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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ether’s Edge

Return to Type

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite a cool disc. It’s not progressive rock in the sense of the classic style of prog, but rather in a dark, moody kind of guitar dominated style. The group considers bands like Tool and Porcupine Tree to be their biggest influences, but I can make out Pink Floyd, Hawkind and others. Some of the vocals seem along the lines of Hawkwind, while others call to mind Chris Squire. Where ever you imagine the influences falling, though, this is a disc that really captivates and grabs your attention. It feels like one long and exhilarating ride. Put it in, sit back and enjoy the journey.

 

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
Here I Am

Keyboards start this in classic progressive rock style, but a guitar driven motif joins from there. This plays through as the first part of the extended introduction, then it drops out to a mellower movement, still part of the intro that’s more like Pink Floyd. A harder edged jam takes it for the verse, but the Floydian movement returns for the chorus. The contrast between heavier and more melodic is great. The tune moves fairly slowly until around the four and a half minute mark when it shifts out to some seriously heavy music that borders on heavy metal. There are a number of changes and alterations as the piece continues and different sections from earlier in the number return or are adapted as this continues.

The Routine
Very robotic in nature, this combines a lot of the sounds from the opener with something a lot like Hawkwind. You might also make out hints of industrial music in the mix. It’s another intriguing track that is different than the opener, but still feels related.
Whitewashed Everything
Slow moving and very sedate, this is definitely a nice change of pace. There’s a cool bass driven section later in the piece. This is a fairly static piece, but it’s quite cool.
Facing Reality
The rhythm section opens this and it grows gradually as a moody modern progressive rock piece. Multiple layers of vocals add a lot to the piece. It’s quite a cool one. It has a heavier section later and wanders out into near space beyond that (again Hawkwind is a bit of a reference), but overall this cut is pretty static, too.
Return To Type
The title track weighs in at over nine-minutes in length and comes in with a swirling sort of riff driven motif that’s more traditional modern progressive rock. As it fires out from there it’s very much in a heavier Hawkwind type of sound. Of course, this is a fairly dynamic cut, which isn’t always the case with Hawk-music.
Writer's Void
Bass and atmospheric keyboards open this instrumental piece in dramatic, if subdued, style. This cut grows dramatically from there and gets heavier as it carries on. In some ways it has a resemblance to early Rush. Around the three minute mark it drops way down in volume and intensity and builds gradually back up from there in a new direction. I love the bass line that drives the new section. They take us out into a different movement from there and, again, Rush comes to mind a bit. This piece is one of the most dynamic on show here.
Open Wide
Mellow music serves as the backdrop for the vocals (which remind me a bit of Chris Squire). The track builds gradually and there are moments that call to mind the mellower, more intricate side of early Rush. Around the two minute mark it powers out into a soaring version of itself. That doesn’t stick around long, though, and it drops back down to the earlier segment to continue. In the vicinity of the three and a half minute mark the piece gains a bit of psychedelic texture. They build out from there as it continues and this is really quite a dynamic piece of music. There’s a killer jam later in the number that’s got an almost fusion element to it.
Dreamtime Calling
This is an acoustic guitar driven instrumental that’s quite short and serves as an introduction to the next number.
Don't Follow
Here’s another piece that calls to mind Hawkwind quite a bit. There are other elements on display, though, too. For one thing parts feel rather like Rush. We’re taken through a number of changes and it gets quite atmospheric at times. There’s a cool section later where they use a riff to speed up the track by playing it faster and faster as they continue. It another that’s full of plenty of changes.
Life's Light
This one has a definite Hawkwind-like feeling. It’s also got a bit of a stripped down Yes vibe, but a lot of that comes from moments of Chris Squire like vocals. There’s some tasty acoustic guitar soloing in play here.
 
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