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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Inverse Gravity Vehicle

Magnetizer

Review by Gary Hill

This double disc set is simply amazing. I’m fairly certain that when I do my list of best of 2010 this will be there. Of course, I’ve said that about three discs already this year – and it’s a new year. Perhaps that’s a portent that there will be some incredible music released this year. The music here is vaguely space rock, but it’s also atmospheric and not that far removed from electronica. References to Enigma and Mask are well deserved, but there’s plenty of Hawkwind in the mix, too. There are other things that show up here and there like Gong, Kraftwerk and even King Crimson. However you compare or categorize it, though, this is an exceptional release.


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
Disc 1
Magnetizer
Combine jazzy sounds with a techno meets space approach and you’ll have a good idea of what the backdrop to this sounds like. An airy female vocal glides across this, almost hidden by white noise bursts. This is along the lines of Enigma, but also Mask. As the rhythmic structures take precedence it gets more of a Hawkwind goes techno feeling and they move it more towards Kraftwerk-like territory for a while before moving back to the song proper. There is some killer keyboard work on the track later. Further down this path we get a shift to more Hawkwind like sounds for a while, but the techno elements are still quite present. It moves out to the jazz intro to end.
Predator Control
As this comes in I’m again reminded a bit of Enigma, but Hawkwind-like elements weave across the top. The female vocals return, but this time they are in a more rocking mode. Crunch guitar is heard over the top, but more like clouds. This gets almost metallic later and is a hard rocker while still maintaining some of the spirit that opened it. It’s space rock, but the powered up variety. It takes on some noise further down the road, but the space elements are still ever-present. There is a screamed, distorted male vocal that brings an almost metal presence later. There’s a Hall of the Mountain Grill styled wahing jam later – but it seems to include some talk box.
Squares and The Healing Machine
Chiming sounds with keyboard space oriented elements rise up to greet the listener. This builds gradually and has an element that’s closer to the opener, but with more Hawkwind and even some Gong in the mix. They keyboards dominate this and feel very Hawk-like. There are more of the ethereal female vocals here. Space keys and other effects take over later and control more than half of the track. That section is very ambient. 
I.G.V & The Ring of Fire
A telephone rings and we hear a man’s voice. Then effects rise up and after a time a distorted, processed spoken voice emerges. This reminds me a lot of something Hawkwind might do. We get other voices, like we are sitting in on a phone conversation. Then the noise and voices drop away and the track shifts to a techno kind of arrangement and vocals come in over the top, gently. This builds gradually from there. It gains more Hawkwind-like elements as it continues (think Levitation). 
Through the Eyes of a Child
A horn brings this in with a definite jazz-like feeling. It shifts to prettier and rather ambient sounds as it carries forward and waiflike female vocals come over the top. As this continues there are moments that make me think of Jon and Vangelis, but there is also a dream-like jazz quality to much of it. 
Relative Zero
Sound effects and keyboards make up this. It’s ambient, a bit odd and also quite cool. It’s an instrumental and, at less than three minutes in length, one of the shortest pieces on show. 
Medicine of the Bird
This piece is very stripped down and ambient. It has a freeform, almost RIO element to it, but never gets chaotic or dissonant. It definitely turns weirder as it continues. There’s a short bit of a spoken sound-bite to close it out. 
Pansappho
There’s an almost cheery feeling to the keyboards that lead this off. As they build I’m reminded a bit of Vangelis, but also of ‘80’s electronica. When the vocals eventually enter I’m reminded of Kate Bush a bit in the delivery of the vocals, but somehow the music conjures Laurie Anderson in my head. There are hints of Celtic and other world music as this continues, but they are always sort of ancillary in their delivery. It works to more pure ambience and weirdness, but again, never crosses over into territory that could be considered disquieting.
Money Can't Buy Dimensions
