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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Nine Beats Collective

Nine Beats to the Bar

Review by Gary Hill

The "Nine Beats" in the title and the name the project refer to the Biblical Beatitudes. Exploration of those is the concept of this album. Beyond that this is a collection of music from an international collaborative of sorts. With that thematic basis, you might expect that this would be a "knock you over the head," preachy kind of affair. As someone who is turned off by overly religious lyrical content (of any religion), I can assure you it is not. That theme never got in the way of my appreciation of the musical exploration here. You don't need to buy into the lyrics to enjoy this.

Looking at the music, this is really all over the place. There are twenty six songs, but quite a few of them are very short. Jazz, hip hop, soul, world music, reggae, rock and more are heard on this. There are a lot of beat poetry styled things in the mix, too. This is very artistic, wide-ranging and entertaining. It's quite an admirable work of art.


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Track by Track Review
The first half of this short cut is kind of like found sound meets sound-clips from TV News. Then a jazzy kind of vibe serves as the backdrop for the beat poetry.
Call 'em Out
More of a song kind of element permeates this cut. The vocals are still in line with the beat poetry concept. The music has a cool vibe. Some hip hop enters in the second half of the track and dominates the piece from there.
Blessed are the Undead

The vocals that bring this in are female and sung. The music has more of a folk meets jazz kind of vibe to it. Those vocals bring some hints of a soulful kind of country edge. I dig the little guitar fills that bring some more jazzy texture to this. This is such a cool piece of music. It's one of the highlights of the set.

This is just a very short violin interlude.
Jazz and funk are the basis of this killer jam. It's a lot of fun. With modern era lyrics, this is part Parliament and part James Brown. It's one of the highlights.
Wild World
The funk and jazz are back here, joined by some killer soul music. This has a classic old school sound to it. It's packed with energy and hooks.
This is less than half a minutes long. It has some mellow jazz as its backdrop and a hip hop styled rap as the vocal portion.
Jazz and hip hop merge here. I love the guitar jamming on this cut. The song is a powerful one that has a great vibe.
Child 613
Some piano elements are heard at the start of this. The sounds of children rise up. Then some tribal singing and nature sounds come into the cut. This is less than a minute long.
There is a definite reggae vibe to this cut. It's a satisfying tune with a great groove.
Tread Softly
Classical music is on hand at the start of this. It moves forward in a steady way. It really starts to rise upward after a while. This instrumental remains classical, rather like soundtrack music, for the duration.
Piano starts this and leads it forward. The female vocal joins over the top of that arrangement. There really is a feeling of lamentation on this number. It works upward gradually, but doesn't move from the basic piano and voice concept. While melancholy in tone, this is also very pretty.
Song for the Earth
Speaking of melancholy, the strings that open this really bring that kind of mood to the track. It's quite classical as it moves forward. This instrumental is classical and classy.
With a piano dominated arrangement as the backdrop, this is another short beat poetry type number. It segues into the next piece.
The Beatitudes
Growing outward from the last number, this works its way forward with a style and passion that's quite cool. There is more of a symphonic rock vibe to it. As the vocals join it really feels like folk prog. This is a very melodic and pretty cut. It's one of the most mainstream things here.
What Can Love Create?
Acoustic guitar provides the backdrop for the pretty female vocal delivery. This has a real folk rock ballad approach to it. It is another classy piece of music.
Towards the Sun
Another string based classical music interlude, this is solid.
Letting it Go
An Island folk kind of vibe is at the heart of this little number.
There is a great jazz sound built into this number. The vocal is a very mellow, balladic and soulful delivery. It's a cool mainstream sounding number. It probably lands under adult contemporary.
Nine Beats to the Bar Theme

Atmospheric and melodic, there is both jazz and prog in the mix here. It's a short, but classy instrumental.

This cut (less than a minute in length) combines a fusion ballad musical concept with a rap over the top.
The Way of Peace
There is a real smooth fusion vibe to this killer cut. It's one of the more accessible cuts. It has some killer guitar work and a great groove.
In Recovery
This is another with a lot of jazz built into it. It's a melodic rocker that is very strong.
Nine Beats to the Bar
A melodic proggy rock sound merges with world music and jazz on this cut. There are some bits here that make think of Pink Floyd a bit, but this is much more of a world music thing. It's a strong tune.
Hard rocking guitar sounds are merged with rap. This is a very different piece from the rest of the set. It's cool, though. It also brings some real variety.
Give in to the Love
A melodic, jazzy number, this is classic and classy stuff.
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