Proximal Distance is a new progressive rock collaboration spearheaded by Jeff Hamel of Majestic (guitars, keyboards, bass, vocals) and Gregg Johns of Slychosis (guitars, keyboards, bass, mandolin, vocals). Joining them are Sarah Hamel (vocals on “Shaman”), Jessica Rasche of Majestic on (vocals) and Jeremy Mitchell and Todd Sears, both of Slychosis (drums).
Aside from their separate bands, influences on the self titled debut includes bands like Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Saga. With Jessica’s vocals, it takes those classic influences to a whole new level. The primary sound has a classic progressive rock with some elements of space rock and some dissonant sections woven in.
Starting off the album is “Algol” (7:52), starts off with some dreamy keyboards building up to heavy prog sound with urgent bass and guitar parts. It mellows out towards the last few minutes and segues into “The Shaman” (8:02), the first vocal track on the album provided perfectly by Sarah Hamel and includes some evil sounding voice samples. These two songs make up a something like a suite.
Next up is “Gypsy” (11:22), the first epic of the album. This one features Jessica on vocals and she’s in top form. Musically this one leans towards a Pink Floyd influence with it‘s fluid guitars and spacey keyboard parts. This is one of my favorites of the album.
The music goes a relaxing route on the acoustic driven “Contemplation” (3:17) and is the perfect vehicle for Jessica to show off her vocals up front. Picking up the pace again is “Flashback (A Hippy’s Lament)” (4:40) with it’s psychedelic vibe that reminds me of a trippy sounds of the late 60’s/early 70’s. This is followed by “Deep Space Intermission” (5:36) which has a more spacey sound with soaring guitar solos and minimal vocal parts.
“Leaves Fall” (3:50) returns to the acoustic side with some dreamy keyboard parts. It is another song that features Jessica’s angelic vocals in the forefront. This is another of my favorite songs on the album.
Returning to the long format is “Journey Of Truth” (7:33). This has a metallic guitar crunch about 2 minutes into the song. Here’s where the Majestic & Slychosis influences come in to play. The vocal melodies are just sublime here as with the guitar playing
Coherence” (7:54) starts off with some spoken word the morphs into a progressive metal vibe with the crunchy guitar parts. It reminds me of a mixture of Majestic and Ayreon.
Closing off the album is the second epic “Expanding Universe” (14:16), that at times reminds me of a heavy version of Pink Floyd mixed in with some elements of Ayreon. It also contains the most soulful and emotional vocals on the album.
Proximal Distance was a perfect meeting of progressive rock musicians and the self titled debut is a testament to the finer points of the genre that is fresh with each listen. Everyone was in top form. I would recommend this highly to fans of both Majestic & Slychosis as well as the afore mentioned bands. This is simply one of the best debuts of 2010.
Reviewed by on May 25th, 2010