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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dream Aria

In The Wake

Review by Gary Hill

I'm always impressed with music that pushes aside barriers and combines styles of music that are not normally heard together. Well, this album certainly does both of those things. You will hear all kinds of sounds here from New Age to ethnic folk, opera, classical and prog rock. Often times you'll hear most (if not all of them) in the course of one song (and a whole lot more). This is a constantly morphing collection of music that seems to disregard all boundaries and borders and instead focus on creating artistic sonic visions. Isn't that what the best progressive rock does? You might have a bit of a problem finding this one, but you can certainly get more information at the band's website.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review
As the electro-tribal beat of this one starts you might think it's about to launch into a 1980's Blondie song. Instead keyboards begin to weave waves of sound across this backdrop and eventually the cut moves out into an Eastern tinged prog rock song with hints of the Secret Agent Man theme song. This segment feels a bit like a cross between Lana Lane and Renaissance. As it moves into the actual verse segment, though, the cut has been rearranged into a funky sort of take on its Eastern tones. This one is very unique and quite cool. The chorus is more of a rocking sort of soaring movement and the cut seems to move into a rather Celtic texture later that eventually ends it.
An acoustic based sound brings in more of those world textures as this one builds in dramatic textures. This has more of a ballad-like feel, but pumps up into a more energized, arena type ballad mode. This is another that's quite powerful and full of odd world textures all over the place. The vocals turn operatic for a time, but overall this cut has a killer mysterious, magical texture with elements seeming to come and go from all around.
Into the Wake - Soul
This starts with an Arabic sounding vocal line, then atmospheric musical textures and the sound of nature emerge to carry the track. Those vocals return after a time and move along with this instrumental progression. This is not really rock music at all, instead seeming to merge new age, classical and ethnic folk music all into one incredibly potent and mysterious collage.
In the Wake - Body
While the last track had no real rock elements in it at all, this one is a melodic, but energetic rocker that really smokes. It's nowhere near metal, but rather a smooth progressive rock texture pervades it. Some of those Eastern elements show up on the overlayers here, but predominately this is a pretty straightforward cut.
Blue Lady
An acoustic ethnic folk sound starts this, but then waves of keys bring in more of that new age sort of texture and it begins to dominate. The track shifts to a more rocking, fusion-like movement with definite Eastern tones. As the vocals come in they are a distorted style that brings in with it hints of a techno sound. The group continues shifting and rearranging the musical elements here to continue to breathe new life into it. This is a very dynamic and powerful cut. There are moments with more operatic sounds and neo-classical breaks. This one seems to be constantly under revision.
This one feels like a pretty jazzy ballad. It kind of feels like an intensified torch song through much of its length, but they throw in a smoking crunchy guitar solo and lusher arrangement in to change things up.
A New Age sort of electronic rhythm serves as the backdrop for the operatic vocals on this, but later they break in with whispered spoken vocals and alternate between the two styles. They rock it out a bit harder at times, but frankly this one's a little too operatic for my tastes. Besides there are moments when I feel like I'm hearing the theme song to Star Trek. Still the mellow segment that ends it has enough drama to pull it upwards.
This one has a pretty straightforward rock pop song on the opening segment. Later this one feels like an energized Grateful Dead turned prog sort of arrangement. It's cool, but not one of the standouts on the disc. I do like the vocal arrangement quite a bit, though. The extremely extended instrumental segment that takes the song later (and eventually ends it) is soaring and quite powerful, though.
He Touched My Soul
This is a pretty love song type powered up ballad. It has a great vocal arrangement, but otherwise is a bit generic and a little forgettable.
From the banal to the sublime, they jump right into this with an incredibly powerful neo-prog arrangement. This one is full of odd changes, layers that jump out at you from nowhere and other cool things. The best part, though, is that through it all it's a cohesive, if a bit challenging song. This may well be the best track on show here. It's very dramatic.
Opus Dei
A pretty vocal and keyboard segment starts this and as this moves into the song proper this ballad-like section is added to creating the motif. This one is very pretty and gentle in its execution. It's another with a wonderful vocal arrangement. This never goes beyond the sedate and beautiful, but instead focuses on enhancing and intensifying that experience.
Spanish Nights
When this kicks in you might think that you've put on the latest Santana cut. A Latin texture pervades this rocker, but as they move it onward it takes on a lot of other textures, too. This is another that's quite powerful and unusual. I particularly like the segment where it drops back to sedate guitar and what sounds like a Native American flute for an interlude. The guitar lines on this are quite cool, too. They throw in a guitar solo later in the track (accompanied by vocals) that feels like it could have come from Led Zeppelin's fourth album. I like this one a lot.
11th Hour
This comes in feeling a lot like European epic metal, but as it turns to the verse segment it has a texture more like Lana Lane's music. I'd say that this one is actually quite along the lines of the more rocking material from Lane. Guitar overlayers at points, though, even lend hints of country music to the mix. This one doesn't change a lot, but it does rock out quite well.
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