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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Arnaud Quevedo & Friends

2nd Life

Review by Gary Hill

Arnaud Quevedo and Friends have done it again. They have created another compelling release that is both modern and inventive, but also tied to older music. The mix of jazz and progressive rock is so good. This is likely to make my "best of 2023" list. It's just such a strong album.

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Track by Track Review
2nd Life Part 1 : Awakening
Insistent, fast-paced stabs of sound get this going, feeling rather jazz-like. As that continues and evolves bass begins to work in the backdrop. Eventually this works out to a cool jazz prog groove that is exceptionally tasty. Jazzy female vocals come over the top, bringing it firmly under the jazz prog heading. Some flute soloing later is a great touch. They take this thing through a number of killer twists and turns along the musical road. It really gets quite inspired and powerful at points. It never loses sight of either the jazz or prog ends of the sound. At over ten-and-a-half minutes long, this is an extensive number, and they use that time to weave a lot of magic. It does get fairly hard-edged later for a time.
Any 2.0
A powerhouse jazz-prog arrangement gets things going here. It eventually drops to a balladic motif for the entrance of the vocals. That part evolves with pretty standard prog concepts at play. There are some jazzier things that come in on an instrumental break later. The vocals return in a more powered up movement. They really explode in the instrumental movement that comes after that. It's jazzy and on fire. Then it turns funky and we get a saxophone solo. After some more inspired jamming we get a scorching hot, yet highly melodic, guitar solo.
The guitar sound that gets this going feels a lot like modern King Crimson. They build upon that bringing some of the jazz stylings in as they do. The vocals to this one are of the male variety, bringing change from the previous cuts. As this continues to explore, there are some killer bass parts at points. They do such a great job of merging those Crimsonian elements with jazzier ones here. The guitar eventually ends it by itself.
2nd Life Part 2 : Journey
There is almost a heavy metal neo-classical vibe on the driving opening passage. They add in more jazzy concepts, but also some hints of Emerson Lake and Palmer as they continue to create killer instrumental music from there. They take it through a number of changes before dropping back to more balladic textures. They continue to explore sans vocals for a long time, eventually building up to more of a powered up jazz prog concept when the singing returns. This shifts, evolves and gets into some powerhouse stuff from time to time. There is some scorching guitar soloing later in the track, too. At more than twelve-minutes of music, this is another of epic proportions.
No Soy Breton
Quite a jazzy and melodic groove is in place here. As you can probably guess from the title, the lyrics are not in English. Again we're taken through a number of twists and turns, and a killer jazz prog movement later is on fire. That section eventually ends it.
Ekinox 2.0
Again, jazz and progressive rock are merged here. This is a powerhouse number that works really well. Then again, there are no slouches on the album. I really love some of the jamming on this. There is even some driving solo styled stuff while there are vocals. That's not as common in music as I would like. Some of the guitar soloing later really shines, too. Just about everything about this track does, though.
2nd Life Part 3 : Inner Demons
Fast-paced and grooving, this has so much killer jazz built into it. It's another powerhouse. It drops to really mellow stuff for a time, but eventually explodes out into some of the hardest rocking music of the whole album. It's positively incendiary.
2nd Life Part 4 : Hindsight's
This is also a shifting and evolving piece. It really has a lot of melodic fusion built into it. The cut gets more potent further down the road and even turns pretty fierce and nearly metallic at times. There is also some killer synthesizer work later.
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