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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Clay Green's Polysorbate Masquerade Band

Chronicles of Bubbledroid

Review by Gary Hill

Sometimes progressive rock can be too sterile and technical. Well, this album goes to show that it’s not mandatory. There is a lot of groove built into this beast. Sure, there’s plenty of ELP, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Yes in the mix of sounds here. But, that’s tempered with everything from Booker T. and the MGs to King Missile. This is progressive rock that manages to groove. It’s a lot of fun.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Saturn's Orbit

A smoking hot old school prog jam leads this off, feeling a bit like a combination of ELP and Vanilla Fudge. I love the wah guitar solo that ensues later. As the cut continues it keeps up the high energy until it drops down for a mellow respite that has some flamenco guitar built into it. When it powers back up that ELP vibe is back, but with some serious jazz in the mix. There’s some tasty organ playing leading into and running through the outro.

Frog Boy

The intro here feels a bit off-kilter, but they launch out into a great old school prog meets fusion jam from there. As it works out from there ELP is clearly a valid reference point again.

Time Sun (Intro)

This short introduction is based around an intricate and intriguing acoustic guitar melody.

Time Sun

Bringing melodic elements from the previous number into the ELP-like arrangement, this is another cool tune that continues the basic musical concepts heard already. There is a soaring jam later that has a lot of Yes in the mix. This whole thing just keeps getting reinvented as they work through a number of changes and variations. There is some awesome guitar soloing on this thing.

Shuffle Butt's Slow Down

This short tune is based on a killer fast paced groove and it’s got a lot of Booker T and the MGs styled cool.

Sixty-Eight

Bass starts this tune, another tasty one. As the other instruments join, we’re off to a jam that’s again rather like ELP, but there seems to be a bit of King Missile in that bass line. Of course, you might also make out some Pink Floyd here. There’s a short little rock and roll bit at the end.

Broken Mirror With Sand

Somehow this jam feels a bit more straightforward, but it’s still got plenty of quirky progressive rock built into it. There’s more King Crimson-like stuff for a while, then a real rock and roll guitar part takes into something like 1970s hard rock – think Allman Brothers. That section fades down on the close.

Dry Suites 94

As piano leads out, this feels very jazzy. Then there’s a shift to organ that brings into more prog territory. The synthesizer heralds an excursion towards more freeform prog jamming with some ELP and Pentwater in the mix. They really do take this thing through a lot of different sections. At times it feels a bit like ELP. Other points almost call to mind Led Zeppelin. There’s even a section later that feels a bit like ELP merged with Captain Beyond.

Groovey Paste

This short number just oozes retro groovey cool.

Pusso

The ELP sounds open this one up and they build it out from there. Guitar brings in more of a rocking sound for a time. Then we get some ELP meets fusion and they just keep shifting and turning things from one sound to another.

Beeple On Top of a Bridge

Fast paced instrumental progressive rock is the order of business here. There’s definitely a fusion edge to this one and lots of great flavors. Different instruments lead the way at different points and they change it up quite a bit. In a lot of ways, this feels less retro than just about anything else here. I love the guitar driven section later and the way the tempo ramps up as it carries through.

Rough Landing

Less than a minute long, this is basically an organ showcase. The ending section, though, feels a bit like Santana meets early Yes.

Bonus Tracks

 

Piazz

Fast paced jamming is the order of the business here, at least early. Then it drops back to mellow keyboards as the piano solos and some space is heard overhead. They work out from there just a bit before dropping back to the piano again. Eventually they work it up to more rocking music from there. After a time the focus moves more to fusion territory.

Here
More classic progressive rock, like ELP, drives this somewhat short tune.
Return of Episode Xanadu

This one starts mellow and quite symphonic and builds up that way. Then, about half a minute in it powers out to another ELP-oriented jam that’s tasty. There is a more mainstream rock section as they continue. Then the organ drives over the top of this with guitar solo bits as punctuation. A more straight rocking sound takes it from that point. There’s a false ending before pipe organ rises up from there for the quick ending section.

Thanks!

There’s almost a southern rock vibe to the first playful energetic section of this number. The thing is, that’s blended with some RIO fusion like progressive rock for a killer tune. Around the minute and a half mark it shifts to something that feels a bit like Yes. Bass guitar takes control further down the road. That fades away and an excursion into magical sounding, rather symphonic music is heard. Then a new jam starts that feels like it’s based on some familiar melody. It builds out from there into a killer rock jam with some retro overtones. Keyboards take over after that jam ends. Then the whole thing rises up to a Yes-like jam. From there it turns out to a jazzy kind of jam that’s pretty fun.

Masp
This starts on acoustic guitar, but it doesn’t stay there for too long. As just about everything here, it’s feel of drastic shifts and this gets into more classic prog directions after a while. It’s another cool jam with plenty of great instrumental work and retro sounds and unusual changes. There are some potent instrumental rock movements here. I particularly like the fast paced mode that ensues to take the piece to its conclusion.
The Zoo

A retro prog rock groove opens this and holds the cut for a short time. Then it drops back down for a bit before turning really heavy. This heavy section is one of the coolest and most dramatic musical passages of the whole disc. After this turns towards more traditional progressive rock, we are treated to some tasteful melodic guitar soloing. From there the keyboards seem to drive in a lot of ways. Still, the piece works through a number of changes and alterations going forward. The lead guitar fences with the keyboards for control later in the composition.

Plan 2

This cut is another progressive rock instrumental that’s quite cool. There are some great guitar parts in place and parts feel like ELP, while others call to mind Yes and still others go in wholly different directions. And, all that is delivered in under two minutes.

Looking Back

Mellow guitar starts this dramatically. After a short time other instruments join and we’re off on another killer instrumental progressive rock journey. Rather than continuing in a straight direction from there, though, it drops back to just guitar before heading onward and upward. There are sections here that are dominated by guitar soloing, but other parts seem to focus more on the keyboards. Change is ever present, yet it feels more like a straight line than some of the other cuts do.

Lost At Sea, Pt. I (Edited)

Roughly a minute in length, this is just a keyboard introductory piece.

Lost At Sea, Pt. II

The keyboards from the previous tune open this and it starts to build out from there. We get some intricate acoustic guitar work as this continues. It remains pretty mellow for over four minutes, at times feeling rather like chamber music. Then it fires out to a rocking jam that’s more killer instrumental prog.

 
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