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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Philipp Kessler

Orbit to Nowhere

Review by Gary Hill

I like and respect this kind of electronic music a lot. We generally land it under the "progressive rock" heading. No, it's not rock, but it is progressive. This isn't the kind of thing I listen to a lot, but this is the kind of music I've made myself over the years. In fact, my first release was very much like this type of thing, and I called that "sound paintings," because it was less about songs than it was about creating an image with sound. That really applies to this album. This is very intriguing stuff that should appeal to fans of electronic music and particularly the spacey variety of it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 4 at
Track by Track Review
Among the Asteroids

Trippy electronics open this. It grows gradually upward as it moves forward. There is a clanking kind of sound, perhaps the asteroids hitting one another. As this gets more of a driving element introduced, waves of keyboards seem to stream past, like screeching missiles driving through the atmosphere. This is definitely music, but it's more sonic painting than it is music in a traditional sense. It really does paint a picture of a chaotic swarm of asteroids all around. It evolves, but slowly, just like such a phenomenon would. This cut is over ten and a half minutes in length. It's space music, by definition. Yet, it's not atmospheric or ambient. There is a beauty to this, even though it's built heavily on chaos and bombast. As this winds down, it really begins to feel like we've been on a journey, starting at the outskirts of the asteroid belt, traveling through the heart of it, and then back out the other side.

Planetary Rotation
Coming in tentatively, this is built around waves of sound that feel a bit like magnetic interference or some kind of energy waves. The piece becomes more involved as it moves forward with elements of travel seeming to come into play. This starts to feel quite futuristic in some ways. At a little over six and a half minutes long, this is considerably shorter than the opener. It grows into something more musical, but never really has a "song" type identity.
Harbingers of Conflict
Weird sounds a bit like trippy tuned percussion start this. It grows out gradually with an uneasy sort of beauty. It feels alien and like a situation that might not turn out well. The piece grows into something that's less strange and less ominous. There are definitely melodic elements built into the structures here as this makes its way forward. It gets quite pretty later. It seems that perhaps the conflict was resolved because there seems to be harmony here.
Interstellar Void
Lush lines of sound are joined by a tuned percussion kind of element as this pushes its way forward. There is definitely a beauty to this. More melodic sounds emerge later, bringing it closer to "song"-like territory.
Light Years Away
Electronic sounds not far removed from tuned percussion dance around one another at the start of this. Then some more chirpy tuned percussion elements begin to explore over the top of that. Another that leans more toward traditional musical textures as it evolves, this has a bit of Tomita kind of vibe in some ways.
Event Horizon
I like the gradually growing layers of sound on this cut. They seem to come in as waves rushing inward, getting steadily more insistent. Yet there are other sounds that are more constant. Of course, this is one of the better sound-paintings here, really resembling what one could imagine an event horizon to be like.
Forever in Doubt
An electronic sound that almost feels like the clacking of a train is at the heart of the beginning of this. Another sound a bit like the whooshing in Hawkwind music is heard over the top. Eventually this all gives way to a more insistent electronic element. Then a melodic kind of wrap around synthesizer part joins to drive it onward. This is one of the more musical pieces here, but is a slowly evolving kind of thing.
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