Various Artists - "What's New in Baltimore?: A Compilation of Baltimore's
Best Progressive Rock"
(Time Voyage Music, 2001)
From Aural Innovations #16 (June 2001)
The disc begins with one of its best tracks, TREPHINE's "Urobos". Heavy power-chords, constant changes in mood and time and a vibraphone playing along to all the different melodies, constantly exuding a cool, jazzy class. Their second tune "Toadface" is equally as progressive and well-structured, but less innovative and a bit on the sterile side. Definitely more for the staunch prog fan than the organic psyche crowd. There's nothing too progressive about KURGAN'S BANE's "Through the Camera"--pure early-'80s underground power-metal (though with a few more chops) with a melodic female vocal and rawer production to match, but not too exciting. SONUS UMBRA follow in a similar fashion, though with plenty of piano and acoustic guitar thrown in. DARK WATER TRANSIT's "Atomic Assault on Your Moms" is quirky and funky though rigidly-composed instrumental prog. Again, there's not much organic mystery encased in the dry stock lines of sound to attract the basic psyche/space-type fan back for additional listens. "Drenched" holds a little more water, though (sorry). UNCLE GUT is a little more "out there", whose style is at times more prone to improvisation and dissonance. (And once again, the metal rhythm-guitar is present to thread together most of the different groups represented on the compilation.) "Without Color" totally loses control mid-way, going avant-erratic with the drums and guitar noise and a bizarrely obnoxious megaphone-mantra. "1936: Dedicated to the Memory of Lettie Stein" is an eerie drawn-out mood piece with guitar weedles, slow percussion and voice-samples; one of the comp's best moments, though the live-audience sound-quality is a bit sub-par. DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY includes members of Uncle Gut, Kurgan's Bane and Boud Deun but sounds more like Dark Water Transit. Their two bassists (fretless and fretfull) go into a cool little jam towards the end. The DARK AETHER PROJECT has the most overtly space tune with an alternate version of "Feed the Silence", providing the comp some powerful mystique with stratospheric guitar-work and a great chorus from the female vocalist. Again, not too dissimilar to some early '80s "mystical metal". TEMPUSTRY is an all-electronic project from DAP's drummer. Not bad, but the '70s-prog keyboard melodies don't do it for me. Overall a good range of styles represented here, but quality lulls at times.
For more information you can visit the Time Voyage Music web site at: http://www.timevoyagemusic.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Allen Brunelle; 5509 April Journey; Columbia, MD 21044.
Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg