Thursday, 31 July 2014

Brainticket - Psychonaut (1972)

The second album from this Swiss band.

Well, Swiss in the name. The Brainticket line up from the debut album Cottonwoodhill were disbanded and the Belgian keyboardist/flautist Joel Vandroogenbroeck reformed Brainticket with new members. The rest of the band went on to form Island who released one album. I think I have already reviewed that album.

New lineup thankfully meant a new direction too. In this case; towards a more songs based krautrock direction. The music is far from standard rock, though. It still retains a weird Indian flavour. There are some strange rhythms and song structures here. We still get some strange chants and distortions. This time though, it feels like it serves a purpose. The music here is best described as psychedelic krautrock with female vocals. Those vocals is supported by weird and (reasonable) wonderful keyboards, guitars, bass, drums, tablas and sitar.

The six songs on this far too short album.... well, perhaps short enough album, is very good. There is a drive and a purpose in these songs. The Indian flavour is great too. The sound is the typical 1970s krautrock sound. The music still retains enough avant-garde aspirations to make it even more interesting too.

This is one of the better krautrock albums I have ever heard and I am considering giving it a great status. The album is lacking the dot over the i, so I want to leave it at a very good status.

3.5 points

Corral - Revenant (2014)

The debut album from this Polish band.

Poland has given us a lot of neo prog and prog metal bands during the last ten years. The river of new music has been overflowing during those years. Corral is a bit of a different band though as they focus their music around some great female vocals.

Agnieszka Kot is the name of the vocalist. Her vocals is supported by guitars, keyboards, drums and bass. The music is mainly melodic neo prog with some strong djent and prog metal influences. But the music is mainly melodic neo prog. Some would also call this melodic rock. I think their music has a progressive rock edge although the music has a strong mainstream rock edge.

The music is floating very nicely, thank you. There is not much of great or even very good music here. The music feels a bit too generic for my liking. It is like any form of originality has been removed from the mix of this album.

The end result is a good album which feels great during the first listening session, but then fades away as there is not many details and interesting things here. Those who likes this sort of music should get this album.

3 points

Azahar - Elixir (1977)

The debut album from this Spanish band and the first of in total two albums.

Azahar was a folk rock band who had some moderate success with their two albums. The music here is a blend of flamenco folk rock, hard rock and symphonic progressive rock. The band use mandolin, guitars in all forms and sizes, keyboards, mellotron, bass, drums and Spanish vocals to create this fusion of Spanish music and the more English prog and hard rock.

The keyboards, vocals and guitars combinations is the main theme that drives this album forward. A strong combination indeed and it gives this album it's identity. The Spanish vocals is also acceptable here. This album very much has this Spanish feel to it and it also feels raw as a raw piece of meat.

This album also sounds a bit dated. I do likes parts of it. I do have to admit there is parts of this album I don't really find that enjoyable. The reason is the lack of any good songs. The album is a bit messy at times too. The symphonic bits is the ones I like best. The rest is a bit boring.

This is only a decent to good album, I am afraid. Maybe I am missing out on something here. But that is my view and rating.

2.5 points

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Isotope - Isotope (1974)

The debut album from this British band.

Isotope was a Nucleus spin off band. We are therefore talking fusion and jazz here. Well, forget jazz. This is a fusion band where the guitarist Gary Boyle is the main soloist. He get help from keyboards, drums and bass on this thirty odd minutes long album.

References here are clearly Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever and a bit of Soft Machine. The solos from Gary Boyle is pretty intense and Brian Miller's keyboards is adding extra texture. Mostly by playing jazzy keyboards in a more pastoral direction.

My main gripe with this album is the lack of any great melodies. The fusion here is very standard and not that imaginative. I feel a bit cheated, to be honest. This is very much a run of the mill fusion album. It is still a good album, well worth checking out.

3 points

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Erna Schmidt - Live 69 71 (2000)

The only sign of life from this German band is this collection of live songs released through Garden Of Delights records long after the band had vanished from this earth.

This one hour long album is a curious blend of Jethro Tull like folk rock, blues, jazz and progressive rock. The music is pretty raw with a lot of guitar jams supported by flutes, saxophones, drums and bass. The guitars is the most dominating instruments here.

If you think this is just a jazz/blues workout, you are much mistaken. The music is quite pastoral too with flutes and acoustic guitars. The band showcases a lot of different sides to their talents. Most of the music is pretty hard rocking, though.

I am also surprised how good the sound is too. Garden Of Delights has done a superb job in that respect. They really have. The mix has given the music a solid punch. It is like being hit by a kicking horse in the solar plexus.

The result is something I should not really like. The Jethro Tull like flutes is really enticing me and I also like the long guitar jams. There is no really great tracks here though. This is still a good, solid album. An album I would loosely label as krautrock. Or maybe not. Anyway.......

3 points

Monday, 28 July 2014

Rumore Bianco. Il - Mediocrazia (2013)

The first sign of life from this Italian band and their debut EP.

This is a twenty-seven minutes long EP in the Italian prog genre. It can be said as simple as that. The sound is retro with mellotrons, moogs, Italian vocals, saxophones, guitars, bass and drums.

This EP contains four songs. They are all pretty complex with some obvious Area, King Crimson and Porcupine Tree influences. The music is both eclectic and jazzy. It also has a lot of symph prog influences too as it is pretty bombastic at times. Add Le Orme to the influences too.

Although retro, it is also looking forward to the next years and the music feels contemporary too. Very contemporary.

The Italian vocals is very good and so is the rest of the music here. It does not have the great songs I would expect. It is still a very good album who makes me looking forward to a full album from this band. Get this EP from the link below.

3.5 points

The EP

Calliope - Citta' di Frontiera (1993)

The second album from this Italian band who released four albums between 1992 and 2002. I have reviewed the three other albums in and for ProgArchives.

Calliope is clearly an Italian progressive rock band. They are somewhere between neo prog and symph prog. The vocals are in Italian and they use a lot of keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. There are also some mellotron on this album too.

