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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Camp Dark

Nightmare in a Day

Review by Gary Hill

This is not your parent’s progressive rock. There is a lot of electronic music built into this. It’s also got quite a bit of alternative rock at times. This is quite definitely in keeping with a lot of the more modern prog stuff, though. The real problem here is that there isn’t enough variety in terms of tempo or volume level. The vocal delivery is also too similar from song to song. That means that this music, taken one song at a time, works well. When you try to make it through the whole album, though, the formula wears a bit thin at times.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dixieland

Atmospheric and rather dark, this is also quite lush. It’s very much electronic based. It’s also a lot like something from Porcupine Tree. This does get a parental advisory. It’s very slow moving. Evocative and powerful, this is a great piece of music. The instrumental section later is unusual and captivating.

Are You Hiding?

Coming out of the previous piece, this takes on more of a guitar based sound from the start. It’s rather alternative rock styled in this first section. As the keyboards take it in a completely different direction, it starts to be more lined up with modern progressive rock. The two concepts merge on the next vocal movement. Eventually we’re taken into a jam that’s arguably the most mainstream prog thing we’ve heard to this point. That said, it’s still got that modern alternative rock twist to it. That section gives way to an electronic movement that’s a bit weird. It’s also rather space rock oriented.

Charlie
Moody electronic music is the concept here. This is another that makes me think of acts like Porcupine Tree. There is some noisy, and quite cool, guitar dominated stuff late in the song, too.
Arm Are You OK
With some backwards tracked stuff at the beginning, this is more electronic modern prog. It’s not a big change, but it’s quite effective. I particularly like the rhythm section.
Family Curse
A rather sparse arrangement guides this cut. It’s another good piece, but by this point, there is a bit of a sameness creeping in to the set. It’s not that everything sounds the same. It’s just that the tempos and general dynamic range don’t vary much from song to song. That tends to make it feel like one long song in a lot of ways. This one especially suffers from that, to a large degree because of its position in the set. The electronic section at the end is pretty cool.
Tell One
This instrumental is mostly percussion and keyboard sounds. The very fact that it lacks vocals brings some variety, but beyond that it’s a bit samey.
Bad News
A rather sparse arrangement is on hand at the start. While this still is set in very much the same tempo and intensity level a lot of the time, it brings variety just through the sheer “weirdness” of the piece. Parts of it are noisy. It’s definitely left field and quite effective.
Former Lovers
I like the melodies on this, but the formula is really wearing thin by this point.
Bluff
The drums on this song are particularly busy. That and the vocal performance keep this one from getting gummed up with the sameness. There are some pretty melodies here.
Norse
Somehow this one works a bit better than some of the rest. It does suffer from the overused formula, though.
Out for Blood

 If anything this is even mellower. It has some great vocal moments, but isn’t all that special.ure.

Shoulda
This very much sounds like something Radiohead would do. I like the change that it represents. Not only that, but it’s one of the stronger songs here.
Words That Don't Exist
There is a bit more energy on this song. It’s another that’s a highlight of the set. Somehow it manages to rise beyond the rest in terms of powerful arrangement and general song struct
 
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