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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Deep 6 Holiday

Awake at the Funeral

Review by Gary Hill

This group has a unique sound. At times they seem close to groups like Dream Theater. At other times I hear Yes in their mix. Then they bring in fusion. We also get pure jazz. Later in the album it veers towards nearly pure classical sounds. “Adventurous” would be a good description. So would “diverse.”

The vocals are another oddity. There is a soaring quality to the female singing. However, much like the sounds of Kate Bush and Tori Amos there’s a quirky uniqueness. As it does with their voices, it creates a learning curve here. At first you might be put off by the vocals in places, but after a while it seems like there’s no other type of singing that would fit this music.

However you describe it or dissect it, one thing is certain. The unique creation that Deep 6 Holiday has given us is a winner. It’s probably not for everyone, but those of us who like our music adventurous will be all over this.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Water
A swirling pattern is imposed over a prominent percussion track. Vocals enter and carry the first few lines over this backdrop. Then the group join and this feels a bit like a jazz oriented progressive rock meeting Dream Theater. As they move out from there we get some sounds that are closer to something Yes might do. The track moves through explorations of these motifs as it carries on. There is some crunch here, but I doubt anyone would call this metal. There is a fusion sort of texture on the instrumental movement. I call it “instrumental,” but there are some non-lyrical vocals in the midst.

Strong
This is more straightforward than the piece that preceded it. There is a good deal of crunch on this, too, but again I can’t imagine anyone lumping this into the “heavy metal” column. That said, it comes closer than the opener did. This moves through a number of changes and alterations and is quite powerful. I especially like the killer segment later that combines a dramatic musical arrangement with seemingly endless layers of vocals. The guitar solo that comes after this section is quite tasty, too. A noisy crescendo later gives way to a feedback laden segue and then a smoking instrumental section that again might make you think a bit of Dream Theater.
Falling For You
In stark contrast to the fury that ended the last piece, this enters as a slow moving jazz ballad. They build up on it with this general musical vision holding it for a time. It shifts more towards the progressive rock end of things after a time, but still remains quite sedate. Although there are some variations here and there, this doesn’t move far from its roots.
It's Not Me
A dramatic, tension building section starts this in a modern progressive rock fashion. Vocals come in over the top and we’re off. The soaring chorus on this is quite cool. As is the bridge with its quirky texture. A later jam brings in more of those jazz stylings in a tasty progressive rock excursion. We get a fusion-like guitar solo after that. This is worked up into quite the powerhouse before it ends.

Seafaring
Pretty, but also dark and dissonant, ballad-like sounds start this off and it builds gradually on that. The vocals come in over the top. The quirky nature is done away with later as the track becomes more melodic. Then it is worked out into an extremely powerful version of itself. Eventually the odder motif returns, though. When it works back out to the more melodic it’s even more powerful.
Anastasia
This has a very symphonic texture and uses symphonic instrumentation. It’s pretty and emotionally potent, but also sedate and very classical in nature. There are changes and alterations on this theme, but it’s another that doesn’t wander far. There is a powerful resolution section later that’s based primarily on piano, non-lyrical vocals and violin. This segment takes the track to its conclusion.

Breathe
“Breathe” alternates between a moody, rather odd, balladic segment that’s quite sedate and a more powered up movement that still retains a lot of those elements. This is another that doesn’t stray very far, but is in some killer territory to begin.
Empty Casket
The title might make you expect something creepy. It starts off in that sort of motif, but shifts to something more melodic and pretty. It’s piano dominated and ballad-like. There are several movements out to purely classical territory here and there. A resolution segment later has some incredibly potent piano work. A short piano solo section ends this track.
Cyber Home
I’m a sucker for harpsichord and that’s the sound that starts this off and holds the opening melodic structure. Vocals come in over the top of this. This doesn’t move from this format. Instead it plays out like a more classically oriented version of Tori Amos.
Will You Remind Me
This reminds me of the “old world ditties” Queen used to do. There’s more of a serious nature to it than that and it takes on more powerfully emotional structures as it carries on, but that sort of sound isn’t far from this. A clarinet solo later adds to this allusion. There is another segment later that includes classical instrumentation augmenting the arrangement and this is very cool.
Greta
Starting classically, like soundtrack music, vocals soar over top like a wailing banshee and the symphonic instrumentation moves the track forward. This just gets weirder and weirder as the soundtrack elements begin to feel like something from a horror film and the vocals continue their soaring non-lyrical path. This doesn’t wander at all, remaining a weird sort of number. It’s intriguing enough, but I’m not sure it’s the final message I would have left the listener holding.
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