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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Percy Jones, Alex Skolnick, Kenny Grohowski, Tim Motzer

PAKT

Review by Gary Hill

I have to say that there seems to be some confusion about the name of this act. I've seen it listed with the group name the same as the album title. Of course, that's the first initials of all the musicians. Well, I'm pretty well certain, the correct way to list it is the way I have, with all their full names. I could be wrong, though.

So, beyond the name, what is this like. Well, just going down that list of musicians, you have to know that this is a talented bunch. Here's the thing about this music, it's not well-suited for a track by track review, but that's what I do here. These songs are all fusion and prog oriented. They all seem very freeform. They are all instrumental. That makes much of the description the same, but these songs are not the same at all. Each has its own identity. I've focused my track reviews on things that stand out about each one, but let me just say that each track on these two CDs (labeled as chapters) is unique and potent. If you like adventurous instrumental music, this is among the best you will find. I'd be surprised if it doesn't make a lot of "best of 2021" lists. It's likely to make mine.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Chapter One
                  
The Unsilence
                    
Emergence

Freaky freeform oddities bring this into being. It starts to take on almost a Weather Report vibe at times as it begins building. This grows and intensifies as it keeps marching forward. The cut really gets into some noisy and dangerous sounding zones before it's finished.

Over Strange Land

There is some particularly cool sounding bass work on this number at times. The whole track really rocks with some strangely intriguing freeform music.

The Mystery

There are some sections mid-track on this that seem to lean towards more mainstream prog like 1970s Yes. Yet, the freeform weirdness that is a part of the whole disc is also present here. This gets so powered up and intense later. There are references to King Crimson to be made. This is a real screamer before it's over and done.

Night Crossing

While atmospherics dance overhead, bass paints some intriguing patterns during parts of this number.

Brothers Of Energy

This gets pretty crazed at times. yet it has a good dynamic range.

Chapter Two
                        
The Sacred Ladder
                   
Perseverance

Rising up slowly and gradually, this has an echoey sort of vibe to it as it gets underway. There are some really intense moments along this ride.

The Sacred Ladder
The intensity is really ramped up here. This is another that has elements of King Crimson in it. Listen to the climbing guitar riffs and the driving bass on this thing. This might be my favorite track of the whole set. It just really works so well. There definitely is a sense of an upward climb, like on a ladder.
Drifts & Alignments
There are some parts of this that focus on trippy percussives and driving bass. I really find that to be some crazy cool and compelling music. This becomes pretty crazed and noisy later as it drives in some powerhouse ways. 
Night Crossings
With a lot of dynamic range, there are some tastefully weird, almost space music sections in this thing.
The Great Spirit
There are some killer echoey jams on this number. It isn't a huge departure, but the grooves are so tasty that it's another of my favorites here. I love how some of this is positively rubbery.
Departure Sanctuary
I dig the mellower, almost creepy part of the song. It feels a bit like something from a horror movie soundtrack.
Cosmic Fire
This has some pretty intense bass work at times, and the whole piece works to some suitably crazed territory later.
 
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