Thursday, 31 January 2013

Jethro Tull - Heavy Horses (1978)

Their eleventh album.

Jethro Tull keeps their winning formula on this album too and keeps their fans happy. I guess I can be included in their fan club.

Nine songs with the emphasis on the more folk rocking style than symph prog from their best albums. There are some very good songs here in the form of No Lullaby and Moths. The rest of the album consists of some good songs.

This is an album not quite up among the best of the Tull albums. It is still a very good album though. Mostly because of the sound which I really like. I have a big soft spot for this sound and Jethro Tull. That adds half a point to the score, I guess.

3.5 points

Hyacintus - Fantasia en Concerto (2003)

The second album from this one-man project of Jacinto Miguel Corral. He is from Argentina and he hires in other Argentinian musicians for this project.

Fantasia en Concerto is a crossover rock-classical music project with a symphonic structure. There is tonnes of keyboards here. There is also a lot of cello, guitars, bass, drums and other instruments here too. The sound is pretty big, but not overwhelming big as in a full symphony orchestra.

The more classical orientated music here in the Mike Oldfield style is good. Unfortunate, there is some vocals and a couple of really abysmal substandard power metal songs here too at the end which sticks out like a pair of sore thumbs. I seriously question the wisdom of this and it most certainly leaves a bad impression of this album. An album not filled with much interesting music. It is an album which works as background music and not much else. It is a decent album in it's own right and nothing more than that.

2 points

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Code III - Planet of Man (1974)

A Klaus Schulze one of project released to show of some new technology. A demonstration album which is now a kind of a krautrock classic.

I am not buying into this at all. This is a demo of some new tech and stash. The music, if such a term can be used on this racket, is some noises which sometimes breaks into melodies. Most often, it does not. The sound is also bad and the world has confined this new stash to the history books. Just like the T-Ford is no longer the best in new car technology.

In short; this album is an ambient sound pastisj which is not worthy any attention whatsoever. The hype may live on, but not in my world.

1 point

Akt - Fraktal Two (2011)

The so far final output from this Italian band whose outputs can be downloaded for free.

This EP is a total break with the rest of their output too. The music here is subtle piano driven three five minutes long pieces. The piano gets support from guitars, bass and drums too. The music is stripped down Akt and a break with previous albums.

To me, this EP is also a disappointment. I am used to the very King Crimson like outputs from them. This is not what I get here. The music is not that interesting either and by far their weakest output. It is not bad though. There are some good stuff here too. But not enough to interest me. Download this if you want and make up your own mind. I am hoping the band will return with some more albums after this.

2.5 points

The download

Gallant Farm - Leverage (1994)

The only album from this Italian band.

The year is 1994 and we are in for a neo prog album in the Pendragon mould. Nothing less; nothing more. The music is performed with tonnes of guitars and keyboards. Add bass and drums too. Yes, and some pretty poor vocals.

The sound is pretty thin. The music is not particular interesting either. The band seems to copy the worst ills from the English neo prog scene and has succeeded in that quest. Some of the melodies are good. Most of them are pretty decent and just that. The world is not mourning the absence of more albums from this band. Nevertheless; a decent album.

2 points

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans (1973)

THAT album from Yes. Their sixth overall album and one which still divides people into love/hate communities. It is no doubts this album made way for punk music too and the death of prog rock. Even musicians on this album hates it with a passion. Step forward, Rich Wakeman.

Yes, it is an self indulgent overblown totally over the top album. The album title is perhaps the most overblown album title of all times and is inviting ridicule. With good reasons. It is also an album with some stunning music too. The break downs at The Revealing Science Of God. In fact, all four compositions here has some stunning pieces of music in them. That inbetween some rather not so great pieces of music. It is also an album where Steve Howe is playing the main role with his guitars. There is a surprising amount of guitars here. Rich Wakeman is in the background and that may be the reason why he quit the band midway the tour supporting this album. There is not much interesting to do for a keyboard player on this album. Jon Anderson's vocals is also pretty dominating here.

I find this a great album which really interests me. I also see the funny sides of this totally overblown album. The music makes this a must-have album though and one nobody can ignore. Laugh and make fun out of it too. But you still need this album in your collection.

4 points

Monday, 28 January 2013

Carnascialia - Carnascialia (1979)

The one and only album from this Italian band.

If there were any justice in the scene, there should be a popular demand for a re-release of this album. An album long deleted and only available on Ebay for a king's ransom. I am pretty sure it would find an appreciative audience of 1000 x buyers and more if re-released though. Not only because Demetrio Stratos from Area did the vocals here but also because of the music itself.

Folk rock, they label this album as. That is not quite what's coming out of the speakers, though. The music is more avant-garde and even Canterbury avant-garde. Picchio Dal Pozzo and Area springs to mind. There is also some Soft Machine aka their fifth album on this album. And yes, there are also some folk rock and Italian symphonic prog here. But put them in the  Picchio Dal Pozzo and Area end of  the Italian scene.

