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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Nicolas Meier

World Group - Magnificent

Review by Gary Hill

This is an unusual set. It includes a brand new studio album from Nicolas Meier World Group as the first disc. The second is a solo set from Meijer. The final CD is a live album from the World Group. I always include Meier's stuff under progressive rock, largely for the "progressive" angle, but not the rock part. The first CD and the final one both have a lot of fusion in them, making it a pretty solid fit there, anyway since that's where we usually fit fusion. The music throughout has a lot of world sound built into it. This is quite a cool set, with a nice sampling of different textures. While the first and final discs include all original material, the solo disc has a lot of covers and interpretations.

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
CD 1
              
Magnificent
                              
Mesudyie

This starts a little tentative and stripped back but quickly grows out to energized world music with plenty of fusion in the mix. It has some soaring melodies and some exceptional musical passages. There is a sense of adventure and energy to it. This has some pretty intense jamming, and is a great opener.

Semur’s Bridge

While this lands more reflective and mellower, it's still packed full of a lot of charm and style. The instrumental work, while less energized, has a lot of expressive virtuosity built into it. This is a classy ride that showcases another side of the music of this act.

Hip
There is a lot of middle-eastern music built into the framework of this number. Yet it also stretches into more fusion oriented zones, often incorporating that element into it as it does. The second half of the piece focuses more directly and completely on the fusion side of things. There is some spectacular electric guitar work, too. Even so, they manage to pull some more of that world music into the arrangement near the end over the top of the fusion concepts.
Stories from the Garden

One on the mellower end of the spectrum, this is also more firmly set in the world music zones. That said, it still has a real fusion concept at its heart. The world jamming gets quite intense and there are some pretty dramatic shifts and turns along the road.

Sous le ciel de Fribourg

I really love the intricate and passionate acoustic guitar work on this song. The cut has a good balance between proggy elements and world music.

Villa Olivio

The violin on this begs comparisons to Jean-Luc Ponty at times, while some of the guitar work makes me think of Al Di Meola. This is an intense jam with both world music and fusion at its heart.

The Pond

The classy fusion stylings on this are so strong. All the instrumental works seems particularly inspired.

Under an Olive Tree

I dig the fast-paced fusion groove of this cut a lot. It has some really intense acoustic guitar work. There is a percussion break showcase in the tune.

CD 2

                    

Stories
                             
La Vie en Rose

There is a mellow and reflective vibe to this cut. It's quite intricate, but also very pretty.

Blues for Alice

I love the energy and classy guitar groove on this number. It's a full jazz guitar treatment and features some pretty crazed playing.

The Godfather

This is definitely well suited to its title. It is a rather classically based guitar exploration.

Kismet
Indian music is at the heart of this cut. This gets into some pretty intense and powerful jamming as it continues.
Mona Lisa
There is so much intricacy in this instrumental jazz guitar exploration It really stands tall.
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat - Brush with the Blues
Another solid guitar solo piece, this has a good balance of blues and jazz. There is even some echoey electric playing here.
My Foolish Heart
Classy jazz guitar is at the core of this number.
October in Ankara

Spanish styled guitar jamming is the concept here. This gets quite intense.

Nothing Else Matters

Yes, this is a cover of the Metallica song. I like this quite a bit, but there aren't any big surprises.

C'est si Bon

There is some killer fast-paced jazz guitar in the mix here. It has an old-school jazz vibe with some furious and frantic guitar playing.

Sous le Ciel de Fribourg

Tasty jazz guitar stylings make up the concept of this piece.

Night & Day
While not a big change from the last one, this is another solid number.
Stories from the Garden
Intricate, delicate and world music based, this is another classy piece.
Esmeralda

Another intriguing and impressive acoustic guitar piece, this is not a big change, but it is effective.

CD 3
                 
Live
                  
Manzanita Samba

The fusion and world elements work together very well on this intense piece of music.

Besiktas Cafe

The world music concepts here really drive this thing. It does have a bit of a cafe vibe to it.

Caravan of Anatolia

There is definitely a classy middle-eastern vibe here. The number works into some soaring fusion zones further down the road. The rhythm section takes control from there, building in intensity as it holds it. The world music really drives it as it evolves.

City of 3 Rivers

I dig the world music meets jazz feeling of this cut a lot. It's an energetic and entertaining piece. It gets very intense before it's done.

Riversides

While this is less frantic and more melodic, it's no less compelling. The world music meets fusion concept really works particularly well on this one. It's one of my favorites from this live set. It gets faster paced and more intense as it works through later.

Princes' Islands

There is a prominent percussive element to this. The world music concepts are the big driving factor on the piece. There is a definite Indian music vibe. It works toward more soaring fusion-like sounds as it evolves.

Water Lilies

The world music is the predominate element on this number, but it does have fusion in the mix, too. It's melodic and energized, and there is a percussion workout late in the piece.

Tales
What a fun romp this is. It has a cool, mellow mode at the start that eventually gives way to fast paced fusion jamming. Then it drops back down at the end to a reprise of the opening concepts to bookend it. For some reason this makes me think of some of Tony Levin's solo work.
Adiguzel

More purely world music based, this has some killer Spanish guitar and much more in the mix. It also begins mellower and eventually works outward from there. At nearly nine-and-a-half-minutes long, this is an epic piece. It's also a smoking hot one that makes a great closer.

 

 

 
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