The side-long "Cygnus X-II" doesn't quite have the sense of youthful fantasy-rock fun of the better known "2112" but it has equally good riffs and tunes, and some tighter playing. Geddy Lee's bass work is particularly nifty. The piece is fairly straightforwardly built with a lot of repeated sections, and a spaced-out slow interlude, but the repetition doesn't get boring and its 18 minutes pass swiftly. Of the shorter tracks, "Circumstances" fills the straight-rock slot, and "The Trees" is based on a clumsy morality fable. Both these songs are made more interesting by pretty twiddling instrumental breaks, the latter distinctly Genesis-like. The real treat is saved for the end of the album, with the intricate instrumental "La Villa Strangiato". This is an enjoyable journey through twists and turns of Spanish acoustic, good old Zep-like riffing, spacey Floyd-sounding passages and dark metal. A deserved live favourite.
June 21, 2004