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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Soniq Theater

Pandromania

Review by Gary Hill

While there are generally connections binding all the Soniq Theater discs together, each seems to manage to create a sound unique to itself. This album, released in 2005 seems at times similar to Pink Floyd and other points closer to Rick Wakeman or Jean Michel Jarre. Still other points call to mind Rush and Yes. All in all, though, it’s a great set that works quite well.

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
Karma

The first section here is sort of space rock. That gives way to one of the most definite jazz movements ever from Soniq Theater. As it works out from there, though, this becomes energized progressive rock that’s not that far removed from some of Rick Wakeman’s music. After a while, though, it works out to a very dramatic and powerful progressive rock jam that has lots of fusion in the mix.

Miles Beyond

The sound of a motorcycle starts things here. Then a keyboard section laced with non-lyrical female vocals joins. It works out after that introductory section, though, into a more straightforward keboard-laden movement that’s a lot more “song” like. The cut works through a number of changes with the original segment returning later as an alteration.

Steve's Dream

The introduction here has an intricate, and suitably dreamy, texture to it. It is delicate. Then it fires out into harder rocking music that works quite well. It’s still definitely progressive rock, but it has more crunch and more power in the mix. It does a great job of alternating between harder rocking music and mellower, more purely melodic sounds. This feels a bit like Yes or Rush at times. It’s an especially effective piece.

Deep Space

This opens fairly mellow but quickly shifts out to something a bit like Jean Michel Jarre meets Pink Floyd.

Pandromania

Feeling a bit like soundtrack music, the title track is powerful and bombastic. It’s one of the highlights of the set for certain. There are many changes and alterations in place and at times this feels a bit like Emerson Lake and Palmer. It is an extremely dynamic piece shifting and turning here and there as it continues.

Lovely Lady

With a title like “Lovely Lady” one would expect a track to be melodic, gentle and fairly consistent. Such is the case here. This is quite pretty, but not a real show-stopper. Of course, you need music like this to make the really dynamic pieces seem that much stronger.

Wheel Of Fortune

Here’s a cool cut that has a lot of 80s musical textures in its midst. In some ways this reminds me of a proggier version of Asia. There are some vocals here, in a bit of a twist from the bulk of Soniq Theater’s music. At points this resembles Emerson Lake and Palmer. Other parts call to mind Rick Wakeman. I can even make out some Mike Oldfield at times. It is quite a dramatic and powerful piece of music that works through a number of changes. The only vocals are a repeating chorus. At over nine-minutes in length, this is epic in proportion. It’s also epic in scope. It’s arguably the highlight of the set.

Adagio In G

A short piece, this is both very gentle and very pretty.

Pulsar

There is a definite tribal energy on this cut. The keyboard elements do a nice job of conveying a sense of space. We get something closer to electronic music later in the track. In other words, it feels not that far removed from Kraftwerk.

Flamingo

This number is in a more mainstream classic progressive rock style. The comparisons to Wakeman’s solo work are once again valid. It works out at times into something akin to circus music.

Last Realm

Slow moving in terms of tempo and changes, this one is a bit lackluster. It’s sort of along the lines of mellow fusion. It’s just not the best choice to close the set in style.

 
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