The music is being performed with a wide variety of instruments. Both electric and acoustic.  Demetrio Stratos vocals also plays a big part on this album too. An album which is both a bit bewildering, great and disjointed at the same time. An album I first dismissed out of hand as horse manure, then listened to again and decided to give some more chances over several weeks before I arrived at this review.
This album has some great melody lines and melodies. It also have some disjointed stuff which should had been edited better. It is though a great album which should be re-released again in the wake of Yugen's, Area's and Picchio Dal Pozzo's newfound popularity. If you are a label owner in Italy and is releasing this type of stuff, you know what to do next.

This is a great album well worth checking out. It is not a folk rock album though.

4 points

Silver Key - In The Land Of Dreams (2012)

The debut album from this Italian band who are marketed as a Marillion and Fish tribute band. The material on this album, their debut album, is their own material though. Most important, they are not copycats either.

I was a bit sceptical when approaching this album. I almost did not touch this album at all because of that Marillion and Fish reference. I am glad I was wrong, though.

Neo prog it is, they say. But not neo prog of the good old Marillion style. This Italian band has included a lot of other influences too. Eclectic and symphonic prog being the most apparant ones. But there is also a lot of Eastern European rock in their music. A lot of dark metal connotations has been included too. Occultism, some have labeled it. I am not sure about that, though. Anyway... The result is music and sound which is not only neo prog, but also a lot of other things too. Frost*, Sylvan and Arena is natural references here. Far more than Marillion and Fish, in fact.

There is a twenty-six minutes long suite here and some eight minutes long songs on this album. This is an album which takes time to digest. It is a pity it has no great songs. The great thing about it is that it has it's own identity and the band is really pushing out the boat.

Silver Key is without doubts great talents and should go on and do some more albums if I got my wishes fulfilled. In The Land Of Dreams is a very good album which should satisfy everyone into adventerous prog rock.

3.5 points 

Every Waking Hour - Writing on the Wall (2009)

Another one album band from USA. Another addition to the melodic neo-prog scene.

The music is loosely what we call neo prog, although in the more symph prog vein. References are Yes and Spock's Beard. The music is performed with the usual electric setup. Bass, drums, keyboards and guitars. That and some good vocals. Some Hammond organs is also added now and then to add some more textures.

The music itself is melodic and very American sounding with some AOR connotations. It lands somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic between the English and the US neo prog scene.

The quality is good and this album must be a sure purchase for all Spock's Beard fans. My usual gripe is the lack of any really great tracks though. The music ticks over nicely without really making me sit up and really take notice. A "good album" is awarded.

3 points

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Atoll - Illian J'entends Gronder La Terre (2003)

The sixth and final album from this French band.

Atoll were a member of the very vibrant French prog rock scene in the 1970s. On their first two albums, that is. They changed to a more commercial French rock sound after those two albums in hunt for commercial success. This album too is firmly a French rock album. The vocals are in French and the instruments are keyboards, guitars, bass and drums with violin, flute and saxophone adding some extra commercial textures.

The sound is in the 1990s to 1980s mould. Not particular great in my ears. I cannot stand that sound.
The music is decent throughout. There is no real good songs here though and the album is a bit of a frustrating experience. I want to like it, but I cannot. A decent album, nevertheless.

2 points

Focus - X (2012)

The tenth album from Focus is a nice surprise.

The band has been touring Europe and further afield again after years of inactivity. The gigs has mostly earned them rave reviews and there is obviously new life in this old band again. It is surprising that this album though also confirms this impression. This is not a "let's knock out something to cash in on our name" album.

The style and sound they have gone for here is a bit of a return to the good old Moving Waves and 3. A mix of the symphonic side, fusion/jazz and some more updates stuff, the world anno 2012. The band feels they still have something to say and they are saying it on this album. A good attitude and it is applauded.

Not everything they tries on this album is great. Not much here is great, in fact. They still have this Focus sound with flutes and guitars which really carries this album a long way. It is a very good album which has given me a good smile and made my friends listening in to it put in orders for their old classic albums. This is an album which finally makes me declare myself as a fan of Focus. I need to get myself to one of their gigs before it is too late.

3.5 points 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Kerygmatic Project - Greek Stars Gallery (2012)

To my knowledge, the second album from this Italian band.

They are from Italy, yes. They compare themselves to Genesis and ELP on their homepage. Which is fair enough when it comes to the Genesis link. That's the Phil Collins era Genesis though. For most people, that is not a compliment. Take the Genesis album Duke and you will be somewhere near this album. ELP...... not from their best period, their first four albums. I would say more like their two final albums. In short; Kerygmatic Project sounds like ELPs and Genesis least desireable/interesting periods. They are much more a pomp rock/pop band than a prog band.

That also comes with English vocals, tonnes of keyboards, bass and drums. The sound is not particular organic and it has a 1990s whiff about it.

The music on Greek Stars Gallery is pretty good though. I love the song titles though which is very pomp and arty. The songs are a bit of a more let down, though. This album is infinite better than what Genesis and ELP came up with with the same type of music though. There is no really great or even good songs here. But it is still a good album which appeals to the softer, weaker side of my deranged personality. A weak....

3 points 

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Changes - The Growing Number (1994)

The only album from this Swiss band who later morphed into Shakary (several albums).

