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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Coyote Poets of the Universe

Pandora’s Box

Review by Gary Hill

This disc is a wonderful set that combines jazz, folk and classical music along with other sounds into something that, while not a perfect fit, certainly seems to belong under the heading “progressive rock.” Whatever you call the music, though, this is a potent and powerful listening experience that should be enjoyable for most music fans.

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
Pandora's Box

The vocal section (and this comes in with just vocals) that opens this is very much in a scat jazz kind of arrangement. It powers out from there into a cool tune that’s part jazz, part world music and part folky prog. This is a great tune that’s both unique and strangely catchy. There is excellent use of classical instrumentation later.

Spellbound
Jazz and mellow prog swirl around one another on the opening of this piece. Many of the instruments drop away and we are left with an acoustic based arrangement that’s quite cool. This is very much a jazz meets folky prog song. There’s a killer shuffling instrumental movement later in the piece, complete with piano soloing. There’s also a playful jazz instrumental segment before they power out into a soaring fusion-like movement with non-lyrical vocals and some tasteful instrumental work.
Raff Riff
There’s definitely a Traffic vibe on this, somehow mixed with the rocking side of early Moody Blues. What a killer track this is! It’s an instrumental with inspired and powerful work from all musicians. A little before the two minute mark it moves out to mellow weirdness. Then before the two and a half minute point it rises up to an almost Tull like jam to take it out.
History of the World
A killer bass line opens things up, then banjo comes over top. After that we get jazz instrumentation on top and it works out to a folky sort of jazz arrangement. This is weird, but also tasty. There’s a bit of a Dixieland vibe on the track, but blended with so many other things that it’s sort of hidden. This really has so many varying textures and moods that it’s a real melting pot of sounds.
Cuando El Ray Nimrod

Fitting with the title there’s a lot of Spanish music on board with this number. Classical instrumentation is also included here. This is a mostly instrumental number, although it does have some non-lyrical vocals.

Rescue
Bass guitar opens this and holds it for a while. Classical strings join and as the vocals enter this feels like an old school psychedelic tune. There are some middle Eastern elements introduced for a time later, but overall this feels like it could have been released in 1967, and that’s a good thing.
Blood and Bones
There’s a killer bass groove at the bottom of this. The cut carries some jazz and other elements in a smoking hot arrangement that really works. There’s even some old school country music in the mix here. There’s a lot of soulful passion in this number.
Surrounded By Cobras
Starting in a pretty balladic mode this grows out with soaring non-lyrical vocals over the top. This is arguably the most pure progressive rock cut on show. It has a lot of classical music in the mix. There’s a spoken male vocal on here that is a bit odd, but also cool. It gives way to sung vocals on the chorus and then alternates between the two treatments. This has an odd texture in some ways, but it’s also very cool and somehow compelling.
Vermilion Cliffs
Folk and world music merges with classical instrumentation and more pure prog rock on this mellow, but moving balladic instrumental. It’s quite melodic, pretty and organic in nature.
Solstice
The first section of this is a poetry reading, feeling a bit like the Moody Blues. Of course, they were probably known for poetry readings with music in the backdrop than anyone else ever has been. So, that comparison is appropriate, although the music backing this up is closer to mellow jazz. Then it works out to a more standard “song” type piece. There’s a definite Celtic texture on this second half of the cut. The vocal arrangement calls to mind some of the folk groups of the 1960s.
Quittin' Time
This is based on a killer jazz groove, but other elements bring in more progressive rock sounds. This is one of the coolest cuts on show and the vocals have a great soulful texture. There is definitely a parental advisory for this piece, but it’s an amazing song. Arguably the best track on show. There is classical instrumentation over the top later in the piece and this is a real screamer. How appropriate to have a track called “Quittin’ Time” close the set.
 
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