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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Echo Us

II:XII A Priori Memoriae

Review by Gary Hill

Echo Us’ brand of progressive rock leans toward new age. It’s not far removed from something like Enigma. It also is the kind of thing that seems like a long tapestry, interconnected and extensive, more than a series of distinct songs. This is quite a pretty and lush set. I like it a lot. It does tend to be the thing that holds up better as casual listening than sitting down with intently. At least that’s the case for me.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Vestige

Atmospherics, bits of melody, some chorale like vocals and mission communications from NASA all merge on this pretty, but rather sedate piece. It has a lot shifts and changes in the mix, though. After the two and a half minute mark, it moves out to a more “song” oriented element. There are a lot of symphonic elements in place, though and the piece continues evolving with more rock-oriented vocals at times along with more sound bits and oddities. It moves straight into the next piece.

A Data
Exordium (Apologue)
Symphonic rock is a great description for this. It’s more rock oriented, but it has plenty of symphonic elements, from the instrumentation to the bombast. Yet, it’s also a fairly mellow track at first. Around the two minute mark it powers out to a more purely rock oriented section. It’s still got plenty of the other sounds in place, though. The piece continues to evolve, though, landing more symphonic at times and more pure prog at others. It’s hard to find a lot to grab onto on this, though. Part of that is because it changes so frequently. Melodies emerge and disappear. There are things here that make me think of Marillion at times, though. There is a section late in this piece (it runs more than eleven minutes) that makes me think of Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain” but with Native American vocals over the top.
Solum Vobis (Only You)
This comes straight out of the previous one (during a mellow reprise) and feels much like the same song in many ways. It rocks out a bit more, but so far the whole album has felt like one long and rather meandering piece. It’s still hard to feel much but lost. That said, some cool melodies emerge before the second minute of the piece is over and it begins to gain some cohesiveness. As this piece expands out later it has some impressive melodic guitar soloing that takes it to its close. This is the most compelling and successful number to this point on the album. It seems to gel better than a lot of other stuff does.
Inventionem Memoriam (Chrysalis)
Piano starts this, feeling rather classical in nature. Other instruments join to create a tapestry that’s more keeping with the rest of the set. There are some chorale style vocals later. The cut gets more of a mainstream prog texture for a time from there. It keeps shifting and evolving, though, with the various themes returning for another visit.
Residuum (Remainder)
Coming straight out of the previous one, this has a mellow and quite subtle introduction. Then melodic guitar brings it into being from there. The only vocals here are non-lyrical, too. The song carries through a variety of passages with some tasteful melodic guitar soloing.
Nightlight
This piece is particularly gentle and pretty. It has more of a “song” like structure. This one segues into the next number.
Memento
Somehow this gentle piece reminds me of something from Jon Anderson’s solo work. It’s quite pretty, but it’s also short. 
B Data
Codicillus (From Far Away)

After some effects and soundbites, more pretty ambient sounds with chorale style vocals take this one. It’s one of three extended pieces on the album, running almost ten minutes. It gets more of an energetic vibe as it continues forward. It’s quite a dynamic piece with various themes emerging, playing through and getting replaced. It has some of the most mainstream progressive rock of the set, too. It rocks out harder than most of the stuff here and at times makes me think of Yes a bit. In fact, there are several passages that really feel like Yes to me.

Restituendo (Where We Dream To Go)
We’re back into Enigma like territory on this piece. Parts of this again remind me of Kate Bush a bit. The male vocals, though, don’t land in that zone, obviously. I like the mellow spacey section at the end.
Viseretque (We Always Know)
More of a folk song type sound is heard on the start of this piece. There are some classical strings. It builds out gradually. This is another of the epic pieces, running ten and a half minutes. This is an intriguing and dynamic cut. There are some vocals that are severely processed. It’s for effect and it’s not like an autotune process, but more like  a chipmunk processing. I love the acoustic guitar interlude in the piece. The evolution from there is gradual and extended, but also dramatic. It becomes quite a powerful prog jam before it crescendos and gives way to a piano solo section. The piece comes back upward from there into more of that Jonathan Elias styled music. Changes continue beyond that point.
Denique In Perpetuum (Beyond the Blue Horizon)
Feeling like the next section of the previous piece, piano begins this one. It works forward from there with a definite Enigma type feel to it. Some of the vocal sections, though, make me think of Yes. After some changes we get some processed vocals that remind me of The Buggles. The changes continue beyond that point, though. It works through until a beeping sound takes it to the close.
 
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