The early 1990s were a barren time for progressive rock and this album is very much a proof of that. The music here is an attempt to fuse neo prog with AOR. The synths has this plastic fantastic sound from the 1980s. Ditto for the vocals too. Well, the whole album and that also includes the guitar sound. Most of this album is AOR with some neo prog holding it all together.

The songs are fairly decent with some hints of Saga inbetween all this AOR and neo prog. The music scores very low on orginality and the cover art work is horrible. This is not an album I am a proud owner of. Enough said.

2 points 

Renaissance - BBC Sessions (1999)

A 2 CD set released by BBC from some BBC sessions with this band. I was meant to publish this review last year, the same day as I got the terrible news that Michael Dunford had sadly passed away. I did not feel for publishing this review that day.

There is a lot of Renaissance live albums out already. Live At Carnegie Hall is by far the best one of them and the one I would recommend. BBC Sessions was recorded sometimes in the 1970s (Old Grey Whistle Test ?) and does not have the best sound quality to put it bluntly. The songs sounds flat and lifeless where they sounds very lively and great at Live At Carnegie Hall and most other live albums. That is due to a rather bad sound quality. All the great Renaissance songs are here and this is a great live album on paper. The sound....

This is a very good live album and perhaps worth checking out. But this is a live album only for those who want this band complete. Myself included. Hence this purchase.

3.5 points

Monday, 21 January 2013

Anoxie - Pastales (1994)

A one off French symph prog band with their only album.

Symph prog is probably the wrong label. They don't sound anywhere near like Mona Lisa and Ange. Anoxie is much more like Jean Michel Jarre with a lot of electronics and ambient stuff. I think the label electronic pling plong prog is a much more fitting label.

The music is performed by mostly keyboards with bass, vocals, drums and guitars as a mere supporting roles. The music is a mix of classical symphonic and electronic music. The sound is pretty poor throughout. Ditto for the music which is in the Jean Michel Jarre alley.

There are some quality here and I would not really label it as a turkey. But it is a close call, though. It is a decent album which has been consigned to obscurity and should remain an obscurity.

2 points

Golden Void - Golden Void (2012)

We are in the middle of a retro doom/sludge,  psychedelic space rock and heavy prog scene at the moment and this, the debut album from this US west coast band fits very nicely into that scene.

Take good old Black Sabbath, remove Tony Iommi's most crunching heavy riffs and add some melodic flower power psychedelic rock to the mix. Then you get this album. This band is from San Fransisco and those influences can be heard too. The sound is a good retro sound and not particular dirty. It is pretty light and so is the music. The emphasis is on the balance between heavy,  psychedelic and melodic.

The instruments used are guitars, bass, drums, some very good vocals and a generous helping of Hammond organs. There is no real great songs here. Despite of that, this is an album which should put Golden Void on the map and should really please the fans of retro psychedelic space rock. I have knotted down this band in my notebook of talents to follow and will very much keep an eye on them. The band is very active on the live scene so catch up with them if they comes your way.

3 points   

Yes - The Yes Album (1971)

Their third album and their first real classic album.

The previous album Time and a Word was a pretty poor album after a rather good debut album. I am therefore glad to report a return to form on this album. Most songs here are semi-classics in the Yes world.
Yes had found their form and sound here. There are some rather long songs here too and those gives us an insight into what was to come later on. I feel I have played these songs to death on their classic live album Yessongs so I have not much to say about this album.

This album is still not as good as the follow up albums Fragile or Close To The Edge. But it is still a great album well worth an investement.

4 points

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Premiata Forneria Marconi - Celebration 1972 2012 (2012)

A box with their two best albums and a CD with live stuff.

Why did I pay out good money on this box ? I feel cheated by this box and my job is to warn anyone to fall into the same trap. So here is what I have found.

The album includes socalled re-mastered versions of their two 1972 albums Storia Di Un Minuto and Per Un Amico. The sound is pretty poor compared to the originals which is far more preferrable than the versions here. Just listen to the melotrons and the moogs and you will find out why. Very poor indeed.
The third disc is various live tracks, twelve of them, which does not really constitute a live album or something remotely interesting. There is also a large booklet here and the very tempting box to lure in idiots like myself. Mission accomplished.

In short; ignore this box unless you can't find  Storia Di Un Minuto and Per Un Amico somewhere else. If not, and only then, get this box. It is not particular expensive either so Sony BMG is partly forgiven. They had been even more forgiven if they had not botched up the remastering.

This is a decent box best avoided though if you got the two original albums. Don't be fooled. Leave that to idiots like myself.

2 points

Lyrian - The Tongues of Men and Angels (2011)

One heck of a mouthful.

126 minutes, double CD concept album. The longest song clocking in at almost half an hour. Three songs over twenty minutes. Average song lenght fifteen minutes. This one is one heck of a mouthful.

So is the music too. A mix of early Genesis aka Trespass, neo prog, some aerie fairy folk rock and some ambient stuff. This has been a massive undertaking by Lyrian. No wonder it is largely unreviewed by magazines as it presents one heck of a challenge to a reviewer. One of my biggest ever challenges, in my case.

