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THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Eclectic Prog • United States


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The Underground Railroad biography
This prog outfit hails from Fort Worth, Texas. In late 1995, the improv-based group ANNE HAND [with drummer Nathan BROWN] had imploded, leaving keyboardist Kurt RONGEY and guitarist Bill POHL to form THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD a few months later. A few years of writing and recording followed and former Pohl-band drummer John LIVINGSTONE climbed aboard in '97. Matt HEMBREE (Bindle,Drunken Monkey,Goodwin) was asked to contribute bass tracks shortly thereafter.

In 1999, their first album 'Through and Through' was picked up by The Laser's Edge label. Their style derives from classic GENESIS & YES, alongside clear fusion influences from Allan Holdsworth's guitar techniques. Reviews for the album were good, and they were invited to play NEARfest 2001 and CattleProg in '02. The band took its time for the 2nd album, and the studio work took about three years to complete.

'The Origin of Consciousness' (2005) is The UNDERGROUND RAILROAD's long-awaited second album. Highlights include a conceptual set of songs based on the ideas of psychoanthropologist Julian Jaynes, the guitar showcase "Love Is a Vagabond King" and "Creeper" which continues the story begun on the fan favorite "The Doorman" from the previous album.

: : : Uri Breitman, ISRAEL : : :

The Underground Railroad official website

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Origin of ConsciousnessOrigin of Consciousness
CD Baby 2005
Audio CD$20.73
$12.99 (used)
Through & ThroughThrough & Through
Laser's Edge 2000
Audio CD$37.73
$4.00 (used)
Kill Me Now [Vinyl]Kill Me Now [Vinyl]
Import · Single
2008
Vinyl$4.13
$0.33 (used)
Pick the GhostPick the Ghost
Single · Import
One Little Indian Im 2009
Audio CD$2.92
$1.92 (used)
Sticks & StonesSticks & Stones
One Little Indian Us 2010
Vinyl$6.00
$33.76 (used)
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THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.23 | 21 ratings
Through and Through
2000
3.42 | 19 ratings
The Origin Of Consciousness
2005

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THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Through and Through  by UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.23 | 21 ratings

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Through and Through
The Underground Railroad Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars The title of the debut album by The Underground Railroad is 'Through and Through', and the band was formed by Bill Pohl and Kurt Rongey. Both Bill and Kurt have graced these pages before, with their debut releases 'Solid Earth' and 'Book In Hand' respectively. In fact, they have been playing with each other for over ten years, but it was only in 1994 that they joined forces in the Bill Pohl Group. By 1997, they had the album written and felt that it was time to change the name of the band.

The album was not completed until the end of 1999, and was named after the longest piece on the album, 'Through and Through", which is over twenty minutes in length. This is a very complex and complicated album, which takes a great deal of listening to. They have obviously been influenced by the UK Canterbury scene, and have also taken on elements of King Crimson's more experimental work and some jazz. The result is an album that while undoubtedly clever, sometimes takes the listener into areas that are unexpected. While this is not in itself a bad thing I did sometimes get the impression that this was complexity just for its' own sake instead of following a musical thread.

A difficult album, but one that someone into experimental/jazz-based prog may enjoy.

Originally appeared in Feedback #60

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 Through and Through  by UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.23 | 21 ratings

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Through and Through
The Underground Railroad Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Complex prog from Fort Worth,Texas,US.The band was found by guitarist Bill Phol and keyboardist Kurt Rongey in 1996 after the demise of the group Anne Hand.Bill and Kurt were already familiar with the music industry,having released solo albums in the past years,and recruited Matt Hembree and John Livingston to response on bass and drums duties respectively.Their debut ''Through and Through'' was released on Laser's Edge in 2000.

What this guys present here is a super-technical Progressive Rock with evident vintage references,like trying to push GENESIS',YES' and KING CRIMSON's sound a bit further.Symphonic Rock is combined with Avant-Fusion and if you can imagine BIRDS AND BUILDINGS jamming with ATAVISM OF TWILIGHT you will get the picture.Here you will face a guitarist,who's style is split between ROBERT FRIPP's breaks and ALAN HOLDSWORTH's acrobatics,a keyboardist who can't decide the path between symphonic synths and distorted electronic sounds,a bass player and a drummer exploring all possible jazz patterns and vocals often close to these of PETER GABRIEL with a dramatic edge.The delivery is almost always deeped in dissonance with a few harmonic and pastoral breaks thrown in for good measure.Yet the album still keeps the listener's attention all the way with those dramatic shifting moods,the grandiose atmosphere,the interesting time signatures and the well-crafted arrangements despite the ultra-high level of virtuosity.

''Through and through'' is not an album for everybody.If fast and constant breaks and changes give you a headache,stay away.If technical performance and adventurous music is among your preferences,grab this one immediately.Warmly recommended.

