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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Daedalus Spirit Orchestra

Tabula Rasa

Review by Gary Hill

The mix of sounds on this album is pretty awesome. I love the saxophone that begs comparisons to the Red era of King Crimson. There are some epic cuts here, with the title track alone weighing in at over 27 minutes in length. That King Crimson element is present a lot of the time on this disc, but other comparisons come into play at different points, ranging from Traffic to jazz to modern progressive rock and Rock In Opposition. All the elements are woven into a killer set that is vibrant and elegant.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ven-Is

At almost eleven minutes in length this is a cut of epic proportions, but far from the longest piece here. It starts with an extended introduction that has a lot of classic progressive rock in the mix. It drops way down for the first vocals and continues with a bit more modern prog sound. They include some scorching melodic guitar work later and the tune keeps building up as it continues. Some cool fusion based progressive rock is heard further along this musical road and this is just an awesome piece of prog, no question about it. Different instruments lead the way at different points, and the piece is full of changes and contrasts. Some of the saxophone playing later begs comparisons to Red era King Crimson. Eventually, fireworks end the piece.

Echolalia: the blackest tongue has spoken

A shorter cut, this has a lot of drama and power. It’s a jazzy arrangement that calls to mind early King Crimson quite a bit. I really like this piece a lot. It drops down for a really mellow treatment that just oozes with jazzy cool.

27-heads hydra

At just over ten-minutes in length, this is the third longest piece here. It starts off very mellow and builds out gradually. As it rocks out more later, there are elements of Traffic in the mix. Some killer melodic guitar soloing follows that section and takes it in a new direction. Some jazzier elements emerge as the piece continues. It drops to near silence mid-track and then fires out into a killer fusion jam after that. We get some great retro sounds in the midst of it.

Think Tank

Feeling a bit like a continuation of the previous number, this powers out into some screaming fusion and works through several changes. Remarkably, while this piece is over eight minutes long, it’s one of the shortest cuts on the disc. That Traffic element returns on this cut. It drops to a bit of mellower, but still frantic music as an interlude later, but then powers back out into the song proper from there. There’s a Fripp like guitar bit near the end and the actual outro seems a bit Zappa like.

Pré-Eclampsie

At just over a minute in length, this is the shortest cut here. It’s mellow and dramatic and calls to mind early Genesis in some ways.

Tabula Rasa

Firing straight out from the previous instrumental, the title track has a lot of fusion in it at the start. At over 27 minutes in length, this epic is by far the longest piece of the set. For the first eight minutes or so it works through various high energy hard rocking sounds that definitely feel like fusion (at times with some more of that Traffic reference). Then it drops way down and guitar leads out with a fusion meets technical metal sound. It builds out gradually from there with the guitar getting alternated with keyboard sections. As the vocals return a horn section really brings home the jazz elements. Then it works out to another instrumental section. They drop things way down and there are some spoken/screamed vocals way down in the mix and distant. Then some tentative jazzy music rises up to take it forward. It turns really hard edged later with a frantic section that leans on modern alternative rock. Still, that gets interrupted by more jazzy sounds. There is a rather strange (but cool) stripped down movement later. Around the 18 minute mark there’s a weird, almost horror movie like keyboard and spoken vocal section that works through various melodic themes as it continues. Around the twenty minute mark it drops to sound effects with some weird atmosphere. Seemingly freeform sounds serve to create a RIO like bit of stripped back noisiness. Eventually it resolves out to a pretty balladic section that builds dramatically. It fires out from there into fast paced modern progressive rock. It really serves for a great resolution and one of the most powerful musical sections of the whole album. It’s also the final movement of the disc.

 
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