Thursday, 28 February 2013

Jethro Tull - Songs From The Wood (1977)

Their tenth album and a bit of a return to the sound who gave us their best albums.

Songs From The Wood is very much what the album titles says. It is folk rock songs with a lot of added symph prog to the sound.  Ian Anderson's vocals is pretty dominating here as all compositions here are songs and not pieces of symphonic prog ditties. His vocals is supported by his own flutes and the rest of the band's guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and numerous other instruments. The sound is warm and organic.

The result is a great album with some great songs. The title track and Pibroch is the best songs here. The rest of the album is great too and this album serves as a timely reminder about how great this band was/is. There is not really much else to say about this album and this band. This album is one of their best albums.

4 points

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Oblivion Sun - Oblivion Sun (2007)

WOW !!!!!

Oblivion Sun was founded on the ashes of the US eclectic prog band Happy The Man. I got all their albums, but have so far only listened to and reviewed their debut album. An album I really liked. Oblivion Sun is a different kettle of fish again, I have heard. Although, I am not so sure about that.

This is their debut album and they have just released their new, their second album. I also got that album, but I am starting with this album. An album that starts out as a breezy American heavy prog album with a lot of references to Eagles and Kansas. The two songs I am referring to;  Fanfare and The Ride is two very good songs with vocals and every trimmings possible.

Then this album is starting to really get interesting...... It take a sharp left turn and is heading into a landscape occupied by the symph prog and the fusion genre. The final half of this album offers up some great music in this landscape. A landscape I find a lot of Canterbury scene prog too. Still with an American outlook though. The final two tracks, the instrumentals Tales Of Young Whales and Golden Feast is two suberb tracks. They are two jazz tracks though. The band started out as an Eagles band, continued  through Kansas and ended up as Chick Corea forty five minutes later. Eclectic is the word I would use.

I am not sure if this is a very good or a great album. It has some great moments. But the leap from AOR to jazz is a big one in forty five minutes. I am giving this album a very good rating and highly recommends it. I am though more than willing to join their fanclub. This band has something special going for them. Keep it up !

3.5 points   

Porte Non Aperte. Le - Golem (2013)

Italian progressive rock is very much alive and well. Bands like Le Porte Non Aperte very much prove that point. Golem is their debut album.

Le Porte Non Aperte has very much copied the sound of the 1970s heavy progressive Italian bands. There is tonnes of Hammond organs, flutes, guitars, bass and drums here. The Italian vocals are also very much present here. The result is very much an Italian album. An album you which could only come from Italy.

The result is a very good album which only is lacking in the great songs department. There are some sporadic great melody lines and details here and there during this one hour long album. There are too few of them to make this a great album. The vocals are a bit too wild too and reminds me about the vocals in Area. A bit more restraint here in the shouting department and a bit more proper singing would had made this an even better album. Besides of that, this album is very much recommended. You can either purchase it as a CD, download or listen to it at the link below. I recommend buying the CD and or the LP due to the excellent artwork.

This is a very good album and a very encouraging debut album. More of the same, please.

3.5 points

Listen to the album here

Earth And Fire - Gate to Infinity (1977)

Their fifth album.

Earth And Fire was a Dutch band and mainland Europe's answer to the English band Renaissance (Annie Haslam & Co). That means a great female vocalist in Jerney Kaagman and music somewhere between classic music, symph prog and pop music (Abba). Their first albums was rather good.

Renaissance moved towards Abba'esque pop music and so did Earth And Fire too. Well, make that disco music. The music on Gate to Infinity is rather racy and funky. A bit of a floorfiller with the vocals totally over the top. That was popular music back then and it is still popular music. I am sure this album will find a large appreciative audience even today if offered it. Disco is back in fashion again.

I normally cannot stand disco. But this album is not bad at all and far better than expected. The jazzy bits are actually good. The disco and pop bits not that good. The sound is plastic and kitsch. The vocals far over the top and a big let down. The songs is not that bad. I would not label Gate to Infinity as a good album. But it is still a decent album. Will I ever play it again ? No.

2 points

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Carmen - The Gypsies (1975)

The third and final real Carmen album.

Carmen was an English band who combined English symph/folk prog with Spanish flamenco and folk music. Mostly on their first two albums though. The Gypsies are a much more rounded pop and folk rock album. It has the typical 1970s sound with a lot of male and female vocals. Mostly as choirs like vocals. The instruments are the typical guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. The sound is good an

The music is weering into pop/rock standards a lot though. What was then regarded as pop/rock, I have to add. There is a lot of Renaissance in their music.

 The title track is very good. The rest of the album too is good. It is on the bland side though and would only be recommended to those into the 1970s pop/rock sound. But overall; a good album.

3 points

Monday, 25 February 2013

Eclat - L'Esprit du Cercle (2012)

The fifth studio album from this French band.

Eclat's can be found somewhere between fusion and symphonic prog. The music is instrumental and they have carved out a pretty long career with their music.

The art of making interesting music in this fusion-symphonic prog genre is a difficult one. There is no focal point in the form of vocals in this music. It is difficult to not fall into the elevator/shopping mall music trap too. It is incredible difficult to come up with some great music in this genre. Very few bands has managed to do so.

Eclat is not one of these bands though. Their music is by all means good and easy on the ear. The music is performed with keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. This electric sound is the one everyone use and it is difficult to really carve out an own patch in this overcrowded scene. Eclat also fails to do that and they sounds like most other bands. Not too technical and not too new-age like. They are somewhere between the shopping mall and the jazz club. Some will label that "nowhere". Which is not entirely correct, though.

