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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Soniq Theater

Seventh Heaven

Review by Gary Hill

In some ways this 2007 release continues the basic musical concepts so familiar from Soniq Theater, but in other ways it is a game changer. For one thing, we get some AOR styled music that at times resembles Toto. Also, this is one of a few albums from Soniq Theater (the name under which Alfred Mueller creates music) to feature vocals on some of the tunes. Sure, there is plenty of the fusion meets progressive rock that is so common the ST catalogue, but this also stretches the sound a bit.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Fountain

After some spacey effects we’re brought into a cool arrangement that’s rather bouncy and a bit like mid-period Genesis. It gets shifted towards dramatic fusion after that. Further down the road it seems like the two musical concepts are combined, creating something that reminds me of Pat Metheny, but this thing just keeps changing. There’s a real classic progressive rock section later and parts of this remind me of UK. Yet, there’s also an almost AOR melody based section at one point, too. This is one of the best cuts from Soniq Theater and a great way to open the disc. It is just awesome.

Welcome Home

Here’s a big change with a bouncy little number. This is sort of like an adult contemporary piece, but there’s enough progressive rock to keep it interesting. In fact, some of the keyboard work and sounds on this feel a bit like Rick Wakeman.

Lilly

This comes in with some bouncing elements, but then shifts towards some awesome fusion. We’re taken from there into a more poppy sort of structure (rather like something Toto would do) and, in a big shift from most Soniq Theater music, there are vocals. While those vocals aren’t exceptional, they work well for this cut. The only real complaint here is that it seems to drag on a bit too long.

New Year’s Eve

Here we get another track with vocals, but rather than being set in the Toto-kind of sound we get on the previous one, this is more pure prog. It’s energetic and potent and includes some cool female vocals, too. There’s an interesting percussive based section later that gives way to more of a full on jam from there. It’s quite a cool song and the keyboard work is particularly noteworthy.

But Seriously

The mellow motif that starts this really feels like something from the 1980s. As this works out that element isn’t completely exorcised. This becomes an AOR prog kind of piece that leans towards the mellow side of the spectrum.

Lift-off

This one’s very cool. There’s more energy and a lot of fusion textures at play, but in a more keyboard (rather than guitar) oriented style. We even get some funk here.

Trip Across the 7th Age

With quite a bit of fusion on hand, this is a great piece. It’s dramatic and powerful and quite space-like. It has a driving beat and a lot of killer melody over the top. Some of the keyboard parts are particularly effective. While it’s nothing near hard rock, it does vary a lot from more powered up and mellower sections.

Closer to Heaven

While still in the same general volume and intensity level, this starts off a bit like mid-period Genesis, but shifts out to more fusion oriented sounds after a short time. It’s another dramatic and powerful cut that really rocks. There are some Wakeman-like keyboard parts on this.

Silk Road

The modes that start this call to mind the space rock of Hawkwind, but it quickly shifts to something more like a more purely progressive rock version of Kraftwerk. Tangerine Dream is also a valid comparison. This is fairly mellow and slow moving, but also quite powerful.

Divine Harmonies

In some ways this feels like a full arrangement on music box melodies as it starts. It grows out to a different movement from there, though. It’s an effective number, but not the strongest on the set.

 
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