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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Carlos Severe Marcelin

Impressionist

Review by Gary Hill

This new album features multi-instrumentalist Carlos Severe Marcelin who is part of the Sally Tomato band. The album is instrumental except for one cut. That tune is all about the current pandemic era, and really serves as a great statement for our time. The whole set features exceptionally inventive and compelling music. It's never redundant or tired. This is quite an effective release that captures a lot of styles. It's modern, and yet rooted in classic sounds and vintage styles. It truly is a release for our age.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
The Emerald Tablets
Sedate, trippy elements bring this in with some delicate acoustic guitar. The tune drifts outward from there with some real psychedelia in the mix. As it continues to evolve there are electronic percussive elements added to the mix. Overall, this is a psychedelic exploration that leans on space rock and includes some things that are more modern.
Ultima Thule
A different tone is heard immediately as electric guitar leads this off. There is a cool processed guitar sound. This is more traditional progressive rock based, leaning toward things like Tangerine Dream and Synergy. It definitely has an electronic edge and a definite fusion leaning to it. I really love some of the musical passages on this, and the melodies that ensue. .
Akhenaten's Plight
There is some great stereo separation built into this track. The number has a bit more metallic crunch than its predecessors, too. It's a little more rocking. The guitar work is particularly expressive. The tune really drives. It has some exceptionally powerful musical passages. There is a cool shift toward keyboard based sounds late in the track, too.
Xoanon of Polias
More along those Tangerine Dream and Synergy lines, there are some hints of world music in some of the melodies here. This has a bit of a dreamy vibe to it, and also manages to lean toward psychedelia. It's an intriguing piece of music. It's also definitely classy stuff.
Ramanujan Summation
There is a slightly psychotic vibe as this more freeform fusion styled piece gets underway. The number has some unsettling moments and intriguing explorations. This is definitely not the most accessible thing here, but it's so meaty and interesting. As it continues there are some space rock elements and even some hints of old school rock and roll. Don't get too comfortable, though, because it moves out into even weirder spaceyness as it continues.
Tillstrom Valley Hop
This is a pleasant guitar based musical excursion that really feels like a drive along a highway. It's melodic and expressive. It includes a bit of a percussion showcase and some slight wanderings into space. It's arguably the most mainstream piece to this point of the set.
One Heart (Cognificent)
Percussive based electronic textures serve as the backdrop for a spoken section talking about the anxiety connection of the current pandemic. From there, the album's most mainstream cut emerges. It has a folk rock styled texture. The vocals are hopeful and uniting. This was recorded remotely as people were all under "stay at home" orders. The spoken word part returns, talking more about getting through this. The music is more a bit more rock oriented this time, though. From there some killer guitar rocking sound emerges to move it forward. That instrumental movement gives way to a mellower movement, over which we get news coverage about reactions to the pandemic. There is a short reprise of the vocal movement to bring it all home. This is definitely one of the standouts here.
Hovercopter
There is an electronic angle to the percussion on this piece. The track has an exploratory magic to it. This is another song where comparisons to Tangerine Dream and Synergy are appropriate. The piece is effective and a satisfying closer. I really love some of the keyboard sounds in particular, but everything about this works well.
 
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