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 The Origin Of Consciousness by UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.42 | 19 ratings

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The Origin Of Consciousness
The Underground Railroad Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I can only conclude after reading so many positive reviews about this album that it's "over my head". I just can't get into this music. I didn't like it the first time I heard it, and after many listens I can at least appreciate it but I can't enjoy it.

"Julian Ur" opens with dark sounds that build. Piano takes over then a full sound. It settles quickly with vocals. Some drastic mood and tempo swings on this one. The synths are melancholic before 5 minutes and the song stays that way to the end. "Julian I" features some nice chunky bass. The vocals are almost in the background throughout this album, almost like they were mixed too low. Synths dominate around 1 1/2 minutes. "Love Is A Vagabond King" is an instrumental and it's actualy upbeat early on. Lots of synths then the guitar leads a minute in followed by piano. Then the drums take their turn before 2 minutes. Guitar is back. Chunky bass before 4 1/2 minutes. Piano comes in as it settles right down 7 1/2 minutes in. "Halo" has these synths and vocals that come and go. Piano after a minute. Spoken words before 2 1/2 minutes then it kicks in instrumentally as vocals stop. Vocals are back 6 minutes in as it settles. Piano ends it.

"The Canal At Sunset" is mellow to open then the tempo picks up as vocals come in. This is almost a straight forward track. "Metaphor" opens with some huge bass before we get a beat with piano and guitar. Vocals follow. Great sound 2 minutes in. "Creeper (The Doorman Pt.2)" is the longest track at 13 1/2 minutes. Piano to start as reserved vocals come in. A fuller sound 3 minutes in. I like the section around 8 minutes where the bass throbs until 10 1/2 minutes in when it settles with vocals and piano. "Julian II" opens with lots of keyboards and drums. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in as it settles right down. It kicks in heavily after 3 1/2 minutes. The piano and drums are outstanding a minute later and so is the guitar that follows. Best song on the album.

Critics seem to like this band, i'm having trouble in that regard.

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 The Origin Of Consciousness by UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.42 | 19 ratings

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The Origin Of Consciousness
The Underground Railroad Eclectic Prog

Review by emkogceo

4 stars This is one of my favorite albums of the 21st century. Dense but meaningful, it takes several listens to appreciate, but it doesn't wear out its welcome for me, as I still find new things to appreciate as time goes on. The only flaw is a slight sameyness to the sounds, but other than that this is almost a masterpiece.

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 The Origin Of Consciousness by UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.42 | 19 ratings

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The Origin Of Consciousness
The Underground Railroad Eclectic Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars When I first listened to this album, the opening track reminds me to jazz music like those played by Chick Corea especially with the piano work. As the music moves along, I remember Echolyn as having similar style with the opening track "Julian Ur" (7:45). It's because of Chick Corea music is typically has no vocal except some with Flora Purim. This album by Underground Railroad has vocal line which is sung similar with Echolyn. The music in fact turns into slower tempo with keyboard solo, guitar solo and vocal line. The guitar work is really stunning. It then flows into faster tempo with next track "Julian I" (2:37) which reminds me to the combination of Weather Report and Brand X. The keyboard work at the background is really nice, especially when it's followed with guitar solo. It's quite unique in terms of composition because the rhythm section comprises heavy riffs like any typical rock / metal music but the melody line (through vocal) is jazzy in nature. "Love Is a Vagabond King" (10:40) provides great combination of piano, guitar and dynamic drums at the opening, followed with guitar solo in the vein of Allan Holdsworth. The song features nice breaks among transition pieces through nice piano work. I personally enjoy the exploration of guitar solo in the middle of the track which has a combined style of Allan Holdsworth and Jeff Beck. This is one of excellent songs this album offers.

"Halo" (8:21) opens the music with a combined work of keyboard and acoustic guitar followed with mellow vocal line, backed with long sustain keyboard work. The piano work that follows and also the guitar melody are truly stunning and this kind of music confirms me to the style of Echolyn music, especially in vocal department. What follows is a graet musical interlude demonstrating bass guitar, piano, guitar and dynamic drumwork. The basslines look very tight and quite dominant. The piano solo makes the music floating and it flows wonderfully from one segment to another. The guitar solo follows the musical interlude. It's stunning!

"The Canal at Sunset" (4:17) starts mellow with guitar and piano work followed with drums and vocal. "Metaphor" (2:59) starts with a dynamic bass lines and the following music is really like Echolyn or Finneus Gauge - it's excellent stream of music - especially with its complex guitar and piano work. Wow! I like it. "Creeper (The Doorman Pt. 2)" (13:26) is an epic which starts mellow and it moves into Holdsworth-like music through the sound of keyboard. It reminds me to Holdsworth's "Metal Fatigue" album. I can sense the bass guitar playing is really wonderful especially in this track. The album is concluded nicely with "Julian II" (8:54).

