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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Percy Howard’s Meridiem

A Pleasant Fiction

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite an intriguing disc. The blend of sounds is unique and the execution is generally stunning. For my money I prefer the disc when it stays further away from freeform RIO type music, but that’s just my own preference. The truth is - whatever sound they are leaning towards at any point in time is cool. This is just extremely well done.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
The Girl On The Back Of The Motorcycle
The rhythm section opens this. Atmospherics join as the sultry spoken female vocals join the cut. Around the one minute mark it screams out to harder rocking stuff. It's almost metal in some ways, but perhaps closer to modern King Crimson. It drops back down for the return of the female voice. The hard edged segment returns beyond that. Then, we're back to the sultry female led portion. The alternating pattern continues as this works forward. At the end they take us out to space.
This starts off in an acoustic based, folky texture and grows gradually from there. At times it reminds me of early Pink Floyd, but there’s still quite a bit of folk music throughout the cut. You might also be reminded at times of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young or even Hawkwind. It’s a cool change from the previous number and a great tune.
Chase The Blues Away
The motif that starts off here is not all that different from the one that preceded it. This grows in an entirely different way, though. It’s dramatic and powerful and just keeps getting more and more intense. It has a definite rock feeling to it, but is still quite space and progressive rock oriented.
The East
This comes in as a more standard rock kind of arrangement – rather sparse and barren and bluesy. It builds up into a noisy King Crimson meets Hawkwind kind of element at points, but reverts back to the earlier segment. It gets very noisy later in the cut, but is always quite tasty. 
Brilliant Ending
Female vocals are back here, this time sung in a sultry manner. This is jazzy, but also a bit like Mazzy Star. They build this up into one of the most traditional progressive rock journeys on show here. The vocals take on an almost breathy, whispered quality for a time later. It still continues to alternate and be reworked as they continue.
A Pleasant Fiction
The title track comes in mellow and that motif holds it for quite a while but after a time it fires out into some of the hardest rocking music on the set. From there it shifts out into mellower, spacey sounds, though. Eventually it fires back out and this gets incredibly intense. It works out towards some spacier music, still loud, but then drops back to something akin to Pink Floyd to take it to its close.
Can I Get A Witness?
This is more jazzy than some of the other music. As you might guess from the title there is a definite gospel element to it. Still, they pull some space rock stylings into this to keep it interesting.
This is one of the more purely mellow, but also one of the more purely strange, pieces on show here. It’s very jazzy, but has quite a sparse arrangement. The vocals are a little abrasive at times and the music seems quite freeform in nature. A whispered raspy voice later reminds me a bit of Patti Smith, but also seems kind of creepy. The whole effect on this one is not unlike Gong.
Where You Stand
Bluesy and just a little weird, a lot of this reminds me of King Crimson, but it gets more soulful than that. There are also moments that make me think of Traffic. It’s also got some very RIO-like music within it. It gets quite noisy late.
Give Me Everything
Quite weird and rather noisy, parts of this have elements of King Crimson. At points it feels a lot like Gong. Other sections call to mind Hawkwind – and yet it transcends all of these.
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