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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dark Chocolate


Review by Gary Hill

Perhaps Dark Chocolate’s greatest claim to fame is that the group features Kim Stone who is well-known for providing bass for Spyro Gyra and Rippingtons. This group is billed as world jazz, and I guess that fits pretty well. Frankly, I think they fit nicely in a fusion grouping – and for my money fusion qualifies as progressive rock, so I’ve included them in that genre. Mind you, most of this does lean closer towards the jazz end of the spectrum – but it will certainly be appealing to prog rock fans. I’d recommend it to fans of that genre along with those who enjoy the works of Spyro Gyra. While there are stronger cuts here and there on the set, nothing here is weak. It’s an entertaining release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Walk The Garden
A cool walking bass pattern opens this and the piece grows out from there with a great bluesy kind of space rock meets fusion sound. There is a subtle weirdness to this. Yet it’s captivating and compelling. At times it makes me think of Pink Floyd in some ways. Still, the overall tone isn’t really along those lines. The Doors might be a valid reference at times, too.
Mirror Dance
There’s a certain familiar air to this piece. It really feels a lot like something from Patrick Moraz’ solo works, but with a more pure jazz sound onboard. This is very tasty and includes a prominent percussion element. It moves even further towards pure jazz as it gets closer to the end.
Just Hangin'
This comes in quite funky and then powers out into a killer jam. It feels just a little dangerous at times. We get some smoking instrumental work on this jam with the guitar and the piano especially scoring starring roles.
Le Marais
Here we have another powerful instrumental. The bass really steals the show on this. It’s quite a potent piece of music with piano at times giving that bass a run for its money. In fact, while the bass dominates the first portion, the piano takes that role later.
Hunk Funk
At a little under two and a half minutes in length, this is the shortest track on show here. The piano is the central driving force of the piece and this is a more traditional jazz number.
This one is heavily percussion oriented. It includes a non-lyrical female vocal line and is a lot of fun. There’s a bit of Dixieland feel to some of this.
Warm Up Your Instrument
The non-lyrical vocals here are more in line with the tradition normally called scat. That said, the guitar and other instrumentation pull this closer into a traditional fusion – rather than pure jazz – territory. This is a tasty cut. There are a couple hints of Doors-like keyboards later and we get a killer rock guitar solo on the outro.
As you might guess from the title, there’s a Latin vibe on this. As this is built upon we get some scat singing here, too – but this time as a mirrored effect of instruments and voice playing the same melodic line. It’s a cool musical concept.
Falling Into Your Eyes
Guitar leads us off here and as keyboards come over the top it’s in a very classic rock way – with some jazz in the midst. This is quite arguably the most rock oriented piece on show. It’s a mellow and proggy rock, but really for my money this is the only composition here with more rock than jazz in it. There is some killer bass work later in this number.
Your Skin Is Where I Begin
Weird sound effects and keyboard elements bring this in with an almost space rock feeling. Then a spoken female voice comes over the top as this becomes an ambient piece of textural weirdness. Eventually the voice works towards singing as the music starts to build. She is singing about being here to serve. This is a unique cut because in some ways it’s a straightforward sort of poppy jazz tune that’s rather accessible. On the other hand it’s quite odd in its delivery and leaning towards RIO.
Hip Talk
This is another that’s more rock oriented. It’s got a definite 1960’s psychedelia motif to it, but tempered with Eastern music tones. Of course, that kind of element was common to the “hippie” music.
Hello Flower
A mellow cut this has some elements (mainly harp) that might make it seem like new age music. It’s pretty and tasty, but I wonder if it’s a rather anticlimactic way to end the set. Still, it does manage to move towards a space rock meets jam band sort of sound.
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