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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Spirits Burning

Evolution Ritual

Review by Gary Hill

I have reviewed quite a bit of music from Spirits Burning, in various configurations. The main person behind the act is Don Falcone, but he's always joined by a number of musicians, some of whom are frequent participants in Falcone's musical escapades. This time around the lineup includes Bridget Wishart, Theo Travis, Mick Slattery and many, many more.

Spirits Burning is generally considered a progressive rock act, and that's where I've put this release. That said, if this was the first thing I heard from the act, I wouldn't have landed it under prog. This instrumental release is essentially world music. It's quite entertaining and an interesting variant in the Spirits Burning catalog, but I wouldn't consider it prog, although some moments reach in that direction. Whatever you call this, though, the level of quality expected from Spirits Burning is certainly achieved.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Evolution Ritual
Jus harp and other unusual musical concepts open this number in a rather organic and strange way. The number gradually becomes more song oriented with a bit of a world music meets folk prog concept at play. There are jazzy things that emerge as it continues to evolve.
Caves
As this starts it's not far removed from the previous piece. It has a bit less driving energy and more of a subdued vibe, though. There are some classical elements that rise upward as it continues forward. This exploration takes on some dramatic world music journeys with a sense of mystery ingrained into its fabric.
The Laws of Umber
There is a lot of jazz in the mix here, along with world music and more. This is a bouncy and fun number that has some great hooks and energy. It's just an entertaining groove.
Abandoned Habitat
With a lot of down-home world music built into it, this is an organic kind of number. It has hints of country music.
The Dream Find
I really love the piano that dances around this cut. The whole tune has a dreamy kind of soaring element to it. World music is largely in the driver's seat on this, too. The violin really paints a lot of magic onto the canvas, too.
Far & Away the Lands Escape, Bias of Recency
The percussion has a very upfront role on a lot of this number. Of course, world music is at the core of the tune. It has some dropped down moments, but overall is energetic and intriguing.
Strolling into the Future
This powers in with both a more proggy approach and a lot of blues in the mix. As it really gets going, there is a bit of strolling kind of vibe to this. It's another tune that has some country as part of its recipe. .
Shadow Language
More dreamy and mellow, there are organic, world music like textures here, but this is much proggier. The arrangement is on the mellower side, but it is a full and lush and has so much change and so many intricate explorations. This is one of the highlights of the set.
Seasiders
There is a real seaside kind of vibe to this with the world music elements coalescing gradually. This is an entertaining excursion.
Lookout Point

We get another world music exploration here. I like the groove and the melodies on this tune a lot.

Outside World
This is a folk styled piece with plenty of world music built into it.
Your Better Angels
Energetic and dramatic, this has a bit more of a rock edge. The percussion is driving and the violin is classy. This piece does approach the prog rock end of the equation. There is some dramatic piano that serves to end it.
As the Sky Was Being Painted
There is more of a fusion angle to this, and the cut is another that comes closer to pure prog rock than most of the album does. It has some great intricate interplay and building. The moods and tones are so strong. This is another highlight of the disc. This rises up toward sounds that make think of Tangerine Dream and Synergy. It is one of the most dynamic and powerful pieces on the album.
Theatre on the Other Side of the Sea
The dreamy world music sound with its helping of jazz on this cut works pretty well. There are parts of the soundscape that make me think of Pink Floyd just a little, but that's only one piece of this tapestry.
Alternating Universes
There is a real Latin party groove to this cut. It's packed full of energy and fun. It has a real 1970s feel to it, hinting at some of the fusion based stuff that was popular at the time.
Spruce
A mellower kind of tune, there is a lot of drama along with some hints of dreamy prog here. Guitar is the driving force behind this number.
Night of the Moon Dial

A bouncy kind of world music groove is at the heart of this energized piece. It has a lot of classical music built into it, too. This really becomes quite a journey before it's over.

 
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