|Progressive Rock CD Reviews|
Future Memories I and II
Review by Gary Hill
Patrick Moraz might not be the household name that Rick Wakeman is, but he definitely has plenty of prog rock cred built up. Stints in Yes and the Moody Blues will do that for you. The thing is, he also has done a lot of solo material and played in Refugee and Mainhorse. This new CD is a compilation of two of his older discs. The music here is all played on the keyboards and all instrumental. As you might guess from knowing from whence the man came, that doesn’t mean the music is limited. This is multilayered sound that crosses a number of formats and soundscapes. While the mostly instrumental nature of it (and the lack of guitar) might steer some away, it is definitely an adventure worth undertaking.
|Track by Track Review
|Here Comes Christmas Again ('Et Revoici Noel')|
This keyboard excursion begins gently with an incredible tone and mood. As the sounds rise up gradually it becomes even more powerful in terms of its mood. The best word to describe this somewhat classical piece of music is “beautiful.” It becomes more and more involved as it carries onward, but it never loses sight of its charm. This is such a wonderful tune and it’s hard to imagine a better beginning to the CD.
Moraz begins things more tentatively with this slowly moving series of notes placed over some odd sound effects. A soulful sound rises above this for a time and threatens to move it into new directions, but instead seems to add levels of space rock to the mix. Then this shifts out to a jazzy sort of dissonance as the gradual line of sound that started things off continues in the background. This is rather strange in some ways and very RIO in nature. It’s dark and dissonant and poses a stark contrast to the beauty of the cut that came before it. While the lead keyboard line has some great sounds from time to time, this song has too much dissonance for my tastes – then again, I’m not a big fan of RIO. And, this one does turn very weird from time to time.
|Metamorphoses, Mvts II & III|
Here we get a track that seems to fall a bit between the two previous numbers. While there are some noisier textures and a decent amount of strangeness, this one doesn’t wander too far into chaos and has a lot of inherent beauty. At nearly twelve minutes in length, this is also the longest track on the disc. As you can imagine, that means that it covers a lot of musical territory, running through various sonic landscapes and elements as it moves onward. You might hear some things you recognize amidst this musical motif and Moraz seems to quote some familiar music from time to time. This also turns more energized in a more rocking format after a while. I hear traces of Emerson Lake and Palmer at times here.
This rises up in a noise oriented, but still quite quiet way that feels rather like the soundtrack to some horror film. This turns very free form and experimental, wandering into territory that might be called “noise.” While this one is odd, it still works reasonably well. It’s an interesting, if unsettling, listening experience.
The modes that begin this are gentle and pretty, made even more so by the contrast to the unmelodic number that came before it. While a good deal of the song maintains this beauty, he does turn it into some weird free form stuff from time to time. It still works reasonably well, though. It turns to a rocking ELP meets Alan Parsons approach for a while, too. This becomes rather playful at times, as well. In fact, this cut is quite cool and one of the highlights of the CD. Moraz definitely provides some moments of keyboard wonderment throughout.
|Video Games (How Basic Can You Get?)|
Starting off with noise, this one is again rather strange, but there are some killer sounding lines of keys that come across the top. It also launches into a killer prog rock jam, complete with vocals. The vocoder process on part of the vocals and cool groove really work well on this piece. It’s probably my favorite showing on the album.
This one rises up gradually, taking a good minute before it reaches anything far beyond ambience. Then we are on an electronic, keyboard journey that’s quite cool. This is energetic and perhaps calls to mind Kraftwerk a bit.
As this starts it feels like some classical music that might have been used as the soundtrack to a silent film. It moves on in an uneasy, nervous sort of way. It turns quite dissonant at times, but doesn’t become very loud. It eventually moves out to a more melodic and pretty soundscape, but this twists into something unsettling in short order. Then it comes up to the most rocking modes of the piece, feeling quite a bit like the more chaotic Emerson Lake and Palmer. It then drops way back and starts a new mode, a cool, jazzy, soulful groove. This eventually takes the composition to its conclusion.
More weirdness leads off here and noisy keyboards swirl around percussion until it eventually begins to take on more melodic elements, seeming ready to jump into a rocking mode. Then percussion takes over and we launch out into one of the coolest rocking passages again, again feeling a lot like ELP – think their version of the “Peter Gunn” theme song. This thing is a killer slab of keyboard rock and roll. Moraz throws in some killer lead keyboard soloing. As fun as this is, it is one of the few that give competition to “Video Games…” for best track on the album.
Dark and mysterious is the order of business as this starts and gradually grows. This doesn’t really rise far from the realm of odd textural sounds. It’s a cool soundscape, if a bit unsettling. One section in the middle feels like some strange space craft getting ready to take off, and there are other portions that call to mind movie soundtrack elements.
With a baroque sort of texture, the beginning section of this is playful and classic in nature. All of those elements might be precisely what you’d expect in a track called “Chess.” This is one of the more melodic pieces on show here, and while the general atmosphere of this type of music isn’t my first choice, it’s one of the highlights of the CD. It gets more involved after a while and then about mid song turns into a bouncy sort of electronic, energetic music. It turns to more dramatic, ELP-like sounds still beyond that. This is a fun piece of music and a good to use as a closer.
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