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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


And the Stars Above

Review by Gary Hill

The music this act creates is unique and so intriguing. There is a lot of chamber music in the mix. Yet there is also old school prog rock. Most of this is instrumental, but there are artsy vocals here and there. They have jazz and world music in the mix. All of it adds up to something that's often unpredictable and always entertaining. This is a diverse set that's very effective.

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Track by Track Review
The March of the Stars
The opening movement here has a real chamber music kind of vibe. The interaction between the music and voice is very artsy. The cut gets a bit of a rock element in terms of musical concept as it moves forward, but it remains set well within this rather classical music treatment. It is energized and so cool. It's almost an minute and a half in before rock instrumentation and insistence joins, moving this into a killer progressive rock jam. That movement has a lot of jazz and classical elements at its heart. This movement continues to shift and change but is delivered sans vocals.
Next Ride
A melodic rocking jam opens this, and the cut begins to work outward from there. This instrumental is an intriguing cut that shifts between more rocking and more classical meets world music sounds. It is quite a ride, really.
District Red
The powerhouse and slightly off-kilter prog rock jam that makes up this number is so cool. It is unpredictable and has some killer violin work in the mix. They take it into some chamber music mid-track and really keep reinventing this thing. The number careens this way and that, with curves that are at times quite sharp.
Plaza De España
A bit of a respite from the previous number, this is a melodic and world music based number. It starts with a piano based arrangement, but gets into more rocking stuff at times, too.
Clouds Collide
Here is another cut that has vocals. It's a bouncy, artsy kind of number that is quite classy.
Blue Curaçao
While there is still some world music and chamber sounds in the mix here, this instrumental is at its heart a powerhouse prog rock. There is a bit of a Celtic edge and the bass gets downright funky on the closing part.
By Heart
A fairly mellow and very dramatic movement starts this cut. It works out from there to a killer jam with a lot of majesty and style. This instrumental is classy.
Coming in mellower and a bit sad, this has a piano and whistling approach at the start, but the arrangement gradually gets meatier. It gets quite involved before eventually dropping back to the opening movement to take it to its closing.
By the Waters of Babylon
Another pretty and rather sad piano based number, for some reason this reminds me a bit of a Dream Theater song at times. There are more world music and chamber elements at play on this, though. Those include some non-lyrical vocals.
The Usual Drink
Piano and violin are the instruments at play on this beautiful piece of music.
What's the Rush?
A killer electronic meets hard edged prog rock jam ensues here. This is a real stomper that works well. It shifts this way and that in a classic 1970s prog styled arrangement.
This another with quite a bit of electronic prog built into it. The violin brings hints of things like Jean-Luc Ponty. The non-lyrical vocals are a nice touch, and this thing really rocks pretty hard further down the road.
Bonus Tracks
A Playful Day (for String Quartet)

As the parenthetical indicates, this song is a string quartet piece that is classical and classy. It does really feel like a playful day, too.

The Fire Dancer (for Piano solo)

This piano solo really has a great energetic classical music vibe to it.

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