Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Mindgames - Paradox of Choice (2015)

The fourth album from this Belgium band.

Mindgames is a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, synths, bass, drums and vocals. Male English vocals.

I quite liked their 2010 album, their third album MMX. Good traditional neo-prog in the Pendragon vein.

Mindgames has continued in the same vein on their new....well, 2015 album Paradox Of Choice. This is very much old Pendragon. The vocals are pretty thin and not that powerful. But it really suits this music.

This exactly one hour long and twenty-two seconds long album is divided into nine songs. There is no real epics here and the music is a bit on the songs orientated end of the neo-prog scene.

There is some long guitar solos and some guitar harmonies on this album. A lot of keyboards too. Traditional neo-prog, in other words. This album is like a return to the 1990s. Retro neo-prog ? Oh yes.....

There is no really great tracks here. This album is not that good either. The art of any good or even great song writing has passed by this album. It is a bit of a step back from MMX and I am not that impressed. This is a decent to good album. It is also a pretty dull album too. I really like neo-prog. But not really this album.

2.5 points


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Hillage. Steve - Green (1978)

The fourth album from this English artist and legend.

Steve Hillage is really one of the veterans in the scene and he is still touring the world. He was recently reunited with Daevid Allen and Gong before Daevid Allen sadly passed away. Steve Hillage is now mostly touring his own material. I guess some of it is from this album.

This album was co-produced by Nick Mason from Pink Floyd. He is doing some drums here. Steve Hillage also got help from numerous other musicians too. He himself is doing the guitars and some synths and electronics. Electronics anno 1978 and Steve Hillage was a pioneer in this field. He was a pioneer in electronica too.

Green continues where the previous album Motivation Radio ended. That means even more electronica and ambient music. Well, not so much ambient music. A lot of weird and wonderful electronica which is clearly into krautrock territory. There is some Asian feel here too. Japanese and Indian feel.

In the bottom and shoring this up, you still get Steve Hillage's vocals and excellent guitars. You still get Steve Hillage and some Gong influences too. Although, the Gong influences are on the wane here.

This forty-six minutes long album is really a slab of space rock too. But with the electronica, krautrock and Steve Hillage feel to it.

The end result is a good album and one I find a bit special. There is no great songs here though and that is my only gripe with this album. An album well worth checking out.

3 points

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Mindflowers - Nuances (2005)

The second and final album from this Hungarian band.

The band was a four piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and keyboards. Yes, all the music is instrumental.

Their 2002 album Improgressive created a bit of a stirr in the European jazz and prog scene. So much was expected from the band.

Mindflowers is very much somewhere in the landscape between progressive rock and jazz. A lot more towards jazz, though. Fusion, you may say. No !

To a large degree, this is not fusion. The jazz is so ingrained here with the jazzy drums and bass. Add the jazzy guitars and keyboards too. The band sometimes wanders into symphonic prog territory. But they are not making many stops in the fusion territory. Or perhaps.... this is fusion ? I am not sure.

The guitars and piano solos is really good and the music is very dynamic, most of the time. Which is very good in my books.

I guess Return To Forever is a good reference on this very long album. Seventy minutes is long. Perhaps too long. So you get a lot of value for your money here.

The music is not that good all the time. But the overall quality is good, though. I am not a big fan of this album. But jazz and fusion fans must check out this album.

3 points

Taylor's Universe - From Scratch (2015)

The fourteenth album from this Danish band.

Taylor's Universe is a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, clarinet, saxophone, drums, Minimoog and keyboards. They also get some help from other woodwinds and vocals.

I pretty much liked their previous album, the 2013 album Evidence. Good avant-garde jazz. See my review and check out that album too.

From Scratch is much more an avant-garde album than a jazz album. It has some strong Univers Zero and Present influences. It also has got some chamber rock influences. Very strong ones, in fact. It very much follows the RIO movement and their sound.

The music on this forty-five minutes long album is pretty dark and sinister. Very sinister and menacing at times. It also has this horror movie soundtrack feel the likes of Goblin used.

There is also a lot of zeuhl influences and indeed zeuhl here at times. In particular on some of the vocal pieces.

This is by no means easy listening stuff, this album. But it is still pretty melodic and it is easy to follow... and indeed enjoy this album.

My only gripe is that xtra little twists and turns I expect from a great avant-garde album. That is not present here. But this is still another good album from this Danish band and one to check out.

3 points

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Rousseau - Square the Circle (1987)

The third and next to the final album from this German band.

Rousseau used ten musicians on this album. The core of the band was seven musicians. Or perhaps only four musicians. The lineup was guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, flutes and some English vocals. There is also some strings on this album.

Camel has been a very big influence on this band. Even the vocals sounds like Richard Sinclair in Camel. Or rather; they try to sound like him. That is not an entirely succesful attempt.

The music is pretty similar to some of the less good Camel albums. The ones with not so good melodies and songs.

There is a lot of flutes and semi-acoustic guitars here. Lots of keyboards too. Some of the music is leaning towards muzak and ambient music. The strings adds a lot of muzak feel too.

