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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Liquid Casing

A Separate|Divide

Review by Gary Hill

I absolutely love this album. In fact, it’s likely to make my best of the year list for 2013. Yes, I like it that much. There is a sound that’s emerged in the progressive rock scene that’s sort of tied to DIY and punk rock. It’s the kind of sound evidenced by bands like Green Milk from the Planet Orange. I love that sound. These guys mix that with some definite psychedelic rock and jazz. There are bits of King Crimson here. Add to that a healthy dosage of Hawkwind and something like Sleep and you’ll be really close to the sound of this disc. Of course, that getting you close doesn’t really nail it, though. For that you need to listen to this thing. And, I’d highly recommend the experience.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A Path of Footprints Forged in the Midnight Sun

Some bits of sound effects open this. Bass rises up from there with a real early Hawkwind sound to it. As the cut works out some more psychedelia is heard. The vocals call to mind Lemmy, but more in that Hawkwind vein than in a Motorhead one. This works through some changes from there. It turns more towards an almost Nektar sort of sound merged with that early Hawkwind vibe. This is heavy, but far from metallic. It’s psychedelic and veers this way and that in fine fashion. It’s great stuff and an awesome way to open the disc in style. There is an awesome jam later that’s a bit like a psychedelic space rock jam with some fusion in the mix. There are hints of something like Sleep in the arrangement and as the tune returns to the song proper, that’s especially apparent.

Alambrista
This seems to rise up from the previous tune with that early Hawkwind sound in place. From there, though, it fires out into a jam that’s got a punk urgency blended with more of that early space rock. The saxophone, both reinforces the Hawkwind reference by channeling Nik Turner and brings some jazz to the table. After working through like that for a time, it drops down a bit and that jazz element really shines. Still, this is space rock more than anything else. Around the two minute mark, it drops to an even mellower motif. That section works well to combine the space and the jazz and it’s echoey and a bit mysterious. One might even refer to early Pink Floyd as a reference here. As it builds up again the jazz takes more of a central role. Then the thing gets an infusion of something not far removed from metal. It carries on with a really heavy, but quite psychedelic and space rock oriented at the same time, sound. More killer jamming ensues from there. There are hints of Eastern music in the mix and this just plain rocks as it twists and turns. It’s a smoking hot instrumental and even touches on the Red era of King Crimson at times. A bit of mellower space takes this tune out in style – or more appropriately segues it into the next tune.
Fingerprint Armada

As this powers out from the sounds that ended the last one, it has some of the noisiest, most metallic sounds we’ve heard thus far. That said, it’s kind of close to what you might get if you combined early Hawkwind with Electric Wizard. The tune stays reasonably within that general concept, leaning more toward one end here and the other there. A mellower, more purely progressive rock oriented section  does emerge later, too. Sound effects driven textures segue into the next tune.

The Line which Divides

 Bass brings this in from the tapestry that connected it with the previous tune. The cut rises up with a psychedelic progressive rock sound. As it continues to evolve there are hints of that space metal kind of sound merged with jazz and more pure space. Still, those prog elements remain. Although it’s got an aggressive tempo and some bits of crunch, this is also quite melodic. At times it gets noisier, but overall it’s more or less jazzy space rock with some raw energy and aggression built into it. It’s another smoking hot instrumental tune. It’s quite diverse and dynamic, moving through a lot of changes. At times it’s mellower. At points it rocks out more. It’s always strong, though. Nearing the ending of the track it drops to some almost pure atmospheric space and then some backwards tracked sounds are heard. It’s a cool, if a bit strange, touch. That segment takes it to the end.

For a Memory Erased

The slow moving, bass heavy sound that opens this tune calls to mind Sleep and Electric Wizard. As other layers of sound are heard over that, though, it gets more of a psychedelic and prog texture. The vocals are closer to early Hawkwind. It continues to evolve, shifting into more pure progressive rock at times. Then around the three and a half minute mark it drops to a more open jam that’s got a lot of jazz and psychedelia in the mix. Eventually it shifts towards more purely spacey psychedelia. Then we get a return to the more pure progressive rock from there. The piece continues shifting and changing from there, in an almost endless progression of changes. Some rather pure space takes it for a time, though. Then percussive elements bring it into a new direction. That section never fully develops though, but instead takes the track to its conclusion, or more accurately, a segue into the next piece.

Non-Linear Solution

Bass really drives this as it builds outward. As other instruments eventually start to join it really has a jazz meets early Hawkwind vibe to it. The bass continues as the dominant instrument through most of this track. The cut drops down later, but overall has a lot of jazz in the mix, even during that breakdown. Of course, it’s also got plenty of space rock, too. Later, though, it really does start to resemble some of the heavier, jazz driven sounds of early Hawkwind. Near the end mellow space takes over to take the piece to the end. .

Checkpoints and Borders
A picked guitar melody opens this and they build it out from there. As the vocals join they bring an almost alternative rock vibe. Eventually, though the arrangements gets more lush with layers of prog and space emerging. This remains more mellow than anything else we’ve heard. Around the two minute mark there is a crescendo that serves as a false ending. The cut comes back in mellow and eventually gets quite lush, calling to mind early King Crimson in some ways. But, it’s still mellower than the rest of the set. It never really rises to the point of hard rocking, but it’s powerful and dramatic. It’s one of the most consistent and least dynamic pieces here, but it’s also very effective.
An End to a Means

Sleep meets Hawkwind with some definite jazz in the mix as this number powers into existence. Around the minute and a half mark a faster paced jam that’s more like early King Crimson is heard. From there they take it towards more pure jazz, but with plenty of those progressive rock vibes in the mix, too. Then a pounding, heavy jam that’s like Sleep merged with King Crimson emerges. A fast paced, somewhat freeform jam comes in from there with each musician really managing to shine. Then it seems to end with a crashing crescendo. The bass rises up from there and the cut begins to build in gradual ways with a real sense of mystery. It continues to grow and evolve from there, eventually exploding out into a movement that’s like early Pink Floyd space merged with Electric Wizard and King Crimson. There are healthy helpings of Hawkind in the mix, too. A mellower movement is heard beyond that, with some spoken words of inspiration over the top.

Riot Path

The first couple minutes of this move in a pretty straightforward line. It’s essentially a mellow and rather mysterious and quite lush psychedelic space rock tune. Then it works through a couple of changes, powering out into a fast paced jam that’s quite intricate and a little like something from King Crimson perhaps. That section carries it for a time, then turning more frantic, both in terms of pacing and sound. It gets quite furious before they drop back down to the opening movement of the piece to end the album. Well, at least the music part of the album. There are some sound effects after that seeming like a hand writing something on a piece of paper.

 
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