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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Tin Scribble

Children of Saturn

Review by Gary Hill

Tin Scribble's Children of the Saturn is a good CD that takes a bit of getting used to. The main element that causes there to be a steep learning curve are Michael Moore's vocals. While I have read reviews that simply trash Moore's vocal performance, it can be said that his voice takes a little time to latch onto. To me it feels a bit like a Celtic singer's voice - with the little vocal permutations many of them have - and a bit like Midnight Oil's front man Peter Garrett. If you can picture this combination, you come pretty close, and can also see why it takes a little listening to be comfortable with this sound. The entire CD takes some time to grow because their particular blend of progressive rock is a little different than what you are used to hearing. It's definitely worth the time, though as this album is quite good.

While Michael Moore seems to be the central pivotal point on this outfit (he provides vocals, guitar and synth - and wrote every song but one), he is joined by Bryan Atterberry (guitar, Celtic harp and synth), Colleen Cameron (piano, flute, and vocals), Mark "Dino" Jardine (bass and synth bass) and Clinton Sabon (drums and percussion). The music they make is guitar laden, dark sounds that at times pull in elements of such diverse acts as Dream Theater, Hawkwind, The Doors, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, The Talking Heads, Mazzy Star and Rush. The aforementioned Midnight Oil is ever present except on the instrumentals. Of course, this band also has a political bent to their lyrics, much as Garrett and company did. There are those who find this a detriment. Frankly, I think hearing words about important topics people are passionate about beats hearing "oooh baby, baby - I love you" over and over and over.

The final result, this disc isn't something you'll warm up to right away, but give it a little time and it will definitely grab you. While every song isn't a killer, there are enough of them to make this a disc you'll come back to time and time again. For more information, including how to order the CD, check out the band's website at http://www.tinscribble.com.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Introduction
Weird sounds and textures are interspersed with sound bites of George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld making what some might call "mistakes" and others "Freudian slips". This cool piece certainly does a nice job of setting the tone for the album.

Entervallum
Acoustic guitar and other instrumentation puts forth a haunting and very interesting melody in this instrumental. Keys end this and move it into the next track.

Vox Populi Vox Dei
With the keyboards from the last song starting this one a spoken clip extols the virtues of Bush's stand on gay marriage. Then a hard edged and dark melodic segment takes over and brings in the first sung verse of the disc. This feels a lot like a cross between early Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd with more definite prog leanings. It bursts into a killer instrumental break that's one part psychedelic and one part Dream Theater with just a touch of Hawkwind thrown in for good measure.

Vox de Morte
An odd slightly off key acoustic tune serves as the backdrop for a recorded phone conversation. This is quite brief. In the words of Moore, "Vox de Morte is Latin for "Voice of the dead." the phone conversation is between my father and I just after he arrived home from the hospital after having a heart attack. It is an out of tuned harp with me breathing in the background."

Bleak
This is a harder rocking fast paced proggy romp that is another quite cool one with touches of Floyd and Hawkwind mixed with more metallic sounds.
Intervallum
A pretty, but slightly twisted acoustically based sound paints a cool musical backdrop for this one. It stays fairly mellow, but is one of the most interesting tracks on the CD.

Breakable
This is the one where they pull it all together. It comes in with a mellow phased guitar sound, then the band join in a bleak, fairly hard edged jam that seems to blend the sounds of Pink Floyd and Midnight Oil. They move this gradually along in a solid fashion, then burst out into a more energized jam at about the one-minute mark. As they drop back to the mellower verse segment it gains both passion and some intriguing over layers. They carry on again to the chorus. A crescendo moves this into a new segment a dramatic, rather stripped down, but very powerful movement that has some definite emotional elements. It jumps up into a super powered guitar dominated section that feels like Midnight Oil meets a modern, proggier Doors. Then another crescendo pulls the band into a metallic jam with slight Hawkwind overtones. This then takes on the Doors texture, but energized with this new metallic power. This cut is purely awesome.

Listen
They come in on this feeling like Dream Theater does '70's blues rock, then twist it into a cool, swirling quirky arrangement. This is really odd, but oh so intriguing. They move it into a soaring prog rock section. They drop it back for a short excursion, then pull it back up into another short soaring section. Then it moves into a fast paced swirling instrumental segment that really smokes. This is another killer.

Wake
This comes in much mellower as a Celtically tinged ballad type number. As they carry forward, they put in a metallic chorus. As they transition back into the verse Moore puts in a note longer than anything I've heard since Judas Priest's first album. They keep this one going moving through several changes, then eventually turn it into an expansive jam that has touches of flamenco and small textures of "The House of the Rising Sun". They eventually morph it back down to mellower territory and move back to the verse. They turn this into a cool mellow, but still intense prog groove that has a jot of jam band in it. Percussion ends this.
Things Left Over
A pretty, but melancholy piano begins this and they gradually start building on its themes, intensifying it. They then burst in full force from there in a jam that feels a bit like Dream Theater and a bit like Rush. They turn this into another killer rocker as they carry it forward. They twist it out later into a balladic and quite cool jam, but the vocals add a quirky sort of texture here. As it comes out of this it reminds me just a tiny bit of Fish era Marillion - mostly the lyrical content and how the guitar soars in right at the end of the vocal line. They move this one straight into the next one - the vocal carrying through.
Throwing It All Away
As the vocal line from the last track brings this in, a balladic like arrangement rises to meet it. They begin throwing layers of sound on (both instrumental and vocal) turning this into a powerful and incredibly dense piece of music that calls to mind both Blackfield and Mazzy Star. This is a fairly short one, but so satisfying.
Saturn's Sun
Weird ambient tones create the intro and the backdrop for the vocals as this enters. It grows very gradually with weird keys continuing to create an odd Hawkwind like tone poem sort of texture. The vocals put in another longer than imaginable line, then move into a spoken poetry reading adding even more to the Hawkwindish texture.

Separate Silence
A female voice says "I don't like the silence", then the band help her out by launching into a heavy jam that is part Djam Karet and part Rush. As the vocals enter both the Celtic and Midnight Oil like elements join. This one becomes another smoker on an album with a lot of them. It's a very dramatic and powerful hard-edged prog journey. They turn this into a cool percussion dominated scream guitar break, then resolve gradually back into the main theme. Then it turns to Sabbath like plodding segment with cool, barely processed vocals adding another layer. This one really kicks!

Schwa
Neo classical sounds start this. They move it into a playful and tentative mellow arrangement. They play around this for quite some time until acoustic guitar ends it.

For A While
This one is a faster quirky cut that feels a bit like The Talking Heads meet Dream Theater. They move though to a new segment than takes it into mellower territory and then a slow building process. Eventually it burst back out for a while, then moves back to the verse section. While good, this one is a bit of a let down from the rest of the disc and lingers a bit too long.
 
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