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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ostinato

Chasing the Form

Review by Gary Hill

If you enjoy unique music, you'll like this. I'm not totally sure that it fits into the progressive rock genre, but I really don't know how else to classify this. These guys have created a sound that is totally their own. Don't get me wrong, there are elements of other groups to be heard here, but the overall sound is something I've never experienced before. I hear some Djam Karet and King Crimson along with healthy doses of Pink Floyd and Radiohead, but that truly only goes so far in describing this. The main element that catches one off guard is the sound of the instruments. There is a texture here that makes it difficult to differentiate between guitar and keyboard sounds. The end result is a wall of sound that feels so unique it's hypnotic and ethereal in a way. I don't think this will be one of my favorite discs of all time, or even the year, but I can be sure it's one I'll listen to in the future. These guys are cool.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Goal of All Believer
Keyboards with an echoey, filtered effect start this. They build on this basis ever so slowly and gradually. This one has an odd sort of texture. As the vocals come gently over the top (and more waves of strange sounds with them) it feels a lot like Meddle era Pink Floyd to me. A couple minutes in a noisy, guitar sound enters, then they punch out into a frantic hard edged jam that feels like more metallic Radiohead. They work through this for a while, then resolve it out into a more full arrangement of the verse segment, with guitar added to it, for the next set of vocals. They turn it out into the heavier Radiohead type of sound for an exceptionally dramatic jam later. Then it drops to a heavier, plodding sort of Pink Floyd (The Wall era) type of segment. An unusual (keyboards?) solo comes over the top of this. This sounds more like an oddly processed guitar later, but I just can't be sure if it was always guitar or not. This segment serves to eventually end the cut, with some spacey keyboards coming in right at the end. 
Monkey Gestures
A spoken word section (from a Zen Buddhist teaching session) starts this off. Then the band launch into another hard edged jam. This feels a bit gothic with a techno edge in a way to it. A false ending gives way to a reprise of the same musical themes. This instrumental is a bit too static for my tastes, but seems to combine techno, grunge and goth with Dream Theater like sounds for something that's fairly unique.
Antiaircraft
This one comes in with a rather mellow mode that feels a bit like modern King Crimson with perhaps a bit of Djam Karet thrown in. The vocals are distant, whispered type lines across the top of this. This is dark and dreamy. They turn it into a Chris Isaaks meets Pink Floyd sort of thing later. This pumps up to a dangerous (but not metallic) sounding version of its earlier mode later for the next set of vocals, then move out into an expansive, soaring sort of early Pink Floyd like excursion to carry on. There are definitely Radiohead type tones on this, too, especially on the noisy guitar solo. Lots of spoken sound bites are included in the midst of this track. There is a very powerful Pink Floyd like jam later that also shows off elements of Djam Karet and others. A guitar solo later seems like an echoey surf music type approach. The cut drops towards weird balladic like structures after this extended jamming. More sound bites are the only vocals here, though. This segment, and actually the sound bites, end the track.
Art of Vanishing
This has a bit of a fusion groove with more of those Pink Floyd like elements draped over the top. They power it out later to a Radiohead take on Pink Floyd textures in a smoking instrumental break. Then the Radiohead tones take over in a harder rocking jam. This eventually transforms into something that blends its previous sounds with those of mid-era Rush. They turn it almost towards the Cramps and sounds like that, but with an extreme spacey sense of weirdness later. This instrumental is a diverse and dynamic one. It (like the rest of the music here) is definitely not for everyone, but it is quite cool.
Latitude
Percussion leads this one off, then the bass drops in and soon the group are off on another excursion in their chosen type of music. The vocals on this one are very spacey and strange. They have a faded in, echoey distant approach. This one grows slowly, but steadily taking on more layers of lush sound. The Pink Floyd like sounds are definitely found on this one, too. About six minutes in (at nearly eleven minutes this is the longest track on the CD) a false ending gives way to ambient sounds. Percussion comes up in this and then the chiming echoed guitar rejoins bringing the familiar themes tentatively with it. They eventually create a full return to the sounds from there. This isn't extremely dynamic, but it is effective. It ends with sci-fi sounding feedback type noises.
Between the Years
This one has a noisy sort of spacey approach to it, but is woven into a ballad type texture. It is a gentle cut that is pretty and almost hypnotic. A pleasant acoustic guitar segment ends it.
Volant
With more of the trademark sound we've come to know on this album, this is a bit more a rock song, not heavy by any means, but rocking out a bit. The Pink Floyd and Djam Karet textures are both here. This one is a solid cut, it's just that by this point - of course, we're basically done - it's getting a bit old.
Unlisted Track
This cut isn't listed on the CD sleeve, but it exists on the disc, nonetheless. I just can't tell you its title. This is a pretty and gentle balladic piece of music. This one is actually quite possibly my favorite track on here and is the most "traditional" in texture. Still overlayers add a sense of weirdness to it, and if I'm not mistaken that's theremin I'm hearing. It starts to turn further towards the weird spacey tones at the end. Those sounds end this piece, but then there is a long section of silence followed by what sounds like another sound bite from the same teaching session that started off the second piece.
 
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