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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Aaron English

Songs from Somewhere Else

Review by Gary Hill

I've put this under progressive rock, but it's not a tight fit. There are movements of this that definitely fit. There are others that have a real folk prog vibe. Beyond that, the general mixing of elements from different types of music, makes this progressive music. Whether you agree with that or not, though, you will find something special here. This is music that is outside of the mainstream, but somehow works within the mainstream. It's often quite evocative and powerful. It can be both soaring and grounding. It's just a great ride.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Coming of Age in Hard Times

A cool electronic introduction gives way to a piece that has both a pop styled sound and a modern prog element. The vocal performance is evocative and potent. It gets more of an energized and driving motif as it drives forward.

Afande (Policeman)

I love the cool bass groove at the start of this. The cut has a lot of jazz in the mix as it starts. The vocal line (Walter Koga) at the start (and at other points along this ride) brings more of a world music and reggae thing. As the song proper vocal section kicks in, this takes a killer modern prog vein that's informed by both the jazz and world and reggae elements. There is a bit of a prog Police (I guess that makes sense given the title) vibe to it in a lot of ways. This is a real powerhouse and one of the highlights  of the set.

Wingless Bird

This tune is very much a folk song. It's a classy cut. The choruses have more layers of sound, but it is augmentation rather than replacement of the musical concepts. There are some proggy elements built into it, though.

Shadow of a Doubt
Dramatic and powerful, this cut has a great prog meets folk sound to it. I like the extra magic that the female vocals add to it. The piano is particularly noteworthy, too. Overall, though, the catchy song structure and evocative nature of the piece really sell it more than anything else does.
Born Under the Same Sun
This has a great folk basis to it, too. Yet a lot of the layers of sound in the mix bring prog tendencies, landing this more in the vein of folk prog.
Kothbiro
World music textures begin this number. The lyrics are not in English. The cut has plenty of prog elements at play, landing it again under folk prog. This time, though, it's more the world form of folk music.
Praying for Time
I love the powerful arrangement on this piece. The vocal performance is among the most evocative of the set, too. It's a potent song that's one of my favorites here. This is proggy with a lot of folk rock built into it.
Peace Be Upon You
This is another that's packed full of drama. It's also another with plenty of progressive rock in the arrangement. It has plenty of world music (some of the lyrics aren't in English) and healthy helpings of folk, too.
Adagio for Pots & Pans
There are some hints of funk in the rhythm section here. Alternative pop is a valid reference point, too. Yet, there are powerfully soaring progressive rock bits, too.
My Dream (Lekna)

The singer from "Afande" (Walter Koga) returns here, bringing some killer world music with him. Yet, this is decidedly prog rock based. It has some jazz elements along with dramatic prog and powerful world textures. It's a classy cut. Interestingly there are some parts of this that make me think of Peter Gabriel quite a bit. The powerful movement later in the track brings the prog rock fully to the fore, too.

Wild at Heart
Piano starts this number. As it continues we get a lot of that folk music basis back. This is powerful as other elements augment the arrangement. The cut gets a lot proggier as it evolves further down the road.
 
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