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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ontologics

Heading to the Outer Realm

Review by Gary Hill

Sometimes I have questions about putting something under progressive rock. This is not one of those times. That said, don't expect this to sound like 70s progressive rock. This has a lot of Frank Zappa and modern King Crimson in the mix, but it's mixed with things like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Korn, Living Colour and King's X. There are raps throughout the set. Yet, it's so creative and proggy that I can't imagine anyone but the most stubborn prog purists refusing to see that this music is "progressive," pretty much by definition. Whatever you call it, this is a very unique and intriguing set. It also definitely earns parental advisories on just about every song.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Upside in Downside Out
Opening with some keyboard elements, the introduction takes on a bit of a world music thing. The cut shifts from there as the edgy guitar joins, resembling something Frank Zappa might do. As it changes again for the entrance of the vocals it makes me think of what you might get if you merged King's X with Living Colour in a proggy arrangement. This shifts to a Zappa-like break before we get a twist to pure hip hop type sounds for a rap. More of a proggy thing emerges as it continues from there. The cut continues by evolving different sections. We get another rap, but then it shifts to something that makes me think of what a prog-based Korn would sound like. It eventually makes its way back to the song proper from there.  Another killer prog meets modern instrumental movement takes it beyond that. It evolves and changes before taking the track to its close.
Use Your Utopia or Lose Your Utopia
Hard rocking sounds along with proggy and psychedelic elements open this in an intriguing and powerful way. We get a rap after the opening vocals. The changes ensue from there with the cut getting proggier again. This thing continues its evolution with both the prog angle and the rapping one getting revisits. There is a killer prog jam at the end, too.
Thought Crimes
Coming in with a tastefully off-kilter kind of prog jam, this works out from there to some unique music that merges modern hard rock with King Crimson-like prog to create something very cool. This one merges the various sounds a bit better than some of the other songs here do. It's not that those don't showcase both aspects, but this one does so more in the way of mashing them together rather than visiting them consecutively. This has some more raps and plenty of intriguing shifts and changes. There is one section that focuses more purely on the raps and modern almost Korn-like sounds. It starts with a percussive workout, but turns almost toward crazed fusion for a time at the end of it. Don't get comfortable, though, because this number just keeps shifting and changing.
Assemble Them
Funk and rubbery Crimsonian prog merge as this thing opens. As it moves out I'm reminded of King's X to a large degree. I really dig some of the breaks on this cut and the cool prog textures they bring. As with everything here, this is full of frequent changes and merging of sounds. There are some killer instrumental sections built into it.
To Go Along to Get Along
I really dig the killer opening movement on this. It's tastefully weird and off-kilter while weaving psychedelia and modern rock together. The package is taken to a new level when the vocals join. Don't get complacent, though because the number shifts and changes. We get more raps and other modern elements at play as it makes its way through. There are parts here that reminds me just a bit of The Grateful Dead's "Terrapin Station."
Cliff or Lift I. Sepulchre
Starting in rather subdued ways, this gets a bit dreamy in the introduction. It powers into a faster paced prog jam that's so cool. This instrumental is more constant than a lot of the stuff here. It's also particularly classy.
Heading to the Outer Realm
World music percussion opens this. The cut eventually shifts out into the kind of thing you expect here, prog meets modern alternative rock. Overall this isn't a big departure from the rest of the album. The thing is, change and odd directions is what makes this like the rest. This has some sections that even lean toward heavy metal.
Around the Fire We Sit and Wait, Part 1
This is actually one of the coolest cuts of the set. It's not a huge departure, but the classy, almost funky rocking groove that opens it is so tasty. The tune evolves in some great directions, too. I love the almost Red Hot Chili Peppers sort of section mid-track.
It's All in the Numbers
There's a heavy, trippy, psychedelic vibe as this thing opens. Yet, there is some funk in the mix, too. It works out from there in the kind of unexpected way you learn to anticipate on this disc. This cut includes pretty much all the different types of sounds and changes we've heard throughout the set. I particularly like the prog jam that closes the track.
Around the Fire We Sit and Wait, Part 2
The funky groove here is so tasty. The tune has some killer shifts and turns, though. There is a dramatic guitar based movement that is edgy and feels a bit dangerous. A rap emerges from there.
Hindsight Mind's Right
Hard rocking, edgy and very cool, we're off on another intriguing ride here. This one gets more metallic than some of the other cuts do. It has some killer raps, too. The exploratory jam mid-track on this thing is so tasty, too. This is another powerhouse of a tune.
Mitigated Moments
Killer psychedelia, jazz and more merge on this number. This closing instrumental is strong and even includes some Zappa-like moments.
 
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