Saturday, 26 April 2014

Fantasy - Beyond the Beyond plus... (1974)



The second album from this British band.

If I am not much mistaken, the band has broken up before the release of this album and the album was released long time afterwards. Which is a pity because this album would had been a vehicle for the band to improve their luck and to move forward. The band is now only a footnote in the history of British prog rock.

Which is a great shame as this forty minutes album really dishes up some nice cakes in the Yes/Genesis mould. Add a lot of folk rock (Fruupp springs to mind...) and you get this album. The nine compositions are cleverly crafted with melotrons, guitars, moog, bass, drums and vocals. All very well done.

The nine minutes long Alanderie is the highlight here on this album where not all songs are great. They are though in the British symph prog mould and this album is a great one for those who adore this scene. For me, it is a very good album with a mix of good and great songs. The sound is great too. It is an album well worth checking out.

3.5 points

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Quel Giorno di Uve Rosse - Quel Giorno di Uve Rosse (1976)



The one and only album from this Italian band.

Some young Christians took a long look at the RPI scene and decided that they..... sorry, our good Lord.... wanted a piece of the action too. Some albums was released on obscure record labels and then the scene died.

Quel Giorno di Uve Rosse's lyrics is Christian, performed by a male vocalist supported by some narrations (spoken vocals) and female vocals. There are also some female choirs here. All this is supported by flutes, some guitars, bass, drums and a full symphony orchestra.

The result is half an hour with sugar sweet mix of symphonic music and pop. The vocals is very sugary and light. Ditto for the music which has no power chords or anything provocative melody lines. The music supports the message; the good gospel.

The result is pretty decent. There is not a single good track here though and my system is getting a bit of a sugar shock by this album. Too much sugar is not good for me. Besides of this health warning, RPI fans may want to check this one out.

2 points

Saffran - Blue in Ashes (1974)



The one and only album from this German band. The album was recorded in 1974, but did not see the light of day until the excellent German label Garden Of Delights released it in 2004.

The reason for this long delay was the lack of interest among the labels in the 1970s who did not rate the material who later became this album. Their murder of the Beatles classic Eleanor Rigby may have something to do with. I would put the famous TV detective Derrick on that case.

Their own material is somewhere between funk rock, fusion, folk rock, krautrock, disco, psychedelic prog and heavy prog. Their music is by no means easy to pinpoint. The music is performed with Hammond organ, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, saxophone and male vocals.

This fifty-five minutes long album is pretty funky throughout. The sound is very good too. What is missing is a great or even a good track. This is a decent to good album though and pretty unusual fare for me. Check it out if you can.

2.5 points

Sagrado Coracao da Terra - Farol da Liberdade (1991)



The third album from this Brazilian band.

The band showed a great deal of promise on their first two albums. Promise of some great symphonic prog. The band is not a run of the mill Genesis/Yes/ELP copy though. They very much goes their own way. Call it ethnic symphonic prog or whatever. Brazil is very much present in their music. Not so much on this album though.

The band with the terrible long name has finally shed the pop elements and gone full symphonic prog. Just like I hope they would. And they did. The first track Danca Das Fadas is a great intro. A good intro with Celtic symphonic prog combined with Brazilian elements. I just get the feeling that this album may offers up something great here. Feelings I have got every time I have played this album. And that is not few times. It has become a good companion this Easter.

The music is performed with some thin vocals in Portugese, keyboards, flutes, violins, guitars, bass and drums. If that sounds folk rock'ish, it is very much so. The music is very pastoral at the same time at it is melodic and symphonic too. The words I would use is "as flowery as the Amazon region". There is plenty of colours in their music. I have heard the band and this album has been labeled as romantic symphonic prog. I very much agrees with that label. Romantic, flowery music it is.

I very much like what I hear from this album and it is a joy to discover bands and albums like this one. This is a great album and one I treasure.

4 points

New Trolls - Searching For A Land (1972)



The fourth album from New Trolls.

It is also another change of direction. Or to be precise; directions. At least on this album. A monumental 74 minutes long album which takes in inspirations from the likes of ELP, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Colosseum and Genesis.

