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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Jordan Reyne

How the Dead Live

Review by Gary Hill

Hailing from New Zealand, Jordan Reyne is very much a progressive artist – and yet regressive at the same time. While there are those who might not consider this befitting of the heading of progressive rock, I’d say there has always been a tradition of progressive rock and folk working together. Certainly the music of The Strawbs was a classic example, but even Yes flirted with folk at times (think especially of The Yes Album) and Renaissance certainly had a folk element. There is a good deal of goth built into this and it’s all moody and dark. Still, there are fair comparisons to Porcupine Tree to be made. Whatever the particular formula that creates this sound, though, it is an incredibly powerful album. Apparently it was released in 2009. Had I heard it that year it would have without question made my list of best for the year. This is probably going to remain one of my favorite albums for a very long time. It works that well.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Frome Gravesend

Acoustic guitar melded with gentle vocals create a potent and mellow cut that’s quite pretty and understated. Around the two minute mark some other layers come over the top to complement the sound. Even with the added layers, which don’t rise very far or stay very long, this is essentially a folk tune. Still, it’s not that far removed from the kinds of music a lot of folk prog bands did in the day.

The Micheal Angelo
Atmospheric sounds that have a rather dark and electronic element to them lead this off, yet the track still feels quite folk-like. Multiple layers of vocals really add to the mix.
The Witness
One might hear some country in this piece. The dramatic acoustic guitar melody and hints of electronic and goth textures really add to the mix here. This is a powerful piece of music. The arrangement to this one becomes more involved than anything we’ve heard to this point. I like this one a lot.
The Brave
The beautiful acoustic guitar and vocal textures that lead this off are dramatic and powerful with a definite folk feeling. The overlayers bring in more progressive rock (granted a dark prog) elements.
The Dead
Country and folk elements merge with some goth and progressive rock overtones. The sounds of the ocean are heard along with other nature effects. This is mellow and quite power. It gets louder and more involved later.
The Proximity of Death (Blue Eyed Boy)
The lushest arrangement to this point, there are still plenty of folk elements here, but this is certainly progressive rock. It’s not that dissimilar to something from Porcupine Tree. The chorus is one of the catchiest on show and it’s one of the highlights of the set.
Ghosts (Lest We Forget)
We’re back into mellower, more pure folk territory here. This is pretty and quite tasty. Later in the piece, though, it gets worked out to more rocking sounds and becomes more prog in its delivery and arrangement. The sounds of the ocean come in at the end and seque into the next piece.
Blood
More folk rock in nature, this gets quite powerful in terms of the arrangement. It’s got a catchy chorus and somehow feels a bit Irish to my ears. It’s got more of a prog element in the additional layers of the arrangement.
Remembering the Dead
Electronic and folk elements are merged in a dark and dramatic ballad that’s quite powerful.
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