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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

ScienceNV

Really Loud Noises

Review by Gary Hill

A lot of times instrumental CD’s can be boring. That’s not the case with this one. It’s because these guys change up their sound enough from track to track (and sometimes within one composition) to keep it interesting. If you had to through a blanket description over this group it would be fusion oriented instrumental prog, but they run the gamut from nearly metallic sounds to pure jazz and classical. If you like adventurous instrumental music this will be your thing. Another cool thing is the way they are distributing the disc. You can buy a hard copy from their Lulu store. If you prefer downloading they’ve taken a play from Radiohead and set up the disc that way that band did their latest release. You can download it for free at their website and then make a donation to pay what you feel it’s worth to you and you can afford. My take on that is this. If you download the songs and find you don’t like them (that’s doubtful if you are an MSJ reader), then don’t give them anything. However if you keep the music and listen to it regularly, then pay them the amount you’d pay for any other CD. Really, it would be great if all music was that way – listen for free, and buy what you like. In any event, check them out at sciencenv.com.

Track by Track Review
Devil in Witches' Hands
They lead this off with a cool riff that’s part classic prog, part fusion and part neo-classical epic metal. This has a bit of a Latin flair brought to the table as it becomes the main crux of the track. They pull us through a series of changes and alterations in a killer jam. That Latin element is more pronounced when they move out into the next section. They continue reworking and redefining this. At times it feels like UK at others I’m reminded of Al DiMeola. They never fail to thrill and chill, though. This is a real powerhouse. The cut gets reworked later into a Eastern tinged jam that’s a bit more firmly rooted in classic prog, perhaps along the lines of ELP. It still gets a fusion treatment in the midst of this, though. After working through a number of changes and rethinkings they bring it back to the Latin references to end.

Bolero
Where is Bo Derek when you need her? Yes, they tackle this old chestnut. At first they play it fairly faithful, but gradually it shifts out more towards an ELP type of arrangement on the number. This gets pretty intense at times and turns towards Yes like territory at points late in its course. There are some killer keyboard sounds on this track.

Rim Forest
They bring this in with a much more rock and roll oriented texture. As it carries on I’m reminded at times of the Ventures and at other points of Rush, but overall it’s a smoking guitar dominated fusion jam that’s quite cool. There are some Zappa-like breaks on this, too. They also spin out into a couple little bits that remind me of Pentwater – one of them serving as the lead up to the outro.

Mountain Pass Blues
A mellower fusion motif starts things off here. When brushed percussion joins this starts to have a bit of a swing. Horns bring in more pure jazz and we’re off on a great little musical journey from there. An extended hard rocking (at times bluesy) guitar solo reminds us that this is not a pure jazz album. Keys bring in more of that fusion element on their solo outing.

Chacooonne
Gentle and slow moving, this is based on acoustic guitar and keyboards. They keep this motif but add to it as they carry on. It seems to shift a bit towards more dark and almost evil sounding textures. Just before the two and a half minute mark they change things up by bringing in a new musical intensity and theme. This is still a variant on the main theme, but much more symphonic and intense. Again ELP comes to mind. After a while like this they rework the original theme into a harder rocking version of itself with some crunchy guitar. Keys and other elements dance over the top of this. It has an almost Beatles-like feeling to it. This crescendos and we’re dropped into different piano driven territory. At first this is just pretty, but then other sounds and emotions are lain upon it and it begins to feel dark and evil. The harder rocking jam returns, almost metallic this time. As this moves forward classical string sounds come in over the top and bring a whole new element to play. This segment climaxes and we’re left with gentle sounds a bit like a music box that serve as the final outro.

Number Five
This comes in much mellower and we’re quickly out into a pure old school jazz jam. It progresses naturally from there but the killer bluesy guitar solo brings more of a fusion element to the plate. A killer piano solo brings us back out into the more pure jazz later. We also get a great walking bass solo on this.
After Math
Ambient tones lead us out here and after a time it moves to something that’s very slow in pace and rather experimental in nature. I can see it being considered fusion, but it also has something in common with old school Pink Floyd. The bass dominates much of the early sections of this. Eventually guitar rises and brings in sort of Djam Karet feeling to this. It’s still very slow moving and there is a section that I would have to call “the hammer on that never ends.” Mind you, it’s unique and cool, but wow! We also get some Asian elements on this track, both in the early sections and the outro.
Jalapeno Swamp Gas
In one of the few missteps on the disc, the keyboard sound that leads this off is just plain cheesy. It remains throughout the track, but takes a lesser role as other instruments join. In this support fashion it’s not a problem. The guitar work on this is truly what steels the show, although there is some cool keyboard soloing (different voices) later. The guitar at times calls to mind pure fusion and at other points makes me think of surf music.

Hard Break
This one also starts out with a bit of a hokey sound. The thing is, that doesn’t remain long at all and they work this out into a killer prog rock jam that a bit of a space rock feel to it. The keyboards that soar over this are brilliant and wondrous. Unfortunately this is one of the shortest cuts on show here. That’s too bad because it’s also one of my favorites.

Violet Sky/Karnival
Keyboards bring this up very tentatively with pretty ambient tones that call to mind Tomita. Growing very slowly this motif holds it for more than two minutes. A noisy guitar doing more of those hammer ons from hell joins but still it shows no sign of just powering out. Instead they continue to gradually adapt and grow. Eventually they shift into the other section of the track with a percussion (both traditional and tuned) based segment. It’s quite spacey and cool.

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