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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Jon Durant

Alternate Landscapes

Review by Gary Hill

I put the last set from Jon Durant that I reviewed under progressive rock, and I think this one belongs there, too. This is restrained and slowly moving music. It has a lot of electronic texture along with plenty of space rock. It's clearly not progressive rock, so to speak, but definitely progressive music. There are four tracks here, with three of them well over ten minutes each. This instrumental, and guitar based, but don't expect it to sound like guitar music. It feels more like dramatic keyboard dominated music. There are occasional sound-bites in the mix, as flavoring. Like the best space music, this evolves very slowly with no changes happening fast. It clearly evolves, though, and never feels redundant or tired.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Systravatn
At nearly 16 minutes of music, this is an epic piece. It rises up atmospheric and mellow and begins a slow building process from there. A voice, almost like throat singing, is heard at times, but more like instrumentation than actual vocals. Waves of sound seem to rise and fall as this trippy kind of arrangement continues. After the three minute mark there are some sounds that enter that feel a bit like sonar pings. The cut grows upward from there as it continues. I love how it feels like little jabs of sound are circling the arrangement further down the road. As it makes its way further along its sonic journey, we are taken back toward more atmospheric elements.
Aragon
There is a decided percussive element early on in this number. Textural sounds come in over the top as it grows outward. Feeling quite electronic a lot of the time, this has a real space music vibe to it much of the time. Yet there is also an organic, grounded element at play. At about seven minutes of music, this is the shortest piece, by far, on the disc.
Ciel du Cheval
From the shortest to the longest, this is more than 20-and-a-half minutes long. All the extra space is used to provide extra room to spread out in slow moving ways. The first five or six minutes are purely textural. Then the cut shifts toward a space music kind of vibe from there, but it's a gradual change. The number continues to evolve as it moves forward, getting into some intriguing soundscapes before it's over. Like much space music, though, nothing changes quickly. The changes might not be fast coming, but they definitely do come. While it grows beyond the space music at times, more of it returns near the end.
Dinkelsb├╝hl
Space music brings this cut into being. At over 15 minutes, this is another extensive piece of music. This works into more rich sonic tapestry. There is some definite guitar synthesizer in use on this piece. It brings more of an electronic, traditional progressive rock angle to things, too. There are some great peaks and valleys built into this number, and some lush textures over the top at times. There are some later parts of this that make me think of Mike Oldfield quite a bit.
 
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