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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

VHF

Very High Frequency

Review by Gary Hill

What an amazing set this is. In fact, it is likely to make my “best of 2014” list. It’s got a great combination of progressive rock, jam band, space music and more. Most of this is instrumental, but there is one song with vocals. Everything here works really well and the whole thing flows like one cohesive piece. This group is a trio made up of drummer Todd "Vinny" Vinciguerra (the founder and mind behind the project), bassist Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder, Kenny Wayne Shepherd) and guitarist Joel Hoekstra's (Night Ranger, Transiberian Orchestra).

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
Shattered Insomnia

After a short bit of weirdness to start this, they power out into some smoking hot music that feels like a cross between fusion and space rock. The jamming is intense and this is just plain on fire. There are neo-classical sections built in as this powers forward. The thing is, it’s constantly changing. It never stays in one place for long at all. Yet, the changes are never strained. It flows very well. There are some really powerhouse instrumental moments here with different instruments shining. Yet, there are also some classic rock, melodic sections. There is a weird bit of sound effects at the end of this.

Whispers of the Soul

Powering in with an almost metal vibe, some klesmer music comes in to temper it. The changes quickly ensue from there. There is some amazing guitar work on this number and the whole thing just rocks out like crazy. It dissolves into some strange, but very tasty, space music (that’s informed by world sounds) at the end.

Suspended Animation

Noisy guitar with some spoken loops opens this. Then a more acoustically driven jam takes it to the next stage. This is a more melodic journey in some ways than the previous cuts were. The acoustic guitar really drives a lot of this. They include some cool electric melodic guitar soloing, though. There’s a grinding kind of almost metallic, classic rock styled jam later, too. A slowing down, mellower section takes it at the end.

Conception to Death (For 8 Guitars)

This relatively short (two minutes and eleven seconds) piece starts out with a crazed, frantic section. It drops to atmospheric weirdness and then comes up even strange. There is a definite Rock In Opposition element at play. Then we get a more melodic movement before some crazed guitar heavy jamming takes it. There are classical elements at times on this. It is full of rapid fire changes, though. It’s arguably the oddest piece here.

Invisible Thread
Coming in with a definite progressive rock turned toward metal sound, this works out with some great guitar soloing. As this evolves and works through various changes it seems to move between classic rock, fusion, jam band sounds and more. The changes here are definite and frequent, but also more organic than those on the last song. There are some killer melodic moments in this piece. It drops back to a trippy section at the end.
Backside of Your Eyes

There is a quick spoken introduction to this. Then it powers out into trippy music. There are vocals here, sort of a whispered, trippy thing. This is a great psychedelic meets prog treatment. It gets powered up into some more metallic jamming at times, though with almost screamed vocals. With more of a true song structure, those two sections get alternated. The bridge, though, features some scorching hot, almost neo-classical guitar solos punctuated by dreamy tellings of the title. The guitar solo section that ensues as they come out of that almost makes me think of a rather funky Pink Floyd. They take back into the song proper from there. The mellower sections get an extended jam turning quite spacey at the end.

All Is Within
Space rock and world music are part of the arrangement, but a lot of this is an awesome bass solo. I have to say that I’m a bass player and this bass solo is one of the best I’ve ever heard. It may not be the flashiest or most complex, but it just plain grooves and entertains. That says a lot.
 
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