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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Mark Harvey Group

A Rite for All Souls

Review by Gary Hill

As you might gather from the cover of this set, it was recorded live in concert in 1971. It’s essentially one long performance piece, but it is divided into separate tracks across two CDs here. This music is very much connected to the Rock in Opposition movement. It is all jazz related, but it’s quite freeform and strange. There are long sections of spoken word, too. This kind of stuff isn’t all that well suited for track by track review, but that’s what we do here at MSJ. Let’s just say overall that this is at times mellower and at times louder and more intense. It’s ever changing and largely what you might call strange.

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Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Invocation and Spel Against Demons
This rises up rather ambient and weird. It stays in that general mode for a time.  A rather noisy horn takes over after a time as the cut continues to evolve. It becomes a percussion exploration after the three-minute mark. Horns take over again a few minutes later. Before the ten-minute mark, it drops to a recitation. This becomes a full chant with multiple voices after a while. That takes the cut to its end, or rather it takes it into the next cut.
This instrumental piece is a bit less than two-minutes long. It has some freeform jazz vibes.
The Second Coming, The Falconer, The Falcon, Orpheus, Charon
Coming in odd and freeform, another recitation is heard. The piece erupts into pure cacophonous chaos from there. This keeps evolving with a lot of freeform jamming. The piece is an epic over 33-minutes long. This is louder at times and more sedate at others. It’s a strange ride that never seems to stay in one place very long. The recitation returns later in the track with musical accompaniment building and driving upward.
Disc 2
Napalm Rice Paper, Rite for the Souls of the Children, Coda
Weirdness that is rather ambient and sparse brings this into being. It grows out with almost a mystic, tribal element to it. It turns noisier and a bit ominous as it continues. Freeform changes keep driving it as it evolves. There are moments that are literally screaming. It drops back for another recitation. It gets into noisy freeform jazz zones after that. A percussion workout eventually takes over for a while. The tune drives out into something that’s more exploratory further down the road. After running through several different moods, the piece drops way down to segue into the next track.
The Rite Continued
Some parts of this seem more cohesive than the rest of the set. That said, the same freeform jazzy elements remain at play here. It’s hard to keep track of this number, as it is with the rest of the set, because it covers so much ground in seemingly random directions. There are louder and softer passages along the road.
The Rite Concluded
This eventually comes out of the previous track and continues the themes of the piece. Well, the “themes” are literally freeform, so perhaps it’s more a mode or concept than a theme.
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