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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Soniq Theater

A Second of Action

Review by Gary Hill

While each and every Soniq Theater album presents a form of progressive rock, variants exist within the catalog. That said, all the albums are consistently strong, and that includes this second disc. The music here varies between progressive rock, fusion and electronic sounds. Different influences seem to dominate different cuts and even different parts of tracks.

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 Gold Rush

Starting tentatively, this eventually launches out into some dramatic and powerful keyboard laden progressive rock. It drops back for a mellower treatment that feels a bit like Genesis. As it builds out that Genesis aspect is merged with something closer to fusion. It continues to shift, change and evolve. This becomes quite powerful at times and actually shifts towards something closer to modern metal like Dream Theater at times. There’s a killer keyboard dominated jazzy movement later, though. More pure fusion takes it further down the musical road. Some of the keyboard soloing that ensues is particularly noteworthy. A real dynamic jam, this thing just keeps getting altered and shifted. If you don’t like where it’s at, just wait. Of course, if you are like me, you’ll like all of it, anyway.

Elephant Race
This comes in with a definite electronica kind of vibe. As it continues it really has a lot of energy. Of course, with the word “race” in the title, you wouldn’t expect a slow song would you. This seems like the kind of fusion Kraftwerk would do, if they did fusion. It’s fast paced, fun and quite tasty. There’s a more traditional progressive rock section followed by an even more frantic jam. Moments later make me think of Yes just a little.
Marakanda
The introduction on this feels like it’s about half classical and half jazz. Then a world music inspired female voice comes over creating non-lyrical singing. That doesn’t stay around long, though, giving way to a return of the earlier musical rendition. Then the singer returns, this time with a really soulful vibe. This cut is really cool. It’s got that soul feeling to the parts with the singing and a more jazz meets prog element to the instrumental passages. It’s a great change of pace.
Centaurus
The familiar concepts of jazz merged with progressive rock and classical are on hand here, but parts of this are hard edged to the point of nearing heavy metal territory. That makes this another place that seems more like the Dream Theater school of progressive rock than it does the more classic sounds of the 1970s. It’s a cool tune that keeps changing and moves along very well. There are really quite a few diverse sounds and concepts here. Some of the keyboard movements are very lush.
Way to Karakorum
This comes in mellower and very dramatic. As it builds up it is quite powerful, and yet somehow understated. There is a killer symphonic texture and the pace is deliberate. Even the composition feels rather symphonic in the ways it builds out and some of the particular passages chosen. This is very potent stuff.
Transsiberian Railroad
There’s more of a classic progressive rock feel to this jam. Still, it has some bits of space rock and some definite fusion in place, as well.
Seventh Crusade
Fusion merges with progressive rock on this compelling instrumental. It’s got a lot of energy and really works well.
Nocturno
This is a short piece that’s quite classical in nature. It’s intricate and pretty.
Halcyon Days
Here’s an intriguing change of pace. Many of the same progressive rock tendencies are present, but there’s a real old school rock and roll vibe to this thing. At some points I’m reminded a bit of some of the music Rick Wakeman created in the 1980s. There’s a killer retro sounding organ solo later in the tune, too.
Gulliver's Travels
Somehow the beginning of this makes me think of “Hearts” by Yes. Still, it works out to some powerful and dramatic keyboard based music that’s got plenty of classical and symphonic sound built into it. It’s classy and energetic. It gets more real rock built into it later (of course, with a progressive edge).
Bon Voyage
This bouncy little number seems to make me think of some of Larry Fast’s work. It’s got a lot of energy and feels rather jazzy in some ways.
Phoenix
Here we have a rather lighthearted keyboard based progressive rock instrumental. It’s not the best thing here, but has some changes and quite a bit of energy to make it cool. I particularly enjoy the section later where it shifts out to something a bit like mid-period Genesis.
 
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