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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

King Llama

Return to Ox

Review by Gary Hill

This album shares ground with guitar based instrumental prog like Djam Karet. This seems to cover territory within each piece that ranges from hard rock to stoner metal to fusion to space music and more. It never seems to feel redundant, even though the general format never really changes much throughout. It's a cool disc, really.
 
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Blobo

Jazz and alternative rock seem to merge on this opening here. The cut shifts out after a time to more of a pure fusion sound to work forward. This keeps shifting and changing. At times it's more hard rock oriented. At times it leans toward space rock. Around the mid-track point it works to some fast paced jamming that has some funk built into it. There is some smoking hot instrumental work from all involved as it continues evolving.

Mighty Ox

There is almost a stoner rock vibe to the opening section of this piece. Yet it still has some prog and fusion in the mix. This leans toward psychedelic territory, too. They take it even heavier for a time with some killer jamming, but then work it out into mellower fusion territory for a while. A guitar solo emerges over the top with some great melodic lines and textures. Mid-track it drops to an extremely mellow, trippy movement. It definitely becomes rather ambient space as it works forward. Then it explodes into some hard rocking, classic sounding stuff for the next movement.

Sensei
Quick paced fusion leads out of the gate on this number. It drops back a bit as it continues. Then we get something with more melodic fusion sound built into it. This keeps changing and evolving, though. Trippy space music emerges after a time to take into more rock oriented directions. The changes keep happening rather quickly, though, with the piece moving through more energized rocking stuff to mellower and then back again.
Just the Tip
I really dig some of the guitar soloing on this cut. The whole piece works really well, though. It's not some kind of a paradigm shift, but rather a different variant on the same kind of things we've heard throughout. That said, there is a cool whirling dervish kind of movement. There is also a short segment that makes me think of Yes just a bit. There are really some soaring moments on this thing. There is a drum solo in this number. While the start of it is unaccompanied, it continues after other instrumentation is added. Then a false ending brings a new mellow movement.
Call Me Elmo
As this comes in there is some seriously hard rocking stuff. There are elements on this that make me think of King Crimson quite a bit. This is a smoking hot jam with some great instrumental work. Parts of it are very metallic. Overall, though, this leans toward fusion more than it does anything else.
Smoking in Ergenzingen
I particularly love the screaming, driving movement that starts this. The cut works out from there through a number of changes. There are no moments that are huge changes. Still, we get some seriously furious metallic sections buffered by more pure fusion. Some of the mellowest stuff of the whole disc emerges in the middle of this piece.
Cap'n Mustard Hair
By now the concept is well established. Yet the crazed changes and killer jamming doesn't feel redundant or tired. There is one riff on this in particular that really pleases. It's one of my favorite parts of the whole album. There is nothing monolithic about this for sure. It makes good use of contrast between more rocking and mellower sections, too. There is a full on jazz movement for a time. Still, nothing overstays its welcome. There are some very contrasting things here. Yet it works.
Hershey Highway
The opening on this has a real classic rock meets stoner sound. While the fast paced fusion and more still emerges here, there are some sections that make me think of vintage Black Sabbath. Some other parts dissolve into really trippy space music.
Stogies n' Juice
While they don't throw away any kind of playbook, this has some particularly dramatic stuff. It's another killer piece of the same kind of stuff we've heard throughout.
 
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