The music here is good. But really nothing more than that. It is an album which is easy to like and easy to forget. That is L'Esprit du Cercle in a nutshell, I am afraid.

3 points

Comedy Of Errors - Disobey (2011)

Comedy Of Errors is a local band (Glasgow, Scotland) and they have been in and around the Glasgow scene for the best part of 30 years. This is their second album. Their self titled debut album was released in 1988.

We are deep into neo-prog land anno the 1980s here. Marillion, Pallas, Pendragon, IQ..... the band has played with them all and they sounds like them. The vocals takes me back to the 1980s. The overall sound is not too bad though and the worst ills of the 1980s has thankfully been removed.
The instruments are the usual neo prog setup. Keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Everything well excecuted.
The music is mainly songs orientated and not too technical or symphonic. The Could have been yesterday ballad is a typical 1980s neo prog standard and my imagination goes a bit awry when trying to imagine a vidoe for this song if EMI or the likes of that had released this album. I hope I will get a good night sleep, but I fear not. The Student Prince is a four piece suite, half an hour long concept track at the end of this album.

The music is good to very good throughout. I am by no means fan of the 1980s neo prog and I have noticed that the fans of that scene and sound really loves this album. And that is their audience and those who will love this album. I am not among them. This is a good album though and that is all I can say.

3 points

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Alpha Ralpha - Alpha Ralpha (1977)

The one and only album from this French band. A band with members from Malicorne and Tai Phong.

We are deep into instrumental music land here. To be precise; music in the Camel land. That means very pleasant to our ears and an elegant mix of symph prog and fusion. The sound is surprisingly good, make that great. The music is performed with guitars, drums, bass and tonnes of keyboards.

 The album is a rather modest forty minutes long. Which is just about right for this type of music. The music is bordering to supermarket music. It is rather understated though without the cascades of keyboards other similar bands used to mask their deficiencies. The music is rather understated throughout. I am also finding myself really liking this music. The first three tracks are very good. The rest not that great. But this is a rather good album which is sadly forgotten. Taken into account the pedigree of this band, I would suggest a re-release of this album by someone, somewhere. I think others than myself would like this album too. I rate it.

3 points

Eulenspygel - Ausschuss (1972)

Their second album.

Eulenspygel was a band from West Germany on the extreme political left side and Ausschuss was an album who were a vehicle for their message and views. The music is pretty much straight rock/pop with some heavy prog elements. I would compare the music here with the first three Deep Purple albums. That and krautrock. This is indeed a krautrock album.

The music is performed with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The music is fitted around the German vocals which is the missionary type of vocals. The band has a message. It is being delivered on Ausschuss.

This is a very decent to good album which is far too vocals dominated for my liking. The music is not that good either. Decent is the word I would use.  Hence my rating of this album which has failed to live up to my expectations.

2 points

Friday, 22 February 2013

Watson. Dean - Imposing Elements (2012)

The second album from this Canadian multi-instrumentalist. It is the much anticipated follow up to the 2010 album Unsettled.

Imposing Elements is following down the same alley as Unsettled. Dean Watson's main instrument is guitars and he is a great guitarist. He also does keyboards, all forms of percussion and drums, bass and xylophone.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the music here is fusion. I would though say more jazz than fusion, really. His use of xylophone is an excellent idea and is very much taking the music into jazz territory. Some of the tracks here are in the jazz ballads territory too. That too me is a very positive development from Unsettled. Imposing Elements is a much more balanced album than I expected. Again, a positive development in my view.

Imposing Elements is very much a great album with a mix of jazz ballads and more fiery fusion tracks. All of it with a great sound. There is no real killer tracks here though. But it is still a great album who bridges the fusion and the jazz genres. It is a perfect album to both relax and listen to.

4 points

Formula 3 - La Grande Casa (1973)

The fourth album from this Italian band and the final good album from them.

Formula 3 was always on the prog rock fringes with their bluesy space rock and pop sound. Truth to be told, they never really released a great album whereas their Italian peers released some great albums.

La Grande Casa is a mix of space rock, Italian pop and some symphonic prog. The Italian vocals are very good. The sound is very good too and the typical Italian sound. The music is performed with Hammond organs, bass, drums and guitars. I cannot fault the band for anything.

The music is not particular good though. The lack of any good tracks is a problem here. This album is pretty dull with not really any good details here to break up the mix of pop and space rock here. The album is also only half an hour long and does not really represent any value for money. It is a decent album but nothing more than that.

2 points

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Motis - Ripaille (2011)

The fifth album from this French band. A band who has taken up the baton from Ange and run with it.

Motis music is typical French symphonic prog. That means music deeply rooted in French folk music with a medieval touch. Or a large medieval platform in the case of this album. Recreating the medieval tradition and transferring it to a symph prog tradition is the concept behind this album. Motis has succeeded.

The music is mainly vocals lead with a lot of acoustic instruments, moog, melotron, bass and drums adding the additional textures.

The songs are mix of symph and folk prog. Those of you who love Ange would also love this album. It is not a copycat album. It is the same mould, but with it's very own identity. Both this album and Motis are slightly more folk rock orientated than the outputs from Ange.

The result is a great album who proves why French symphonic prog is so great. There is hardly any weak points on this album. A killer track is missing and that is my only gripe with this album. It is an album well worth checking out.

