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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Electric Soul

Second Paradise

Review by Gary Hill

Sounds ranging from psychedelic rock to King Crimson, The Doors and even metal are mixed together on this set. Musically, it’s an exceptionally strong disc. The vocals are the real issue here. They can be a bit hard to take at times. Still, the music makes it worth the effort.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Desert Islands

A psychedelic kind of introduction gives way to a jam that seems to combine hard-edged rock with psychedelia and King Crimson type stylings. After a minute and a half or so like this, they drop it back to a mellower mode that again brings some psychedelic references to the table. The vocals come in over this and the cut keeps evolving from there as they continue. Around the three minute mark we’re taken into a new jam that’s got a bit of old-school metal in the mix. That doesn’t stay around long, though. Instead they drop it back to the vocal section again. There’s a return to that metal section (it reminds me a bit of early Iron Maiden) before they take it out into a more purely progressive rock oriented jam. A frantic jam that’s part psychedelia and part early King Crimson takes it for a while before they bring it back to mellower territory. It works back up to harder rocking sounds before it finally ends.

Oh Sparrow
Although there is some rocking guitar in the mix, this starts somewhat mellow. The keyboard sounds that come over the top remind me a bit of The Doors, but the cut is more of a psychedelic prog jam. When it shifts to faster paced more rocking stuff, it makes me think of Nektar quite a bit. That modulates out to a mellower section again. The vocals come in over that with a real old school psychedelic sound. The cut continues to evolve, moving between harder rocking and mellower sounds. It seems pretty well tied to psychedelic rock throughout, though. This is quite an effective number that feels like it could have been released in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
Amber Rose
The same kind of psychedelic sound is the order of business here. That said, this song is somehow more effective than the previous one. It’s got some great vocal hooks, shifts and changes. There are some guitar changes and chordings that make me think of original Yes guitarist Peter Banks quite a bit. There is also a full on prog jam later in the tune.
Stranded Cities
A high energy, psychedelic meets prog introduction gives way to more of a mainstream classic rock sound (think Rolling Stones) for the verse. It powers out into more pure prog after this first vocal section. Then we get another vocal segment before a cool retro tinged instrumental movement takes it. The cut keeps evolving in tasty ways from there. After a return to the vocal section, a very classic rock oriented guitar solo takes it for a time. The vocals return and then more proggy sounds take over after that to eventually take it to the close.
February
A cool retro sounding organ opens this and holds it for a time. Then the band power in and we’re off into a fast paced and fun psychedelic rock jam. The cut continues evolving. For my money the killer fast paced jams later are among the best musical passages of the disc. Not only do they have some great psychedelically tinged jamming, but there are also some cool retro keyboard sounds built into it.
Oceans of Rust
I really love the early Pink Floyd vibe to this cut. Although this is more of a straight line journey than some of the other cuts, there are still some changes here. The retro keyboard sound is nice. The guitar soloing is tasteful and meaty, too.
Keep Away
Psychedelic rock, perhaps a bit like early Pink Floyd again, is the main order of business on this. There is even a backwards tracked guitar solo. This is fairly short, bouncy and fun.
Vagabond Sighs
There is a fairly extended introduction here that combines the prog and psychedelic elements. Then they launch out into a fast paced jam that’s just great. It modulates a bit for the vocals to join. The mid-track jam is fast paced and very much rooted in killer prog meets fusion meets psychedelia. I love the guitar solo that ensues on this. This is arguably my favorite song here.
The Fountain
The riff that opens this somehow makes me think just a bit of early Judas Priest. That said, the psychedelic and prog elements dominate. It works into a fast paced jam that combines those three things pretty well. There are some cool shifts and changes and at times I’m reminded just a bit of early Rush. The horn solo is a nice touch, too.
Animals
Combining prog with psychedelia, this is another cool number. It’s not a huge shift or change from the rest of the music here. That said, it’s still quite effective. There are some fairly hard-edged movements here. That said, there are also some mellower ones. In some ways the guitar solo on this makes me think of Peter Banks again.
Dreams (Burning through the Night)

There’s an extended introduction that fits with the rest of the set. Then it drops back to a more proggy movement. The vocals come in over that backdrop. The piece continues to evolve from there with a very involved and rather lush arrangement at times. There is a great classic rock styled guitar solo section later. The thing is, as that guitar is soloing the keyboards are simply wailing over the top, too. Around the five minute mark there’s a little section that makes me think of Rush a bit. That gives way to a false ending and the song rises back up with some bluesy guitar work. It works back out to the proggy elements to end.

 
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