I'll Arise
An acoustic based guitar ballad approach starts this and on this one the vocals seem to call to mind Bob Dylan. This one doesn't wander far, but instead seems to simply intensify the sound as it carries on.


 
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