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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dream Aria

Transcend

Review by G. W. Hill

When I reviewed this group’s last disc I was impressed. It was a strong album. The thing is, this new one blows that one completely out of the water. It’s just a much more mature creation. The music here is powerful and very definitely modern yet rooted in classic progressive rock. I highly recommend this CD both to fans of classic prog and modern prog. You will enjoy it.

Track by Track Review
The Rhythm of Now
A hard rocking motif that sort of feels like Pink Floyd meets Jane’s Addiction leads off the disc. This is catchy but also quite cool in musical elements and vocal performance. There is a great prog jam mid track that reminds me a bit of Yes. There is a great triumphant texture to much of this song. They drop it back later to a cool jam. They come back out into the song proper and turn this into quite the tour-de-force. We also get a great keyboard solo segment in the track.
Labyrinth
Another fast paced number, somehow this feels like Hawkwind meets Yes to me. There’s a killer hard edged guitar solo that gives way to a drop to atmospheric textures. This works through with soundbites over it and the Hawkwind references are all the more intent. They bring it back up gradually with dramatic neo-classical sounds and then launch out into a killer neo-classical guitar solo. This is short, though, and gives way to the return of the faster segment.
Transcend
Fairly symphonic ambience leads this off. Again I’m reminded of modern Yes. They launch out into an intriguing jam from there that combines world music rhythmic structures with Pink Floyd type sounds. The vocals bring in more world textures, fairly Eastern. Then this is shifted to almost new age meets prog rock for the first lyrical vocals. As they work this out those sound elements are combined with more of that modern Yes sound for a time. The track alternates between being more world music styled and more prog rock in texture as it carries onward. There’s an incredibly cool section later with dramatic yet mellow music that is combined with whispered vocals. They shift it out from there to more hard rocking prog rock. There is some great keyboard soloing later and a very tasty guitar solo, too.
Serpent Nile
This comes in feeling rather new age but is quickly shifted towards more traditional progressive rock. It’s incredibly interesting and dramatic. I suppose the most obvious reference here is Renaissance. I love the climbing vocal line. That and the lyrical structure really call to mind Jon Anderson’s work. Musically this has a definite classical bent to it. We get a crunchy jam mid-song that is heavily infused with Eastern musical elements. The remainder of the cut works through variations on these themes, shifting between and combining the two main (seemingly contradictory) musical concepts of world sounds and progressive rock.
Pandora's Prelude
As the title would suggest this is essentially an instrumental introduction to the next number. It seems to combine wind chimes (OK, they probably are regular chimes, but they sound like the wind variety) with other ambient instrumentation for a dramatic and pretty effect.
Pandora's Box
This is crunchy and a serious powerhouse. It’s more pure rock than some of the other music and a bit more like the group’s earlier material. It’s high energy and potent and includes a tasty guitar solo. There is also a nice drop back to balladic themes. I love the section where a whispered voice says, “just a box” and then the guitar screams out. The vocal pattern that follows this is quite a nice touch, too.
Rebecca
Mellower and more electronic (keyboards dominate) in nature this seems like a merging of Renaissance with Jon and Vangelis.
Tigress
This starts with more of the mellow and dramatic musical tones. It shifts quickly into a hard rocking jam that’s definitely got a world music bent to it. It’s a dynamic track that at times calls to mind neo-classical epic metal. Still, if you don’t like where this one’s at, just wait – it’ll change soon.

The Secret
The opening motif on this combines Renaissance and Yes. They power through a bunch of changes in the course of the track, though, moving here and there in terms of stylistic environs. A lot of the bass work on this reminds me of Chris Squire.
Compassion
This is a much more consistent track, feeling ethereal and atmospheric. Still, even within this motif the group manage to power out the rhythm section, driving it in some interesting directions. The vocals are wonderful on this – soaring and angelic. A guitar segment rises towards the end. While it only exists briefly it calls to mind modern Yes music.
Flower Duet (written by Leo Delibes)
They close the disc with another powerhouse. This is all over the board. We get Yes-like segments, some sounds that make me think of Genesis and just a stellar performance by all involved. This is really a tour-de-force and I can’t think of a better way to close this off. You might even pick up on a bit of Uriah Heep here.
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