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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

T.H. White

The Private Spotlight

Review by Gary Hill

I’m sure there are those who would say that this is not progressive rock. It does in fact have a lot in common with house and techno music. I challenge those who would put this under that heading to explain the last three pieces. The truth is, this is a genre bending release – and isn’t that, in fact, one of the biggest parts of progressive rock? I think this has enough in common with Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd to put it under prog. Sure, a lot of this is danceable, but it’s also very cool.

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
Private People
Bass and keys start this with a proggy funk texture. The vocals have a soulful texture to them. Somehow this reminds me of a funky, prog-like version of The Clash’s “Radio Clash.” I think it might just be the rhythm to the piece. As this plays I keep wanting to sing, “This is Radio Clash on Pirate Sat-eh-lite.” It turns towards space rock at times. I love the keyboard solo on this track. We are also treated to a killer guitar solo that reminds me quite a bit of David Gilmour.
Blue+Cream
The rhythm section really drives this and it feels a bit like Pink Floyd – just the bass guitar – to me. The vocals are a lot more prog like and this track grows gradually. Keyboards flirt around the edges here and there as this is built up. They drop it way back down and the keyboards shoot upward and take over as the other elements drop away. Drums return first. Eventually everything else returns and they continue on their path, but with the keys taking a bigger role. They drop it way back down again and then an echoey solo (I think it’s guitar – at least at first, but it could be keys – and I’m pretty sure the later portions are) enters and takes us along a new path. I’m once again reminded a bit of Pink Floyd for some reason as this works through. These various elements are merged again as the track continues.
Life Shine
While no one is likely to confuse this for Rush, I hear a bit of a Rush element on the rising/falling segment here. Overall, this slower, moodier piece is not that far removed from something by Porcupine Tree. We get a couple tasty acoustic guitar solos on this one. Later in the track it drops to moody keyboards with the sounds of a television in the background.
The Lost Bridges
Keyboards start it off here and this feels a bit like Synergy to me. Although bass and percussion are added at varying points throughout, the keyboards are really the driving force here and they bring a real space rock feel to this. About three minutes in (this is an eight minute plus track) some sound bites come across and then they intensify this track a bit. It feels like it might burst out into a fiery jam, but instead it settles down into a more bass driven version of itself. Around the five minute mark we get some unique vocals rather hidden in the mix as the space rock elements continue to dominate. We get a drop down to an odd echoey percussive section. Then they bring it back up to the place from whence they came.
Katie Starr Of Silver
This has more of a straight ahead rock sound with some funk in the mix. The vocals are male, but the delivery on them reminds me of The Waitresses. There is a tasty guitar solo section later, bringing this closer to the progressive rock realm.

Can I?
An acapella vocal leads us out here. After a short pause the rhythm section enters with a rather funky, retro sound. They build up gradually from there, those vocals joining and keys added to the mix. This is another that somehow reminds me a little of Pink Floyd. As the looped vocals are added this has more of a hip hop or trip hop kind of feel. They work it out through some minor variations and changes. After a while this turns towards more spacey rock. The vocals eventually return to end this. 
The Loft
This is perhaps the least prog rock song on show here. It’s a high energy jam that seems to merge Kraftwerk with more modern Trip Hop sounds. There are some spacey elements here, though, bringing in some Hawkwind leanings. It wouldn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to picture this played at the club. The sounds of a storm eventually close this out.
Separations
Acoustic guitar starts this and it becomes one of the most purely prog rock tunes on show here. This is essentially a potent prog ballad with some great female vocals. This is probably my favorite track on show here. This gets quite powerful as it carries on and we get symphonic strings laced across the top later.
Cover Me Deeply
Bits of keyboards rise up and echo across as this begins tentatively. The acoustic guitar section that enters after a while reminds me a bit of Animals era Pink Floyd. As they fill out the arrangement I still hear Floyd, but perhaps an older version of the sound. The mostly spoken vocals bring in a rather hip hop feel to this. There is a techno/house section in the midst of this, but overall this is a proggy ballad. A crunchy guitar enters later, but it doesn’t bring this anywhere near the realm of metal. Keyboards take over at the end and hold it until it makes its exit.

Sky Lifter Sun
The first half of this is in the form of pure prog ballad. It grows into something wonderful. About mid point they move this out into a house type rhythmic structure topped with an echoey traffic and weather report on the radio. And the radio continues, rising up and fading away in a repeating pattern. As keyboards enter to take command this again feels very prog-like. Vocals return in non-lyrical layers and eventually soar on this arrangement. Close to the eight minute mark it drops back to more radio. This ends the CD in fine fashion.
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