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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Peter Calandra

Inner Circle

Review by Gary Hill

As I did with Calandra’s last disc, I’m putting this under “progressive rock.” I’d say this one is an even better fit. That’s because it’s not all solo piano, but some is. The combination of sounds here moves from electronic to fusion and classical. It’s all pretty and it never feels redundant. This rocks out at times, but is mellow for the most part. If you like keyboard oriented instrumental music, you can’t go wrong here. This is a great album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Clyde and the Pearl

Drums start this and then some trippy sounding organ joins. From there the piece works out into a jazzy kind of exploration that has a great retro texture to it. This is a bit like electronic music merged with fusion and progressive rock. Yet, some of the melodies bring it closer to classical music. Piano carries a lot of the melody. This is a pretty cut that has a lot of space music built into it.

Dine’s Waltz
This one starts with piano and works out from there in an intricate and rather delicate arrangement that has a lot of classical music in its construction. Although that piano is the main thing here, there are some other sounds that serve as the icing on the cake.
The Wayfarer
In some ways this is very classical in nature. Yet there is sort of an electronic element here that brings it more into the space rock or pure progressive rock territory. Whatever you call this, though, it’s a powerful piece of music with a lot of tension building and release. There are some powerful soulful non-lyrical female vocals in the mix on this thing. It gets a bit of world music added in later, too.
Better Angels
This piano piece is intricate and rather delicate. It’s much mellower than the previous number. It seems to merge classical music and jazz.
Inner Circle
Although in terms of volume this starts off mellow, there is a real energy to it. The music brings space and jazz to the table at first. Strings lend some classical music textures to the mix. This is a beautiful piece of music that really has a lot of great melodies.
Faith
This might be my favorite cut on the set. It’s one of the most dynamic, ranging from mellow, almost melancholy music to energetic sounds that seem to convey a feeling of joyous exploration. This is both classical and rocking in nature. It’s just a great piece of music.
So Much to Say
This piano solo might be fairly brief, but it isn’t lacking in emotion or beauty. It’s an inspiring composition that really works well.
A Quiet Spark
Another solo piano piece, this is not as powerful as the previous one. That said, it is still quite pretty and lands somewhere on the classical end of the jazz meets classical spectrum.
Night Watch
Space music and jazz seem to be the main cohorts on this piece. It’s pretty and dramatic. It’s also rather mysterious and cinematic. Mike Oldfield seems a good reference point.
The Dreamer 1
Classical music is blended with space sounds on this powerful and quite satisfying number. Although it’s mellow overall, there are moments that really rise up to some fairly tall heights. This is actually one of my favorite pieces of the whole disc.
Whispers in the Dark
Another solo piano piece, this is packed with emotion and beauty. It’s a powerful number with some great melodies. It’s another highlight.
Reflections in the Sky
This is another piano only number. It’s more pure classical. It’s also not one of my favorites here. Don’t get me wrong. It’s pretty and it’s a good piece of music. It just doesn’t stand as tall as some of the rest here.
Chorale
As one might guess from the title, the key element here is chorale vocals. They sound like they are sampled, though. That’s not a bad thing, just a statement. This piece combines classical music and electronic for something that’s pretty and powerful. It’s unusual and stunning and a great way to end things. (Editor's Note: After publication, Calandra had this to say: "it is Joy Askew overdubbing multiple parts ( Soprano, Alto Tenor) Multiple times and not sampled voices.")
 
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