Friday, 31 July 2015

Nucleus - Belladonna (1972)

The fourth album from this English band and a new start in their career.

It is my understanding the band had broken up when this album was released. But somehow, Nucleus still released new albums. The band from the three first albums had gone though. Karl Jenkins and John Marshall had joined Soft Machine..... which is a recurring theme in the history of Nucleus. Two of the new members on Belladonna, Roy Babbington and Allan Holdsworth also joined Soft Machine on a later stage.

Ian Carr is the Nucleus band leader and the only one left of Nucleus after the upheavals after the first three albums. And his trumpet is a great asset here. He has been called Europe's answer to Miles Davis for some very good reasons. Most of these reasons can be found on this forty minutes long album. Allan Holdsworth also get the chance to shine here. Which he does on some solos and more rhythm guitars work. 

This album also sees Nucleus, the new band called Nucleus, take a much more jazz direction. Most of the rock in the fusion is gone. The jazz is not particular intense and it is mid-tempo. 

The end result is a good jazz album which may be a bridge too far for the rock orientated fusion fans. Something I was one-two years ago. But I like what I hear here and I guess this album is a bridge I have crossed on my way to becoming a jazzhead. Nevertheless, this is a good album.

3 points 

Imán Califato Independiente - Califato Independiente (1978)

The debut album from this Spanish band who altogether released two albums.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. There are some sporadic vocals here too.

Both their albums is highly rated in the prog rock and fusion scene. I was therefore spurred to get these two albums and review them by a couple of good friends in the scene. I am glad I did that.

Take a big chunk of Spanish folk rock including flamenco. Well, make that a large chunk of flamenco. Flamenco lays in the bottom of this whole album. The whole forty-three minutes of this album. An album who starts with the twenty-one minutes long Tarantos del Califato Independiente. A very jazzy composition where jazz is combined with flamenco and symphonic prog. Take a big chunk of Weather Report too and you get this track. 

The two following, much shorter tracks has a lot more flamenco and rock incorporated into these jazzy compositions. The fourth and final track has some vocals and takes us more into a bit mainstream folk rock terrain with a jazzy bite to the melody.

There is a lot of great details on this album and a lot of great references to the Canterbury jazz scene. Soft Machine springs to mind. But most of all; this is a Spanish folky jazz album. An album proud to be made in Spain.

The end result is a great album and one of those any fan of fusion should have in their collection. The good reputation it has got is fully deserved.

4 points  

Hughscore - Delta Flora (1999)

The third and final album from this UK band.

Hughscore was one of the many Hugh Hopper bands after he left Soft Machine. Hugh Hopper is rightly regarded as one of the best/biggest bass players and pioneers in the jazz and rock scene. His fuzz bass has it's very own sound and it is present here too.

This album though is also dominated by the very laid back ethereal vocals of Elaine Di Falco. Hugh and Elaine is joined by two other musicians in Hughscore and some other guest musicians on this album. Elton Dean is the most famous of those. 

The album is dominated by Elaine's vocals, Hugh's bass and various woodwinds. The music here is acid jazz. The evergreen Facelift gets another version and face lift on this album. I prefer the original, but this version still rocks. That is the most rocking track on this one hour very laid back acid album. 

Laid back but still a good album. Maybe not the most loved album in my house as I am no big fan of acid jazz, but still a good album where the quality of the musicians shines through. It comes recommended by me.

3 points    

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Cos - Postaeolian Train Robbery (1974)

The debut album from this Belgium based band.

I have had their albums for five years now before I have picked up enough courage to give them some spins and review them. 

Cos is a ten men & women big group with woodwinds, bass, drums, keyboards, guitars, male and female vocals. Mostly female vocals from the wonderful voice of Pascale Son.

This one hour long album starts out as a Canterbury jazz album before it changes to a zeuhl album. And this is what Cos is all about, from what I have been told. A mix of Canterbury jazz, avant-garde and zeuhl. Besides of Canterbury and zeuhl, there is also some funk and avant-garde here. Present springs to mind. 

The music is very playful throughout and it also has some great melodies and harmonies too. Not to mention; some great jazz piece and Pascale's vocals. That makes this a great album in my view. 

I really enjoy this album and I am looking forward to hearing and reviewing their other albums too.

4 points   

Hallelujah - Hallelujah Babe (1971)

The one & only sign of life from this English band.

Hallelujah was a four piece band with the usual Hammond organ, bass, guitars, drums and vocals. The band was based in Germany and it was believed that this was a German band. The band itself corrected that mistake. They were one of many British bands trying their luck in Germany. The Beatles was the most famous one of them. Hallelujah stayed put, though.

This thirty-nine minutes long album has a German sound indeed. Heavy psych with some krautrock influences. The music is pretty heavy throughout. There are also some pretty British folk rock here.

