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Underground Railroad,The: The Origin of Consciousness

It's been quite a few years since The Underground Railroad's debut release Through and Through, five years to be exact, and just as the prog community was starting to wonder what was becoming of this promising outfit here they are with a hot new release The Origin of Consciousness. Once again channeling their efforts into a Canterburyand fusion based sound, The Underground Railroad have created here an album that just might be better than their debut, as this one is littered with wonderful vocal harmonies, and plenty of musical fireworks that allow guitarist Bill Pohl, keyboard player Kurt Rongey, bassist Matt Hembree, and drummer John Livingston to shine.

Bands like UK, Gentle Giant, National Health, Hatfield & The North, Bruford, and even contemporary bands like Echolyn all come to mind when listening to The Underground Railroad, but these guys are by no means clones of any of them. There's a lightness to this bands sound that kind of floats underneath the soaring guitar and keyboard lines, giving all eight tracks a very melodic drive that crosses into both the prog and fusion genres but never settling on just one. Many of the cuts are extended pieces and allow for complex interplay between Pohl and Rongey, both of who are formidable players. Check out Rongey's explosive synth & organ workout on "Julian II", or Pohl's lightning legato and sweep picking technique on the lengthy "Love Is a Vagabond King" and "Creeper (The Doorman Part 2)". The guitarist has chops that rival Allan Holdsworth and Frank Gambale, yet he can also lay down some exquisite and gentle chords as well, like on "The Canal at Sunset". "Metaphor" contains some ripping lead bass work from Hembree to go along with some dynamic organ played by Rongey. There's just too much to like here, and it's one of those recordings that just gets better with each listen.

The Underground Railroad have figured out how to pay homage to the greats of the 70's yet keep the sound grounded in the modern era. The Origin of Consciousness is a symphonic, sometimes jazzy, always challenging listen, and will certainly get many spins in my CD player as well as wind up on my Best of 2005 list at the end of the year.

Track Listing
1) Julian Ur (7:45)
2) Julian I (2:38)
3) Love Is a Vagabond King (10:43)
4) Halo (8:21)
5) The Canal at Sunset (4:18)
6) Metaphor (2:57)
7) Creeper (The Doorman Pt. 2) (13:30)
8) Julian II (9:00)

Added: July 29th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 5657
Language: english

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