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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Algernon

Ghost Surveillance

Review by Gary Hill

Fans of free-form instrumental progressive rock should appreciate this. While not all of this falls into what I would consider to be RIO (Rock In Opposition) territory, much of it does. It has some similarities at times to King Crimson, too. I even hear some links to modern alternative rock – and that’s not expected. Overall this is a good album, but it tends to be a little slow to change at times. That said, for a fully instrumental disc, there is quite a bit of variety.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Briefing

As this enters it feels like a modern alternative rock song. It builds out gradually from there for a while. Then they turn the corner into a modern progressive rock sound for a time. When it returns to the earlier styling that prog element is still present. The cut works through by varying different motifs for a while and launches out into a definite fusion-like section.

Broken Lady
This cut powers out like a fusion exploration and works through a number of intriguing changes along the way.
Honey Trap
Sound effects and other bits of weirdness make up this open form jam. It’s less hard rocking than the tracks that preceded it, but it’s also quite cool. 
Timekiller
Seeming sort of like the middle ground between the last track and the first two, this is melodic and quite fusion oriented. It’s pretty and quite intriguing. It’s definitely catchy and one of the highlights of the set. 
Operative Vs. Opposition
This has more of a mellow fusion sound that’s got a lot of melody in it. There are definitely hints of the melodic alternative rock sounds here, too. We get some RIO-like music at points later and this turns crunchy at times. 
Everybody Stay Calm
As you might gather from the title, this is a mellower track. It stays quite calm and rather quiet. It’s a nice respite and change of pace, particularly right when we needed some variety. 
Intelligence Meltdown
A noisy, pounding number, this is cool. It’s definitely different and seems to have a lot in common with both King Crimson and RIO music. It’s quite short. 
Debrief And Defect
This pounds in like old Rush meets King Crimson. It turns very mellow, but quite dark later. It works through a number of changes as this continues in a rather freeform pattern. It gets quite ambient at times and builds up in very Crimson like modes at others. Certainly you could attribute the RIO-like characteristics of this piece as being similar to RIO. At around the ten minute mark (at over eleven minutes in length, this is the most massive cut on show here) they pound back into the opening stylings to bookend the piece. 
Debrief And Defect

This pounds in like old Rush meets King Crimson. It turns very mellow, but quite dark later. It works through a number of changes as this continues in a rather freeform pattern. It gets quite ambient at times and builds up in very Crimson like modes at others. Certainly you could attribute the RIO-like characteristics of this piece as being similar to RIO. At around the ten minute mark (at over eleven minutes in length, this is the most massive cut on show here) they pound back into the opening stylings to bookend the piece.

Objective Compromised
The opening section here feels a bit like the hard rocking movement that bookended the last piece, but with xylophone added to the mix. They drop it way down after a time and then take off in an off-kilter, freeform RIO jam. They continue changing and rearranging this as one of the most dynamic cuts on the set.
The L Pill
This short cut is no less free form. It is the most ambient and textural piece on show, though. It’s an intriguing change of pace, but I’m not sure I would have closed the disc with something this laid back.
 
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