It is perhaps not so strange that the band also use Handel's mighty Hallelujah piece here. Besides of that, the music are decent throughout. The vocals are good and so is the sound.

This album is obscure for a good reason. Namely the lack of any good songs. Besides of that, this is a decent album well worth checking out if you can find it on Youtube.

2 points

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Haizea - Hontz Gaua (1976)

The second and final album from this band from the Basque province in Spain.

Or maybe it is the Basque nation ? Spain is a bit difficult to understand as it is more a federate state of various nations and provinces. Kind of USA to a large degree. 

Haizea was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, percussions, xylophone, flutes and vocals. They played a sort of folk rock. 

Spanish folk rock can mean a lot. Some of it is very folk music dominated. Others are more rock orientated. Haizea is more leaning towards rock with a clear emphasis on melodies and songs than on typical Spanish folk music. The music is in their local language and the music is pretty lyrical.

The music here is based on acoustic guitars and flutes. That and the vocals.

The music is also pretty good. It has a good vibe too. I am still not really a big fan of Spanish folk rock so I have my reservations. There is no real good song here either. This is a decent to good album.

2.5 points

Iluvatar - From The Silence (2014)

The fourth album from this US band.

Iluvatar has been quite a name to be reckoned with in the east-coast prog rock scene for the last years. They have played some gigs and my good friend Raff has reviewed one of their gigs in her
That review made me purchase this album.

Iluvatar is a five piece band on this album with the usual keyboards, drums, guitars, bass and vocals lineup. The music is some sort of neo-prog. In this case; US neo-prog. 

Take some US symph prog, AOR and European neo-prog. Then you get this album. It is not quite symphonic prog and not quite neo-prog. It is US neo-prog. 

This fifty-five minutes long album has some good songs. Well, everything here is good. The sound is rich and warm. Ditto for the vocals and the instruments. What is lacking is a killer or even a good track. It is not here and that is a pity as I quite like this band. Neo-prog fans will really like this album.

3 points

Monday, 27 July 2015

Haze - Wilderness Of Eden (1997)

The fifth album from this English band. An album released under the short lived World Turtle moniker. 

The band operated as World Turtle for two albums before they reverted back to Haze. I don't know why. 

The band is still the two McMahon brothers with a handful of guest musicians. We get keyboards, guitars, bass, drums, vocals, saxophone, flutes and viola here. 

The music on this seventy-one minutes long album is a mix of happy-chirpy pop music, neo-prog, rock and AOR. The music is very commercial at times and some of it reminds me about drunken Englishmen going to the beaches in Spain. It is enough kitsch here to last a lifetime. 

The vocals and the sound is very typical 1980s. The music is at times not too bad. The album is far too long and has far too much dire songs for my liking. It is almost a turkey, this album. But it is saved by a couple of songs.

1.5 points  

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Harmonic Heyday - The Willow Tea Shop (2011)

The debut album from this German band.

This album is a free download from Jamendo and that is how I got this. I rarely says no thanx to anything I get for free. Hence this review. 

I know next to nothing about this band. The vocals are in English and the vocalist is very, very limited in range. The vocals is sometimes off tune and similar to a hen who is on the run from a hungry fox. The vocalist is helped by keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. 

To say that the band is competent...... well, they are not. This album has got a punk'ish devil-may-care attitude. Which some may regard as charming. 

The music is psychedelic folk rock. I would almost say krautrock. Well, it is krautrock. Forget the electronics part of the krautrock scene. There is no electronica here. Just organic material. Besides of that; the krautrock is there.

The songs are not that good and I have already described the lack of competence of the musicians. This album is not a turkey. But it is close to being one. And I am glad I did not pay anything for it.

1.5 points  

Fractal Mirror - Garden Of Ghosts (2014)

The second album from this Dutch band and my only meeting with their music.

The Dutch neo-prog and symph prog scene is a very strong scene which has given us some really great albums and bands. 

Fractal Mirror comes from a good pedigree, then. And this three piece band with keyboards, bass, drums and vocals line up does not let down their own scene. 

Melodic progressive rock is what we get here. Their music is not as cold and poppy as neo-prog. It is much more like songs based progressive rock. Straight progressive rock with some AOR and metal influences. 

There are no long songs or even suites on this one hour long album. Eleven songs is what we get here. All the songs are really good. The sound is very warm and cosy. The addition of some female vocals and male/female vocals duets adds a lot of value to this album. 

The end result is a very good album which I would really recommend. A very good album with a couple of great songs and melodies too. Get it.

3.5 points 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Cast - Arsis (2014)

The eighteenth and so far latest album from this Mexican band.