The instruments are keyboards, bass, guitars, drums and some woodwinds. That and a lot of thin, whining male vocals which sounds like delivered by a whitch. An allegation I guess the vocalist John Blake will take great exception to and I guess I am off his Christmas card list. The vocals are fitting to the music though. A type of music and in particular sound I last heard on the last Us album.

126 minutes of this is enough for me or anyone else to wave a white flag. This album may have be Lyrian's big dream in life. It is a dream which they have not pulled off particular well in real life. It could had been tightened up a lot. But maybe there is a great audience for this music out there. They have bet their farm on that as releasing a double album is not cheap. I am not sure what I really think about this album either. That even after several listening session during walks and in my living room. There is no great songs here and the vocals is a problem for me personally. The music is decent to good throughout. I do admire them for having the balls and guts to release this project though. Lyrian is a very, very brave band. Maybe they are fools too. The scene needs bands like this which is pushing out the boat on this big ocean. That means band and boat sometimes sinks to the bottom of the ocean too.

I have concluded this is a good, bordering to a decent album. I hope they are not loosing their farm on this rather overly ambitious album. I hope it has an audience out there. If you are into long songs in the early Genesis and aery fairy folk rock style, this may be an album you will like.

3 points 

Yezda Urfa - Sacred Baboon (1989)

Their second and so far final studio album from this US band.

There has always been a pretty big, unfilled void between Yes and Gentle Giant. A void largely filled by this band and mostly only them. Something I find very odd because a Yes & Gentle Giant fusion combines the best elements from both symph and eclectic prog. Just like this and their previous album Boris.

The music on Sacred Baboon twists and turns as on a good Gentle Giant album. The turns are sometimes straightened out by a Yes like melody line. The sound is a combination too and based on keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. That and some great vocals.

Most of the songs are intricate and long. They are more like small compositions than melodies. The sound is great and there is enough in the music to make me marvel at what comes out of the speakers. Marvel and grin like a Cheshire cat who has just got cream. This is what I call art rock which appeals more to my few remaining brain cells than any other body parts.
All the songs, make that compositions, are great here. A killer tracks could had been the dot over the i though. But I am not complaining. Both this and their previous album Boris is in my view two gems and should be found in every good homes.

4 points

Gila - Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1973)

The second album from this German krautrock band.

I was looking forward to sink my ears and braincells into this album as I really like krautrock. What came out of the speakers was not what I expected, though.

This Gila lineup is very different from the lineup on the first album. The music too is very different. The music on Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is more psychedelic americana than real spaced out krautrock as on their first album. This is hardly krautrock at all. This album is more in the Velvet Underground and Jefferson Airplane mould than krautrock. That without the good music those two bands released.

Most of the music here is dithering and plodding along throughout the half an hour of trial of fire this album is. Vocals, acoustic guitars, bass and drums is what features most prominently on this album. There is not much quality here. It is a decent album with mostly decent songs. The listening sessions has been supported by lots of coffee though as it is difficult to really concentrate on this pretty dull music. Sorry, but this is not a good album.

2 points

Brockmann & Andrade - Airs A Rock Opera (2012)

Hmmm..... A rock opera. Two words which is enough to scare satan from his evil works and make him become a good samarithan. Not to mention; make me very scared indeed when I remember that I promised the guys a review. That was seven weeks ago, btw. My own novel, vaguely a rock opera too, has taken up all my time.

Opera is both a great web browser and a stuffy overblown, irrelevant music style. Rock is a revolt and a riot. Rock opera is like mixing water with fire. The end result is most often than not fog.

Steve Brockmann is a German multi instrumentalist and with some solo albums under his belt and George Andrade is most known for his work in The Anabasis. They did the Airs A Rock Opera project over the internet with contributions from numerous others. The story on the rock opera is too long to get into here. I refer to their homepage for the story which was originally meant as a novel in the same vein as I am writing now (thanx for removing the competition, guys). The music though is the most important here.

The music is delivered with a mix of keyboards, vocals, guitars, drums and bass. There is no real organic instruments here and it is wholly an electric rock opera steeped in the 1990s sound.

The music is a mix of US art rock, rock and some harder metal in the German prog metal vein. The music is mostly very good and this album sometimes comes up with some very good melody lines before it retreats back to a more safe good status.

My two major gripes is the largely 1990s power metal'ish sound and the absence of some really great tracks. I am not that happy about the metal stuff here too. By naming this a rock opera, they have also automatically made me as grumpy as a nobleman on his final steps to the guillotine.
There is enough stuff here to label this a very good album though. It has some peaks and some valleys. The meridan is very good. But give it some time. A lot of time. Even then, I am not sure if this rock opera was a good idea. Maybe they should have released the story as a novel instead. Or both.

3.5 points

The homepage

Harvest - Chasing Time (2012)

The second album from this Spanish band.

Harvest is a female fronted neo prog band and was hailed as the next big thing by myself and many others after their debut album, still a free download I believe, Underground Community from 2009. Chasing Time goes a long way to live up to these expectations.

