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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Perc Meets the Hidden Gentleman

& The Lavender Orchestra - Praha

Review by Gary Hill

These guys are never the most obvious fit under progressive rock. Still, their spirit of experimentation and adventure is clearly suited to it. However you slice this, though, it's an interesting ride that's probably not for the faint of heart. This live album really rocks, but it's for the adventurous spirit.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Orpheus Rising
Cool synth sounds bring this in with an intensity arriving quickly via other instruments. That sound threatens to take over and eventually does. I dig the bass work on this section quite a bit. There is a spoken introduction at the end of this.
The Lavender Cantos
A drum bit starts this, and they power in from there with a smoking hot intense prog jam. There are tastefully clashing bits of sound that emerge on this introduction. It drops to a folk styled texture for the vocals. It grows outward from there in style. The opening rocking section returns as a driving movement at the end of the first vocal movement. Then it drops back down to the folk styled stuff for the next vocals and the cycle is repeated. After that works through a mellower psychedelic section with some vocals in a strange language emerges. From there it a percussion heavy, folk prog styled movement takes over in purely instrumental fashion. Then the next vocals come in over the top of that. By around the eight and a half minutes a cool prog groove has taken command and is doing some great stuff with this number. A seriously intense jam ensues from there with great guitar and keyboard elements.
This Moon of Both Sides, incl. The Return of the Snowbird
This comes in with a bit more stripped down arrangement, but quickly fires out to harder rocking stuff. Then it drops back down for the first vocals. There is definitely a bi of a Neil Young and Crazy Horse kind of vibe to a lot of this. It's a hard rocker. Still, it has some psychedelic rock and some proggy changes in the mix.
Man-I-Toba
Powering in with an almost metal intensity, this drops to a more folk styled arrangement for the first vocals. It evolves in a more folk rocking way. This doesn't get all that proggy, but works through in fine fashion.
Bronx Vanilla
If you are looking for prog stuff, check this out. It almost feels like a continuation of the previous piece, but has more proggy stuff added to the mix.
Respect & Devotion, Part One
I like the folky guitar sound that opens this. That sound holds for the first vocals. Then the guitar drops out, and the vocals continue acapella. The guitar returns as this moves forward from there. It eventually gets into some quite intense and proggy territory as it grows upward and outward. It essentially works out into an acoustic guitar section that leads into the next number.
Hotel of Empty Souls

Acoustic guitar brings this into being by itself. The cut grows out into one of the most purely prog things here. It has some cool shifts and has a nice balance between mellower and more rocking stuff. There are some particularly tasty stuff and has some definite connections to the previous piece. Parts of this remind of Hawkwind to some degree.

Heya
A hard-edged rocker, this one has some catchy hooks. It's clearly not the proggiest thing here, but it really rocks. It's actually one of my favorite pieces of the set.
Bonustrack
          
Swallow Me Blind/Passion People

There is such a cool funky groove on the first section of this. It makes me think of Roxy Music just a bit in some ways. I love the bass work. It gets into some rather punky and intense stuff as it continues.

 
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