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The Aaron Clift Experiment

If All Goes Wrong

Review by Gary Hill

The latest album from the Aaron Clift Experiment, there is quite a wide range of music here. While it all falls under the general "progressive rock" heading, this references different sides of that sound at different points. I can make out comparisons to The Moody Blues, Queen, King Crimson, Kansas and more (can you say "Jimi Hendrix?") at different times along this ride.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Faith
As this rises up I'm reminded of Jimi Hendrix. It rushes out to some hard rocking prog from there. It's a screaming hot tune. It drops back just a bit for the vocals. Somehow this number makes me think of Spock's Beard quite a bit. This seems to be a bit of an indictment of the religious culture of the United States. It's hard rocking and very cool.
Last Crash
Starting mellower with keyboards leading the way, bass enters to augment the percussion after a bit. The track begins to work out from there before exploding into more hard rocking sounds to continue. Again the arrangement drops back a bit for the vocal section. This rises upward almost toward an epic metal kind of vibe. It drives forward in fine style.
Absent Lovers
Intricate guitar starts this cut. It grows outward gradually with a mellow prog ballad approach. I dig the harpsichord sound on the piece. There are some Beatles-like elements in some of the string sounds here. It eventually works out to sort of an old world minstrel music styled folk sound to continue. Eventually it evolves into a smoking hot full on prog rock jam that's very cool. This shifts this way and that calling to mind things like Jethro Tull, ELP and Kansas. It drops back for the next vocals with a more theatrical approach before powering back out again. This is a particularly complex and dynamic piece, though. If you don't like a section, just wait because it will change. At over eight minutes in length, it's also the longest cut here. I love the killer hard rocking prog instrumental jam later in the piece.
Better Off Before
A bouncy kind of tune, this makes me think of some of the things Queen used to do. In fact, even the guitar sound seems to call to mind Brian May's sound. This is fun.
Castle in the Sky
This comes in with an almost technical epic metal kind of vibe. There are some more melodic prog sections built into this. There are also some smoking hot instrumental movements. This is another that's quite dynamic. It really rocks, too.
Savage in a Fancy Suit
A hard rocking tune, this has a lot of bluesy metallic sound in the mix. As you might guess from the title, this is another topical track lyrically. The jam mid track has some killer prog stylings built into it. I love the meaty guitar soloing. When you add the organ to that, the end result is something that feels a lot like vintage Deep Purple.
Dream Within a Dream
I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same title, but it is a cool tune either way. It has some great melodic prog rock stylings. It drops to a rather delicate mellower movement. Piano takes it into an instrumental section from there with some driving percussion accompanying. They shift out to more of a traditional prog rock jam from there. At nearly eight minutes of music, this is the second longest track here.
Wild Hunters
Killer hard rocking prog, I really love some of the bass work on this thing. The guitar gets almost metallic at times, too. This reminds me of Rush in some ways. It's one of my favorite tunes here.
If All Goes Wrong
A bit mellower and more dramatic, this has a balladic approach. I'm reminded of the Moody Blues here, along with the mellower side of early King Crimson. This is a powerful cut that works really well. There is an old world vibe to the more dropped back movement mid-track. Some cool electric guitar stuff rises up from there, still a bit on the understated side. As it builds upward to a melodic prog jam from there the synthesizer adds a lot to the mix, but the guitar soloing really sells it. The King Crimson reference is even more valid on that section.
Back to the Water
Piano leads this number out of the gate. The vocals join with just that as the backdrop, and the piece grows gradually. By around the two minute mark, it has shifted to more of a jazzy vibe, but the arrangement hasn't changed in terms of instrumentation. In fact, it works through with just that concept from start to finish. Honestly, it's a good song, but I think that might have been more effective in the penultimate slot with the title track serving as the closer.
 
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