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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Soniq Theater

Force Majeure

Review by Gary Hill

With Soniq Theater you always have a general idea of what the music will be like. Soniq Theater is a one-man musical project of Alfred Mueller. The sound is always in the vicinity of progressive rock, but there’s a lot of variance within that concept. All the music is instrumental and quite cool. This is a good disc from a fairly consistent artist.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
In the Spirit of Things

This powers in majestic and shifts to some classic fusion based instrumental progressive rock. It’s mid-paced and has some nice melody lines. In some ways this feels like something Asia might have done.

Vapor Trails

There’s sort of a bouncy, lilting rhythmic structure here. As the music works over the top it’s at times quirky and at times melodic. This is sort of like something Tangerine Dream might do. Some of the keyboard soloing is particularly tasty.

Spring Fever

In a nice change of pace, acoustic guitar opens this. As the track grows I’m reminded quite a bit of something from Pat Metheny. It’s definitely got more guitar on display than most Soniq Theater music does. This is an interesting tune with a little lilt in its step and some definite spring in the air. There’s a weird little twist out into something akin to circus music.

Force Majeure
This fires out with the most energetic music to this point. It surely rocks out quite strongly. The keyboards solo over the type in style and this just grooves. There are some cool changes and alterations as it continues down the musical road. There’s a cool staccato section later that really takes this into a totally different direction. That gives way to a fast paced jam that is very RIO-like at first. Then symphonic waves of keyboards take over as this gets quite dramatic and powerful. From there it goes to jazz-like territory, brought about mainly through the bass work. Eventually we’re taken back to earlier themes. This is quite a powerhouse of epic scale in terms of progression and composition. At over eight minutes in length, it almost qualifies in terms of time.
Grand Canyon

Electronica merges with instrumental prog on this pounding, fast paced tune. It has some bits of strangeness and oddity here that pull it near to the realm of RIO.

Icicles

The rhythm section on this track makes me think of Rush, but the melodic music seems closer to Tangerine Dream. It’s a pretty and powerful tune that has a very organic progression and structure.

The Shuffle

The cool melody on this and dancing bass line are the real charms of the tune. It calls to mind Yes a little bit at times, but I also make out some ELP in the mix. This is one of the highlights of the set and although pretty mainstream, it has a lot of meat to it. That bass line has some jazz in it and gets a chance to stand out from the pack. Some of the instrumental interplay later really makes me think of Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman playing off one another.

Wasteland

Mysterious and sparse sounding, waves of keyboards dance over top as drums beat out an almost rhythmic pattern in the backdrop. This feels like it would have been at home on a soundtrack to a science fiction film. It’s a cool cut that really fits its title. Although it builds out, it drops way back down mid-track and the process starts again.

The Travels of Marco Polo

This has a lot of energy with a great rhythmic groove to it. It’s a fun tune that is one of the longer pieces on show here. Around the minute and a half mark it drops way down and then rises up with a harder rocking sound. At points that section calls to mind Deep Purple a bit. The keyboards really scream over the top. There’s a more intricate segment later.

Russian Dance

Frantic and short, this really does feel like a “Russian Dance.” There’s violin in the mix and other instrumentation, too.

Piccard's Flight

This melodic tune is good, but not great. It’s just not the most special thing on offer here. It also is not the best choice for closing things with a lot of oomph.

 
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