Moraine press reviews


"...a towering quintet that harks back to the three years [Rea] profitably spent in the two Chinas. He has arranged for it a small number of choice Chinese tunes, old and recent, traditional and not, which become gorgeous jazz- and rock-inflected pieces in his and his colleagues’ hands. But the group covers a lot of terrain, drawing on 'fractured bebop,' as Rea puts it, as well as cranked-up, rhythmically complex rock – and much more ... Listening to the electric-string-quartet-plus-drums, you may find yourself swept over ice fields or other little-considered terrain."—Peter Monaghan, Earshot Jazz (USA)

"Seattle quintet Moraine produce some of the city's most interesting prog rock and fusiony compositions that will tie your gray matter into baroque knots. Some of Moraine's output recalls ECM Records when it had fire in its belly (see Terje Rypdal and Wolfgang Dauner's early '70s releases), Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, and Univers Zero."—Dave Segal, The Stranger

Groundswell reviews

"...this third chapter in their recording history clearly points forward rather than backward ... The band successfully weave their diverse influences together in a seamless whole that highlights their uniqueness with every twist and turn of the music. Moraine are among the foremost standard-bearers of a modern form of jazz-rock that yearns to break free from the ponderous heritage of the Seventies. A near-perfect blend of lyricism, atmosphere and raw energy, Groundswell embodies, in many ways, the modern progressive ethos. Highly recommended to all open-minded prog listeners, this is essential listening for lovers of instrumental progressive rock."—Raffaella Berry, Fire of Unknown Origin

"(Editor's Pick) ...a shockingly good post-Gong art rock collection that one hardly finds nowadays.... undoubtedly one of the albums of the year."—Laertis, Wild Thing (Greece)

"a new catalog of exquisite sonic adventures that greatly dignify the contemporary progressive scene ... deserves to be mentioned in any list of the best of 2014 progressive music"—Cesar Inca Mendoza Loyola, Autopoietican (Peru)

"this instrumental gem will abduct you, overwhelm you and take you away, giving you one thrill after another. ... intense, exciting and fast-paced; a vigorous work of art enclosed in a dreamlike and visionary frame"—Silvia Giuliani, Arlequins (Italy)

"The playing on this album is nothing short of mesmerizing. Each musician is extremely proficient on their instrument, making the whole one big ball of energized power. These tracks seem to be inspired by 1970s progressive rock bands of the past, but the overall sound is twenty-first century all the way.... Groundswell is one mind boggling experience that will leave you craving for more."—babysue

"Far from just another Moraine album, this Seattle based five-piece is evolving by leaps and bounds with each new release, and Groundswell offers ample evidence of this growth.... Measure by measure, this is an outstanding group of players and composers that impress at every level."—Peter Thelen, Expose

"How best to describe the new album Groundswell from fusion group Moraine on MoonJune Records? ... I'd call it really good and well worth your time."—Walter Kolosky, author of Power, Passion and Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra

"...may well be the most impressive of their albums in terms of a cohesive original group sound. It is a beautiful listen and will be welcomed by all prog-fuse enthusiasts.... The whole band comes through with flying colors. This is band music with a highly original way about it all.... Very recommended."—Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Guitar & Bass Blog

"a powerful and organic sound that is, intentionally or not, determinedly iconoclastic, and singular in its vision.... There is nothing terminal about this Moraine, and with Groundswell they have given us an album’s worth of confident and assured progressive jazz-rock for the 21st century."—Roger Trenwith, The Progressive Aspect (UK)

"Confident writing encourages some neat, sharp-witted interaction among interleaving themes and snappy episodes. Occasionally these mostly short and direct pieces register on the RIO/Canterbury scale of complexity, and they benefit from the ornery guitar of Dennis Rea, his fretboard ruminations eschewing any sleepwalking or cliche."—Sid Smith, Prog Magazine

" a 10-course feast of instrumental work that will set you back on your feet after first knocking you off them"—Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

"manages to breathe new life into the progressive genre visited by jazz musicians."—Francois Becquart, Music in Belgium

"you won’t soon escape the pull of this powerful group after listening to this one....  in addition to my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and an 'EQ' (energy quotient) of a perfect 5.00, this grand excursion gets my 'PICK' for 'most creative music'!"—Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation

