Friday, 20 January 2017

High Tide - Interesting Times (1989)


The fourth album from this British band.

Twenty years after their debut album Sea Shanties, the band was reduced to a duo. Simon House and Tony Hill.

The two previous albums had not been particular good from what I hear and the duo tried to bring life into the name and logo again. A logo used for the final time.

The music here is a mix of folk rock, space rock and some progressive rock. There are bass, violins, keyboards, drums, guitars and vocals present here.

I am not sure if the duo really knew what they were doing here as the material is both diverse and based on a bit copying other songs and bands. What was meant to be is spoiled by the bad production and mix.

This album is really unhinged and is lacking everything a great album should have. Originality is one of those things. The instruments are played pretty poorly too and the producer must have been in coma during the production of this album.

I would not even recommend anyone to check out this album as it is really, really poor throughout. It is an annoying album too. It is as a great feathery turkey. Kvapp kvapp kvapp is the last thing I hear from this album before I dispatch it over to the other turkeys in my turkey yard.

1 point



Thursday, 19 January 2017

Cyril - Paralyzed (2016)


The second album from this German band.

Cyril is a six piece band with a lineup of mandolin, guitars, clarinet, saxophone, percussions, drums, keyboards and English vocals.

Guy Manning has been credited with the lyrics and the band has members from other German bands like Toxic Smile, Flaming Row and Seven Steps To The Green Door. I believe I have reviewed their albums somewhere else in this blog.

Cyril's debut album Gone Through Years was released back in 2013. The band was a more hard edged hard rock band back then, the reviews in ProgArchives tells me. 

The music on Paralyzed is a much more neo-prog orientated. Cyril is another German neo-prog band. But Cyril is doing something very unusual which sets them apart from the rest of the scene. They are using mandolin, clarinet and saxophone.

That gives their music an extra dimention. An xtra edge.

The vocals here is leaning towards Peter Gabriel in Genesis. But their music is much more straight than Genesis.

Most of the music is straight neo-prog. The final song Secret Place pt1 is a nineteen minutes long epic with some instrumental and ambient parts. This epic is not particular good.

The end result is an hour long album which falls short on quality and good songs. It is a decent to good album. But check it out.

2.5 points 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

It - Over and Out (2002)


The third album from this UK band.

It was a quartet on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Guest musicians provided female vocals and wailing, samples, percussions and keyboards.

The band is run by Nick Jackson who is their guitarist and vocalist. I have reviewed their debut album The Stranger Inside The Self here and their second album Two Worlds here.

It is.... well, was a neo-prog band on their first two albums. Neo-prog leaning towards Pink Floyd, the David Gilmour era on the debut album and leaning a lot more towards Pink Floyd on their second album.

Over And Out sees the band completing this journey from neo-prog towards totally adopting Pink Floyd, the David Gilmour era.

When that is said, there is also a lot of The Wall (yes, still Pink Floyd) too. There is a lot of the same concept and the same type of samples. There is also some space rock here.

But the main body of this album is the latter days Pink Floyd. Division Bell and A Momentary Laps Of Reason. The songs are different though and the music has not been copied over from Pink Floyd. But you get their package with wailing female vocals and some distorted male vocals.

The samples takes too much of the opening minutes and the listener soon loses interest. The final half is a lot better.

The songs are not too bad. But they are still not great. Most of them are not even that good. Or good at all. The Pink Floyd references comes thick and fast.

The result is somewhere between decent and good. Pink Floyd fans will lap up this album, though. Check it out if you can.

2.5 points


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Casa das Máquinas - Lar de Maravilhas (1975)


The second album from this Brazilian band.

Casa Das Maquinas was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, minimoog, synths, piano, drums, percussions, bass and Portuguese vocals.

I was not a big fan of their self-titled 1974 debut album. I did find it a pretty charming album, though. But still lacking a lot in quality.

Lar de Maravilhas is rightly or wrongly regarded as a classic South American progressive rock album. One that set some standards other bands aspired to.

And I can understand why. The band has kept most of their charming sound from their debut album and slowed down a lot. Gone is their hard rock. In comes music that reminds me a lot about Genesis and Yes. Genesis and Yes but still with the Casa Das Maquinas take on symphonic prog.

The music is mostly, with one exception, very gentle and pastoral. But there is also some more Yes dynamics here.

The very good vocals sets this band a part. But their use of minimoog is also very good. They use minimoog a lot here.

There is no great or even very good tracks on this forty-four minutes long album. But the music is ticking over very nicely and this is a good album indeed. It sounds dated and it is perhaps not the standard bearer as it once was. But this album is very much worth checking out.

3 points


 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Medina Azahara - Paraiso Prohibido (2016)


The 18th album from these Spanish legends.

The band is a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and Spanish vocals.

Medina Azahara is legends and a national institution in Spain. Their first album, a self titled album, was released back in 1979. The vocalist Manuel Martinez has been the vocalist on every album if I am not much mistaken.

They are listed as a symphonic prog band in ProgArchives. That is not a correct label although the band started out as a symphonic prog band on their first album. Medina Azahara has mostly been a hard rock band, touching over to heavy metal on several albums.

The band is most of all a Spanish band who carries the Spanish soul with them. A soul incorporating the various nations which is Spain, a confederation of various nations.

Manuel Martinez gives Medina Azahara their soul and identity. The music is hard rock with some Arabian, Spanish folk music and Spanish pop influences.

The music is being lead by Manuel Martinez vocals with a lot of chugging guitars and keyboards too. The bass and drums is pretty sharp too. But Manuel Martinez is the star here. And his, very untraditional vocals, is a joy to behold. 

And the music is pretty commercial too and is not the type of music I should like. But I find this band and their music very charming. My, by default, grumpiness towards this type of music is being disarmed.

There is a lot of quality in this album too and it should be checked out although this album is as cheesy as a dairy farm. I give it a good rating.

3 points


Hackett. Steve - Genesis Revisited (1996)


The twelfth album from this British artist.

Steve Hackett is on guitars and some vocals here. He has got help from numerous guest musicians including Paul Carrack, Bill Bruford, Tony Levin, his brother John Hackett, Nick Magnus, Chester Thomson, The Royal Philarmonic Orchestra and John Wetton.

A big production on an album with old Genesis songs. Genesis songs Steve Hackett himself played on.

This is not a rehash of those songs. This is not a safe, money grabbing album. This is a complete rework of these old songs with new arrangements and all.

These are also some of my alltime favourite songs with new arrangements and totally reworked.

And frankly, these new arrangements and reworked versions is not for the faint-hearted. I was looking forward to a Genesis hit parade and got some strange distortions instead. Strange distortions who reminded me about these Genesis songs.

It is a brave Steve Hackett who has done this. "Heresy !!!", I was crying after the first listening session. Then again, Steve Hackett is in his full right to do whatever he has done. The greatest track of them all, Firth Of Fifth, has been totally reworked. And it is not even close to be as excellent as the original version. I can continue with the other tracks here too.

I admire Steve Hackett for this album although I don't really like most of what he has done here. He is right when he said these reworked versions shines a new light on these classic songs. But I prefer the old versions......

Nevertheless, this is a good album and one every fan of Genesis should check out.

3 points



Giant Hogweed Orchestra. The - The Giant Hogweed Orchestra (2004)


The one and only album from this Finnish band.

