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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Twilight Dementia

Twilight Dementia

Review by Gary Hill

Twilight Dementia might not be an obvious choice for progressive rock. They certainly don’t fit in terms of the old school 1970’s style of prog. The thing is, they aren’t doing metallic neo-prog either. Rather this duo (yes, it’s just two people – John Krauss who is responsible for all the music and Jennifer Mendiola who handles the vocals – well actually there are a few guests here and there) creates a sound that’s rooted both in classic rock and more modern moody progressive rock stylings. No, they don’t have a lot of crazy timing changes or twenty minute songs. This music is exceptionally creative, though. At times they touch on the sounds of such progressive rock icons as King Crimson or Pink Floyd, too. This is an extremely unique and cool album. Prog purists should enjoy the fact that it doesn’t really cross the border into metal at all. I think if fans of any style of progressive rock will just give it a chance, they’ll enjoy it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Deliverance
A dark and rather understated method with a vocal line starts this off. After it runs through they power out into a harder edged jam that’s got both a classic rock and neo-prog texture. Vocals come in over this and they carry forward in nice fashion. Some of the music on this calls to mind modern King Crimson a bit. It drops later to a mellow section with plaintive vocals. When the music comes back up it’s metallic and powerful. This section is extremely like KC when it kicks in.
Good Enough
What an intriguing song this is. It comes in with a bluesy classic rock sound but then shifts out into a rather jazzy little number. The vocals are woven around this backdrop and later on it turns spacey with small bits of sound thrown in over the main structure. In some ways this reminds me quite a bit of early Pink Floyd.
Lullaby
As one might guess from a song entitled “Lullaby,” this is a mellower piece. That said, it’s not restive, but rather somewhat dark and weird. It has an unsettling, yet pretty, nature. After about three minutes the melody is intensified. While it feels like they might explode out into a more powered up version of the song, it doesn’t happen. Instead it ends.
No Way Out
This is a hard edged groove with a great classic rock texture. It is shifted out into a funky little rocker that’s quite cool. They turn this out into a spacey jam later that definitely has some old school Pink Floyd in the mix. I really think a lot of this calls to mind Umma Gumma. Kraus provides some of the vocals on this track. And yeah, it does turn crunchy at times, but I’d definitely not think of this as anything close to metal. The later portions of this are amongst the most mainstream music on the CD.
Midnight Charade
This is rather like a gentle ballad and yet it’s got a definite dark twist to it. The vocals remind me quite a bit of Lacuna Coil. “Midnight Charade” is a powerful piece and one of my favorites on show here. They bring it up a bit as they carry on, but really this stays quite mellow throughout. There is a cool (but rather understated) guitar solo on this – calling to mind Pink Floyd a bit.
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
They cover Bob Dylan here. If you didn’t realize it you probably wouldn’t pick that up. It’s gentle and slow moving and somehow reminds me both of Mazzy Star and Tori Amos. In fact, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch of the imagination to think that this was one of the unusual covers Amos did on her Strange Little Girls album. I love the crunchy guitar sounds that hang around the background of the latter parts this.
Twelve Oceans
A bouncy sort of beat starts this off, but as the song grows it’s just in small degrees. This has the same sort of dark ambient texture that permeates a lot of the CD. As this is built up it doesn’t rise extremely far, but rather gets an infusion of drama through a gradual increase in volume. There is a cool section later with a guitar sort of sliding across the top in waves of sound.

Gimme Shelter
I can think of one other version of this Rolling Stones number done by a band that fits under the progressive rock label, Hawkwind’s take on the track. You really wouldn’t imagine it to be this track, though. A rather psychedelic introduction gives way to an acoustic guitar ballad motif. The vocals come in over the top. The chorus does call to mind the original, but just because of the vocals – Krauss joins Mendiola on that section. They add some energy to this as it carries on, but overall it stays pretty mellow. We get a sort of bluesy acoustic guitar instrumental section on this, too. Some dark ambient sounds that remind me of Pink Floyd’s The Wall serve as the backdrop for some non-lyrical vocals later. Then a hard rocking (electrified and rather distorted) guitar solo is employed. This becomes quite soaring at times. As the later section takes over, with this harder edge, Krauss provides pretty much all the vocals. That said, Mendiola serves more like the female vocalists that the Stones used when they did this. This portion of the track comes as close to resembling the original as can be expected. I like their version of this a lot. Considering that I think the original is one of the best the Stones ever did, that speaks volumes. They turn it rather noisy, sort of like Hendrix, before they end it.
Welcome, Twilight
Some weird sound bites start this off – like a German radio talk show. Eventually we get to the song proper where a acoustic guitar serves as the backdrop while a man speaks – still in German – or at least I think it is. Mendiola’s voice can be heard angelic above the fray. This moves straight into the next track.
Just Take It
Beginning where “Welcome Twilight” left off, after a time the speaking voice is slowed down. Then a new more bouncing motif enters and Mendiola lends a jazz styling with her vocal performance and presence. They power it up to a sort of soulful jam after a time. Then it’s dropped back down to the jazzy element. They revisit the track’s various sections and we get some cool, bluesy mellow guitar. This is another point on the disc that becomes quite mainstream. There is a lot of funk in this and they create an almost pop rock jam out of it to take it to its close.
Aftermath
Sound bites start this off and then a pretty acoustic guitar line rises. It feels a bit lonely and melancholy as it plays on and other sound effects emerge around it. After while this becomes a bouncing acoustic guitar based rock styling. The vocals are laid over the top of this with a distant, slightly distorted recording. They shift out to a harder edged, faster jam after a while. I can hear some Led Zeppelin in this section. It gives way to a more energized take on the section that preceded it and we quickly find out that its alternating pattern of this jazzy sound contrasted by the Zep-like movement. There is a definite world music texture to some of the later motifs here. This is another powerhouse piece. It’s definitely one of my favorites on this CD. Near the end this is slowed down, like a turntable being abruptly stopped and then it shifts into space to end.
Matter of Time
The percussion on this feels appropriately like a ticking clock. It’s a fairly mellow piece that’s moody and extremely cool. Mendiola’s vocals are (as on the rest of the CD) simply awesome. The music builds in a series of overlapping lines of sound and instrumentation. Still it remains fairly sedate. We get some intriguing instrumental melodies as this carries on and some of the later vocals feel like they are recorded under water. Spoken bits are laid over other elements. This is dramatic and oh so cool. It’s another highlight of the CD and that makes it a great choice to end things with.
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