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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dave Corp

The Sweet Life

Review by Gary Hill

This CD is a cool one. It combines jazz and prog rock stylings into a blend that’s not entirely new, but yet not really like anything else out there. You’ll hear echoes of a lot of groups, but nothing sticks well to the target of influences. I have to say that it occasionally wanders a bit too far into the random jamming of RIO for my tastes, but overall is a strong disc that should please fans of instrumental fusion and progressive rock.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Moron Pills
This starts gentle and rather pretty but changes to a heavy jam from there. They work through some alterations taking this one basic riff through varying styles of music. We get funk, jazz, pure prog, industrial, metallic – pretty much everything you can think of it. It’s quite an effective musical journey if rather unique and jarring. In an intriguing twist they move out to a smooth jazz groove late in the track. As they make their way through this we get some killer keyboard soloing with a tasty retro flavor.

Homeschool
They have a completely different approach here. This is still heavy and jazzy, but the sound is much more consistent and perhaps close to Liquid Tension Experiment or Dream Theater. The keyboards drive this, but the percussion is also in a standout spot. About half way through the piece they shift it into a funky sort of jam, with the bass taking a bigger role. The keys still serve as the main icing on this cake, though. Eventually they seem to merge these two personalities into one tasty, albeit noisy, entity.

Disorder
Noisy, spacey, echoey sounds start things off here. After a time it begins to resemble Pink Floyd a bit. Then they launch into a rocking sort of jam that is seemingly a conglomeration of Floyd and Alan Parsons. We get some more pure space as they carry onward. A frantic hard edged jam takes it, but only holds it for a short time. Then they drop it to more pure jazz tones, but the space sounds return to this mix after a while. From there they pound out into a powerhouse jam that reminds me a bit of the more intriguing portions of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein.” The drums take over later with keys spinning webs of sound over the top of that. They turn this out towards more traditional fusion for a while before bringing us back to the hard rocking music ala “Frankenstein.” At times this section also calls to mind vintage Uriah Heep. Some instruments soar over this later and then it spins out towards space power. This gets rather chaotic and noisy but is still very tasty.

The Sweet Life
This starts off in a sort of jazz meets rock approach and then drops down to a more pure jazz groove. It has a cool retro sound to it. The keys seriously rule on this and they keep it pretty true to the jazz heritage. This really gets quite intense after a while. A heavier jam takes it for a time, but then eventually gives way to a return to the smooth groove.
Bad Lieutenant
Some elements that sound like studio noises and conversation start this. They fire out into a furious and rather crazed jam from there. This seriously moves out into freeform chaos and would qualify as RIO. It is really all over the place and tends not to stay anywhere long. Still it does hit on some cool movements here and there. The extended closing section is definitely one of those. It’s a hard rocking journey that moves out to noisy space to finally close these festivities.

The Grind
This is a more melodic and mellower groove that still has plenty of weirdness in its mix. It turns towards noisy rock later and then shifts out to another mellower section.

 
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