The reason for this change of direction and this very ambitious project may be that New Trolls got a new lineup. Vittorio De Scalzi was one of the new members and he put his DNA profile on most of this album.

The album was created by the usual keyboards, English vocals, guitars, bass and drums setup. With this setup, the band made a lot of noise. From pastoral classical music pieces to full out hard rockers. To say that this album offers up contrasts is an understatement. From the pastoral first pieces to hard rock.

The end result is an album, a supposed tribute to the English scene, which kicks in all directions. It is not an album I did expect from New Trolls. I thought the band was a more Concerto Grosso/ELP like band. This album is not anywhere near that. So I am surprised.

When that is said, this is a good album where the hard rock elements does not appeal much to me. Bad copies of Deep Purple/Colosseum/Led Zeppelin is not my thing. I prefer the originals. The more Genesis/ELP stuff is much, much better. This is therefore a good album which I can recommend.

3 points

Electric Sandwich - Electric Sandwich (1972)



The one and only album from this German band. Nothing has ever been heard from this band again.

We are again in krautrock territory. Krautrock with a lot of jazz, soul and blues. The saxophone is pretty dominant and adds a lot of life and colours to this album. There are also a lot of good guitar solos here. The mix of guitars, melotron and saxophone is very good here. Ditty for the vocals which is very good. The bass and drums adds a lot of thunder in the krautrock vein.

The sound is very good on this forty minutes long album. The album still has this late 1960s feel. It also got this south states jazz and blues feel. Not to mention a great soul feel. Add the German spacy muddy sound to it and you got a krautrock album.

The songs are pretty much verse-chorus-verse dominated and the band is not letting themselves loose in outer space as most other krautrock bands was doing from that era. The saxophone is compensating for that, though.

I have to admit this is not really my cup of tea so I am a bit sparse in my compliments. There is no really goods songs or melody lines here either. Bigger fans of krautrock should check out this album. I am not bowled over though.

2.5 points




Saturday, 19 April 2014

Ainur - The Lost Tales (2013)



A compilation album from this Italian band full of J.R Tolkien inspired songs.

Ainur is not on the top of my favourite bands list, I have to say. Their studio album is not particular interesting commercial, female vocals driven fantasy prog. The band has gone out to win new fans and to keep their existing fan base happy with this album. I am sure they will manage to do both with this album.

The music is again fronted by the female vocalist Eleonora Croce, with some help from other female and male vocalist. The list of instruments backing the vocals is very long. Too long to list here. The sound is very big, without feeling overwhelming big. Of references, I would list Magenta, Mostly Autumn and the other softer female vocalist fronted prog bands.

The music is very much symphonic pop prog with a lot of folk influences. The music is also slick and very well crafted. The vocals are all in English and I am pretty sure this album does Tolkien the justice he deserves. I am sure this album is a good purchase for all Tolkien fans. I am not one of them. I still like this album and it's music. Yes, it is too slick. But it is also a good album. It is though sorely lacking a killer track or two. Besides of that; this is a good album and their best if my memory serves me right.

3 points

Friday, 18 April 2014

Finisterre - In Limine (1996)



The second album from this Fabio Zuffanti fronted Italian band. One of his many bands.

I liked their first album from 1995 a lot. An album I felt was a lot focused in the RPI tradition. It was an album in the Banco and PFM tradition. More playing on my heart strings than anything else.

Finisterre has expanded a lot on this album which is far more diverse and ambitious album. In addition to some RPI, they also takes in a lot of chamber rock, folk rock and jazz here. Not to mention avant-garde and orchestral symphonic prog. The music even have choirs here to flesh out the music. Music already fleshy enough.

The result is a very diverse one hour long album which covers a lot of area. From the avant-garde territories to the more melodic territories. Some of the music also has some great melody lines. My main impression is that the result is not as good as the ambitions behind this project. It does not really hit home.

In Limine is a very good album though and well worth checking out. Give it time, though. This is not easy listening music.

3.5 points

Visual Cliff - Between Two Kingdoms (2013)



The seventh album from this US band.

The band has to my knowledge been an instrumental fusion band up to this album. The one album I reviewed some months ago was an instrumental album, if my memories serves me right. So Between Two Kingdoms is a change of direction. We now get vocals driven prog instead of fusion.

