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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Exit North

Book of Romance and Dust

Review by Gary Hill

I've landed this under progressive rock to a large degree because it's so hard to pin down in terms of style. The music here is very slow moving and moody. There is a lot of classical music and some jazz in the mix. The vocals bring a lot of 80s sound to this. It's quite evocative, but also a bit samey at times. While it's not a slam-dunk for progressive rock, this is progressive music, and fits reasonably well with a lot of the modern moody prog.

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Track by Track Review
Bested Bones
Mellow tones with understated percussion and piano driving it creates the backdrop for a slow moving vocal delivery. What it lacks in volume it more than makes up for with passion. There is a bit of an 80s music texture to this. It also has some jazz in the mix. It's moody and measured, but it does get more layers of sound and a growing intensity further down the musical road.
Short of One Dimension
Another that's understated and slow moving, the percussion is a prominent part of this, too. There is a real trippy psychedelic element at play in a dreamy way a lot of the time. Around the halfway mark an electric guitar threatens to take command. A horn can be heard at times.
Sever Me
I like the symphonic elements that are at play here. This song isn't a big change, but it is very evocative. It seems that the arrangement pulls more emotional strings than some of the others do, too.
Passenger's Wake
While the first half of this cut isn't all that different from the rest of the pieces, this thing shifts out into a hard rocking jam that has a modern King Crimson sort of groove to it. The cut alternates between mellower and more rocking from there. I can hear hints of Peter Gabriel's solo work at times on this number, too.
Mellow piano work is the basis for much of this song. In fact, while there are other elements, they are more icing on the cake on what is really a piano solo.
Lessons In Doubt
There are some trippy, psychedelic things at play on this number. The cut explores the sonic space in some intriguing ways. As it builds outward there is some world music in the mix along with jazz. This gets more energized and intense after a while. Mid-track piano leads a journey into more world music based sounds. As it continues the jazz meets world music concept is at play at times.
Although much of this album is mellow, the opening section here is mellower that just about anything here. It's slow moving and moody. It's also quite interesting. The piece shifts to more of a folk prog meets world music and jazz kind of vibe for an instrumental interlude, but drops back to a more sparse arrangement to continue. The piece works with variants on its themes.
Piano and a voice that feels very pained bring this into being. A female voice soars over the top as the piano continues the track alone. Then lead singer Thomas Feiner's voice rejoins, and the cut continues its evolution. At over nine minutes of music, this is the epic of the set. It is exploratory, but in a really mellow and rather sparse way.  
Another Chance
While this isn't a big change, there is more of a symphonic element here lending an emotional quality.
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