4 points

Their homepage 

Gizmo - Gizmo (2012)

A totally new discovery to me, this Canterbury (England) based band. This album is their fifth album since 1979 and the first album in 20 years. A comeback in other words.
This and their other albums is mostly sold through the local record shops in and around Canterbury (yes, there are still five left of them...) and from their website. See link below.
Gizmo has mainly been doing their business well below the radars of the main prog rock magazines and websites. Which is a great shame because this band and their music has really something to offer the wider scene.

Their music is a mix of Zappa, David Bowie, Caravan and Marillion. I would label the music as a mix of neo and folk prog. This forty five minutes long album offers up a wide variety of playful and more pastoral songs. The vocals are great and fitting the music. The odd song out here is their excellent version of Van Der Graaf Generator's A House With No Door with the late Hugh Hopper on the bass. Yes, the song was recorded some years ago. This somber song is not typical for this album though.

The music is not the most intricate music you can find. But the band knows what they are doing and their sound is great. A very warm folksy sound. A sound where a wide variety of acoustic instruments has added some great textures.

The end result is an arch-typical English album which sounds as good from the stereo as when the music is performed in a pub. The songs are well crafted and they works. There is no great songs here though. But this album radiates warmth and joy. I really like it and hope more people around the world picks up on this band. They and this album deserves it.

3.5 points

The band homepage 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Maschera Di Cera. La - Le Porte del Domani (2012)

The fifth album from these masters of Italian symphonic prog.

La Maschera Di Cera is another Fabio Zuffanti band and it has become one of the best bands in this genre. Their previous four albums is all great and it seems like Fabio is saving up his best efforts for this band. Either that or Fabio Zuffanti is a demigod. I let the wise men decide.

Le Porte del Domani is a journey through the 1970s, now the noughties and whatever we call this decade's Italian musical landscape where large elements of folk, symph, classical music and Italian pop is fused into one musical genre & expression: Italian prog rock. Massive amounts of moog, mellotrons and flutes is added to the stable diet of keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. That and Alessandro Corvaglia's excellent vocals.

The result is an almost overwhelming onslaught of music where the quality is great throughout. My only small gripe is the lack of a signature song/track which would had elevated this album to a masterpiece status. But there is no weakness in this album at all and I have thoroughly enjoyed this, and their previous album, during the last weeks.

4.5 points

The album 

Btw they have also released an English version of this album. The less said, the better.


Tricantropus - El Sueño De Arsinoe (2011)

The second album from this Spanish band.

The band Tricantropus was created by some experienced Spanish musicians as an vehicle to release progressive rock. Or to be more precise; prog rock as a mix of fusion and symphonic prog. And it is in this landscape you find this album.

The music reminds me a lot about the Dutch and German 1970s bands like Trace and others whose albums were filled with soulless symph fusion. This album is a return to those days. The music is well performed by synths, guitars, bass, drums and some vocals. The music is big and is suffering from a delusions of grandeur.
Most of the stuff on this album is approaching shopping mall music. Soulless music who works as background noise without offering anything else.

There are a lot of decent stuff on this album. It is indeed a decent album. I cannot say I really like this album though. Hence my two points which refers to the technical abilities and the well meaning intentions by the band. I am though looking for something more than background noises. Something called hearts, minds and souls.

2 points

Algebra - JL (2009)

The second album from this Italian symph prog band.

Algebra is an already almost forgotten band in the scene. I find that a bit strange. Their music is pretty commercial prog bordering to standard rock. The Italian vocals are great though and the sound too is flawless. They also use tonnes of synths, flutes, guitars, bass and drums. That and some sax and violins.

The result is almost an hour with some very elegant music which can be compared to Genesis, post Gabriel. You can also add neo-prog as a reference here. The music is a bit too elegant to my liking though as elegant sometimes also means toothless. The music here has a silky velvet feeling.
The lack of any great songs is also a gripe I got with this album.

JL is by all means a good album. Some better songs and this album could had been so much better though. Check it out.

3 points  

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Blue Öyster Cult - Secret Treaties (1974)

The third album from this US band.

Blue Oyster Cult has a cult status and one I understand. Their sound is a mix of art and heavy rock. They have also released some cracking superb songs throughout their career. Some of them are on this album which surely must be one of their best ever albums. Songs like Astronomy, ME 262, Career Of Evil and Dominance And Submission is great songs.

It is such a pity that their thin sound is dragging down their songs. The songs could had been a lot better with more oomph added to the bass and drums. The 1970s sound does not suit these songs at all. That is the whole problem with this band and their studio output. Besides of that, this is a great album. In a great deal of doubts, I am ending up on a four pointer because of the songs alone.

4 points

Monday, 18 February 2013

Herd Of Instinct - Herd Of Instinct (2011)

The debut album from this band who was regarded to be too progressive to be regarded as progressive rock by many prog rock websites. I think the band should use that as their main marketing slogan. It certainly got me interested in this band. That and Ms Progmistress (Raffaella Berry) reviews of their two albums.

Herd Of Instinct comes from USA. Texas, if I am not wrong. And their music is really pushing the envelope a bit. Nothing revolutionary though. But they have adopted King Crimson's ethics and really gone for it. They are as progressive as a freight train at full speed. Their music is also as difficult to both grasp and follow as a freight train at full speed.

Their music is instrumental with some sampled female vocals also used as an instrument (Edit: The excellent Dido like vocals was actually done live by Kris Swenson, the vocalist in a band later morphing into this band.). Herd Of Instinct is a trio, a bass/drums/guitar power trio with a lot of hired in instruments. The list of additional instruments and computer programmes is too long to list here. Let's say that there is a lot of textures in their music.

