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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Memories of Machines

Warm Winter

Review by Gary Hill

There is a school of modern art rock or progressive rock that focuses on moody, mellow music. While that’s an acceptable, and often entertaining medium, it’s also very limited. That means that when a band doesn’t stretch far from that basis, their albums become a grouping of good songs that play like one long, and rather boring song when played as a full CD. Such is the case here. There just isn’t enough variety to make it work as a long experience. I suppose if these guys are writing songs to be enjoyed one track at a time, that’s great. But, if you want an album to listen to, I suggest taking this one only a little bit at time so that the pieces can stand out from one another. For those reasons, I’d chalk this up as a good, but not very good, album that’s got a lot of very good songs on it. Considering the two guys who make up this duo (No-Man’s Tim Bowness and Nosound’s Giancarlo Erra) I would have expected more.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
New Memories Of Machines

This is a short introductory section that’s moody and cool. It’s sort of alternative rock meets prog like Porcupine Tree.

Before We Fall
A longer cut, this is lush, and yet sedate. It’s pretty and in some ways reminds me of a cross between classic King Crimson and Porcupine Tree. The backing vocals and other elements bring an almost Pink Floyd-like texture to the piece. A harder rocking sound takes it later.
Beautiful Songs You Should Know
Acoustic guitar leads off here. Other musical elements are added as this continues and it’s quite pretty and intricate. It’s got a very organic texture, but is quite moody. This is very classical in nature, particularly in terms of much of the instrumentation being used.
Warm Winter
The title track is mellow and pretty and quite representative of the type of moody modern prog practiced by bands like Porcupine Tree. There is a slow moving, but quite fiery, guitar solo.
Lucky You, Lucky Me
This one is very atmospheric, yet it has flashes of instrumental brilliance.
Change Me Once Again
While this one starts in similar fashion as the last number, it grows out further and the guitar soloing later pulls it into more Floydian territory.
Something In Our Lives
Intricate and pretty, this is a good tune, but the overall sedate nature of the disc is starting to weigh heavily. It’s not that the music sounds the same, but there’s not enough peaks and valleys to keep it from feeling monolithic. That’s a shame because this is actually one of the strongest cuts on show taken by itself.
Lost And Found In The Digital World
Here is another pretty and complex cut. The problem is, by this point everything is really starting to sound the same, just because there’s no dynamic range presented at all. It’s just all one pretty mellow soundscape.
Schoolyard Ghosts
While this cut doesn’t drastically rise up, there are enough Pink Floyd elements and even some jazz to make it feel different than the rest of the music here. It’s a much needed bit of variety, but a bit too late.
At The Centre Of It All
This is the most mellow piece on show. It grows the most slowly of all. It features a lot of classical instrumentation and some great moods and motifs. It’s too bad it comes in the closing position of the album because by this point the monolithic nature has really dragged one into a state of not being able to fully appreciate the songs as individual tracks. That’s really bad here because this is definitely the best song on the whole disc. There is a particularly evocative classically tinged movement late in the piece.
 
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