The Giant Hogweed Orchestra is/was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, percussions and flutes. Three guest musicians added didgeridoo, Moog and trumpet.

For some reasons, I expected a Genesis like tribute band when I put this album on for the first listening session. I was wrong. Very wrong. Genesis is nowhere to be found here.

What we get here is some instrumental jazzy psychedelic space prog. There is also a lot of post rock in their music.

There is no wild space rock excursion into outer space here. The music is very pastoral.... most of the times. Sometimes, this album also explodes like a Porcupine Tree track. The music here can be very heavy at times. But it is mostly very pastoral as in Pink Floyd.

There is also some symphonic prog on this album. Mostly on the nineteen minutes long Halogen. A good track which opens with some flutes. The flutes are in general very good here.

The guitars, both the electric guitars and the half-acoustic guitars are the stars here. They are really driving the music forward. The occasional moog and trumpet is also adding a lot of quality here. The rhythm section is also delivering the goods.

The end result is a good album which has a lot to offer to symphonic prog, space rock and post rock fans. I really hope we will hear more from this band.

3 points


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Return To Forever - No Mystery (1975)


The fifth album from this US band.

Return To Forever was a super-band with Stanley Clarke on bass, Chick Corea on synths, Al Di Meola on guitars and Lenny White on drums.

This is perhaps the strongest lineup we have ever seen from a fusion and jazz band. Maybe in any forms of music. And this lineup later went on to release the wonderful Romantic Warrior........

Their first ever album together was the 1974 album Where Have I Known You Before. A great album.

No Mystery is the follow up to that album. And it is also a bit different from Where Have I Known You Before.

The four band members is much more soloing and creating their own space on this album. That over some pretty basic melodies and ideas. Four different members trying to solidify their own contributions into a coherent band and output is never really going to work.

The melodies and the nine tracks on this forty-two minutes long album is not really that great. The musicians is great and they are delivering some really great solo stuff......... but together ?

The end result is great musicianship and some not so great melodies. I am hard pressed to label this a very good album. But this album is growing on me and some of the Chick Corea solos are great. Hence.......

3.5 points




Giles Giles & Fripp - The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles & Fripp (1968)


The one and only studio album from this British band.

Giles Giles & Fripp is Michael Giles, Pete Giles and Robert Fripp. Their lineup is Pete on vocals and bass, Michael on drums and Robert Fripp on guitars. There are some guest musicians on this album too who provides various instruments on this rather stripped down production.

And yes, this band later became King Crimson. And yes, Robert Fripp is a genious.

The year was 1968 and a lot of weird, wonderful and very weird things happened in the music world. That was when these three musicians arrived and made their version of the weirdness.

The album title is most fitting and spot on. Take The Beatles at their most silly, Daevid Allen and Gong. Also take some good old working men clubs variety artists and you get this album. Well, add Monty Python too and you really get this album.

The vocals and the narration is well into the la-la land and silliness. But behind this silliness and cheerful insanity, there are really some good music too. Not at least; innovative music. Music who later formed King Crimson.

Michael Giles is a great drummer here. Pete Giles a great vocalist and bassist. But Robert Fripp really impresses me most on his guitar.

The result is, shock horror shock, a good album who really have something to offer behind the lyrics and narrations. Lyrics and narrations who is not bad either. But the music is really good. Hence my rating.

3 points



Friday, 13 January 2017

Marbin - Goat Man & The House Of The Dead (2016)


The fifth album from this US band.

The band is a quartet with a lineup of guitars, saxophone, bass and drums.

The band has released five studio albums and one live album through MoonJune Records, the groundbreaking jazz/fusion/ethno label. And most of you would by now understand that Marbin is a jazz band. One of the hardest working jazz bands in the scene, according to MoonJune Records. I believe them.

I have reviewed their second album, the 2011 album Breaking The Cycle, their third album, the 2013 album Last Chapter Of Dreaming and their 2014 live album The Third Set.

All of them given good to very good ratings.

Marbin has always done very intense jazz/fusion. Probably more fusion than jazz. There is a lot of Jewish and the Middle-East ethno in their cascades of saxophones and guitars. The music has indeed a very ethno feel and sound.

That sets Marbin apart from the rest of the scene and gives them their own identity.

At the same time, I have noted that the music has a very harsh guitar sound on this album. In general too. That is contrasting and balancing up the rather ethno and almost Balkan folk like saxophone.

There are no really great tracks here. The music is another demonstration of their technical abilities. Where there are some strong melodies, the melodies are rather banal and simple. A bit more clever melodies would not been misplaced on their albums.

This is a good album from a band who really impresses me on their instruments but not really with their songwriting skills.

3 points



Thursday, 12 January 2017

Osanna - L'Uomo (1971)


The debut album from this Italian band.

The band was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of organ, keyboards, flute, woodwinds, drums, percussions, bass, guitars, synths and vocals. The vocals is a mix of English and Italian vocals.

I have always wanted to review the full Osanna discography for this blog. I have indeed been collecting their albums for a long time. So this is now the time and place to do a full review of their albums........... starting with this, their debut album.

Debut albums is always the place to check out if things works or not. Lead by Lino Vairetti, the band get stucked in. But not the way I expected.

L'Uomo is a very wild, raw and untamed album indeed.

That means forty minutes of raw hard rock, blues, space rock, psychedelia and jazz. There are not many good songs here as this album is much more based on hard edged music than melodies.

The sound is pretty good and the flutes does a good job. Ditto for the pretty raw vocals. Most of the songs are very wild and heavy. There are a couple of pastoral pieces inbetween these hard rock songs. 

The use of English vocals is a minus. The songs with Italian vocals is far better. Some of the songs here are good. Others are merely decent. I am not really falling for this album as most others are. I am in a minority as I do not rate this as a good or even a great album. It is still well worth checking out.

2.5 points


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Cast - Mosaïque (2006)


The 14th album from this Mexican band.

The band was a twelve piece band here, including some guest musicians. The lineup was most instruments you can think off. That includes strings and woodwinds. There is also some male and female vocals here.

Eighty minutes. A double CD. The usual fare from a band like Cast. And Cast is one of the best symphonic prog bands, post the 1970s.

Wikipedia has described mosaic as "A mosaic is a piece of art or image made from the assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials."

In the case of this album, that is true too.

The album starts out as a good symphonic prog album with a lot of neo-prog influences. That is before the album moves into a vast jungle of pop music, folk-rock, jazz, latin rock, rock, prog metal, fusion, opera, avant-garde and classical music.

The vocals are all in Spanish and that is good. The music has a solid grounding in the Mexican scene too.

Nevertheless, the result is some disjointed eighty minutes. The quality is not the best either. I am all for variations and taking chances. And Cast is taking some gambles here. But I am all for gambling if the quality is there. And the quality is an issue here. The lack of it, that is.

There are some good stuff here and some decent stuff here. Hence my rating for an album I don't think we should remember Cast for.

2.5 points


Kansas - The Prelude Implicit (2016)


The 21st album from this US band.

The band is a seven-members big band here with a lineup of violin, guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, piano, organ and vocals.

This is the first Kansas album since the 2000 album Somewhere To Elsewhere. Steve Walsh departed the band and joined Deep Purple long time ago. Kerry Livgren has got a stroke and is no longer able to play keyboards. He too is gone from Kansas.

