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District 97

Screens

Review by Gary Hill

This female-fronted band has been making waves in the prog scene ever since they first showed up. There is good reason for that, as their brand of hard-edged prog is quite potent. This new release maintains the quality you expect from the act. For me the closing epic piece is the highlight, but everything here is strong.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Forest Fire
Drums lead this out in a rather odd timing. That drops away and guitar comes in to take over. After a bit the whole band enters. The cut works out into some prog meets jazz kind of arrangement. It's a bit of a powerhouse song. There is a definite metallic crunch built into this at times. There is an instrumental break later that's rather crazed and guitar driven. The cut shifts and turns in some pretty insane twisting and turning. It gets pretty bizarre.
Sheep
Weird keyboards bring this cut into being. The track shifts out from there with a frantic, almost thrash-metal section. While this remains heavy in a lot of ways, more melodic prog elements emerge. There are also some drop-back bits here and there. There is a smoking hot jam that takes it almost into fusion zones further down the musical road. Then it drops to a piano and voice section that has a bit of a dreamy, soaring quality to it. The piece rises back up from there with a dramatic, staccato movement.
Sea I Provide
This has a real powerhouse metallic edge. It's driving and powerful. Yet, it also has plenty of progressive rock in the mix. This is in some ways the most straightforward piece here. Still, it's proggy and diverse enough to keep it interesting.
Bread & Yarn
Keyboards with male vocals built into the mix make up the concept at the start of this number. The song eventually builds up to more hard rocking stuff, but it remains a slow moving grind. It changes gears a bit later. The cut gets into a faster paced movement that really rocks as it continues. It wanders into spacey zones in a mellower motif later, but that section starts to modulate into fast paced, more crazed stuff as they continue. The guitar gets pretty powerful as it wanders with an almost Frank Zappa-like abandon later.
Trigger
There is a dark and heavy sense to this cut. I can make out some hints of King Crimson here, but there is also a definite heavy metal edge built into it. This is a powerhouse tune. There is some frantic, crazed jamming that ensues further along the line. A dramatic almost chorale build up takes it after that. The piece really soars out from there. The shifts and changes continue until chaos takes the song at the end.
After Orbit Mission
Trippy atmospherics bring this into being. There is a bit of a symphonic vibe to the slow moving, echoey elements of the piece. It is a short instrumental.
Ghost Girl

The closer is the epic of the set. It starts with piano and voice in a very artsy kind of arrangement. Eventually the cut shifts to a fast paced, harder rocking prog jam. It has a great tastefully off-kilter element to it. The cut keeps grinding forward with some rather metallic prog. There is a decidedly creepy element later. The lyrics to this are so spooky, too. This is very much a horror movie turned prog rock epic. It has some crazed stuff at times. The metallic edge is heard at other times, too. This is such a dynamic and powerful cut. It is steadily in flux, yet there are returning themes and movements. It eventually returns to piano and voice and then grows back outward from there.

 
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