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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Andy Summers

Synaesthesia

Review by Gary Hill

Although he’s probably best known for his work with the Police, Andy Summers delved heavily into instrumental music after that band broke up. The sounds of his solo stuff were linked to fusion and progressive rock. He even recorded with King Crimson founder Robert Fripp. This reissue is a fine example of the kind of stuff Summers has done. It’s all instrumental and all interesting. There’s a good range of sounds, but it all lands in progressive rock and fusion territory.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Cubano Rebop

Ambient tones start this. Guitar rises up and begins to solo. While the guitar has distortion on it, it’s quite mellow music at first. It works out after the rhythm section joins to fusion that moves towards Rock In Opposition. By around the one minute mark this is really rocking. There are some hints of world music at times on this. It’s an expansive and evolving piece that’s powerful. Around the three and a half minute mark it shifts into a different, more purely prog, direction. Still it goes back to the more fusion sounds after that.

Chocolate of the Desperate
This cut is only a little over a minute long and it’s more atmospheric, spacey music. The guitar soloing still adds a lot of drama to it.
Meshes of the Afternoon
The sounds that start this really make me think of King Crimson quite a bit. Of course, Summers did work with Fripp, so that connection makes sense. This has a dramatic and powerful progression. Sure, one could still hear fusion in this, but overall it’s more pure progressive rock.
Monk Hangs Ten
Well, the title conveys surf music and that’s what we get here. Well, it’s surf music with a fusion and prog twist. This is a lot of fun. It has some great retro sounds on it. In particular, the mid-track sections move away from the surf sounds and bring in a lot more prog and fusion. Still, the surf gets reincorporated in the midst of the barely controlled chaos. It gets back more towards the pure surf before it ends.
Umbrellas over Java
World music is blended with the usual suspects here. This is a mellower tune, but it’s not short on melody or drama by any means. It works through quite a few changes as it continues and it does get more energy and volume as it does so.
Low Flying Doves
This is a mid-tempo piece that is quite powerful and dramatic. Some of the sounds here make me think of Pink Floyd a bit, but overall it lands closer to fusion based prog. There are some purely soaring guitar solo sections.
Invisible Cities
There is definitely a lot of pure prog here. This feels to me a lot like something from Tangerine Dream mixed with some fusion and some King Crimson. It’s another powerful piece. Some of the guitar work on this gets tastefully noisy. There are some pretty left-field shifts and turns.
Synaesthesia
Piano starts this in a very classical way. Although the only instrumentation remains keyboards, this works towards more electronic sounds as it continues. At times this makes me think of Genesis just a bit.
I Remember
Acoustic guitar drives this. It’s a delicate and intricate piece of music. There are other elements in the mix, but the guitar is the star of the show. There is a little bit of Spanish guitar at the end, too.
Triangles
A bonus track, piano starts this one off. It feels quite classical as it does. The piece gets guitar and other elements added to the mix and it starts to take on more of a twisted sound. It is more in line with Rock In Opposition as it keeps building.
 
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