The music is rather understated and more like neo prog than symph prog. The music is also very melody focused in the verse-chorus-verse vein. You get some good keyboards runs, a bit mellotron and some guitar solos. That and the very good vocals from Massimo Berruti. The music is pretty similar to Marillion throughout. I would also use Pendragon as a reference here.

This album is by no means the most exciting album out there. There is no denying that this is a good fifty minutes long Italian neo prog album though. And that is what I can say about this solid handicraft album.

3 points

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Delirium - Lo Scemo E Il Villaggio (1972)

The second album from this Italian band.

Delirium was one of those bands who graced the Italian prog rock scene in the 1970s. They are to a large extent also around these days with gigs and a live DVD released a few years ago.

Lo Schemo E Il Villaggio is perhaps their most complex progressive output. Take a large chunk of Italian pop, add a lot of fusion, some avant-garde, a lot of Italian folk rock and a lot of Italian prog rock.

Their original vocalist Ivano Fossati had left the band by now and were forging a very successful solo career. Martin Grice had taken over the microphone and he is doing a great job here. His voice is very powerful. This on an album which still retains some of the cheesy Italian pop from their debut album, I have to say. There is a lot of cheese around here.

Most of the music here is complex enough to really interest me. It is also very jazzy and is dropping into a bit avant-garde at times. Most songs on this album is great too. There is always something interesting going on here. Woodwinds, keyboards, vocals, piano, guitars, bass and drums who adds a lot of extra textures to this forty minutes long album. An album which is very playful at times.

Lo Schemo E Il Villaggio is rightly regarded as a classic album in the Italian progressive rock scene and I can only add my approval of this great album too.

4 points

Vinegar - Vinegar (1971)

The only sign of life from this German band.

Germany = krautrock in most cases when it comes to the type of albums from the early 1970s you will find reviewed in this blog. I am not a big fan of the other German music-style from this era; the Schlager genre. So krautrock is what we get here.

Vinegar was a seven piece band on this album. Well, seven guys played on this album. You get Hammond organs, guitars, bass, drums and some vocals. That and sporadic violins and flutes. The music is pretty much a mix of blues rock, space rock, psychedelic rock and jam rock. In other words; krautrock. The sound is good and Garden Of Delights did a good clean up job on the 2003 CD version. The album is still only forty minutes long. In this case, I think that is long enough.

The quality of the songs here are not that good to be honest. The album is rattling along quite nicely. The vocals is very poor and the vocalist should had been banned from singing in public.

The end result is a decent album where Amon Duul II is a good reference. Check out this album if you want.

2 points

Versailles - Don Giovanni (1992)

The second album from this French band.

I am not particular surprised that a French symphonic prog band named themselves after the symbol of French bombastic grandeur. Versailles is a very big palace outside Paris with all the mod cons an emperor needed in the 1700th century. It was also the downfall of the French monarchy.

The same cannot be said about this French symphonic prog band. It is more or less the start of phase two in this scene. Ange started to show some form again and other bands followed suit. You can include Versailles and this album too in this new positive development.

The band is following in the good old Ange's footsteps with theatrical French symphonic prog. This is a concept album about the good old charmer Don Giovanni. A man who fathered children all over Europe in his personal conquest of this area's females. Some operas or even only one opera about him followed suit.
A very natural theme for a French symphonic prog concept album, then.

The French vocals is very good. The instrumentation is in the good old Ange mould with plenty of vintage keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. The keyboards sound is very good. Ditto for the blend of pastoral songs and more acoustic songs.

The quality of the music on this one hour long album is not particular great. The album is still full of very good melody lines and snippets. This is my first every meeting with this band and I am sure I will get their three other albums too.

3 points

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Weidorje - Weidorje (1978)

The one and only album from this French band.

Weidorje was a Magma off shoot and were based on their album Udu Wudu. The two Magma members Bernard Paganotti and Patrick Gauthier wanted to take that album and the Magma sound from that era further with this one hour album.

Music wise, you get a lot of bass here. As in most zeuhl, bass plays a pretty dominant role with a lot of bass solos. The bass sound is very dark and brooding too. Add keyboards, drums, woodwinds and guitars to the sound too and you get this album.

Most of the Magma faithful zeuhl here is based on jam like pieces. This album has three studio track and two live tracks. All of them long pieces and well within the zeuhl genre. The music is dark and brooding throughout with some voices adding incoherent vocals.

Those who loves Magma will also love this album. As simple as that. Where Magma's creative outputs is much more dense and far out there, this album is much more rocking and far closer to mother earth. It is also pretty light and jazzy too. It also has some good rhythms and it more suitable for the dance floor although doing dancing to zeuhl is perhaps not something anyone would advice. Get the permission from your doctor first.

Nevertheless, this is a great which does not really hit the heights of Magma or the best Japanese zeuhl outputs. It is still an album I would recommend and a good beginner's guide to zeuhl. A weak great status awarded.

4 points

Fobos - Fobos (2014)

The debut album from this Argentine band.

This album is one of many, many debut albums from the last 2 years. They have been flooding in, to put it mildly. And we are talking prog rock here. In this case, sort of prog rock.

I was drawn to this album by it's cover which I thought was a funny painting. The music inside has been created by keyboards, mellotron, guitars, bass and drums. That and Spanish vocals. I am by no means fan of these weak, thin vocals. I frankly find them off putting. They are not the only ones who use this type of vocals. Echo Us is another band. I find them annoying.

The music itself is a mix of Argentine prog rock from the 1970s, Genesis and Marillion. Some folk rock combined with symphonic prog in other words. There are some fusion here too. The music is pretty pastoral throughout and there is no bombastic melodies here. Everything is understated.

Besides of the vocals which is not my style, my other gripe is the lack of any really good track too. The album has some good melody lines throughout and some good mellotron parts. Besides of that, this is not a convincing album.

The result is a decent to good album which shows a lot of promise. Do not write of Fobos yet.

2.5 points

Retroperspective - Lost in Perception (2012)

The second album from this Polish band.

The band name sounds like the band is harking back to the 1970s and the past. Well, the band-name is misleading. A good band-name with a great logo, btw. The art-works on their two albums is really classy and the reason why I bought this album. But retro, they are not.