The music is a bit bewildering though. But the music is also great throughout and it has drawn me in. Captivated me, in fact. There is only a handful of other bands who has done that before. King Crimson being one of them. In short; King Crimson is a great reference and fans of them will love Herd Of Instinct. That said, there is also a lot of post rock, avant-garde, heavy prog, prog metal, jazz and even some symph prog on this album too. Indeed, the music is too progressive to be regarded as progressive rock. That is this best label on this album.

This is a great album and a good pointer towards the future of the more progressive, envelope pushing spectrum of the music scene.

4 points

Their homepage 

Elephant9 - Atlantis (2012)

WOW !!

So far my biggest discovery of the year. Elephant9 from Norway has released a number of albums who are all in the jazz/fusion genre. I reviewed their first album some days ago and I really liked that one.

The band has got help from Reine Fiske on guitars on this album. His guitars adds a lot of textures and life to their normal fare of thumphing keyboards, bass and drums. The music is jazz, dark and groovy. The music is very infectious, epic and groovy. This band reminds me alot about Soft Machine and Return To Forever at their best. The added guitars is also a reminder about Mahavishnu Orchestra at their best.

The music is at times very intense. The band has also put in some pastoral breathers inbetween the relentless intensity. The balance is perfect. The music is great. This album is one of the best albums from last year and the band is really onto something here. They may even become one of the best bands within this genre. They are also gigging now and make sure that you catch them if they visits your area.

Atlantis is a great album and a vital vitamin injection into the fusion genre.

4.5 points

Ibliss - Supernova (1972)

A German one off band in the krautrock genre. The well known Conny Plank was the sound engineer here.

Krautrock can mean all sorts of things. In this case, it means instrumental jazz with a lot of ethno influences. Embryo and Xhol is good references. I would also add Soft Machine anno Six and Seven to that list. The music is mostly percussion based with sax and flutes as the solo instruments.

The result is a very good album where the sound is right and the solos is excellent. It gives me this Soft Machine vibe I love and it also has this krautrock vibe too. Albums like this is why I really like the krautrock scene.

My only gripe with this album is the lack of any great songs or even melody lines. It is a bit too one dimentional for my liking too. It is still a very good album well worth checking out.

3.5 points

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Shadowlight - Twilight Canvas (2012)

The debut album from this new English band.

We are again deep into neo prog land. Neo prog with a metallic edge. Their sound is also pretty dark and pastoral too. A lot of Genesis can be detected here. Ditto for US art rock too. The sound is typical big nougties sound and a great sound. That pretty much describe this sound and their music.

The music is performed with guitars, keyboards, piano, Hammond organs, bass and drums. That and some good male vocals. The music is pretty big and full of different textures.

This is a good album which is sorely lacking a killer track or two. This album is a very polished album where most edges has been removed. The music is to a large extent too polished for my liking. Too elegant. This album will therefore be a perfect purchase for those into elegant prog rock. Lasting almost one hour, it does not outlast it's visit either. But again; it never really raises it's head above a good status. It is a debut album and the band has reasons to be proud about it. File it under another good neo prog debut album from England.

3 points

The homepage

Gong - Breakthrough (1986)

The fourteenth album from Gong.

We are still talking about Pierre Moerlen's Gong here. That means jazz/fusion. That and some rock infused into the music too.

The first half of this album is not too band. It is the typical jazz we heard on Shamal. It is just that it seems like the barrel is empty and that the band is running on empty fumes here. The music sounds stale and tired. Not good at all with the exception of the good title track. It is one of only two tracks worthy of the Gong name.
The second half is even worse. The band has suddenly discovered the horrible 1980s plastic fantastic rock sound and adopted it. The result is pretty horrible. The album closes with the rather good jazzy six minutes long Far East.

This forty minutes long album is a rather forgettable album not worthy the Gong name. Two good tracks makes this a decent album, but barely that. There are far better Gong albums out there.

2 points

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Roby Tav & Tiziana Radis - The Secret Wood Tales (2010)

A one of Italian project between those two musicians released through Black Widow Records. They sent me a promo copy and it should had been reviewed one year ago. I am lazy, should stay in bed....

This duo comes across as goths on the album art work. Their logo is also pretty gothic. The music on this forty-five minutes long album is a mix of folk, symph, new age and goth rock. I believe the goths are the main target for this album.

Roby Tav does a lot of instruments. All of them sampled, boxed and then unleashed from a keyboard. OK, the electric guitars is perhaps real. But not much else. Tiziana Radis deliver her vocals in both English and Italian. Mostly in English, though. Her vocals is great though. That is the positive thing about this album.

My main gripes is the lack of any really great tracks. There are not even any good tracks here. The music is a bit new-age gothic and in the airy-fairy mould. The goth guitars are destroying any good ambience in this music and gives this album a plastic fork & knife feeling. A foul taste, no less. Nevertheless, this is a decent album which will please the goths and those into airy-fairy stuff with a bit of an edge.

2 points

Grobschnitt - Sonnentanz (1985)

The third Grobschnitt live album and a brand new version of their Solar Music epos.

The first thing the listener notice is the pretty bad sound on the recording. A sound bordering to bootleg standard. That is not acceptable when a band does a new version of the best ever piece of music. It is shabby to say at least.

