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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dave Painchaud

Tales Told & Journeys Imagined

Review by Gary Hill

We generally include fusion under progressive rock at Music Street Journal. I mean, really, rock music that includes jazz is most often prog, so why shouldn’t it go in the other direction. The truth is, though, wherever you think it should get categorized, this is a strong disc. Personally, I found that the closing suite was a bit too strange for my tastes. It certainly brings this thing more into the range of RIO music. I would have enjoyed the set a lot more had they chosen to skip that part. Of course, without that more blatant wandering towards progressive rock, this one probably would be less fusion and more pure jazz, too. 

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
Making an Entrance

The bass opens this and the drums join. Then keyboards are added to the mix. The horns fill things out nicely and we’re off on a killer musical journey. It’s not an entirely straight route, though. They take us into a cool little excursion with a more stripped back arrangement. Then some retro sounding music serves to bring us back into the song proper. There is some awesome horn soloing on this musical theme. It drops back to a more stripped back and quite dramatic arrangement from there. We get a keyboard solo further down the road that’s quite tasty.

In Transit
This tune starts much mellower with just atmospheric keyboards. Percussion joins and then other instrumentation is added as this builds gradually. When the horns enter they bring a more full on melodic element to the piece, increasing the volume and the drama. There’s less dramatic change on this. Instead it builds in a very satisfying and organic way from the basic musical concepts at the onset. Still, there is a dramatic, sort of electronic music movement in the midst of this. There are some nicely spaced out sections beyond that.
Pizz Osti Redux
There’s sort of a playful element to this as tuned percussion opens it and holds it with some minor additions. There’s a quick burst of horns right at the end, but this short cut otherwise remains mostly unchanged throughout.
Passage to Nain
Starting quite sedate, the beginning of this is very atmospheric. It rises in waves, and then falls back, but overall, it’s a gradual increase at play. This is clearly less jazz and more like atmospheric electronic music or new age.
Searching and Ruminating
A major change, this opens with the rhythm section and works out into a killer jazz groove. There’s some awesome retro sounding keyboard jamming in this tune. This thing just oozes “cool.” It’s one of the highlights of the set.
The Resolute
This is just a short little keyboard oriented number.
Spring Bloom Process
A clock-like rhythm opens this and then layers of sound come over the top gradually. A rubbery rhythm section joins after a time and this resembles a jazzy electronic music. Little by little more melody guides the cut onward. Eventually that rhythm element drops away and a symphonic sounding keyboard sound takes over from there.
Presently (Street Mumbles To Sonambulism)
A rather odd little percussive sound opens this. As the bass joins, though, this really turns to some killer jazz. It drops back to a less energized jam after a time, but eventually shifts back out to more energy in something that’s closer to progressive rock.
Session Rides
This cut is shorter, less than two minutes in length. It’s also much more in a standard jazz arrangement. It rises up and really soars before fading away to end.
Device Texture
A percussive element opens this and holds it for a time. Melody comes in tentatively at first and gradually rises upward. There are some non-lyrical vocals on this, bringing a definite change. In some ways I’m reminded a bit of Pat Metheny. It falls off to a more stripped down and sedate arrangement as it continues. It rises upwards after a time and the melodic elements become very powerful. Eventually, though it drops back again. After a time, though, the vocal section returns to fade out and end the piece.
Up Number Indigo I: Approaching the Anomaly
This is definitely strange. It opens with just percussion and the first big chunk of the piece is strictly percussive. Layers of sound bites are added before it peaks out in spacey keyboards and other elements. Then it drops way down to atmospheric space to continue. That motif takes it out.
Up Number Indigo II: Curative Transfer
Coming out of the silence left behind from the previous number, weird sound effects rise up after a time. Tuned percussion come up and take over from there with some other elements still heard in the mix. That concept (with some minor variants) holds the piece until after the six minute mark when horns bring some melody to the table. This thing just seems to sit in one place (and too weird of a place) for too long for my tastes. Even when the melody does become more prominent it’s still tentative and too constant. Personally, I think it would be a stronger disc without this strange three piece suite.
Up Number Indigo III: The Arrival at Indigo and the Promise of Summer
Although, for the most part, this features much of the same weirdness heard on the rest of the suite, there are some moments where more melodic horns dominate. Those sections make this better than the other two parts, but it still falls short of the rest of the disc.
 
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