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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Henderson/Oken

Dream Theory in the IE

Review by Gary Hill

Mike Henderson and Chuck Oken are both members of Djam Karet, so one might expect this to sound like that band. Well, it is instrumental and it does fall outside the mainstream. Beyond those similarities, though, there isn’t a lot of resemblance. This is far mellower and moves towards a really sedate space rock. Whatever the description, though, this is an intriguing album that grows with repeated spins.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Alive Enough?

This is a slow moving and slowly evolving track that’s pretty and in some ways calls to mind Pink Floyd. There is some rather noisy electric guitar later, but even then it stays really mellow. While this doesn’t change quickly and remains largely understated, it’s still very cool and dramatic.

Forgotten Spirits
The main musical elements early on in this one are a distorted guitar and percussion. While in many ways it’s quite similar to the opener in terms of atmospheric textures and slowly growing arrangement, there are some almost bluesy sounds built into this musical tapestry. Keyboards join later to create some different sonic elements.
Deeper Waters
The early portions of this one are driven by percussion and chimes, but there is somehow a Pink Floyd texture to it. It gets more spacey after a time, working out to a sparser arrangement. This is seemingly the most freeform section to this point. After that, though, it threatens to coalesce into something more like a real “song.” Then a pretty acoustic guitar movement rises up and again Pink Floyd is a valid reference point. That section doesn’t hold it long as it serves as the outro.
Dream Theory In The IE
Starting with keyboard type sounds, a noisy guitar skirts over the top after a short time. Then the cut works into something like a freeform jazz sound that remains fairly mellow. There are some rather dissonant moments and that noisy guitar comes back into play later.
Zombi Attack
This rises very gradually and in the early parts has a suitably creepy sound. Then it shifts towards more space rock like sounds as it continues later.
When All The Birds Die Away
The space rock sounds that closed the previous tune are replicated here and this moves outwards gradually from there. Appropriately a lot of the music elements call to mind birds. With lines of sound streaming and echoing across the top piano weaves a sporadic and pretty melody underneath as this grows. Eventually (again appropriately) the bird sounds go away and we are left with waves of synthetic sounding atmospheric music. The piano still wanders under this musical tapestry. The cut grows and progresses from there with definite electronic progressive rock meets space music leanings.
John Henry Changes The Rules
Coming in fairly bouncy, this feels far more “song” oriented. As guitar solos over the musical tapestry further down the road, that more mainstream orientation continues. This feels a bit like Tangerine Dream merging with Pink Floyd in some ways. While this grows slowly and gradually, it grows steadily. There are some processed, synthetic spoken vocals, a bit like Kraftwerk at times. As it comes around the ten minute mark, though, it drops way down. A new melodic movement starts from there and the cut grows out as it continues in new directions, again, a lot more mainstream than any of the songs that preceded it. Keys drive it for a time, then a bouncing melody emerges for a short time. From there we get a bit of melodic piano and the cut drops back downward. New musical directions emerge, again bringing Tangerine Dream to the table, but perhaps mixed with Kraftwerk, as it rises upward.
 
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