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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

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The Tide Decides

Review by Gary Hill

Fans of Enigma and Alan Parsons Project should really enjoy this disc. While it’s far from a carbon copy of the type of music those groups do, it’s also a great album that has similar leanings. I like it a lot, although it does tend to drag a bit towards the end out of too much too similar music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
From Snow To Sea
This starts mellow and quite pretty and feels a lot like Enigma. As it grows upward I can make out some Alan Parsons in the mix, too. They bring some crunch in further down the road, but the melody that wanders over this is very much in keeping with old school Parsons. It’s a great piece of music with a lot of depth and variety. It’s also a great way to start things off in style. When they power it up later in the track it’s like an intensification of the same concepts we’ve heard thus far. This is evocative and powerful and yet gentle and beautiful, too.
We Surfaced
Dr. Stephen Hawking starts this off. As the track grows and matures it remains quite gentle and yet it’s also lush. The Enigma comparisons are certainly appropriate here. As the cut picks up some energy later there are classical strings added to the arrangement. There is a harder rocking segment, but then it drops way back down for more of Dr. Hawking to bring it to a close.
Trans-Atlantic
At almost eleven minutes in length, this epic is the second longest cut on show here. It starts tentatively with atmospheric sounds building in an almost menacing way. As it shifts to more “song” oriented motifs the Alan Parsons leanings are back. They add in some more techno oriented rhythmic structures, though. This builds up from there. They take us through a series of changes and at times I can hear Lands End in this mix. Nothing changes very quickly here, but it changes nonetheless. I particularly like the intricate and sedate section that is inserted in the middle of the track. When the vocals rejoin it’s in a very mellow motif that has some soulful bits, but is also rather like Porcupine Tree or modern Marillion. They bring it back into rocking territory, but modulate it back downward to end.
State Of Expectation
Based on mellow soundscapes with some Asian and classical motifs, this sedate piece really feels like a continuation of the last one. It moves through a number of sections, but every alteration seems organic and natural. 
The Tide Decides
While there’s a sedate section to this, the cut rocks out a bit more than some of the rest. It’s more like Enigma with some crunch added to the mix. 
Fantastic Elevation
The alternation between heavy and soft is perhaps no more apparent than on this track. It has some of the hardest rocking music on the disc, and yet there are also very mellow sections, too. I’m not as crazy about this one as some of the other music, though. It’s good, but just doesn’t stand up to the rest of the stuff. 
Descending From The Dream
More like a traditional rock ballad, this is actually very much like a prog metal song, without the metal. There’s no crunch here, but the song structure feels like that in a lot of places. In fact, there are actually a lot of classical elements here and this is one of the mellowest compositions to be found here. 
Shooting Scenes
This cut is another that’s more along the lines of Enigma. They again through several variations and alterations into the mix. It’s pretty and poignant and has more classical elements that some of the other stuff here. 
Out on The Edge Of The Earth
Here’s another solid tune, but the group’s sound is starting to get a bit monolithic by this point. This just doesn’t seem to have much of its own identity. The closing section, though – with its intriguing mellow stylings – is nice.
...And Sea To Sky (Bon Voyage)
They close things with the longest track on the set. At over eleven and a half minutes this certainly weighs in as an epic. They bring it in with some pretty music that’s much like the Enigma styled stuff, but definitely potent. After working this up for a time they power out into some more crunchy music. Rather than continue like that, taking it ever higher, though, they run through for a while and then drop it way back down and carry on in sedate territory for a while. Then it goes back to an earlier mellow theme and they take us back down this familiar path, but they keep reinventing this and it really is an epic journey. I think this really redeems the disc and ends it on exceptionally high note.
 
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