The Pennsylvanian NEARfest (North East Art Rock Festival) really knew what it was doing in signing Dennis Rea and his group, Moraine, for the 2010 version of the ongoing series. The best exposition the States have seen in the annals of half-serious attempts at same (ProgFest, CalProg, etc.) overseen by well-meaning halfwits with a fanboy's expectations, an accountant's business sense, and too often a busman's idea of aesthetics (David Overstreet, Ken Golden, Papa J, etc.). Moraine here slices through a number of revered antecedents (Kraan, Univers Zero, Mike Keneally, King Crimson, Jasun Martz, Magma, etc.) while crafting a version of the ever-evolving neoclassical niche progressive musics occupy in a way that has to be making Mssrs. Vander, Fripp, Denis, and the entire esteemed company grin in serene gratification amid Metamorphic Rock's artfully pleasing jangled paces.
The multi-segmented Disillusioned Avatar / Dub Interlude / Ephebus Amoebus presents the panorama well, and it was here I noted violinist Alicia DeJoie harking back to Hisako Yamash'ta along with some Didier Lockwood amid the rest of the band's Soft Machine disintegration into a miasma of echoing psychedelics, eventually a police/fireman/paratroopers/aliens-from-Orion collision that resolved in Van der Graaf Generator-y fashion. On the other hand, Disoriental Suite had markedly Flairck, Aquarelle, and inspissations of the more unknown purveyors of mannered classicalism, a trait that has been increasingly escaping the progrock world as time wends on…more's the pity.
The slow creepacrawl of Blues for a Bruised Planet invokes in the listener both a weary resignation towards the toll capitalism has been wreaking on this sphere and the simultaneous flicker of hope that thrives amidships, with Rea's clarion guitar solo rousing the end section to a shaken fist of defiant despair, something that now finds companions in the Occupy Wall Street movement. And closing down the generous hour+ of labyrinths and architectures is the wryly titled 9:09 Middlebrau where drummer Stephen Cavit gets in some extended licks in an episodic song (Bassist Kevin Millard jumps up elsewhere in the disc) building in a magisterial flow heading for parts unknown—lone rivers, mountaintops, cloud banks, maybe even a Shape of Things to Come future metropolis. I don't know what the rest of the weekend's acts were, my name and long history in print criticism are well-disdained commodities among the trolls who concoct such things and those who critique them, hence invitations to attend are about as common as non-obese fans of the genre, but if the rest of the roster was of the magnitude of Moraine…whew, maybe it's a good thing I wasn't contacted: my poor aesthete's heart can take only just so much bliss!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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