Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Dolorosa - Het! (2012)

The debut album from this two men big French band and a free download too.

Dolorosa claims to play zeuhl. Well, they are pretty similar to Shub Niggurath on their Testament album. And that is not a compliment, btw. Dolorosa's music is more leaning towards a mix of acoustic and electronic hypnotic music. There is a lot of loops here. Most of the album is loops. Loops and pretty one-dimensional where the emphasis is on creating a Shub Niggurath like darkness. They succeeds in that.

This album is in short not a good album for those who want variations and organic music. This is not a hopeless album though. I understand where the band want. The music is avant-garde and that to the extreme edge of that scene. Ditto for this album. I hope Dolorosa develops their concept and moves more into proper zeuhl and avant-garde instead of plodding around with tape loops like on this album. A decent award is handed out.

2 points

The album

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Ficcion - Sobre La Ira De Dios (2013)

The third album from this band from Venezuela. I do believe this is the only album I have ever heard by them.

Ficcion is a band who has positioned themselves between ELP and fusion. They are very ELP on this album, though. ELP and the Russian combos like for example Little Tragedies. Jose Ignacio Lares keyboards is pretty dominant here despite of this being a five man band. Guitars, violins, drums and bass is the other instruments. That and some Spanish male vocals.

The music is pretty bombastic and symphonic throughout. The listener is being more bombarded than serenaded by Ficcion on this one hour long album. Unfortunate, the art of good melodies has eluded this album. There is none. Just a lot of keyboards and aural assaults. This is a decent to good album though and I would not dismiss it out of hand. Those into keyboards assaults would like this album, though.

2.5 points

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Giganti. I - I Grandi Successi Originali (2000)

A cheap 2 CDs compilation album from this 1960s Italian beat combo who made a brief foray into progressive rock on their Terra In Bocca album in 1971.

What we get on these two CDs is their beat material. They sounds like any other beat band from that era. Animals, early Moody Blues, etc etc. This though with an Italian sound to it. Not only the vocals, but also a lot of influences from the Italian folk tradition. The same source the Italian symph prog scene also took a lot from during the 1970s. They drink from the same bottle, but the result is pretty different.

The songs here sounds dated and naive. The songs are not particular interesting either. I would not dismiss this band or this album though. But it is only an album for the beat fans out there. The rest of us can bypass it. Nevertheless, a decent album.

2 points

Arpia - Liberazione (1995)

The debut album from this Italian band.

The cover art work looks like an Area album and I suspected that Arpia were a highly influenced by Area band. I could not have been more wrong.

Carrying the 1990s sound, Arpia has gone down the prog metal and alternative rock path on this album. Italian lyrics are a plenty and the band is clearly having an eye on the Italian symph prog scene. But most of this album is a blend of alternative rock and prog metal. Some Radiohead is also very much noted in their sound. The songs are mostly somber and downtuned. A bit sludge like.

The music is performed with a lot of solo guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. That and some very good vocals. The music itself is not bad. The opening track Ragazzo Rosso is very good. The problem with this album is simply the lack of any really great songs here. Hence my good verdict on an album from a band who in total released three albums.

3 points

Amon Düül II - Almost Alive... (1977)

The tenth album from this German band.

Once upon a time, this was a krautrock band. In 1977, they were not. Instead, we are treated to forty-five minutes of straight rockers and ballads. Thus with a heavy German accent in the vocals. A lot of the music is a mix of The Beatles and US west coast rock. The songs are keyboards and vocals dominated.

The music is boring to say at least and this album has not aged well. This is a highly forgetable album and should be shunned.

1.5 points

Gentle Giant - Interview (1976)

The eight album from these masters of eclectic prog.

Their previous album, FreeHand, was a great album and one of the best eclectic prog albums I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Lush, choral choir based melodies with the usual Gentle Giant twist. Interview is another side of Gentle Giant, though. The band was greatly disillusioned by the music business by that time. I guess the question "how would you describe your music ?" is a question that irked them. Gentle Giant was always all about breaking barriers and carving their own musical path. Interview is loosely a concept album based on their disillusionment about the business, centered around an interview.