The music on this brand new Solar Music version is also much more cosmic space out and keyboards dominated than the original version. The wild guitar solos who made the original version such a great piece of music has gone.

The quality is not there either. To me; Sonnentanz is only a shadow of the original Solar Music. The half an hour with music too is a bit on the short side with at least twenty minutes. There are some good music inbetween the mediocrity. But not many enough of them for me to ignore the bad sound. This live album is really not something to bother about, really. It is still a decent live album and only that.

2 points

Citizen Cain - Skies Darken (2012)

Their sixth album.

This band was one of the bands who turned me into prog rock in the first place. I have never reviewed one of their albums despite of being a happy owner of all their albums. Strange, but that is how life has turned out.

Citizen Cain was among the first ever neo prog bands to hit the scene together with Marillion, IQ, Pendragon and Pallas. Citizen Cain is more on the symphonic dark end of the scene though. The album titles says it all; Skies Darken.

The vocals is still very Peter Gabriel like and the music pretty symphonic. That and very dark. It starts out like a prog metal album and thankfully opens up as a neo-symph prog album after that. Very dark with a lot of prog metal/Dream Theater influences throughout.

Unfortunate, my main gripe is the lack of any great tracks here. This is an album I really loved during the first 2-3 listening sessions before the lack of any great tracks became a problem for me. Besides of that, this album offers a lot and I rate this as a very good album. The dot over the i is missing though. It has rekindled my interest in this band and more reviews will follow.

3.5 points

Friday, 15 February 2013

Arena - Welcome To The Stage (1997)

The first live album from this band and the album that really made me aware of this band.

In many ways, this is their first best-off album too and the best collection of their songs. I really like their early stuff and this album presents the best of their earliest songs in a live setting.

The album starts bombastic with the classic music piece Wilhelm Tell overture. Then the band kicks in and deliver some great songs in the form of Solomon, Welcome to the cage, Sirens and Midas King.... among others. Altogether almost seventy-five minutes of really good music. This is a great live album by all means. It does not offers anything new though. Just a good run through of their great songs.

Live albums is perhaps a tired concept. But this is a great live album though and one of the better ones from the last twenty years.

4 points

Elephant9 - DodoVoodoo (2008)

The debut album from this Norwegian fusion combo. A new name to me, but formed by veterans from the scene. Veterans like Ståle Storløkken and Torstein Lofthus.

The music they have gone for is lush, funky fusion. That means a rampant  Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ on the top of some bass and drums. Electric guitars are also very much present here. The result is some very catchy fusion in the Soft Machine and RTF mould. There are even some ELP like symph prog here. But most of it is fusion. Unfortunate, not of the most intense sort as on their new album (which made me purchase this album too). But the music is interesting enough.

My main gripes is the lack of any great tracks here. This is a debut album and a very good one. The band is still trying to find their way here and that shows. It is still an album well worth purchasing though for anyone into fusion. Elephant9 is the new wine.

3.5 points

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Mahavishnu Orchestra - Inner Worlds (1976)

Oh my, oh my !!

Their fifth album and sixth recording when what later was released as The Lost Trident Sessions in 1999 is included.

Mahavishnu Orchestra was a great, great fusion band on their first four studio albums and the great Between Nothingness & Eternity live album. Their music fast and furious fusion. They are easily among the best bands from the 1970s. They also released, make that unleashed this turkey too.

The first ten minutes contains some good fusion. It is a false dawn though. The remaining half an hour contains some jazzy disco-pop which can only be described as horrendous bad. It is so bad it is impossible to listen to the very over the top vocals here with a straight face. I don't know if I should laugh or cry. Cry because I have spent money on it. Laugh because the music is so bad and so outdated.

This album is a true turkey. Avoid.

1 point

Jet Jaguar - Space Anthem (2007)

A compilation album with 2002-2004 recordings from this obscure US band which is said to be one of the best space rock bands on this planet. I have my doubts.

We are deep into space rock here. Jet Jaguar is one of the many bands who are greatly inspired by Hawkwind and sounds like them too. This is not my home territory so I have to declare some ignorance here.

This album contains seventy-five minutes of the usual distorted vocals over some spacy pop music, long spaced out excursions into outer space and some listener-nodding-off avant garde sound collages. Despite of being a compilation of several recordings, the sound is pretty same throughout. The songs are also pretty same soundings too and there is not much variations over this space rock theme. In short; this album would appeal to the hard core space cadets, but not to many others.

The quality is somewhere between decent and good. I find this album pretty dull. A good space rock album should have a firm bite and large teeth. This album does not. Seventy-five minutes with this music is far too long for my liking. Some of the songs are good and hence my verdict. This album was released by Black Widow Records as a limited edition and I think that was a smart move as this album has no mass appeal.

2.5 points 

Pink Floyd - Animals (1977)

Their tenth or so album.

Being sandwiched between Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall, this album is a bit ignored. I did not even knew about it until some years ago as I have never really been into Pink Floyd. That, until I properly started to explore their music. I am now a fan of this band as approx everyone else is.

I can also understand why this album is a bit ignored. It is not on par with Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here. The material is a bit anonymouse and simply not good enough. Only Sheep is a great song here. The rest of the songs are reasonable good. But Sheep.... This is a great, great song and one of their best ever songs though. A true classic it is.

This is a good album which does not really live up to the Pink Floyd name. But I will play Sheep all day long though.

3 points

Beak - Beak (2009)

The debut album from this British krautrock band.