The band introduced a new twist to the scene on their 2011 album Art. The first half was instrumental jazz and neo-classic music. The final half was symphonic and neo-prog. A bit of a mouthful, indeed. But also a good album. Not to mention; refreshing. Very refreshing indeed.

So the band thought that was a good idea, then. Hence this album where we get the same recipe again. This time; a half an hours long neo-classical piece called La Iliada. This piece is big and bold. Not always good, but still bold and big. And mostly good too. 

The final half an hour is devoted to symphonic neo-prog. The ten minutes long song The Old Travel Blog comes with English lyrics and is a good song. 

The final piece of music comes with Spanish vocals and is the eighteen minutes long El Puente. This piece is like the ideas from La Iliada and The Old Travel Blog fused into one piece of music. Not literary speaking, but as ideas. This is by far the best piece of music where we get tonnes of guitars, female and male vocals, keyboards, woodwinds and a lot of other instruments too. 

The end result is breathtaking bold and almost delusions of grandeur from this band. Well, they got delusions of grandeur when they put out this album. But they have mostly pulled it off and have made a very good album. 

The scene needs bands like Cast and this is a very good album. I hope we will get more albums from this band. 

3.5 points    

Tomorrow - Tomorrow (1968)

The one and only album from this English band.

Tomorrow was the band where Steve Howe (Yes, Asia etc) started out. The vocalist Keith West also had a pretty decent career after Tomorrow broke up. 

The famous BBC DJ John Peel was very fond of this band and gave them their break. Unfortunate without the band becoming a commercial success as the two bands they mostly shared the scene with; Pink Floyd and The Soft Machine. Tomorrow just faded away after this album.

An album which is not bad at all. The term hard psych is probably a fitting label here. Another good comparison is The Who. The music on this forty minutes long album is pretty hard throughout. The softest song being the Beatles cover Strawberry Fields Forever. Even this version is pretty hard and psychedelic in Tomorrow's version. Unfortunate, it is also the best song on this album. 

The end result is a decent album which is well worth checking out. Not at least because of Steve Howe and his hard guitar works here. He has never ever been as hard and psyched out as on this album. The vocals too is not bad at all. Hence, check it out.

2 points

Van Der Graaf Generator - A Grounding In Numbers (2011)

The eleventh album from this British band.

This band is without any doubts one of the best bands to have come out of the progressive rock scene in England. They have delivered some really superb albums. Most of them in the 1970s before the band went on a very long break. Their 2005 comeback album Present was also a good album. After that album, the band has not been on great form.

VDGG, as the band is also known as, has reverted back to a trio on this album. David Jackson and his saxophone is gone. What remains is Guy Evans on drums, Hugh Banton on bass and Peter Hammill on guitars, keyboards and vocals,

Peter's vocals is as dark and gloomy as per usual. It is like the grim reaper knocking on your door. Pretty scary, in other words. The music too is not chirpy to say at least. This album has a very gloomy sound and outlook. 

This album is fifty minutes long divided on thirteen songs. There is no long songs here. Just a lot of straight to the point short ones. Songs dominated by gloom. Very typical VDGG in other words.

There is no really great songs here. There are no classic songs either. This album is claiming a good reward here because of the sound and a couple of really good songs and melodies. It is not one of their best albums to say at least. Check it out...... only after you have checked out their other albums.

3 points  

Healing Road. The - Birdbrain's Travels (2014)

The fifth album from this German project.

The Healing Road is Hanspeter Hess project. He has written everything here and is also playing keyboards. He is helped by six other musicians on guitars, bass, drums and additional keyboards. 

The music is instrumental and it is very symphonic. A kind of a neo-symphonic as it is not necessary following the 1970s symphonic prog formula. It still have the usual neo-prog setup though.

There is a lot of soaring melodies and long guitars and keyboards solos. Each instrument has got their own space. The music is reasonable hard too. This is by no means lounge music..... although I would not mind if my local airport played this album in the departure lounge ! I am afraid too many would ask the staff to turn it off, though.

The melodies here are very good and so is the album. A very dynamic album which effortless switches between the themes. I am not fond of instrumental symph prog albums. This one is one of the better ones though and I really like it. Check it out.

3.5 points  

Little Atlas - Automatic Day (2013)

The fifth album from this US band.

Little Atlas has been kicking around since their 1998 debut album and probably a lot longer than that. This without really getting any breakthrough. Well, at least not here in Europe. I have heard they are a good and much sought after live album.

Something I can understand when listening to this four piece band. Their lineup is vocals, bass, drums, keyboards and guitars. Some sporadic saxophones spices up their music a bit. 

The music is neo-prog with a lot of AOR and college rock thrown into the mix. The US version of neo-prog is quite similar to college rock anyway and Little Atlas is true to this genre. 

There is no great tracks on this good album. It is still a good album well worth checking out.

3 points  

Friday, 24 July 2015

Harvest - Northern Wind (2014)

The third album from this Spanish band.

I very much enjoyed their 2009 debut Underground Community and the 2012 follow up Chasing Time. Harvest established themselves as one of the better female vocals fronted prog rock bands.

Monique Van Der Kolk is again at the microphones and doing a seriously great job. She is helped by four musicians on guitars, drums, bass and keyboards. 

The end result is one hour, eleven songs. The music is somewhere between Mostly Autumn and Gazpacho. Soaring songs and very good melodies. They have become less heavy than at their previous album and the music is much more pastoral. Pastoral and symphonic. Gazpacho is an obvious reference here.

The vocals and the great guitars sets this band apart though. Not all the songs are great. There are some very good and some great songs here. The title track is a great song. The end result is a very enjoyable great album well worth checking out.

4 points 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

A Presença das Formigas - Pe De Vento (2014)

The second and so far last album from this Portuguese band. Hopefully the second of many albums.

Great art work, btw. Let me start with that. I also very much liked the artwork on their debut album too. And their second album takes off where they left it at the end of the debut album. 

That means acoustic folk rock with female and male vocals. The vocals is in their native tongue. The music is both very cheerful and wild. There are also some ballads like songs too here. And the music is much more folk music than folk rock. Folk music, it is. 

This forty-five minutes long album takes us through some good folk music. The music sounds honest and well produced. Not to mention; well crafted. 

The end result is a good album which will win a lot of friends in the folk music community.

3 points  

Habu - To The Stars (2014)

The debut album from this Ipswich in England band.

It was sold to me as a progressive rock album. A prog rock masterpiece, no less. Well........ 

I am not sure about how many members this band has got. The lineup is guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and vocals. Neo-prog, I wondered....

The vocals has got this 1980s NWOBHM feel. And so has the music too. One of the reviews featured on their homepage says this is a refreshing return to the past. It is a return to the past, yes. Take really old-style heavy metal from the 1980s and add some AOR and prog metal to the proceedings. Then you get this album. Progressive rock ? Nope. 

The end result is a decent album which is not my style. But it has it's moments, yes. Check it out.

2 points  

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Idle Race. The - The Birthday Party (1968)

The debut album from this English band.

The Idle Race is mostly, if not only known, as Jeff Lynne's first band. I believe this is also the first album he was ever involved in. 

We can already here see the main themes in Jeff Lynne's creative outputs. Quirky psychedelic pop with a lot of melody and a lot of The Beatles influences. This album is very much an English eccentric album. It is a short album and it was released with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and Jeff Lynne's vocals. His vocals is great here. 

This album is twenty-eight minutes long/short. The title track is very quirky and as eccentric as it gets. The rest of the album has some rather normal psychedelic pop tunes in the vein of The Beatles. The early germs of Electric Light Orchestra is very much in attendance here. 

I find myself, to my surprise, enjoying this album. Not everything is good here. But several of the songs here are indeed good songs. I would rate it somewhere between decent and good. Fans of Jeff Lynne must get this album.

2.5 points 

Iluvatar - Children (1995)

The second album from this US band who debuted back in 1993 with a self-titled album.

Iluvatar is a five piece band with a lineup of keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The standard lineup, in other words.

And we are indeed deep into neo-prog land again. The likes of Arena, Pendragon and IQ springs to mind when listening to this one hour long album. But I would also like to add Threshold here. I think the vocals points towards Threshold. 

The music is very solid with some very good guitars and keyboards. I don't mind listening to neo-prog albums like this one. Not for a bit. The music is a bit on the dull side and there is no great tracks here. Nevertheless, this is a good album.

3 points

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Heliopolis - City Of The Sun (2014)

The debut album from this US band.

Heliopolis may be a new band. But the members has got long experience from other bands like Mars Hollow and some cover bands. The band already got a big fanbase and have played some festivals to great acclaim from the critics. This band is/was a band for the future.

The band is a five piece with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. A normal setup for the kind of symph and neo prog bands. In this case; some sort of symphonic prog. Or maybe not.

This is very much a US band and you can clearly hear the 1990s US prog rock scene here. And the post-millenium US scene too. Added to that, there is a lot of 1970s symph prog here too. An interesting mix. 

Half of this forty-two minutes long album is instrumental and the other half has vocals. The proper songs are the best material here by far. There are some really great melodies here. The instrumental bits are decent to good. 

In short; this is a good album from a band I hope is still going strong. I hope to hear a lot more from them in the future. Either as a band or single entities. 

3 points

Mr So & So - The Overlap (1998)

The third album from this English band.

The band has been one of the hardest gigging and most active bands in the British neo-prog scene for the last twenty years. But this is my first ever chance to listen to their music. I got three albums by them.

Mr So & So is a five piece band with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The twist in the lineup is that the band also employ a full time backing singer, a female backing singer. I cannot remember anyone else, bar Mostly Autumn with this lineup. Steve Rothery also guests on the title track.

The music is melodic and songs orientated neo-prog. It is bordering to mainstream rock throughout this album. 

I find the music here a bit on the dull and downright boring side of the spectrum. There is not really anything bad here. Neither is there anything I find interesting either. This is a decent enough album.

2 points

Electric Desert - Electric Desert (2014)

This is as far as I know the debut album from this Israeli band.

This one hour long album is also available as a stream or a purchase from Bandcamp.

I have for a long time wanted albums with some ethnic flavours. So someone listened to my pleas and sent me this album. Thank you !

I am not sure how many band members this band has got. The lineup here is, as far as my ears can pick this up, flutes, vocals, bass, guitars, drums and some keyboards. There is a lot of flutes here.

The music is a mix of folk rock anno Jethro Tull and Israeli folk music. There is a lot of krautrock and blues rock here too. Add some space rock too and you get the full picture.

The end result is a rather good album with a great sound and some good songs. I am not convinced this is a good album though as it has some not so good stuff too. Hence my verdict.

2.5 points

H2O - Due (2001)

The second and final album from this Italian band.

I really liked their 1997 debut album UnoPuntoSei a lot. Very good Italian symphonic prog indeed. The band has shrunk to three members on the follow up album though. Keyboards, guitars, bass and vocals. A mix of Italian and English vocals. 

The vocalist Luca Prandi sounds like a mix of Peter Gabriel and the vocalist in The Watch. The music is also pretty much in the Genesis and in particular; in the The Watch vein. Those who really like The Watch should flash their credit card in the direction of this album.

This is a fifty minutes album and the title track is sixteen minutes long. There is no great songs here. Neither is there any weak songs here. This is a very solid album and I would recommend it. It is also a good album.

3 points

Friday, 17 July 2015

Annot Rhul - Lost In The Woods (2007)

The second album from this Norwegian band.

Annot Rhul is basically Sigurd Luhr Tonna with hired hands. There is a lot of them here and he has chosen some of the best prog rockers from his town, Trondheim in Norway, to contribute with their stuff. Sigurd is playing guitars and some keyboards here.

There is a lot of different instruments here. The mellotron and the harpischord is very much present here. So is organs and guitars too. 

This album is a space/psychedelic rock album in it's purest form. A lot of tangents with some guitars and the occasional vocals from Sigurd. He is a very good vocalist. 

The album is split pretty evenly between instrumental space rock workouts and proper psychedelic songs. These songs are all very good to great. The instrumentals are not that good though. 

This is a pretty uneven one hour long album. I would still rate it as a very good album though. It comes recommended.

3.5 points     

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Herba d'Hamelí. L' - Interiors (2015)

The sixth album from this Catalan, Spanish band.

I once championed this band and reviewed their first four albums in ProgArchives. I also interviewed them. Then I lost contact with the band and their albums. Their fifth album Girafes A Siberia has yet to be purchased by myself.

The band started out as a pure-bread Catalan folk rock band before they went much more symphonic prog in the vein of Genesis on their fourth album Inversa Visual. 

The band seems to have landed on a half way house between symph and folk prog on this album. A album where the band is a six piece. The lineup is guitars, keyboards, flutes, drums, bass and Catalan vocals. 

There is still a lot of Genesis in their sound and music. But the band very much got their own style and has also incorporated a lot of fusion into their new sound/style.

That would had been absolute great and my wildest dream if the band had written any great stuff on/for this fifty minutes long album. They have not. There are some sporadic flashes of greatness. Mostly when the keyboards and the flute is being let loose. But there are not enough greatness to go around here. The album also finishes as a damp squib. 

Nevertheless; this is a good album from a great band. A great band who can do a lot better than this album. Keep an eye out for their albums, old and new.

3 points    

Gods. The - Genesis (1968)

The debut album from this English band who released two albums. 

The Gods is most know as the keyboards god Ken Hensley's first band. The Gods is in many ways the forerunner for Uriah Heep as there were some others Uriah Heep members who also served their apprenticeship in this band.

Another fun fact about this album was that the Ozzy Osbourne drummer Lee Kerslake also played drums on this album. He was also a longtime member of Uriah Heep too. The two other members were Joe Konas on guitars and the later Carmen and Jethro Tull member John Glascock played bass on this album. The Gods were indeed gods in their own respect.  

The year was 1968 and psych rock was one of the genres who broke out of England and USA. In this case, with a pretty hard sound. The sound is pretty good too with a great guitar sound and some good keyboards.

This almost forty minutes long album is a rather decent to good album. Yes, the music is both dated and very naive. It has this beat sound and all the flavours of the 1960s. It is an album well worth checking out too. I quite liked it.

2.5 points 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Soft Machine. The - Switzerland 1974 (2015)

The latest of many, many archives live albums from this British fusion/jazz band. A band I happens to be a fan of and I also have everything they have released. 

This is the much bootlegged recordings from their gig at the Montreux Jazz Festival. They played alongside the likes of Billy Cobham, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Larry Coryell on that festival. A great lineup.

The Soft Machine was, from top to the bottom, Roy Babbington, Alan Holdsworth, Alan Jenkins, John Marshall and Mike Ratledge. Alan Jenkings is now Sir Alan Jenkins and I think both mr Holdsworth and Ratledge deserve the same honour bestowed on them by our majesty, the Queen. 

That maybe for other reasons than this album though. The band was testing out material for what was to become their classic album Bundles. Great music indeed and it is interluded with some rather disharmonic avant-garde pieces too.

The sound is OK and it is obvious that the job compiling this album was a pretty big one. They have succeeded in creating a historical document here, but not a great live album. That aside, this is a good live album which is neither the best or the worst Soft Machine live album out there. 

3 points 

Little Atlas - Neverwordly (1998)

The debut album from this Miami, US band.

The band has so far released five albums and their progress has been steady from album to album. Little Atlas was a five man band on this album. The lineup was keyboards, mandolin, saxophone, guitars, bass and vocals. 

The band grew to become a good neo-prog band. This though was not that evident on this album. College rock is what I would label this album as. Or perhaps straight US rock with some folk rock influences. Or rather; some Americana influences. Add a lot of AOR too. 

There is one very good song here in the form of the five minutes long Hiding In The Shadows. The rest of the album is pretty lively and youthful rock and college rock. This is not prog rock at all. OK, maybe with some Rush influences. But that is all. Nevertheless, check it out.

2.5 points

Monday, 13 July 2015

Sylvium - Waiting For The Noise (2015)

The second album from this Dutch band.

I very much liked their 2013 debut album The Gift Of Anxiety. A very good hard prog album. An album which showed us the future of the more harder edged progressive rock genre.

They returned again earlier this year with a new album. The band is now a five piece band with a lineup of synths, samples, bass, guitars, drums and vocals. 

And yes, they still sound modern with a pretty hard edge to their blend of prog rock and prog metal. The album is also modestly long, clocking in at forty-five minutes and the sound is very good.

There is a lot of post rock in their music too and some samples. I guess this is prog rock anno 2015. The band has in this respect followed up their debut album with a lot of the same.

My only gripe with this album, and it is a pretty big one, is the lack of any really great or even superb songs. The songs are pretty much on the workman like standards here without really showing any flashes of greatness. Nevertheless, this is a good album. Check it out.

3 points 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Haze - World Turtle (1994)

The fourth album from this English band.

The band changed their name to World Turtle for two albums. This is the first of those two albums. 

The change of name was probably due to the band shrinking into a duo. The McMahon brothers were the only members left after their drummer Paul Chisnell had left the ship. Or maybe he had been sacked. I don't know. What remained was a lineup of a drum machine, keyboards, bass, guitars and vocals. This on a seventy minutes long album.

The band had also changed a bit style too. The obvious neo-prog sound was out. It was replaced by AOR and..... horror, horror....... a large chunk of Spandau Ballet influences. Well, this is not that bad. Nevertheless, neo-prog is a no, no on this album.

The album has some pretty good commercial melodies here. But with a tiny prog rock record label; Cyclops and next to no distribution and marketing supporting it, this album never troubled those who should have heard it; the mainstream pop audience. 

Anno 2015, this album sounds well out of date. And it is not a good listen at all. It is a decent album saved by some good pop tunes. And that is it.

2 points

Galadriel - Muttered Promises From An Ageless Pond (1988)

The debut album from this Spanish band who went onto releasing four albums. 

As far as I know, they are still alive. I reviewed their 1992 album Chasing The Dragonfly some years ago. That was their second album. I also believe I got a copy of their latest album, the 2008 album Calibrated Collision Course.

The band was an eight piece band on this album with a lineup of violins, keyboards, piano, guitars, bass, drums and English vocals.

The music here is very ambitious with a lot of Camel like symphonic prog and a lot of Ange like symphonic prog. The theatrical world of French prog rock meets the more pastoral world of Camel's symphonic prog. Add the sound of the neo-prog scene too and you get this album.

Confused ? This band is confusing because the band has bitten over a lot more than they could swallow here. This album is everywhere and a bit of a chaos. The chaos is not helped by the pretty bad sound and the lack of any really good songs or even melodies. I applaud their ambitions, but I am not happy with this album. It is a decent album nevertheless.

2 points

Solstice Coil - Commute (2015)

The third album from this Israeli band.

I have to say that I have never really taken this band to my heart. "Never" means on their two first albums. Their music is too bland and has a finger in too many pies, in my view.

The band has returned again as a five piece band after a successful audition of band members. Or maybe they have stuck to their original members. I am here referring to their Dream Theater parody video on Youtube. I am not so sure if the triangle man got the gig. I need to find out as the tensions in my office is unbearable right now.......

The lineup is guitars, vocals, bass, drums and keyboards. The standard lineup. And the band is very good at what they are doing. On their instruments, that is.

The band is very much somewhere between art rock, rock and progressive metal. The music is not as hard and metal as I expected from a band who has associated themselves (by accident or not) with Dream Theater. They are more like a softer prog rock version of Dream Theater. The sound is DT'ish.

It all therefore comes down to if their songs are any good. And they are. Again, I find their music a bit too bland and a bit too mainstream for my liking. I wish a bit more personality and personal flavours. Like a bit more Israeli and middle east twangs to the proceedings. And I don't necessary means as much as Orphaned Land. But a bit personality does not harm the music. 

This is a good album and it will please those who takes time to listen to this album. It pleases my ears. A killer track or two plus a bit personality is the difference between good and great in this case.
Check out this album.

3 points

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Cast - Art (2011)

The seventeenth album from this Mexican band.

I have always regarded Cast as a very ambitious band who took excess all areas to a new level. And they have hit a new level with this album. Musically speaking, off course. 

Cast is a six piece on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, vocals, keyboards and various woodwinds. This lineup creates a lot of noise. Well, in the hands of this band, at least.

This seventy minutes long album starts with a fusion piece. A rather long one and I am wondering if I have forgotten to remove that Weather Report disc from the CD player. No, I have not. This is Cast and they have thrown me with this unexpected piece of music. 

The album continues in a much more prog metal and then, comes to rest in a much more symphonic prog landscape. Art, it is indeed. And Cast is not a run of the mill band.

The music is pretty hard and big throughout. Unfortunate, without really offering up a great song or two. The music is good throughout. Even that fusion part which threw me a big wobbler. It is obvious the band likes classical music as they have written this album as a piece of classical music with suites and all that. But Cast has not really managed to carry this off and fulfill the ambitions on this album.

Nevertheless, this is a good album with a lot of very good keyboards and guitar runs. I would recommend this album to anyone. But beware; this album is a bit confusing.

3 points

Zappa. Riccardo - Chatka (1978)

The second album from this Italian guitarist.

Riccardo Zappa is regarded as one of the finest acoustic guitarists of his generation. He debuted in 1977 with the Celestation album. An album which was mostly about him and his guitar.

On Chatka, he has at least got help from dums, bass and keyboards. He has even come up with some melodies on this thirty-five minutes long album.

Although there are some melodies here which may appeal to others than hard-core acoustic guitar fans, most of this album is all about Riccardo Zappa and his acoustic guitars. And that is it, really.

The music is somewhere in the folk music area. They are somewhat progressive too. They are also pretty simplistic where the acoustic guitar is king and is left to shine. Riccardo Zappa is a superb guitarist and that is what saves this album. 

If you don't love, really love acoustic guitars, you can safely bypass this album. A pretty decent album, nevertheless. A weak decent rating has been awarded.

2 points 

Weather Report - Heavy Weather (1977)

The seventh album from this US band. 

Weather Report is one of the masters of the fusion genre. They too grew out of Miles Davis famous Bitches Brew sessions. 

I really loved their previous album Black Market which I rate as one of the best ever fusion albums. So I was looking forward to this album.

Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul is still very much present here. So is Jaco Pastorius too. Manolo Badrena and Alejandro Acuna completes the group. 

The material here is very melodic and simplistic. Some of the melodies here has been played on TV as soundtracks and fillers on a regular basis. The music is very commercial at times. What is missing here is the intensity and playful interactions between Shorter and Zawinul. They are by all means great here. I wish this album was a bit more dynamic and full of life. 

Nevertheless; this is a very good album with some really great melodies. Melodies that has gone into folklore and has become timeless. Hence my rating.

3.5 points 

Synopsis - Gamme (1981)

The second and final album from this French band.

The band did not exactly set the world on fire with their 1979 debut album Minuit Ville. Their French symphonic prog was potent, but missed an important thing: Great songs.

So the band tried again two years later with Gamme. The band was a seven piece entity with viola, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and French vocals. 

