Saturday, July 11, 2009

Soundscapes Hits the Ripple Effect - Duo of New Prog Reviews

We've got an extra special treat for all you waveriders out there today. Jumping into the Ripple Office with a fist full of Cd's, an itchy typing finger, and more musical knowledge than a hippy at Woodstock, we've got two guest reviewers today, lending their vast knowledge to us seekers of music. David Bischoff and Steve Weese co-host Soundscapes, a progressive rock radio show over at KRVM 91.9 FM Eugene OR. You can catch them streaming live 10 PM to 12 PM PST Sunday nights. These two musical Einstein's dropped off a couple of recent prog discs with their thoughts, feelings and summaries.

So let's get to it.

SAGA- The Human Condition

SAGA is the kind of rock band just keeps on ticking.

The Human Condition finds them in darned good form, with fresh ideas, good tunes, and a proggier tone. It's surprising that longtime lead singer Michael Sadler left, since SAGA had been picking up steam and returning to a form staked out in the 1981 classic Worlds Apart.

Still, new singer Rob Moratti is a superb replacement, with a warm, rich voice that's a pleasure to keep company with.

Perhaps Sadler has other surprises in store, as songwriting contributions were important to the band, his dynamism certainly the last album 10,000 Days. But these songs really have great textures with dreamy keyboards and memorable melodies that hang together in a pleasant tapestry with just enough taste of a great yesterday to keep today happy. We especially like "Step Inside" and the punchy, snappy "Avalon."

buy here: The Human Condition

Derek Sherinan -- Molecular Heinosity

Recently at the Saturday night "On-air party" at Nearfest on a popular net radio prog show,
a couple of tracks were played from this CD to good effect as people drank and partied. Dererk Sherinan's new album works best as a kind of background music.

Oddly for a man who's best known for his keyboard work with Dream Theater, Sherinan's sixth solo album is dominated by guitars. Fusion-metal rock shredding. Fortunately, before the songs can verge of boredom, most of these tunes shift gears -- unlike many CD's of the Joe Satriani ilk, mired in the Slough of Ennui.

We like this type of metal-like fusion, but only in smaller doses. We'd like to hear a bit more "space" from him. Planet X in our opinion, seems more successful because there seems to be more outside influence. Some of Sherinan's solo work seems to sound a lot alike and by the end of an album, you kinda just want to put on some Simon and Garfunkel.
Still, Derek Sherinan sure can race his fingers across those keyboards.

buy here: Molecular Heinosity

--David Bischoff and Steve Weese

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