Thankfully, the music is not particular AOR. That was my first impression of this album. The first impression and the first couple of listening sessions does not always shows an album in it's right light. The music on this album is more US symphonic prog with some influences from AOR. There are also some influences from fusion too and I guess the lyrics are pretty Christian too.

The music is pretty elegant throughout. Elegant with a great deal of keyboards and guitar harmonies. The vocals is great, btw. So step forward and accept the applause, Shane Lankford. That said, this album is a bit toothless and does not really have that great personality. It is slick as heaven. It does not have any great songs either. This is very much a good album. An album that will win them friends among the rock fans and loose them friends among the fusion fans. A heck of a risky album for the band. Or maybe I am wrong. On it's own merits, this is a good forty minutes long album.

3 points

In Spe - In Spe (1983)



The debut album from this Estonian band. An album which is said to be the best ever Estonian prog rock album. In Spe released two albums before they were disbanded. Their main composer Erkki-Sven Tuur is one of today's best regarded classical composers with a huge discography. I refer to Wikipedia for more info.

Symphonic prog is therefore not unexpected In Spe's genre. Half of this album is occupied by the twenty minutes long Symphony For Seven Pieces. A very good suite, not too dissimilar to what Mike Oldfield once did. And Mike Oldfield is a good reference for In Spe. Their use of flutes, classical instruments, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums sets them apart from most of the scene. The Symphony For Seven Pieces is also pretty unique too. It is alone the reason to get this album.

The final half of this album is not that good, though. Spaced out ambient pieces. Not too bad, but not in the same class as the first half of the album.

This is a good album and well worth checking out for those who can get hold of it. I really like the first half and not so much the second half. I may warm to it much more in the coming years and decades, though.

3 points

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Saint Just - Saint Just (1972)



The debut album from this Italian folk rock band.

Saint Just was fronted by the female vocalist Jenny Sorrenti, the sister of Alan Sorrenti. And this album is not really a folk rock album either. This review therefore starts of with these two bombshells.

OK, the basis is folk rock. From that basis, the band expands into a more krautrock and psychedelic rock landscape. You get a bit Gong here and there. Fairport Convention too is the folk rock contribution. There is also some Area like jazz here. Jenny Sorrenti's very good vocals keeps it together. Her vocals is supported by guitars, saxophone, piano, organ, drums and bass.

The music is at times pretty theatrical with some kitsch thrown into the mix too. Whimsical is the word. Avant-garde too is the word. That makes this a pretty special album, not for the faint hearted. Jenny's vocals is not exactly blue-eyed.

Removed from all the make ups and all the other distractions is a good album where not everything is great. There are some very good songs here though. This is a debut album where everything goes. Which is fair enough, the 1972 spirit. In short; this is a good forty minutes long album.

3 points


Tabula Rasa - Tabula Rasa (2013)



No, this is not the Finnish symph prog band of the same name from the 1970s. This is the new USA band of the same name. Why they use this name is a mystery to me. Lack of imagination ?

This version of Tabula Rasa is female fronted and they offers up a mix of neo prog and art rock. The vocalist sounds like Edie Brickell. She has this cool, distant voice which is pretty typical American female vocals. She also takes a lot from both the West coast and the folk rock scene.

The music backing her is performed with guitars, keyboards, piano, bass and drums. The music is pretty much based on the verse-chorus-verse formula. There are some heavy guitars now and then although the music is not really hard. Nothing really groundbreaking can be found on this album.

The quality is somewhere between decent and good. This one hour long album is not really a good listening experience. Neither does it offend me. A very decent album it is, then.

2.5 points

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Ange - Moyen Age (2012)



The twenty-second album from this French band. This is so far their latest offering too although there are rumours about a new album.

Ange is legends who were into a big slump in form around the 1980s and 1990s before they resurfaced with a better lineup and new life. Mostly due to the Decamps family where now son and father plays a vital role.
Christian Decamps is off course still the vocalist like he has been since the early 1970s. A true legend, he is. I am an admirer of his vocals and his music.

