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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Paolo Baltaro

Live Pillheads (Vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

This new vinyl release is classy stuff. First off the record itself is nice quality vinyl. Then it also includes a CD of the music (with two bonus tracks) to accompany it. The sounds here are intriguing hard edged progressive rock. It leans toward things ranging from jazz to Rock In Opposition, space rock and even punk. A cover of an early Pink Floyd cut is also included. All in all, this is highly recommended.

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Track by Track Review
Another Sunny Day

Minimalistic atmosphere serves as an introduction before the band hit the stage to applause. The cut fires out with a hard rocking, proggy jam. This reminds me just a bit of 80s King Crimson, but there are other elements ranging from punk rock to funk in the mix.  This is high energy and earns a parental advisory.

You'll Never Die On Me
Now, this comes in with some killer progressive rock sounds. This is high energy and rather aggressive, but it has decidedly prog elements at play. There is a good contrast between mellower sections and more rocking ones and slower and faster. There are moodier moments and more furious ones.
Angel of March
Fast paced, synthesizer laden progressive rock opens this cut. Running more than twelve minutes, this is an epic length piece. After the introduction we're taken into a piano dominated movement. It evolves from there to more of a melodic prog sound to continue. This thing goes through a lot of shifts and changes. Some of the moments where the synthesizer dances over the top remind me a bit of Dream Theater.  I love the mellower, trippy section later in the track. It has a bit of a Pink Floyd meets Hawkwind vibe. It gets quite space rock oriented as it evolves out from there. It eventually works to a more triumphant prog jam before dropping back down. Then we're taken into some faster paced progressive rock before it modulates out as it continues. The changes are fast paced and very classy. I love the killer guitar soloing on the closing extended instrumental section.
Swimmer in The Sand
Piano and voice is the basis of the opening section here. Other instruments come in after a time and bring a bit of a Pink Floyd meets modern prog element. It drops down even further after this built up chorus section. As it powers back out, though, this is particularly intense and powerful.

They open this with a weird Rock In Opposition styled bit. Still, this is a cover of the Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd tune. It has some seriously trippy stuff later in the piece. They do a great job with the psychedelic freak out quality. They also bring some decidedly punk rock like stuff at one or two points here. This thing gets pretty crazed. The guitar soloing section is on fire and so cool. The whole cut just works so well.

Brightest Moon
Starting with a piano solo, that holds the cut for a while. Other keys are added to the mix to serve as the backdrop for the first vocals. After that first verse the cut powers out into some powerful harder edged prog. There are some cool changes built into this thing. At points it works in mellower ways, while other sections are more powered up and really rock.
Italian Guns
This comes in powered up and fast paced, feeling like Dream Theater. It drops back to sort of a psychedelic mellower movement for a line or two of vocals, and then fires back out into fury. The next vocals are delivered the same way, but after the next powered up section they remain harder rocking for the next bit of singing. There is some seriously powerhouse music in the run of this number.
Cole Porter and Franz's Birthday Party
A quick burst of jamming gives way to some drums. From there we get into another fast paced movement that makes me think of Frank Zappa. It works to something a bit more melodic, but fast moving and so cool. There is a killer funky movement further down the musical road. Then it works out to some prog with a martial beat beyond that. The exploration continues with some pretty trippy and rather freeform fusion like jamming. The vibes beg more comparison to Zappa. We get more vocal based stuff further down the road before it works back out into another powerhouse and quirky instrumental jam.
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