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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Void’s Last Stand

A Sun by Rising Set

Review by Gary Hill

This album is definitely progressive rock. It’s also, most likely, the only disc you’ve ever heard like this. The two massive tracks that make up the set are full of frantic changes here and there. You’ll also find plenty of progressive rock trappings akin to groups like Yes, King Crimson and Hawkwind. You’ll also find music here, though, that’s more like hardcore punk and stuff like Devo. Add in some RIO, jazz and just about every other musical style you can possibly think of and mix it all into a twisting turning mass of sound and you’ve got a good idea of what this disc sounds like – or you are at least as close as written words can get you.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Mother Sun and The Other Son (Part I)
This cut is just a tiny bit longer than the other one, weighing in at 25 minutes and 33 seconds. Drums start things off, and then a voice comes over the top. From there we get some funky fusion styled sound. This makes me think of Magma in a lot of ways. This twists and turns with hard rocking, Rock In Opposition styled things driving it. It's quite freeform and strange. There are definitely punk elements at play here. There are definitely some trippy King Crimson like moments in places, too. There is a trippy kind of jam around the six minute mark that I really love. There is something resembling a hard prog take on blues rock around the eight minute mark. If you don't like something here, though, just wait. Everything changes. They turn out towards hardcore punk further down this musical road. Then it resolves back to the more prog rock type stuff from there. There is a fairly extended drum solo after the ten minute mark. There is a turn toward funk beyond that. Weirdness ensues. Then they drop to a section built on nothing but multiple layers of voices. A hard rocking jam that's part hardcore punk and part RIO emerges after the 13 minute mark. Then it works to a mellower, slower movement. Eventually we're taken into a jam that's one of the most successful here. It dissolves to crazed weirdness, though. This keeps shifting and evolving with movements that feel disconnected from one another. There are parts with some intense hooks. Other things seem to explore far stranger sonic territory. Around the sixteen minute mark it shifts to a movement that's not far removed from some fusion, but it has a strange twist provided by the vocals. The changes continue, though. I don't think anyone would call this pretty music. However, I can't imagine anyone calling it dull or predictable, either. I really dig some of the guitar soloing near the end of this. No matter what you think of it, by the time it's done, you'll know that you've been on one heck of a journey. 
Under the Ardent Sun
An ambient noise section leads off here. They power out into a fusion sort of prog jam that’s less chaotic than the previous piece, but the vocals are somewhere between Hawkwind and rap. As this continues evolving that hip hop element goes away and it becomes more like a fast paced poetry reading. Lead guitar solos over the top filling just about every empty space. This is much more cohesive and accessible than the opener, but yet it’s far from pop music. It’s closer to a standard progressive rock, but I’d consider it more Hawkwind-like space rock. I can hear a lot of Robert Calvert in this one. Still, around the six and a half minute mark (this is not as long as the previous one, but only by a few sections – of course that includes a long section of silence with a return to the insanity) it moves to a hardcore punk meets Devo approach and we get some rather operatic aspects further down this twisted road. More Zappa-like elements show up as they continue and the changes start to become a lot more rapid fire again.  Again, I just can’t imagine you’ve ever heard anything quite like this before.
 
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