Billy Greer and Phil Ehart is still with Kansas though. This album is really a Kansas album by all means and all purposes.

I was not happy about the last Kansas albums and did not have any hope about this one either. That was before I heard the rumours about this album...... O' boy.

Kansas has ditched all attempts of being something else than they were on their first three albums. On The Prelude Implicit, the band goes back to the beginning.

That means a mix of americana, AOR, hard rock and symphonic progressive rock.

The violins, done by David Ragsdale, fires on all cylinders. He is superb on this album. Ronnie Platt does an excellent job on vocals. Ditto for the other guys too.

There is a lot of great tracks on this album. But most of all; the sound is really great. Superb in fact. This is very much a Kansas album. This album IS Kansas.

Maybe not all of the tracks are great. But the overall impressions of this album is "Hallelujah !! Kansas is back !".

I am not going to rate any of the 2016 albums up against each other. But this album is a great album and a very much welcome album. It is surely one of the best albums from 2016.
This album is also one of the best ever Kansas albums and one heck of a triumph. Check out this album !!

4 points


 

Monday, 9 January 2017

Emerald Dawn. The - Searching for the Lost Key (2014)


The debut album from this English band.

The band is a trio with a lineup of flute, keyboards, saxophones, piano, guitars, bass, percussions, drums, male and female vocals.

The two mainmen here was born in Edinburgh, set up the band up there and then relocated down to Devon in England. A county which has always had a big progressive rock scene.

And progressive rock is what we get here. The band has said they love the good old 1970s prog. And that is what they are offering up here on this forty-four minutes long album.

Take a chunk of Pink Floyd and add much bigger chunk of Steve Hackett. Then you get this album...

.... And also add some more modern rock and pop into the mix.

The mix of female and male vocals adds a lot of texture to the music too. Music very much in the Steve Hackett way of thinking and playing.

That means a lot of long and soaring guitar solos where the keyboards and other instruments is supporting the long and short guitar solos and riffs. Hence; Steve Hackett fans will lap up this album.

The music is safe enough on this, their debut album. There is nothing that really puts it's head over the parapet. Nothing really good or great. This is an OK album and nothing more than that.

2.5 points



Sunday, 8 January 2017

Holy Lamb - Gyrosophy (2015)


The fifth album from this Latvian band.

Holy Lamb is a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. English male vocals.

I have previously reviewed their second album, the 1999 Salt Of The Earth opus. I have also reviewed their fourth album, the 2002 Beneath The Skin opus.

The band started out as a thrash metal band many years ago before they could release an album. Their first album was a neo-prog album and the band has followed that path throughout.

That too goes on Gyrosophy. The album is forty-seven minutes long and has eight songs. The longest one is around eight minutes and there is no short songs here. They are all around the five and a half minutes mark.

Holy Lamb is still a pretty different band than most neo-prog bands. They are far more technical than most other neo-prog bands. They are very much dipping into eclectic prog at times. But on this album, they are also taking a long look back to their thrash metal days and has included some thrash metal methods and ways of thinking.

There are a few seconds and a whole minute of dark thrash metal growls on this album. There are also some thrash metal songs structures. Actually, the band has taken thrash metal song structures and copied them over to melodic neo-prog.

This album is very melodic, most of the times. Melodic with thrash metal structures. That sets Holy Lamb apart from their peers and offers the scene something special again.

Unfortunate without really adding the quality required. The songs are really good and this is perhaps Holy Lamb's finest hour. This is a band I am keeping an eye on, obviously. Check them out if you don't know them.

3 points




High Tide - Sea Shanties (1969)


The debut album from this British band.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of piano, guitars, bass, drums, violin and vocals.

High Tide is one of those largely ignored hard rock bands in the British scene. They were never a fancy, popular band who appealed to the masses. One of many bands in that scene. They managed to released seven albums between 1969 and 1992 before they gave up the ghost.

If the artwork and gothic logo and letters forewarns us that we are in for a heavy album, the artwork is spot on. This album is hard rocking. The kind of letters and logo in the artwork has been copied and used by numerous heavy, speed, thrash, black and death metal bands.  

The music here is really hard rocking and not so much sea shanties. The two first songs, Futilist's Lament and Death Warmed Up, is as heavy as I have ever heard from any albums anno 1969. Far heavier than Black Sabbath. Heavy, hard..... but not doomy and cataclysmic as the Black Sabbath's debut album.

The album becomes a bit more melodic after this. The violin is everywhere and adds a lot to the sound and songs. Even at it's most heavy, the violin adds a lot of extra value and quality.

The vocals and the guitars is the main positives here. Both done by Tony Hill.

In the middle of this forty minutes long album, we also get some baroque'esque music. This is not only a hard album. It also have some good pastoral harmonies although most of this album is really hard rocking.

The end result is a decent to good album. A bit too hard for most people. But still pretty interesting and well worth checking out.

2.5 points


   

Eldberg - Þar Er Heimur Hugans (2015)


The second album from this Icelandic band.

The band is a five piece band with a lineup of Hammond organs, keyboards, guitars, bass, percussions, drums and vocals. Icelandic vocals, that is.

If I am not much mistaken, their two albums has been released on Myloden Records in Chile. A great label. But an Icelandic album released on a label in Chile says a lot about how great our progressive rock scene is. It is hard to find any more contrasting countries than Chile and Iceland...... But this is great and both thumbs up to both Eldberg and Myloden !!

I really liked their self-titled 2011 debut album. A great album in my books. So I was really looking forward to this album.

The band is continuing as a retro-prog and rock band. Thankfully still with male Icelandic vocals. Something that sets this band a part and gives them a big identity.

That is good on an album which is not big on identity.... Not on the surface, anyway.

Take a lot of Icelandic melancholy and weirdness. Add a lot of Hammond organs and Eipor Ingi Gunnlaugson's great voice. A melodic, but still very melancholic voice. Add some guitars and some of the x-factor like golden dust from the likes of Sigur Ros. Then add some classic rock from the 1970s.

This album is softly spoken without the big melodies which is immediate "hits". But this album really creeps up on the listener and it requires a lot of time.

After a while, you will discover a very good forty minutes long album. You will discover a friend. I very much like this band and I hope to hear a lot more from them in the future. Check out both their albums.

3.5 points



Saturday, 7 January 2017

Napier's Bones - Hell and High Water (2016)


The third album from this English band.

Napier's Bones is Gordon Midgley who does all music and Nathan Jon Tillett on vocals.

They have so far released three albums with a fourth one coming up sometimes soon. The albums are available from their Bandcamp website.

I have reviewed their 2014 album The Wistman Tales here and the 2015 follow up album Tregeagles Choice here.

Their albums is as much about story telling from the ancient England than music. The music is in the symphonic and folk prog vein. The music is not based on cascades of keyboards or symphonic instruments.

The fifty-five minutes long Hell And High Water is a rather stripped down musical landscape with some folk music instruments, keyboards, guitars, mellotron, moog, bass and drums. Nathan's very good vocals is also very much present here.

Napier's Bones has always had this classic 1970s progressive rock sound and feel. But they have moved slightly more towards folk rock on this album. Which is not a bad thing.