The concept is brilliant and I understand them. Unfortunate, the music is not that great. The Gentle Giant trademark still shines through though on all the seven songs. The title track and a couple of other songs is very good. There are also some not so impressive songs here. The closing song I Lost My Head is Gentle Giant going commercial pop and by far the weakest song here.

Interview is by no means a great Gentle Giant album. I have made no secret of my admiration for this band and their sound. It is a very good album in my estimation although it is pretty low on my list of Gentle Giant album, quality wise. It is still well worth checking out.

3.5 points

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Yuka & Chronoship - Dino Rocket Oxygen (2013)

What is the difference between shopping mall music and symphonic progressive fusion ? The second album from this Japanese band is very much operating on this border with one foot in each country.

Yuka & Chronoship is one of these cleverest-kid-in-the-class bands. Very bright in what they do, but not particular social intelligent. What these bright kids more often than not produces is albums like this one. Dino Rocket Oxygen is an instrumental album where a female vocalist is also showing up and uses her vocal chords as an instrument on one track. The main instrument is keyboards though. Lots of it. But guitars, bass and drums is also included. This is actually not a keyboards saturated album and I have to compliment the band for showing this restraint. The melodies is also surprisingly organic.

Some of the melodies here are very good. The first three tracks has a mix of symph prog, King Crimson'esque hooks and some good jazz bits. Those tracks is a false dawn, though. The rest of the album is a mix of fusion and very slick shopping mall music. Watered out fusion, in other words.

In short; Dino Rocket Oxygen is a bit of a frustrating album as it has some great stuff and some pretty abysmal stuff. Three points is an average and safe collection of points for this album.

3 points

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Solus3 - Corner Of The Dub (2013)

The dub version of their excellent Corner Of The World album from 2011.

I am by no means a fan of dub and all this new type of rhythm and electronica based music. Not to mention; house music. This is what we get here. Dub and house with female vocals on the top. Very hip these days for the young people. I am putrid, middle aged and grumpy (btw I am also hungry).

The music is not too bad. It is just dub though and not really my kind. Nice in small dosages and that is all. Enough said.

2 points

Three Seasons - Understand The World (2012)

The second album from this Swedish power trio.

Retro-hard rock is the name of the game here. Hard rock bordering to prog rock with an early 1970s sound. The Hammond organ is pretty dominant here together with a half-acoustic guitar sound, bass and drums. The vocals are in the rasping hoarse Rod Stewart mould.

The music is pretty good throughout. Retro and with a great sound. The music is also pretty reflective and introvert at times. Very progressive at times. Unfortunate, there is no real great tracks here. Besides of that; everything here is great. I have really enjoyed this album despite of it having no great songs. This is a good album.

3 points

Locanda delle Fate - The Missing Fireflies... (2012)

I am not sure why the band or their record label released this compilation album. Maybe it is because the band is alive again and is touring the world. That itself is a very good reason to release this album. Now, I understand......

This Italian symph prog band has been compared a lot with Genesis. Well, they are in the more melodic end of the RPI spectrum anyway. I really liked their debut album Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Più from 1977 (see review somewhere else in the blog).

The Missing Fireflies... is a mix of four new studio tracks and three live tracks. The sound quality on the live tracks is not the best. The studio tracks has a good sound.

My opinion ? I am not sure about the value of this album. The four studio tracks are really good and they have grown on me a lot during the last week. Very typical Italian prog, in other words. The live tracks are pretty much a waste of time as they already have released two live albums. I award this album a very weak three pointer and a buyer-beware warning. Spend the money on the other albums instead. Or rather; catch them live.

3 points

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Sarcasme - Instinct (2012)

The debut album from this French band.

An album and a quandrum when it comes to reviewing it. The music on this album covers a broad, broad spectrum. The zany French vocals adds a lot to the zany music too. Music which is somewhere between Solstice, Jethro Tull and Bretagne type keltic rock. The music is performed with guitars, bass, flutes, drums and keyboards.

The band has in a sarcastic sense put in a lot of conflicting variables into the mix. From a long, intense heavy metal guitar solo lead melody to folky rock melodies. It feels like listening to a compilation album with four different bands than one band.

This could have been a good album with some good songs. There is none and the album is only retaining my attention for being plainly unusual and weird. Add some good songs to the mix and the next album from this band may be something. This is not. Nevertheless; a decent effort which lacks focus and direction.