Moyen Age kicks off with four shorter songs in the pop-rock genre. Four not so interesting songs. Then we move onto the meat of the sausage/this album; the fifty minutes long Moyen Age suite. A pretty dark suite where the new Ange and their new, upgraded sound really comes to the foreground. An epic sound with a 2012 sound. Tristan Decamps plays a vital role here on keyboards and most other things. His father Christian's vocals is still very powerful and great.

The Moyen Age suite is at times very dark. It is still retaining this French theatrical symph prog sound. Fans of Ange will find a lot to be happy about. All of this suite, to be more precise. Not everything here is great. Nevertheless, Ange pulls it off and I am really enjoying this. Then again; I am pretty close to being a fan of Ange.

The end result is a very good Ange album which is up there among their best albums from the 1970s. It is so nice to see this band still going strong. It is a recommended album too.

3.5 points

Whirlings. The - Beyond The Eyelids (2013)



The first real album from this Italian band after the release of the self titled EP back in 2011.

Italian = symphonic prog. Well, not in this case. The very lively, active music scene has also thrown up some jazz, space rock and post rock bands. Most of them great bands and Made In Italy is a quality stamp these days. I could run a blog just with Italian music. But Andrea Parentin has already cornered that market. Besides of that, other countries also comes up with some good/great/excellent music too.

The Whirlings is a bit of a crossover between space rock and post rock. So they say. I would say they are mostly post rock though. There are some space rock influences in the beginning. They are fading pretty fast on this one hour long album. The music is mostly straight in the face mix of experimental metal and post rock. The music is too hard to be called straight post rock though. Experimental metal, it is then. Yes, I am developing this review as it goes and while I am taking the final listen to this album.

The music is instrumental throughout and created by the classic quartet guitar, guitars, bass and drums. The music is pretty much new ground and so much this century. The mix of half-acoustic guitars and electric guitars are great. The band creates a lot of walls of sound. Heavy walls of sound. The bass and drums trundles along with the occasional solos. The bass takes a lot from the krautrock scene. There are also some more quiet pieces of music. The music never really becomes ambient though.

Although there are no good songs here, I quite like this album. It is a brash album from a brash band. A band I hope more people will listen to this album as it is worth it. A good rating is awarded.

3 points

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Eloy - Colours (1980)



The eight album from this German band.

Their previous albums Dawn, Ocean and Silent Cries And Mighty Echoes had seen the band in full bloom with their melodic, symphonic brand of space rock. My kind of tea, no less. Albums that cemented my love for them.

Eloy is back again in 1980 with more diverse album again. An album with less spaced out themes and more structured shorter songs. There is an awful lot of piano here. Even some Spanish guitars has been included on this forty minutes long album. Eloy has changed direction, yes.

My main gripe is that change of direction and the lack of any really great tracks here. The end result is a good Eloy album though and one I still find enjoyable. It is not up there among their previous three albums. Maybe I expect too much from this band. Anyway; check out this album.

3 points

Friday, 11 April 2014

Narr - Oxymore Dans La Chrysalide Des Rêves (2009)



The debut album from this French band. It is also so far the only album from Narr. But let's hope they will release a follow up.

Narr is as most French bands a bit of an oddity and originals. The French scene hardly ever conforms to the formulas and this is also the case for this band. Take a large chunk of folk rock and add some jazz, eclectic and symphonic prog elements to it. The band use a lot of acoustic guitars and flutes in their sound. But mostly acoustic guitars, bass and drums. That and some almost atonal male vocals, both solo and in duo format. The music is very understated with a sacral feeling. It also has a chamber rock feel to it.

Eclectic is the right word for this music. This forty-five minutes long album does not really conform to any labels at all. But eclectic prog is the closest I can get to a label. A bit comparisons can be made to another French band; Vital Duo. Besides of that; Narr is staking out their own territory.

My main gripe here is the lack of any really great tracks and/or melodies here. This though is more than an acceptable debut album from a band I hope will return with some more music. The scene needs vitamin injections like this band. If you want some highly original music, get this good album.

3 points  

Airbag - The Greatest Show on Earth (2013)



The third album from this Norwegian band. A band who has been labeled as the mighty Gazpacho's little sister. Or maybe only I have done that. They are more or less occupying the same piece of turf anyway.

