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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Greg Baker

Subversion

Review by Gary Hill

The music Greg Baker makes will surely not appeal to everyone. It’s a very freeform sound that’s instrumental and borders on fusion along with Rock in Opposition. There are certainly links to Robert Fripp in this guitar heavy sound, but that’s not the end of the links.

While not everything here seems completely successful and this isn’t the kind of disc that’s a simple thing to grab onto and love, fans of fusion, Robert Fripp weirdness and RIO should find plenty to like here. Baker is quite good and he’s created an intriguing disc that manages to keep things sounding different from track to track. With instrumental music, that’s not always easy.

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
Getting the Belly Out

This opens the set with a real jazzy sound, turned towards weirdness. It’s got a lot of energy and a really driving bass part. It has some definite dissonance and weird sound effects play across here and there. While there are some voices, they are either loops or spoken bits, meaning the tune is an instrumental.

Who’s Your Poser?

There’s a flow to the melody that dances around on “Who’s Your Poser?” that calls to mind both Robert Fripp and the Fripp inspired California Guitar Trio. The percussion is more tribal and this definitely turns out towards world music inspired elements at times. Still, this almost feels like something King Crimson might do, in the right period or mood. Certainly, it wouldn’t be a big stretch to imagine this coming from CGT. This is actually quite a dynamic piece of music that works towards fusion at times and drops way down at other points. There is even a section that seems somewhat related to flamenco, but twisted towards RIO.

Phishing

There’s a real drum machine kind of feeling to the rhythm section on “Phishing.” The guitars seem too random and freeform, though. It just doesn’t seem to be a well-thought out piece. It certainly has a lot of that Fripp element, though. It seems to reference the Frippertronics period in particular. The bass line that rises up later adds to the feeling that this is just kind of thrown together. It just doesn’t feel cohesive at all and that electronic rhythm section certainly detracts from the piece.

Eight Tons of Fuss

This almost seems more random, yet it works better. That’s in part because the percussion feels organic. Robert Fripp certainly fits as a reference here, too. This, in fact, is probably closer to some of the more “out there” King Crimson music than anything to this point on the set.

Grillz

The bass line that opens “Grillz” brings that King Crimson vibe right out of the gate, but it’s a more modern King Crimson sound. As it builds out, it’s one of the most energized tracks and features some killer crunchy guitar at times. Yet, there are also bits of acoustic guitar laced over the top of the whole thing here and there. Although the intro called to mind King Crimson, the main structure is probably closer to Primus. This also includes some of the most melodic (yet still distorted) guitar soloing over the top later.

Astor

Although “Astor” still includes some dissonance, it’s got a really intriguing acoustic base to it. It’s certainly more accessible than some of the other music on the disc and feels quite jazzy with a bit of world music in the mix. This features some of the most intricate music of the set, and it might well be the highlight of the album.

Subversion

The title track comes in with some seriously freeform and dissonant music. The arrangement is quite open, but this is very much in the vein of the freeform Rock In Opposition music that can be hard to latch onto, particularly first time around. This is definitely not music that has a short learning curve. It works out towards mellower sounds at times. This is weird, but also quite intriguing. There is a section later where it seems to pull together into a more accessible sound.

Oozing

While “Oozing” opens with an energized and driving sound that’s not far removed from the rest of the disc, it shifts later to something a bit more unusual. It becomes more melodic in a movement that’s quite jazz like. Eventually it does move out towards more of the same type of freeform music that dominates the album, but it’s a nice change.

Change

This starts more like fusion, but then shifts to more Crimson-like sounds later. It’s certainly one of the harder edged jams here. It’s also more accessible than a lot of the stuff. There are times when this piece feels almost metallic, too.

Mistify

With “Mistify” Baker creates a sound that has a lot of fusion built into it. Some of the guitar lines that run across the top are among the most effective and interesting of the whole disc. Further down the road it takes on some more Crimson-like tendencies, but still within the same fusion motif. Of course, at almost ten minutes in length, this is also the lengthiest piece here, and one of the most dynamic, so it just keeps changing.

Fight for Your Wrong!

This has a lot of electronic loops and effects in the mix including some synthetic voices. It’s both one of the most unusual pieces here and one of the most accessible.

 
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