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Half Past Four

Rabbit in the Vestibule

Review by Gary Hill

Combining classic progressive rock sounds with jazz and a serious bit of weird humor, this is a cool album. It’s not instantly accessible – and yet parts of it are. I hear a lot of Pentwater in this, but also B-52’s and more obscure things like TagYerit and Witches in Bikinis. Whatever you call it, you might find some parts of this familiar, but it’s a safe bet you’ve never heard anything exactly like it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Missing Sevenths

This swirling rocker seems like what you might get if you mixed Rush and early Yes and threw on some unique and unusual vocals. It’s off-kilter and quite tasty.

Johnny
Quite fusion oriented, the female vocal line here is more pure jazz. Still, there’s plenty of progressive rock and weird changes, stutters and alterations.
Poisoned Tune
This is in some ways more traditional progressive rock. There are still plenty of the little quirks that make Half Past Four Half Past Four, though. At times this moves towards RIO, but yet it’s still catchy. You might hear various classic prog bands at different points, but none of those blatant links remain long. Nearly eight minutes in length, this includes quite a few changes and alterations and it has a crunchy movement that’s quite cool. 
Southern Boogie
Bouncy and very jazz-like, this is a more instantly accessible cut. There’s an extremely jazz-oriented instrumental section in the cut. 
Twelve Little Words
More of a driven rocker, there is some samba and other jazz elements in the mix here. There is a killer keyboard dominated instrumental section in this piece. This thing is just packed with changes and progressive rock oriented instrumental mayhem. It’s a great piece of music.
Underwater
Quirky and stranger, this is also jazzy and rather catchy. It’s bouncy and a bit lightweight, but has a couple screaming guitar solos.
Lullaby
You’d expect a mellow little number due to the title, right? Well, that’s not what we get. This is a hard edged prog rock instrumental. It’s got bits of Rush in the mix, but also King Crimson, Dream Theater and more. It’s quite tasty and one of the most purely progressive rock pieces to be found here. 
Strangest Dream
Here we get the mellow and suitably dream like piece we expected last time. This is gentle and yet there’s plenty of progressive rock charm to it. It reminds me a times of Renaissance (especially the vocals) but at other points of Pentwater. It’s always an awesome piece of music, though. 
Biel
There are some serious classical influences on this and it’s dramatic and powerful. It’s also somewhat influenced by European epic metal. It’s less quirky than some of the other music, but this is far from a straight line journey. It is one of the highlights of the set and includes some cool keyboard work. Certainly this piece is the most “rock” oriented one on show. 
Dwayne
Bouncy and quite jazz oriented, this is a cool little number. It’s got some Yes-like changes later in the piece, too. 
Salome
A bouncy sort of high energy number, this spins and veers here and there. Further down this musical road we get a killer guitar driven jam, but eventually it comes back to the opening motif for its continuation.
Bamboo

This has a B-52’s kind of weirdness, but bent into a purely progressive rock direction. It’s energetic and powerful and just plain fun.

Rabbit
This is a real tour-de-force. It works through a whole series of different changes and we even get a nod to an old “Bugs Bunny” cartoon in the middle of it. It is a dynamic cut with a whole series of oddly connected sections – and yet it works. It’s a great way to end the disc in style.
 
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