Take a large slice out of Pearl Jam and a large slice of Riverside. Then you get this album. An album which many has classified as prog metal. I actually disagree with that view. I think this is much more crossover prog as it does not have many metallic edges. Even the guitars are pretty understated here. There is a lot of guitar harmonies and strange, weird guitar structures. Some of them even gives me associations to Indian and Middle-East folk music. Which is a good thing !

The dominant factor on this album is Jacub Roszak's vocals. Vocals I would compare to Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam. The bass, drums and keyboards is also very good. But the vocals is largely carrying the album and his vocals is very good.

There are no really great songs here. Nevertheless; this is not a run of the mill Polish prog metal/crossover prog album. It is one of the better albums from this genre and overall a very good album which deserves a much larger audience in an overcrowded scene.

3.5 points

Friday, 25 July 2014

Dawn - Darker (2014)

The second album from this Swiss band.

Their 2007 album Loneliness caused some raised eyebrows and their new album was met with some great anticipations.

Dawn is not really an Eloy copycat although the band name may allude to one of Eloy's finest albums. There are few Eloy pointers here. I would rather label this band as a symphonic prog band. They have taken a lot of their music from the likes of Genesis and in particular; The Flower Kings. That is the most adequate comparison.

The music here is dark and symphonic. It got a lot of classic keyboards like moog and melotron. The guitars also has this 1970s feel. Ditto for the drums and bass too. The English vocals is heavy accented and also got this 1970s feel.

Added into this The Flowers Kings like symphonic prog, you can also add some jazz and some pastoral prog to the mix. The essence though is Swedish prog rock through and through. A lot of melancholy in other words.

The result is a very good album indeed. It does not really got any great songs or the x-factor which makes a great album. This is still a very good album which I recommend.

3.5 points

Thursday, 24 July 2014

As Follows - The Eye Of Fire And Fear (2014)

The debut album from this US duo.

Two songs, fifty minutes. That is the cold facts about this album. So it is symphonic prog, then ? Not quite. And it is not space rock either. The music here is a mix of US prog with a lot of country and pop-rock, AOR and some latin rock incorporated. The music is pretty light throughout with guitars, keyboards, drums, vocals and bass.

The main instrument here is the guitar and you get that instrument in all it's expression and variation. Mostly as a more jazzy guitar, both acoustic and electric. A lot of solos is also included.

It is massive difficult to get a 28 minutes and a 22 minutes song to work. This album is massive ambitious and very few know how to pull it off. Unfortunate, As Follows has not done that. The music here is too fragmented and neither of the two songs has any real coherent theme.

There are some good stuff here. But not enough for it to be a good album. I find it on the more dull side of the spectrum. It is another decent to good album. It is also a debut album well worth checking out as the duo has a lot of potential. I hope they will follow up this album with at least another album.

2.5 points

Eloy - Performance (1983)

The eleventh album from this German band.

The 1980s and the MTV era was all over us. The kraut and prog rock era was behind us. That is how I would read this album. Gone has the long spaced out epics. In comes the shorter and much more commercial, 1980s style, songs.

The songs are pretty short on this forty minutes long album. They also reminds me a lot about Saga at times too. There are some echo boxes and techno stuff here. That was very popular in the 1980s. Ditto for the synths they are using here. Some of the songs are almost house and disco pop. It is so plastic fantastic.

There are a couple good songs here though. The sound is not too bad and this album is by no means a disaster. It is just pampering to MTV and the pop audience ala 1983. I don't think that was necessary. Then again, bills had to be paid and stomachs had to be filled.

The end result is a decent to good album and the weakest Eloy album I have yet to hear.

2.5 points

Malombra - Our Lady Of The Bones (1996)

The second album from this Italian band.

Back in 3. August 2010, I reviewed their self titled 1994 debut album in ProgArchives. I did not like that album at all. I have to conclude the band has not moved on from that style they had back then.

We get pretty thin male vocals over some dark neo prog. The pop element is also pretty strong here. I would mostly compare this band, at least this album, to Peter Hammil and Van Der Graaf Generator. I would label Malombra a poor man's Van Der Graaf Generator.

We get a lot of dark, melancholic neo prog here. Some sort of neo prog. It is both more pop orientated and more heavy metal orientated than Van Der Graaf Generator though. This album reminds me a lot about the post new-wave pop-rock from England in the late 1980s.

The sound is pretty thin. Ditto for the music here. There is no really good songs here and the "dramatic" elements here is pretty over the top and laughable. This is a decent album and barely that. This is not a band I am fond of.

2 points

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Esthetic Pale - Hope (2000)

The debut album from this German band. I have previously reviewed their second album Long Forgotten Words.

We are again deep into the German neo prog scene here. Neo prog with female vocals. Melanie Auer sometimes sounds like Kari Rueslaatten and sometimes as Christina Booth. She plays on two different vocal chords in other words. Melanie Auer is a great vocalist and this band's biggest asset.

The music is pretty light and airy with some jazzy influences in their music. We are still talking neo prog though. Very melodic neo prog with enough small details to keep me interested.

The songs on this sixty-six minutes long album is pretty long and intricate too. The two longest song clocks in at fourteen minutes. Enough to chew over here. Of influences, I can mention Magenta and Mostly Autumn. They are most certainly a band who would interest anyone into female vocals fronted progressive rock.

Hope is a good album and one I really like in small dosages. My main gripe is the lack of any really great songs here. That aside, this album is a nice album on a sunny day as it adds more sun-rays to the day. Although without giving me skin cancer. I cannot complain about that.

3 points

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Kant Freud Kafka - No Tengas Miedo (2014)

The debut album from this Spanish-Catalan band.

This project with this rather odd name is the brainchild of Javi Herrera from Barcelona. He got numerous other people to help him out here. I say this because this music is not standard rock at all. It is not have much in common with rock at all. This album is somewhere between symphonic prog and classical music. Some jazz is also creeping into this mix too.

OK, this makes you think this is another ambient album. The first half of this album is not exactly a firework of ideas or even quality. I am not particular fond of some rather mindless acoustic guitars plowing through a pretty average melody.

