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Review by Gary Hill

Wow, as strange as this CD is, I love it! A collaboration between Markus Reuter and King Crimson’s Pat Mastellotto, this thing conveys a dark sort of progressive rock that is very much focused on textures. Even so it doesn’t lose sight of melody. There are numerous guests on the disc and, as one might expect, this shares a lot of common ground with King Crimson. It’s an awesome disc and one of my favorite prog albums this year.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review
White Cake Sky
Starting off tentatively, this evolves upward into a dark, but beautiful, hard rocking piece of music. It shifts out later into a rather Adrian Belew meets Dylan form of a rap. Then it wanders into more modern King Crimson-like textures. This is really cool.
Black Well Monotony
If you had any question as to the progressive rock nature of this music, just skip to this track. A weird, bouncing rhythmic pattern is covered by dark textures and keyboard sounds bringing in a very King Crimson-like sound. Mind you, the vocals rather call to mind the less frantic side of Alice Cooper, but overall arrangement here, through its various changes, is all dark prog. They shift out in a constantly changing tapestry of jazzy sounds later before shifting out into more dark, techno type sounds. This is very dynamic and shifts here and there into some seriously weird territory. It’s also incredible.
This one comes in with more ambient, effect-like tones and works through this for a time. Then percussion and bass takes over with a spoken vocal line over the top. I love the lyrics on this one. They eventually shift this out into a gentle and quite pretty bouncing pattern over which soundbites are woven. This cut includes theremin, and I’m always a sucker for that instrument, so it scores bonus points. You might hear some echoes of early Pink Floyd on some of this. At almost eleven minutes in length, this is the longest cut on the disc, by far.
Exceptionally cool, and oh so tastefully weird, this one moves through a wide variety of King Crimson-like textures and includes some sung vocals arranged at different points along the musical pathway. They get heavy at times and end it that way.
Gate 9
Whispering (similar to some that appeared in the last track) starts this off. Dissonant, but yet pretty tones rise up after a short while. This cut is weird in that it doesn’t change rapidly, but yet the alterations are so profound as to be difficult to pin down. This is one you really need to hear to comprehend. Even then it might take a couple listenings to fully grasp.
This comes in sedate and a bit odd at first. They hold this element in place for quite sometime, leaving the track understated and unsettling. Then bursts of louder textures come in after a while. As they move this one forward it begins to resemble Bjork. At a little past the three minute mark this becomes a rather metallic jam. The vocals begin to resemble Bridget Wishart’s work in Hawkwind. This excursion is another exceptionally powerful one. They drop it back to percussion to end.
So High
Just piano and female vocals, this cut is extremely brief (less than a minute) and odd.
Another killer cut, this one is hard rocking and bouncing in texture. They drop in a mellower, acoustic guitar based segment later, but overall this stays packed with crunch. I’d put this one near the top of my list of favorites on this album.
Down Below
In somewhat the same vein as “So High,” this is just a little longer and more melodic. Considering the titles, I’d say that these are sort of bookend pieces.
Repulsive and Delicious
Percussion leads this off and remains as the predominating element for a time. Eventually other instruments that have joined along the way take more control of the cut. Vocals enter with waves of sound over the top. This is moody and powerful, even if rather understated. Overall this cut is balladic in texture, but they do a lot within that format.
Another brief cut, this one clocks in at less than a minute and half. It is composed of just a lot of weird, seemingly disconnected sounds and notes. If there is a track I don’t like on the disc, this is it. Still, as short as it is, it’s more a transitionary piece anyway.
We get another slab of sound that calls to mind modern King Crimson. While this doesn’t vary a lot from much of the disc in terms of overall style, the album never really gets redundant or exceptionally samey. They work this up into some killer jamming with Dylan-like vocals later.
Arson Dandy
Electronic experimental ambient music makes up the modes of this one. It turns more melodic and musical later and threatens to explode into another hard rocking Crimsonian jam. It’s not until the latter quarter of the song that this is finally realized. One of the more experimental tunes, and that says a lot on this album, this is quite interesting.
This opens with pretty, if understated music and Tori Amos like vocals. This carries the track for a while, and even when they move from that it’s by adding more backing and overlayers into the mix. This is quite pretty and powerful and is one of the most accessible tracks here. It’s also a great choice for ending the disc in fine fashion.
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