It is fair to say that the krautrock scene is alive and well again after a three decades long hiatus. Mostly thanx to bands from England. Beak from Bristol is one of these bands. This album though is not their best one.

Beak is pretty much sounding like Can and Neu on this album and on their next album too (see own review). That means pretty primitive, desolate sounding krautrock based on a very simple, one dimentional rhythm figure. Ditto for the very simple melodies. The music sounds too one dimentional throughout this album. Their music is also pretty depressive and dull.

The result is a pretty decent album which does not really impress me. The music is too boring to impress me. Link below to a stream of the album.

2 points

The album

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Maschera Di Cera. La - Petali Di Fuoco (2010)

The fourth album from this Italian band. One of Fabio Zuffanti's many projects.

La Maschera Di Cera is an unrepentant retro band who re-creates the 1970s Italian prog rock sound. A great idea in my view. I love that sound and I love that music. La Maschera Di Cera pulls all my heart strings. Well, most of them.

The Italian vocals is excellent. The music is performed with flutes, guitars, various types of keyboards, drums and bass. All of it excellent. The music is pretty powerful and big with plenty of emotions attached. Very melodic too. If anyone asks me what old Italian symphonic prog anno sounded like, I would play them this album.

The album is full of great melody lines and songs. There is no killer tracks here and this album is not a masterpiece. But I still really like it and it has been a firm favourite in my home for the last two weeks. It comes with my recommondations.

4 points

Incredible String Band - The Incredible String Band (1966)

The debut album from this Scottish band who released some albums, thirteen albums in fact, between 1966 and 1974.

They and String Driven Thing has been a pretty big influence on the British folk music scene. A scene who grew pretty big back in those days. The Incredible String Band was one of the biggest names in this scene. They also later branched into progressive folk music too. This album is pure folk rock though with lots of vocals, some flutes and guitars. Pure folk music and nothing else.

I like my music a lot bigger than what folk music like this can offer me so this is really not my scene. There is no great or even good songs here too. It is a debut album which should appeal to the purist folk music fan and nobody else. A weak two pointer is awarded.

2 points

Amanda - Là où Chimène dort ? (2012)

The third album from this band from Belgium.

This band was totally new to me when I got this album in my hands. Amanda is said to be the best band to come out of Belgium these days. Their debut album was released back in 2002 and their second album in 2007. Their music is labelled neo-prog. I would label it neo-French symph prog. The vocals is in French and Latin. The music is a blend of French chanson pop, Harmonium and Ange. The music is pretty theatrical throughout.

Amanda use both female and male vocals. Both vocals types are excellent. The vocals are backed by guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. This creates a very fluid sound which is very pleasing to the ears. The songs are also very pleasing and this album has several great melodies and songs. I am an unrepentent fan of French symphonic prog and this album is really very much my cup of tea. If their other two albums is in the same style, and I have been told they are, I will also get their first two albums.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy this great album.

4 points

The band homepage 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Follakzoid - II (2013)

Chilean based cosmic music band is what this band label themselves as. Which is true enough at this, their second album. They have also released an EP too. More on the link below.

Their cosmos is a bit bitterly cold though. Minus 150 degrees or so. That is how cold their sound feels like. It is dominated by an indie-pop like guitar sound with bass and drums in the bottom and some pretty ice cold detached vocals present in the sound too. This album is not an all out outer space orgy. It is somewhere between indie rock and space rock. Not to mention post rock where the band has taken a big chunk of their music and sound from.

The result is a pretty good album which does not quite delivers what it promise. The songs are pretty good and that's it. I like their sound though and I give them a belated good award. Check them out yourself.

3 points

The albums

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Starcastle - Chronos I (2001)

This album is not a studio album. It is a compilation of alternative songs and left overs dug out from the archives.

Maybe they should have remained hidden in the archives. The reason is that the band falls into the Yes copycat trap on these songs. They are very unflattering and damaging to Starcastle's reputation. The band always balanced on a fine edge between being a Yes copycat and being an independent band with their own sound. Something they are not on Chronos I.

It is painful to listen to songs which is so obvious Yes plagiarism. Ditto for the sound. Starcastle is not Starcastle on these songs. They are Yes. That is painful to witness as I have always had a soft spot for Starcastle.

The songs are not too bad though. But this is still a Yes album in all but the name under a different name and that is not something I paid for when I paid my money for this album. Hence my one pointer for this album.

1 point

Grobschnitt - Solar Music Live (1978)

Grobschnitt from Germany was a very strange band throughout their career. I am not a fully signed up fan to their music. I am firmly a sceptic.

Their masterpiece and what they will be remembered for is the Solar Music suite, concept or whatever we should call it. It is a long spaced out workout delivered as long guitar solos. It is one of the most famous, if not the most famous, piece of krautrock ever. Solar Music is for me what krautrock really is. The best of it.

The live version as presented here, the first of the many Grobschnitt live albums, delivers the best version of this suite. The sound is good, the musicianship top notch and there are even a lot of great humour here between the band and the audience.

The music is great too. I am a fan of spaced out long guitar solos. This album delivers everything I could wish for in that respect. Spaced out is what I would call this music. Solar music in other words. It is a hippie fest, this album. Even without being filled up to the eyeballs with illegal substances. This review has been written in a stone cold sober state of mind with some help of a mug of lukewarm black coffee.

This album is great and one of the best live albums from the 1970s. It is on a level or two below Deep Purple's standard bearing Made In Japan. It is also the best album Grobschnitt has ever done too. It is highly recommended.

