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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Theo Travis

Double Talk

Review by Gary Hill

A modern legend in both progressive rock and jazz circles, Theo Travis and crew have crafted a killer album that showcases both sounds. You’ll certainly find plenty to like in this instrumental release. There’s not a weak song in the bunch here and you’ll probably make out hints of groups like King Crimson and Pink Floyd along with more traditional jazz. King Crimson’s Robert Fripp even guests on three songs here. This is an excellent release and highly recommended to all fans of jazzy instrumental prog.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ascending
The organ based arrangement that starts this has a very definite psychedelic prog kind of vibe. As the horn joins the cut gets into more jazz-like territory. As it continues to evolve we get into some great jazz rock zones, feeling a bit like Traffic in some ways. The horn work on this has some really amazing peaks. Yet the rest of the crew avoid being overshadowed, too. I love the cool fusion oriented slow moving guitar solo on this. It gets into some seriously soaring territory further down the road. It works out to mellower jazz rock as it draws to a close. This weighs in at close to ten minutes in length.
Oblivionville

If the last track was substantial, this is just plain massive. Weighing in at over sixteen minutes in length, this is the longest number on show here. It begins delicate and intricate and builds on this sort of sound in an atmospheric, textural way. As they shift out for the first saxophone solo this takes on a retro jazz element and has a feel not unlike the sounds you’d hear coming from some basement jazz club. We get a killer guitar solo later that’s slow and a bit bluesy. My guess would be that this is not Robert Fripp soloing – as it doesn’t sound like him – but he is playing on this track, so who knows? Around the nine minute mark or so, this shifts to atmospheric soundscapes and this certainly is graced by Fripp’s presence. As this rocks a bit harder a little later it is very reminiscent of the jazzy side of early King Crimson. We get some more traditional jazz to close this out.

The Relegation Of Pluto

The intro on this rocks harder than anything we’ve heard to this point. It has a killer riff and reminds me a lot of early King Crimson. They drop it back to some seriously retro keyboard sounds. And then threaten to power back out. Rather than do that, though, they bring us through some rather RIO sounding atmosphere and then take it into some territory that’s not that far removed from the music of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. This gives way to a more full (but rather chaotic and dissonant) jazz treatment. The RIO and ELP like elements seem to be merged with this. Just as it feels like it might erupt into some serious fury they drop it back to a truly mellow jazz treatment. This carries it for a while and then the early Crimson sounds return.

The Endless Search

Far more atmospheric, this one also includes Robert Fripp – and I’d say his performance is easier to spot here. There is a lot of beauty to this, but it also feels a bit melancholy. It never really rises far above the level of atmosphere, yet it’s very powerful.

Pallendream

In many ways this doesn’t seem to differ a lot from the previous number. It does move closer to rock at points, though. This is another that is graced by the presence of Robert Fripp. There’s a cool little bit of ambient Crimsonian dissonance that ends it.

See Emily Play

Here they cover Pink Floyd. It’s a rocking little number with some inspired instrumental work. This is lighter in many ways than the rest of the disc and certainly more easily accessible than a lot of the other stuff.

And So It Seemed

There’s a very healthy dosage of rock mixed with lots of jazz on this number. It’s another that definitely makes me think of early King Crimson. I hear some Beatles at points on here and the hard rocking guitar solo is quite tasty and strong. This guitar solo even turns a bit metallic at times. When the sax comes back in at around the seven minute mark (this one is almost eleven minutes in length) it really reminds me of Red era King Crimson. We get a killer retro organ solo later.  

Portobello 67
The melodic guitar element that starts this makes me think at points of Yes and other times of Pink Floyd. When the sax joins, though, this becomes a more pure jazz piece. We get some more retro keyboard sounds later and some scorching jazz as they carry on.
 
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