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Fearful Symmetry

The Difficult Second

Review by Gary Hill

This is apparently the second release from this act. I never heard the first one. Suzi James' vocals bring a classic prog magic to this. The music is fitting of that concept, too. This isn't entirely unique, but it does a great job of updating the magic of 1970s progressive rock.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Mood Swings and Roundabouts
This comes in acapella. Acoustic guitar rises up after this first vocal movement. The track works out a cool jam that has some definite musical nods to "Roundabout." This feels quite Yes-like in a lot of ways. Honestly, I wonder if the Yes guys should have some writing credits on this because there are some passages that feel like interpretations of that song. I say that as someone who has played that tune so many times in various bands that I know it inside and out. Just to clarify, I'm not a copyright attorney, so this is not a legal comment, but even though the notes and riffs are largely different, it feels unmistakably like that song. I think it's intended as an homage, but it probably should have been acknowledged in the liner notes.
The Difficult Second
I dig the off-kilter concept of this piece. It has a cool vibe to it. The opening reminds me a little of a riff I used to play with as something I wanted to turn into a song at one time, so I feel a connection to this piece of music. This instrumental piece twists this way and that in a killer rocking arrangement that's tastefully weird and so cool.
Light of My Life
While there are some more mainstream concepts here, this also has plenty of prog in the mix. As strong as the first two pieces were, this seems like a bit of a let-down. Then again, taken by itself, though, it's a purely capable number.
Shifting Sands
This piece is packed full of middle-eastern world music. It's a powerhouse that has some real intricacies and powerful melodies. There aren't many vocals here, and what ones there are come without lyrics. This turns toward fusion later, and really covers a lot of territory as it works through.
Eastern Eyes
This also has some of those middle-eastern elements. it's delivered in a harder rocking arrangement, though. This drops to mellower zones for the vocal parts. I can hear some hints of Rush at times on this number. There is a cool journey into jazz zones further down the road.
The Song of the Siren
I love the jazz meets prog interplay as this number gets underway. This covers a lot of musical territory as it makes its way.
Hope
There is a soaring, positive musical angle to this song. It's a killer prog number with a lot of classic sound to it.
Sandworm
I love the bass sound as this gets underway. There are some definite middle-eastern angles to this one. The cut is dramatic and powerful. There is some amazing instrumental work in the jam that takes control later. It explores a real fusion meets middle-eastern music concept.
Shukraan Jazilaan
This instrumental piece has some of the same musical reference points as the previous number did. This is a powerhouse tune that really works so well.
Warlords
This is a five-part mini-epic that runs almost 15 minutes. The opening section of this feels very Yesish. The track shifts and evolves. This works through all kinds of twists and turns along the road. This moves through all kinds of territory working through various sections before it's over.

 

 
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