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Progression by Failure - Sonic Travelogue CD (album) cover


Progression by Failure


Symphonic Prog

3.85 | 100 ratings

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4 stars I had forgotten how much I had enjoyed the work of this band from their previous self-titled release back in 2009 until I heard this music. The mix of Nicolas Piveteau's kind of New Age-y jazz with heavier Neo-prog elements is at first a little odd and tough to get used to--especially at transitions (which can be quite sudden and alarming)--but the musicianship of the drummer, Mike Saccoman, and some excellent bass and guitar tracks when coupled with a rather extraordinary gift for melody makes this band and its albums music that grows on you. At first I was always thrown off by the sudden shifts from heavy NeoProg to "cheezy" jazz but now find that I get quite excited by the prospect of hearing one of PbF's songs when they appear in my ears from my iPod Shuffle. Several of these songs have become my favorites from 2015. Some of the songs still lose me in transitions, but there are several that just melt me to the core. Let me discuss those.

2. "Sparkles" (10:34) opens with a gorgeous VANGELIS-like melodic hook which gradually gains perfectly arranged support from the full band (bass, drums, other layers of keyboards) and then shifts into a kind of Asian keyboard percussion base for the conintuous play on the the main melody and wonderful--and I mean wonderful--drum play. At 3:20 the music shifts into another gear with some more aggressive play on the part of all members and multiple keyboard solos and guitar riffing taking the center stage. Awesome song construction and instrumental arrangement! At 5:30 the bottom drops out of the music and we are left with a fast-panning electric piano arpeggio and slow picked guitar notes to fill some deliciously spacious time. A minute later we are beginning to rebuild around the new instrumental weave with a variation on the old main melody and sounds. Again, the perfection of the drum contributions are, to me, nothing short of amazing--possibly my favorite element of the album. The song ends with a kind of ambient show moving into a slow fade. Brilliant song! One of my favorites for the Year. (10/10)

5. "Forest of Doubt" (4:50) opens with a very ANTHONY PHILLIPS-familiar guitar sound playing slow arpeggio and then joined by two or three other acoustic/electric guitars weaving their own arpeggios into the mix. Awesome and gorgeous! A lone synthesizer enters at the 1:20 mark with a kind of TONY BANKS sound and frivolous, faerie-like dance through the "woods" of guitars. At 2:15 the full band with heavy background of Mellotron and thumping deep bass notes and solid, forceful drum play join in and support the guitar weaves setting up the awesome BANKS-ian synthesizer solo to ensue for the next minute and a half before band and synth voices close out the song in a very Wind and Wuthering way ("All in a Mouse's Night"). (9/10)

6. "Escaping the Ankou" (6:53) is a more dynamic, kind of KING CRIMSON song with some great electric guitar lead play. (8/10)

7. "The Sidh's Gate" (6:27) incorporates into its mid-sction another one of those magical TONY BANKS/ VANGELIS-like keybaord-driven melodic weaves--with full complement of GENESIS-like instrumental support from bass (pedals?), power guitar chords, and, of course, some great drumming. (8/10)

8. "Autumn Mood" (5:46) MUST have been inspired by GEORGE WINSTON's Autumn record because the style of piano play is so incredibly similar. It's so nice to hear! Then, at the 2:00 mark a dramatic George Winston-like shift occurs but is accompanied by a cool midi keyboard contribution that is midi-ing wind and deep buzzing noises. Then things pick up and become more fast-paced as the synth sound becomes more buzz-like for a few seconds before the music returns to the original section in embellished recapitulation. Nice emulation and nice effect! (9/10)

9. "The End of Sonic Vibrations" (10:22) opens with some steady bass and drum lines over which a whole mess of instruments gradually add their contributions into a dynamic weave of pleasing harmonic and melodic sensibility. At 3:15 we get a complete break in the established music as a kind of Tibetan overtone voice fills the aural soundscape. Then a beautiful vocal and piano major seventh two-chord sequence establishes itself over which a piercing JEFF BECK-like guitar solo takes center stage for the next two minutes. Gorgeous! Then, suddenly, it's gone at 6:48 and a heavy PORCUPINE TREE-like multiple electric guitar chord strum sequence is established over which two different keyboard voices play their melodies--one in floating chords of sustained sound, the other in shifting three-note arpeggios. AT 9:15 a kind of bass drum-thumping doom metal section is added beneath the searing play of the floaty keyboard--to crashing end. Brilliant song with amazing emotional impact. Also the most uniquely independent in sound and structure of the album. Another of my favorites from 2015. (10/10)

While not a flawless album--there are actually a couple of "throwaway" songs--there is enough beautiful and often brilliant music here to make this an album that I highly recommend. I do consider Nicolas Piveteau a man worth following as he produces more and more excellent music.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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