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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Marbin

The Third Set

Review by Gary Hill

This live album is pretty impressive. For one thing, even though the songs were recorded at different shows, it really flows like one performance. The music is incredible, too. Jazz, progressive rock and more merge here. I’ve always liked this guys, from the first album I’ve heard. This just reinforces that, and perhaps intensifies it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Special Olympics

This comes in like a pretty mainstream hard rock song. Then it shifts out towards jazz and prog. The saxophone lends a lot to this, but everyone in the band gets the chance to shine. They take this monster through a lot of different sections. It’s a real powerhouse.

The Depot
The saxophone starts this one off and the line of music gets punctuated with some screaming guitar. Eventually they take this out to a mellower kind of jam that’s just very cool. This is almost a blues jam in a lot of ways. There is clearly a healthy helping of jazz in the mix here. I love the rubbery vibe this has at times. The saxophone solo section later is a full on jazz treatment. As the guitar solos, in call and response to the sax, it becomes quite metallic.
Crystal Bells
This one starts off tentatively with some guitar soloing. The first couple minutes are basically taken up by a guitar solo. The piece rises out from there.  There is a real space rock vibe to the early sections beyond the guitar solo. Then it gets more into a fusion treatment. It’s a killer cut, either way.
Redline
Coming in as a hard-edged rocker, this shifts towards a combination of southern rock and jazz quite shortly. It really gets into some smoking hot jazz as it continues. It gets into more fusion territory later with some screaming music. The guitar and the percussion really dominate at times. This is a powerhouse and even works in some funk and space music.
Culture
The saxophone that opens this and holds it early weaves melodies that have a definite Middle Eastern flair. The saxophone plays alone for the first minute and a half or so. Then the band power in with a hard rocking jam that still maintains some of those same stylings. This is a rather crunchy screamer that works really well. The guitar really gets some room to run later in the piece as it gets more into a fusion turned Joe Satriani-styled jam. 
Vanthrax
Although it does have some more rocking moments, this smoking hot number is very definitely a jazz piece for most of its duration. It’s also a powerful piece of music. The saxophone provides some great soloing, but so does the guitar.
Rabak
Here we get a fast paced fusion jam that’s lots of fun. At least that’s true early. As the guitar takes more of the control later in the piece, we’re taken to more of a straight rock sound. This has some really inspired and soaring moments as it continues. The drums get some chances to shine later in the tune, too.
Splaw
The first section of this is in more of a pure jazz styled jam. The guitar, though, moves it out later into a real blues rock segment. This is another powerhouse number. The drums certainly get a work out on this thing. It moves between more jazz oriented sounds and more rock-like ones. It’s always compelling and powerful, though.
Northern Odyssey
This is a shorter piece with some killer melodies. It starts off more in a pure jazz vicinity. As the crunchy guitar enters, we’re brought more into rock inspired fusion.
Volta
Harmonics start this and a melodic, pretty movement holds it for the first minute or so. Then that ends and some pounding fusion with some King Crimson in the midst takes control. That plays through until around the two minute mark and then it works out to some more trippy music from there. It builds up gradually to some screaming hot fusion. The bass puts in an amazing performance as it keeps up with the shredding guitar.  Those harmonics from the beginning return to take it into mellower territory, but quickly it shifts to screaming chaos that takes it to the closing.
 
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