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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Yuka and Chronoship


Review by Gary Hill

This band is just so cool. They really are rooted in old school progressive rock, but there is folk music and some world sound here, too. The majority of this is instrumental, but there are a few tracks with vocals. Those vocals on two of the songs are provided by guests (Sonja Kristina and Hiroyuki Izuta). This is a cool disc from a cool band.

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Track by Track Review
The ARGO Suite
Tears of the Figurehead

Sound effects (perhaps of a ship) open this. Piano rises up and then vocals that are quite classical in nature rise up to join. Other bits of vocals come in after a bit. For some reason this reminds me a bit of Kate Bush's Hounds of Love album at that point. This cut is very mellow. Sonja Kristina is a guest vocalist on this number.

The Ship Argos
Harpsichord and harp both figure heavily at the start of this piece. Then a bit before the one minute mark it fires out into hard rocking progressive rock from there. They make their way instrumentally through various themes. It has moments that make me think of Dream Theater, but there are also more classic progressive rock reference points here. There is a break that gets almost metal-based. The guitar solo that follows is screaming hot and well based in that metal zone. This instrumental (there are some non-lyrical vocals at times as icing) movement is a real powerhouse that brings the pure prog to bear in nice fashion.
I love the slightly off-kilter jam that opens this instrumental movement. The cut works out from there with a real rocking prog jam. Some keyboard soloing enters as this continues. There is some killer neo-classical electric guitar soloing further down the road. After the four and a half minute mark it shifts toward heavy metal, at first with a distant riff and then with it up front.
Golden Fleece
The keyboards drive a healthy helping of this instrumental movement. There is some killer melodic electric guitar, too, though. This is another powerhouse prog rock jam.
A Dragon That Never Sleeps
A killer bass solo opens this. The drums join after a bit. Then piano comes in on top of that as this drives forward. It shifts as the guitar enters, but then works back into related territory. This is very much a fusion styled instrumental movement. It's one of my favorite parts of this epic suite, too. It explodes outward with a renewed passion and power around the minute and a half mark. The bass leads things again as it approaches the three minute mark. Somehow I'm reminded of Chris Squire a bit. This keeps pushing forward, rocking like crazy. It shifts toward seriously hard rocking stuff for a bit, but then a keyboard topped arrangement takes it in style.
Islands in the Stream
Melodic prog with a cool rhythmic texture brings this into being. There are some non-lyrical vocals. Keyboards solo over the top after this introductory section. It's another potent instrumental movement.
This instrumental piece is the final movement of the suite. Acoustic guitar starts this and the cut works out gradually from there. This is a killer melodic prog instrumental that works through a number of shifts and changes. There is a cool dropped back keyboard movement later in the track. It works back upward further down the road to some particularly potent prog jamming.
The Air Ship of Jean Giraud
I love the keyboard soloing at the start of this cut. There are some intriguing shifts and changes here. The piece is a great combination of symphonic prog and fusion. There are more non-lyrical vocals on this number. In fact, they are the most prominent vocals we've heard since the opening track. In some ways this reminds me quite a bit of Renaissance. There is plenty of instrumental magic, too, from that keyboard work to guitar soloing and more. I particularly enjoy some of the piano work on this movement. We even get a mellow dropped back section. It works its way back out to the main section.
Visible Light
Mellow elements start this, and the drums rise up to join. They eventually work this out into a full prog rock arrangement. We're back into vocal territory on this number, with some effective singing really adding to the mix. This is quite a dynamic progressive rock tune. Again I'm reminded of Renaissance at times. This is one of the most potent tracks here, really. I dig the little piano drop back followed by a burst of symphonic prog at the end.
Old Ship on the Grass
There is some folk styled sound on the opening to this cut. It feels sort of like an old-seafarer number. There is a lot of world music built into this. It's a bouncy kind of song. It definitely makes me think of some of the folkier stuff that Renaissance used to do. It still has plenty of progressive rock built into it. The vocals are all non-lyrical ones.
Did You Find a Star?
Hiroyuki Izuta provides the vocals on this number, bringing a different flavor to the piece. There are cool folk meets prog elements at play on this number. There is some tasty guitar soloing late in the piece and this makes a great balance between the mellower and more rocking stuff. After the six and a half minute mark it powers out to some killer harder rocking progressive rock stuff. It gets quite powerful before it reaches a crescendo. Then piano serves as the backing for the final vocal line.
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