Monique Van Der Kolk does the vocals and she is a great vocalist in the Anneke van Giersbergen mould. The Harvest sound and music reminds me a lot about The Gathering anno Mandylon. The more harder stuff on Chasing Time, that is. The more softer stuff, which is in the majority here, reminds me a lot about Magenta, The Reasoning and Mostly Autumn. There is no Spanish music here and the album has the English/Dutch female fronted neo prog sound instead. A very good sound and I am a fan of it.

There is no really great songs here and that is the major problem with this album. That aside, the band has something really great going on here and the album is among the better ones from this scene. Harvest will go places, believe me.

3.5 points

Their homepage  

Saturday, 19 January 2013

3RDegree - The Long Division (2012)

This is the fourth album from these US prog rockers since 1993. I believe they split up somewhere around the millenium too. Their previous album was released in 2008.

3RDegree is one of these vaudeville art rock bands with the typical US sound and approach. They don't sound like the US symph prog bands. They sounds more like pomp and art rock. If I was strict on this, I would not label 3RDegree a prog rock band. But who cares as there is only two types of music: Good music or bad music.

Their music is heavy based on tangents. Not as in synthetic plastic fantastic synths, but as in piano and organic Hammond organs. Their tangents is not genetic modified, in other words. That also goes for the guitars, bass and drums too. The vocals are very good too.

I am by no means fans of vaudeville art rock. The type of music 3RDegree does. There are some great melody lines scattered around here and the music is on average very good. Quality wise, this album cannot be faulted and I am probably in a minority of one when I label this album as merely very good. My gripe is the lack of one or two great songs. I still like this album a lot though and would recommend it to everyone who likes US art rock more than I do.

3.5 points

Friday, 18 January 2013

Electric Moon - Lunatics (2010)

If I am not much mistaken, this is the debut album from this German band. It is another band from the hyper active Sula Bassana.

We are talking cosmic space rock here. Four long compositions over each themes and one short track. The latter one is a cover version of Eric Burden's Hotel Hell and by far the most uninteresting song here. The odd one out track here. The other four tracks are very good though. Guitar, bass and drums with some added Hammond organ and voices is a very effective combination in space rock.

This album is a far out there experience. There is method to the compositions though and even dead dull sober listeners like myself finds a lot of good things here. So much that I really like this type of music. And I am a teetotaller and I don't use drugs. This is a very good album which should interest all space rockers out there.

3.5 points

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Drama - Stigmata of Change (2005)

The third and so far final album from this French prog rock band.

Prog is perhaps a bit, not to mention a lot, misleading label for this album. This album is most of all an elegant rock album which takes a lot from diverse bands like Dire Straits and Marillion. OK, it is prog then. The long guitar solos is very Marillion. This album is a mix of rock, art and neo prog.

The sound is very 1990s. The drum sound very 1980s. The keyboards and synths is typical 1990s. The vocals is OK and English. The songs are pretty good throughout without really impressing me. The album is pretty low on orginality and you get the feeling you have heard bits and pieces from their music on other artists album. Which off course is wrong as this album is not a copycat album.

Despite of being a pretty generic album, it is still a good album though which scores a low three pointer in my estimation. It will though be stored in a dark corner in my flat and I doubts I will ever play it again.

3 points

Formula 3 - Sognando e Risognando (1972)

The third album from this Italian band. A band in the prog rock category.

Their album output was a bit dubious until this album. Beat and blues albums. Sognando e Risognando on the other hand is a move towards Deep Purple and a more symphonic prog sound. Still with some blues and fusion connotations and Italian pop.

The sound is pretty much the typical Italian prog/pop sound. This album falls nicely into that tradition. The music is rather good too and by far their best album. There is no real great tracks here though. But this albums thicks over nicely although it is not in the same class as the classic albums from Italy. Well worth a try, though.

3 points

Monday, 14 January 2013

Anubis - 230503 (2009)

The debut album from this Australian neo prog band. This album is a theme album about a dead friend.

Yes, the music is neo prog with a lot of Marillion, Pink Floyd and some Porcupine Tree influences. The music is performed with lots of guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. That and some rather good vocals.
The sound is big and the guitars are Pink Floyd'ish with long lingering guitar solos. The Hammond organs fills in the gaps in the music.

The result is a good album which sounds a bit one-dimentional at times. It also lacks a killer track or four. But neo prog fans should run and get this album from their record label's online store. I am not entirely convinced. But I still enjoys this album.

3 points

Citta Frontale - El Tor (1975)

A one of band from Italy.

Citta Frontale was an offspring, a stop gap between two incarnations of Osanna. Most of the Osanna members can be found in Citta Frontale too. But where Osanna was pretty heavy, Citta Frontale went towards more jazz and traditional Italian symph prog. The music is performed with woodwinds, Hammond organs, guitars, bass, drums and vocals.

The vocals are good. The music pretty dynamic and pretty much dominated by the Area sounding woodwinds. The result is a good album which is suffering from the absence of one or two great songs. Besides of that, this album will suffice and I am not complaining. It is a nice addition to an Italian prog rock collection.

3 points

Friday, 11 January 2013

Panic Room - Skin (2012)

Panic Room..... what can I say..... They and their albums is not making it easy for me as a reviewer.

