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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Pilgrim Speakeasy

Lo-Fi Love at the Park Café

Review by Gary Hill

There’s one thing that’s always easy about a Pilgrim Speakeasy album. It’s easy to just sit down and get into the groove and enjoy the disc. On the other hand, it’s very hard to categorize. I always land it under progressive rock and I think it’s valid, but there is always plenty of psychedelic rock, jazz and more in the mix. However you slice it, though, I think this might be the most compelling and effective disc from Pilgrim Speakeasy. If you haven’t checked this act out before, it’s a great place to start. If you are familiar, you should know how unusual and great PS can be. Get out and buy this now.

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
Vibrations

A spoken bit opens this and acoustic guitar rises up as it continues. Then other instruments join after a time. Those spoken words are in Spanish. The bass really drives. Flute weaves melody over the top as this builds up more later. I’m definitely reminded of both world music and Pat Metheny at times here. It gets quite powerful. Then, after the three minute mark, crunch guitar enters and we’re taken into a smoking hot progressive rock meets world music jam. It drops toward space music from there. Then some funky jamming takes it. More melodic emerges after that section. Then it works out to a smoking hot prog meets fusion jam from that point. An unusual crescendo ends this.

Overkilled
Funk, psychedelia and Frank Zappa seem to merge here. This is more of a straight-line piece, but it’s also a powerhouse that oozes cool.
Brand X
Percussion dominates this at first. Then it works out from there in a cool jam that has fusion, electronic music and more at its heart. Imagine a more proggy Parliament Funkadelic and you’ll probably somewhere in the territory of this rocker. There’s a weird little electronic section at the end that serves to take it out.
Colours
Spoken dialog feeling like something from a movie, a bit distant and echoey is all this short track is.
Serious
Spacey elements and a jazzy jam are the basis for this number. A jazzy, rocking sound emerges later in the piece. The guitar really screams out with some tasteful notes later, too. This has such a cool blend of sounds. I love the mellow drop back to almost Hawaiian music. This is one of the quirkiest pieces here. There is a hard rocking jam later in the song. There is a drop back down after that but it gets brought out to some of the most hard-edged stuff of he whole set before it ends. 
Voodoo
Drums are the background on this theatrical interlude. Beyond those tribal drums we get more dialog that feels like it comes from a movie.
Pimp the World
Jazzy, funky hard rocking sounds are the order of business here. This is a killer track. It really oozes cool. It drops way down to a mellower section after the two minute mark. It builds back out to the harder rocking movements later and we’re taken through a number of changes. This is another piece that makes me think of Zappa a bit at times. The guitar dominated section at the end is classy.
Warp Igs
War movie sound effects are punctuated by bits of music as the introduction runs through. This is actually a variant on the Black Sabbath song “War Pigs,” but with different lyrics. The music is turned into a jazzy jam. This is an intriguing thing, really. It is quite cool and the lyrics are updated in a lot of ways. The horn section is a great touch. The instrumental section later has so much killer funk built into it that it’s scary. This is a real powerhouse and one of the best tracks of the set. Of course, I’m a huge Black Sabbath fan, so maybe I’m biased. There are some Sabbath (or at least Ozzy) samples. There is some old drunken British street singing at the end.
2nd Place
Prog, funk and hard rock merge on this killer tune. There are quite a few shifts and changes. There’s even a keyboard interlude movement. This is quirky and odd, but also very cool. The triumphant prog section later in the piece is among the strongest passages of the set.
Roll Neck Sweater
Acoustic sounds start this in a rather tentative odd way at first. Then it works to some psychedelic rock coolness from there. Some industrial music is heard on the chorus and there is some noisy guitar soloing on this piece. There’s a weird rap later in the piece. This is really one of the weirdest pieces here. It gets really heavy and rather metallic near the end.
Barbarism Begins At Home
Funk, jazz and electronic music merge on this. This is a remake of a song by The Smiths. The keyboard dominated section late is a nice touch.
Culture of Silence
The drum beat on this early is very funeral dirge-like. The music is more psychedelic in texture, though. That drum beat persists, but drops back further after a while. The acoustic guitar that comes in later weaves some colorful.musical threads. The horn section is a nice touch, too. Some weird keyboard sounds take it out.
Egg Town
Coming in like a folky rocker, this quickly fires up into more hard edged territory from there. It’s a real glam rock meets psychedelic kind of rocker. There’s a weird (but tasty) section later with strange keyboards serving as the backdrop for spoken, processed vocals. Then a melodic guitar solo emerges over the top.
String Theory
This is an intricate and folky acoustic guitar solo.
Le Fonque
Funky music is the order of business as this leads off. Parliament comes to mind again. The vocals bring more psychedelic sound to the table. The jamming later has both space music and fusion in the mix. This is another powerhouse piece. It’s quite a dynamic and diverse one, too, moving through quite a few different modes and sections.
Hmm Hmm Hmmm Hmmm
Percussion serves as the background as humming provides the title. Guitar joins it, but it’s more rhythmic than melodic. Then bass joins and the cut keeps building. A fairly straightforward tune, this is melodic progressive rock.
The Past Can't Last / Saturday Sunshine
Weird electronic elements open this and hold it for a short time. Then more organic, rocking sounds enter as the cut starts to rise upward. There are definite space rock elements at times before this shifts. When it does turn the corner, it’s more symphonic progressive rock in a lot of ways. Then it eventually works out to more electronic music before a full on funk jam takes it. The first chorus takes it with a real psychedelic rock sound. Then the whole thing transitions into the second movement. This is more of a classic rock meets progressive rock sound. It’s got a great vocal arrangement and some melodic picked acoustic guitar. That mode ends the disc.
 
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