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EchoTest

From Two Balconies

Review by Gary Hill
As a bass player, I have to love any band whose sound is built around two bassists. When one of those bass players is Julie Slick, it's even better. This band is a trio with Slick and Marco Machero both playing bass. Slick also does drum programming and Machero is the main singer.  Alessandro Inolti provides the drums. The prog sound here is modern and dark. This is not the prog rock of the 70s, but it's definitely prog. This is also quite an intriguing set. The trio is joined by a number of guests on the various tunes here, including Tim Motzer and Pat Mastelotto.
 
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
supercell

Starting mellow, echoey and tentative, this works out to a killer modern prog jam from there. There is arguably as much alternative rock built into this as there is prog. The instrumental segment later in the track is a real powerhouse. It's dark, hard edged and so tasty.

rack+ruin

There is a trippy alternative rock meets modern prog vibe to this. The noisy instrumental segment later is pretty crazed. This has a lot of space rock built into it.

the mystical connected us

This piece has an intriguing heaviness to it. I love the flavor of the sounds here. It's perhaps more traditionally prog oriented, but it has something that's more along the lines of modern King Crimson. It's rather moody, but in quite a cool way. Around the three minute mark it drops to some unusual bass playing and then the tasty weirdness ensues. It drops to just percussion for most of the outro.

confirmation bias

Noisy strangeness starts this. The cut works out from there to some heavy, powerhouse modern prog jamming. There is some definite crunch built into this. This instrumental is a bit odd, but also pretty cool.

beats in the brain

Another instrumental, this is a bit more melodic. That said, it's not a straight-line. There are definitely hints of the kind of guitar heavy stuff that King Crimson has been known for in modern days. This has a lot of energy and some cool melodic elements.

the plight
I love the way this fades in with some amazing music. It drops down from there and turns out toward some rather stripped back stuff for a time. It rises to the more alternative rock based prog elements to bring the vocals into the track. There are some symphonic strings over the top as this continues, lending another flavor to it. The drop back to mellower, dramatic prog is classy. It shifts to a powerhouse return to the earlier elements from there. There is some really potent jamming after the next vocal section.
sense of urgency
I love the percussion sound on this. The whole piece has a great modern prog sound, feeling a bit on the mellower side. That said, the pace is fast. The vocals have an interesting flow to them. This might be my favorite piece here. Part of that is because it's among the most "different" stuff here. That said, it's just a great tune, too. The instrumental jam takes us into some dark, hard edged space sounds. A bass driven jam after the next vocal section is particularly cool.
pity

Piano and vocals drive this mellower cut. The vocals are female (Ali Wadsworth) and very strong. There is a real soulful element to this. Again, the variety it provides allows it to really shine. There are overlayers of sound that are rather trippy and space-rock like.

radio sayonara

Hard rocking and rather punky, this is a cool piece of music.  There is a driving energy to it. It makes me think of the old band Belfegore quite a bit. Yet there is a proggy element here, too.

reflect/reflex

This is the epic of the set at over eleven and a half minutes. It comes in mellow and rather tentative. The sounds that carry it in this early phase are among the most traditionally prog-like stuff here. There is good usage of harmonics here and there. This really has some intricate elements. It's not until around the six and a half minute mark that the general concept changes. Some cool keyboard like sounds enter and threaten to take over. Eventually the piece starts to rock out with a weird kind of noisy fusion turned alternative rock vibe. It feels like it's going to explode into more pure rock. Instead, the whole thing drops back a bit toward electronic space music. Feedback hum is the sound that essentially takes over for a short time. Then a fast paced modern King Crimson-kind of jam emerges from there. Still, there are space music elements dancing across the top of this arrangement. It rises up to more purely rocking territory as it continues. This is driving and very classy. There are still space rock elements in the mix, but there are less of a leading force here.

 
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