Ivan Bullock is another typical example of a talented musician who possesses a wider span of involvement in the prog movement and community than just listening and offering opinions, or worse, sticking pigeon-holing harsh labels that justify the minute differences instead of the vast panorama of styles Prog has been offering since the late 60s. Reviewer, radio show host and multi-instrumentalist under the moniker Minorarc, his recent album “Inclusions” is now up for discussion.

A reverberating piano intro with sorrowful orchestrations greets the listener on “A Drizzle’s Vagrant I”, a miraculous cinematographic flight, evoking a myriad of images within the lens of a mind’s eye. A theme that will take a return engagement later on. A faultlessly clever segue into the colossal “Seven Times Burnt”, slowly inserting electric guitars that first moan, then snarl and finally bite as the monstrous beat rages forward, very punishing and coarse. The flow ebbs momentarily to call back the healing piano, a pattern that will be oft repeated by interjecting more fury and extreme contrast. With conspiratorial zeal, the clanging motifs interweave with the rough edges of galvanic to finally sputter into silence.

Well, unless I am the direct descendant of D’Artagnan, I am not sure whether I wish to “Meet the Blade” or any other swordsman for that matter, even though I was a fencing addict in my youth. This may be a sonic depiction of the epic duel between opposite sides who decide, for the sake of their honor, to engage in face-to-face combat. The piano acts as the arbiter of the rules of engagement and the drums as the strategy timekeeper, orchestrations being added to create the impression of a rapt audience in attendance. There is definitely an element of ferocious determination within the swashbuckling guitar exchanges, exerting subtle lunges and athletic parries in the confrontational environment and an ever-increasing level of sonic gashes, cuts and slashes. A terrific slice (excuse the pun) of vibrant music.

The lengthiest piece is the seven and a half minutes of “Three Times”, a more observational first half lull, with ambient textures and a menacing undercurrent that lurks below the surface.  There is a definite change of pace, as the composition elevates both its intent and direction, egged on by some harrowing orchestral backdrops, an overt sense of impending doom only skin deep takes hold. Once again, the resonant piano faces off with the threatening guitars amid all the soundtrack-like ambiance, until the latter finally decides to be a bellicose dictator, start using some sway and try to bully in on the show. The piano repulses this final thrust successfully having the last sound.

The shadowy “Bleeding Facet” offers a brusque approach, a guitar and drum battering that takes its sweet time to flex its muscles, both applying the brute force to render the victim into abject surrender, choir mellotrons howling like wolves in the background.  The equally despairing “Triclinic” keeps the attack mode intact, plowing ahead into a battle-weary mood, with collapsing rhythmic eruptions, and moments of unexplainable respite, as if to find energy to the fight to the last drop. This is a tortuous piece of gloom, nothing remotely pretty or even tenuously relaxed.  A tough experience but utterly expressive.

The ornate and yet regretful piano is rekindled on “A Drizzle’s Vagrant II”, providing a semblance of panacea, light and hope within all these hurricane vignettes. Breathe in the air of defiance and resistance.

The final track has a slightly dissimilar variation to its premise, “Blue Cold Mess” is both more, as well as less chaotic, perhaps acting as a contributory epilogue to all the preceding mayhem that came before and that may reappear in the near future. Who knows for sure where our world is heading towards, but the title of this track may give us a hint. Message to our extra-terrestrial creators: ET went back home in 1982 but its perhaps time for a return visit to settle this “Blue Cold Mess” and bring us that oft promised revelation called the Apocalypse.

4.5 Introspections