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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Hasse Fröberg and the Musical Companion

Powerplay

Review by Gary Hill

Hasse Fröberg is probably best known for his work with The Flower Kings, but he’s done quite a bit of other stuff over the years. This album is a new release from a project he started after The Flower Kings went on hiatus. References to The Flower Kings are obvious, and sometimes apparent, but that’s only part of the picture. However you see the pie sliced, though, this is a strong disc. It should appeal to fans of the Flower Kings, but also to fans of melodic progressive rock in general.

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
My River To Cross

The music that starts this feels very much like a proggier version of Queen. Of course, a lot of that comes from the guitar sound. It drops way down for the vocals and as it grows out from there, we get a little bit of a Beatles element in place. Then around the two and a half minute mark it powers up to something closer to a metallic prog jam. As it continues to evolve it feels a bit like Kansas at times. Further down the road it shifts out to a killer instrumental arrangement that just plain rocks. There’s some awesome keyboard soloing over the top of it. The remainder of the tune is set in a melodic prog motif.

The World Keeps Turning
While this still has plenty of progressive rock in the mix, it’s much closer to a pure AOR sound. It’s a catchy song that rocks out quite well. There is a spacey section that has hints of Pink Floyd in it. There’s also a stripped down movement that’s closer to modern moody prog. The closing section of the piece seems rather like the proggier side of ELO.
The Final Hour
Starting quite mellow, the vocals bring drama to the table. It gradually works outward from there. The cut drops back to a mellower, but quite complex melodic prog sound from there. Around the four and a half minute mark it shifts to a more exploratory, rather spacey prog movement to continue. A more energized section that follows includes some great vocal arrangements that call to mind both Starcastle and Yes. Then it drops way down for some of the mellowest music of the set, a bit like early Genesis and King Crimson in some ways. Around the nine-minute mark there are hints of ELP that rise up and threaten to take control. Instead, though, it works out to a crunchy jam that’s got a great modern prog sound to it. From there we return to the melodic progressive rock for the return of the vocals.
Waves
A slow moving and quite melodic cut, this is rather like Pink Floyd. It stays mellow throughout, but works through a number of changes.
Venice CA
A harder rocking cut, we get some great layers of vocals here. This one really has an AOR sound to it. Although there’s a proggier section later, this is quite accessible and closer to something from a pop rock band of the 1970s than any real progressive rock. That said, it’s a great change of pace and a smoking hot tune.
Is It Ever Gonna Happen
Imagine a proggier version of Deep Purple and you’ll be quite close to the first half (or so) of this track. Then picture a more mainstream fusion kind of sound mixed with some Pink Floyd and you won’t be far off from the next section. From there we get a bouncy kind of prog meets pop rock section. It returns to the main section of the song after that and another instrumental movement is more in keeping with that sound.
White Butterfly
This is a short (of course on some albums at two and a half minutes that wouldn’t be true) acoustic guitar based ballad. It’s pretty and a nice break from the proggier, heavier stuff.
The Chosen Ones
Hard edged prog, there’s some fusion on board here, but it’s also quite accessible. Some hard rocking sections seem kind of close to a proggier Deep Purple. Still other sections come closer to something by ELP. All in all, this is an accessible and complex number that has a lot of hooks. It also has some serious soul.
Godsong
Here’s a complex and powerful melodic prog tune. It’s certainly progressive rock, but also very accessible. That makes it a great choice to create a satisfying conclusion.
 
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