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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Darryl Way

Ultra Violins

Review by Gary Hill

Is this progressive music? Yes. Is it progressive rock? I don’t know. Certainly the last song is. Overall, this is more classical than anything else, but there are prog elements here in there. Also, since Darryl Way has worked in Curved Air, he qualifies as a prog artist for the purposes of MSJ. No matter how it’s categorized, though, this is a great album. I really like it a lot. Based on the title, one would assume that violins would dominate this album. The thing is, it’s more of a group effort. Sure, violin features prominently, but these pieces aren’t arranged to be violin showcases. Instead, the song itself is the star, with the instruments all adding to the full experience. That’s the way it should be. For the most part that instrumentation is all symphonic, but there are some rock instruments here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Scheherezade, The Sea and Sinbad's Ship

Mellow textural sounds open this. As it grows the violin enters to carry the piece forward. A symphonic element rises up and the piece works out in a very classical way from there. It really grows out as it continues. It’s quite classical. That much is sure. It’s also quite powerful.

Polvetsian Dances
This energetic piece might not qualify as “rock” music, but it’s more mainstream and less purely classical than the previous tune was. It’s also more energized.
Danse Macabre
Here Way seems to combine world music with a more rock sounding arrangement. Mind you, it’s still classical instrumentation. This piece just feels more like rock music. It’s got a lot of energy and is very dramatic. There is definitely an old-world vibe here.
Panis Angelicus
Starting purely classical in nature, this is a great piece of music. It’s definitely got a lot more of a rock music vibe as it continues. In fact, it’s more rock music oriented than anything we’ve heard so far. It still maintains that classical element throughout, though.
Pie Jesu
Intricate, pretty and much more classical in nature, this is an intriguing piece of music. It does get into a bit more of a “rock song” kind of vibe later, though.
Scheherezade, The Young Prince and Princess
Much more classical in texture, this is quite pretty. It has a very dream-like element to it in a lot of ways. It’s almost magical. After time, though, this works out to more world music sounds. It has an Eastern European vibe to it.
Farandole
An old-world, classical styled fanfare opens things. After this introduction, we’re taken into more playful, but still classical, music. There is a pounding rhythm section growing upward as it continues. Some more rock like elements emerge further down this musical road. It remains extremely classical in nature throughout, though.
Tarantelle
Classical music and world sounds merge on this powerful piece. It’s energetic and leans toward Klezmer music at times. It also has some elements that seem related to symphonic progressive rock.
Vivaldi
Early sections here really feel to me like symphonic rock with purely classical instrumentation. Later in the piece, though, it gets the only real rock treatment of the set. Electric guitar and other instruments join to turn this into a real classical rocking tune. It’s arguably the highlight here and a great choice to close the set. It’s also the only cut that purely qualifies as progressive rock.
 
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