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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Kurt Michaels

Inner Worlds - Part One

Review by Gary Hill

Kurt Michaels has created an ambient piece of music here that fits loosely into the progressive rock heading. Understandably music of this type is not the most dynamic or powerful sound structures one will find - such goes against the grain. Still, this tends to be a bit weird and unsettling to qualify as relaxation music. It, like a lot of material in this genre suffers from to much sameness, making the album a bit long to listen to. Don't get discouraged and shut it off, though, as Michaels saves the best song on the disc for last. If you are a big fan of ambient music, you should definitely give this one a shot, but it probably will appeal to others, too. Really, I think most music fans will find something to like here. I'm just not sure that the album holds up exceptionally well as a whole. It would be great for short sittings, though. For more information, you can turn to the website at

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Ambient sounds begin this and start a very slow building. This has a rather weird sci-fi like texture as it carries froward. It seems inexplicably both relaxing and unsettling. It's not exactly music at this point, though, mostly a collage of odd keyboard textures and other sounds including sampled voices in the background. This continues building in volume and intensity. It eventually wanders back to more sedate keyboard sounds, but the ambient uneasy sci-fi like textures return occasionally amidst this. Really, this one never moves beyond electronic ambient, though, and as such it gets a bit long at almost 14 and a half minutes.
Nightmare Crossing Over
More atmospheric keyboard textures make up the majority of this, with occasional washes, jingling bells and other sounds. This one has a lot more drama and melody than the last piece, though. After a time a powerful rhythmic texture takes the piece into a more dramatic new direction. Asian elements come in in the background later. It ends with more sedate tones.
Alien Presence
More ethereal textural electronic weirdness starts this with hints of melody eventually moving in. It never really progresses far from there.
The Villages
More waves of atmospheric keys make up the early parts of this song. It's not bad, but by this point the listener is really wanting to hear a song. It seems Micheals knows this, though as he bring in the most song type music here in dramatic passages that feel like they've been pulled from movie soundtracks all amidst more weird sound. More Asian elements appear at points.
You Don't Say
This rocks out harder than the rest with crunchy guitar, but still is just electronic atmosphere overall.
Inner Worlds
With jazzy guitar stylings, this is the most musical song on the disc. This is not to say it isn't weird, it is. It's just more musical than the rest. This also features some backward guitar at times. This one is pretty dynamic moving in many different directions and a cool Steve Howeish guitar solo comes over top at points. This also includes what could be called the only real vocals of the album, although they are distant in the mix.
Nervous Barnyard Afterture and Rebirth
This is the weirdest cut of all. It starts with strange electronic sound and animal gruntings, then a jam that feels like an old school jazz band playing in some weird dimension takes the piece. This one rocks out a bit harder as it carries on. Weird as it is, this one is the coolest song on the disc. Gunshots explode over top later. This leads to a loud gun shot/ explosion that echoes out to ambient keys over which the sound of a baby eventually comes in.
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