Then this flower is opening up and is revealing something else again. The acoustic guitar is being replaced with piano, cello, oboe and other more classical music instruments. The melodies is also making an appearance. Some really good melodies. The final part of this album is a much more orchestral affair with bass, guitar, drums and keyboards being added to the proceeding too. We are talking symphonic music here. Even perhaps symphonic prog and fusion. This is the best part of this album.

The end result and after a slow, slow start, is a good album I can recommend. Check it out at the link below.

3 points

The album

Vivalma - Human Effect (2013)

The debut album from this Brazilian band.

We are again deep into prog metal. A very large scene indeed. A scene which also crosses over into power and heavy metal. Vivalma though claims they are a heavy prog band and not a prog metal band.

I disagree with that view. This is by all means not the heaviest prog metal album I have heard. It does have some heavy prog influences. But their sound and music is prog metal with some djent thrown into the mix too.

The music is created with keyboards, Hammond organs, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Good vocals, btw. The songs are not that interesting though and I found it difficult to maintain my concentration and interest in this album during the listening sessions. I am by no means a fan of prog metal and this is a pretty standard prog metal album. This is a decent album and nothing more than that.

2 points

Monday, 21 July 2014

Transperception - Colour Green (2011)

The so far only album from Djam Zaidi from France who releases his music under this Transperception name.

This was a project when he released this album and he plays all the instruments here plus that he does all the vocals. The project has now become a full band with the views to play live.

Nevermind that, let's move on to the music. The music is a bit of a melancholic neo prog. A bit dark and very reflective with a lot of guitars and guitar solos in addition to bass, drums and keyboards. That and some good vocals.

The art of constructing songs is one type of art Djam Zaidi fully master. There is a lot of clever, small and big, details in this fifty minutes long album.

The eight songs are good too. There is no real great song here. My other gripe with this album is that the songs sounds a bit generic. Djam Zaidi has obviously been listening to Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd a lot. Both bands is very good reference sources for this album. A good album, but not an album which makes me excited.

3 points

Ixion - Cryogenesis (2004)

The debut album from this Dutch band. The first out of in total three albums.... so far.

Ixion were, and probably still is, a collection of various members of other Dutch bands. Mostly from the neo prog genre. Knight Area is the only band I know of those who has contributed with members to Ixion. The other bands is largely obscure.

This lineup of Ixion, largely a studio project more than a band, has created a seventy minutes long album in the symphonic neo prog genre. You get female and male vocals here. That and tonnes of keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and lots of symphonic orchestra instruments. I am wondering if this is a concept album as it sounds like it is that. A concept album about the theory of cryogenesis. A bit macabre, perhaps.

The music is anything but macabre. It is pretty compact with a lot of instruments and a big sound. But it is not a dark album. It is a very light and airy album with some very good albums.

The quality is good throughout. It is most certainly not an exciting album as it is far too much following this neo prog and prog metal formula. Nevertheless, this is a good album, well worth checking out.

3 points

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Eris Pluvia - Third Eye Light (2010)

The second and so far final album from this Italian band.

We are somewhat in the prog rock scene again. Neo-prog to be precise. Sort off. The band had a great deal of Hostsonaten and Fabio Zuffanti in them on their 1991 debut album. These influences has been snuffed out on this album, an album released 19 years later.

Eris Pluvia has returned with both the male and female vocals. The soundscape is neo-prog with a lot of prog metal connotations too. The music is a bit gothic too. It also got some elegance too. The female vocals from Diana Dallera is very good. The same can be said about the flutes from Roberta Piras too. They are supported by bass, drums, keyboards and plenty of guitars.

The result is a bit too dull for my liking. Dull because the music here sounds generic and there is no real great or even good. I have to admit I found it difficult concentrating during these listening sessions. When that is said, this is a decent to good album. There is no really huge weaknesses here. It is just a bit too dull for my liking. Sorry.......

2.5 points

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Humana Prog - Fiori, Frutti, Farfalle (2014)

The debut album from this Italian band/project.

Well, some sort of debut, it is not. This is Paolo Farina from the old Italian prog rock band Maxophone, whose self titled 1975 album is a semi-classic album from that scene. Paolo has got another Maxophone member with him plus a very long list of other musicians on this album where he is doing the vocals himself. He get help from flutes, drums, guitars, bass and numerous other instruments. His vocals is great, btw despite of his advanced age. He sounds like half of his age. Well done, Paolo !

I am not sure if Humana Prog is in the same direction at Maxophone though. The music on this album is as the flowery art work would suggest rather flowery as in folky and with a lot of old style Italian pop and rock. The music is both folk rock dominated and a bit soft. Yes, with some pop music too. The music is very much in the Italian prog rock mainstream from the 1970s too. It is a retro album as the cover art work suggests.

The music is very flowery and warm. It also has a great deal of Latin coolness in these forty-five minutes it lasts. The sound is excellent and a great update on the 1970s Italian sound. The flutes and the acoustic guitars are great together with the Italian vocals.

There is a distinct lack of any really great songs here. That is my only gripe with this album. An album I fear will be the one and only album from this project. It is nevertheless a very good album which is an obligatory purchase for anyone into Italian progressive rock.

3.5 points

A.R. & Machines - Die Grune Reise (1971)

The debut album from this German band.

A.R is the initials of Achim Reichel, a pretty central figure in the German krautrock scene. This is his solo band. Or project if you want. Check out Wikipedia for more info about him.

This is a krautrock album through and through. It is a krautrock album at the more spaced out and avant-garde end of the scene. Take some psychedelic melodies, add a lot of guitar riffings from a half-acoustic guitar, some vocals, a lot of chants and bass plus drums. Then you get this album to a large degree.

No, this is not as bad as the Amon Duul albums which also followed that formula to a large extent. A.R & Machines is widely regarded as one of the best bands in the krautrock genre and I can understand why when I am listening to this album.

Yes, there is a lot of weird chants and melodies here. Achim's guitars is still the backbone of this album and is creating some hypnotic melodies and impressions. Hypnotic krautrock is the under-label of this music and rightly so.

