Holdahl, Lyle - Prog

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Big Balloon Music
Catalog Number: 89859
Format: CD
Total Time: 36:41:00

Calling your album Prog is a very gutsy move, as it means you have a truckload of expectations to live up to - expectations that are as varied as the person who's expecting is. The only way to cover all the bases is, of course, to be eclectic - a little symphonic, a little avant-garde, a little jazz-rock, etc. And even then you run the risk of diluting everything to please all tastes. Well, I can say that Lyle Holdahl avoids this latter problem. He certainly knows how he defines prog. So, if you like Phil Collins-led Genesis then you will find something to like about Prog, but I guarantee you won't love it and you won't like everything. For those who find Collins' way of singing annoying and whiny, Holdahl seems to emphasize the annoyances. In fact, he is closer to Joe Newman of North Star (before they were an instrumental trio) mimicking Phil Collins than Phil Collins himself, but even more so. So, you'd better be in love with Collins' singing voice. This is a case where you wish the artist was either strictly an instrumentalist or had invited in a guest vocalist. Holdahl is often off-key (at least to my ears) and strains a bit, which makes me wonder what he'd sound like if he weren't trying to sound like Collins.

Ouch, I know. That sounds quite savage doesn't it. Well, honestly that's the meanest thing I'm going to say. I'm sure that Holdahl is an affable and friendly guy. I can't carry a note to save my life, so no, I don't think I could do better. What's interesting is to read some of the other reviews of this album at his MP3.com site [now gone] and find that some say he sounds like Peter Gabriel. Personally, I don't hear it, though in terms of arrangement, yes, I see the Gabriel-isms, but it's Collins doing Gabriel.

Anyway, although the music is quite influenced by Genesis, there are hints at Yes in there, too, as I think of Wakeman a bit during "Tavish." But this track also manages to sound like ELP (the Emerson part) and Pink Floyd (some spacey, tinkly keyboard effects) as well. Holdahl is a better programmer/synthesist than he is vocalist. He well captures the mood and feel of his idols, but this synthesis of elements sounds fresh. Well, "fresh-ish." I mean, I can't necessarily say "oh this sounds like such and such a track," but you can spot the references. "Maxfield (a hymn)," a short synth piece contains Holdahl's most tolerable vocal performance, though it's not too bad at the beginning of "An Evening Spent." I must say though, overall, its far more "proggy" than anything Collins did during the latter half of his Genesis-tenure?a throwback to those early, post-Gabriel days.

Holdahl plays a TS-10 and is the only credited musician. In some ways it sounds as if there must be more musicians involved, but you can tell from the tone quality of the instruments that they are synthesized. Except, strangely, the drums, which sometimes sound very real.

I wish Holdahl did sing better as I otherwise like the music he has created. "All For The Light" has a memorable chorus, even if it does sound more like he's singing "on borderline." "Wakeful Dreams" starts with very light notes, reminiscent of classic Genesis in their pastoral passages. There are some deeper, fat tones that seem more in line with Rush than anyone else here, but Rush doesn't seem to be an influence here at all. "Primeval" sort of reminds me of early Marillion, as during the instrumental passages of "Script For A Jester's Tear" (and since they were oft compared to Genesis at the time, this isn't surprising to me). The mixing here puts the vocals at the back -- which one cruelly has to say is a good thing, except that one expects the vocals up front, since they should be the element of focus based on what they and the other instruments are doing. On the three-movement "Spirals In Box/Arabesque/Passageways" the nod here goes in the direction of Yes, but, um,...as if Collins were on vocals. The instrumental section at about three-minutes in is quite nice and love the textures, but this is far too brief. At times here the arrangement is just a little too "pretty," a little too fanciful. I imagine Holdahl in a frilly pink shirt, on a sparsely dressed set, only some clear, plastic bubbles set about. And there's something oddly familiar about the image I just set, like I've seen just such a thing from a clip dating from the 60s.

This edition of Holdahl's album is a DAM disk from MP3.com -- that is, DAM as in DigitalAutomaticMusic, not me cursing the disk. In other words, conventional audio files and the same songs as MP3s. Plus there's some multimedia content, though here it is basic info about the artist only and an interface to play the MP3s. From the artist info we learn that Holdahl's influences are wide-ranging including "AM Radio from '64 through '71, Bartok, Camel, The Carpenters, Aaron Copland, [...] Emerson Lake and Palmer, Brian Eno, FM Radio from '70 through '74, Robert Fripp, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Steve Hackett, Happy the Man [...] King Crimson, Klaatu, The Moody Blues, Ohio Express, Roy Orbison, Oregon, Pink Floyd, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Pulsar, Queen, Renaissance, Return to Forever, Tommy Rowe, [...]Van Der Graaf Generator, The Ventures, [and] Yes," just to include a few.

This and Prog 2 comprise his first and second solo releases.

All For The Light (5:46) / Wakeful Dreams (3:52) / Primeval (2:58) / Spirals In A Box/Arabesque/Passageways (7:25) / The Forest (4:51) / Danse Of The Amputated Marionette (0:26) / Tavish (5:02) / Babylon (5:21) / Maxfield (a hymn) (3:27) / An Evening Spent (3:19)

Lyle Holdahl - TS 10, vocals

Prog (2000)
Prog2 (2000)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: June 5th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: lyleholdahl.homestead.com/progresso.html
Hits: 1166
Language: english


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