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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Psycho Praxis

Echoes from the Deep

Review by Gary Hill

Fans of psychedelic based proto prog and early progressive rock will find plenty to like here. This album touches on a lot of different influences, but all within that basic soundscape. Hawkwind, Gentle Giant, Flash, Jethro Tull and others are all influences at different points here. Add in some early Pink Floyd, Genesis and even Deep Purple and you’ll have a good idea of where this thing fits. All in all, it’s quite a strong album based in a rich period of musical history.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Privileged Station

Noisy, feedback laden droning opens this cut. After about thirty seconds of that, this explodes out into a frantic progressive rock jam that’s both classic in nature and modern. There’s plenty of psychedelia built into it, too and it just really works very well. The vocals are a little rough edged, but work. This is frantic, psychedelic and just plain cool. After a fast paced instrumental section, they drop it back to a mellower, slower movement that makes me think both of early Pink Floyd and the mellow section of Deep Purple’s “Child in Time.” It eventually rises back out from there and the keyboard sound is just covered in 1960s references. There are some great instrumental passages later in the piece.

P.S.M.
There’s an intricate, mellow psychedelic progressive rock ballad vibe to this. It reminds me to some degree of some of the acoustic based stuff Hawkwind did early on in their career. Around the minute and a half mark this intensifies and it feels a lot like Gentle Giant to me. It works out around this new motif in some intriguing directions. Then a faster paced jam ensues that feels to me a bit like the funkier period of Nektar if Ian Anderson were to play flute over that. Eventually keyboards create a lush sound over the arrangement as the flute goes away. There are hints of early Genesis in that bit, but also plenty of that Gentle Giant vibe, too. After the vocals return it works out to a big finish. But it’s just a false ending that gives way to something new. Coming in tentatively, this section has a real old school prog feeling to it. This is very much like the proto-prog stuff that came out in the late 1960s, before the term progressive rock had really caught on and been used a lot. There are some changes, but overall this piece stays pretty consistent. It really does feel like it could have come out in the late 1960s.
Hoodlums
There is more of a rock and roll sound to this and it makes me think of the psychedelic band H.P. Lovecraft in some ways. Vanilla Fudge is also a valid reference point, but I could see the argument for any number of late 1960s acts being held up as points for comparison. Although much of this song feels more like pure psychedelia, there are at least one or two points that call to mind early Pink Floyd. There are quite a few shifts and changes, but overall this is another tune that really feels like it fits in the late 1960s or early 1970s. It has a killer prog jam with more of that flute later. Beyond that we get a jam that features guitar more prominently. It reminds me a bit of Flash, but gives way to more Tull-like music in a mellow, rather spacey jam. It turns even mellower at the end.
Black Crow
As this one starts, I’m definitely reminded of early Genesis. Pink Floyd and other sounds merge with that element as it continues. There is some cool acoustic guitar jamming. The cut works through several changes, but stays pretty faithful to that main musical premise. There is some killer guitar soloing later as it intensifies to a more rocking arrangement. A Tull-like jam emerges further down the road. Then it shifts towards more definite Genesis-like territory. This thing just rocks, covering a lot of progressive rock territory. There are quite a few twists and turns. At times this feels a bit like King Crimson, but overall just pinning it into the 1970s proto-prog territory comes the closest. It’s quite an extensive piece of music.
Awareness
Somehow the opening section here makes me think of Peter Banks’ post-Yes band Flash. It works through a bunch of changes, though. At times the early Pink Floyd reference is again valid. At other times it takes on more rock and roll vibes. There are some killer jams as this keeps evolving and shifting. Flute plays across the top at times. This is energetic, dramatic and very cool. Although, for the most part it rocks out pretty heavily, it does drop to mellower sounds for a time. The one thing it doesn’t do is stay any one place very long. Yet the transitions seem organic and sensible. It all seems to fit.  It’s the album’s only instrumental.
Noon
The extensive opening section here makes me think of a cross between Santana, The Grateful Dead and early Yes. It drops to a flute part that again brings Tull to mind. Again, comparisons to Flash wouldn’t be out of the question at times. This is prog, psychedelic and very cool. It turns this way and that. Around the four minute mark, though, it drops way down to a mellow, psychedelically styled ballad section for the first vocals. After that vocal section it works out to another jam that’s got flute to bring it into vaguely Tull meets Genesis territory. That section closes the piece out in style.
 
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