We are talking dreamy, epic neo prog in the same vein as Marillion and Pink Floyd. The band paints big soundscapes with their music. Music which also can be labeled as fleshed out post rock.

The music is performed with guitars, keyboards, drums, bass and some very good vocals. The sound is great and the same can be said about the whole package around this album and band. Airbag is a great band, no doubts about that.

The songs on this album is not what I would call immediate hits. They do creep up on you over a period of time though. That is what this band need; time. Lots of it. The title track is a pretty great song with it's great hook. The rest of the album is not that superb, let alone great. The sound and the ambience is the best thing about this album. In particular on the closing seventeen minutes long Surveillance. This album is a very good album from a band which is growing more and more on me. This album is recommended.

3.5 points

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Branduardi. Angelo - Il Rovo E La Rosa (2013)



The 20th or so album from this Italian artist with the superb male vocal chords. He is probably among the five best Italian vocalists and has been that for a long time.

His hair is gray and he debuted back in 1974 with a self titled album. His first couple of albums were in the Italian prog genre before he moved to a more folk rock direction. This album too is in that genre. It is Angelo and his angelic vocals plus some very sparse used piano, violins or guitars. This is not rock'n'roll. Neither is it progressive rock.

This album is gold from heaven for his many supporters. It is just what they want, whoever his supporters are. I guess many of them are females. Angelo Branduardi is a bit of an old charmer. A typical Italian gentleman. That is what I believe and I may be very mistaken. But for the sake of this review; hold onto that image in your head.

I have to admit this is not music that appeals to me. Too few instruments and the songs are not that interesting either. As a gift to my mother in law; it is a good gift. Besides of that; this is a decent album which is far better than most of the music offered to this segment of the market. Enough said.

2 points

Fantasy - Paint A Picture (1973)



The debut album from this English band. A band with a bit of a mythological status. A band that only released three albums.

Listed in the symph prog genre in most prog archives, their debut album is a bit of a mix of everything. From a bit Bad Company like rock, psychedelic prog, late era The Beatles hippie pop, The Moody Blues & Barclay James Harvest like prog and symponic prog. This album basically is all about the early British prog sound. There is a lot of bands with this sound and music. Music produced with guitars, keyboards, drums, bass and some really good vocals.

In the third song The Award, this album also have a great song. A quirky short song, but still a great song in the psychedelic prog vein.

This forty-five minutes long album also has a great deal of other very good melodies and songs too. I really like this sound and scene. This warm, lush sound Fantasy produces on this album.This band never really became as big as many other bands in this genre for various reasons. Yes, this is not a great album. It is though a very good album, well worth checking out.

3.5 points

  

Algarnas Tradgard - Delayed (2001)



The second and final album from this Swedish band, released 29 years after their debut album. This album was recorded in 1973-74 and was delayed... well, that explains the album title.

The music is again pretty spaced out. The music has not changed much since their krautrock debut album. Perhaps the music is more spaced out this time around, taking in influences from both Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. The music has lost a great deal of the krautrock inspirations though. Explorations of the outer space is much more in the foreground here.

The music is performed with guitars, keyboards, piano, mellotron, moog, tabla, bass and drums. Although most of the music is space rock, there are some Indian music here too. Not to mention some ambient avant-garde soundscapes.

The result is a good album which does not really break any new ground. It is still a good album well worth checking out. Check out Youtube for videos.

3 points

Monday, 7 April 2014

Treni All'Alba. I - 2011 A.D. (2011)



The second album from this Italian band.

I Treni All'Alba's debut album Folk Destroyers from 2008 did not really impress me. See the review yourself. I Treni All'Alba does a mix of chamber rock, folk rock and experimental prog. Their sound is very minimalistic at times. Acoustic and electric guitars, piano and drums. There is no bass here. The piano sometimes chips in with a bass line. Except from that; no bass.

This fifty minutes long album has both a punk, folk and chamber rock feel. It harvests and then distill it's own blend of those genres. The result is minimalism over fifty minutes. Very few flowers grows and blooms here.
The only flowers here are the piano and acoustic guitars solos.

I know this album has got rave reviews everywhere else. I am not a fan of this minimalism. This is a decent enough album, but nothing more. Sorry guys, but I don't really like what I hear on this album. I want something more than a barren landscape.

