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The Rick Ray Band

Dark Matter Halo

Review by Gary Hill
I’ve reviewed two sets from this act in the past. These guys just keep evolving. This newest release is the tightest fit for progressive rock of the three. That said, there is some mainstream hard rock along with plenty of jazz built into it, too. I’d consider this to be their best release to date, too. It has some seriously powerhouse moments.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Dark Matter Halo
There is a high energy and fun jazz meets prog jam that opens this. It’s a powerhouse tune that’s catchy and yet challenging. There is a real modern King Crimson sound to this in a lot of ways. It drops to a slower, bluesy kind of jam further down the road. The cut works through a number of shifts and alterations. It even gets a bit crunchy at times. Overall, this is probably closest to a King Crimson kind of thing, though.
Society of Strangers
The opening section of this is quite Beatles-like. The cut works out to something that has more of a mainstream rock and roll vibe at times. Still, the prog tendencies and Beatles-oriented psychedelia are on hand here, too. The cut gets into some crazed, high-energy progressive rock later, too. It’s another smoking hot number that works every well.
Do You Know Who You Are
This killer jam has some jazz in the mix. There also hints of punk in the prog rock stylings of the number. I really love the scorching guitar soloing. It gets punctuated by runs of other instruments in a smoking hot jam.
Into the Past
A fast paced, quirky, number, this is progressive rock meets jazz and hard-edged mainstream rock. It isn’t a huge change from that which has come before, but it is very effective.
On the Take
Riff-driven, guitar-dominated hard rock brings this stomper into being. They still manage to bring the prog and jazz elements into the mix as it continues. This one has some particularly inspired guitar work.
As the Room Went Dark
Seriously quirky and cool, this seems to merge progressive rock, jazz, hard rock and psychedelia into an ever-changing, but oddly catchy jam. Later in the track it shifts to an acoustic guitar based arrangement that is mellower so cool.
Electroshock
This opens with something that feels related to the second part of the last track. After a time that ends and bass guitar takes it in a killer fast jam. The tune rises up from there into some great jazz modes. There are hints of something like The Doors in some ways. The guitar soloing is echoey, clean and tasty. It’s almost halfway through the tune before any vocals join. The cut remains fairly mellow and has an almost prog meets psychedelic Doors as it continues. This turns jazzier later with the horn really driving that aspect home.
Autumn Wind
Speaking of jazz, as this opens up with a mid-tempo groove, it has a lot of jazz in the mix. It’s a nice change and a really pleasant cut. It feels more mainstream in some ways than some of the other music here.
Abandoned Morality
Harder rocking, faster and a bit crazed, this is classy stuff. There is a cool prog jam mid-track that is one of the best passages of the whole disc. It’s extended and eventually gives way to a return to the song proper.
48 Hour Day
Frantic, furious and rather crazed, this is a real hard rocking prog powerhouse. This gets into some killer jamming later in the number.
 
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