Skin is their third album and it is a follow up of the very good Visionary Position and the rather poor Satellite. Panic Room is one of the now pretty many female fronted British art/neo prog bands. They are not among the best three bands in the scene and I don't think Skin is not going to improve on their standing in the scene.

Panic Room is fronted by the very good vocalist Anne Marie Helder. She is doing a great job here. If you like great female vocals; Panic Room is a band for you as she is pretty much dominating this album and the previous two albums. Get all three albums. That aside, the music here is not particular good. A song like Chamelon is something you would expect from The Corrs or a solo album from one of the Corrs sisters. Not to mention a female fronted commercial pop/rock album. It is a pretty banal dreadful song. Throughout the first two thirds of this album, Panic Room is sailing pretty close to The Corrs. So much that I listen to some of the songs in something which can only be described as horror. The final one third is good art rock though where the vocals and the music offers some more intelligent well crafted material.

In short; this album is sailing pretty close to disaster and it is not their best album. Visionary Position is their best album by miles. Skin though has one big trump card and that is Anne Marie Helder's vocals. The saving grace and the reason why this is a good album. I would though urge a bit caution when approaching this album. It may give you something you don't want. That aside; check it out.

3 points

Arena - Contagion (2002)

The fifth album from this British neo prog band.

Arena is one of the best ever neo prog bands and that reputation is largely built on this album. An album with big, bould melody lines. The band paints their music on the canvas with big brushes. Brushes on which they adds bright colours. Sometimes, the colours black and brown is also added to the canvas.
The end result is a big colourful painting, this album.

The keyboards and the guitars sounds are big and bombastic. Ditto for the vocals. The songs are great too. I do regard this album as one piece of music from the zero hour to it's end, one hour later. It is a great piece of music which should enthuse and amaze the listener. I am amazed, but not that enthused though. Maybe I have overdosed on music lately. Maybe I am a dull, chilled out person.

Anyway....... This is a great album which should be an obligatory purchase.

4 points

Ocnos - Visions (2010)

A new Spanish band with what I believe is their debut album.

The music on Visions is deeply rooted in the Spanish prog rock tradition. A tradition standing somewhere between the English and Italian tradition. Reference wise, that means a solid slab of Camel with added Triana and Spanish folk music. Add some heavy prog and jazz to the mix and you get this album.

The music is performed with a rampant Hammond organ, guitars, other keyboards, bass and drums. That and some heavy accented English vocals. The Hammond organ is very dominant throughout. In particular on the more heavy parts of this album. It sounds like the reincarnation of John Lord. The more pastoral parts are more dominated by some electric and half-acoustic guitars.

The result is a good album which gives a lot of pleasures and some frustrations too. Frustrations because there is no really great tracks here. The vocals are not that good either. Pleasures because there are some great melody lines here inbetween the mediocrity. Pleasures because this band has great potential and should really become a big band in the scene. This is why I recommend this album. I am not sure where you can get it from, though. Try the usual places to get this good album.

3 points

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Panic Room - Visionary Position (2008)

The debut album from this British band who originated out of Karnataka who originated out of Mostly Autumn. Phew ! A big mouthful, that one.

Panic Room is a female fronted art rock band lead by Anne Marie Helder. The music is very much built around her vocals and is much more complex art rock than I am used to from female fronted British bands. There is even an eighteen minutes long song here. The album takes a lot of influences from both the Middle-East and celtic folk rock. Kind of Orphaned Land meets Mostly Autumn. Very proggy/arty in other words. Very much what I did not expect from Panic Room, a band I have never really rated as I did not like their second album Satellite (from 2010) at all.

Visionary Position is actually, pun intended, quite a visionary album which sets the band on a slightly different course than Mostly Autumn, Touchstones and The Reasoning. Visionary Position is also a very good album which offers a lot in addition to Anne Marie Helder's excellent vocals too. The other members are really doing a great job on this smorgas board of art rock. No real killer tracks, but still a very good album. I am impressed and I have to admit my negative impressions of Panic Room was wrong.

3.5 points

Harnakis - Numb Eyes, The Soul Revelation (1990)

Here yesterday, gone today. That can be said about this band which was a one album only band from Spain. They came, released this album and vanished without a trace again.

Harnakis was a neo-prog band which fused in some Spanish music too into their songs. Not much, but some of the more flamboyant technical tracks here has a lot of flamenco in them. The songs are pretty intricate and technically driven with guitars, bass, keyboards and drums. That and their weakest link; the vocals. Vocals which is pretty abysmal. The music itself is not immediate catchy. But it has a lot of soul and longvity.

The end result is both an interesting and a good album which continues to give and give over several months. It is by no means a classic album and the band is not among the great Spanish bands. But it is interesting enough to warrant a search in the cheap albums bins at Amazon and Ebay.

3 points

Reasoning. The - Adventures in Neverland (2012)

I guess I have a bit of an unhealthy interest in this band. Rachel Cohen's vocals is excellent and one of the best vocals in this scene. I am normally not that fuzzed about vocals unless they sounds like the mating calls from crows. But I love Rachel's vocals. I have no idea how Rachel looks like 'cause I could not care less. I am not in love with her. But her vocals is like balsam to my soul and my interest in The Reasoning is unhealthy.

