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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Welcome To Septimania

Review by Gary Hill

A gent named Jonathan Thomas recruited a group of cohorts to produce this disc. I have to tell you, this isn’t really my cup of tea, but I know that there are a number of prog heads out there who are into just this type of music. There is no one style that carries throughout every song (that’s how adventurous this is). However, the majority of the material here is essential free form tone poems heavy on sound effects and dissonance. That puts into similar territory as the RIO movement. It also doesn’t sit far from the sounds of such acts as Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, King Crimson (their weirder stuff) and others. Fans of that type of music should really enjoy this disc a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
1066 And All That
Noisy Crimson like sounds give way to a pounding percussion. Then horn sounds that at first feel like a train horn in a tunnel enter. This turns into frantic, swirlingly chaotic mass of freeform fusion. It has pretty melodies fighting for control with noisy cacophony. A bit of noisy pounding comes in to end this.
Ice Without A Fuss
Percussion sounds start this off and create a cycle of tribal sounds. This is essentially a percussion solo.
That Loathsome Liquid Soap
This comes out of the last cut as noisy weirdness. Keyboards join later with lush patterns of sound.
Can of Pebbles
One part lounge jazz, one part Grateful Dead jamming and one part King Crimson weirdness makes up this piece of music.
Don't Worry About Rupture
Feeling a bit like the rhythm to “Happy Trails,” I can just hear the “Boombadida, boombadida” on the introduction to this piece. This is one of the strangest pieces on the disc. Fun, playful melodies are interspersed with strange sounds and angular progressions.
In Praise of Crabgrass
This is one of the catchiest pieces of music here. This has a fun and quite listenable prog rock progression. With all the weirdness that surrounds this, the listener can certainly use this as a break.
Tons of Light:
Southern Exposure
This one comes in feeling like something from Spike Jones’ catalog of weirdness. Then more King Crimson wandering sounds enter to move this forward.
Northern Exposure
This takes on more of a full on symphonic approach to the themes begun in the previous number. This feels like the more adventurous of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic’s territory, with perhaps a bit of the Three Stooges thrown into the mix.
Seven Wonders
This has vocals and more of a song approach. Now, that said, it feels like a tongue in cheek cowgirl meets Don Ho motif. This feels like it was recorded live in a club somewhere.
Awake, Awake Ye Drowsy Souls
This track feels like a dark chanting mixed with church hymnals and Native American textures.
Bali Hoo
This is another weird slice of free form jazz chaos.
Sutton How?
Take strange jazz free form percussion and mix it with Hawkwind oriented keyboard sounds and you have this cut.
Here Come The Cool Jerks
Some beeping keyboard sounds bounce around one another in a cool pattern that resembles a game of pong. Other elements begin to join in this arrangement that, while still strange, is one of the most accessible and captivating pieces on show here.
Beret from Marseille
This one is cacophonous and dissonant feeling like a total garage-band take on the early psychedelic Alice Cooper sounds. It’s one of the few tracks here that actually include vocals.
Sucker Punch
This chaotic collage of chiming bells and other sounds is another that seems to work better for this reviewer than some of the rest of this does. I’d have to say that this is one of my favorite pieces on the CD.
Piece of Mars
This is a cut that starts with quite strange science fiction sounds, but it also includes some monotonous, amateurish vocals. Those two elements are interspersed with one another for the duration.
Dark At The Top of The Stairs
The weird sounds from the last track start this one off, but then a rather triumphant sounding melody enters. There are vocals to this cut, feeling a bit like “krautrock” singing. This one is odd, but fun.
Weight of the Sea
his feels a bit like some of the more freeform sparse arrangements from King Crimson. The vocals even sound a bit like Adrian Belew.
Visitors 1, Universe 0:
Countdown to Entropy
Weird anxious effects start this song and thereby the suite. It grows in noisy chaos that calls to mind the more strange output of King Crimson, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and others. There are occasional lines of melody (albeit odd melody) that emerge from time to time over the top of this strange backdrop.
Cthulhu Rising
Continuing the suite, this piece is roughly nine minutes in length and is a bombastic and dynamic number that seems to combine elements of King Crimson, Frank Zappa and Birdsongs of the Mesozoic into a mélange that is quite entertaining, if a bit weird. This one features several varying segments and some odd vocals that are just barely audible (but not really enunciated/produced high enough to comprehend) and some rather awesome instrumental work. This number is both strange and tasty. It’s one of the best on the disc.
Slouching Towards Bellingham
The final segment of this suite, this one comes in extremely noisy with strange sound effects making up the bulk of the sound. At just over three minutes, this is the shortest segment of this trilogy. It has some dark ambient tones throughout.
You Are Now Leaving Septimania
This extremely brief (less than thirty seconds) track ends the disc. It’s a rather enchanting bouncing soundscape. There’s not much to this, but it is infectious.
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