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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

3rd Ear Experience

Incredible Good Fortune

Review by Gary Hill

The newest disc from Third Ear Experience, if anything, this is stronger than their previous one. In fact, this might make my best of 2014 list. If you like powerful space rock that draws from more mainstream prog, jazz and more, give this a try. It’s just such a fun ride.

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
Tools

The longest of three (or maybe four) epics here, this is over nineteen minutes long. Melodies dance around as the piece starts tentatively. It works through for a minute and a half or so like that before it starts to get heavier. The space rock sounds eventually take over. It gets into a pretty crunchy jam that has a lot in common with Hawkwind. Guitar solos joyously, incessantly, over the top. After a time it transitions to a more purely melodic take on that same space rock jam. Keyboards solo over the backdrop with a tastefully retro vibe. Eventually it shifts out again and then works down to a mellower section and saxophone solos over the top. Then it explodes out into harder rocking space and the sax continues to soar on top. That eventually peaks and then it drops back to a very jazzy mellower movement. It grows into a mellow space rock jam from there and the first vocals of the disc come in over that backdrop. As the vocals find their peak, the band explode the whole arrangement back out into hard rocking, powerful space rock. It gets a little chaotic before it ends.

One
Although not as long as the last piece, this is over eighteen minutes in length. It starts with very mellow, keyboard based space atmosphere and grows very gradually within those confines. Weird electronic sounds dance across the top. It’s about two and a half minutes before the rhythm section kicks in. Then we’re out onto another hard edged Hawkwind-like space rock jam. It has some great bits of melody that emerge in the midst of this. There is a bit of a Middle-Eastern element to it. When the echoey vocals join, that seems to get reinforced. It works through in a fairly straight line from there. The chorus loses the Middle Eastern element, but the guitar solo that follows the first chorus brings it back. I love the melodic jamming that emerges later. With various themes returning we’re eventually brought back into the chorus. Then It powers out into a killer melodic instrumental section. From there we get taken back to hard rocking, crunchy space. It eventually drops to ambient textures and continues forward from there. It never really powers back up, but some almost chanting style vocals do come in later.
Parsley
The fast paced jam that opens this gets it going faster and harder rocking than the start of either of the two previous pieces. This is the third longest tune here at over seventeen and a half minutes. The non-lyrical vocals that come across after a while seem to bring some Native American sounds to the song. The section that comes out after that resembles Nektar to me. It resolves to more mainstream progressive rock as that resolves out. Then a cool riff driven jam emerges. The organ lends almost a more proggy Deep Purple sound. It drops back to just keyboards for more of those vocals. It explodes back out into mainstream progressive rock from there, working through several variants. At times it makes me think of King Crimson quite a bit. Harder rocking, almost metallic jamming takes it. A guitar solo emerges over that. It keeps rocking for a while, but then drops back down for more keyboard and vocal sounds. As it rises back up it definitely reminds me of Nektar (and specifically Remember the Future). The more metallic section returns. As that gets more space rock added into the mix those vocals come in across the top of the jam. After the eleven minute mark there is a mainstream rock crescendo. Then keyboard sounds take control. A mellower space jam emerges from that. 
White Bee
This is the shortest song here. Considering that it’s over eight minutes long, that says a lot. Mellow space opens it and continues to hold it as non-lyrical vocals lay melodies over the top. Then a soft, half spoken, half whispered, processed vocal delivers the first lyrics. Those vocals get a little louder at times. Although it stays fairly mellow, this gets more power than it had before. The vocals start into a singing style, but they are still rather understated. It continues in a fairly straight line until after the six minute mark where it gets quite hard-edged. It’s a little noisy, but also extremely tasty. It drops back down a bit to end.
Shaman's Dream
The one that is a “maybe epic,” this piece is eleven and a half minutes long. It starts with space keyboards, but fires out into crunchy Hawkwind like space jamming in short order. The cut works through various shifts and changes on the same basic concept. Some suitably Shamanistic chanting is heard over the top at times. This is high energy and very cool. It drops way down after the five minute mark to a mellower movement. The lyrical vocals come in over the top of that section. It gets powered up as it continues, though. They eventually bring it back out the earlier section, chanting included. Eventually it works out to a killer melodic prog jam with multiple layers of vocals. That segment eventually takes the cut (and the album) out in style.
 
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