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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Engineers

Three Fact Fader

Review by Gary Hill

People can talk all they want about modern music versus old sounds. They can also talk about the evils of the big corporate record labels in the day versus the whole do it yourself approach. The truth is, a lot of what they say is true – but here, for my money is the biggest thing that the labels did for music and is lacking today and the biggest reason that older albums are often superior to modern self-produced ones – pacing.

In the old days of the major labels controlling the music you had producers who were professionals in charge of helping artists craft their albums. Sure, there were times when the producers really overstepped their bounds and changed the sound of the band. That was bad. But for my money the one thing producers were good at was maintaining the pacing of the album. The musicians tend to be too close to the music to be unbiased about it. That’s where the producer came in. They understood that you need an ebb and flow to make an album work. They also understood that putting too many songs that sound similar together creates a boring album when just moving tracks around can create a better flow and a more interesting disc.

 

Engineers could really have benefited from an old school producer. There’s not a bad song on this disc. The problem is, all the music in the first half is quite a bit too samey, while the second half has all the stuff that varies from the formula. Had they alternated between the more standard and the more creative the disc would have flowed better. So, what we’re left with is a good collection of great songs that had it been put together differently would have been a great collection of great songs. Overall the music is a blend of modern and psychedelic – Pink Floyd and Radiohead. Of course, that’s over-simplified, but the track by track reviews should help to sort that.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Clean Coloured Wire

Trippy electronics open the album. They work out from there to something that makes me think of early Pink Floyd in a lot of ways. Yet, it has some modern elements of things like Porcupine Tree to some degree. As it turns more hard edged, the focus shifts to things like Radiohead.

Sometimes I Realise
A harder rocker, there is a lot more guitar on this. It’s still got some similar textures to the opener, but the vocals are more straightforward and this is almost a techno-metal number – minus the metal.
International Dirge
More like a cross between the previous two numbers, this feels a bit like something from Porcupine Tree. It’s definitely not old school prog, but none of this is. There’s even a bit of a Beatles-like hook on the number. Radiohead would also be worth mentioning for comparison. 
Helped By Science
Here we have a dreamy kind of musical journey. It’s pretty and rather intense, but still quite sedate. 
Brighter As We Fall
I hear some Pink Floyd in this number. In a lot of ways it’s not that different from the previous track in that it’s got that dreamy sort of texture to it. It does get more intense later, though and Radiohead is also a valid comparison. This one is one of the more dynamic cuts and gets quite soaring after a while. 
Hang Your Head
Somehow the harder rocking motif that brings us in reminds me of modern King Crimson. The vocals and overlayers bring in more of that Porcupine Tree kind of atmosphere, though. This is a cool piece and one of my favorites on the set. There are elements of ‘80’s music on much of the disc, but they are particularly present in the soaring portions of this number.
Crawl From The Wreckage
This rocks more than some of the rest. It seems more straightforward and less tied to the ‘80’s. 
Three Fact Fader
The title track comes in more like the rest of the album. This is good, but by this point the formula is wearing a little thin. Seeming to sense that they power this out a bit later into one of the most decidedly Pink Floyd like sections on the disc. 
Song For Andy
Take Europop and blend it with Pink Floyd, space rock and Porcupine Tree. Now you’ve got a good idea of what this sounds like. It’s atmospheric and quite tasty. It’s one of the highlights of the set.
Emergency Room
I especially like the keyboard sound that starts us off here. This builds up into another great tune – this one with more energy and a tasty vibe. There are some cool symphonic elements that emerge later and eventually serve as the outro. This is another highlight of the set. 
The Fear Has Gone
Now, this is worlds beyond anything we’ve heard so far. The symphonic sounds lead it off and hold it for the first verse. Then it pounds out into a hard rocking jam that reminds me a bit of Rush. As it works to the next vocal section this is more Hawkwind or Pink Floyd like. This is definitely my favorite piece on show here. 
Be What You Are
A pretty acoustic guitar section starts this. As it gets a more lush treatment and the vocals enter I’m again reminded of Pink Floyd – but earlier Pink Floyd. I can also hear some early Genesis in this mix, but all with a modern twist. There’s a rather Yes-like atmospheric section that serves as the outro. This is another cut that varies a lot from the formula that dominated the first part of the album. It’s also another highlight of the set.
What Pushed Us Together
This cut has an old school pop vibe, some psychedelia in the mix and a lot of old Pink Floyd. It’s a short tune, but also a fun one and a great way to end things.
 
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