The result is another good album from this duo. It is not a remarkable good album. But they are delivering a very solid album which should appeal to everyone into progressive rock. Check it out. I am looking forward to their next album.

3 points

  
  

Elephant9 - Walk The Nile (2010)


The second album from this Norwegian trio.

The band's lineup is keyboards, bass and drums.

Elephant9 was a offshot of the Norwegian bands Shining and Supersilent. Both of them pretty jazzy. Shining plays blackjazz. A sort of a fusion between black metal and jazz. I should really review their albums one day. I am not so sure about Supersilent, though.... But there is a lot of really great music coming out of Norway.

Elephant9 is most known for their two albums with the Swedish guitarhero Reine Fiske. I reviewed their first coop album Atlantis here. A great album. I also reviewed the first ever Elephant9 album DodoVoodoo here. A very good album.

We are in the middle of the jazz and fusion land here. Very avant-garde at times. But still pretty melodic. Walk The Nile starts out almost as a RIO album with lots of desperate dark and black keyboards infused walls of sound. Very claustrophobic and inhostipable. Very good too.

The album opens up a bit after a while and the rest of this forty minutes long album is pretty open and not so dark. But this walk down the Nile is not a walk in the sun. There is a lot of darkness and dangers during this walk, figuratively speaking.

I would not rate this album as good as their debut album DodoVoodoo as the quality is not that great here. But there is a lot to take from this album. Elephant9 is for me a great discovery and one band to follow. I really like what they are doing although I would only rate this as a good album.

3 points



It - Two Worlds (1995)


The second album from this British band.

The band was a trio on this album with a lineup of bass, guitars and vocals. Two guest musicians adds female vocals and keyboards. But no drummer.

This is Nick Jackson's band and they have just released their fifth album. I was not a fan of their 1994 debut album The Stranger Inside The Self. So I did not have many hopes for this album.

It plays pretty much middle of the road British neo-prog. Both melodic and epic.

This is indeed both a melodic and an epic album. It also reminds me a lot about the Pink Floyd album A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. It is very much sailing very close to that album. Both with the instruments and the wailing female vocals delivered by Jane Jelinek.

Some of the melodies here is so much in the A Momentary Lapse Of Reason vein that it is very noticable. Some of the samples here is also in the Division Bell territory.

Hence, this album is very much in the Pink Floyd vein.

The music is decent to good throughout. But the Pink Floyd references are so obvious that it impacts on the listening experience. The music is also pretty bland and not so exciting.

A decent to good album is my verdict. It is still an improvement on the debut album.

2.5 points
   

 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Casa Das Máquinas - Casa Das Máquinas (1974)


The debut album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a five-piece band on this album with a lineup of percussions, drums, guitars, piano, minimoog, bass and vocals. Portuguese vocals, that is.

The band, which means engine room in English, was a pretty short lived band who released three studio albums between 1974 and 1976. I believe they are all available at Youtube so check them out and find out if you agree with this and the upcoming reviews of their two other albums.

The band is regarded as an important band in the history of Brazilian and South American rock and prog rock scene. I do not know why as I am no expert in these matters.

This album is a pretty much straight forward hard rock album. Hard rock whose not too hard and not too heavy. We are not talking Black Sabbath here. We are more talking gentle hard rock. Hard rock in the southern rock vein. Or in the RPI vein.

But their brand of hard rock is pretty unique. Or perhaps this is South America's take on hard rock. Twenty years later, the likes of Sepultura turned that scene upside down.

I have to admit I have more a soft spot for Casa Das Maquinas these days than Sepultura. The music on this thirty-two minutes long album is pretty folky and jazzy gentle with some sporadic hard rocking guitars. I am charmed by this album.

That said, this sugary album is only a decent album as it falls a bit flat on it's face anno 2017. It is still an album well worth checking out. With or without a cheeky grin.

2 points




Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Empire - Back to Knowledge (1994)


The one and only album from this Italian band.

Empire was a trio with a keyboardist, drummer and a vocalist. Female vocalist and all the vocals are in English.

Empire was Edo Rogani and Paolo Sburlati from Syndone with Rosanna De Luca on vocals. The reason why this album was released was due to Syndone splitting up due to musical differences. They later (thankfully !!) reformed again. But during the split, this album was spawned.

The band is included in ProgArchives RPI genre. And with good reason due to their connections with Syndone. The music is not in the same league as Syndone.....

The year was 1994 and everything was so slick and sleazy. The sound was also very plastic fantastic. Ditto for this album.

Empire tries to sound like most other keyboards focused rock bands from that era. The songs are pretty commercial minded. These songs are interupted by some keyboards pieces. Some are ambient and mindless. Others sounds like Keith Emerson. 

And we get fifty-five minutes of this. Almost an hour with commercial songs who fall flats on their face because the vocalist cannot do this type of rock and because the songs are simply not good enough. The drums sounds flat because they are not organic. The bass is hardly audable and the keyboards does not sound good at all.

The only saving grace here is the few ELP sounding keyboards pieces. That and only that saves this album from my infamous turkey yard.

In short; avoid !

1.5 points



Opeth - Still Life (1999)


The fourth album from this Swedish band.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. English vocals.

Once upon a time, ten years ago, I still liked death metal, black metal and their vocals. But I kind of got tired of them after I started to really explore fusion, jazz, folk prog, zeuhl, avant-garde/RIO and symphonic prog. All these eclectic types of music.

When I started to listen to death and black metal again, I could only take small mouthful of this stuff before I got tired of it. An hour and I was fed up.

Now, I have to review Opeth's earlier albums before I hopefully comes to the meatier stuff where we get clear vocals and much more developed songs.

What we get here is death metal with some much praised acoustic interludes. Just the type of stuff we got from the mid-era black metal bands who thought it was clever to include acoustic interludes inbetween their chainsaw sounding onslaughts of black metal. Back then, this sounded clever.

Opeth has a bit more acoustic stuff than just the acoustic interludes here. They even have songs which is not death metal. This is still not particular the most clever stuff around. Not in 2017, anyway.

This album is a clear improvement on their first three albums. But it is still not a good album. I am yet to be won over by Opeth. Yet.

2.5 points



Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Styx - Styx II (1973)


The second album from this US band.

The band was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of synth, piano, organ, bass, drums, guitars, drums and vocals.

I was not that impressed by their self titled debut album from 1972. My first ever meeting with this band and their music. Read the review above for my impressions of that album.

The band returned the year after with an album which Styx fans does not rate highly. It is among their more forgotten and ignored albums.

I can understand why.

The music here is a mix of psychedelic, blues, hard rock and pop music. The music sounds a bit wild and raunchy with several full on guitar attacks too.

Styx got a hit in the three minutes long ballad Lady. A pretty good song. My favourite song here is the seven minutes long Father O.S.A.  A good song with a good theme.

The rest of this thirty-five minutes long album is rather second rate and throw-away stuff. The band did not really know what they were going on this album and that shows. I can agree with their fans here.

This is another decent album and nothing but that, I am afraid.

2 points


Monday, 2 January 2017

Gryphon - Treason (1977)


The fifth and final studio album from this British band.

The band was a six-piece band on their final album with a lineup of horn, sax, guitars, bass, drums, percussions, bassoon, piano, keyboards and vocals.

