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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Brett Gleason

The Dissonance

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve read a few reviews of this disc that just plain trashed it. Frankly, I wonder what sort of music the people doing the reviews listen to and what they were expecting this to be. Honestly, people who enjoy music like Porcupine Tree will find plenty to like here. Surely it shifts and turns more frequently than that, but the somewhat detached and rather cold vocal delivery and dark soundscapes call to mind bands of that genre. This is distinctly progressive rock. It’s full of weird left turns and oddities. It’s sure to please fans of modern prog. I guess if you like pop music or something more linear you might find yourself a bit perplexed. Sure, a lot of this has a steep learning curve, but isn’t that true of the best progressive rock?

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Futile and Fooled

A spoken voice comes in as a sound bite. Then a noisy keyboard element joins and this track builds out from there. After a time it shifts and a driving bass type line drives this. The cut shifts and turns like good RIO and yet, weird as this is there’s a bit of a catchy (almost pop music) element to it. There’s some jazz in the mix, too. The cut moves through a few changes during its course and has an almost classical feeling to it at times. This is definitely challenging music. It’s got a steep learning curve, but just one listening will reveal that there is something here worth taking the time to appreciate. There are some moments here that make me think of The Flower Kings and other sections that call to mind Jellyfish. This is full of frantic changes and weird left turns. Still, it doesn’t feel random to me in the least.

The Worst Part
Hard edged and cool, this is less challenging from the get go as the opener. There’s a bit of a 1980’s element to this and yet we get some Dream Theater-like progressive rock in the mix and also something not that far removed from Nine Inch Nails. I like this a lot. It’s more instantly accessible than the opener, but no less intriguing. In many ways this reminds me a bit of something from Porcupine Tree, but I can also make out some old school Genesis in the mix, along with the more modern sounds.
I Am Not
The focus here is more keenly centered on the vocals as multiple layers are presented across this. Still, the music veers here and there and this is another intriguing mix of sounds and progressions. If you don’t like where it’s at just wait a little while. There are some killer multi-layered vocal arrangements and fascinating musical tapestries, too. There are some great keyboard excursions built into the number.
The Escape

Weird sound effects and ominous modes start us off here. After a while working through like this it drops to a stripped down and dark motif for the vocals. After a time more layers of music are added and this picks up an almost pop oriented (but still dark) sound.

Idealize the Dead
The first portion of this is in a rather mellow, but unsettling musical motif. It fires up into harder rock for accents, but overall I’d say this comes the closest to something like Porcupine Tree of anything on the disc. It’s definitely a more staid piece than anything else on show here. 
Unlisted song
This one’s not included in the track listing. The cut is cool. It combines a Jellyfish kind of catchy groove with more of the noisy sounds we’ve heard throughout the set and we get plenty of odd shifts and turns, too. Yet, through it all Gleason manages to keep it all feeling accessible. We get a descent into noisy weirdness later in the piece. There’s some cool backwards tracked music later, too.
 
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