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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Arabs in Aspic

Pictures in a Dream

Review by Gary Hill

I’m sure there are those who will argue with these guys landing in the progressive rock section. I can’t possibly imagine them anywhere else, though. I mean, this has a lot of psychedelic music in the mix, but it’s also quite full of prog. This is really great stuff with a retro edge to it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Rejected Wasteland / Pictures in a Dream

Melodic progressive rock opens this. There are hints of psychedelia and the whole thing has a great groove. Around the two minute mark it drops back to an extremely mellow section and they gradually bring it back up from there. When it starts rocking out later it makes me think of a cross between Nektar and Uriah Heep.

Let Us Pray
The riff driven section that opens this feels like a cross between modern Stoner metal and psychedelic rock. As it drops after a while to the mellower movement, it’s more pure old school psychedelia. The more rocking movement seems similar to early Pink Floyd. There’s a screaming section later, though, with a lot of Deep Purple in the mix. A jam after that has some fusion along with more of that Pink Floyd sound in it. Eventually we’re taken out into a reprise of the opening movement and it starts to rework the song from there. After several shifts and changes, this ends.
You Are Blind
There’s a sound much like theremin over a Black Sabbath-like jam as this opens. That works through for a short time, then drops away and acoustic guitar leads us off in a new psychedelic rock styled section. We’re taken out into a killer riff-laden movement later that’s got a lot of Captain Beyond in the mix. The whole cut gets a real infusion of energy and oomph after that point. More riff-driven sections are heard further down the road. Then there’s a jam that has a lot of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” in it (the rocking movement) along with a healthy dosage of Deep Purple. That drops away to psychedelic space atmosphere, though. There are more nods to Led Zeppelin before this thing rises back upward. I can also make out some White Witch in this mix at times. Keyboards and science fiction sound effects link this into the next piece.
Felix
Pretty keyboards rise up out of the atmospherics left behind from the previous cut. This grows upward and eventually we get some more rocking music.
Hard to Find
The riff that opens this has a bit of George Thorogood and some metal in it. The musical arrangement that ensues has plenty of pure progressive rock along with some Doors and Deep Purple. This is energized and powerful. It’s also got some great shifts and changes. The instrumental jam later has a lot of space rock built into it and is quite tasty.
Difference in Time
The vocals really make me think of Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin a lot of the time here, but musically this is kind of like a psychedelic prog meets Deep Purple jam.
Lifeguard@Sharkbay
There is a hard rocking bit of psychedelically tinged progressive rock to open this and provide the backdrop for its first vocals. From there, we get a mellower, rather bluesy guitar section. That gets worked into more of a space rock treatment as it continues. We’re taken through several variants on the themes before it finally ends.
Ta et Steg til Siden
This killer jam is like one part Led Zeppelin and one part psychedelic progressive rock. It’s high energy and smoking hot.
Vi M√łtes Sikkert Igjen
Melodic, yet powerful jamming opens things here. It’s got some dramatic shifts and changes as it continues. I think the lyrics to this one are in Norwegian. It’s got the same general musical mix as the rest of the album. That said, this one might be more involved and diverse than some of the other stuff here. It’s definitely a great tune.
Prevail to Fail
Acoustic guitar serves as the main backdrop for the vocals here. There are keyboards dancing across the top, though, lending almost a Starcastle kind of sound to it. There is a bit more of a rocking element to some of the later parts, but overall this remains melodic and acoustic based.
Pictures in a Dream (acoustic version)
The arrangement on this title track is acoustic guitar driven, but it has other elements in place, too. It seems quite similar in style to the number that preceded it. It has one of the best vocal arrangements of the whole disc.
 
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