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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Chris Taylor

Nocturnal

Review by Gary Hill

Fusion is, by definition, a combination of rock and jazz sounds. For that reason, it really fits pretty close to the progressive rock genre and generally gets lumped there at MSJ. This is an intriguing disc of fusion. It sits probably closest to music like Weather Report and Spyro Gyra, but there are also hints of Frank Zappa and healthy doses of world music added. Whatever you call, it, though, it’s a unique and entertaining disc.

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
Voices in My Head

Ambient sounds and backwards tracked bits start this off and hold it for a time. After a while, though, it works out into a killer fusion styled jam. It works through like that, gaining oomph and power until around the four-minute mark. Then it drops to a mellower section for some more instrumental interplay. That section, more purely melodic, builds up after a time. Some vocals come in later and bring an almost punk prog element to the table. Overall, though, the cut continues wandering through fusion territory. At different points on this musical road different instruments take the dominate role.

Ear to the Rail
World music leads this off through the vocals. As it works out into the fusion sounds, it’s got more of a prog element to it, but a Tony Levin kind of prog. This cut focuses a lot more on the rhythmic elements than the opener did. Those world vocals appear here and there throughout this piece, but it also works out to some rather dissonant, nearly RIO jazz at times. There is some killer fusion, ala Weather Report, later in the piece, though.
Nocturnal
World vocals play an even more prominent role on this tune. While the fusion sounds heard on the previous cuts are also here, somehow parts of this call to mind country music a bit.
You Know What I'm Saying?
World music meets crazed fusion, rather like Frank Zappa on this piece. There are sound bites included here and other bits of weirdness. It works out to more standard jazz as it continues. But, then other sound bites bring more oddity. There’s some killer jamming on this one. The fusion journey later resembles something from Spyro Gyra. It works out to stranger territory further down the road, though.
Green Divided by Blue
Mellower, melodic sounds, rather balladic lead off here before they take it out into more Zappa meets Spyro Gyra type sounds. The more melodic jazz dominates the majority of the cut. There’s some killer instrumental work as this continues, and then it shifts out to a different arrangement for a time from there. That section gets to be quite a bit like something from Bruford. Piano solos like crazy over the top. Several changes ensue before it’s over with different types of fusion sounds controlling the piece at different points.
All of Us
With sound bites of George W. Bush, this is rhythmic and quirky. It’s kind of a stripped down arrangement with bits of backwards masked music and some Latin elements, but more like a spaghetti western. It works out to more typical fusion after a time.
Bela
Movie sound bites give way to another killer fusion jam. This one is a bit more traditional, but wanders off into some Zappa-like territory at times.
Recluse
Mellow and pretty, this is a bit mysterious and understated. Of course, that really fits with the title. There’s a bit of psychedelia built into this.
Here to There
Coming in with a more energized, but melodic, fusion sound, this again takes us into Zappa-like territory later in the number. It’s a rather playful number.
Odd Hours
Scat vocals are heard on this tasty number. It’s got an inspired rhythm section and a definite world music vibe. There are some noisy King Crimson-like moments later and this wanders towards RIO at times. There is some killer weird stuff further down the musical road and it gets quite crunchy later, too. It’s definitely my favorite track of the set, the most rock oriented one and a great way to end it on a high note.
 
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