The band has changed a lot from their 1973 self-titled debut album. Back then, they were an eclectic medieval chamber folk rock band. They developed quite considerable between the albums, style wise. Their masterpiece was the 1974 album Red Queen To Gryphon Three. That album is a standard in British prog rock. But the band was never really boring or uninteresting.

Treason is an album which also demands your full attention and respect. The band has made a complete U-turn from their debut album and has become very melodic.

That new melodic approach is marked by one of their best ever songs, the ten minutes opening song called Spring Song. A great epic song with a magic theme.

But this is not an all out melodic album. There is also some medieval folk music here and some more intricate, introvert melodies who only open itself into full bloom for the dedicated listener after some listening sessions.

Gryphon really delivers a melodic, but still magical sounding album on this, their final album. All forty minutes of it. This is not a great album and there is things here I do not rate highly. But as with their four other albums, it leaves an impression.

Gryphon has through my reviews of their five albums left an impression on me and I can only thank them for their music. Thanx for making me happy.

3 points



Macroscream - Macroscream (2016)


The second album from this Italian band.

The band is a six piece band with a lineup of drums, violin, guitars, mandolin, keyboards, mellotron, piano, organ, moog, bass, piano and English vocals. Macroscream has also got help from numerous woodwinds, strings and guest vocalists.

I quite liked their 2012 debut album Sisyphus and was really looking forward to this album.

The many guest musicians means this album has got a very big production and that may explain why they chose to release this album as a self-titled album. But I don't know for sure because this is a very strange band.

And so is their music too.

The music is clearly in the Italian progressive rock genre. More in the free-flowing part of this genre.Take some Area, some Le Orme, PFM, Banco, Picchio Del Pozzo and numerous other rather strange bands. Then you get this album.

Not necessary everything mixed together, though. There is songs and melodies here in the Le Orme, Banco and PFM mould. Other songs are in the Picchio Del Pozzo and Area mould.

This one hour long album is hugely varied, genre wise. Which is both a blessing and the curse. The curse and the blessings goes in all directions here. Some like predictable albums. This album is not predictable at all. Some like unpredictable albums. This album is very unpredictable.

The end result is a very good album with a lot really great stuff. It is an album which requires a lot of hours from the listener. Easy listening, it is not. But check it out and you may find a treasure trove here. Your personal treasure trove. ......I still think the band should have had Italian vocals, though....

3.5 points







Sunday, 1 January 2017

Apocalypse - Apocalypse (1991)


The debut album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a trio on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and Portuguese vocals.

I got all their seven albums and will review them, one by one, this winter. I believe it will be an interesting journey through this symphonic prog band's discography. A band formed in 1983 and who is still with us (I hope).

Their first attempt to record music is a somewhat interesting journey through a landscape of British neo-prog. It is by no means a coincidence that they have chosen to cover Marillion's classic song Lavender. The band sounds like a Brazilian version of Marillion, the Fish era.

More or less sounds like Marillion, I have to hastily add. There is a lot of local colours and music scene on this forty minutes long album. A lot of Latin-American progressive rock.

Their version of Lavender sounds like the odd one out here. It is not in line with the rest of the album. The reason is that Lavender is a ballad or even a lament. The rest of the album is uptempo with a lot of lots of keyboards.

The keyboards sound is a bit strange. The vocals are good. The sound not the best one. It is a product of the 1980s and 1990s.

The end result is an album somewhere between decent and good. A debut album where lessons is to be learnt. Check it out.

2.5 points


Return To Forever - Where Have I Known You Before (1974)


The fourth album from this US band.

The band was a quartet on this album. Probably one of the most impressive quartets of all time when it comes to ability. Stanley Clarke on bass, Lenny White on drums, Al Di Meola on guitars and Chick Corea on keyboards. The classic Return To Forever lineup.

The result is four absolute wonderful first class musicians outdoing each other on their instruments. But in a coherent way.

This is also the follow up to their great Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy album which I very much liked.

What this album, Where Have I Known You Before, offers up is a bit different to what I expected. I find this album a lot more mellow and pastoral than I expected. I thought it was going to be forty-six minutes of fireworks. It is not.

Parts of this album is solo piano from Chick Corea.

There is a lot of uptempo stuff here too. The final track, the fifteen minutes long Song To The Pharaoh King offers up a wide world of rhythms and great playing from all four band members. And it an absolute sensational experience, listening to the musicianship on that track.

The melodies and songs is not great on this album. So I am a bit restrictive in my praise of this album. It is still a great album though..... a weak great award. But this album has a lot of barely hidden great details. The greatness is hidden in the details on this album.... and on the final track.

4 points




Saturday, 31 December 2016

Toundra - IV (2015)


The fourth album from this Spanish band.

The band is now a quartet with one bassist, one drummer and two guitarists.

Toundra is a band in the experimental metal genre in ProgArchives. I would also label them as a post rock band. But I have no problems with what ProgArchives has labeled them as. A great job from the ultimate and best prog rock website on the net.

The band has shown some interesting developments on their previous three albums (I, II, III). They have gone from a bit barren landscape to a much more flowery landscape. Their III album was a good one.

The band still produce a lot of barren post rock landscapes on this album too. They have added a great deal of avant-garde to their music too. So much that they are, very fast, approaching the avant-garde territory.

It can be said that Toundra has always been an avant-garde band. I would fully understand that sentiment. They have gone an extra mile on this album towards that territory.

A couple of the tracks almost have a The Beatles anno Revolver feel about them. Toundra must have had a look at that album, me believe.

There is a lot of colours on this album. A lot of interesting pieces and structures. Toundra has not managed to put those into a coherent and great enough album. But there is enough good stuff here to make this an interesting & good album. I like this album although I am no fan of this genre. Check out this album and this band.

3 points


  

Empirical Time - Songs, Poems and a Lady (2013)


The debut and so far only album from this Italian band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, piano, keyboards, synths, bass, drums and English vocals.

Released on Ma.Ra.Cash Records in December 2013, it is very easy to label this album as another traditional Italian progressive rock/jazz album. Well........

....You would be very much mistaken. There is a few, very few Italian progressive rock references here. Most of this album is something entirely else again.

This album is much more in the English and US progressive rock tradition. Mostly the US progressive rock tradition. New York to be more precise.

The basis is some sort of symphonic prog. A thin layer of symphonic prog with some sprinklings of Italian progressive rock. Add a lot of cool jazz and post rock to the stew too. And some rock too.

This one hour long album is softly spoken and has a "less is more" concept I find interesting. It is also very melodic with some jazzy twists here and there.

There are ten songs here and some of them are rather good. Although I really like the ambience, most of the album is a bit on the decent and sub-standard side of the scale. Better songs next time, guys. Please.

2.5 points


 

Friday, 30 December 2016

Eyevory - Inphantasia (2016)


The second album from this German band.

The band is a quartet with a lineup of flute, guitars, piano, synths, drums, bass and female vocals.

The band is the continuation of Pink Mercury, a band I have never heard about. This band released some albums before they changed style and therefore changed their name. The result was their 2013 debut album Euphobia.

This band also consists of two females and two males. The two females does bass, flute, lead and backing vocals. I believe no one is designated as the lead vocalist here.

The artwork gives me a lot of hints about what I am about to experience here. Some sort of progressive metal. Well, that is only partly right.

