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Intelligent Music Project III

Touching the Divine

Review by Gary Hill

This set is quite effective. It’s prog rock, but in a very AOR sense. The vocals are handled by Joseph Williams and John Payne. Occasionally both are featured on a song, but more often than not it’s one or the other. There are some great moments here and none that really fall short at all.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Part I – Heading Skyward – A Rhapsody in A

              
Opening (Cool Inside)

The lead vocals here are provided by Joseph Williams. Acoustic guitar is the main element early on this piece. It’s a pretty ballad during that part of the piece. Then it works out to some powered out stuff. Classical music is merged into this bringing it more purely into progressive rock territory. There are some really classical moments later, after a return to the mellower sounds for another vocal section.

Escape
John Payne sings on this number. The piece does feel related to the first one. It’s pretty and powerful. Piano drives the early parts. The vocals have so much passion contained within them. The song builds through some great progressive rock instrumental moments.
Sky
Almost metallic in its crunchy hard rocking sounds, this one sees the return of Williams as the singer. The drop back section is mellower and much of a pure prog sound.
Part II – A Smile Way to Love You – A Fantasy in G
             
Stay up

This song includes both Payne and Williams. It’s a cool, bouncy prog rock piece. It makes me think of Toto just a little. There is some pretty impressive bass work at times on this.

A Smile Away
A piano and vocal ballad arrangement brings a lot of beauty here. The vocals are provided by Payne. Symphonic elements join before the cut shifts to more rocking territory. Somehow it makes me think of Chicago just a bit. The piece continues shifting with some 1960s contemporary music in the mix at times. I can make out Toto at points later here, too. It gets into some killer progressive rock territory in some of the instrumental movements.
We Can
Payne also sings on this piece. It comes in mellow and both proggy and classical. This thing shifts and evolves. It’s dramatic and powerful. It manages that while maintaining a fairly mellow approach.
Simply Feels

 With both Payne and Williams on hand, there is a lot of 1980s heavy metal built into this. It’s accessible and rocking.

Dream
Piano and voice open this song. It’s sung by Williams. It’s more of a balladic type number in those early sections. It rocks out with a rather metallic jam later, though.
Coming Soon
John Payne is back. This is another rocker. It’s one of the more straightforward pieces here, really. There are some moments of fast paced funky bass work that I love.
Life
This is fairly mainstream, but it’s not hard rocking. Williams again provides the vocals. It’s a catchy cut with substance and soaring elements at play. The horns later bring a jazzy, soulful, almost Motown kind of vibe.
Part III – On Solid Ground
    
Fate

This is very much a metallic rocker. John Payne is back handling the vocals. This has some proggy elements, but overall is a straightahead rocker.

Roots
Starting with a mellow section, this is very much an old time rock and roller. The vocals are provided by Williams. There is some killer guitar soloing on this thing. Honestly, if the bulk of the album were like this, though, it wouldn’t land under prog.
My World

John Payne is the singer here. This is a powerfully arranged cut. It’s essentially a ballad with a lot of passion and symphonic icing on its sonic cake. The guitar solo is meaty.

Mind Projection

This is quite an involved piece of music. It starts rather balladic. It grows out from there into rocking territory. It’s diverse and dramatic in its arrangement, really. Payne provides the lead vocals on the song.

 
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