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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Presto Ballet

The Lost Art of Time Travel

Review by Josh Turner

I guess all the future time travelers only travelled to a time before recorded history. Or maybe it’s that the people from the present who bend time like glass have ultimately been persecuted and gave up on that “pastime” as part of their probationary release. In the end, it’s all relative and I don’t know if anybody could really exist with the abilities of this arguably dark craft; unless you count Hiro Nakamura from that primetime TV show or the progressive likes of Metal Church guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof, who by the way is the founder of this weird science.

When Vanderhoof slipstreams time signatures, there are no plot holes. The defined technology is closer to a Star Trek episode than the inexplicable details derived upon in Anakin Skywalker’s cheesy side-project also referred to as Jumper. When Vanderhoof  is done, the fabric of time is still intact.

While Vanderhoof’s first appearance was notionally sketchy, this one is less wooly than a prehistoric mammoth and more lucid than the user-interface designed to fly an advanced alien spacecraft (minus the iMac). In seven precise pieces, he melds the progressive past with the hip present; taking us boldly into the innovative future of a genre that’s yet to be outdated.

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 Mind Machine
After strapping ourselves in, this time traveling apparatus takes us to that tract of the seventies where Starcastle tarries. Alternatively, the singsong attributes are closer to Freddie Mercury’s Queen. Once the overture is kaput, its boosters bolster us into a neo-progressive world ala the presently relevant IQ. From the first notes on through to the tail end of this tremendous epic, the music is significantly better than the rations doled out in the debut.
Thieves
Stealing parcels from long-adulated annals, they add to their nostalgic mix with the singing of Dennis Deyoung, the keyboards of Keith Emerson, and the drumming of Keith Moon. As to a more contemporary epoch, Spock’s Beard’s goatee is certainly worked into their stylish trim. Also a faint part of their facade is shaded with Erik Norlander’s symphonic peach fuzz. The guitars, for good measure at its journey’s end, whisk by Lynyrd Skynyrd’s chin.
You’re Alive
Quite plain in nature due to acoustic guitars and marginal verses, it makes me think of Extreme’s “More Than Words.” The do-do-do’s in the background as well as simple synths are potential markers for Marky Mark or maybe Yes.
One Tragedy at a Time
Whacking the panel seems to do the trick when engines quell. After powering on the controls with a monstrously heavy-handed jam, they take all that’s come before and slap on a generous slab of Savatage. While jigging between sonar systems, it’s best to affix the seatbelt and hold the joystick with both mitts. Otherwise, you’ll be austerely jostled from your chair. Likewise, a direct hit from this blitzkrieg of bass and keyboards will certainly send you through the windshield if you foolishly forgo the safety measures. That aside, its safeguards successfully handle one tragedy at a time from imploding supernovas to asterismal fields.
I’m Not Blind
Where the prior track took us a staircase forward in terms of auditory levels, we slide down the balladic ladder here. While stability is retained, the fact remains that this cut rides the chute to bring us into a cozier lacuna. To put it another way, this wall of sound merely uses lighter building blocks to fill up equal space.
Easy Tomorrow
This is as if Deep Purple were playing “Paragon’s of Innocence.” No other comparison from the time-space continuum does this ditty justice.
Haze
Within its timely miasma, there are fleeting glimpses of yesteryear. Apart from sentimental remnants from the past, Pink Floyd and RPWL are a huge part of its atmosphere. Overloaded by both passé and modern features, the flux capacitor shuts down; but not before giving us one last symphonic hurrah. As happenstance would have it, this conclusive aria consensually assimilates Satellite, Asia, Knight Area, and Arena.
 
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