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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Sky 2

Review by Gary Hill

This was originally released as a double LP on vinyl.  It actually almost feels like two different albums. The first half is closer to the sound of their debut set, instrumental progressive rock with a lot of fusion built into it. The second half, though, is very much oriented toward classical music. The end result, though, is killer instrumental music with some varied flavors.

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Track by Track Review
As this opens it makes me think of how a combination of Synergy and Alan Parsons Project might sound. The cut works out in a great driving mid-tempo arrangement. Cool lines of melody weave tales over the top of this backdrop. Some of the guitar soloing section later makes me think of Meddle era Pink Floyd. That peaks around the six minute mark, and a drum solo takes over from there. It comes back out into the main structure long enough to end.
Dance of the Little Fairies
Keyboard textures start, and the cut grows outward from there. It has a playful kind of psychedelic vibe to it. It grows outward with some cool classically tinged jamming.
A classically styled piano solo opens this and holds it for a time. Other elements threaten to rise up until around the one minute mark when it moves out into a jam that makes me of Al Di Meola quite a bit. That reference point is valid as the guitar solos, too. It drops way down to a mellow movement around the two and a half minute mark. It eventually reaches back upward, and some melodic guitar soloing is heard over the top. A Latin music meets both psychedelia and classically infused sound is heard later. That powers up into rocking territory that's again quite Di Meola like.
This is an epic piece that lasts more than 17 minutes. It starts with a driving, harder rocking jam that again has elements of Al Di Meola's sound in the mix. I can make out things like The Dixie Dregs on this, too. It's a fusion based number that's so tasty. It drops to mellower section after the minute and a half mark and moves outward from there. The cut gets into some more killer fusion after a while. After that plays through for a while, a rather playful prog section takes control. It eventually shifts to a mellower, yet intricate movement. Then after running through like that, this works out into some more powered up prog territory. They create all kind of interesting melodic bits as this movement continues. There is some pretty awesome instrumental work as this builds toward a peak. It drops way down from there and gradually starts to evolve outward in a rather freeform and tentative movement. A cool melodic rock jam emerges around the 14 minute mark to take control and guide it in new directions. That section serves as the backdrop for some more intriguing innovation as this drives onward. A keyboard based sections takes it at the end, fading down to close the piece.
Tuba Smarties
This piece is a live recording that has a lot of polka music styled stuff built into it. The tuba really drives it.  Of course, with that title can you expect anything else?
Delicate and quite classical in nature, this is pretty stuff. It's primarily an acoustic guitar solo. It has a couple different movements.
Gavotte & Variations
Another classical piece, I love the harpsichord on this. The whole thing just glides along so nicely with a very traditional classical texture.
A classical acoustic guitar solo, this is another tasty and tasteful number.
Tristan's Magic Garden
While there is still a lot of classical music built into the first half of this, and it is another sedate movement, this has almost a psychedelic prog vibe to it. It shifts to percussion entirely mid-track with drums and vibes driving it. There is a driving almost jazz rock feeling to this section, but it remains a percussion solo.
El Cielo
Intricate acoustic guitar and synthesizer the driving points of the first section of this cut. There are things about it that make me think of Emerson, Lake and Palmer a bit. There is a Spanish vibe to this in some ways. They work through a more folk prog styled section before turning toward more symphonic prog. Then it makes its way back to a revitalized version of earlier classically inspired sounds.
Francis Monkman was in Curved Air at one time, and here Sky takes on a Curved Air song. The mix of prog and classical on this number really works particularly well here. It drops back to guitar solo around the two minute mark. That holds it for about thirty seconds before things gradually power back upward.
Delicate and playful classical elements open this and hold it for the first minute or so. The cut gets some synthesizer over the top for a bit, leaning it closer to instrumental prog, but it shifts toward fast paced classical music. Around the two minute mark it works outward to a more rocking jam that again makes me think of ELP a bit. The cut makes its way through a number of shifts in a cool instrumental prog jam that's informed by classical music.
This is the famous "scary movie classical music" piece from Bach. They start it in fairly traditional ways but eventually move out into more prog rocking territory with it. It really becomes a smoking hot hard rocker.
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