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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Interplanetary Acoustic Team

11 11 (Me, Smiling)

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite a special album, in more ways than one. For one thing, the blend of electronic music, art rock, psychedelia, prog and more has earned it a place in my "best of 2018" list. For another thing, though, the group's main instigator Brian Turner assembled a host of musician to help produce this set using lyrics and vocals previously recorded by his late wife poet Ilyse Kusnetz. The result makes for an exceptional tribute to her life. This seems like a concept album about the potential of merging technology and man to me, but perhaps some of the songs wander a bit afield from that idea.

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Track by Track Review
11 11
Rising upward from something more ambient, the riff that brings this into being has a lot of old rock and roll in it. As the keyboards join, though, there is a real prog rock element at play. The cut works through some changes before a particularly funky bass line brings an almost disco sound. As it continues horns bring some jazz to the table. A spoken female voice as sort of a recorded sample bit is heard at one point later in the track. Further down the road a male one comes in and it appears to be an interview with the woman interviewing the man.  This track really merges a prog element with jazz, funk and more in a great way.
Cyborg 3.0: Implant
Odd electronic elements seeming to simulate some sort of computer starts this. As it speeds up it begins to resemble the handshake that phone modems make just a bit. A female voice is heard almost in the background as the track starts to evolve into something more melodic. A spoken female voice comes in with a monologue delivery. The song has a mellower, prog rock basis that works quite well. The track turns weird and twisted as it approaches the three-minute mark. It seems there is a dark side to this futuristic vision. Yet, there is also a beauty here.
The Tremble of Quantum Strings
A bass sound opens this cut. Trippy textures emerge as the piece makes its way forward. There are some sung (male) vocals here, but also the female spoken voice is heard. While this is quite electronic, I'm reminded of Hawkwind to some degree. Tangerine Dream is a valid comparison, too. There is a lot of psychedelia built into this sonic tapestry. The bass that works around in the backdrop of this brings a lot to the table. This is a bit echoey, and definitely a little odd, but it's also one of my favorite tracks here. I like this one a lot, really.
Tachyon (Tone Drive)
Very much in line with the kind of thing you might find on an album by Synergy or Tangerine Dream, this is fairly short and mellow. It's also quite dramatic and intriguing.
A Fundamentally New Idea in Synthesis
With a spoken vocal part that feels like a sample, this has a real electronic space element. This is artsy and quite soundtrack like. It's also rather twisted and dark. Perhaps a better description would be "alien." Then around the two and a half minute mark, this twists to a hard rocking jam. In fact, it's the first real rocking stuff of the set. As guitar spins lines of sound all over it non-lyrical vocals provide a suiting vibe. This is very psychedelic in nature, calling to mind the late 1960s. It drifts into more pure space later in the number, as it drops back down again.
The Stars
A mellower and rather trippy psychedelic folk prog vibe is at the heart of this. Yet there is also a definite electronic element at the heart of this, too. It's a particularly interesting number that's near the front of this musical class.
Planetary Bird Engine
The female spoken voice begins this. Weird electronic elements join as the track works forward. The voice returns as this is a freaky, but so cool, electronic number. It gets a bit more melodic and "song-like" as it continues onward. The short bits of voice with electronic music is the order of business for the first couple minutes. Then a more melodic arrangement with some non-lyrical sung vocals joins after that. As it builds there are hints of jazz and folk rock.
Light Sketch
Bass starts this, and the cut builds outward from there. The recorded voice returns as electronic textures and other spoken voices dance around as the backdrop. That spoken element here is more of a poetry reading than some of the other numbers. There is an almost infectious element to this piece.
Islands in the Cosmos
Rising up with mellower, trippy textures. Guitar weaves almost Pink Floyd-like lines of sound as this works its way forward. There is a lot of psychedelic rock built into this piece. It has a real retro texture. It works through a couple shifts as it continues. There are some great guitar sounds built into this thing.
Human (Looking Back)
Opening with echoey elements, a spoken male voice comes over the top. There are some female sung vocals as backing. The cut works to more trippy psychedelic territory further down the road.
Goodbye Earth, Goodbye Solar System
Weird electronic elements open this piece. The spoken vocals return. Bass comes in around the two and a half mark, heralding a new movement that takes on more of a psychedelic prog arrangement. This continues to evolve gradually from there with sung vocals. By around the four minute mark a more folk rock vibe takes control. The spoken voice returns to move it forward. There is a compelling vibe to this artistic arrangement. It's catchy and yet tastefully odd. There are some great melodies as a non-lyrical spoken vocal emerges. After the seven-minute mark this shifts to more ambient electronic textures to carry it for the rest of its duration. It really brings the electronic element home to roost.
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