"On its third CD, Moraine achieves what many fusion groups only talk about—melding rock and jazz into music built from the best elements of both."—David Luhrssen, Milwaukee Shepherd Express

"The mix of sounds here is pretty amazing.... a really great album."—Gary Hill, Music Street Journal

"Vibrant and engaging instrumental music that explores the contrast between frail, light toned and delicate instrument details and dark ominous motifs quite nicely, and does so within a jazz rock or fusion framework that allows for room to add some unexpected twists and details here and there. Strong moods and atmospheres are key features, and those who enjoy instrumental fusion liberally flavored with foreboding atmospheres and a touch of the unexpected here and there should take the time to give this CD an inspection."—Olav M. Bjornsen, ProgressoR (Uzbekistan)

"Groundswell, in my opinion, is a huge album for Moraine, marking a step forward in their songwriting as well as capturing the magic on a studio recording ... With Groundswell we get everything that makes Moraine a great band, from the catchy melodies to the avant-deviations and heavy Chinese folk influences. If you ever get a chance to see these guys live, you’re in for a real treat, but if they aren’t coming through your neighborhood Groundswell will certainly clue you in on what makes Moraine tick."—Matt DiGiordano, Progulator

"For listeners wanting to venture into the unconventional, Moraine just might be the ticket you are searching for."—Jon Neudorf, Sea of Tranquility

"Moraine's music combines the best harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic features of good old jazz-rock and prog-rock a la Soft Machine, King Crimson, and Van der Graaf Generator, spiced with exotic ethnic elements."—Leonid Auskern, Jazz Quad

"delightfully fresh and unpredictable"—I. Ortega, Distrito Jazz (Spain)

"There is never a routine approach, but then the band never throws in the unusual just for the sake of being different. ... As long as the music present is this inventive and illuminating, words will never be missed and Mister Rea and company are welcome in my house anytime."—Rob Hudson, ModMove (Australia)

"Plenty of sharp, clever, frequently passionate playing (but never for its own sake), punchy dynamics, and a soupçon of subtlety—what more does one need from a prog platter?"—Mark Keresman, Keresman on Disc

"Moraine’s third album is their best yet ... One of this year’s top CDs in prog rock in its widest definition."—Francois Couture, Monsieur Delire (Quebec)

"Seattle’s Moraine work in the heady realm where prog rock, Rock in Opposition, and jazz fusion intersect.... This is dynamic, imaginative music full of smart, surprising moves and rich, intriguing melodies."—Dave Segal, The Stranger

"another great 2014 release in this progressive rock realm, another satisfactory record that asks to be discovered by more and more people"—Guillermo H.U., ProgSphere (Mexico)

"a disc of great communicative strength"—Luigi Cattaneo, ProgressivaMente (Italy)

"easily the band's best work yet ... Highly recommended for listeners who like dashes of dissonance in music that pushes the envelope."—Raymond Benson, Progression

"a group of very high quality, and probably one of the best of recent years!"—Nama Kemono, Chromatique (France)

Metamorphic Rock: LIve at NEARfest reviews

(5/5 stars) "This Seattle-based progressive-rock outfit offers a refreshing perspective on a multifaceted genre, where cherished stylizations from the past are merged with a futuristic outlook. ...a hard-hitting but fluid set. By incorporating grace and power into its arsenal, the ensemble's buoyancy is lightly dappled with jazz and classical elements. ... Moraine carries the torch for a newly envisioned era of progressive-rock. Hence, the artists unite the best of many musical worlds into a group-centric characterization that bears a clearly defined mark of authenticity."—Glenn Astarita,  complete review

(8.5/10 stars) "In these times of grossly overrated, cookie-cutter acts, Moraine's riveting, intensely individual jazz-rock-meets-chamber-prog approach, spiced with heady helpings of traditional Far Eastern music, set them apart as the most genuinely progressive band on the [NEARfest 2010] bill. One year later, that career-defining performance has been captured on CD ... the 11 tracks featured on Metamorphic Rock highlight Moraine's unique dynamics and distinctive, broad-ranging compositional approach. ... Moraine are one of those rare bands that have managed to develop their own individual sound, making the most of each member's background and inclinations. ... warmly recommended to all open-minded prog fans, especially those who privilege instrumental music."—Raffaella Berry, Dutch Progressive Rock Pages  complete review