I find myself really liking this album. An album with some great stuff and not so great stuff. This is a very good album indeed.

3.5 points

Budgie - Never Turn Your Back On A Friend (1973)

The third album from these Welsh hard rockers.

Their first two albums gave a bit of a forewarning about a highly influential band I should get more into. Their music is not really my cup of tea, though. Guitars, vocals, bass and drums is what we get from this trio.

The album starts with a song I first time heard 30 years ago when I bought the Eye Of The Beholder EP from Metallica. Budgie has got the original though and it is here. It is a funny, short and hard rocking song. No doubts the song here with the highest recognition factor. A more pastoral song follow before the band is hard rocking again on a few more songs before the album takes an unexpected turn on the ballad Riding My Nightmare and the more progressive song Parents. A ten minutes long song which showcases a band who are more than just a hard rocking band.

I am not sure what to think about Budgie, three albums into their discography. They are charming and so is this album too. It is a good album with music which takes a lot from Led Zeppelin and some from both Rush and Black Sabbath. I am not won over by this album, but I like what I hear.

3 points

Worm Ouroboros - Of Things That Never Were (2013)

The debut album from this Belorussian band. This band is not to be confused with the US band with the same name. The Belorussian band's debut album, this one, has been released through the highly respectable Altrock/Fading Records.

The music is also pretty different to say at least. Of Things That Never Were is a romp through classic prog rock. The music is created with flutes, keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals.

There is a lot of references to the likes of Gentle Giant, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Yes and the Canterbury scene here. Bands like Caravan has had a big influence on this album. Peter Gabriel has also very much influenced the very little vocals there are on this album. A mostly instrumental album.

It is also a bit of a strange album where the band has taken a very modern approach and sound to their obvious influences, listed above. It is not an album which comes screaming out of the speakers either and is fully explaining itself at first hearing. This album requires time, passion and patience from the listener.

There is a lot of great stuff here and some not so great stuff. I suspect the majority of this album will be difficult to erase from my memory because it is that great. This is in my view a great album and another great finding by the Altrock/Fading Records guys. The album is streamed on the link below and make up your own mind.

4 points

The album

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Halloween - Merlin (1994)

The third album from this French band.

Halloween was a band in the French symphonic prog genre who altogether released four studio albums with a various degree of quality. That also goes for their first two albums.

On Merlin, the band goes total concept album and has used Merlin as the concept this time. A concept many others has used too. In Halloween's case, this album is wholly orchestral with a symphony orchestra and some sporadic female vocals, electric guitars, bass and drums. The main music here is neo-classical and more like a rock opera without much rock.

The end result is an almost goth like dark symphony where there is not much light and warmth. I feel this has more in common with classical music than progressive rock. I don't find much quality here either. There is some good stuff here throughout this one hour long album. Most of it is pretty overblown and decent though. Hence my verdict.

2.5 points

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

D'Accord - III (2014)

The third album from this Norwegian band.

D'Accord is one of those new Norwegian prog bands who has had a breakthrough during the last two-three years. It is easy to understand why when you listen to this album.

The band can be found somewhere between Jethro Tull, Deep Purple and Genesis. The vocals are great and they are supported by flutes, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums.

I have been following this band for sometime now and I really like their style. The main difference between this album and previous albums is longer and better guitar solos. I also feel the band is not as retro as they were before. They are not so Deep Purple and Jethro Tull as before too. They have both moved more to 2014 than before and more towards US mainstream rock from the 1970s. Their music is progressive enough to be fully rooted in the prog rock movement.

The music is pretty heavy at times. Heavy as in good old style hard rock from the arena gigs in USA from the 1970s. The addition of mandolin, violin and saxophone is also a development on previous albums. It is obvious that the band does not really stand still. They are on a journey. It is a good journey, though.

The end result is a very good album and a confirmation that this band is a very good band and one to check out for those into old style progressive rock. The flame is still alive.

3.5 points

Monday, 14 July 2014

Isotope - Deep End (1975)

The third and final studio album from this English band.

Isotope was established by ex members of Nucleus and with the help of the bass legend Hugh Hopper. His bass was excellent on their previous album Illusion and I had high hopes for this album. Unfortunate, Hugh Hopper is only involved in one track here. But the excellent guitarist Gary Boyle is still involved on this album. Very much so.

Isotope played jazz/fusion in the same vein as Return To Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra. That is pretty obvious on this album which is bridging those two bands. There is a lot of the laidback Return To Forever and attempts to emulate Chick Corea's excellent piano playing. The guitars reminds me about John McLaughlin.

The music on Deep End is pretty laid back. It is also more jazz focused than fusion focused. There are some good piano, keyboards and guitars here. The bass and the drums is thundering around in the background. This album does not really have that much exciting and interesting jazz though. The band is following a very wide path here without really trying to create anything original or even exciting. This is a jazz album, no less and no more.

This is still a good album though, well worth checking out for those of you into jazz and fusion.

3 points

Blue Öyster Cult - Spectres (1977)

The fifth album from this US band.

Their previous album Agents Of Fortune was a pretty commercial hit album which did not have much in dept and finesse. So I had some hopes for this album as it was rumoured to be more of the real BOC.

Godzilla opens the album and I get my hope up as this is one of their best ever songs. It is also a pretty hard and heavy song. Then the album spins into a more pure rock direction. There are some AOR here too. We get piano, vocals, guitars, bass, drums and even some harmonica here. My suspicions about this being Agents Of Fortune # 2 is being aroused here and I am not much wrong.

The songs are pretty good although there is no real hits here besides of Godzilla. The music is pretty reflective and understated. It is also sometimes dull and uninteresting. This is a decent to good album in my estimation, I am afraid.

2.5 points

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Earthrise - Earthrise (1977)

The only sign of life from this short lived US band. One of many bands who released one album and then disappeared again due to lack of commercial success.

Earthrise played US symphonic prog. Well, not really. Their sound had more in common with their English counterparts. Only Cathedral on the US side of the Atlantic Ocean can be compared to Earthrise. Cathedral was again a mix of Gentle Giant and Yes. Which to a great extent also goes for Earthrise.

