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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Gary Hill

Missile Hay Knee Us

Review by Greg Olma

Gary Hill has compiled a number of tracks from his younger days to release this eclectic CD.  The songs range from demo-ish guitar riffing to sci-fi sounding soundtrack music.  Some of the tracks are very avant-garde while others have more of a standard song sound.  I’ve listened to this a few time and some of it is pretty “out there” but there is a charm to all of the tracks.  I would not recommend this CD to everyone but if you are looking for something that is out of the norm, then this album will do the trick. The CD (also available as digital download) can be purchased at lulu.com/strangesound.

(Editor’s Note: The Gary Hill who produced this CD is the same Gary Hill who runs Music Street Journal and is editing this piece. I asked for an unbiased review and will run it as unbiased – and as written. I have, however, added a few notes here and there – since I know something about the process involved in the making of the set).

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Hell’s Bells

This minute and half track is basically bell sound effects that sound like something in a horror movie.  It’s the kind of thing that you would expect during a very suspenseful part where something is ready to jump out at you.  It is haunting in its soundtrack-like feel.

Coulour

Just guitar and vocals for this cut.  It starts off with some slow guitar picking and the vocals don’t come in until about a minute into the song.  Then the guitars go into strumming mode with a Bob Dylan folk type of feel.  According to the notes, this was going to a part of a larger concept. (Ed. Actually, the song was written as a stand along track, but was intended as on piece of a concept album).

Foolie
This tune has a space feel to it.  If you remember those old sci-fi movies and how they made space “sound”, this is what you get with this cut.  My only issue is that there seem to be some stop and starts and this gives it a very fragmented feel.
September’s Remorse

This is similar in style to “Colour” but with more vocals.  The song builds as it moves along with more vocals added until the end when it is back to a singular voice.  The recording is a bit rough but it has a “bootleg” charm about it.  (Ed. This track was also intended for the concept album that never happened. It was intended as a rough demo. I recorded it using a bounce from a cassette “walkman” style player to a tape deck via a homemade “Y” cord, so it gets lots of distortion with the additional layers of sound brought to the table.)

Percussive Attack

According to the information I have on this track, it was produced using keyboards but I could swear they are drums.  This piece is not a drum solo as such but more of a song.  The drumming (oops keyboards) sound random but when you listen to it a couple of times, there seems to be a song in there. (Ed. – yes, definitely keys – made to sound like drums. One instrument I’ve never been able to play at all is drums, so this was my way of creating a drum sound, anyway).

Seeker
The dirty guitar tone on this cut reminds me of “Rust Never Sleeps” by Neil Young.  It doesn’t have any vocals and sounds like a demo for something else.  There is some bass in there to add a little color.  If you are into riffing, then this tune is for you. (Ed. – another demo, this was intended to be a guitar treatment for use to get the whole band to understand the song. There are lyrics to this one, but they never made the cut to this recording. Also, this was intended as part of that concept album we were planning).
Warped Space

This is one of the longer tracks on offer here and the title is perfect.  It is guitar run through a lot of effects that give it a “space” sound.  I like this one because it is the kind of thing that you put on and let your mind relax.
Quasar Suite
Instead of guitars, this keyboard heavy track picks up from “Warped Space” and continues on for 11 minutes.  Like the previous cut, this is a good tune to put on relax.  It is almost hypnotic.
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