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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Susan Clynes

Life Is

Review by Gary Hill

Is this definitely progressive rock? No. The rock element is often missing here. That said, this piano based music is closely tied to a lot of the Rock In Opposition movement and some of the progressive chamber music stuff out there. It’s definitely progressive music, and progressive rock fans would certainly be a great place for it to get fans. However you label this, though, it’s an unusual disc that manages to thrill and entertain.

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
Life Is

I love the piano melody that starts this. As the vocals come across I’m reminded quite a bit of Tori Amos. There is definitely a classical air to the piece.

A Good Man
Here we get a straightforward hard rocking arrangement. It has drops down to just piano but really has an almost punk rock energy. The stripped back movement later has a lot of jazz and art rock in it, too.
Childhood Dreams
Jazz and classical merge with more rocking sound here. Dramatic musical theater and performance art are also valid reference points. The cut shifts out later to a more purely melodic movement that has a lot of jazz ballad style built into it. There is even some non-lyrical singing akin to skat.
Les Larmes
This comes in pretty and quite classical in nature. There is an inherent sadness to it as it works forward. Piano and violin climb forward as it continues. Then it works into a new direction from there with more energy, but no less classical element. Some Middle Eastern melodies emerge later. It’s about four minutes in before we get any vocals. Even then, they act more as another instrument than anything else. The song explodes into a killer jam that’s part prog rock, part psychedelia, part Rock In Opposition and part classical. That eventually drops down for a return to more sedate elements. It works through a gradual build up to more energetic music and then continues to grow from there. This is an extremely dynamic piece of music. It’s also an extended one.
Tuesday Rain
This has a great old school jazz sound as it opens. It gets into some more rock oriented territory, but the vocals call to mind jazz ballads for sure. This works out but retains that jazz sound throughout.
Ileana's Song
Here we get another that’s very much a jazz styled tune. But it does have more rock sound in the midst. It’s got some more prog like elements at play, too.
When You’re Dead
This is a cool tune that’s got a lot of art rock built into it. This works through quite a few shifts and changes and is a great piece of music. It’s quite tied to progressive chamber music and Rock in Opposition.
Pigeon's Intrusion
Bouncy and playful piano starts this. World music, jazz and chamber music combine on this number. This really grows into some rather powerful progressive music as it continues. It’s an extensive and diverse instrumental that’s very meaty.
Le Voyage
Mellower, this is no less powerful. It’s an intricate and pretty instrumental with a lot of classical music built into it.
Linear Blindness
Pretty and powerful, this is another that makes me think of Tori Amos a bit. It’s more classical than that conveys, though.
Butterflies
The first part of this is more of a pop rock sound that is again not far removed from the music of Tori Amos. I like the relationship between the string instrumentation and piano. This is bouncy and energetic and quite accessible. It works out, though to a real noisy jam that’s quite tied to Rock In Opposition. This really works through some pretty bizarre territory as it continues.
 
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