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Robert Jordan

Gypsy Curiosa

Review by Gary Hill

Coming out of groups like The Executive Slacks and Tubalcain, Robert Jordan was part of the industrial movement. Now he has taken his generally dark and gloomy bent and brought it to progressive rock in a solo album. This one has some strong music, but also some weak. Frankly, I think with some advantageous shuffling around of songs to get a better mix this could have been a much stronger release. Still, it's definitely listenable and quite good - it's just not great. One aspect that takes away from the power of this album is the production. It relies quite a bit on drum machine type rhythms and there is a flatness to much of this - leading me to believe it was recorded in a home studio. Also, at times the vocals are a little hard to take, but at other points they work quite well. These two things can't take away from the fact there is some really good music here. I think that we can look forward to better things from Jordan's next disc, and enjoy this one in the meantime.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Gypsy Curiosa
Waves of keys (or is it processed guitar?) sweeping over top of one another make up this soundscape. This is in a fashion that feels a bit like Yes' Relayer album. This short instrumental serves as an introductory phase.
That, I Am
Starting with similar textures to the opening cut, acoustic guitar enters and the vocals are laid over top of this gradually growing movement. As this builds it gets quite powerful and intensely arranged. It takes this one a while to truly build up, but it's worth the wait.
Hanging Pictures
Based on a dark acoustically driven backdrop, this one has some cool musical and lyrical textures. Keys at times bring in Eastern psychedelic textures that are still quite prog and a guitar solo has an awesome quality. This drops to just keys and voice for a bridge later. At a later point it crunches out in a slightly off kilter, but quite tasty progression that keeps building. The vocal arrangements on the later segments are killer.
Light A Fire
This one feels at times like David Bowie's "Space Oddity." The drum machine percussion here grates a bit and the production on the vocals leaves them a bit harsh at points, but this is an intriguing cut more on the song structure than anything else. While essentially a fairly simple composition, multiple textures lend both power and an ever-changing sound map.
A cool techno rhythmic lead in gives way to something that is dark and crunchy, a bit like a more prog oriented Rage For Order era Queensryche. This one is especially powerful and a highlight of the disc.
A pretty acoustic melody starts this and the vocals join in shortly in a balladic like style that has a nice psychedelic tings to it. This feels a lot like Bob Dylan at times. This arrangement eventually gets more diversified and fully realized, but it still maintains its roots. At times this also feels a bit like early Pink Floyd. It drops to a keyboard-oriented segment for a short period. This is a nice change of pace.
robert talks
This is a short interview/conversation about Robert's musical experiences leading up to this album, and particularly the song that follows it.
Hidden Photographs
This one is another somewhat dark, but very pretty cut. The drum machine sounds again on this one are a bit annoying, but this killer song is strong enough that even something like that can't diminish it. It's hard to define this one as either prog or pop rock because it certainly sits well upon the fence. People with children or those easily offended should be warned about the lyrics on this one.
A ticking clock and the sounds of a park start this. Acoustic guitar chiming comes over top then odd radio dial being turned elements come over that. The ticking and park sounds take it to its conclusion and run it into the next piece. As the title suggests, this is essentially a short instrumental intro for "Sixth District."
Sixth District
Starting with the chiming sounds of the last track, this one moves up into a balladic slow paced prog cut that has both lushly arrange and sparse sections. This one, dark and melancholy that it is, is exceptionally powerful and one of the standouts. It wanders through various incarnations of its central themes and, like much of the disc, gains its variety and power from the ever-changing layers of sound rather than any dramatic differences in the song structure itself.
The Sun Has Set
Another pretty ballad mode starts this and Jordan turns it into another dark, but richly evocative track. After a verse in this mode, it drops back to just odd textures to carry forward, but quickly returns to its roots. This time, though, the arrangement is even more dense and awesome than the last time out. As this verse ends, a crunchy, noisy guitar break takes it. Then the cut moves through a short transitionary phase before moving out into a crunchy new prog jam. This ends fairly quickly and abruptly, then a reprise of the mellower mode takes it til it works back up to those harder edged sounds to carry it out. This is another highlight of the CD.
Time Will Come
Keys start this pretty and wonderfully lush ballad. This is at times rather Beatlesesque, but also shows off a lot of other textures. This is a fairly short one.
All I Know
This cut comes in powerfully and dramatic with a neo-prog sound that feels like prog metal - minus the crunch. After running through for quite a time in growing textures a cool techno break takes it. The cut is slowly reborn with a funky bass line beneath it, but switches to weirdness before coming back up. Then a new instrumental take on the themes leads to ambient pretty tones merged with the strangeness. It grows back up by merging these modes. Then a chorus over the odd techno weirdness takes it next. It moves back after this to where it came from and eventually outros from there.
Zato Sto Hocu
This comes in noisy and with a weird changing and an anthemic chorus, this is an oddly textured hard rocker. A cool distant guitar / vocal segment is the one part of the cut that works rather well.
Unlisted Cut
Waves of keys start this in a space rock style and this grows into a bouncy keyboard soaked techno space rock jam. This is a reworked rendition of "Hidden Photographs" - basically "the remix."
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