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Liquid Sky: Doldrums of Ecstasy (CD, 56:49); Metrobucks Records MR001 No, it's not the cult movie soundtrack. It's progressive rock with a sharp-edged but effortlessly slick delivery. Vocals are well-crafted and carry things along rather than an add-on feature. George Stigg Thornton is lead vocals and guitars. Joe Khejl is more guitars, backup vocals, as well as producer and engineer. Kevin Brown is strong on bass and Matthew Kay precise on drums calling to mind Bruford. Both also contribute backup vocals. Oddly enough, no groups came immediately to mind to compare these guys to -- well, a unique and fresh sound. At first I had to reach for Yes, King Crimson, Crack the Sky, Pink Floyd, and even some Blue Oyster Cult in places. "Swell" is a rockin' B.O.C./Wishbone Ash instrumental syncopated groove that breaks into explosive Bruford-drumrolls with King Crimson outbursts. Then "Flat World" screamed King Crimson in the Adrian Belew period. You can go back through the vocals in this release and catch that essence of Belew's phrasing. The strong guitarwork is a Yes/Floyd/B.O.C./Crimson mix of styles. "Introspection" is a 19:57 piece that reminded me of DJAM KARET with a deeper- voiced Jon Anderson in the Olias-of-Sunhillow mode/mood. Still, there are Crack the Sky/ Animal Notes strains in guitars and voice. You can find Frippy loops and spaced-out quiet moments that flow into obvious Yes-singing from the "And-You-and-I mold". "Introspection" builds to a Yes/"Wurm"-like progression for the grand finale. It fades out with a Fripp/Hackett addendum. This pinnacle piece is their "Stairway to Heaven", their "Closer to Home" so to speak. Recommended. -John W. Patterson
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