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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz

American Bardo

Review by Gary Hill

This new set has a cool sound. It combines a dreamy, modern prog aspect with real Americana and roots music. I previously reviewed a single from this act and landed that one under prog. I almost did the same with this set, but ultimately went with non-prog. There is quite a bit of prog to the disc, though. I would say that I probably would have arranged the songs a bit differently. The first half leans a bit too hard on the mellower side, making it seem a little samey. If a couple of the songs from the later portion were interspersed earlier, I think it might flow a bit better. Still, it's a small thing. This works well as is.

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Track by Track Review
Matterbloomlight (Revisited)

Slow moving and moody, this has a dreamy quality to it. You'll note the "revisited" parenthetical on this title. I previously reviewed a digital single of the original tune. Here's what I said about that, "Intricate and quite beautiful acoustic guitar brings this into being. The vocals are gentle and effective. They convey emotion, but so does the music. There are intriguing layers of sound over the top that lend a dreamy, proggy quality to this. It's very much a folk prog styled thing, really." This time around it's electrified, and a bit more rocking, but yet still somewhat restrained. This is no rocker by any means.

Bury Me
Another that's quite moody, this is more acoustic. It's also more powerful. There is a definite folk prog quality to it. The piece is evocative and powerful, despite being mellow and slow. As strong as the opener was, I like this even more.
My Love

While the dreamy moodiness still permeates this number, the cut has a lot more Americana at its heart. The vocals seem to convey some real pain.

A Home the I Can't Know

There isn't a huge change here, but this has a bit of a soaring aspect to it. It leans toward dream-pop zones.

Old Theory of Love

This number has a real epic quality to it. The disc has had some proggy tendencies on pretty much everything here, but they are really shown off here. This feels like something that would be at home on an album by Porcupine Tree or other modern proggers. Radiohead is another valid comparison. This still fits with all the rest, but takes it to a new level.

Holding Will

I dig the moody vibe of this. While there is a definite proggy element, there is a lot of Americana here, too.

Haunting Abraham

There is a dreamy soaring quality to this cut. It's another that leans heavily on the prog end of things. It's also one of the most "different' pieces here. I'm again reminded of a lot of modern prog acts on this.

Judgment Day

Now, this comes in with a full modern prog sound. It's of the echoey kind of variety, though. The track works forward on that basis.

And One Love

While this is still reasonably slow, it's one of the most rocking things here. It has hints of the kinds of sounds we've heard throughout, but overall this is an alternative rocker. It's also classy and a good bit of variety.

Life's Beauty Won

Another that has a lot of alternative rock in the mix, this is a fairly mainstream tune. it's even more energized than the last one was. It does turn a bit dreamy and proggy with some overlayers later in the tune. This is another highlight of the disc.

Bardo Cons

While the dramatic proggy, dreamy textures are built over the top of this number, at its core it leans toward bluegrass and other roots music.

Won't Live It Down

Dreamy, proggy textures merge with Americana on this classy tune. It's a great way to end things in style.

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