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Progressive Rock CD Reviews



Review by Gary Hill

This album should definitely please fans of unconventional instrumental progressive rock. There is a lot of fusion, some classical and world music built into the sound here. It's frequently shifting and changing, so don't get comfortable in any one place. I would say that it's less jarring than things like Rock In Opposition, though. However you slice it, this is good stuff.

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Track by Track Review
Post Ignem

Synths bring this into being. After a short time other instruments join and it powers out into some slow moving prog rock that's quite powerful. It drops way down for a time, but then fires out into fast paced, furious fusion that really gets into some crazed stuff as it evolves and grows. It eventually drops back down and piano rises up from there. The cut moves into some mysterious mellower territory as it builds. Then it resolves to something more melodic as it grows outward again. The piece continues to change almost constantly, though. There are growing bits that seem to branch off into different things and grow from there. It gets quite bombastic for a while around the five minute mark, but then works to more fusion from there. We get some killer guitar soloing at some points along this road. While it continues to change within that structure, the fusion jam holds it longer than any of the other portions of the cut did.

Geocentric Universe

Weird, spacey, ambient sounds open this. There is something a bit like a twisted chant in the backdrop. As it passes the half minute mark a pretty and rather intricate melody emerges with a lot of picked guitar. They work forward with that, adding other instruments and building upon it. By around the minute and a half mark, it has buffed up into a full arrangement and it's working forward as kind of a classical meets fusion hybrid. It gets some serious rock added into the concept as it works forward. There are some pretty amazing musical passages that emerge as they explore within this basic musical concept. There is a section later in the track that seems to take the rock fusion into world music territory. A flute dances across a lot of this cut. Some of the guitar soloing late in the piece makes me think of Santana a bit. It crescendos and an intricate acoustic guitar takes over from there, working it to the end.

Mechanical Universe
The sounds of pounding, sawing and other elements of industry open this. Keyboards take over from there moving it forward. A bass line emerges underneath that. The cut works from there to a driving kind of off-kilter fusion element. As the guitar solos later it makes me think of Al Di Meola. They work into some stomping hard rocking prog jamming from there as this drives forward. This whole thing works to some dramatic and rather chaotic prog at times. It drops to more of an industrial texture, with machine sounds and banging and clanging. Then it powers back up to soaring, fiery prog turned fusion. They really explore the possibilities as they take into more pure fusion from there. It gets into some spacey territory at times. Then it drops way down to just keyboard based stuff for a while. It powers outward from there with some smoking hot prog rock jamming. That section eventually takes it to its end.
Entangled Universe
Coming in with mellower, world music type stuff, this gradually shifts toward intricate acoustic guitar based sedate prog. Then there is a change to a staccato kind of fusion jam from there. More Di Meola like guitar soloing as heard, but this just keeps changing, dropping back for a flute section and then a jam that features the flute cutting heads with the piano and the guitar. Then it drops way down, and the piece is reborn as a decidedly mellow movement. As it works back outward, it becomes a fast paced fusion jam that keeps shifting and turning. It's a real powerhouse piece of music. It eventually shifts back toward less pacey and more melodic jamming for a time, but then powers back out for some scorching guitar soloing. The intense jamming that ensues runs through nearly the end. They drop it way down to take it to the close of the piece, though.
Piano brings this in with an uncomfortable insistence. By around the one minute mark it's shifted to a mellower sort of jam that has intricate acoustic guitar, running through some keyboard stuff on the way. It shifts outward to an early King Crimson like bit for a time before dropping way down to atmospheric stuff from there. It feels a bit like soundtrack music for a while. By around the two and a half minute mark, it powers to harder rocking musical territory to continue. It powers through some shifts and then drops way down again to continue by around the four minute mark. Then a jazz based movement brings it back into faster paced, more rocking territory. While it does stop and start (or almost stop anyway), this is a building, driving jam. It gets pretty crazed as it works forward. Then it shifts to a more melodic prog rock movement from there. They intensify it as it works onward. That section eventually takes the cut to its ending.
Mishima's Dream
Freaky bombastic fusion is the order of business in the first part of this. For some reason I'm reminded a bit of Frank Zappa at times on this screamer. The guitar really drives it, but not to the exclusion of all other instruments. Around the minute and a half mark it drops to keyboards and they gradually build back upward from there. I hear a couple things as this works forward that make me think of Pat Metheny a little. Eventually more meaty guitar takes command again and this turns to some crazed, crunchy fusion. They turn it more toward melodic sounds after a time, but don't lose any of the intensity in the process. This is still screaming hot. It drops way down around the four and a half minute mark and works within that structure for a time. Some intricate mellow melodies emerge at the end.
A Bao a Qu
This is a fairly straightforward number in terms of the shifts and changes. It's a melodic jam that's part prog rock and part fusion. That said, there is plenty of classical music built into this, too. The changes are organic and not abrupt, but there are plenty of them. This doesn't stay in one place in a practical way for long. There are some really soaring portions of this, too.
There is almost a tone poem element to the earlier parts of this piece. It fires out to more hard rocking territory as it shifts its way forward. It drops back to the mellower stuff after the two minute mark. Then an acoustic guitar section takes it into new directions. They work forward from there as they continue. The guitar turns toward world music in a droning kind of sound for a time. Then it shifts outward, at first on acoustic, and then electric from there. It resembles a more bombastic prog rocking sound from there as it continues. It gets pretty intense and rocking as they drive onward. I love the lush keyboard sounds that come over the top as they smooth out the edges. The shifting and turning riff driving a lot of this is very King Crimson-like to me, though. It's meaty and crunchy and alternates with that more melodic section as they seem at first to fight for control. They manage to work together nicely further down the road. Then it shifts to another hard rocking jam from there as it continues. It definitely resembles Red era King Crimson as it approaches the closing, at least to my ears. There is a mellow section at the end that actually finalizes the piece.
Paradise Lost
This is a short (by the standards set by the rest of the album - it's actually over three minutes long) number. It's among the oddest here. It's sort of wandering and feels almost incomplete, but in a creepy way. There is a lot of weird piano and other elements, yet it never really rises toward anything loud or rocking. It's sedate, but not comforting or gentle in any way.
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