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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Matt Stevens

Ghost

Review by Gary Hill

It can be difficult to create an entirely instrumental disc and maintain a real sense of vitality. The tendency for it to become monolithic is common. This album does not suffer from that problem. Each piece, while seemingly related to the others, has its own identity. The music here shares some ground with California Guitar Trio, but that’s certainly not the end-all-be-all description. Whatever you call it, though, this album showcases a mellow, but still rocking sound that works extremely well.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Into The Sea

Powerful and pretty, this is also mellow and intricate. There’s a definite energy and thrust to the piece, but it’s still purely acoustic. Yet, it manages to rock out. There’s almost a bit of a King Crimson vibe a little later – or perhaps closer to Bruford Levin Upper Extremities.

Big Sky
In some ways this has a more involved musical approach, yet it’s still mellow. That Crimsonian sound certainly presents itself here, but perhaps the most obvious comparison is to California Guitar Trio. However, there are some keyboards on this piece. There’s a backwards tracked bit later.
Eleven
Delicate and pretty, in some ways this is mellower than the previous pieces. That doesn’t, by any means, say that it’s boring or trite. It’s quite complex and definitely progressive in nature.
Draw
California Guitar Trio is certainly a reference on the earlier portions of this, but it turns heavier as it continues and perhaps feels more like an organic King Crimson sound. It turns rather dissonant later and really has some cool twists and tweaks going on in the mix.
Burnt Out Car
There’s more of a traditional mellow rock vibe to the first thirty-five or forty seconds of this piece, almost an alternative rock feeling. Then it shifts towards the Crimsonian, weird and dark. After a time it works back to that original motif, but with a more complex arrangement built into it. It alternates between those two sounds. The contrast between light and dark is cool.
Lake Man
Percussion plays a big role here – at least at first. The cut builds in a tasty way. Around the one minute mark the percussion drops away and the guitar takes a short little solo. Then the arrangement returns with a more complicated version of its previous self. Again, the piece alternates between the more complete arrangement and a stripped down and delicate, nearly atmospheric motif that is quite pretty. I think this might be my favorite cut on show. It’s just too cool.
Glide
Gentle folk like acoustic guitar opens the cut. The cut is a short one and never really moves beyond this basic concept, but it does get a little more instrumentation added.
8.19
This comes in with a pretty full and energized arrangement, but shifts towards a mellower, stripped down motif from there. It alternates between these two and really has a classic rock sound for a lot of the piece.
Ghost
This is more organic and less real prog than some of the material here, but it’s also intricate and intriguing enough to pass muster. There is a bit of a world music element to the piece.
Moondial
Another cut based mostly on intricate acoustic guitar work, this is a tasty number that’s strong. Around the two and a half minute mark it starts to rock out. There’s a bit of a Latin element to the piece as that happens. 
 
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