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Erik Dahl Ensemble

Gethenian Suite

Review by Gary Hill

The music here is based heavily on classical and jazz concepts. The instrumentation is in keeping with that. Yet, I consider it progressive rock because some of the music clearly fits, but also because of the experimental nature. This has a lot in common with the Rock in Opposition movement, which also lands under prog. However you label this, though, it's creative, entertaining and unique.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Gethen
Sound effects and atmospheric textures bring this into being. Some melodic elements gradually rise upward from there. Jazz, classical and ambient sounds seem to merge on this number.
Parade
Symphonic elements are a big part of this, Yet there is a prog rock sort of vibe to it in some ways. This is artistic, dramatic and classy. This gets powerful and melodic and works through some interesting shifts and turns.
The Envoy
Atmospheric and much quieter for the bulk of the piece, this is not quite a respite as there is a sense of danger and intrigue built into it.
The Place Inside The Blizzard
A large chunk of this is quite and atmospheric. Piano rises up after a while and moves the piece to new heights. Other instruments are gradually added as the arrangement fills out and the drama and majesty builds.
The Foretellers
There is a lot more of a full jazz approach here. The cut also has some world music in the mix. It's a classy number that among the most accessible and mainstream things here. It also has some particularly strong melodies. It's a standout of the album.
Karhide Prelude & Fugue
Dramatic symphonic classical meets prog sound is on display as this begins. There is a sense of danger and urgency here. This is an intriguing sonic journey.
Orgoreyn Intro
This is a percussive piece that, as you will guess from the title, serves as the intro to the next track. 
Orgoreyn
Piano serves a big role as this piece works outward from the last one. There are intriguing melodies that emerge as it evolves. This becomes rather soaring with both classical and jazz concepts at play. It is artistic, and yet also accessible.
Pulefen Farm
The percussion serves a dominant purpose early on here. The bass takes over from there, delivering some great textures as it does. The piece turns dangerous sounding as other instruments join. There is a classical meets Rock In Opposition feeling to this.
The Ice
There is a real electronic prog concept to a lot of this. It's among the most rock based music here. There is also plenty of space music, experimental jazz and classical built into it. This is dramatic, unusual and powerful. At nearly 11-and-a-half minutes of music, it's also the epic of the set. They put all that time to good use as this is the most dynamic number here. This turns noisier and more crazed as it continues. This piece gets very powerful before it's done.
Homecoming
A mellower, horn-based piece, this is a short number.
Estraven
Piano brings this into being. The cut works out to a melodic arrangement with a lot of jazz built into it. I really love this track. It has some great melodies. It does lean toward progressive rock, but without rock instrumentation.
The Ekumen
This up-tempo piece is full prog rock, just played on classical and jazz instruments. There is a great swirling musical concept to a lot of it. Yet it also has contrasting dropped back sections that are slow and experimental. It shifts to some serious space further down the road.
 
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