The music here is based on a mix of neo-prog and progressive metal. There are also some pop music here. Lots of it, in fact. The music reminds me about a more commercial version of Mostly Autumn.

The music is very melodic and on the theatrical side. There is a lot of pomp here with some strings orchestras run through the synths. The band released a live album in 2014 with a full symphony orchestra. They still retains that sound.

The vocals is good. The music too sugary sweet and a bit bereft of any really great ideas. I don't rate this as a good album. Hence.....

2.5 points


 

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Ex Vitae - Mandarine (1978)


The one and only album from this French band.

Ex Vitae was a seven piece band with a lineup of flutes, clarinet, saxophone, violin, vibraphone, drums, percussions, bass, keyboards and guitars.

Ex Vitae was a member of the French jazz/fusion scene. The band was from Limoges in France.

The band was still a bit of an oddity in that scene. This forty-one minutes long album is divided into four songs. That reminds me a bit about the Third album from Soft Machine.

After an opening minute of pure avant-garde jazz, this album becomes more melodic again. But it always retains a free-jazz and avant-garde jazz feel and sound. This album also has some Canterbury influences.

Soft Machine is not a bad reference. But Ex Vitae is a bit of an oddball.

There is a lot of clarinet solos and some guitar solos here. A bit keyboards also adds solos. The saxophone adds a lot of avant-garde edges.

The big problem with this album is the lack of quality here. The sound is good. The music is not. There are some good stuff here. But not enough to label it as a good album. But those of you who are curious should perhaps visit Youtube and have a look for the album there.

2.5 points  





Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Eveline - Waking Up Before Dawn (2008)


The second album from this Italian band.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of guitars, synths, percussions, drums, bass and English vocals. There is also some samples here.

The band released their debut album Happy Birthday Eveline in 2005 and their so far final album Alpha Omega in 2011. Mostly without creating any ripples in the prog rock community. Very few reviews has been posted in ProgArchives.

Listed as crossover prog, this album does not fit that description. Well, not prog in a traditional sense. There is nothing here which reminds me about the 1970s prog rock scene. Nothing.

This album is all over the place. From hard core, college rock to avant-garde rock, post rock and experimental metal.

Sometimes, the band is playing two or more songs at the same time. Mostly with harsh distorted guitars. This to create dissonance and noise.

Some of the songs are pretty decent. There are even some good stuff on this forty minutes long album. This album is not a lost cause. But.....

The quality is not here and the album is too messy, too fragmented. The result is a decent album which should appeal to those very young at heart. It is not really hitting me at home.

2 points




Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Exploit - Crisi (1972)


The one and only album from this Italian band.

Exploit was a trio with a lineup of organ, piano, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals are both in English and in Italian. Mostly Italian.

There is a lot of Italian one-shot bands. Bands who released one album and then disappeared again. Mostly by moving over to other bands. But Exploit arrived, did not conquer and then disappeared again.

This is a very weird album. Remember the old LP/Cassette format ? Well, side A has one long suite they named Crisi Suite. It is twenty minutes long and it is in the ELP/Le Orme mould.

This suite is pretty interesting throughout. The keyboards throws up some interesting details. Parts of this suite even has both English and Italian vocals. I don't understand why. But that was their choice.

So far, so good.

Then we move onto side B.... Oh boy what is we getting here !! Italian pop, no less. Six songs of tear inducing knee jerk and well over the top Italian pop music. The likes of what the good old housewives liked back in those days. The types of Italian pop you dance cheeek to cheek to with that girl/boy you then spend the next 50 years with, married.

Talk about an album with two sides. Talk about a two-faced album. This album fits that description perfectly.

Who was Exploit, I have to ask.

The end result is a decent album by the laws of average. I have heard worse Italian pop music than on this album too. It is barely a decent album though... Well, on reflection, it is not even that good. Hence my verdict.

1.5 points




Monday, 26 December 2016

Everfriend - Sphere of Influence (1981)


The second album from this US band.

The band was a trio with bass, drums, keyboards and vocals.

The band released their debut album Tropicsphere in 1980 and a third album has been rumoured. But I got no information on that one. The band had a short but hectic life before they were disbanded.

There is vocals only one track so we can label this as a largely instrumental album. Which means lots and lots of keyboards and piano.

The band has been labeled as a symphonic prog band in ProgArchives. Which is a right label.

The one vocals filled song Music Means The World To Me is so cheesy that the mice is all over it. That one is followed by some attempts of sounding like ELP. That and trying to sound like elevator music. Not to mention; movie music.

The music is pretty dynamic throughout so the term "elevator music" may sound unfair. I would rather walk the stairs to the 100th floor if confronted by this music. I guess that is a sentiment shared by everyone who want some peace and quiet in an elevator. Yes, you can get that in an elevator. Peace and quiet.

This album is an obvious attempt to sound like ELP and the band is failing by miles. Many miles. The pieces of music on this, mercifully short half an hour long album is all failing by miles. This album is no less than a turkey with all the stuffings. It is a horrible album. Avoid !

1 point




Electric Mud - Electric Mud (1971)


The one and only album from this German band.

Electric Mud was a four piece band with a lineup of organ, bass, drums, piano, guitar and German vocals.

Nominally a member of the krautrock scene, Electric Mud offered a different take to this genre. This genre had bands who were all over the place in this big country of West-Germany. There is a long way from Munich to Hamburg. Not to mention the satelite in DDR called West-Berlin. The German krautrock scene was pretty big in the numerous industrial towns between Munich and Hamburg. It is the story of the rebuild of Germany after the war. The story ended with the reunification of Germany in the 1990s. But the 1970s gave us a lot of great music.

Electric Mud's music is pretty primitive based on a strong guitar and a strong supporting role by the organ. The piano is also giving the songs here something different again.

The vocals too is different and special. A bit hard to define. But they works.

The music is medium hard rocking without the big bombastic explosions. There is a lot of blues feelings here. Ditto for soul. The music is pretty melodic and vocals driven.

This album is thirty-six minutes long. It is divided on four songs. There are some good things here. A few bits of good things. But most of the album is decent enough from a band who never really made it. The album was also released on an obscure label and re-released on CD on an even more obscure label. Hence this band's lack of popularity. That too is due to the lack of quality of their music.

Check out this album if you like medium hard rocking krautrock.

2 points




Eyesberg - Masquerade (2016)


The second album from this German band.

The band is a trio with a lineup of synths, bass, guitars and English vocals. Jimmy Keegan from Spock's Beard plays all drums.

The band is listed in ProgArchives as a neo-prog band and that is totally correct. My own review of their 2014 debut album Blue also alludes to that.

The band is not a teenage sensation. They may have been that when they started out 30 years ago. But the band pictures of them today shows up some happy men in their mid-50s. Which is a good age for a prog rocker.

As golden oldies prog rockers, they have at least one leg in the 1970s. Or to be more precise, they have at least one Genesis album and that shows.

There are more than one strong references to Genesis on this fifty-two minutes long album. But the sound is contemporary and is made in 2015-16. The sound is indeed very good.

The synths and the guitars are working very well together on the many instrumental parts here. The vocals is also very good. The bass and drums is doing their bits.