OK, this is their fourth proper studio album. Fifth if that Acoustically Speaking album from 2010 should be included. The band has developed reasonably well towards a more commercially accessible British AOR territory. The band must have sniffed out that Rachel's vocals is their strong point as she has been given a lot more to do on this album than on previous albums. Gone is most of the male and twin male/female vocals. Yes, we are still talking female fronted rock where Mostly Autumn is the godfathers of the scene. This album has also returned to the celtic rock roots of Mostly Autumn too.

The end result is a very good album. One of their best albums, if not the best album. My only two gripes is the lack of adventure in their music and the lack of one or two killer tracks. The music is sadly a bit too predictable. The album cements their position as one of the best British bands these days and the fans gets what they want. A bit more adventure next time, guys. The basis for a masterpiece is already there. A masterpiece they will eventually do, somewhere down the line. The Reasoning is a worthy successor to Renaissance. But they have still have some work to do before they quality wise reach that level.

This is a very good album and one of the best post millenium female fronted British albums you can lay your hands on.

3.5 points 

Monday, 7 January 2013

8 Days In April - The Hamburg Scene (1972)

A one off project with some Frumpy associated members. I got this album in a krautrock box I bought half a year ago. I was expecting kraut, but got something else again. Fair enough as this album is a very obscure German album.

The music is a blend of AOR and rock. Add some blues and prog into the mix too. The music is performed with a lot of Hammond organs and guitar solos. The guitar solos here by Thomas Kretzschmer and Roger Hook should make this album into an air guitarists wet dream. Great guitar solos of the more long and lingering kind. My air guitar is at 2000 centigrades warm.  Inga Rumpf does a great job on vocals too. Ditto for Jean-Jacques Kravetz on Hammond organs too. In short; the music here is solo based and loosely structured around some good melody lines.

That makes this album a surprisingly good album. An album which really is only missing a couple of killer tracks to elevate it to another level. Even the sound is good. Is this an important album you should have ? No. But it is not one I would turn down if offered it on the cheap. I enjoy this album.

3 points

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Anabis - Theatre (1988)

Their third and final album. Anabis was a German band, btw.

The year was 1988 and we were in the lost decade, the 1980s. The sound is very much typical 1980s. I am pretty sure the hairstyles and their clothes was as bad as the sound too. That means tonnes of horrible plastic fantastic synths and guitars. The music is more AOR than the symph prog band they were on the first album. The songs are rather good. Ditto for the vocals The sound is horrible. But the sound destroys it all.

This album is a pretty decent album which deserve to be forgotten as there are far better albums out there. This is an AOR album from the 1980s. No less and no more. It is a weak two points album.

2 points

Eternal Tapestry - A World Out of Time (2012)

The fifth album from this Portland, USA based band.

We are deep into krautrock here. Krautrock in the vein of the first Can, Agitation Free, Guru Guru and Amon Duul II albums. In particular; Agitation Free. That is the main reference here. The sound is dirty. The music is based on bass, drums and some synths with guitars floating on the top of the mix. The guitars are both half acoustic and distorted. 100 % krautrock in other words. This album is like taking the time machine back to 1970. This is a retro album for the new millenium.

The music is pretty intense and retro. It takes some of the best from krautrock and recast it into this day and age. As I am a krautrock fan, this idea and album finds favours with me. There is no real great track here though and the album is a bit too much retro and similar to the old greats. But it is by all means a very good album and one well worth checking out.

3.5 points

Litmus - Slaughterbahn (2012)

A British band with their fourth album.

We are talking psychedelic/space rock here. Litmus has often been labeled as a Hawkwind, the Lemmy era, copycat band. That is an allegation I believe they are pretty much proven guilty in. Slaughterbahn though also takes a bit of a different direction too.

There is no doubts this album is drenched in Hawkwind. But it is also drenched in punk and frantic pub rock like Dr Feelgood. Some of the songs on Slaughterbahn has taken a lot of their ideas and rhythm structures from Dr Feelgood's frantic music. In particular the guitar riffs. That is not a negative thing though. Litmus though has something very few other psychedelic/space rock bands has. Namely a great moog and melotron sound. The way they combine the primitive pub and punk rock with moog and melotron makes this album and Litmus a special band in the scene. It is a great combination.

There is no killer tracks on this album though. But it has a great deal of things going for it and I am pretty intrigued about Litmus back catalogue too. I think I will get some more albums from them. Litmus can be added to the list of great new English bands.

3.5 points 

Dom - Edge Of Time (1970)

A one of international cooperation band with a krautrock masterpiece, if the reviews in other pedias is to be believed. Well, I am going against the rest of the reviewers here.

Dom was an international cooperation with musicians from Hungary, Poland, Germany. The music is folk and symph prog based krautrock. It starts with two good and long tracks Intruitus and Silence which is a mix of Amon Duul and some avant-garde symph prog. There are even a great melody line here. The album then plods into some pretty pointless avant-garde plodding and then nosedives into techno. The first eighteen minutes of this album is good to great in other words. The rest of the album is pretty much a waste of time.

I don't think this album is worthy the masterpiece status. I think it is at best a decent, two faced album. It is not an album I really enjoyed. It is a decent album.

