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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Soniq Theater

Life Seeker

Review by Gary Hill

While each Soniq Theater has similarities, it seems that they also all have unique flavors. This 2008 release falls closer to jazz and music like Tangerine Dream and Vangelis than some of the others. It’s also one of a few that includes vocals in the mix at times.

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
Life Seeker

After some mysterious and dramatic keyboards start this, it powers out to a killer prog jam. There are vocals on this cut, which is a fairly rare thing in Soniq Theater. Those vocals are a bit far down in the mix, but somehow remind me a bit of Chris Squire. The cut has a more stripped back, but no less dramatic, arrangement for the vocal sections, but then powers back out into more lushly arranged music from there. A killer keyboard solo is heard as this continues. It shifts towards rather off-kilter jazz with some piano soloing. There are several more changes as this thing continues. It’s quite a dynamic and cool piece of music.

The Big Money

While this isn’t as powerful as the opener, it’s still quite effective. It feels a bit like a cross between Vangelis and Tangerine Dream with some fusion in the mix. It’s a cool tune, but pales a bit in comparison to the previous number.

Romance

Vangelis is all over the opening section here. It grows out to something closer to the piece that came before it. While this isn’t all that strong, it is entertaining. It reminds me of some of Rick Wakeman’s lighter weight material.

An Overdose of Rosie

Now, this is cool. It’s got more energy and just oozes charm. I’d still throw in comparisons to Wakeman, but Keith Emerson might be a valid reference, too.

Hot House

This number rocks out a bit more than some of the rest but continues the same general musical excursion. There is, perhaps, a bit more fusion on this and this and we get some mellower melodies in the background. There are also some vocals in this piece, but they are non-lyrical.

Alpine Skiing

While there are some cool intricate bits of melody here and there, the keyboard solo around the two minute mark really steals the show here. This doesn’t vary a lot from the other music here, but shifts later into a cool, spacey, rather free-form jam. Then an Emerson, Lake and Palmer type movement is heard for great effect. It works out in symphonic directions from there.

Gargano Vacation

Starting with a bit of Mambo, this turns out to a sound that reminds me a bit of Pat Metheny. It’s certainly one of the more jazz-like tracks. While it isn’t at all hard rocking, there’s still a lot of energy here. It might not be the real killer that some of the other music is, but it has a lot of charm and charisma and is one of the more unique pieces. There’s also some cool bass work, particularly at the end.

The Stalker

There’s a lot of mystery and just plain cool to this keyboard heavy jam. I particularly like the almost symphonic and rather like Jon and Vangelis’ “Friends of Mr. Cairo” melody line that emerges for a short time later. The more energized keyboard solo that follows it is also killer.

Odd Times and Strange Days

Starting dramatic and mysterious, this works out to a jam that reminds me a bit of some of Henry Mancini’s stuff, but with a more modern, hard edge to it. This is another cut that has some vocals in it. The arrangement is dropped way back for that vocal section. While the vocals on this aren’t all the effective, the musical progression to this is the coolest of the whole set. This gets somewhat weird at times, but it is very dynamic and very tasty. I particularly like the funky guitar and Mancini like jam that ensues later in the piece.

Madly in Love

A bouncy tune, this is less intense and serious than the previous one. Of course, it’s hard to compete with the power of that number and this really serves as a nice sort of “soft landing” from there. It’s a good way to end the set in a satisfying manner.

 

 
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