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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Twenty Committee

A Lifeblood Psalm

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite a unique and effective set. The vocals are very good and so are the melodies. The music here is progressive rock, but arguably progressive rock like nothing you’ve heard before. There are sections that call to mind classic prog, but then there are other sections that seem equally tied to modern alternative rock and pop music. This is creative and powerful and never fails to entertain however you slice it.

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
Introduction

This introductory piece is short and melodic. It’s pretty and a bit understated with a lot of sound bites in the mix. 

How Wonderful
Here we get more of an energized cut. It’s got an organic progressive rock vibe, perhaps a bit like a modern take on folk prog. It moves quite nicely and rocks out quite a bit later. The piece has a number of shifts and changes and works really well. I really love the killer instrumental section further down the musical road.
Her Voice
This is the real epic of the disc (if you don’t count the multipart suite). It starts with a Yes-like movement and modulates to a more stripped down approach for the first vocals. Then it rises back up to more pure prog. There’s a cool retro keyboard solo section that moves it towards fusion. They return to the more straightforward sound for the next vocal section. There’s a cool, slightly noisy, slightly spacey jam that ensues before the three minute mark. It wanders more into space as it continues. It really gets pretty strange before it coalesces back into something around the five minute mark. The energized progressive rock jamming moves this forward. That gets somewhat freeform and noisy after a time, though. Then we are moved back out into space that gives way to a jazzy kind of Pink Floyd like sound with more of those oddities in the mix. The vocals rejoin here. More shifts and changes emerge and we get some seriously fast paced and high energy jamming with some great keyboard soloing. Somehow it makes me think of a number of bands (Yes, Kansas, ELP and Genesis) all at once. It drops back down around the nine minute mark to a keyboard dominated movement for another vocal section. They power it back up after that, though to a rocking kind of modern prog sound. Then more melodic elements emerge beyond that to take it out.
Airtight
Acoustic guitar and strings open this is a very gentle and pretty fashion. Retro sounding keyboards are added to the mix as this becomes a progressive rock ballad motif. We get taken out into more folk oriented rocking music from there. It keeps shifting and changing with a very lush prog section giving way to something that’s a lot like alternative rock. They take it into a more proggy variant on that as they continue. There is a classical piano interlude later before we’re taken into more progressive rock jamming for a time. Then the guitar and strings that opened the set return as the whole thing plays through.
The Knowledge Enterprise: Overture
Piano starts the first movement of this epic in classical meets jazz fashion. As the rest of the group join it’s in a fast paced and tastefully off-kilter jam. Numerous shifts and changes emerge as this keeps building. Then past the two and a half minute mark it drops way down to a keyboard laden interlude before returning to more rocking prog. This is a strictly instrumental movement.
The Knowledge Enterprise: Conceivers and Deceivers
Carrying on some of the musical themes from the previous movement, this works into more of a “song oriented” structure and vocals come across as they continue. It works through a number of harder rocking sounds and has some almost Beatles-like moments in the process. Then we get a jam that feels sort of like a cross between Starcastle and ELP. The shifts and changes continue as they give us one prog variant after another. It’s one heck of a ride. It drops to more melodic and mellow prog near the end of this movement. That segues it into the next piece.
The Knowledge Enterprise: Tonight
Mellow sounds open this and when the vocals come in, it’s in a real progressive rock ballad approach. It grows outward, but remains pretty mellow for the first couple minutes. Some strings are heard over the top at times. Then It powers up for more rocking sounds for a time. That gives way to a piano dominated mellower interlude before they intensify the arrangement again. They drop it way down again as acoustic guitar and classical piano drive the song forward. That section ends this.
The Knowledge Enterprise: With These Eyes
This movement powers out with a cool start and stop jam that’s got a lot of fusion in the mix. It gives way to a forward moving jam that’s quite classic in tone and accessible. They work through a number of shifts and changes. Then after the four minute mark they take it into a fusion based jam with some cool keyboard work. That section takes it into the final movement.
The Knowledge Enterprise: Finale
At less than a minute and a half in length, this is a short one. It starts with piano and then fires out into more killer progressive rock to take the whole suite and the album out in style. It does a great job of tying all the pieces together and creating a satisfying ending.
 
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