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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Tiles

Presents of Mind

Review by Gary Hill

With long time Rush producer Terry Brown manning the boards on this one, and a cover designed by Hugh Syme (also well known for his association with that band), the comparisons to that Canadian trio are to be expected. Truly, this group does have some common ground as far as sound with the band. Most notably, the drummer for this band seems to be heavily influenced by Rush's stick pounder. One can also draw links between the sound of Tiles to the sound of Dream Theater. Indeed, since DT was heavily Rush influenced in the beginning, this again brings us back to Geddy Lee and cohorts. Still, there is much more going on here than just a Rush copycat group. The influences on this album range from Yes to King Crimson and many other bands. The musicians seem to have a special talent for creating incredibly potent instrumental breaks within their songs, and they do have a sound that is unique.

The band, Pat DeLeon, Chris Heron, Paul Rarick and Jeff Whittle, are joined on this disc by several guests. This is really a fine CD; however, I question the inclusion of the two bonus tracks. The production, song writing and performances on them seem a bit amateurish. The effect of including them here almost seems to "cheapen" the disc. However, if you take those tracks away, there is not a weak cut on the album. Besides, there really aren't very many perfect CD's out there, are there?.

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

Track by Track Review
Static
Opening with a great, crunchy bluesy riff in the vein of early Rush, this tune becomes a strong metallic prog number with a great groove. The chorus is very melodic and powerful. The bass work and vocals on this one really stand out. The instrumental break/outro definitely comes across as a metallic take on Yesish modes.
Modifications
Starting with a very intriguing and unusual sound effects type of section, this song comes off as very early era Rush in texture, particularly in the instrumental break. It leads into a great, almost Spanish sounding guitar solo.

Crossing Swords
This instrumental is a nicely quirky, acoustically driven jam that serves as an intro to "Facing Failure".

Facing Failure
This is awesome prog in a very DTish mode. It really has a texture reminiscent of older prog bands as well. This is a killer cut. The first instrumental break includes the main rhythmic theme from "Crossing Swords". The second break really smokes, and, although still very DT oriented, touches on the sounds of such bands as Rush and Yes. Coming out of this section, it drops to a great mellow segment and builds powerfully from there. Then a brief, fast metallic segment jumps us back to the earlier fast paced modes. This cut is really all over the place musically. The outro is very much in a metallic Crimson mode.

The Learning Curve
Balladic tones begin this piece and form the basis for the song. It sort of feels like Dream Theater doing a cover of a Yes ballad. The cut then shifts gear to an awesome hard-edged prog mode that really jams. Building on those two modes, this is a very powerful piece
Ballad of Sacred Cows
Beginning in a sound effects sort of mode, guitar riffing takes the piece, emerging in a hard edged, fast paced progression. This one is quirky and furious. It then shifts to the dramatically melodic with a nice acoustic based sound. The number begins building back up from there in strong prog/fusion modes. Still not done with the changes, it drops to a great neo-classical acoustic mode for a moment before exploding into metallic fury with a very Levinish (BLUE type) driving bass line and some fusion oriented guitar work.
The Sandtrap Jig
Brief and bouncy, this acoustic guitar solo is a bit Howeish.

Taking
Hard and furious metal with prog leanings makes the first verse of this one. More melodic progish modes take over, then merge with the metallic format for another drastically strong metallic prog cut. This is another one that is a bit on the Dream Theater influenced end of the spectrum. It drops to a great slower acoustic guitar dominated segment, and this mode goes into quite creative and adventurous prog stylings.
Safe Procedures
With a militaristic drum intro, this cut is more quirky metallic prog. The drumming on this one is perhaps the most Peartish of the whole disc. It is a great metal based unusual fast paced prog jam that touches on DT, Yes, Rush, Satriani and others for influence. As it goes into the instrumental break, if is in the form of a very exploratory percussion based segment that has atmospheric guitar textures and some stunning rhythmic patterns. It builds in a fusion-oriented tone from there, moving to near chaos after a time. The styling of this seems to combing early Rush with King Crimson. It moves back to its main musical theme to end.

Reasonable Doubt
Acoustic guitar modes begin this one and the cut begins building from there. It moves in some dramatic prog directions after a time and gets almost Dave Matthews oriented for a little while. As the song is reborn, coming out of this mode, it is in very powerful textures. The overall reaction to this one? WOW! The cut ends with mellow sound effects.

Patterns (Live) (Bonus Track)
This cut feels a bit rough around the edges, but it is a good prog rocker with strong metallic themes.

Token Pledge (Live) (Bonus Track)
Crunchy and quirky, again the production takes away from this cut but it is strong and Rushish. It drops to a great dramatic melodic prog section and comes back in with more fast paced prog modes.

 
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