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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Mark Murdock

Visitors from Another Planet

Review by Gary Hill

I previously reviewed another set from Mark Murdock. I said that that one was excellent song to song, but a little samey as a whole. I think that's still true to a small degree with this album, but far less so. In fact, I don't think it's really an issue here. The mix of fusion and modern prog on this disc is great. The vocals seem to remind me of Billy Sherwood, Chris Squire and Peter Gabriel at different points. You may know of him from his work with Peter Banks' band Empire. Two of his guests from the last album who return are Nektar's Ron Howden and guitarist Fernando Perdomo. Nektar's Derek "Mo" Moore, who was not on that previous set, is also included here. All in all, I consider this an upgrade from the last album, and that one was pretty strong.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Visitors from Another Planet
Gradually, spacey tones bring this into being. It reaches a peak and then some fusion-oriented guitar takes over. The cut drives out from there in an up-tempo jam that's quite classy. Vocals come in over the top of that as the prog really takes the center-stage. This is a science fiction piece that even includes a freaky spoken alien voice. There are quite a few twists and turns built into this, ranging between melodic prog and fusion.
Time Travelers from the Future
This piece is more purely fusion based. I love the balance between frantically fast sections and more mid-tempo, melodic ones. There are some particularly cool bass lines on this number.
The Purveyors of Underworld Ideas
This instrumental piece does a great job of merging more pure prog sounds with fusion ones. There is a lot of organ music in the mix, but the guitar is impeccable, too. I'm reminded of artists ranging from Santana to Al Di Meola on this number.
The Tarnished Mirror
I love the melodic mainstream prog meets fusion sound of this number. There are some intriguing twists and turns along the road.
False Algorithms
More of a dramatic and twisted sound is on show here. This has an intriguing balance between the more purely prog based and the fusion angles. It's great piece that really has a lot of magic in it. In fact, I'd say that this is one of the most unique and effective numbers here.
Forgotten Episodes
We get another classic melodic prog tune here. This is intriguing and dynamic. It has some soaring moments and some cool tones. There is a cool break mid-track that brings a sense of adventure and the uncertain at first before resolving to more mainstream stuff.
The River of Illusion
Keyboards with percussive punctuation starts this cut. The number works out to a particularly dramatic arrangement from there. It gets into more of a soaring, melodic movement later. I really love some of the bass work on this so much.
Somewhere and Nowhere
I love the bass sound on this track, too. The number is an energetic prog rock excursion of the AOR variety.
Adapted for Theater
I love the complex vocal arrangement on this song. The tune has a lot of drama and bit of a sense of mystery, too.
Sub-Reactional Stratospheric Complex
The rubbery bass on this is classy, as is the more rocking, but quite fusion-oriented guitar. It shifts to something like twisted carnival music further down the road. More classy guitar takes command of this instrumental before it's over.
Friction
I dig the keyboard textures and dramatic rhythmic concept of this number. This has some powerful twists and turns once it gets into the song proper. There is some amazing musical work and parts of this have a definite symphonic angle to them. There is some powerful melodic guitar soloing late in the track.
Shadows that Stood Between the Lies
This has a lot of energy and a cool prog groove as it gets underway. This is a more mainstream piece, but it has some meat on its bones, too. The guitar solo on this really soars. The vocals hooks here are particularly catchy.
In Speculation
Dramatic and rather dark, this is a theatrical piece in a lot of ways. This is another strong cut, and it really gets powerful as it approaches the end.
 
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