4 points

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Canzoniere del Lazio - Spirito Bono (1976)

Their third album and my first and probably only visit to their world.

Canzoniere del Lazio was an Italian band who released five albums between 1973 and 1978. They are listed as a folk rock band many places. The music that comes out of my speakers are RIO though. A bit folk rock influenced RIO though. But still chamber orchestra RIO. A bit like Aranis meets Flairck. And Flairck is a good reference to this album.

This fifty-five minutes long album is split in four suites and they are pretty good with some good melody lines. I cannot say I enjoy this album as much as I enjoy most other RIO albums. It is too one-dimentional for that. It lacks a bit flair and teeth. The music here does not speak to me. It is a good album though and well worth checking out.

3 points

Albatros - Ursus (2011)

The second album from this Spanish band.

Their music has somehow been described as heavy prog on other prog websites. Ursus has a lot more going for it than just being a heavy prog (= Rush) album. It is not much heavy prog here. Instead, it can be found somewhere between Spanish symphonic prog, space rock, rock, AOR and some heavy prog. The Spanish vocals, male vocals supported by female vocals, gives this album a Spanish flavour. The use of Hammond organs also gives this album a warm organic feeling. The other instruments are guitars, bass and drums.

The music is pretty intelligent and well crafted. There is no killer tracks here. Nevertheless, the music is still great and full of intricate, great details and textures. The timeshifts and the Hammond organs solos is superbly excecuted.

In short, this is a great album which I really recommend.

4 points

Premiata Forneria Marconi - L'isola Di Niente (1974)

The third Italian language album and the fourth overall when the English language compilation album Photos Of Ghosts are included.

These Italian masters were progressing nicely through the 1970s with their innovative music. L'isola Di Niente is not an easy album to grasp. A mix of Italian pop, some King Crimson, some avant-garde Canterbury, some jazz, some US rock and some Genesis. The band is very much creating their own world and music on this album. A music which is both complex and melodic at the same time. L'isola Di Niente is also an album full of contrasts. An album full of colours too. An album which does not really comes out as an immediate hit. It requires some hard listening as it is pretty sound collage'ish at times.

I have started to really appreciate this great album after some listening sessions where I was not sure what this music really was. Cheap vulgarity in it's sound collage setup or a great piece of art. I have now fallen into the latter camp. The ones who think this is a great album and most definate one every fans of Italian prog need to purchase. There is no killer tracks here like Appena un Po from the previous album Per Un Amico. But the music is still great. Enough said.

4 points

Diagonal - The Second Mechanism (2012)

The second album from this English band and the follow up to their self titled debut album from 2008 who topped a lot of best-album-of-the-year charts that year. I am not sure if I got that album. If not, I will get it on the basis of this album alone although the 2012 lineup is different from the 2008 lineup.

I expected neo prog to be honest. So I was surprised and very pleased when a very different type of music filled the air. The Second Mechanism is forty-three minutes with a mix of King Crimson like eclectic prog, some Camel, a lot of National Health and Gilgamesh and some Return To Forever. The music is woodwinds based with guitars, keyboards, bass and drums playing the more supporting role on this instrumental album. There is enough bite in the music to make it both relevant and interesting.

My only gripe with this album is the lack of more bite in the form of some great melodies and tunes. One killer track here and this album would had got something it does not have: A strong identity. It still have enough going for it to make it interesting. I regard this album as being a very good album which I will be happy to play on a regular basis in the years and decades to come.

3.5 points

Friday, 8 February 2013

Anekdoten - From Within (1999)

The third album from this Swedish band I have to admit I have never really warmed to.

Anekdoten's music is a blend of Marillion, King Crimson and Gazpacho. The latter band has copied Anekdoten though. The music is pretty complex and melancholic throughout. The tonnes of mellotrons this band use gives the music a bit of a 1970s sound. Anekdoten was one of the bands who formed the Swedish dark progressive sound so I am not surprised that most of the material here is pretty dark.

What is missing is a couple of great tracks though. I cannot find any great tracks here and I find this album a bit of a frustrating listen. There is nothing really wrong with the music or this album. I just find it good and a bit uninteresting. A good award at the end of this short review is awarded.

3 points

Marchesi Scamorza - La Sposa Del Tempo (2012)

The debut album from this Italian band.

The native prog rock sound is going through a rennaisance in Italy these days. The sound created by Le Orme, Banco and PFM. Marchesi Scamorza is very much copying that sound on this album. A warm lush sound with Italian vocals and flavours. There is also plenty of Pink Floyd, Camel and Genesis influences here too. The music is not particular heavy though. The emphasis is more on gentle neo and symphonic prog than hard bombastic prog.

The vocals are excellent. Ditto for the mellotrons, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums too. The album is filled ot the brim (forty nine minutes) with subtle details. For example the pianos which is great throughout.

There is no really killer track here though. Well, the seven minutes long Il Castello Delle Stagioni is a great track with some mellotron and piano runs which is really great. I suspect I will love this album a lot more in the years to come as this album has both longviety and class. It is a great album throughout which I highly recommend. The Italian scene is well and alive. Marchesi Scamorza is a band well worth keeping an eye on.

4 points 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Amon Düül II - Hijack (1974)

Their seventh studio album from these German krautrock pioneers.

If we by krautrock means spaced out music, there is not much krautrock left in this band. Hijack is a move towards The Beatles anno Revolver and most of Jefferson Airline and Velvet Underground's outputs. Weird spacy pop music with a German twist. There is also a lot of cabaret music in this album.

