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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Odysseys

The Odysseys

Review by Gary Hill

There seems to be a whole wave of neo-prog acts who draw as much from psychedelia as they do from progressive rock. Mind you, prog and psychedelia have a lot in common and it can be argued that some of the more expansive psychedelia is what gave birth to progressive rock in the first place. In any event, The Odysseys are one such outfit and their CD really showcases how a group can combine those two sounds into one cohesive element. This is quite a good disc and a great introduction to their musical identity. A lot of this really feels like it could have been recorded in 1967.

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
Neuronaut
This rises up feeling rather metallic. It jumps out into a hard edged riff driven sound. The vocals would make you think you are listening to a retro hard rock outfit. This whole thing kind of reminds me of Captain Beyond. They drop it back to a keyboard driven segment for another round of vocals and this is the first real progressive rock we’ve heard here. Of course, its appearance brings the other section into a prog rock light. They work this back out into a scorching vintage sounding guitar solo segment. Then we’re back into the main part of the song.
Maybe
A short, rather psychedelic and spacey intro gives way to a guitar sound that reminds me of the Doors. When the vocals come in the cut seems to me like a more proggy/psychedelic version of America. The lyrics to this one are adolescent and the song feels like it could have been pulled from the pages of 1967. There is even a direct musical quote in the form of a transitionary section of the Moody Blues. In an interesting twist they shift this out late in the track to a soaring instrumental segment that has layers of progressive rock sounds – perhaps a bit like Robert Fripp’s work. This is quite a cool piece of music and really elevates this while still preserving its vintage sound.
A Slight Awakening of the Subconscious
This comes in with more of that Captain Beyond element, but they shift out to funky music and the vocals bring the progressive rock in spades. They work through a number of changes and alterations here, moving this into a cool space jam for a time and throwing us a meaty (and extremely long) guitar solo like one would throw a bone to a dog. Psychedelic elements swirl around and the other sounds bring it into a whole different world. There is a careening, dodging and bobbing guitar solo segment later that feels like it could have come from the nimble fingers of Robert Fripp.
The Rendering of the Maelstrom
The acoustic guitar backdrop that makes up the introduction reminds me of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay.” They turn this to more balladic prog meets psychedelia as they take us on this new trip. This becomes quite a cool piece of music. Mid track an intricate acoustic guitar pattern takes this and moves it in a new direction. It’s still mellow, but this is prettier than the rest of the track. A hard edged rocking guitar comes up from there and takes the track through an instrumental section that creates the rest of the piece.
The Myth of Elegido
They end the disc with a four part suite. It’s set up on the CD as one (nearly twenty minute) track, so that’s how I’ll approach it here. A Spanish guitar brings this in and holds it for a while. Other instruments join in and it is like a visit to Barcelona. It shifts out into a fast moving progressive rock meets psychedelia element that feels a bit like old school jazz trio music. The vocal arrangement with its multiple layers is quite nice here. They crescendo after a time and then bring it back up in a slow moving motif that is similar in texture to the last one. This is built up gradually as they carry along. I love the evocative nature of the lyrics and vocals here. About seven minutes in we’re treated to an electric guitar solo that brings in some Pink Floyd elements. It turns out towards “Hotel California” as they continue. The guitar solo gets quite intense and then a retro textured keyboard solo takes over from there. They drop it way back down and ambience gives way to a reprise of the song proper as they build. The new incarnation of this song feels a lot like old (Barrett era) Pink Floyd. It shifts out to a lush and powerful keyboard dominated sound. As this finishes they drop it back down and we get a more dramatic verse and then they move out into a few new alterations. At times this reminds me of a more psychedelic Flower Kings. They build this up into an incredibly powerful piece of music. Then a crescendo makes you think it’s done, but instead a crunchy guitar brings in more traditional Spanish themes and they launch out into a whole new section. They take us back out into more psychedelic music and power that up once more. Eventually they bring in a guitar solo as this section continues and the whole combination remains as they take it to its end.

 
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