2 points

Ahleuchatistas - Heads Full of Poison (2012)

Their seventh album. We are deep into disharmonia land here. Avant garde music too avant garde for most avant garde fans. That is one take on this album and the music here.

I very much liked their 2003 album On The Culture Industry and the follow up. Great anti-melody avant garde and some very intelligent sounds. The band has somewhat lost it on the 2011 album Location Location and has not really recovered from that. Thankfully, the band has returned to their roots after the failed Location Location album. Tried to return to the roots, that is. The result is not as dynamic as On The Culture Industry though. Heads Full of Poison is not of that quality and I am left a bit dumbfounded.

A strange album from a strange band. Heads Full of Poison is not an album I recommend from them. Nevertheless; it is a decent album.

2 points

Bottega Dell'Arte. La - La Bottega Dell'Arte (1975)

The debut album from this rather late comer in Italy's symphonic prog scene.

La Bottega Dell'Arte only released two prog albums and then some pop albums. And this album is sometimes more in the sickly, sweet pop mould than in the symphonic prog mould. There is a lot of strings and tender loving male vocals on this album. Then, there is also a lot of symphonic prog here in the first albums in the Phil Collins era Genesis and the two first albums by Locanda Delle Fate.

The end result is a mix of rather good symph prog and some rather forgetable pop. Most of this album sounds dated too. But there are still a lot of quality here which shines through even in year 2013. It is not one of the top Italian albums. But it is still a good album and worth checking out.

3 points

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Fantasmagoria - Night And Day (2009)

This Japanese band rips into the listener like Mahavishnu Orchestra did on their Bird album.....

Fantasmagoria is mainly the vehicle for the female wunderkinder and violinist Miki Fujimoto. It seems like violin is a big jazz and prog rock instruments in Japan. I have heard other Japanese bands who extensive use violin in their music. But none as extensive as this band and this album. The music is a mix of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Dream Theater. No, I am not joking. Add a sound totally dominated by various ways of getting sounds from a violin, you get this album.

I am not a fan of violins. OK, Jean Luc Ponty is a great musician and I like his violin sound. But Fantasmagoria has made an overkill on this album. An album where the (all instrumental) melodies are not too bad. The guitars and the rhythm section is great. I am not happy about the plastic fantastic synth sound. There is far too much violins here. The end result is a decent to good debut and so far the only album from this band album where excess all areas is the dominant factor. I hope we will hear more from this band. But I fear this is the final sign of life from this band.

2.5 points

Renaissance - Grandine il Vento (2013)

The long awaited new Renaissance album. An album made even more poignant with the recent passing of Michael Dunford, one of the founders of the mark II of this band. The only other member of mark II is Annie Haslam. Both of them are very much present on this album.

The album title and Annie Haslam's art work promises a lot. A return to the likes of Ashes Are Burning, Turn Of The Cards and in particular; the Scheherazade album. The sounds coming from the band leading up to the release of this album was promising us a return to that sound. A promised partly honoured. Well, the band tried their best to return to this sound and they have partly succeeded. I though would remind you all that this album is the follow up to the not so perfect Tuscanny album. A mix of that album's light pop and Scheherazade is the best description I can come up with when it comes to this album.

The twelve minutes long Symphony Of Light sets the ball running and it is a great song. Annie Haslam's voice is as great as ever. The second song Waterfall is very good. The title track is another great song in the good old Turn Of The Cards mould. I have problems with Porcelain. But most of it is a very good song. I don't like these voice overs in the song. The duet with John Wetton is pretty good, but the weakest track on the album. The album closes with the great The Mystic And The Muse after I have bypassed three-four songs.

All songs are very much moulded in the Renaissance mix of pop, rock and classical music sound. Annie sings over a mix of keyboards, pianos, drums, guitars and bass. Everything oozes class and elegance. Annie also proves that she is the undisputed queen, ruling monarch, of the female vocalists in the melodic and progressive rock scene. Her vocals is as per usual stunning. Utterly stunning.

