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Phreeworld (USA) - 1998 - "Crossing the Sound" (46 min, "FiG")


****

1.  Freeworld
2.  China
3.  Perfect Prison
4.  The Hermit
5.  Solar Spectra
6.  Gates Walk
7.  The Empress
8.  Wardrums
9.  The Chariot

Line-up:

Brian Phraner - vocals, bass, keyboards
Mark Phraner  - vocals, keyboards, guitars
Dave Wheeler  - vocals, guitars
Don Freeborn  - drums

The Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock indicates that Phreeworld is the UK's band. But, if I am not mistaken, Phreeworld is an American band from Seattle, which is the brother-city of my home town Tashkent (Uzbekistan, ex-USSR). The cover of the album's booklet reports that "Crossing the Sound" was released in 1998. I believe this is a remastered and remixed edition of the second Phreeworld's album, which was originally recorded in 1996 at Candlebox Studio located in Seattle. If memory serves me correctly , then the title of their debut work is "Boost the Signal" (1994). In any case, I don't know another band that's called by the same name - Phreeworld. So,...

The album.

1. Freeworld. Hard edged guitar riffs sound quite unexpectedly after the short intro, full of interesting effects and solos from varied instruments into the accompaniment of strong drumming. Vocal theme begins immediately after the first movement with the riffing guitar and original keyboard passages. Instrumental arrangements mostly contain some interplays between the same electric guitar solos and nice synthesizer modulations. The final part of the opening track sounds more solemnly with the polymorphous vocals.

2. China begins with the same hard riffing guitar and with very interesting solos and interplays between guitar and synthesizer. The basic theme is quite heavy, though it constantly develops thanks to the endless virtuostic guitar solos and varied arrangements from the direction of keyboards, supported by the strong rhythm-section. It's amazing, how successfully the musicians use the musical intervals, and two different lead vocalists within the frame of the only separate song. Lots of short, but quite diverse changes of tempos.

3. Perfect Prison opens right away with vocals, supported by rhythm-guitar, soft drumming and excellent bass lines. Rhythmical structures and light polyphonic singing play a prominent role in this song, though sometimes a bit melancholic.

4. The Hermit. Undoubtedly, one of the best songs on the album. Polyphonic singing develops into the accompaniment of excellent dramatic arrangements from each instrument. Long instrumental part somewhere in the middle of the song chracterized by lots of exceptionally varied, diverse and very nice arrangements. "Eastern" theme, led by riffing electric guitar and original passages by keyboards, extremely unexpectedly changes by slow philosophic interplays between incredible bass guitar, very original keyboard chords and some nice solos by guitar.

5. Solar Spectra begins again with polymorphous vocal theme, supported by rich and varied arrangements. Lots of virtuostic guitar solos, bombastic drumming, a few interesting changes of moods and tempos. Outstanding virtuostic jamming between all instruments completes this short yet very effective composition.

6. Gates Walk. This track begins with a dramatic vocal theme into the accompaniment of classical acoustic guitar. This intro quite unexpectedly falls into the slow, a bit gloomy heavy realm with the strong and original guitar riffs. Next part contains polyphonic vocals, supported by soft arrangements of keyboards. Later, the basic theme is back to heavy hypnotic structures with excellent varied guitar riffs and solos, very dramatic singing.

7. The Empress is mostly vocal based song. Varied vocal themes are supported by interesting arrangements from each instrument - from openly heavy to a little melancholic with the light playing of modern synthesizers. Unlike the majority of others, this is more or less smooth composition, though for the first time on the album I hear so many fast, virtuostic and varied guitar solos in this song.

8. There's no pause between The Empress and Wardrums, which begins in the key of Progressive Hard Rock with excellently strong rockish lead vocals, heavy guitar riffs and lots of original effects. This is a very energetic song with hypnotic heavy rhythms and some beautiful interplays between solo guitar and synthesizers. A real killer of Progressive Hard Rock.

9. The Chariot begins with mindblowing, fantastic interplays between varied instruments. Lots of changes of moods and tempos, exceptionally original virtuostic arrangements, which develops round a few basic, quite heavy, themes. The vocal theme begins already on the "fields" of powerful yet slow synthesizer passages. The following theme develops into accompaniments by varied keyboard effects and slow beautiful interplays between two electric guitars. The song ends solemnly with the same polymorphous vocals.

Summary. I cannot describe this album as the work of complex Progressive Rock. But, it is quite difficult to accurately describe this original and very interesting album. The main dignity of "Crossing the Sound" is its open originality. I cannot compare this quite accessible yet unique mix of elements of Classic Art Rock and Progressive Hard Rock to any other band I have ever heard. The music is much better than the majority I've heard from typical Neo bands. I think, this work is an exceptionally good stage for all future Prog-novices to understanding what is a real "Classic", original and profound Progressive Rock. content

VM. December 25, 1999


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