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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ryan Carraher

Vocturnal

Review by Gary Hill

Ryan Carraher is a jazz guitarist. This is his debut CD. I’ve included it under prog rock because we usually put fusion there. Besides that, this is definitely related to Rock In Opposition in a lot of ways. It’s all instrumental. Most of it is rather freeform. There are some short bits of weirdness interspersed here and there amongst longer tracks. This is a bit of an odd journey, but one with a lot of peaks and valleys and surprises. It’s well worth the trip.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Equuleus

This comes in mellow, but quite freeform and a little weird. There is a lot of dissonance on this. It’s probably most closely related to some of the more freeform music from King Crimson’s early stuff with some Rock In Opposition thrown into the mix. At only a minute and 17 seconds in length, this is strange and instrumental, but also short.

Valantis
A space jazz kind of section starts this thing. It works out to more of a full jazz arrangement. It’s still quite freeform and explorative. It’s also more melodic and less “weird,” though. It has some cool shifts and changes and some great melody sections. This cut is over 14 minutes long. That space is used well with a lot of different movements and concepts. There is even an extensive keyboard solo at the end.
9 Thermidor
In terms of length, this lands between the first couple songs at a bit over five and a half minutes. It’s one of the most full jazz treatments here. It’s also one of the most melodic cuts on the disc. It still has a bit of a space vibe to it at times, though. I like this one a lot, really.
Sagitta
Just over a minute in length, this is more RIO like strangeness. It has dissonance and a real freeform nature.
Vocturnal
The title track brings a very old school King Crimson strangeness to the table at the beginning. It works out from there into a rather freeform kind of jam. This has definite RIO elements. It really gets rocking at times as it continues to explore sonic territory. There are some great changes and killer movements to this thing.
Pangolin
This might be my favorite piece here. It’s much more of a mainstream jazz tune, but it still gets exploratory. The guitar solo section in particular takes it into some rather spacey territory. I love the bass that plays in the backdrop of that section, too. This is great stuff. I’d say that this is worth the price of admission all by itself.
Gdansk
I love the contrast between the first and second sections here. This starts with a rather powered up, dramatic jam. It works through like that for a time and then drops to a mellower movement that eventually explores upward into more powerful stuff. There is some exceptional instrumental work on this piece. It’s very much a freeform kind of thing with a bit of a RIO edge, but it also seems very cohesive. This is another highlight for sure. I have to say that in some ways, I like the soloing on this better than I do that on the other tracks. It’s a tough call to make, though, because it’s all so good. There is a cool drum solo here, though, something we don’t really get elsewhere.
Aquila
The disc is closed with another short (less than a minute and a half) bit of weirdness.
 
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