There is no real great tracks here. That is a shame. But this is a good album throughout and Eyesberg takes their place among other good German neo-prog bands. A very good scene indeed and this album is not a disgrace to this scene. Fans of neo-prog will like this album more than I do.

3 points

  


Sunday, 25 December 2016

Eden - Eden (1978)


The one and only album from this Canadian band.

This band must not be confused with the German folk rock band of the same name.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of drums, keyboards, bass, guitars and vocals. French vocals.

The band was from Quebec and a part of the rather large and great Quebec scene back in those days. A scene who also included Maneige and Harmonium.

It is pretty obvious that their main inspirations and references are the likes of Atoll, Ange and Yes. In particular Atoll as the vocals is pretty similar to Atoll's vocals and the music is in the vein of the two first Atoll albums. The band is therefore listed in ProgArchives as a symphonic prog band.

The music here is very much French symphonic prog with a lot of French folk music influences incorporated on this thirty-five minutes long album.

The music is pretty laidback without the big bombastic symphonic explosions. There is still enough good details here to make this an interesting album.

The songs are not that long either with some rather short and slightly avant-garde influenced songs at the end of this album.

The music is also pretty much keyboards dominated and includes some baroque sounds too. The keyboards has a special sound.

The sound quality is pretty good and I have no problems with the sound. The songs are a bit meandering. The songs simply not really that great or even good.

This is therefore an album somewhere between decent and good. It is well worth checking out, though. You may like it better than I do.

2.5 points




Etcetera - Fin de Siecle (1999)


The third album from this Danish band.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of guitars, percussions, bass, drums, keyboards and male vocals.

The band released four albums during their far too short life. They disbanded in 2004. This is my first taste of their music and probably my only taste of their music as I do not have their three other albums.

The band is listed as a symphonic prog band in ProgArchives and that made me interested. Very interested. What I got....

The band is obviously very influenced by the 1970s. The sound is very much the 1970s prog rock sound. Barclay James Harvest springs to mind. Ditto for The Moody Blues. There are some very strong Genesis influences scattered around this album.

The vocals are in English... with one exception. The Vuggevise song is in Danish and it is a good song.

There is a twelve minutes long song called Anagrams with a strong Genesis vibe and nothing else. It is going nowhere fast, that song.

There is also strange pop and rock here. Art rock like pieces where mellotron is being used.

The end result is an album which is kicking in all directions. I was close to abandoning reviewing this album after the first listening sessions before I decided to go ahead with it after all. The reason is that I find most of this album a bit too dull and too bland. There are a few good things here. But most of it is decent. Hence my verdict below.

2.5 points

 

Eurhybia - Eurhybia (1990)


The one and only album from this very obscure French band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and English vocals.

The band came, released this album and then disappeared. Nothing is known about the band members. But I am sure a Facebook search may find the individual members. But do they want to be reminded about this album ? Leave them in peace.

The album was produced by Francis Deschamps from Ange and released on a very obscure French label. It was later re-released by Musea and I believe it is now available to be enjoyed at Youtube.

The band played neo-prog. Pretty much classic neo-prog with a lot of symphonic prog included. References are IQ and Pallas.

The sound is surprisingly good and not so mired in the awful 1980s and the 1990s. This album has survived the test of time.

The songs are pretty long and well crafted. Not to mentioned, well composed. There is a slight French twang and accent in the English vocals. But the vocals are still good.

The keyboards and the guitars works well together on these slightly long songs. The album is three quarters of an hour long and offers some really good neo-prog.

The end result is a good album which really deserves a lot more attention. Check it out as you may find it as enjoyable as I did. And I am not a big neo-prog fan.

3 points



Eye - Vision And Ageless Light (2016)


The third album from this USA band.

The band is a four piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, synths, organs, mellotrons, percussions and vocals.

This is my first meeting with this band. A band I have hardly ever heard about. I am not that much into the US psych/space rock scene. They are pretty big over in that scene, I believe.

We are somewhere in the psych and space rock scene here. There is a lot of stoner rock here too. Again, not a scene I know that much about although this scene should interest me. Perhaps later in my life.....

References here are Hawkwind and Black Sabbath. I have also seen other mention Astra and I agree with that after some more listening sessions. I would also add that I detect some The Moody Blues influences here too. There is also some avant-garde here too.

The harshness of Hawkwind and Black Sabbath meets the sounds of flower power on this album. Soft symphonic prog, even. The mellotron adds a new dimention to their music. Another face, no less.

The twenty-seven minutes long As Sure As The Sun epic is a brave one and they pulls it off.

The result is a forty-six minutes long album which will surprise a lot of people. I was surprised. It is also a good album without any great tracks. I will add this band to the list of bands I will keep an eye one.

3 points 


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Hackett. Steve - Guitar Noir (1993)


The tenth album from this British artist.

Steve Hackett does the guitars, harmonica and vocals here. He has got help from Nick Magnus again and some other musicians which provides keyboards, clarinet, strings, bass and drums.

Steve Hackett has been a bit all over the place on his nine previous albums. His best album is still his debut album Voyage Of The Acolyte from 1975. He was still a member of Genesis back then.

His other albums has been a bit hit and miss. He has also done classical music on at least one of those nine albums. I don't review classical music so I have bypassed those albums in my reviews of his albums.

So this is his tenth album and we get a mix of his guitars and pop/rock music. There is also some ambient pieces here. But Steve Hackett is trying to follow the music world. In 1993, that meant some funky music. This partly due to the standards set down by his old band, the then Tamla Motown tripping Genesis. But blues was also popular back then and we also get some blues'ish songs here.

Most of all, this is Steve Hackett trying to sound relevant anno 1993. I still think he should have stucked to his guns and gone a bit more closely to his symphonic prog roots. Then again, that did not pay the bills back then.

So this album is fifty percent Steve Hackett and fifty percent pop and rock anno 1993. There is no really great songs here. Neither is there any good songs here. Steve Hackett sounds a bit lost here and I am not a particular fan of this album. But it is still a decent to good album.

2.5 points




Et Cetera - Et Cetera (1976)


The one and only album from this Canadian band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of cello, flutes, vibraphone, keyboards, drums, guitars, saxophone, drums, percussions, bass and vocals. French male and female vocals, that is.

The band is from Quebec, the French speaking part of Canada. This city had a great music scene back then with a lot of great bands like Maneige, Harmonium etc etc etc.

This album was a private pressing back in 1976 and a very obscure album with a very limited distribution. Unidisc re-released it on CD back in 1997 and this album got the distribution and attention it deserves. I also believe it is on Youtube too. Oh the joy of this digital age !!

It is not easy to label this album. Take a big slice of Maneige and Harmonium, add a lot of Gentle Giant and some French pop music (chanson ?) too. Add folk music too. Then you may get the essence of this album.

The sound is great so don't be fooled by this private pressing thing. The sound is as good or even better than on megabucks production major label albums.

The music is a bit difficult to penetrate, let alone label..... The French vocals are delightful. So is the acoustic instruments. The music on this thirty-six minutes long album is also all over the place. It has a very eclectic feel.

There are some really good themes and melodies here. The emphasis is on being eclectic, though. And not all ideas is great here.

The end result is a beautiful but still only a good album. An album too fragmented to feel like a great album. But check it out as this review should wet your appetite for this album.

