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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Marbin

Last Chapter of Dreaming

Review by Gary Hill

Jazz is arguably the biggest constant here. There is world music here, though, too. Add in some chamber music, folk, psychedelic and more mainstream prog and you have a better clue of what’s up here. While all of those things might seem like quite a confusing mix, these guys make it work like magic. This is a very strong album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Blue Fingers

Drums open the proceedings and hold it for a time. Then it pounds out into something that has an edge a bit like the bombastic side of Pink Floyd, but with a lot of jazz in the mix. This rocker is quite tasty and based on a killer groove. When the guitar drives it later it works out to more of a traditional fusion arrangement, but it eventually works its way back to the bombast meets jazz approach.

Inner Monologue
World music and jazz merge on this melodic cut. It’s bouncy and folky and very retro in sound and texture. At the same time it calls to mind some of the chamber music meets prog stuff out in the modern musical world. The guitar solo segment on this is pretty darned awe-inspiring.
Breaking the Cycle

Starting with more pure rock instrumentation, there is quite a bit of world music in the mix as this builds out into an almost alternative rock arrangement. That holds it for a time, with no real jazz in the arrangement. Then, it shifts to a jazz dominated movement with a real Spanish jazz vibe to it. As it evolves from there, it does a great job of combining those two sounds into one.

On the Square

The guitar based section that opens this has almost a punk rock meets indie rock vibe to it. As the organ joins, we get some real retro, psychedelic, textures. It works out from there into smoking hot, fast paced fusion that just plain rocks. The riffing on this is classic. It drops back for a bit of a bass solo that evolves into a funky guitar solo segment. It’s rubbery and very tasty.

Cafe de Nuit

Acoustic guitar opens this cut. It’s a major change and really very much mellow European café music at the start. Although it gets more of a pure jazz treatment as it continues, it still remains fairly sedate and slow moving. There is a non-lyrical female vocal on this cut.

Redline

Fast paced funky sounds open this number. It turns out to a killer jazz jam with some hints of southern rock. One might make a comparison to Dixie Dregs. While not a perfect comparison, that would be a pretty good one. This is energetic and just plain fun. They take it through a number of shifts and changes, it remains one of the most consistent and constant tracks on the disc. It’s also a real highlight.

Volta

Coming in with chiming harmonics, this grows out from there into a balladic arrangement with a sense of majesty and some world music built into it. Around the one minute mark there’s a complete reinvention. A harder rocking sound that makes me think a bit of early Rush takes it for a short time. That sound remains, but gets turned more jazzy rather quickly. Then it eventually works out to a section that’s more in keeping with hard rocking psychedelic music with a bit of surf in the soundscape from there. This is quite a dynamic and diverse number and features some particularly inspired jamming.

The Ballad of Daniel White

While this starts with a rather sparse arrangement, it works out after a short time into one of the coolest melodic jams of the whole set. This is clearly one of the most accessible piece, combining a pop-rock song structure with jazzy music. It’s an awesome tune.

Down Goes the Day

A slow moving cut, this has a lush prog meets jazz arrangement. It’s essentially a pretty ballad. That makes it a nice change of pace. In some ways it reminds me quite a bit of Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd. It does get a bit of crunch and bombast later, but remains slow moving and drops back down after that hard rocking segment.

The Way to Riches

Percussion opens this and then they work out into a jazzy Ethnic sounding jam that’s high energy. It twists and turns rather like Klezmer music. There is a short percussion solo in the track before they take it to something that’s more pure fusion. There’s one more short percussion showcase later in the piece, too.

And the Night Gave Nothing

Another slower tune, this is tasty jazz based progressive rock. It gets rather heavy at times, but feels somewhat dark and melancholy. Comparisons to Pink Floyd would be warranted here. While there are some shifts, they are more flavoring than real changes of direction.

Purple Fiddle

With some female vocals early, there is a real Latin edge to this piece. It’s another that seems to derive the changes more from flavoring than real twists and turns. That said, it seems to have some of the most inspired soloing of the whole set. When it moves back out to more of a “song” oriented structure, it gets a lot of extra energy and layers..

Last Days of August

A moody and rather crunchy guitar solo starts this off and holds the cut for time. Eventually other instruments join, but it’s kind of a bluesy, crunchy ballad approach as it continues. It’s slow moving, but also very meaty. Around the minute and a half mark the arrangement gets more of a pure jazz treatment, but the main song progression or theme isn’t altered. At points along this path those Pink Floyd references again rear their head. I particularly like some of the guitar soloing on this cut.

Last Chapter of Dreaming

They end the set with the title track. This is more of a pure rock sound, but with some psychedelia and bits of jazz built into it. Somehow I’m reminded of the Beatles a bit here. The piece is book-ended with little bits of café styled music

 
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