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Pure Reason Revolution - The Dark Third CD (album) cover


Pure Reason Revolution


Crossover Prog

3.74 | 276 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars With so many bands in this sixth decade of progressive rock choosing to rework the classic approach of the great bands of the seventies, it's often not easy to imagine how a modern progressive band should sound. The neo-prog movement was noted for generally more pop infused songs that still left room for the complexities of prog rock compositions. The revival in the nineties was a look back to the seventies mostly, and most bands assembled components of Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, ELP, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd in varying degrees depending on their preferences.

Certainly the new player for the nineties would have been electronic music, which by this time had come a long way both in scope of sound and ease of reproducibility. Along with that, many artists became associated with the prog label not because they were trying to write difficult, classical and jazz influenced compositions but rather because they were attempting to do something new with popular music, even if that meant simplifying the playing style.

Pure Reason Revolution's debut fits the bill as one of the modern approaches to popular music that goes beyond the standard radio format without attempting challenging and overly complex songs. The strength of their music here lies in four aspects: the effective use of male and female vocalists; the use of electronica to create atmosphere and at times haunting melodies; the Pink Floyd derivative guitar playing with additional reverb and delay; the tendency to rock out with heavy guitars when necessary.

As the music on the album is very cohesive and consistent, there's little point in breaking it down song by song. What you can expect are slow, post rock jangley guitar melodies that suggest Radio Head / Porcupine Tree moments; electronic music that might remind you of Ozric Tentacles without the eastern influences; choir vocals for aethereal effect or one vocalist repeating a line or two as the rhythm melody while others sing different lyrics over top as lead melodies, or vice versa; drums that sometimes hold a steady beat, introduce rhythm changes with sudden bursts, and drums that abruptly stop and leave you hanging with a melancholy jangley guitar melody; and sections of beautiful vocal melodies sung over an all-out heavy rock guitar riff.

I don't mean to say that each song combines all these elements and simply the permutations provide distinction between songs. And the band are keen enough to add piano, strings, cello, and other guest instruments on individual tracks. But you are quite likely to feel that the whole album is a kind of dreamy voyage with moments of near white- knuckle intensity like a trip across the clouds with roller coaster drops along the way. That the songs mostly segue one into the next only enhances this impression of continuity.

The Inside Out reissue I bought includes all the songs from the original American release, plus a second disc of material that appeared on the original UK release. There's a slight difference I feel between the material on the two discs, perhaps similar to how there's a difference between the material on IQ's "Road of Bones" disc one and disc two. It's the same band and the same instrumentation but somehow different. In any case, I am glad to have this second disc because I enjoy it as much as the first.

It's difficult to pull just a couple of tracks out to highlight since I can listen to the album from start to finish; however "The Bright Ambassadors of Morning" has some terrific moments, and "Bullits Dominae" has a wonderful vocal melody and concludes with a powerful delivery of rock guitar and strings.

This may not be what everyone thinks of as progressive rock as it lacks the musical complexity of the symphonic bands and no one comes across as a virtuoso. But I find PRR's combination of pop, rock, atmospheric rock, and electronica an well balanced blend.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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