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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Simak Dialog

Trance/Mission

Review by Gary Hill

So, this disc is arguably pure jazz. That said, I still think there’s enough rock here to land it under progressive rock. We often put fusion in that category, anyway. This runs a range from world music tinged, to music with healthy helping of Rock In Opposition and much more. However you label it, though, it’s quite an effective set.

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
This Spirit

There’s a dream-like element to the opening here. Then we get some world music. From there, though, this evolves into some definite fusion. It’s a killer jam that keeps evolving while managing to groove much of the time. Around the two and a half mark though, it drops to a much mellower movement, but it organically grow back upward from there. By around a minute or so later it’s turned to some seriously Yes-like progressive rock jamming. That quickly shifts back more towards jazz and then turns space-oriented. More Rock In Opposition like later, this really gets into quite a freeform jam. Although there are still some oddities at work, this gets into more traditional fusion territory further down that road.

Throwing Words
Energetic fusion starts this journey off. The cut weighs in at over twelve and a half minutes in length, so there is plenty of variety. A killer percussion meets keyboards jam later is one of those changes. There’s also a cool swing jazz section further down the road. Some killer space music emerges later with some guitar soaring over the top in killer melodic ways. This just keeps shifting and evolving and growing as it works through various changes. There is a section later that, while definitely still jazz-oriented has a lot of world music built into it in terms of the melodic progression and modes.
Sidewalk Stories
There is a lot of world music, but plenty of melodic rock, as well here. This by comparison a short tune, coming in at less than three minutes in length.
Finding the Path
The keyboard sounds on the start of this seem to land somewhere between classical and jazz, but the bass drives it wit a rock energy. Then it dissolves into very free-form RIO weirdness. This is another piece that lands under the three minute mark in terms of length.
All in a Day
Here’s another extended piece, at eleven minutes length. It comes in with an energized jazz groove. Percussion takes command later in the piece and then some killer guitar soloing eventually comes over the top of that. The piece drops way down again to percussion and keyboards only. One recurring theme here is a drop back to just percussion for short sections that serve as transitions. Sometimes we get keyboards taking over after such interludes. Other times it’s the guitar. Overall, this is quite a jazz-like number, but it definitely has moments that are more closely tied to progressive rock.
Promising Leads
Piano starts this off with some fairly pretty melody, but the cut turns towards the strange quite quickly. It gets quite dissonant and waves of strange (backwards tracked?) sound eventually take it. This is another cut that’s fairly short (less than three minutes).
Bright Tomorrows
Bouncy and melodic, this is a fun little number that does a great job of merging melodic rock and jazz. Although there are plenty of changes here, this is a pretty straight line of a piece. It stays close to the same musical concepts throughout and is one of the most instantly accessible pieces here.
Alternate Jeda
The opening section here borders on somewhat strange. As it continues it shifts towards some odd, but still quite cool space music. It gets into more pure fusion later.
Unfaded Hopes
Sort of a mid-tempo fusion number, there are some great melodic elements here. Around the three and a half minute mark, it drops down to much more atmospheric sound and the pace drops. The guitar solos over the top as waves of sound create a pillow behind it. It’s a great piece that’s more instantly accessible than some of the other stuff here.
Arie's Theme
This is a short piece (less than a minute and a half). The first part is melodic, but the last section is just sort of weird.
Sampan (Sailboat)
Firing out with energetic, melodic fusion, this thing really rocks. There are some hints of Celtic music here at times. It drops back after a time to mellower music and there are some non-lyrical vocals. Then some noisy bits of guitar emerge over this backdrop in a real space rock kind of arrangement. Eventually it rises back up towards more full on fusion sounds. There are still some hints of space music in the mix, though. More of those vocals emerge over the top as this continues to build upward. It gets quite powerful as it continues. Then around the seven minute mark it drops way down and a mellower jazz movement takes it. The piece grows quickly from there, though into a frantic prog rock jam that gets a bit noisy, but also quite melodic at times.
 
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