Take a big chunk of ELP as the start off point. Add Yes and Gentle Giant to the mix and you get this forty odd minutes long album. There is a lot of keyboards on this album in addition to bass, drums, guitars and mandolin of all things. That in addition to vocals too. Keyboards is the main thing about this album though and it goes in the Keith Emerson vein. Classical music in a rock packaging.

I am surprised that this is such an obscure album as it is an album which should have a great deal off appeal to all symphonic prog fans. There is a lot of them around. Of us around, I have to correct myself to. Earthrise is a one heck of a gem and a very good album. My only gripe is the lack of a great track here. Besides of that, this is a very good album.

3.5 points

Fairport Convention - Rising For The Moon (1975)

Their tenth album and the final album with Sandy Denny, the queen of folk music. A massive talent who died so tragically in 1978. One of the finest voices the world has ever heard.

This album is really the final hooray for the classic Fairport Lineup as it also contains David Swarbrick too and the other greats, minus Richard Thomson whose solo career had taken off by now.

This album is really Sandy Denny and some more country like songs. Country and rock with some more folk music sporadic dropped into the mix too. This album is said to be their least folk rock/music album ever and I agree. This album is much more in the US country'n'western tradition than the English folk music tradition. It is not quite Nashville and the Grand Opry house. But it is somewhere near that ballpark.

Sandy Denny also has company of some other vocalists here. Male vocalists who does not add anything special to this album. I prefer Sandy Denny. Unfortunate, there is no real great songs here and this album is one of the weaker Fairport Convention albums I have ever heard. It is still a good album, but only that.

3 points

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Ad Maiora - Ad Maiora (2014)

The debut album from this Italian band.

The Italian progressive rock scene has probably never been stronger as it is now. Much stronger and better than in the 1970s. There is a lot of new blood in the scene. This band is one of the new blood bands. Although the average age of the band member seems to be in the 50s. Which also seems to be the trend in Italy. Don't buy a motorcycle. Get a prog rock band together instead. I agree with that sentiment !

Ad Maiora is a bit untraditional album as most of the music here is instrumental. Take a chunk of Trion and ELP and you get this album. You can also add some Genesis to the mix too. The keyboards and guitars is leading the attack followed by bass and drums.

Then we have a couple of vocals songs too. That include a version of the Gershwin evergreen Summertime. I am not sure what their not exactly sparkling version of that classic is doing here. But it fits reasonable into the rest of the album. The other songs is better though.

The music is both laid back and hard at the same time. This is a very special album. A very original album where the band has shown the middle finger to all conventions. When you are fifty years old, you are perfectly entitled to show us the middle finger. I think this is a great attitude !

Unfortunate, I don't think there is much greatness here though. The seventy minutes is ticking along nicely on this good album. The band is a very welcome addition to the scene though and I hope they will continue what they are doing.

3 points

Art Deco - Syvään Uneen (2013)

The debut album from this Finnish band.

Another band from the now pretty strong Finnish prog rock scene. A scene which takes a lot from the Finnish 1970s folk and jazz rock scene and adds a progressive rock twang to it. Art Deco is one of those bands who thankfully sings in their native language too. In this case, Finnish. The female vocals by Jaana Makinen suits this music down to the ground. She is backed by guitars, keyboards, drums and bass.

Their music is pretty much rooted in the 1970s jazz and folk rock music. Add a lot of eclectic prog, symphonic prog and neo prog to the party and you get this album to a large degree. The band uses both half-acoustic and electric guitars in their sound in addition to some keyboards. The keyboards sound is great.

I would say the sound is very contemporary too while it is still looking back to the 1970s. Art Deco is not a retro progressive rock band.

My main gripe....... This album with this difficult title is missing some great tracks and some tricks to make it stand a head above the majority of the debut albums from the last two years. It is by all means a good debut album and a great start. That is all I can say about it. I hope we hear more from this very promising band.

3 points

Gerard - Ring Of Eternity (2010)

The twelfth album from this Japanese band.

Gerard is one of those Japanese synthesizers bands who were pretty popular some years ago and is still popular. I have seen they being compared to ELP and those bands. So I was a bit apprehensive when putting this album on for the first listening session. One of many listening sessions in the office, on a walk and at home over several days.

I did not get quite what I expected on this album, my first ever taste of this band. Yes, it is synthesizers dominated. Add guitars, English vocals, bass and drums to this fifty minutes album too and you get the picture. Well, I have not told you what the music is here.....

OK, take Dream Theater as the start off point and remove it's harder edges. Also remove most of the guitars, add more synthesizers and you get Gerard's music.

The end result is a very nice album which feels fine on the ear. There is a lot of latter days Pink Floyd in their music and some great synths. I really like their sound and I am relieved that my prejudices were mistaken. I would rate this as a very good album indeed who is missing some really great tracks. Besides of that, I cannot fault this album at all.

3.5 points

Friday, 11 July 2014

Mysterkah - Fresq (2002)

The so far only sign of life from this French trio.

During the last five to ten years, we have seen the emergence of a great female vocals fronted neo-prog scene here in the UK. Bands like The Reasoning, Touchstones, Panic Room etc etc... I really like that scene. This French band were perhaps unlucky that their album were released before the real commercial breakthrough of that scene.

Speaking of music, Mysterkah plays a pretty standard version of crossover and neo prog. The vocalist Yleah White has a very good voice. She is also supposedly Norwegian. I don't know. Her vocals is backed up with keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. The guitars are a bit chugging and the band drifts into prog metal now and then. But the music is mostly neo prog with Ms. White's vocals and vocals harmonies in the front of the mix.

The end result is a good seventy minutes long album which does not really shine like a star. It should be a pretty obvious purchase for those of you into female vocals as Ms. White have a very good voice. Check it out.

3 points

Delirium - Dolce Acqua (1971)

The debut album from this Italian band. This band is not to be confused with the Mexican band of the same name, whose debut album was reviewed some weeks ago.