[In a message to MoonJune Records] "OH MY GOD!!!! Where do you find this stuff? ...some of the best music I've heard in modern jazz all year (maybe all decade!). ... This is exactly what I'm looking for… fresh new ideas in improvised music."—Russ Davis, Voice of America / Modern Jazz Radio

"I've played the Moraine in store a half dozen times already and we sold out our first batch and just got in our second. Don't miss out on [this] fine, challenging and feisty release."—Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC

"Seattle’s Moraine not only make Washington State proud, but also the whole American progressive music scene joyful. ... It’s simply an impressive dead on eleven song tour de force. ... GET THIS! Highly Recommended!"—Lee Henderson, Prognaut complete review

"an impressive antidote to any and all forms of generic music. Its mood is ever evolving and the experience is most liberating. Just when you think you have it figured out, it shifts in intent and direction in a most embracing way."—Rob Hudson, ModMove (Australia)

"an alluring dose of captivating jazz rock that is guaranteed to mesmerize and satisfy the listener"—Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity  complete review

"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 Messrs. Vander, Fripp, Denis, and the entire esteemed company grin in serene gratification amid Metamorphic Rock's artfully pleasing jangled paces."—Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Review  complete review

"Metamorphic Rock presents the live performance of an outstanding group of creative avant-garde musicians who can easily navigate the waters of high energy progressive rock, jazz fusion and exploratory improvised music."—Angel Romero, Progressive Music Central

"I have to bow my head for this instrumental band, this is just pure excellence."—Henrik Kahldal, Complicated Music (Denmark)

(5 stars) "A sensation in the making"—Dmitry M. Epstein, (Israel)

(19/20 stars) "...tremendous virtuosity ... a must for fans of this kind of music"—Ingo Andruschkewitsch, Musik an Sich (Germany)

manifest deNsity reviews

"Manifest Density qualifies as one of the most promising debut albums of the past decade in the progressive music field.” —Rafaella Berry, Fire of Unknown Origin  complete review

Review of Moraine's performance at NEARfest 2010: "...probably the most genuinely progressive act featured on this year’s bill, delivering an immaculate performance bolstered by some distinctive video art ... their very original brand of avant-garde-tinged jazz-rock with loads of ethnic influences ... was often positively riveting"—Raffaella Berry, The Progressor  complete review

“…with its combination of rock energy, chamber classicism, and sophisticated jazz harmonies, Manifest DeNsity is simply good music—at times, great music—played by an unusually configured collective. Like a square peg and a round hole, Moraine defies reductionist categorization…”—John Kelman, All About Jazz  complete review

“…Dark timbres, dense harmonic aggregations, and exotic melodies abound … while the emphasis here is clearly on ensemble playing, Rea’s guitar work continually imbues the proceedings with splashes of color from his global grab bag of stylistic goodies—including liberal dashes of oriental intrigue.”—Barry Cleveland, Guitar Player  complete review

"...the real story here is that there is far more originality in Moraine’s music than the sum of all their influences, and the masterful way that each player applies their ideas to this canvas is the key to the magic that makes this an essential listen.”—Peter Thelen, Expose (USA)

  "Even more than the inspired solos it is the exotic melodies and crafty arrangements that make this band special. … quirky, creative & filled with surprising twists and turns, well worth checking out no matter what you are into."—Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC  complete review

"[Moraine] morph the best of various musical worlds here, amid turbulent strings passages, thrusting rhythms, and jubilantly executed melody lines. The band conveys a myriad of emotive attributes via these resonating compositions. ... There’s a lot to sink your mind’s eye into here, but the ensemble equalizes the cerebral factors with hearty melodies and pumping jazz-rock grooves. ... A musical highlight for 2009, regardless of genre or rigid categorizations…"—Glenn Astarita, Jazz (USA)  complete review