Rhythmically busy, this reminds me a bit of something from Bruford Levin Upper Extremities in some ways. Yet there are also bits of Hawkwind in it. It’s quite freeform and sparse in its arrangement. There is an almost free-form jazz element here, too. Mind you, it gets rather weird, but it’s also quite interesting. 
Propolis
There’s a bouncy, sort of computerized feeling to this and waves of keys washing over the top. It remains purely instrumental and it’s almost catchy. 
Without Thorns
Another that remains essentially instrumental, this is darker and a bit stranger. 
Divine Desire
Much more “song” oriented, this has an active guitar line and is a prog rock acoustic guitar driven piece that’s also got space rock in its mix. It gets quite intense as it carries forward. It’s arguably the most accessible piece on show here. 
Neodymium
There’s a definite rhythmic structure here and the music seems sort of random – but not the point of RIO. Odd elements emerge here and there and this is an unusual piece. 
Learn by Heart the Rhythm
A more musical approach pervades this and it is closer to something like the first track of the set. 
Disc 2
Fragments of Love
Gentle and delicate balladic music builds gradually upward. This is a pretty ballad that’s distinctly progressive rock in nature. It shifts more toward odd keyboard oriented sounds later, but it’s still quite beautiful. There are some backwards tracked vocal bits here and there during this motif, but we get a return towards the acoustic guitar based section later. A fourteen and a half minute number, this qualifies as epic by length, at least. It moves into almost movie soundtrack territory for the latter segments of the piece and moves in instrumental ways. 
Kri
Washes of keys and rhythmic patterns compete with and complement one another here. At times I’m reminded of Kraftwerk. At other points I think of Hawkwind. There are processed, robotic vocals. This is an intriguing track that seems quite accessible despite being a bit odd. There is a section where the vocals feel like bursts of computer data. 
More than Stardust
This is more song like but still has the definite keyboard dominated approach that combines Kraftwerk and techno sounds with Hawkwind-like space. 
Alright Giza
A mellow and atmospheric instrumental, there are bits of Eastern music that filter through here and there on this one. Of course, since Giza is the site of the great pyramid, that makes sense. 
Friendly Fire
A pretty piano based ballad, there is a melancholy air to this dramatic and powerful piece. At times it reminds me of some of the moody music on Elton John’s Blue Moves album. There is definitely a jazz air to this, too. It’s the least space rock piece on show. We get a little hint of David Gilmour-like bluesy guitar right at the end. 
Ideogram
This makes me think a bit of Vangelis, but there is a definite Kraftwerk element here, too – along with some more typical space rock. It’s more free form than some of the other music in the set.
Tough Love
Sort of a beat poetry excursion, there’s a bouncy kind of spoken vocal line here over the top of percussion. Other elements come in here and there to accentuate and punctuate, but this is a fairly stripped down piece that feels quite tongue in cheek. It also oozes cool. It’s one of my favorite cuts on the set. 
Naughty Naughty Saucers
There’s a rubbery, almost funky element to this and the cut is very much a rhythmic workout based instrumental. The music that is there feels more like tuned percussion than anything else. 
Pot Bellied Pigs Can Fly
I think this is my favorite cut here. There is a weird vocal pattern that is repeated and it is set over the top of an exceptionally active rhythmic pattern. Somehow this reminds me of something from Tony Levin. It’s definitely rather odd, but also very compelling. It dissolves to almost a scratching to eventually end. 
The Never Darkness
Weird noises and mellow music seem to compete in this space rock number. There are some of those gentle female vocals here and there, but a lot of this reminds me very much of Hawkwind.
I Follow the Eagle
Much more classical in nature, this has symphonic instrumentation and it’s quite beautiful. There are still space rock and electronic elements here, but this is quite a departure and another highlight of the set. 
Rapper Slapper
A groove oriented piece, there’s a little funk to this and yet it’s also weird and distorted. It’s kind of like modern King Crimson in some ways, but the arrangement is rather stripped down and very space rock oriented. I can make out hints of Frank Zappa on this, too.
 
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