3 points



Gryphon - Raindance (1975)


The fourth album from this British band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of woodwinds, guitars, bass, drums, Mellotron, keyboards, percussions, flutes and vocals.

Their previous album, the 1974 album Red Queen To Gryphon Three, was a big hit in my household. It is indeed a great album. That album was released after two good albums.

Gryphon was a mediavel baroque folk rock band on the three first albums. OK, Red Queen To Gryphon Three was also influenced by Yes after Gryphon had toured with them. That was evident on that album.

The Yes influences is even more evident on this album where the band has taken a considerable step away from their mediavel folk rock roots. Raindance sees a different Gryphon.

The band combines symphonic prog and mediavel baroque folk rock on this album. That is the basics of Raindance in one liner.

Raindance is half electric and half acoustic. It is also an album with a lot more vocals than on previous Gryphon albums.

The Gryphon DNA is still here though. Only Gryphon could have released Raindance. And they have pulled of their slight change of direction. This album is a let down from Red Queen To Gryphon Three. But not by much.

There is still a lot of delightful details and good melodies on this album. The sixteen minutes long Heldenleben is Gryphon's way of doing a Yes epic. And that is a good track too.

I was initially disappointed by this album. But I have come around to really find this a good album. I am becoming a Gryphon fan, I am afraid.....

3 points


  

Friday, 23 December 2016

Return To Forever - Light As A Feather (1972)


The second album from this US band.

2/4 of what I regard as the ultimate Return To Forever lineup was already in present on this album. The band founder Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke. Joe Farrell did flutes and tenor saxophone, Airto Moreira did drums and we had a female vocalist in the form of Flora Purim.

The album starts with a song by Flora Purim and I wonder if I am listening to the wrong album. That was before I became aware of this lineup. I am a huge fan of their classic lineup and the Romantic Warriors album. A top 5 album in my record collection.
I have also done a review of their third album Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy.

I did a review of their self titled debut album back in July 2013 and found that album a bit bland. So I am trying to complete my remaining Return To Forever reviews this winter.

The song by Flora Purim is OK. I am more happy when Chick Corea is letting himself loose on some more jazzy instrumental tracks. The title track is one of them.

The music is still a bit Latin-American fusion and that partly due to the sporadic vocals. But both Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea is at top form here and Chick Corea is delivering some very impressive work here. Ditto for Joe Farrell on flutes.

This album is still not up to the standard I expect from Return To Forever. Nevertheless, this is a good album where I find these instrumental parts very good. This is really good jazz and to my liking.
All Return To Forever albums are interesting so don't hesitate here. Check out this album and this band.

3 points

  

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Cast - Al Bandaluz (2003)


The eleventh album from this Mexican band.

Cast was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and Spanish vocals. Guest musicians contributed with xtra vocals, woodwinds and flutes.

This is a double CD album, lasting close to one hundred minutes. A hugely ambitious project. The type of projects the likes of Cast and their brethren in The Flower Kings undertook on a regular basis.

Both bands are symphonic prog bands and their motto seems to be "excess all areas". That is my personal motto too, btw.

You really have to be on the mark with one hundred minutes to fill with your music. In particular when you as Cast has released albums on a very regular basis. Long albums too.

The album starts with a long symphonic bombastic hard rocking piece before the vocals chimes in and we the music becomes a bit more melodic.

There is a lot of guitars and keyboards interludes on this album. There are also some sporadic vocals too. Most of this album has a bit of a rock opera feel. It also has a Mexican and Italian pop music feel with some ballads like songs.

This album ranges from bombastic hard rocking stuff to more pop and quiet rock. But it is always within the symphonic prog genre. The music is also very Italian symphonic prog throughout.

The quality is not great as the band is not really sparkling here. But this is a good album with one hundred minutes of good stuff throughout. It is well worth checking out this album.

3 points



Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Moogg - Italian Luxury Style (2016)


The second album from this Italian band.

Moogg is a quartet with a lineup of percussions, drums, bass, guitars and keyboards. There are some wordless vocals too on this album. But not much.

I very much liked their 2011 debut album Le Ore I Giorni Gli Anni. A very good crossover between symph, eclectic and fusion. So I was looking forward to this album.....

5 years is a long time. Things may happen during these years. Hence some change of direction.

Gone is the eclectic and symphonic prog. What remains is a bit fusion...

A bit fusion and a lot of jazz.

The album starts in the more fusion and Canterbury style prog. That before it heads into jazz land. Pretty much hardcore jazz, too. There is some Soft Machine here. Actually, quite a lot of Soft Machine. And there is a lot of D.F.A too.

The difference between Moogg and the likes of Soft Machine is the lack of woodwinds. Instead, the guitars and keyboards does the main work.

There is a lot of guitars here and there are some references to Mahavishnu Orchestra here.

What this almost one hour long album is sorely lacking is some quality stuff. This is a good album. But it falls a bit flat on it's face due to having no real great stuff. I still rate this album as a good album. I am still left wanting a lot more. Next album, perhaps ?

3 points

   

Monday, 19 December 2016

Gift. The - Why the Sea is Salt (2016)


The third album from this British band.

The Gift is a sextet on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. The two ex-Genesis guitarists Anthony Phillips and Steve Hackett makes guest appearances.

I very much liked their 2006 debut album Awake And Dreaming. Great symphonic prog in the old vein. I have missed out on their second album, the 2014 album Land Of Shadows.

The band is still on the same path as on their debut album. Symphonic prog in other words. Symphonic prog with a twist.

Take a bit Genesis and Pendragon. Add some Dream Theater to the proceedings too. The music is not overly technical and complex. It is a bit jarring at places though with some Dream Theater like metal dissonances.

The album is almost one hour long. The centrepiece is the twenty minutes long epic All These Things. A good epic which includes a lot.

This album is bookended with the best melody here At Sea. And the sea theme runs through this album throughout. It is a journey over an ocean.

The vocals is very good and I also very much like the guitar solos here. The keyboards is also great.

Not everything here is great. Well, not much here is great. The art of great songwriting has bypassed this band on this album. But there is enough very good stuff here to make this a very good album. One of the best 2016 albums in my view.

3.5 points 



Sunday, 18 December 2016

It - The Stranger Inside The Self (1994)


The debut album from this British band.

The band was formed by Nick Jackson back in the early 1990s and has released four albums. A new albums is out early 2017. 

This album was Nick Jackson on vocals and guitars. That was It. He had three guest musicians helping out on keyboards and female vocals. I guess the bass and drums is programmed.

It has always been labeled as a neo-prog band. Not at least because of this album. 

The music on this album is pretty basic neo-prog. The music is very melodic and pretty simple chorus-verse-chorus based. This album and the band is leaning much more towards the rock and pop end of the neo-prog scene than the more symphonic prog end of the neo-prog scene.

That may be explained by the lack of resources the band was straddled with during this recording. No organic drums and bass. And that is evident on this album.

The songs are pretty catchy too. Some of the music is leaning towards Pink Floyd. That's David Gilmour's Pink Floyd. Not the 1970s Pink Floyd. 

The songs here are not too bad. The catchy tunes pulls some of my strings, to put it like that. The longviety of this album is pretty short and it did not take me long to form an opinion on this album. That is never a good sign.

This is a decent album but nothing more than that. I hope the other two It albums is better than this one.

2 points