"If you live in that lonely world where contemporary Chinese music, free improvisation jazz, Univers Zero, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Ornette Coleman matter more than the latest dumbo from The X Factor then the news is good: this debut album from Seattle guitarist Dennis Rea’s chamber prog quintet is probably the answer to your prayers. The ensemble—you feel that calling them ‘the band’ is a bit beneath them—comprises of guitar, bass, drums, cello and violin, a struggle of equals intent on forging new music that occasionally sounds like rock or jazz but really isn’t. ... It sounds at times like you might imagine the Mahavishnu Orchestra would if they had formed in Kazakhstan or some other far-off land of which we know little. At others they sound like a 1920s Klingon cabaret band. But on the whole you’d never be able to slot them into any neat categories; you can only respond with the sort of perplexed awe you feel when confronted for the first time by something that's actually original.”—Tommy Udo, Classic Rock: Prog (UK)

"Manifest DeNsity is an excellent slice of progressive fusion, made even more original by the band’s unusual lineup, as well as the fluid, exhilarating writing, which combines interesting themes with surprising solo performances. ... An excellent release, one of the best of the past couple of years as regards the jazz-rock context.”—Donato Zoppo, Movimenti Prog (Italy)  complete review (Italian)

“Moraine's Manifest Density draws on Progressive Rock's past, but synthesizes something totally fresh and new at the same time. ... Although this band can improvise on a scale comparable to the best fusion bands, their love of progressive rock composition often makes them more similar to jazzy prog-rock bands such as Focus or Quiet Sun. ...despite all the obvious tributes to their favorites of the past, Moraine never sounds cheaply derivative or short on original musical ideas. ... If you are looking for a modern and original extension of bands like King Crimson, Henry Cow and Mahavishnu Orchestra, Moraine has it.”—Prog Archives  complete review

"The instrumental Rock ensemble Moraine combines a dark palette with unique instrumentation and driving, sprawling architectonic musical structures. … [manifest DeNsity] is one of those CDs that immediately gets your attention from the opening bars of the first cut. … They achieve a continuously compelling group sound that grabs you by the ears and does not let go. … Mr. Rea and company have achieved orbit status. ... This band could pan out to be the biggest Prog thing since Beefheart, Crimson, Gary Lucas and/or the Softs."—Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Guitar & Bass Blog (USA)  complete review

(4 stars) "Moraine ... provides instrumental music that is passionate and emotional but complex, challenging, and abstract. ... Moraine's appreciation of world music is definitely one of their strong points; during the course of this 54-minute CD, they incorporate elements of everything from Asian music to Middle Eastern/Arabic music to East European gypsy music - and those world music influences only add to Manifest Density's richness. ... adventurous listeners who have some patience will find that the more they listen to Manifest Density, the more this album reveals its excellence."—Alex Henderson, All Music Guide  complete review

"Moraine is really the kind of music that can save progressive music from clichés"—Michel Delville, guitarist for The Wrong Object

"Incredible jazz chamber rock fusion ... Moraine will intrigue and energize the listener as they obliterate all boundaries. ... people looking for something new and different will enjoy this powerful and intelligent music."—Brad Walseth,  complete review

"...overall, this is an album destined to be declared an instant classic by listeners & reviewers worldwide! I give it my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & declare it the pick of this year for 'most creative and inspiring musical experience!'"—Rotcod Zzaj, Improvijazzation Nation  complete review

“…a masterfully twisted quintet crushing five pounds of prog and symph-metal into a two-pound neoclassicalist bag. … There's not an ounce of ego or gloryhogging anywhere, just the sheer exuberance of playing in ensemble. … a hurtling juggernaut of grace and insanity that re-orients the listener's perceptics and frays his nerves while revving up the temporal lobes and ectoplasm … Any track here is a sure-fire attention getter.”—Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange (USA)  complete review

"Excellent, original, fresh, personal, experimental ... in short a fantastic disc and absolutely captivating from beginning to end. ... A brilliant CD absolutely recommended for lovers of progressive, Canterbury, experimental, and RIO. ... Highly recommended."—Gustavo Bolasini, El Retorno del Gigante (Argentina)  complete review (Spanish)

“The band stands alone as one of the few acts that can put forth a contemporary sound without including vocals; the strings and various ancillary elements pop up through Manifest Density to tell a narrative as rich as any heard this year. … listeners will eagerly be anticipating anything that Moraine may do in the future...”—James McQuiston, Neofutur (USA)  complete review