2 points

Landskap - I (2014)



The debut album from this London, England based band.

Well, the band sounds like if it was from Birmingham instead of London. And we are then talking about the four guys from Ashton Lane or thereabout. Black Sabbath, that is.

Landskap, whose album artwork features a Norwegian sea & mountains landscape from Ytresand (Fredvang) in the Lofoten Islands (I have been there), has really gone back to the roots of heavy metal. Some labels this as stoner rock. I label it as good old heavy metal from 1970. Add a large chunk of krautrock to this and you get this four tracks, thirty-two minutes long album.

The band does a lot of krautrock improvisations and jams on the two ten minutes plus long songs. That goes down well in my office. The two shorter songs also has their good points too. The sound is dirty enough to compare it to garage krautrock and to Black Sabbath. The sound is both full and really welcoming dirty. Dirty as in good mud where we swines can wallop and enjoy ourselves. The band also venture out into outer space too with some of the guitar solos. Distorted and really outer space rock 'ish. The bass and drums thunders along like a heavy truck. The vocalist adds some more dirt to the proceedings too. We swines are really having a great time here, covered in dirt as we are.

The songs are very good too. A killer track or two are much missed. But as a debut album, it is hard to fault it. This band is a very welcome addition to the garage krautrock and the doom metal scene. Now, let us find out why some presumed sound minded guys from London has chosen to use this Norwegian word for a venture like this.


3.5 points

Sagrado Coracao da Terra - Flecha (1987)



The second album from this Brazilian band.

Listed as a symph prog band in most archives, this band is not a run of the mill symph prog band. They have one foot in the pop/folk camp and the other one in the pomp/symph prog camp. The instrumentation in their music is also pretty expansive. Violins, flutes, synths and electronic drums is not the usual instruments in this genre. That in addition to guitars, bass, Portugese vocals and drums. Well, Portugese vocals is not the usual fare either in this genre. The result is a very flowery, lush sound with a great flavour of Brazil.

The first half of this album is mostly pop folk orientated. Mostly with local flavours. The final half of this album is mostly pure symphonic prog with some folk and local flavours influences. The final half of this album is close to being a joy for both mind and brain. The first half not so.

I am starting to warm towards this band and I like their music. It is a bit too slick, perhaps. It is also a child of it's decade, the horrible 1980s. This is still a very good album well worth checking out and I am looking forward to the rest of their albums.

3.5 points

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Guapo - Black Oni (2005)



The sixth album from this British band. A band which has been described as the great white hope in the more avant-garde British scene. They have been that hope for a long time.

The band has been active for a long time and I liked their 2004 album Five Suns a lot. The band continues in the borderlands between zeuhl and avant-garde on this forty-five minutes long album. Between Magma and Present.

What Five Suns had a lot of were great melodies and moods. Black Oni continues more down the technical path with long, a bit repetitive themes with some ambient dark pieces thrown in as small pauses in the relentless technical misture of zeuhl, avant-garde and jazz.

There is something missing on this album Five Suns had in abundance. Great melodies and substance, that is. Black Oni feels more like the band is running empty. This is by all means a good album. I had expected better things from them, though. Good, but not great.

3 points

Nautilus - Space Storm (1980)



The second and final album from this Swiss band who base their name and music on nautical ideas. Something we don't find in Switzerland whose marine consists of two gun boats, floating around on one of their lakes. That has not been a hindrance to this band, though.

The band has always operated on the lighter side of symphonic prog. On the forty minutes long Space Storm, they have gone into an area later occupied by the more lighter British neo prog bands. Nautilus were neo prog before the British bands who created this scene were neo prog bands. The sound is a mix of the New Romantics scene (ie Human League, Duran Duran & co) and bands like Genesis. More pop than symph prog, though. Add some Saga to this and you get my drift.

The sound is not particular great and all the ills of the 1980s is on display here. The songs are not particular good either. The guitars, keyboards and the vocals is pretty flimsy to say at least.

The end result is a decent album which does not really appeals to me that much. Melodic and a bit poor on substance. Unfortunate, I have to add.

