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Progressive Rock CD Reviews



Review by Gary Hill

The easiest way to describe the sound of Sokoband in a short phrase would be “smooth fusion grooves.” That works to a degree, but really their sound is a lot more diverse than that. In fact, one of the things that keeps this disc from reaching a higher degree of perfection is that at times it seems that Sokoband can’t decide where they want to focus their musical energies. Pair that with the fact that a lot of the music seems like it would be at home in the background and you’ll have nailed the only two complaints about the CD.

Overall, this is a good release from Sokoband. It has some moments that are extremely strong. There are a few missteps, too, though. It would be nice to hear a little more demanding a musical presence from these guys. This is a release that will entertain fans of mellow jazz and jazzy prog fusion, although “Jiriki” might lead to some head-scratching confusion. It’s not all that highly recommended for serious listening, though. It just tends to fade a bit too far away. Generally I include fusion the progressive rock section of Music Street Journal because it seems to fit there pretty well. That’s why this review is included in that section.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Coast to Coast

One need look no further than the opener, to find an example of all the varying qualities of the album. It definitely fits into a category that one might consider “background music.” That said, there are some extremely impressive performances by all involved. In terms of fusion being too tight a constriction, that is shown on “Coast to Coast,” too. While overall the song is in keeping with a fusion motif that’s not that far removed from the sounds of Pat Metheny, a guitar solo on the number brings it more into the progressive rock realm. It does that because it seems like something Steve Howe would play with Yes.

Your Steps Alone

A track like “Your Steps Alone” stays firmly focused on the smooth jazz elements. Even, then, though, they manage to pull a bit of soulful groove into it. Of course, it also is a prime candidate for a song that can slip into the background. It also contains a little section that seems to call to mind the old song “People Get Ready.”


“jiriki” is the odd man out on the set. While apparently the group understood that an album of all instrumentals can become a bit boring, the way they solved it seems to fit with the rest of the set like a square peg in a round hole. A big chunk of the piece features the same kind of jazz found throughout, but it suddenly changes out to something that feels like a Dave Matthews song. Of course, the fact that Mr. Matthews himself provides the vocals could have something to do with that. While it’s entertaining, it just seems a bit contrived.

In November Sunlight

This starts in a jazz ballad motif and grows out into something akin to smooth fusion ala Pat Metheny. It works through a number of changes and alterations and is quite tasty, but just not that different from the other music here.

Energy Charged

Arguably the fifth track, “Energy Charged” is the strongest piece. As the title suggests it has a lot more energy than the rest of the music. It moves out into some rather progressive rock like territory (references to Yes are again appropriate), too. It’s one place where the disc doesn’t seem content to sit in the background. In fact, it works out towards some seriously hard rocking territory that will likely catch the attention of most listeners.

Body Home

Another highlight takes things in a different direction. That piece is “Body Home” which has a mellow jazzy groove that’s not that far removed from some of the music Sting has done in his solo career. The cut could be seen as one that disappears into the background, but the overall tone is strong enough to prevent it from doing that very easily. The addition of symphonic instrumentation is a nice touch, too.

And Yet Your Smile

The rhythm section on this number feels more like a modern electronica cut, but the music is full on jazz. It’s another mellow and melodic tune. It’s not bad, but just sort of background music.

Lullaby for E

An even mellower piece, “Lullaby for E,” stands out because of the beautiful melody and overall tone. It has a slow jazz tempo and the piano drives much of the melodic structure. While it’s sedate it manages to stand out of the shadows because that melody line is compelling and catchy. They do bring in more layers of energy and instrumentation as they carry on, but the song is never really reinvented, but rather intensified. When a melody is as strong as that one, it doesn’t make sense to pull away from it, but rather reinvent it.

Half Sleep

The sounds of nature open this and then bass begins to drive it as it builds very slowly. There’s a bit of a retro texture here like Booker T. and the MG’s, but as it continues it takes on elements that could be compared to something like Kraftwerk. The cut wouldn’t be out of place being played in some club, either. This is the one that comes closest to being progressive rock. It’s a nice bit of variety.


A mellow piece, the percussion is really the star of the show here. It wanders here and there with other instruments adding some melody over the top. This is different, but one of the weaker pieces on show. It’s also not the best choice for closing out the set.

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