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Phreeworld: Crossing The Sound (CD, 46:46); Friends in the Garden FG-1998-1 Eureka!! This is progrock at its finest! Move over Yes. Dream Theater, step aside please. I am going to attempt the impossible as I cannot possibly say enough good things about Phreeworld. I came up admiring Yes, adoring Chris Squire's Fish Out of Water, awed by Canadian spacerock legends FM at the Cellar Door in Georgetown, D.C. and adulating Steve Hackett's mastery of infinite guitar. And above all remains Happy the Man. Filling my head now is an amazing blend of ALL the best of those aforementioned heroes and more. Dave Wheeler is vocals and guitars. Mark Phraner is vocals, guitars and keys. Brian Phraner is vocals, bass, more guitars and keys. Don Freeborn is the heartbeat drums and yes, more vocals. Polished, compelling, angelic vocals abound, like Jon Anderson reborn, like Cameron Hawkins of FM back again, and even Queensryche's Geoff Tate styled delivery appears. "Freeworld", "China", "Solar Spectra" and "Gates Walk" have a wonderfully strong FM/Black Noise and Surveillance feel. "The Hermit" was very Fish-Out-of-Water with that Steve Hackett sensitivity. "The Empress", oh so much Yes, but better? -- absolutely slayed me emotionally. Yeah, the vocal harmonies made this old reviewer's heart melt and tears welled up. Absolutely majestic work here. "Wardrums" is phat-progrock, heavyweight progression balanced by sweet airy ballad "Perfect Prison". The big Happy the Man meets Happy Family meets Magma surprise was the whole-tonal, frenzied, 78 rpm intro on "The Chariot". Yowza, what an end of the CD wake-up call! When you think your disc player is about to melt they space out into a Close-to-the-Edge introspective, meditative, quicksilver-quiet sea as etheric vocals peel away reality. I sailed away wanting more . . . more . . . more . . . Highly recommended. Even the CD's packaging is art-rock, superb, and spares no expense! -John W. Patterson
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