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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Egg

The Civil Surface

Review by Gary Hill

I have heard of Egg over the years, but until this reissued album, I never actually heard them. Their music is often freeform – at least if this is indicative of the whole catalog. It’s intriguing stuff and doesn’t get as strange or abrasive as some Rock In Opposition does. Dave Stewart of Hatfield and the McCoys fame is one of the members of this outfit and Steve Hillage guests on this disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Germ Patrol

This comes in tentatively, sitting almost under the surface with bits of percussion and other sounds coming in here and there in a rather chaotic way. By around the minute and a half mark a more driving, insistent rhythmic element heralds more of a musical format. Even then, though, it’s still quite freeform and a bit strange. It continues to evolve and before the three-minute mark it becomes sort of a psychedelic sound, almost resembling a cross between Iron Butterfly and Vanilla Fudge. The changes continue as this drifts toward more traditional progressive rock sounds. It powers out into a killer jam later. That doesn’t stay around long, though. Instead, this just keeps shifting and changing in a very freeform progression. There is a more full on prog jam later, though. There is an almost Rock In Opposition sounding powered up section further down the musical road, too. The ending is more jazz-like.

Wind Quartet 1
Very classical and playful in nature, this is very much what it says, a Wind Quartet performance.
Enneagram
Fast paced prog opens this and the cut feels a bit like King Crimson merged with ELP at times to me. Although this is far from a straight line journey, it tends to be more mainstream progressive rock than the previous two songs did. It works through a number of changes, though and gets a lot mellower at a couple points mid-track, almost dropping to silence for a time. This is a real powerhouse piece and one of my favorites here. There are some almost space rock moments, too.
Prelude
A little odd and experimental, keyboards are a big part of this arrangement. In a lot of ways this feels classical and somewhat symphonic. There are some non-lyrical vocals in the mix at times.
Wring Out the Ground (Loosely Now)
This has real vocals. It’s one of the more straightforward progressive rock pieces here. Still, it’s got a definite RIO edge to it. It works through a number of changes. It gets quite mellow at times and has an extended instrumental section.
Nearch
Jazz and classical seem to merge on this RIO-type number. It’s very freeform and very weird and has “holes” in the middle that seem like endings, but aren’t.
Wind Quartet 2
Here we get another Wind Quartet piece. This is rather gentle and pretty, but also freeform and a little strange.
 
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