I am not sure if Grandine il Vento is the final ever Renaissance album. A band that has meant and still means a lot to me. If it is their final studio album (I suspect we will get a live album from their recent tour); Rennaissance is bowing out on the top and with one of their best albums. It is not in the same class as their trio Ashes/Cards/Scheherazade. It is still on the level just below there again though. OK, some of the songs here are far too much pop music for my liking. Far too much like Tuscanny. But most songs, if not all of them, have elements I really like. Elements that reminds me why I really love this band.

Grandine il Vento is in short a great album. Annie Haslam's artwork and vocals elevates it up to a great album status. An album I am starting to really getting a lovely relationship with. Scary.

4 points


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Ingranaggi Della Valle - In Hoc Signo (2013)

The debut album from this Italian prog rock band.

I have no idea where Ingranaggi Della Valle comes from in Italy. I have no idea how old they are and what they did before. I know nothing. I just goes by their music. And the music is a new and pretty refreshing take on the good old Rock Progressivo Italiano genre. A breezy 2013 version of that genre. Their personal take on the genre.

The Rock Progressivo Italiano ingredients are there. The Hammond organs, the Italian vocals, the violins and flutes, the typical Italian electric guitar sound, the mix of folk and hard rock. A couple of commercial folksy tracks in the good old Italian tradition. That and a lot of jazz too which I guess is their personal take on the genre. This is a pretty funky, contemporary album. It also has a couple of superb songs in the form of Mare In Tempesta and Finale. The first one with it's PFM like classic song structure. The latter one with it's funky jazz. An hour with this band flies fast. Too fast for my liking. The repeat button has been used on a frequent basis.

In short; Italy is throwing up a lot of great new bands now. Ingranaggi Della Valle must be added to this list. In Hoc Signo is one heck of a debut album. Not a classic album, but still one heck of a debut album.

4 points

Saturday, 8 June 2013

After... No Attachments (2011)

When does neo prog becomes just mainstream rock ?

That is the question I ask myself when listening to this Polish band's third studio album. I am normally not into putting bands into genres and keeping them there. Genre-crossing is a good idea. In my case; I quite like neo prog. I don't like mainstream rock. In particular mainstream rock who also crosses over to djent too. Like some of the songs here.

On the other hand, some of the material here is pretty refreshing too. There is no denying that this is a good band. OK, mainstream rock is not my cup of tea. I am still pretty sympatetic to this album which has some very good songs too. They could had saved themselves and the rest of us from the crossover to djent who feels out of place on a largely post rock to ambient dominated mainstream rock album. Nevertheless; this is a good album.

3 points

Zao - Shekina (1975)

The third album from this Magma splinter group.

Zao is basically Yochko Seffer's band if I am not much mistaken. The music is a much more jazzy and funky version of what Magma did on their albums. There is still a lot of zeuhl traces here. But most of it is funky jazz with a lot of woodwinds and bass. Violin and cello can also be found here in abundance.

The result is a pretty funky forty minutes long album which is good fun when it lasts, but never really impresses me. The Soft Machine like first two songs are the best ones here and I also likes it when they turns their attention towards zeuhl at the final song Bakus. The rest of the album is good too. Good fun, that is.

3 points

Celeste - Principe di un Giorno (1976)

The debut album from this Italian band who only released three albums.

This album is in many ways incorporating the whole Rock Progressivo Italiano genre.

Principe di un Giorno is a great introduction to the scene. Lush vocals over tonnes of moog and melotrons. Flutes, sax, bass, drums, keyboards and guitars. All this in a type of music which combines both the Italian crooner tradition, pop music, hard rock and folk rock. The music is very lush and colourful. The Italian vocals is great. The music is at times leaning too much towards Angelo Branduardi's lullabies music albums. Some of the melodies here are pretty jazzy too so it evens out. It makes for a great album in my view. A signature song is missing from this album though and that is my only gripe with this album who incorporate Italy and all it's greatness. It is a must have for those who loves this country and this type of music.

4 points

Red Summer - Release (1982)

A very obscure British band with their only release.

We are deep into Mike Oldfield land here. Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn, Tubular Bells.... You get my drift. Instrumental symphonic ambient music, performed with the same instruments Mike Oldfield used. Tape loops, keyboards, acoustic instruments and other orchestral instruments. The same vibe, with not the best sound quality, is achieved here.