Delirium from Italy plays very pop orientated Italian prog rock. On this album, at least. You get very poppy Italian vocals with piano, flutes, keyboards, bass, guitars and drums supporting the vocals. This album is also the debut album by Ivano Fossati who also carved out a great career as a singer/songwriter after leaving Delirium after this album. His vocals and flutes on this album is great.

The songs are commercial pop music'ish with a lot of psychedelic, jazz, prog rock, folk and classical music influences. The sound is excellent with a lot of strings arrangements in additions to the instruments above. I am writing this review on a hot summer day and it has been remarked by others here that this is proper summer music. I still think this album deserves a spin or three on cold winter nights too. Nevertheless, I see where they are coming from. This is light and flowery music.

The quality of the music is great throughout. There is no weak moment here on this album. All songs are well worth the price of this album. I have some reservations about the more pop music on this album. Nevertheless; this is a great album.

4 points

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Rumple Stiltzken Comune - Wrong from the Beginning (1977)

The one and only album from this Swiss band.

This five man piece band with this strange name lived on the border with Italy and it is pretty obvious they have taken a lot from the Italian progressive rock scene. The instrumentation is pretty classic Italian prog rock lineup too. Keyboards, bass, guitars, drums and vocals. English vocals, that is.

The band is heavy influenced by Italian prog rock, yes. As we know, Switzerland is a country in the middle of Europe and is influenced by their neighbours and countries further afield. Ditto for this band who has really taken the early 1970s bands and distilled them into their own sound and music. Bands like ELP, Eloy, The Nice, Genesis, Le Orme, Kansas and Gentle Giant. You find traces of all of them on this half an hour long album. The album also got a pretty good sound.

The end result is mainly a symphonic prog album with some eclectic and psychedelic rock influences. The album is pretty weird because it has so many obvious influences. Nevertheless, it is a good album too which was released some years too late as the punk movement had killed of bands like this one. Check it out.

3 points

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Grave - Grave (1975)

The one and only album from this German band. A band who were like a shooting star in a dark night before it died and disappeared over the horizon again.

Grave were a krautrock band..... sort of. Krautrock means a lot of things. In this case, rock'n'roll with psychedelic feel, sound and a lot of influences. That means a lot of weird rhythm structures and guitar harmonies. Besides of the guitars and drums, we also get bass, male vocals and some female vocals at the end of the album.

Some aspects of this album reminds me about Velvet Underground. Other parts has a great deal of a punk'ish feel. Punk did not appear before the year after this album was released though. I would not really say this album has a lot of technical details and finesse. The sound is not particular great either. That the band is doing some Chuck Berry riffs takes this band towards rock'n'roll too.

The vocals is not particular great on this one hour long album. An album with a lot of bonus songs from 1989 incorporated on the Garden Of Delights CD release. These songs has some female vocals without making these songs vastly different from the 1975 recordings.

The end result is a decent album which I do not find particular interesting. Enjoy if you want. I need more than this pretty simple music to get me going.

2 points

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Nuova Compagnia Di Canto Popolare - La Serpe A Carolina (1972)

The second album from this Italian band who released ten or so albums between 1971 and 1997. Their final album was released under the NCCP abbreviation.

I don't really understand why I got this LP. Probably from a local Italian friend who were giving away his LPs. This forty minutes long LP has nothing to do with progressive rock at all. Instead, we are being treated to some Italian folk music and ballads. A lot of male and female opera like singing over some guitars, flutes, mandolins and violins. This is as Italian as pasta, pizza and spaghetti.

I have to admit I am getting next to nothing out of this album. The songs are not particular good. Not to mention decent. This is the type of music I am not getting. I would still award this a decent rating as I feel it is wrong to review down a decent, honest type of music. Respect !

2 points

Bram Stoker - Cold Reading (2014)

Tony Brondson and Tony Lowe returns again with the second Bram Stoker album, 42 years after the semi-classic debut album. Or semi-obscure if you want.

The first album Heavy Rock Spectacular caused some ripples in the scene with their live shows on Marquee Club and other places before the band disbanded in 1972. Tony Lowe continued in the music business while I have nothing on Tony Brondson between 1972 and this year.

On their second coming, Cold Reading, they got vocals help from Will Hack. His vocals is pretty similar to Phil Collins. Tony Lowe does the producing, bass, drums programming and guitars while Tony Brondson does the keyboards.

The album opens and closes with ELP'ish adaptations of classical music pieces. Things they did on their 1972 albums. Which is fair enough and good music. The pieces in the middle..... I think the finest word I can use on it is AOR. It reminds me about the latter days Genesis from the self titled album. That does not go down well in my lair. Slick and commercial without any really good songs.

The end result is a decent to good album where the beginning and the end is the good pieces here. I cannot really recommend this album, I am afraid.

2.5 points

Iceberg - Sentiments (1977)

The third album from this Spanish band.

I really liked their second album Coses Nostres, my first ever meeting with this fusion band. So I was really looking forward to sink my teeth into this album.

We are again treated to forty minutes with a mix of Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever. A mix of intense fusion/jazz and pretty laid back fusion/jazz. Between electric guitars and keyboards to piano, acoustic guitars, bass and drums. Between electric firestorms and green pastoral pastures.

There is both a lot of electric guitar solos here and long piano runs. The bass is also very much present. The drumming is interesting and the other instruments fills in the textures. So far, so great...

What is missing is a great song or two. There is none here. What I find is a good album which is missing the dot over the i. Nice album, but not a great one. I prefer Coses Nostres to this one.

3 points

Monday, 7 July 2014

Prophexy - Improvviso (2013)

A live album from this Italian band who started out as a heavy metal band and then moved towards Italian prog rock on their two albums.

I am not sure if this band is still alive and well. Bands comes and goes. That is the nature of this business. They are still alive, according to their homepage.

I have not heard their studio albums so this is my first meeting with this band. A band listed as an Italian progressive rock most places. Well, they makes a heck of a lot racket on this album. They are as noisy as a flock of seagulls in a seaside resort. There is a lot of Area like madness in their music which is a bit punk and heavy metal orientated to say at least. The vocals are on the wild side too. Not to mention their music too.

