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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Random Touch

A Way From The Heard

Review by Gary Hill

RIO is an odd thing as far as I’m concerned. It has a lot followers, make no mistake about that. It can be jarring and quite hard to listen to for most of us, though. A lot of the music here – as much of Random Touch’s music – fits into that category. This is a fine example of the genre, but it stretches beyond, too – into space rock and other areas. I won’t say that I’m blown away by everything here, but a lot of it is really quite cool. It’s sure to please fans of RIO, but it also has something for the rest of us, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Morphing Jupiter
This jumps right in with pounding, driving jazzy weirdness. Noisy and crazed, this is freeform Rock In Opposition styled insanity. Although this is bizarre and cacophonous, it's also short, weighing in at just over two minutes in length.
Skating on the Rings
If the last number was a bit unsettling, this is downright weird. Vocals are included and they sound like a person who is disturbed – I don’t really make out lyrics, though. The music is free form, but a bit less chaotic than that of the track that opened the set. They take this beast through a number of changes and variations, but the vocals are only in the first section. It’s pretty strange, but yet compelling stuff.
All That Happened Was
A poetry reading type of element is accompanied by sparse instrumentation in a rather beat poetry kind of texture. A little after the one minute mark the spoken word goes away and guitar joins. From here it feels a bit like Jimi Hendrix does RIO. It eventually moves away from the guitar oriented and more in to pretty typical RIO territory – if there is such a thing. 
Hint of Dawn
Starting a bit more tentatively, this is very atmospheric. We get more vocals. They are very far down in the mix and again sound troubled. They aren’t really singing, but more speaking – although there is a bit of songy lilt to them. Then some more weirdness takes over. There seems to be a good deal of backwards tracked stuff on this. The cut is mostly textural, though. At one point near the end they seem about to launch into a full back porch blues jam, complete with harmonica.
Footprints of Mars
As this rises up it feels like they might be ready to give us some reggae. Instead it becomes a sparsely arranged space rock that definitely calls to mind early Hawkwind. While the Hawkwind vibe stays throughout, this is a very open and freeform journey and has some jazz within, too.
Hanging Out Windows
Echoey sounds open this and carry on as a rather melodic (but still fairly random feeling) musical element works behind it. They turn it more towards pure weirdness as they carry on.  There is a section here that has what feels almost like a talk box (I actually think it’s processed vocals with some digital hijinx on the recording) that is very odd, but incredibly cool. In fact, with all its weird beeps and blurps and other seemingly random bits of sound, I’d say this might be my favorite cut here. Somehow all the insanity just works. Or maybe by this point the listener is getting fully acclimated.
Inhabit the Groove
More sparse Hawkwind-like music leads us out here. This stays fairly open and is definitely freeform. Once more there are plenty of piece of sonic oddity here. Once more this is one of the more successful numbers on show.
A Fairy Tooth Cake
The vocals on this one are sung – sort of. Otherwise I could call it a poetry reading. Odd ambient elements move along the background as a trouble voice sings the song. It’s arguably the most “song oriented” cut here. It’s also one of the most intriguing. It might be rather sonically challenging, but it’s also very cool.
Seeing Through
There’s a more rock band arrangement on this. It’s still quite freeform and RIO in terms of delivery, but there’s also a jam band vibe at times.
Coming Up
We get an almost symphonic sound on this one. It has a definite horror movie soundtrack texture to it and is one of the more effective pieces on show. There are some distant vocals on this at points. It’s a very dramatic piece – and quite cinematic. It does take off in a more RIO oriented movement later in the piece.
From Beverly Hills
This is just a short piece that’s just a processed spoken vocal monologue and some sound effects.
Into the Crevice

Percussion – and I’m not talking just drums – starts this off. It holds it alone for a while and then when it seems like something else has arrived, if you listen carefully it’s tuned percussion. Some other sound effects and elements join eventually and this becomes more of a jazz RIO excursion. It gets pretty noisy and involved later.

Mercenary
A spoken word section starts this with a guy talking about taking a mercenary approach to his art. I’d say you should be careful listening to this with your kids based on some of the language. Some effects and ambience accompanies him, but after that we are launched into more pure RIO sounds.
Blue Ice
There are no molds broken here. What we have is more freeform sounding music. It’s one of the more effective examples on show here, though.
 
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