The band use mostly male vocals here and the vocals are in English with some German accents. Some female vocals is helping out the male vocals. The instruments are the usual keyboards, guitars, bass and drums.

The music is decent throughout. I am missing the good old krautrock stuff from this band and is not happy about their move towards a much more commercial pop/rock sound. This album though is pretty typical for Amon Düül II and the German music scene back in 1974. It is not a scene I understand. This is a decent album, nevertheless.

2 points 

Ayahuasca Dark Trip - The Unknown Trip At The Top Of The Mountain (2011)

Hmm.... The band name and album title gives this away. This is their debut album too and a free download.

For those of you still in doubt, this Brazil-Dutch band is playing a mix of outer space rock and krautrock. The instruments is pan flutes, bass, keyboards, guitars and some voices. The sound is very ethnic and very Amazon jungle like. I guess this album is best enjoyed with some agricultural-chemical products from that area too. I am not talking potatoes or coffee her. Although it has to be said that this album goes well with coffee too. Black coffee.

This album last almost half an hour and it is not particular eventful. It is slow drone krauty spacerock. No less; no more. I am not a fan of this type of music/noise. But I find this album pretty decent. Part V, the final ten minutes of this album, is pretty tasty though and the highlight of the album. This is a decent album and well worth the download. I have downloaded quite a lot of this type of albums lately (they are free.....) and I guess I should get used to this music now/soon/very soon. This is not my cup of coffee....... yet.

2 points


Eela Craig - One Niter (1976)

The second album from this Austrian kraut/symph/jazz band.

This is the only album I got from this band and it has left me scratching my head. The music is everything above. Eloy meets Genesis meets Camel meets ELP meets Kraan meets Pink Floyd. This album is in that area and the music is pretty melodic throughout. The sound is typical 1970s too. Very German 1970s with some James Last influences too.

The music here is mostly good without really impressing me. This album takes in far too many styles and is trying to cover far too much ground throughout the forty-five minutes. I sometimes get the feeling I am listening to many different albums. There is no really great songs here too. Hence my good reward and me scratching my head.

3 points

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Thank You Scientist - Maps of Non Existent Places (2012)

The debut album from this US band.

...And an album I find it difficult to really label. Stadium rock with some jazz elements is perhaps the best label. There is a lot of brass and woodwinds in their sound. That in addition to alot of Muse sounding stadium rock. A jazzed up Muse is another good label. There is also some violin lead gypsy music here too. This seven piece band is not making it easy for me with their many untraditional instruments and a mix of jazz and stadium rock. This music would be great in a live setting, though.

The sound is great and no problems there. What is really missing is some great melodies and songs. There is none of that. The music is good though and the band is a very welcome injection of life and vitamin d's into the pretty stagnant US scene. Their music is by no means stagnant. It is lively as a poultry farm during a visit from a fox. A heck of a racket, this band is making.

Although this album is not quite a great album, I quite like this album although it is well outside my comfort zone and music I have gotten quite fed up with long time ago. A good is rewarded.

3 points

Hyacintus - Sinkronos (2008)

Hyacintus was an Argentine project run by the multi-instrumentalist Jacinto Corral. He released three albums under this name and Sinkronos is the final album in this trilogy.

Hyacintus was loosely speaking a symph prog band on their first two albums. They have turned more towards the likes of Alan Parsons Project on this album though. A lot of vocals and normal rock with some more keyboards orientated new age symph prog pieces filling in the gaps. Almost an hour with this mix.

The music is pretty boring and uninspiring. It is bland, to say at least. There is no good songs here either. The vocals pretty bad. The sound is not good either. This just feels like a project where the creator has taken the leave of his/her senses and gone for something from her/his too much sun induced dreams. There is no bite in the material here and no real substance. This is an album you put on when you want your guests to leave the house.

So.......The first album from Hyacintus was good while the second album was a step backwards. Sinkronos again is a disaster, more or less.

1 point

Arena - Pepper's Ghost (2005)

For some reasons, I thought this album was going to be their masterpiece. I have no idea where I got that idea from.

Pepper's Ghost is their sixth album and is following on from the album that is their masterpiece; Contagion. Pepper's Ghost is more about bombastic songs and not so much about finding the good melody. It seems like they have not found the art of great song writing on Pepper's Ghost though. They have replaced it with a wall of sound instead. Sometimes during this album, I feel am receiving some tonnes of artillery grenades on my head. This is a bombastic album. Very bombastic.

The songs are very good though. Ditto for the sound which I am afraid is sounding like the 1990s sound though. Which is not a negative in this case. What I am missing is some great songs though. There is none of them here. This is still a very good album though and I would recommend it to everyone into neo prog as Arena is one of the five best, perhaps three best bands in this genre.

3.5 points

Monday, 4 February 2013

Greenwall - Il Petalo Del Fiore E Le Altre Storie (1999)

The debut album from this Italian band who released 3 albums between 1999 and 2004. I am not sure if they are still alive.

We are talking keyboards here. Tonnes of keyboards. The music is a mix of new-age and symphonic prog. That and some fusion. There are some vocals here. But most of the music is instrumental.

There are some good melody lines here. My main gripe with this album and the music here is that it sounds machine like and bereft of life. Despite of some good melody lines, there is not enough of them to keep up my interest in this album. This is a debut album and it partly falls flat on it's face. It is a decent album though which I would not recommend unless you are a keyboards fanatic.

2 points