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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Reacta

Refraction

Review by Gary Hill

I’m sure there are those who will quibble with this landing in progressive rock. Clearly, it’s not tied to classic prog. This is more along the lines of the modern prog that’s linked to Radiohead. Mind you, this doesn’t sound like Radiohead, but it has the tie to alternative rock. Whatever you call it, though, the style never gets old and these guys have produced an extremely effective set of music. I hear a lot of The Police in this, but that’s mostly because of the vocals. A lot of the singing here makes me think of Sting, but Sting in the Police more so than solo. No matter how you imagine this landing in terms of style, it’s a great album.

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
Lost

Rather tentative and moody, as the vocals come over this arrangement there is a great tone and mood. After this section, though, it powers out to some fast paced modern progressive rock. That segment takes us back to the verse section. This time, though, it’s got more power and a more filled out arrangement. This is a great tune that seems to combine a modern prog sound with fusion and perhaps some hints of The Police. They take us through a number of shifts and changes, including a mellow closing section.

Back Home
Coming up with a sound that’s almost like a proggy U2, this works out from there. Again, we’re taken through some changes along this road. While this (as the rest of the disc is) is clearly tied to the alternative rock based school of modern prog that’s rather like Radiohead, this really doesn’t sound much like that band. It simply draws from the same kind of musical territory. It drops to some weird mellower music to segue into the next number.
Puzzles
Coming straight out of the previous one, this again makes me think of The Police (or more specifically Sting) on the opening vocal section. They power it out into some soaring modern progressive rock as they continue, though. It works through some changes. While everything here lives in similar territory, each song manages to stand out as unique from one another.
Stay Here
Coming in mellow, this feels rather rhythmic and electronic at first. It builds out gradually as it continues. Then, after the half minute mark it powers out with a great slow moving arrangement. The vocals on this really make me think of Sting. The piece continues to grow and develop.
Complication
At over twelve minutes in length, this is definitely the epic of the set. It starts very quiet and tentatively. Then some electronic sounds are introduced as it begins to gradually work out. Around the forty-five minute mark it gets an infusion of rocking sound and we’re on our way. Although it’s a fairly organic and straightforward ride to get there, by about the five minute mark they’ve taken this into some of the most dramatic and hard rocking music of the whole set. By around the seven minute mark they’ve taken us into mellow territory, moving it in textural ways. Before the nine minute mark it’s gone to almost silence and then started to rise back up with very dramatic atmosphere. It continues at that level, but we’re taken through a number of shifts and turns. It never rises back up, instead ending in the atmospheric.
Skyscraper
After a short bit of ambience, this comes out running and soaring. There’s a drop back to a Police turned proggy mode for the vocals. The chorus gets an infusion of power. This has quite a few changes and works between mellower and more rocking sounds in a great way. It’s another winner on a disc full of winners.
City of Lights
This starts with an electronic mode that has a real groove to it. The first vocals come in over the top of this sound. It gets more power and rock in the mix before the one minute mark. Some parts of this are among the most mainstream moments of the set. Still, they take it through several changes with various moods dominating at various times.
Sound of Drums
This one is arguably the closest to pure alternative rock of anything here. It’s an energetic rocker with a catchy vocal hook and some great musical moments to go with it. Still, there are enough changes here and enough prog to keep it from landing purely in that alternative rock heading.
Last Train
Coming in fairly hard rocking, they drop it back a bit for the vocals. I love the guitar driven instrumental section that follows the first verse. Overall, this is a fairly powered up and rocking tune. It carries on the basic musical concepts from the rest of the disc, but with some variant. There is a drop back to an almost jazzy section mid-track.
Storyline
Atmospheric tones start this and hold it for a time, but they eventually rock it out more as they continue. There is almost a space rock vibe to some of this, but the vocals are some of the most “rock and roll” of the set. The more soaring section later has some great moods and modes. It’s among the strongest passages of the disc. It drops back from there to mellower stylings to take it out.
 
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