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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Andy Jackson

73 Days at Sea

Review by Gary Hill

In a lot of ways, this album really is one long work, all interconnected. There are musical references here to modern prog like Porcupine Tree, RPWL and more. Pink Floyd is a big reference, too. Everything here works well, but the epic length piece “Drownings” really is the peak of the album. This comes with a standard CD and a DVD with two alternate audiophile mixes of the album. It is a great set start to finish. I highly recommend it. In fact, even though it’s early, I think this will probably make my best of 2016 list.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Like You

Appropriately, the sounds of the sea open this. As the music joins, it’s in a mellow tapestry that has a lot in common with Porcupine Tree and other modern prog acts. There is a bit of a Beatles (or Klaatu) edge to it, too. There is an instrumental section that makes me think of Pink Floyd a little, too. It segues into the next piece at the end.

Ships of Dreams
This comes in a bit harder edged and rather strange. It’s quite space rock oriented as it works forward. Melodic elements come over the top after a bit, but the piece still retains the space. This is a short instrumental.
Type 2 Error
Acoustic guitar is the backdrop here. Other layers of sound lend some definite space elements. The piece is a bit like Pink Floyd at times, too. I hear a lot of modern prog acts, too. This is a fairly lush tune, really. It’s also quite powerful and compelling.
Ballooning
This is another short connecting piece. It’s instrumental and lush. It’s a good combination of modern prog music and space sounds.
Type 1 Error
There is definitely a lot of Pink Floyd here, merged with other more modern prog elements. It’s a melodic number that doesn’t vary greatly from the rest here, but still stands out from the pack.
Lighthouse
Another short instrumental connecting piece, this is more atmosphere and less melody. It’s kind of pure space music, too. It does have some melody near the end, delivered on bass.
Legends of Mysterious Apes
Although this is no big change, it’s not a carbon copy of anything else here, either. It’s a slow moving, almost Beatles-like (with some Pink Floyd) piece of modern progressive rock. There is a killer space rock excursion mid-track that has a lot of psychedelia and a lot of Hawkwind like sound built into it. It gets into some Middle-Eastern sounds as it grows forward. We’re brought back to the song proper after a time. At the end, though, it works to some more space rock. The sounds of apes, along with the sea are heard at the end, with that sea linking this to the next piece.
The Gyre
Trippy electronic sounds are heard at the start of this. It moves out from there into some rather Pink Floyd like territory. This is a dramatic, echoey and quite trippy piece of music. Mid-track there’s a harder rocking instrumental section. It’s classy stuff. We are brought back to the song proper from there. Another jam comes out of that. It’s very psychedelic in nature. This is a complex, compelling and extensive piece of music. It’s one of the strongest cuts here. It goes back to the song proper before we are eventually taken into the next song.
Drownings
The start of this really does feel a lot like Pink Floyd. It works through some cool space rock territory as it continues, but I’m still reminded of Pink Floyd’s Meddle album. Saxophone comes in over the top and brings a different sound and energy. This is prog meets space meets jazz in so many ways. I can hear Nik Turner era Hawkwind in this, but all the other sounds are present, as well. I suppose in some ways Pink Floyd is the prevailing wind, but it doesn’t keep the other stuff from being expressed. This is an epic piece, covering almost 17 and a half minutes. It works through a number of shifts and changes. It has some of the hardest rocking stuff on the disc, but also mellow stuff. Some of those mellower sections features female vocals provided by Anne Marie Helder. One of the harder rocking sections on this feels to me like a cross between Pink Floyd and King Crimson. This is such a dynamic and powerful musical journey. It’s worth the price of admission all by itself. It is definitely the highlight of the set. The sounds of the sea eventually return at the end to segue this into the closing number.
Black Sailed Unfamiliar
This instrumental serves as a great counterpoint to the previous piece. It’s mellow. It’s not very dynamic. It’s short (less than two and a half minutes). It works well to bring the whole thing back down to the ground, while still remaining quite pretty and dramatic.
 
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