Underwater Traffic: Return to the Deep (CD, 73:05); Peaceland Music 20001. Underwater Traffic website
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This California band's first release is a garden of myriad delights. Pink Floyd, Rush, Yes, and early Genesis are all around their sound. You hear these influences yet there is a great deal more. Mahavishnu Orchestra, Dregs, Glass Moon, Hendrix, and heaps of Happy the Man are present as well. These guys mine many veins of precious rock and deliver the gold. Keyboardist/violinist Trevor Lloyd's wailing, eerie vocals recall Crack the Sky's finer crooning by John Palumbo. Creepy-cool keys grip you as James Musser's tortured guitar snarls with raw anger -- Captain Beyond, whole-tonal excursions crawling up your spine. Spacey lead breaks and gritty sonic fills echo from the cold hell of deep space to guide your descent into the malevolence of a Lovecraftian maelstrom. Sample tracks "In the Garden", "It's Only a Dream", "One Sunday", "Love It", "Writing on The Wall" and "Insanity". Experience cerebral rewiring and visual-musik tripping with "Astro" and "Undercurrent". The must-hear track is the prog-gem "Sea of Samsara"! If this stuff doesn't move you a tad into an alternate reality then you must already be there. There are a few sweet ballads and straight-up rock included for accessibility and radio play potential. I've seen a videotape of this band on stage and they perform with marvelous precision. They're quite the show with bizarre masks and modern dance. I believe these guys are riding the next rogue wave of "future rock". I will definitely own their next release, tentatively titled: Pushing the Edge. --John W. Patterson
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