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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Existence

Small People, Short Story, Little Crime

Review by Gary Hill

I wish I could say that I was familiar with this act before I heard this and their live set. Their blend of progressive rock with AOR and more is compelling. This set really brings that point home. It’s quite a strong album. It has enough classic prog to please a lot of the purists, yet enough modern music to keep it interesting for newer fans.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Therapy, Part I

A short spoken bit about enjoying the beat gives way to a drum solo.            

Beauty Teen
Powering in almost metallic, this is a mainstream AOR cut. It still has some prog in the mix, but is also based on 1970s hard rocking music. The melodic jam later has a lot of fusion and a killer bass line. There is more hard rocking sound further down the road, too. The violin really adds a lot to this piece.
No Hero
A driving AOR prog jam, this is a real powerhouse. There is a jam mid-track that makes me think of the middle section of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.” It works in some different directions, too, calling to mind Kansas at times. There is a bit of the B-52s later, too. It’s a cool piece with a lot of different flavors.
The Journey
Coming in rather tentatively, this is a real progressive rock powerhouse in a lot of ways. There is a pretty crazed, freeform fusion jam later in the piece, too. They do a weird little slow down later and then build it back out with some hints of world music. That section takes it to the close.
Dripping Cloud (In the Kingdom of Madness P1)
Intricate piano opens this instrumental, weaving pretty lines of melody. The bass joins after a time, bringing a real energy with it. Then drums come into play and the piece really starts to develop. There is definitely some world music, fusion and a lot more built into this. It’s one of my favorite jams of the whole disc. At times it makes me think of something like Camper Van Beethoven. At other points, it reminds me of Giant Squid. Still, it’s unique, too.
No Sun Can Shine (In the Kingdom of Madness P2)
Piano starts out here, too. It really has a classical edge and conveys a lot of emotion as it moves forward. This remains mellow, with violin creating some differing textures and melodies as they continue. As it approaches the two minute mark some guitar brings a bit more rocking sound to play. It’s still melodic and fairly mellow, though. This doesn’t sound like Pink Floyd, really, but it occupies similar territory musically. The melodies are quite powerful and satisfying and the whole piece really just works very well. It segues into the next piece.
Darkness (In the Kingdom of Madness P3)
There are some hints of harder rocking territory as this works into being. Still, it remains mellow and dramatic. The melodies are powerful. Vocals join as the song moves onward. It’s still mellow, sort of an evocative classically rock mode dominates it. Piano is the main instrument, but violin creates unsettling sounds over the top. Around the two and a half minute mark it starts to really rock. There is a lot of jazz along with classical and even some hints of country music as this works forward. A short unsettling vocal bit is heard at the end.
Delirium (In the Kingdom of Madness P4)
Piano brings this in with an almost creepy classical meets jazz melody. As it continues we get dissonance and a lot more. It’s noisy and weird, but mostly piano except for layers over the top.
Open Letters to My Friends (In the Kingdom of Madness P5)
As this moves out of the previous one, it really does make me think of Pink Floyd. It’s dark, mellow and sad with a voice over piano. Violin joins the mix after a while, lending a different sound to the piece. It gets into more of a rocking song, but still stays fairly mellow. Around the two minute mark, though, some angular, crunchy guitar lends a different flavor. Although the intensity remains, it gets into more melodic progressive rock territory from there. It drops way down at the end to segue into the next movement.
Farewell From the Lone Poet (In the Kingdom of Madness P6)
Dramatic progressive rock jamming emerges as this works out from the previous one. The vocals seem more rocking than they were on the previous tune. This has some hints of Pink Floyd, but there is a lot more here, too. It’s a killer rocker and a satisfying way to wrap up this epic suite.  It definitely reflects madness at times. The violin soloing brings some great melodies to the proceedings.
Whispers (The Theme, Part IV)
I love the delicate guitar melodies that bring this into being. More layers of sound are added and it intensifies, but otherwise this instrumental remains pretty much the same thing throughout. That’s a good thing, though. It’s a pretty and tasteful bit of prog. In some ways, it reminds me something we might have gotten from early Genesis.          
Business As Usual
A funky bass line starts this off. The drums join and then other instruments and the voice. It’s still mellow. That bass really drives it, though. It gets more hard rocking with some crunchy guitar joining before the two minute mark. The violin adds a lot, and the powerhouse jam later in the piece is exceptional.
Flowers Won't Do?
Here we get more of a straight ahead hard rocker. That said, there are still some prog elements and some cool twists and turns built into this. It’s a catchy piece, though. I love the mellower drop back movement, too. That turns to a blues rock kind of jam.
Another Fine Day Of...
A hard rocking jam with a bit of Spanish flair leads this out of the gate. I can almost make out some hints of Rush at times. Still, the piece is full of classical music and more. This works this way and that as it moves forward. It drops way down to a mellow balladic movement around the two and a half minute mark. This section is dramatic and quite powerful. There are hints of classical music as it builds outward, but it’s more mellow rock than anything else. Violin comes across around the three minute mark, lending a different layer of sound and emotion. It gets heavier as it continues. I’m again reminded of Giant Squid just a bit. I absolutely love the mood and tone of this section. It’s one of the best passages of the whole disc. Some bits of vocals come across, but more as layering than actual singing or lyrics. The intensity keeps gradually increasing as the volume does, too. Around the seven minute mark, it gets mellower again.
Overtime
A more straightforward tune, this is a jazzy number. It’s a good piece, but not exceptional. It does twist toward strange right at the end, though.
The Therapy, Part Ii
This tiny bit is just a voice asking “any other questions?”
 
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