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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Stone Angel Syndrome


Review by Gary Hill

This is an intriguing and unusual set. Most of the music (only the closing title track has vocals) is instrumental, and it all fits within a "progressive" category, but there is a definite range. It never feels tired or repetitive. While a lot of it is on the mellower side, it rocks out like crazy at times, too. And, as a bonus, this is a charity album with all proceeds going to benefit Christie Cancer hospital in Manchester, England.

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Track by Track Review
A shadow over sunrise
Sedate and pretty musical textures bring this into being. It gradually starts to rise up from there. This piece runs just about 11 minutes, and the mellower keyboard textures hold it for close to half of that, growing a bit along the way. Eventually we get some rocking guitar that rises up and takes it in a new direction. The keyboards that eventually come over the top make me think of Rick Wakeman just a bit. As the song drives outward from there it retains some of that Wakemanesque edge. Around the eight-and-a-half-minute mark it drops back to mellower zones to continue. The gentle arrangement is slow moving and pleasant.
Trans-lunar express
Mellow keyboards are at the heart of the opening movement of this track, too. It builds upward in a rather Synergy like vibe. Then, after the minute-and-a-half mark, the cut gets some cool guitar riffing that brings a hard rocking and rather chaotic edge. It almost feels like classical music with heavy rock guitar. This gets into some zones as keyboards and guitar drive it that resemble some kind of freaky movie soundtrack music. Then, after the five-minute mark, it drops back to melodic keyboard zones to continue in a much more sedate way. The arrangement fills out a bit, but remains mellow. Piano takes a lead role eventually. It gets into some spacey, trippy territory before it's done.
Again the cut starts with sedate keyboards, this time a little on the playful side. That holds the track for quite a while, but some spacier keys join after a while. This number remains mellow from start to finish. It does get some hints of world music at times. It reminds me a bit of Tangerine Dream in some ways.
Inter-galactic tribal warfare
Percussion starts things here. There are some (I believe sampled) tribal chants as it marches forward. Heavy guitar starts to come up, but remains behind the wall of strange percussion and chanting that turns toward growling. Eventually a bass sound is heard for a short time. Then a driving piano takes over. This has  a real freeform jazz meets classical vibe to it. The piece eventually turns toward a strange space rock kind of jam after some more percussion dominance. It still has a classical music edge to it, though. As it approaches the five-minute mark, it drops back to a mellow movement that features sound effects and piano as the main features. It's a needed respite from the weirdness of the bulk of the track.     At just under six-minutes of music, this is the shortest piece of the set.
(and the planets dance) in the dark eternal void
A dramatic introduction that includes electric guitar and keyboards brings an odd kind of almost symphonic prog texture. The track feels freeform and abstract. There are some parts of this that make me think of some of John Carpenter's movie soundtrack music.           
World music seems to merge with psychedelia as this piece opens with a rather odd movement. The cut turns toward more traditional progressive rock territory (of the electronic kind) from there, though. Eventually it works to a more "song"-based movement and we get the only vocals of the album. It reminds me a little of Pink Floyd when those enter, at least vocally. There are some jazz and pop vibes to the arrangement of the piece. As it makes its way back into instrumental territory there is some harpsichord in the mix.


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