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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Side Project

Our Last Album

Review by Gary Hill

I think it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that you've never heard progressive rock quite like this. If I had to put a label on it, I'd call it "funky urban jazz-oriented progressive rock." That's quite a mouthful, but it fits well. Those of you who read MSJ with any sort of regularity will probably have noticed that I really like music that pushes boundaries and combines styles of music that are not normally heard together. Well, this one certainly qualifies. They list their influences as including such diverse artists as Phish, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Curtis Mayfield, Tool, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Primus, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and Dream Theater. While it might be a little hard to hear a few of those, I'll bet you catch most of them, and a whole lot more in this collage of sounds. It should be said that those who have a problem with certain words, might want to give a pause before checking this CD out. Also, those who have a problem with adventurous music should do the same. As to the rest of us, by all means, give it a try. Besides, you have to give some credit to any band that entitles their debut release "Our Last Album." Let's just hope it doesn't wind up being self-fulfilling prophecy. For more info, or to pick up this CD - you can even check out some of the music there - drop by the band's website.

Track by Track Review
Hippos In The Kitchen
Weird keys start this, then hints of acoustic guitar enter. Suddenly the cut begins to take on a funky groove and saxophone adds in bits of flavor. A reggae/hip hop like vocal line takes it, and the band begin building this up into a very effective, even if odd, jam. This takes on more jazz oriented tones later, particular in a tasty saxophone solo groove that expands out into a soaring jam.

The Wooden Lady & Her Shadow Dog
Bass starts this one off, again quite funky, and as the horns enter it takes on a killer jazz groove. The band work through variations on the themes, pulling in more cool textures as they do. As this one carries forward it begins to take on space rock textures, but the jazzy ones like in the early Nik Turner incarnations of Hawkwind. These guys turn in a major prog groove jam here that feels a lot like that old Hawksound. This thing just keeps going, wandering around the groove in new and intriguing patterns and they really scream out.

AFU
A serious old school traditional jazz bop starts this cut off. They shift it into a rather alternative rock mode on the verse, but space rock sounds weave their way overtop along with a serious funk groove that pervades this. This turns around later into a serious fast paced jazz instrumental excursion that cooks. The Hawkwind space sounds also show up again on this one.
Peaking
This one begins with a reversing of the tape that holds the jam that ended the last cut. Then the band launch into a weird ambient space textural piece. This feels rather like early King Crimson in it's free form wanderings. More backwards tracking eventually ends this.

A Lil' Dab'll Do Ya
This is a mellower jazz groove that works quite well. Waves of sound that gently weave over top bring in the prog rock textures. While this one isn't the most potent or dynamic cut on show here, it is a nice change of pace, and they manage to put in a cool, jazzy/bluesy space jam that's quite tasty.
Gnobwhasch (Part 1):
Starting with a laid back groove that is mostly just vocals, these guys turn this into a killer jazz jam. What you don't get on this track, a lot of changes and the like. What you do get, some awesome jazz that seems that is right on a level with some of the greats from the hey days of that genre. They turn it a bit chaotic and dissonant at times here, but they never stop smoking.
Too Funkee Shoes
As you might expect, this one starts off "funkee" with a killer bass texture. The band jumps in and this mid-tempo funky jam is off and running. It's another that also includes moments of Crimsonian weirdness and some Hawk-like space. The bass and percussion each take tasty solos on this one, too. I personally could do without the lyrics on this one, but you don't really catch them unless you are listening intently. This is another strong cut on a CD that's full of them.

Time
The bass again starts this one, but in a more spacey mode and layers of strange keys come on board to augment that effect. Then more instruments threaten to enter. Eventually this shifts to a tasty bass and keys groove that has some definite Eastern intentions. The vocals bring in a more urban funk mode and the band work around that thematic territory.
Talk To Me
This in many ways has the most mainstream rock textures of all. I just think that it has a habit of feeling too raw and the vocal arrangement doesn't sit well with me. Still, the cut does have its moments, it just seems that a lot of the early modes don't gel as well as some of the other material here. The strong aspects come in with a more prog oriented jam that has a great keyboard sound. They turn this into a progressive Radiohead-tinged jam that still manages to pull in some solid funk to the mixture. This movement gets very dramatic as it carries forward and really saves the song by bringing in some of the more expressive and impressive jamming of the entire disc. They move it back to the less effective territory after this excursion, though.

Ryan's Blues
What starts off fairly generic, turns quickly into a great jazz romp that has classic elements of the genre. They also manage to turn in some bluesy/funky guitar work for this one. This one runs the gamut sounding metallic at times, then fusion oriented and all with a prog sensibility. This jam is one of the tastiest cuts on the album.
Gnobwhasch (Part 2):
As can be expected this is a reprise of the earlier track. It appears here as another inspired jazz romp. They also throw in some great Hawkwind like stylings to the mix on this rendition.
Green Regs and Jam
You've got to give these guys some serious points for the title on this one. This smooth groove has a lot of energy and style and makes it a great choice for disc closer. Of course, its marijuana dominated lyrics won't endear it to the "war on drugs" crowd. They throw a cool Zappa like jam into the mix later, and then turn it into a raging prog rock fusion journey. Appropriately, a trip through space closes this cut and the CD.

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