2 points

Aurora Lunare - Aurora Lunare (2013)



The debut album from this band who has been bubbling under the surface since the 1970s. They released a compilation of their 1982-92 recordings back in 2002. A not so well received compilation of neo prog songs with dubious sound quality.

Forget that compilation though. Their self-titled debut album is different kettle of fish altogether. An album which closes with a cover version of a piece of the Felona E Sorona album by Le Orme. That is an indication of where we are going now. Back to the classic Italian prog era of the 1970s. An era with almost as good bands as today's Italian prog rock scene. A great era and Aurora Lunare very much base their music on this era. You get flutes, melotrons, moogs, great vocals, guitars, bass and drums here.

You also get associations to Museo Rosenbach, PFM, Banco, Le Orme & co here. Despite of that, Aurora Lunare stands perfectly well on their own two feet. Long soaring majestic melodies, excellent long keyboards runs, great vocals, great mood, great ambience, great guitars and most of all; great songs. From the stunning opener Evasione Di Un'Idea to the final tone, fifty odd minutes later. The whole album is one I LOVE YOU to the Italian prog scene from a band and people who was there.

My only gripe with this album is a couple of less great tracks. But frankly; it is hard not to shout out I LOVE YOU to this band and album. I sincere hope they will tour this album and do the Italian festivals. Knock me over with a feather; this is a great album.

4 points

Perigeo - Non E' Poi Cosi' Lontano (1976)



The fifth album from this Italian band.

Perigeo was a band who could be compared to Soft Machine on their first three albums. Their music were pretty intense with an avant-garde edge. Everything I remember about Perigeo has been cast aside on this album, though.

Perigeo still has this combination of guitars and woodwinds in their music. A James Last kind of sound has replaced their more intense, almost avant-garde music like sound. The replacement has largely been a slick combination of lounge jazz and some remnants of the old Perigeo. A couple of intense guitar solos is left here. The bass and drums are pretty standard lounge jazz and they woodwinds is also pretty standard jazz.

This is not the Perigeo I loved and still love. When that is said, the keyboards are still good and there are some good jazz pieces here. But overall; this is not an interesting album. It is a decent to good album from a band whose this album is said to be a one off mistake. I hope so.

2.5 points

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Camel - Stationary Traveller (1984)



The tenth album from this British genre setting band.

The band had been in the ropes, quality wise, on their previous albums and I did not really have any expectations to this album. Well, not high expectations. Their dabbling with commercial pop music did not go down well in my household. Mr Grump (me) got/has an allergic reaction to that type of music.

The two minutes long opening track Pressure Point made my ears take notice. A great instrumental which seems to be among the classic Camel tracks, according to their greatest hits boxes. Andy Latimer is letting his guitar do a lot of talking on this album. Not at least on the great title track, another guitars dominated instrumental.

Besides of Andy's guitars, saxophones and keyboards also plays an important role here. Ton Scherpenzeel from Kayak (and solo career... See my review of his last album) joined Camel on keyboards here. Ditto for Mel Collins on saxophone and Chris Rainbow on vocals. They have done a lot of good for this album.

Yes, there are some rather bad pop songs here too. Songs that gives me an allergic reaction. Most of this album is very good though. The law of average makes this a good album and one well worth checking out.

3 points

Ultima Spiaggia - Disco Dell'Angoscia (1975)



The one and only album from this Italian band. Or project as it was. This combo never made it out of the studio and was disbanded just after the release of this album.

The result is this album, though. The Italian scene spawned some theatrical far-out-there bands too in addition to the more jazzy and symphonic prog bands. Ultima Spiaggia is in the far-out-there genre. There is a lot of spoken words, dialogues, sound samples of war, children's choirs and other non-melodic things in addition to some proper music in the pop-rock and symphonic Italian prog genre.

The music is created with guitars, plenty of vocals, keyboards, bass, drums and a lot of sound samples. The lyrics are in Italian and I get the feeling this album is best suited on a stage as a proper theater or a musical. The ideas is scattered around and the listener never knows what is hitting it the next minute. Not to mention; the next second.

The result is a decent album with some decent music. For non-Italian speakers like myself, I am missing out on the essence of this album. Italians may like this one better than I do. Nevertheless; a decent album.