2 points

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Drama - Drama (1995)

The debut album from this three albums French band.

We are talking instrumental symphonic prog here. Symphonic prog in the same vein as Camel. Music which sometimes rises to the heights of a French cathedral. Some of these melodies does. The music has got a slight French flavour. The main instruments are the keyboards and guitars. Bass and drums are also included. Xylophones is adding some jazzy flavours to the album too.

The music is good. The jazz element is raising the album above the waterline. It is not an album that raises my blood pressure though. Good but not great. A good album when the body and mind needs a rest. That is this album in a nutshell.

3 points

Friday, 4 January 2013

Violeta De Outono - Espectro (2012)

The sixth album from these Brazil based veterans in the scene. Their first studio album was released back in 1987 and that makes Espectro their 25th anniversary album.

The band is listed as a space rock band in most 'pedias. Mostly because of their first albums and compilation albums which was space rock and cover versions of Pink Floyd songs. On this album though, they have moved towards Porcupine Tree. Very close to Porcupine Tree, in fact.
The music is pretty cool, breezy Porcupine Tree like latin flavoured prog rock. The vocals are in Portugese and they are good. The other pretty prominent instrument are the Hammond organ. That is backed up by bass, drums and some guitars. The sound is excellent.

I am by no means a fan of Porcupine Tree and this album does not hits it's target audience in my office and living room. I still like this album a lot. It is lacking in killer songs and that is a major problem with this album. It is a pretty substantial improvement on the two other Violeta De Outono albums I have heard. It is a very good album which I recommend. Check it out.

3.5 points


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Trewa - Many Meetings On A Blithe Journey (2012)

Trewa comes from Italy and this is their second album. They debuted back in 2009 with the At The Firelight album. Trewa comes complete with one Mogador member and is signed to their label too.

Italy is their address. Pure English folk rock is their music though. References are the likes of Fairport Convention. You get the usual celtic rock stuff too. Trewa uses both male and female vocals. Violins, guitars, bass, flutes, harp, keyboards and drums are their main instruments. Trewa claims to have progged up the songs a bit here. Not that this is noticeable. The music is pretty standard folk rock.

This album falls down on the heard-it-before and pretty dull end of the folk rock scene. They have done everything right except from the songs making bit. That is where they fail. Music and vocals wise, Trewa is a very good band. But no good songs makes this a pretty dull album. It is a decent album though and I get the feeling a lot of people will disagree with he. I am barely able to stay awake during the listening sessions and this album requires a lot of black coffee. Sorry, but this album is not my thing.

2 points

The band homepage

White Bone Rattle - Creature of Curiosity (2012)

A British band with what I believe is their debut album. I may be wrong, though.

White Bone Rattle has labelled their music as psychedelic rock. Maybe that is right. But their music need an explanation. Their music is pretty dirty and groovy. It is also very songs based. Creature of Curiosity is by no means a spacewalk or a visit to outer space. This is not by any means spaced out music. Creature of Curiosity is a very mother earth focused album. It is also a rock based album. Therefore, I would say their music is more kraut than space or psychedelic rock.
References are strangely enough a bit Inxs, Beatles, Black Widow, early Pink Floyd and Amon Duul II. That and English indie rock. I am a bit blank here as this type of music is not my normal fare.

The quality is good throughout. The best song here by miles is The Green Hour. It is four minutes of greatness. The rest of the album is OK. I rate this as a good album and wishes this band the best. The album is a name your price download from the link below.

3 points

The album download

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Amusia - Time Will Tell (2012)

I believe this is the debut album from this Vancouver, Canada based band.

The band is sailing down this well trodden middle of the road art/neo/prog metal path. There are also some grunge and post rock elements to their music and the sound is contemporary. Their main influences are said to be Rush and Led Zeppelin. Rush and Radiohead is the ones I would say. Those and numerous others in this pretty much middle of the road terrain.

The music is mainly performed by guitars, bass and drums. Some synths is adding flavours too and Adrian Naqvi's vocals is really superb.

The music is very standard. It is also excellent played. The sound is superb. I have got my fill of this music, I have to admit. But this is a good album though. A couple of killer tracks is missing which would had awaken my interests in this album and elevated it into the great category. This is a free album and the link is added below. Get it if this review is stirring your consuming impulses.

3 points

The album

Warm Digits - Keep Warm With The Warm Digits (2012)

The debut album from this English band.

I am not sure what is the crossover point between electronica and krautrock. Probably this album. It sits pretty much on this border.

Electronica tinged krautrock, it is then. Take some of Big Block 454's madness and add a lot of electronica to it. Then you get this album. English eccentric madness. The instruments are drums, guitars and electronics with some sprinklings of piano too. The real instruments is probably coming from a computer programme though.

The music is pretty light and airy. I am the first one to admit it feels a bit alien to me and a very, very strange choice for the first review of this year. But this album and it's eccentric madness appeals to me a lot. It is a good album and also a rare bird in my house. It is a good album though which fits nicely into my krautrock collection. Warm Digits fits in nicely in this neo-kraut scene, thank you.


3 points

Warm Digits homepage