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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Bartok in Rock

Review by Gary Hill

As you might guess from the album title, all of the music here was written by the composer Béla Bartok. These are rock interpretations of the pieces, though. That, by definition, really, lands this in the neighborhood of progressive rock. The music, although guitar dominated and often heavy, would do that by itself, though. All the music here is produced by three people (Nelson Coelho - guitar, Gabriel Costa - bass guitar and Fred Barley - drums) except for the first song which features a guest performance by David Cross (of King Crimson fame) playing violin. This is all instrumental and all dramatic.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Mikrokosmos 113 (Bulgarian Rhythm I)

This is a fast moving piece that has a lot of King Crimson type stylings built into it. Given its source material, it shouldn't be a shock that there is also a definite classical music vibe here. This gets a bit cacophonous at times, but it features some soaring soloing. I really love the expressiveness of the guitar soloing on this.

Mikrokosmos 149 (Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm II)

I love the rubbery bass groove in the background here. The guitar sound has a bit of a funk element to it at times. This is hard rocking, furiously driving and all guitar based progressive rock. It gets into some pretty crazed territory at times.

An Evening in the Village (10 Easy Piano Pieces No. 5)
There is a space music oriented section that leads this out of the gate. After that runs through, they work it out into more of a rocking motif. There is some busy percussion in the background as guitar solos in some decidedly Asian sounding ways. It drops down from there into mellower spacey stuff.
Roumanian Folk Dances 1 (Stick Game)

Mellower guitar tones start this tentatively. It works forward in that kind of fashion. Around the 40-second mark it fires out into more driving territory and drives onward. The bass work on this later is particularly notable. The guitar solos like crazy over the top of the whole thing, too. There are some moments that make me think of Pink Floyd a bit. There is definitely some world music in this, too.

Roumanian Folk Dances 2 (Peasant Costume)
Trippy, exploratory stuff opens this. It builds out into screaming hot rocking stuff based thoroughly around the world music melodies. In some ways this makes me think of a proggier, more rocking version of The Ventures. There is some killer guitar soloing on this beast.
Roumanian Folk Dances 3 (Standing Still)
Starting mysterious, there is a real space music vibe to the early parts of this. Although it builds, that type of sound holds it until around the two minute mark. Then this shifts toward the dark and heavy. It's almost metallic, but still decidedly prog rock based.
Roumanian Folk Dances 4 (Mountain Horn Song)
Another that comes in trippy and rather space oriented, this evolves gradually from there. World music melodies come over the top in the form of some guitar lines. Then the whole cut gets an infusion of rocking energy and oomph.
Roumanian Folk Dances 5 (Roumanian Garden Gate)
I love the fast paced playing that opens this. As the arrangement fills out there is a sort of celebratory vibe to the piece. While it's packed with energy, it feels lighter than the previous piece.
Roumanian Folk Dances 6 (Little One)
This is based on  harder rocking classically based jamming that's very tasty. In fact, it's one of my favorite tracks here.
The Young Bride (For Children Vol. 1 No. 17)

Harmonics start this off, and the cut works from there into some mellow musical territory. It works organically outward until it eventually becomes some seriously heavy and crunchy driving music that borders on heavy metal. This becomes quite a powerhouse, really. It makes for an incredibly dramatic close to a powerful album.


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