Everything is right on this album. This is indeed a French symphonic prog album and this is indeed a genre I love. There is a lot of keyboards and viola here. The sound is very good. And the band is trying their best to get some great melodies out of this. 

The problem is as on their debut album. The lack of any great songs. There are only some sporadic very good melody lines and ideas scattered around this album. But there are not enough of them to maintain my interest. It is a shame that I cannot put Synopsis among the many great French bands. Nevertheless; this is a good album and well worth checking out if symphonic prog is your thing.

3 points

Friday, 10 July 2015

Perilium - Optic 72 (2012)

The debut album and the so far only sign of life from this Australian band.

I know next to nothing about this band except from the fact that they are from Brisbane, Australia. Their setup is guitars, bass, saxophone, drums and some vocals. Their album is also out on Bandcamp as a name your price album. That is all I know.

The band has described their music as alternative ambient other progressive rock. That is true. But also add metal and pop too. They cover a lot of ground on this album. As much ground as Australia. Most of Australia is as barren and lifeless as this album.

The sound is dodgy on this album. The drummer too is not particular on it either. The metal riffs and the songs here are dodgy too and the whole thirty-six minutes long album is dodgy to say at least.

This is close to being a turkey. But it is not as bad as that. It has some sort of promise and I leave it like that.

1.5 points

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Drifting Sun - Trip The Life Fantastic (2015)

The third album from this multi-national band.

The band released their self-titled debut album almost twenty years ago, back in 1996. Their second album On The Rebound was released two years later before the band went into a long hibernation. 

The band is a five piece with a keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals lineup. Pete Falconer is the vocalist and his vocals are very good. 

And yes, we are deep into neo-prog land again. Middle of the road neo-prog with some fairly long songs, topping out at around five to ten minutes long. The longest one is over nine and a half minutes long. 

The music is pretty light hearted and not particular heavy or symphonic. My problems here is the lack of any great songs. I have problems finding any good songs too. The music really does not appeal to me as it is too bland and too bereft of any original ideas. The music is walking down well trodden roads and there is not much life here. 

The end product is an album which is somewhere between decent and good. This album is not for me.

2.5 points

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Glass - Palindrome (2014)

The fourth album from this US band.

Glass is a trio with three keyboardists. That means various tangent instruments from melotron and church organs to piano. Name anything with tangents and Glass has got it. Mostly on this album. 

The music is instrumental with some spoken vocals on one of the tracks. This album is also one hour long. One looooooong hour if you don't like this kind of stuff.

I normally like this kind of music. Symphonic prog, that is. Symphonic prog in the vein of ELP. In the case of this album, the music is not that interesting. It is kind of new-age and pretty much without much colours and variations. 

In short; this is a decent album which does not really make the grades. Most of this album is rather pointless too. The best part of this album is the first couple of tracks. The rest is pretty bad. Hence my verdict.

2 points  

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

H2O - UnoPuntoSei (1997)

The debut album from this Italian band who released two albums before they split up. 

I keep discovering new Italian progressive bands and I love that. This blog has it's mission and that is more than worth the minimal pain it gives me. 

This band was around in the 1970s without getting any deal. They got a deal in the 1990s and their two albums was released. 

The core members of H2O was three members with a lineup of bass, guitars, keyboards and vocals. They got help of a drummer and a female vocalist on this album. All five of them are doing a great job here. Both the male and the female vocals are very good.

This album is forty-eight minutes long and is split into two long suites and two other long songs. Four longs songs in all.

The music is not the most exciting music around. The music is very much a pastoral symphonic prog album with Italian vocals. It does not speak in large letters, the music here. Both the keyboards and the guitars has a very good contemporary sound.

The music is throughout full of interesting ideas and very good music. This is indeed a good album in the good old great Italian tradition. Some killer melody lines or rather a great tracks or two is very much missing here. I am split between good and very good here. I give it a good rating though and hope their second album is an improvement. OK, it is a very good album then.

3.5 points 

A Presença das Formigas - Ciclorama (2011)

The debut album from this Portuguese band.

To name everyone or even count every musician who has contributed to this album will take a long, long time. The band is acoustic and uses every acoustic instrument you can think off. 

And yes, this is folk rock. Folk rock with some great female vocals too. But it is not strictly folk music what we get here. Take some pretty big influences from the likes of Gentle Giant and fuse that with the likes of Gryphon, Pentancle and Flairck. That is when you get this band.

This band with the very long name is singing in Portuguese and the music is very much local and a reflection of Portugal. Nevertheless; you will also find some English eclectic prog here too.

This album is too folky for my liking. I very much like the violins and flutes here. Ditto for the vocals. The songs are not that interesting though. This makes it a good album in my books. The band clearly has a future and I am looking forward to listen to their second album.

3 points