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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Daniel Gauthier

The Wish

Review by Gary Hill

Prog purists should take note of this new album. You know who I’m talking about, the kind of people who only like progressive rock that’s similar to the sounds that were created in the 1970’s under the prog banner. Well, this new album showcases that type of sound in a new release from an unknown artist. At times you might hear Genesis or Pink Floyd or ELP on this. The most obvious comparison is Yes and the vocals are often quite similar to Jon Anderson’s. It should be noted, though, that if there’s a bone of contention here it would be those vocals. While they are often times in the same register as Anderson’s they seems a little rougher around the edges at times, too. Of course, a lot of that might be production value, but it’s all a mater of personal taste, anyway. Frankly, I tend to be a bit hard to please with vocals, but these didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the music. I can just see where some people might have a problem with the vocal performances on this.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Wish (Part 1)
Starting with ambient, atmospheric tones this eventually moves out into a rather Yes-like jam. There are a number of musical themes and modes, but all packed within an instrumental introductory piece that weighs in at less than three minutes.
The Clock
A powerful instrumental passage leads this off and carries it for a time. Eventually it drops back to a more stripped down arrangement for the vocals, but it works its way back up from there as it moves forward. There’s a dramatic instrumental segment in the middle section here that at first feels rather Pink Floyd like, but then turns more towards fusion territory. Eventually this resolves out to a melodic and rather folky ballad section. This doesn’t hold, though and a new Yesish motif emerges to carry the next vocals. This is quite a dynamic and powerful piece of music. 
Just for a While
I can definitely hear Yes on this one, too. There are without question other musical entities to be found here, though. The track works through a number of changes and there’s a killer instrumental section in the middle of it. This instrumental motif continues changing and altering as it continues and eventually – several minutes down the road – ends the track. 
Broken Wings
Here we have a magical balladic cut that’s quite pretty and dramatic. Although this grows it still stays more sedate than a lot of the rest of the album. There are some awesome keyboard parts on this. If I had to pick a classic prog band to compare this to it would probably be Genesis – but I could see arguments for Renaissance or Nektar, as well. 
Axis of Men
Some of the bass guitar on this reminds me of Chris Squire, but musically I am more inclined to think of Pink Floyd (particularly Wish You Were Here era) on this. Of course, the vocals are closer to Jon Anderson. This is a dramatic and powerful piece of music and one of my favorites on show here. There’s a cool instrumental section that starts off feeling like ELP but then moves out to something very close to prog era Rush – particularly the rhythm section. Eventually this takes us back to the balladic motif for the return of the vocals. A spacey section that reminds me of Hawkwind closes this out. 
Once in Time
Folky and ballad-like, this also has some ties to the sounds of Pink Floyd. That is especially apparent when it moves out to the harder rocking motif later. Of course, other elements come into play here, as well. In particular I’d say the guitar work reminds me of Steve Howe. 
Song for Them
At over twenty one minutes in length this epic is the longest piece on the CD, by a long shot. This rises up with a mellow and rather playful sound. Neil Young gone prog seems the order of the day as the vocals enter. It moves out into a considerably accessible jam from there, feeling almost like a 1970’s pop rock song – albeit with the layers of sound making it thoroughly prog rock in nature. It builds up gradually. Then it shifts out into a new dramatic section. This instrumental motif powers out with a very Yes-like jam that has a rather staccato rhythmic structure. This begins and epic instrumental journey that takes us along various roads and byways. We take little jaunts out into scenic overlooks amongst nature. At around the five minute mark, though, it dissolves into ambience and sound effects. Then less than a minute later we are given a dramatic ballad structure that again makes me think of Pink Floyd. Around the seven minute mark it crescendos and then is changed to an acapella motif with layers of vocals dancing around one another. Some minor instrumentation rises up on this, but overall just the voices hold it. After they go away we are moved out into a guitar driven soaring melody that’s still quite melodic. Vocals return as we are carried forward, but then this too fades away and more ambient keys take over for a time. This is worked on for a time, but then the music shifts out to a dramatic ELP-like section with a military rhythm to it. Before the twelve minute mark, though, it drops back to a sparse arrangement and the vocals come in over the top. This then grows organically before shifting out to more dramatic prog sounds. We’re off on another soaring jam in no time. I hear all kinds of different bits of varying prog acts here and there as this soars upward. It’s not a straight-line climb, though. This veers from left to right and all around. This gets to be quite incredible at times. Then a little before the fifteen minute mark it drops down to Earth with another ballad-based section. Keys come over this in a dramatic way and then the vocals. This is very pretty and poignant here. It builds up from there in a measured fashion. Yes would be an obvious references as this carries forward. A little after the seventeen and a half minute mark it seems like the cut might be going to end. Instead familiar themes return to carry this on a new melodic journey. Melodies swim in this ocean in a very satisfying way and then the vocals return. Eventually this motif is built up again. I can definitely hear Genesis at points in this building process. In fact, this extended closing section really reminds me a lot of the ending section of “The Carpet Crawlers.”
The Wish (Part 2)
This three and a half minute piece reminds me of Yes. It’s a nice closing number that has a definite Jon Anderson sort of texture.
 
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