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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dark Chocolate

The Best of Dark Chocolate

Review by Gary Hill

I don’t know for sure where this group fits musically. I mean, there is a connection to Spyro Gyra. Additionally there is a lot of jazz in the mix. Still, some definite progressive rock shows up along with world music, classical and a lot more. For that reason, I put them under progressive rock. This is a compilation of stuff from their various discs. I’ve reviewed several of the individual tracks previously on their Unwrapped album. For the sake of consistency, those track reviews here are copied from that review. A lot of the music here is sans vocals, but the songs that have voices are clearly identified as such in this review.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Walk the Garden

A cool walking bass pattern opens this and the piece grows out from there with a great bluesy kind of space rock meets fusion sound. There is a subtle weirdness to this. Yet it’s captivating and compelling. At times it makes me think of Pink Floyd in some ways. Still, the overall tone isn’t really along those lines. The Doors might be a valid reference at times, too.

Moonrise
A funky rhythm section starts thing off on this tune. The piece has some cool melodic sections, some that seem somehow familiar along with that great funky groove. This is more purely fusion than some of the other pieces are.
Cafe Society
More of a pure jazz tune is heard on this killer cut. The piano on this really stands out and the whole cut is cool.
Mirron Dance
There’s a certain familiar air to this piece. It really feels a lot like something from Patrick Moraz’ solo works, but with a more pure jazz sound onboard. This is very tasty and includes a prominent percussion element. It moves even further towards pure jazz as it gets closer to the end.
Le Marais
Here we have another powerful instrumental. The bass really steals the show on this. It’s quite a potent piece of music with piano at times giving that bass a run for its money. In fact, while the bass dominates the first portion, the piano takes that role later.   
Hunk Funk
At a little under two and a half minutes in length, this is the shortest track on show here. The piano is the central driving force of the piece and this is a more traditional jazz number. 
Gitane
World music is a big element of this mellow piece. It’s got some non-lyrical vocals and is more organic than a lot of the rest of the stuff here.
I Give My Soul
Here’s a nice change. It’s got female vocals and combines a dreamy kind of organic progressive rock with world music and jazz. This is a great tune.
Fundament
More killer fusion with a mellow melodic element is the order of business here. Non-lyrical female vocals provide a dramatic, spacey kind of vibe.
Unchained
A percussively intensive cut, this also has female vocals. This time around they have lyrics. It’s very much a world music song.
On the Train
Bass opens this and drives it as they work out into a cool jazz meets psychedelic and prog mellow arrangement. Again female vocals weave the lyrical tale. We get some great bass work on this thing as it continues into more pure jazz territory.
Pool Sounds
A killer classic jazz vibe pervades this tune. It’s mellow and has a great groove to it. It’s one of the best pieces here. It’s another with vocals.
Hello Flower
A mellow cut this has some elements (mainly harp) that might make it seem like new age music. It’s pretty and tasty, but I wonder if it’s a rather anticlimactic way to end the set. Still, it does manage to move towards a space rock meets jam band sort of sound.
 
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