(4 stars) “Manifest Density is like a head-on collision between the Mahavishu Orchestra, Univers Zero, King Crimson, Present, and Dr. Nerve. ... Moraine is hard to classify yet impossible to ignore. …for those who are feeling brave and in the mood for some experimental sounds, this will be a ride worth taking over and over again."—Pete Pardo, Sea of Tranquility  complete review

“This would be the best fusion jazz record of 2009, except that it’s not quite fusion jazz. Then again, that’s what makes it the best fusion jazz record of 2009! Lost? Let’s say that Manifest Density is the missing link between fusion jazz and RIO... At least, that’s the best image I can find. Intelligently written, brilliantly executed, with gusto and just enough good sense. ... I can’t find another band to compare them to - and that’s huge. ... Oh, so rich. Bravo.”—Francois Couture, Monsieur Délire (Canada) 

“If you take time to capture the complex compositions, your efforts are rewarded with an absolutely unique sound and music that has, even after the umpteenth hearing, more and more refinement to offer ... One quickly realizes that, despite the fact that this is their debut album, these are no beginners. … Manifest Density is a great work. ... Absolutely recommended!” (19/20)—Ingo Andruschkewitsch, Musik an Sich (Germany)  complete review (German)

(4 stars) “music that seems modern in every way."—  complete review

"…very satisfying on all sorts of artistic and musical levels. … ‘Uncle Tang’s Cabinet of Dr Caligari’ is a Rea composition that I’m sure the late great Frank Zappa would look down on with admiration and perhaps a little puzzlement at a mesmerizingly good band that pulls no punches!”—Acid Dragon (France)

“With Manifest Density, the instrumental debut release from Moraine, the band completely destroys the boundaries of several hugely differing genres to create something totally unique. …Moraine still manages to recreate a voice-like quality where vocals would be most expected. … A very noteworthy ability that Moraine possesses is the skill to relay feelings throughout their music. … Moraine succeeded in literally creating their own unique but refreshing genre of music.”—Sara Cooper, (USA)  complete review

“The band led by guitarist extraordinaire Dennis Rea is a powerhouse of individuals with advanced musical ability and compositional prowess but instead of cramming every nook and cranny with musical schizophrenia, they choose a different path. … There is enough amazing playing here to satisfy even the most ardent fan of titanic technique but with enough melody to give casual listeners something to get their ears around.“—Rob Hudson, ModMove (Australia)  complete review

Manifest Destiny is one of those CDs that captures your attention right from the start of the first section; here is something exciting, different, and innovative that is challenging and complex. Adventurous listeners who possess a little patience will find more and more in this release with every listen. ... Fantastic!”—JazzNet Denmark  complete review (Danish)

(5/5 stars) "If Moraine is not the discovery of the year, it is only because they might be the discovery of the decade. ... it's pure instrumental music with an unusual sound, close to both the best examples of prog rock and the best examples of jazz-rock - oh, my friends, what the hell, it's just great!"—Iouri Lnogradski, Jazz Russia

"...this music project from Seattle has triggered a strange fascination for me. ... experimental sounds and intriguing melodies, creating a completely new sound. Those who cavort beyond the beaten path should absolutely try this album out."—Musik Zirkus (Germany)  complete review (German)

"...fusion music, but there's more innovation at its heart, more daring, a willingness to explore but knowing that the listener wants things to be kept on the straight and narrow."—Dead Earnest (Scotland) 

" exotic, brilliantly constructed trip, with an approach to tone, harmony and rhythm that is not easy to find the equivalent of elsewhere..."—Music Waves (France)  complete review (French)

" far one of the more interesting and amazing albums that has came across my desk this year. ... If I had to give a reference to a group, then a mixture of Red-era Crimson, combined with some moments of Univers Zero and Mahavishnu Orchestra. And that would only touch the surface of Moraine's overall sound. I'd highly recommend this album to fans of the more complex and eclectic side of progressive music."—Prognaut (USA)  complete review

"You guys are the closest thing to jazz that I actually like." - audience member at a Moraine show