This album is the most blatant Mike Oldfield worship I have ever heard. The music is not too bad, though. Some of the material here is quite enjoyable. It is too one dimentional for my liking though. I am also suffering from not being the biggest Mike Oldfield fan on this planet. If I was a fan, I would had rated this album far higher. On it's own; it is a pretty decent album which may give most of you a lot of joy.

2 points

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Hammock - Departure Songs (2012)

Hmmmm...... maybe it is the hot weather these days.......

This is the fifth album from this US post rock band I have not heard about before. It is also my first post rock album for a while as I have been ignoring the many post rock albums, most of them free Bandcamp downloads, lately. I have focused on kraut, symph prog, RPI and other music styles instead. Departure Songs is a bit of a refreshment in my diet of not so good food, it can be said.

Departure Songs is also a very cinematic album where the mood/ambience and sound collages is the main focus. In this respect, Sigur Ros is a good reference. Departure Songs has an Icelandic feel to it. The use of female vocals also gives this album a cool Icelandic feel too. These female vocals comes on the top of collages made by bass, drums and guitars.

The sound collages, some may call them songs/compositions, contains some really great music. So much that this album has really captured my imagination and attention. Yes, the music is ambient and very pedestrian. There is no really progress here. But it is also great to just float away on the wings of this album too. Albums like this is a good reason why I really like the post rock genre. This album is recommended.

4 points 

Camel - I Can See Your House From Here (1979)

Their seventh album.

I Can See Your House From Here is a bit of a halfway house and a collection of ditties and datties, it feels like. A couple of long and soaring good old style Camel tracks inbetween pop, funk and dare I say it; dance floor fillers. Some of the songs here, a large part of this album, makes me cringe really bad. The light weight pop music, that is. The only saving grace on this album is the final track Ice. The rest of the album is best forgotten.

2 points

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Doracor - Segni Premonitori (1998)

(reviewed on the November 24, 2011 at Progarchives and moved over as I want a complete reviewed Doracor discography in this blog)

The second album from Corrado Sardella and his Doracor.

The first album was keyboards drenched symph prog. And there is not much change here either. The same style as on the debut album. Although with some more electric guitars this time. And the last song has some good vocals too.

I understand that keyboards is a good instrument. And the debut album had a some good melodies. But it feels like Corrado Sardella has run a bit empty on this album. No real good melodies and not many interesting details either. The progression I expected from the debut album is actually a step backwards. Which is a pity, really. This album is much more muzak than symph prog. And this muzak album is nothing more than a decent album, I am sorry to report. I hope for a better third album.

2.5 points

Doracor - The Long Pathway (1997)

(reviewed on the November 21, 2011 at Progarchives and moved over as I want a complete reviewed Doracor discography in this blog)

The debut album from this Italian band.

This album is entirely built on keyboards. Corrado Sardella's keyboards that is. But when listening a bit more careful, there are also some other instruments present. A guitar hook here and there. Both drums and bass is rumbling in the background. There are also some vocals here. But the keyboards is the dominant factor here. Doracor and this album has been compared to ELP. I disagree a lot with that comparison. This album is much more in the direction of instrumental RPI and Camel. There is also a lot of new-age and ambient fusion/jazz here.

The overall quality is surprisingly good in my view. Yes, some of the material is a bit too dull. But it is obvious Corrado Sardella is onto something good here. The opening track Scenes from elsewhere for example. This is an album between two and three stars. But I drag it up to three stars.

3 points

Doracor - Transizione (2001)

One of this year's better surprises.......

I have really never rated this band at all. They were a mad man and his keyboards ELP clone on their first three albums. Very boring music and albums. Then this mad man, Corrado Sardella, expands his efforts to a full band with male and female vocals. We even gets some electric guitars, drums, flutes and bass here too. That on an album which sounds very organic, everything the three first albums was not. Voila and Doracor is suddenly in business.

The songs are not that great though. Ditto for the vocals. But the sound is great and the soaring keyboards on the top of the organic songs are a great listening experience. I am not entirely won over yet. But this album is most definate worth checking out for everyone into symph prog, Italian prog and ELP. I am somewhat between 3.5 and 4 points on this one. I am falling back to.......

3.5 points