Overall, it's an excellent addition to any prog music collection and it's best offered to those who have been familiar with Echolyn, Finneus Gauge, Brand X, Allan Holdsworth or in fact Bill Bruford first three albums. I recommend this to all of you and I'm sure you will be satisfied. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 The Origin Of Consciousness by UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.42 | 19 ratings

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The Origin Of Consciousness
The Underground Railroad Eclectic Prog

Review by wooty

4 stars I can't believe another reviewer ditched this album BECAUSE it was "overfilled it with top notch playing and head crashing signatures" The melodicism is incorporated within the harmonic complexities of the dense arrangements, otherwise you just may be browsing in progressive music by mistake. This contemporary music is a synthesis of many forward thinking trends in bands from Henry Cow to Bill Brufford. Simply beautiful and dynamic progressive fusion. Do not take it for what it is not. This is not proto prog or neo prog or something over-simplified that will insult my intelligence. This is amazing thinking man's music with rich harmonic and melodic texture in a fusion framework with arresting improvisation incorporated into dense King Crimsonesque compositions. a great cd!

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 Through and Through  by UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.23 | 21 ratings

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Through and Through
The Underground Railroad Eclectic Prog

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

1 stars “How can you believe him? He likes Neo!” – that’s what I already hear, submitting this review. First of all, this is MY point, and if you disagree, make a 5-star review for this one! :) Again, I appreciate good playing, dense musicianship and complex music. But if it isn’t supplied with enjoyable and memorable melodies, well-written structures and emotions, I’m simply getting bored. I was sitting listening through this album wondering how many good things here could have been invented but not! They decided to do it in their own special way. OK, if you like heartless mega-complex ear-hurting Avant Symphonic, go and get you this candy. I’ll abstain this time.

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 The Origin Of Consciousness by UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.42 | 19 ratings

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The Origin Of Consciousness
The Underground Railroad Eclectic Prog

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

1 stars I rarely bash modern bands, since I know how it’s hard to make a record and release album. But THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD did nothing to please my tastes; hence this is purely egoistic point of view :) OK, these guys didn’t care for throwing at least one memorable melody in their album, but they overfilled it with top-notch playing and head-crashing signatures. Their Jazz and even Avant leanings are obvious, so I guess they are simply misplaced in Symphonic Prog genre. Or is this Symphonic MathRock? Anyway, if Prog for you is a good playing first and complexity for its own sake second, get this one. If you care for emotions, melodies, enjoyable moments etc, forget about these things for an hour.

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 Through and Through  by UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.23 | 21 ratings

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Through and Through
The Underground Railroad Eclectic Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars When "May-Fly" (3:52) starts to roll at my CD player, my first reaction about this album is something like Finneus Gauge or Echolyn's music with more ambient in textures. You might recall its similarity with Allan Holdsworth or even with Phish - even though the latter has wide range of music styles. For sure, the first track has given me a good impression of how good the quality of The Underground Railroad music is. I especially enjoy the combination of guitar and piano works.

"The Comprachinos of the Mind" (10:18) starts off with longs keyboard solo work followed with jazz-rock music style and unique singing style. This is typically similar with Allan Holdsworth's music. Keyboard plays important role as basic foundation of overall rhythm section while guitar inserts its solo augmented with keyboard - wonderfully. The music interlude offers guitar solo (howling sound) in ambient rhythm section. It's definitely like a Holdsworth's guitar solo. Next track "In The Factory" (5:35) starts off with inventive keyboard work in an excellent harmony. The music flows like a jazz-rock fusion music with long sustain keyboard as main rhythm section.

"The Doorman" (10:05) is another long track like second track with unique singing style. The music reminds me to the early music of Steve Hackett solo albums. This track is quite strange in terms of styles because at some segments remind me to the music of early Genesis but at another segments like Holdsworth solo album with interesting keyboard and drum solo.The concluding track and album title "Through and Through" (20:13) is an epic with various music styles. Sometimes it goes melodic and at other segments are a bit of avant- garde.

Overall, this is a good addition to any progressive music collection. This album is worth to purchase as the music is quite unique and sometimes it's difficult to classify what band that similar with this band. If you are hungry to explore, and be open mind with, wide variety of styles, this album would fulfill your needs. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 Through and Through  by UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.23 | 21 ratings

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Through and Through
The Underground Railroad Eclectic Prog

Review by Andreas

5 stars I guess this album is of the type that you either love or hate. Luckily I am one of the people that is able to enjoy it.

I have no idea how many times I have heard this by now, but it just keeps growing and growing! The compositions are extremly complex and there are almost no repetitions at all. Every listen is like an exploration where I find new details all the time.

As their lastest release "The Orgin of Consciousness" have a more rock-attitude, "Through and Through" has a totaly different cool mood over it. You will find everything from jazz and psychedelia to incredibly beautyful piano parts. I sometimes find the keyboard sound a little annoying, but you will get used to it. This is a truly unique masterpiece that does not sound like anything else.

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Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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