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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Radio Massacre International

Time & Motion

Review by Gary Hill

The instrumental progressive rock that makes up this album is quite entertaining. While it has a space rock-like tendency (not its only link to space rock) to change very gradually and stay in one place for long periods of time, it never feels like it’s lagging or becoming stale. They change things up enough to keep it interesting. Considering that this is a double disc set, that says a lot. The music here is unique, but it does have some similarities at different points to groups like Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. Certainly, fans of those bands are the most likely group to enjoy this music. It’s actually quite a cool set and one that I will certainly be spinning for years to come.


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
Disc 1
Kairos
A seventeen-minute plus epic, this rises very slowly and gradually with ambient tones gradually taking on more musical affects. As it continues to grow, it has some intriguing musical qualities (at times feeling classical, at other points more like space rock, exhibiting jazz-like tendencies at other moments). Near the mid-point of the number it moves into an open and freeform jam (still quite subdued) that really calls to mind early Hawkwind quite a bit. After a while it starts to feel more like early Pink Floyd and then elements of world music creep in here and there. This never rises far beyond the level of textural, but rather the exploration is carried on within that range. It’s a cool piece of music that has its roots in the sounds of groups like Pink Floyd and Hawkwind.
The Clockwork Time Dragon
While this is shorter than the opener, it still weighs in at over thirteen minutes in length. It is a bit more full in terms of arrangement and seems to combine a chamber music sound with full classical and jazz treatments to great effect. It builds gradually and turns a bit more rocking as it carries onward. This turns more towards real rock music – sort of a combination of a jam band sound with something like Tangerine Dream or Pink Floyd and some jazz thrown in for good measure – as they continue down the musical road. It transitions back down to ambient elements as it works through later.
Aeon
Ambient tones rise up and this track moves in a very subdued, but pretty, way for a while. It never really climbs up far, but yet there is a rocking sort of motif later. It reminds me a lot of Pink Floyd – as much of this cut really does. Although this is one of the shortest cuts here, it’s still almost eleven minutes long. 
Chronos
This mellow piece (at first) is another that calls to mind Pink Floyd. It’s based on the more ambient side of Floyd, but the guitar presence is very Gilmour-like a lot of the time. As this builds up, it becomes one of the more rock based numbers on show here. We get some especially tasty guitar work and this is quite an intriguing piece of music. There is still a lot of Pink Floyd built into this, but it’s also got both new age and space rock. 
Equatorial Pitch
The shortest cut on show here, this still weighs in at over eight minutes in length. It’s atmospheric and feels rather nature based. There is sort of a jungle vibe (in terms of accidental sounds, not tribal rhythms) to this. As it continues a flute-like instrument brings in some tribal sounds, but there is still no real rhythmic structure to it.
Fission Ships Pt. 1
Ambient and still musical, this piece is almost sixteen minutes in length. Like the rest of the disc the music here progresses and grows gradually. It is also purely instrumental. This very much resembles early Pink Floyd in a lot of ways. As it continues it becomes more noise oriented for a while, but still doesn’t really rise up far in terms of volume level. This gets rather RIO-like, but in sedate ways. It turns more towards Hawkwind like space (still the extremely mellow variety) later. They drop it back away more towards pure ambience to eventually end the piece. 
Disc 2
Maybe A Last Look At Joe's House
Disc two opens with the same kind of ambience that was present during a lot of the first CD of the set. It grows upward as it continues and takes on a jam band meets space rock kind of elements further down the road. It begins to resemble Pink Floyd more as it carries on, but there are also leanings towards the sound of groups like Oresund Space Collective.  They drop it way back down to effects driven ambience after a while to eventually take it out.
Fission Ships Pt. 2
At close to 24 and a half minutes, this is the longest cut on show. It is mostly an ambient, textural sort of piece. After a time some distorted guitar joins and threatens to take us into full on rock, but rather than do that, we are dropped back down to more textural zones. We get some serious weirdness as we continue, but without the music rising back up to rock levels. Noises and other effects keep it going in a rather disquieting fashion that is oddly musical. There are sections that make me think of soundtrack music, too. 
Nine:Four:One
Noisy, yet sedate, sound effects and soundtrack like elements begin this journey. As it continues, dramatic space rock styled keyboard sounds begin to emerge and carry the cut for a time. It drops way down from there and is much sparser and space (but not space rock) like. Hints of some sort of drama come around here and there. We get some bits of percussion threatening to pull this out into a rock mode. The intensity raises up in a very science fiction/horror movie kind of manner. Percussion and sound effects swirl around one another as the cut continues. This sort of minimalist approach holds it for quite some time, with the percussion being almost solitary at times. Keyboard bursts of sound emerge here and there after that, at times reminding me of the whale song in “Star Trek IV.” Then some more textural keyboards take us into a dramatic sort of mode and it becomes a bit menacing. More musical elements emerge, but they are still accompanied by the weird sound effects and such. While the percussion was stripped away a while earlier, the cut continues with melody alternating with more effects driven sounds. Bits of percussion come in here and there. As it drifts towards more effects oriented sounds it takes on elements that call to mind early Pink Floyd. Then other keyboard oriented sounds emerge as this seems ready to build out into something perhaps a bit like Tangerine Dream. It continues in ambient ways from there.
30 Years (Slight Return)
This seems to come straight out of the previous piece, but is immediately more musical. In fact, I’d say it’s even pretty. It grows organically with a textural keyboard approach. Around the four minute mark some guitar joins, and this takes on a bit of a Pink Floyd feeling. There is also an almost Native American vibe to it at first. It becomes more rock oriented as this continues. A saxophone takes over from the guitar later as the track seems to enter more Tangerine Dream-like territory. It grows into quite an energized journey beyond there with both Tangerine Dream and other space rock elements emerging as the guitar returns. The guitar explores some interesting musical areas as it solos later. At times it feels a bit Eastern tinged, but it also has some hints of classical music (despite the crunchy edge). From there it moves to a more fusion oriented movement complete with saxophone wailing to take it to its conclusion.
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