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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Thomas Abban

The Spiritualizer

Review by Gary Hill

There is something to be said about knowing when enough is enough. When I reviewed Thomas Abban's previous release I said that it would have been stronger had some of the songs been left off. Well, that applies here, too. In fact, as an experiment, I'd suggest listening to the whole thing, from start to finish. Then after some time has passed, listen to the first half by itself - which song you cut off at doesn't matter much as long as it's around the halfway mark. Then walk away for some time, come back and listen to the rest. I'll bet you those songs in the second half will feel stronger that way. This would just work better as two shorter releases than the way it's out. All that said, a lot of people only listen to a song or two at a time, so it is only so important a point. There are no weak songs here, and there are some that really rise above the rest. So, taking it in small bites like that will be a very positive experience. Overall, though, this is a stronger release than the last one.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Going To Meet The Man

Piano brings the cut. There is an intricate and stirring vibe as the track continues in a mellow way. A burst of proggy sound brings some real drama on this introduction. As the cut works to the acoustic guitar based folky movement it takes on an almost proggy vibe. This piece keeps evolving and is very powerful in a classic rock way. It has good hooks, a powerful arrangement and some driving energy.

To U

Vocals start this. The cut grooves out from there with a tasty, rhythmically driven mode. There is a rather unusual meter and streaming flow to the vocals that works really well. The chorus has a more traditional vocal approach. This is another effective tune packed with energy. I love the soaring backing vocals that come across at times here.

The Cure

This cut is an intriguing one. It has a mellower opening movement. It gets more energized with a modern pop rock energy further down the road. There is a shift toward psychedelia on a bridge. This is another particularly effective piece of music.

Feel Good Myth Man Mysterious

With some seriously rocking portions to it, this feels like a more modern version of something like Zeppelin's "Kashmir" at times to me. There are other things at play, too, though. It drops back to some mellower movements, but powers back upward. This is one of the highlights of the set. It's just so strong.

Odyssey Blues No.1

I like this one a lot, too. It has some T-Rex in the mix, along with Prince and more. There is a real sense of psychedelia and experimental weirdness, too. There is a short melodic movement at the end that serves as a stark contrast to the rest of the song.

100 Balloons

 A bass sort of groove opens this track. That remains as the only musical background as the vocals come in over the top. The arrangement does fill out just a little at the end.

Hallelujah

 There are some really powerful rocking moments on this song that make me think of Greta Van Fleet to some degree. Those are contrasted with the mellower, not quite balladic, sections. This is both a modern and classic musical texture to this track.

Brand New

The streaming vocal approach on this makes me think of Paul Simon to some degree. It has some dramatic theatrical moments. The music arrangement brings an almost art rock vibe at points, too. There is some dramatic evolution built into this number.

High Moon

 While this driving rocker is strong taken as itself, there is just too much material here that doesn't vary enough. That makes this lose some of its impact. The mellower portion of the tune works well, though. Actually, the whole song does. It's just hard by this point for it to stand out.

The One
More of a pop oriented tune, this makes me think of the kind of thing Savage Garden did. The song has some good contrasts, but again, can't really stand out by this late point in the disc.
Image
Dramatic, Spanish styled jazz sounds bring this into being in a mellower way. Vocals come in over the top of that. This gets into more samey zones as it continues further down the road.
Someone Like Me
With soulful sections and more rocking ones, there are some decidedly dramatic and powerful things here. Yet, it suffers a bit from feeling monolithic in the scope of the whole album. That's a shame because it's a very strong tune.
Last Ship
I really love the magic and charm of the mellow movements of this cut. They feel packed with emotion. The rest of the cut works well, too. I'd actually say that this is the one piece on the second half (what would be the second disc in my vision of this release) that manages to stand tall in the current configuration. This just has so much style and evocative nature to it. I'd consider it to be one of the highlights of the whole disc.
Surrender Song
While this is quite effective by itself, it suffers a bit amidst the whole of the set. I has a good balance between more powered up music and mellower stuff. The ending of this seems to cut off as its heating up. It feels like it should continue into the next piece, but it doesn't. That makes the end just a little awkward as an outro.
Every Road
Another melodic rocker, this again suffers from the sameness of the set. It is another that makes me think of Savage Garden to some degree. I do dig the excursion into dreamy but dark weirdness at the end.
 
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