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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ximena Borges

Joyful Noise

Review by Gary Hill

Is this album progressive rock? Probably not. It’s definitely progressive music, though. So, for that reason I’m landing it under prog. Much like the work of Bobby McFerrin, this is all one person with no musical instruments. That said, it’s not all voices. For instance, there are finger pops here. It’s very creative and unusual stuff. Yet it still manages to convey traditional holiday melodies and themes. This is quite an intriguing release. That’s for sure.

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
Crunchy Drummer Boy

When you consider that there are no instruments here, it’s amazing how percussive this track is. Some of the rhythmic elements are providing by a vocal “clicking,” but other voice parts manage to be percussive, too – perhaps a bit liked tuned percussion. This is a pretty impressive version of the classic holiday song.

Kurt Tannenbaum
In a lot of ways there is a jazzy kind of groove to this. Parts of this almost sound like they are sung in Klingon to me, but it’s probably German. Laurie Anderson would be a valid reference a lot of the time here.
Divin Enfant

This one has more of a traditional classical music texture to it. There is still some jazz on display, though.

Niño Lindo

Much more rhythmic and percussive, this is a pretty and unusual track.

Año Viejo

The various layers here really work well together, kind of dancing around one another. This has elements of world music, jazz and opera.

Christmastime is Here

This is more pure jazz in a lot of ways. That said, there is some operatic sound in the mix. Whistling is a big part of this, too.

Luna Timbosa

Oddly enough, this really feels like an electronic kind of arrangement. Comparisons to Laurie Anderson are again appropriate. It’s quite a percussive piece, too. It’s unusual, but quite effective.

Noche de Bach

The arrangement on this makes me think of a classical meets jazz vibe. It’s quite pretty and one of the most easily accessible pieces here.

Santa Baby

There is much more of an old school jazz element to this. There is some finger popping in the rhythmic element here. To me, there’s a bit of a miss-step in that it feels a bit too serious, seeming to have lost part of the playful nature of the cut. Still, that’s a minor issue and this is a good one.

Amazing Grace

This piece has some points against it for me before I even listen to it. That’s because I can’t stand the song itself. I’ve always despised it and there is only one version I can think of that’s ever worked for me. This version doesn’t change my mind on that. The first parts of the song are stripped bare to just one voice. After a couple verses other layers are added. Personally, I’d pass this one by, but I’m biased.

 
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