2 points

Friday, 4 April 2014

New Trolls - Senza Orario, Senza Bandiera (1968)



The debut album from this Italian band. A band who has spawned numerous splinter groups and solo careers. The New Trolls family is almost as confusing as Gong. That says a lot. I will get through them all during the next few months, starting with this album.

The year was 1968 and Italy was still gripped by the Italian pop scene. A scene which also produced this album and this band too. The cover art work is great on this album. The contents is... well...

The music is based on Vittori Di Scalzi's vocals. Great vocals and by far the best thing about this album. He is back up by sugar sweet keyboards, orchestral instruments, guitars, bass and drums. The sound is typical sugar sweet Italian pop. Ditto for the music.

The result is a decent album with a couple of very decent songs. The music is still lost in a time warp and has not aged well at all. It is an album for those who need New Trolls complete. It is not a typical New Trolls album either.

2 points

Muffins. The - Manna/Mirage (1978)



The debut album from this US band.

This album has got a bit of a classic status in the scene. The Muffins has rightly been put in the Canterbury prog category. A whimsical blend of pop, rock and jazz. Gong, Caravan and Soft Machine is the genre standard bearers there. The Muffins arrived ten years afterwards with this album and have released eight albums altogether. The latest one two years ago.

This forty-five minutes album is still a bit of a standard bearer itself. The music is based in jazz. A lot of jazz with some avant-garde and chamber orchestra leanings. The music is not that very intense as in intense as Soft Machine. There is a lot of nice interactions between keyboards (Rhodes ?), flutes and woodwinds here. That and the playful bass and drums too. There is a lot of Pierre Moerlin too in the music too. Picchio Dal Pozzo also have a great influence on this music too, I believe. This album sounds like them, though. This album also sounds like an US jazz album too.

The result is a great album which unfortunate is missing a great track or two. The forty-five minutes is easy flowing though and it is playful as heck with so many different woodwinds instruments creating many wonderful sounds and musical sceneries. This is a weak great album status, but it is still a great album. It is highly recommended.

4 points

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Gleemen - Oltre.Lontano, Lontano (2013)



The second album from this Italian band. Their debut album was released in 1970 and the band probably hold the world record for the longest gap between their first and the second album. And yes, their new album is a new studio album.

Forty-three years has passed between their first beat album and the band has neatly bypassed everything who has come and gone during those years. The music is pretty hard rocking at places with the guitars and vocals setting the tone. The band still plays a form for beat music. The opening track Anima Di Gomma sounds like a Rolling Stones track. The album branches a bit out into the rock and psychedelic rock genre after that. There are some folk rock here too. The keyboards, guitars, vocals, bass and drums gets some help from violins, acoustic bass and saxophones too.

This album is basically a rock'n'roll album. There is no really good songs here and some of the music is also leaning pretty heavy on the late 1960s Italian pop tradition. The tradition who gave us numerous hits and various melody festivals. The world according to Gleemen stopped at midnight 1969. Which is fair enough. Their music is still relevant in some quarters and I am pretty much in a minority here who don't really like this album. I don't really like rock'n'roll any longer. It has to have some good songs and this album does not. Hence my verdict on an album which is not too bad but who is not delivering the goods I want.

2.5 points

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Anekdoten - Gravity (2003)



The fourth album from this highly rated Swedish band.

Anekdoten was one of the bands who kicked life into the sleeping prog rock scene again. Their brand of prog was based on plenty of mellotron in addition to Ingmar Bergman like Swedish melancholy and depressions. Sweden has it's own mood, filled to the brim as it is by trees and forests. Not all of it is flat packed.

Anekdoten is still heavy reliant on their mellotron again. The band's collective output is mellotron heaven. This time, they have moved into a much more post rock, melancholic area now occupied by Gazpacho. That Norwegian band is a very good reference for this album. The music is a bit more understated than usual from Anekdoten. The music very much relies on acoustic guitars, mellotron, vocals, bass and drums. The music is more melancholic than bombastic heavy.

The result is a very good fifty minutes long album from Anekdoten. My only gripe is the lack of a killer track. This album is still well worth checking out though. The band deserves a lot more attention too.

3.5 points