There’s a popular saying that we’ve all heard: “Less is more.” It’s one of those things that often times we proggers like to scoff at as the simple mindedness of the uneducated music listening masses who’s brains have been wired to the quick hooks of the sonic equivalent of McDonald’s that they play on the radio. Give us longer keyboard solos, 20 minute plus compositions, concept albums (strings of complex albums), complex arrangements, varied instrumentation, and not one, not two, not even three or four, but five, yes, FIVE mellotrons (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66DpPh7q7xw). Therefore, my loyal and even semi-loyal readership will be most disappointed to know that with this review I have not abided by the prog maxim of MORE is MORE since here I have returned to my original intended format of Prog-size Bites being ‘bites’ and not the long-ish things that some of my past reviews have turned in to. However, there are some really cool albums on here that some of you have no doubt already heard, but many have not. I present to you, several albums, once again, for better or for worse. It is up to you to decide whether you’ll give them a one time listen on www.progstreaming.com while they’re still there or if you’ll fork out the cash and add some of these to your collection; I have a feeling though that there will be at least one or two here that will tickle your fancy.
IO Earth – Moments
There’s something deeply spiritual sounding about this album in the way that it melds prog with world music and even film score elements; the composition and layers or sound reach deep and pull out something that is distinctly modern yet maintains the reverence of the ancient. Somehow, what we end up with is crisp production and songwriting that focuses on beats you can groove to while incorporating gorgeous textures, floating female vocals, and a variety of influences which even incorporate styles like smooth jazz and metal (and I normally hate smooth jazz). At one point, we even see an appearance of what sounds like a variation on Elfman’s Batman theme (I’m not complaining, it’s got a great melody). The haunting narrations (which are not cheesey in the least bit) add a really nice touch to the ambience and depth of the album. Overall, I don’t feel like I’m listening to a particular kind of music when I listen to Moments. I’m just listening to lots of music; which is a good thing.
Special Providence – Soul Alert
The first couple moments of this album really show you what it’s all about it. “Babel Confusion” takes you from ambience with confused voices to brutal extreme metal blasts and then quickly immediately into clean jazzy sections which leaves absolutely no trace of the metal you heard several seconds before, then quickly into some electronic, and right back into jazz. That’s pretty much the story of this almost entirely instrumental album. If you’ve enjoyed other jazz metal acts like Spaced Out, Planet X and Gordian Knot, I’d bet my buck that you’ll like this. Actually, I think you’ll like this a little more.
Sebsatian Hardie – Blueprint
Generally speaking, there’s a relationship between the amount of blues influence I hear in a record and how much I like the music. More blues generally means less awesome in my book. With Sebastian Hardie, this rule doesn’t apply. They have such great feel and do blues in full and non-stale way that I simply love it. The use of keys is perfect to compliment the guitars and drums, and overall the music is simply enjoyable when it comes down to every single instrument. I couldn’t help but smile and notice that there’s something incredibly Gilmour-esque going on with the lead guitars backed up by the right mix of keys to fill in the space quite nicely. In then, there was nothing that blew my mind here, but seriously, this is very enjoyable blues guitar driven prog with nice, crisp vocals, good grooves, and solid songwriting.
Centric Jones – The Anitkythera Method
Sometimes you sit down to review an album, but in the end you’re not entirely sure of what to say. You can tell that the musicians are above par, that the composition or feel of the songs is ambitious, and that there are probably some big ideas going on. But, in the end, you just didn’t really feel it. That’s how I felt about Centric Jones’ album The Anitkythera Method. It’s space rocky, jazzy, and even eccentric at times with its unexpected piano parts or strange use of vocals. But like I said, overall, there wasn’t anything that really leapt out and grabbed me as awesome; just some good musicians playing music that didn’t do it for me.