Their lineup is keyboards, flutes, bass, drums, Italian vocals and guitars. Richard Sinclair does Golf Girl with them as the final track. Before that, we are being treated to a heck of a noisy racket without any particular good songs. The sound is pretty poor too and does not make this an enjoyable live album. It is a decent album though. But it is not for the faint hearted.

2 points

Le Orme - Contrappunti (1974)

The sixth album from this Italian band.

Le Orme was and still is one of the biggest bands in the Italian symphonic prog scene. They started out with a strong ELP influence and moved more towards mainstream Italian prog rock after the first albums. This album sees them firmly planted in the mainstream symphonic prog scene.

Aldo Tagliapietra's vocals is really great on this album. Italian vocals, I have to add. His vocals is helped out by keyboards, piano, percussion, guitars, drums and bass here. Le Orme is actually a trio on this album. Much to my surprise, I have to add.

The music on this half an hour long album is still very symphonic at times and it is mixed up with some more pastoral folky prog influences and melodies. The rather short Aliante is almost krautrock like at times. Some songs also takes in space rock as inspirations.

The end result is not particular great. I have to admit this album has grown on me a lot. I still don't rate this as a good album. A couple of killer tracks is missing from this album. There are some great stuff here though. Aldo's vocals is one of them. Hence my rating.

3.5 points

Pangaea - Welcome to the Theatre... (1998)

The fourth album from this US band.

Neo-prog is the dish of the day. Nice to have a lot of choose between and a lot of bands who does not even faintly rings a bell in my head. I did not even know about this band until I got this album. But they released four studio albums between 1995 and 2002. All of them with shoddy artwork where all expenses has been spared. Ten dollars worth of artwork, it is.

The music is not particular original either. Take Pendragon and add some generic English neo-prog bands in the more poppy rock vein and you get this album. The sound is the plastic fantastic 1980s sound with some infusion of the 1990s sound. The lineup is the usual vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums.

The music is at the commercial rock end of the neo-prog spectrum and it is pretty light on details and substance. This is fifty-three minutes of pretty dire neo-prog and one I would like to avoid if I was you. Obviously, I did not as I fell for the neo-prog tag attached to the CD. But you are now warned. This is almost a turkey, flapping around without getting off the ground.

1.5 points

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Ikarus - Ikarus (1971)

The first and final album from this German band.

This album is a bit of an oddity in many ways. I believe Garden Of Delights, the German label who re-release rarities like this, re-released it on CD a few years ago. No, on the label Second Battle it was. I got the LP.

The music here is rooted in the end of the 1960s/the beginning of the 1970s sound and scene. Take some hard blues and soul with woodwinds and guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals. The result is a pretty hard album on the first half of the album.

Turn the album over and you find a very melodic album with pastoral symphonic prog landscapes. Which is a pretty big change from the first half of the album. There is a lot of Hammond organ and vocal harmonies here. It also has this dreamy feeling over it.

The end result is what I would call a krautrock album. It has got the krautrock sound. The music is very diverse and catches a lot of moods and inspirations. It is a good forty minutes long album though and one I find interesting. This is an album you should check out.

3 points

Senza Nome - Senza Nome (2008)

The debut album from this Italian band. And it is also so far the only album from this band.

We are again, at least nominally, talking about an Italian progressive rock album. Neo-prog to be more precise. The lineup is the usual keyboards, guitars, Italian vocals, drums and bass. The sound is good and the mix is good too.

The music is very much neo-prog with a lot of pop/rock influences. This is not neo-prog with a symphonic prog touch. It is very much bordering to standard rock, not to mention pop, throughout these forty-six minutes. There is some guitar solos here who drags the band towards prog rock. There are a couple of minutes with prog metal too here. But most of this album is pretty pedestrian without many interesting details.

The music is pretty elegant though and it is mostly pastoral. Mostly due to the very good vocals of Emanuele De Marzi. The pianos is also very good. There is no really good songs here though and I have to admit I don't find much interesting stuff on this album. It is a decent to good album.

2.5 points

Friday, 4 July 2014

Flashmen - Pensando (1972)

The third of in total six albums between 190-1974 from this Italian band.

This band is not listed many places and this album fell into my hands by an accident too. I was ordering another CD but got this CD instead. The CD version was released in 1994 through Mellow Records.

Flashmen was flash in their music. Sorry, I could not resist the pun. But honestly, their music was flash. Flash as in a mix of beat and heavy rock with a lot of psychedelic rock infused into the mix too. That and a lot of Italian pop music too. The music is produced with a lot of Hammond organs, Italian vocals, guitars, bass and drums. The sound is typical 1970s and is very much suffering a bit, taken the 2014 standards into account.

The end result is a forty minutes long album which has a couple of good tracks and some not so good tracks. The music is surprisingly heavy and full in the face. The song Maria is a mix of a pop track and a Black Sabbath'ish doom rocker. It is also the best track here.

The end result is a decent album which may or may not be enjoyed by fans of Italian rock. That is all I can say about this album and I will not purchase their other five albums.

2 points

Agusa - Hogtid (2014)

The debut album from this Swedish band.

I do not know anything about this band besides of the information I got from their Bandcamp and Facebook sites.

Their music is a bit untraditional too. Hogtid is an forty-four minutes long instrumental album The core theme here is krautrock. 1970s krautrock. You get a lot of Hammond organs, bass, drums and guitars here. The music is psychedelic and spaced out. It still retain a lot of Swedish folk rock too. All of it from the 1970s. Add some fusion too and you get this. Obvious references are Amon Duul II and Kebnekajse.

The combination for krautrock, fusion and Swedish folk rock is a very potent one. In particular when it is all wrapped into a thick layer of Swedish melancholy. You can smell the large Swedish forests in this music. Hogtid, which means a holy time in Swedish, has a lot of pastoral religious hymn too in it's core. Confused ? Well, this is mostly a krautrock album.

I am not a big fan of instrumental albums. Nevertheless, I really like this very good album. It does lack a killer track or two. This is though a great album and one of the best instrumental albums I have heard for ages. Link below and please check out this album. You will not regret it.

4 points

The album