The music on this forty-four minutes long album is not too bad. This is actually a good album.... for someone likes me who loves symphonic prog and really likes Camel. Because this is a symphonic prog album. Lots of trivial and not so complicated melodies is what we get here.

A bit of a more challenge and food for my brain would had been great here. This album is too one dimentional and too easy listening. It is still a good album though which has been lost in time and space. I guess Youtube is your only friend if you want to check it out. And perhaps you should do that. A weak three pointer, it is.

3 points


Not A Good Sign - From A Distance (2015)

 The second album from this Italian band.

Not A Good Sign is a sort of a supergroup with members from Yugen, Ske and La Coscienca Di Zeno. The band is a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, English vocals, vibraphone and some woodwinds.

I very much liked their self-titled 2013 debut. A great take on Rock Progressive Italiano (RPI). A modern sound with a great deal of the good old RPI music from the 1970s. Although with original material. That was also a fresh sounding album.

The band continues down the same path on the new album; this album.

The difference I have noticed though is that this is a much more darker album than what I would expect from a RPI album. The keyboards sound is pretty dark and menacing. Ditto for the guitars.

There is also a sinister feel over this album. A bit of good-days-turns-into-dark-days. The melodies are also a bit on the dark side. Very much helped by the frequent use of English horn.

This album is fifty-two minutes long and there is not a truly great song here. I am a bit disappointed... The lack of any great songs is my main gripe with this album.

The end result is a good album. A good album which is not really inviting me to play it again in the next years as there is so many better albums like this out there. I was expecting far better things from this band.....

3 points

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Silver Key - The Screams Empire (2015)

The second album from this Italian band.

Silver Key is a five piece band with a lineup of keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and English vocals. The vocalist is actually on my Facebook friends list. That does not influence this review whatsoever.

I very much liked their 2012 debut album In The Land Of Dreams. Very good neo-prog in the vein of the Fish era Marillion.

The band has not moved on that much during the three years after that album. A bit of the most obvious Fish vocals is gone. It has been replaced by some more neutral vocals.

The music is very much traditional neo-prog with some Marillion leanings. But the band has also introduced some subtle prog metal influences here. Some more modern prog metal and heavy prog influences from the likes of Porcupine Tree.

Half of the album is this The Screams Empire suite in four parts. A suite which is good, but nothing more.

This one hour long album is very much a good album. There is no great songs here and neither is there any very good stuff here. The band is keeping up the flag and is gigging a lot. I guess the songs here is better live than on this album.

I am not overly impressed by this album. Nevertheless, this is a good album.

3 points 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Vecteur K - La Peur du Désert (2009)

The debut album from this Canadian band.

Vecteur K is a five piece band from the French speaking part of Canada. The lyrics are all in French.
The lineup on this album is bass, drums, keyboards, guitars and vocals.

I have heard next to nothing about this band. They have so far released two albums and I have got both of them. This is my first dip into their domain, their ocean.

The music here is pretty heavy at times without being progressive metal at all. The music is heavy as in good old hard rocking. Add a lot of old symphonic progressive rock too. Not to mention their countrymen Rush. You can also add Porcupine Tree to their sound and music too. Add a lot of jazz too.

The sound is very much old age 1970s feel with some the world anno 2009 feel to the sound too. The sound is very warm and not particular clinical cold and calculated. The sound is spreading organich warmth all around.

The vocals is pretty great too. I like the warm male vocals here.

The music is pretty well devoloped and sophisticated with a large emphasis on guitars. Both half-accoustic and electric. The band has got two guitarists and that is evident in their music.

It is a pity that there is no real good songs here. The band has done everything right bar writing good songs. There is still enough positives here to take with me. It is a decent to good album.

2.5 points

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Sassi. Yossi - Desert Butterflies (2014)

The second album from this Israeli artist.

Yossi Sassi was the founding member of Orphaned Land. Their albums was pretty groundbreaking to say at least. These albums also mixed Middle-East folk music with progressive rock and metal.

And that is exactly what Yossi Sassi does on this album too. It comes across as a more polished and more folkier version of Orphaned Land's output.

Yossi Sassi has got help from a lot of musicians here. That include the excellent guitarist Marty Friedmann. The lineup is guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and some weird local instruments. Mostly local instruments.

The music is like Camel going to the Middle-East. There is a very strong Middle-East flavour throughout this mostly instrumental album. And the music is mostly good to very good. It has a nice flow and an exotic feel.

The album is forty-four minutes long and it ends with a rather bad pop song with female vocals. I am not sure what that song is doing here. But it does not add anything positive to this album. Why the heck was it included ?

The end result is a good album with a lot of spicy flavours. Check it out.

3 points

Friday, 17 June 2016

Threshold - March Of Progress (2012)

The ninth album from this British band.

The band was a six piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. Damien Wilson, the vocalist on Wounded Land and Extinct Instinct, has again taken over the vocals duties. Karl Groom is as usual in the charge of the band.

I thought the band was going to change and become harder when they signed with Nuclear Blast. Two albums in on this contract and that has not happened.

The band has actually become softer and more progressive on this album. There are still a lot of progressive metal here and hard edges. But Threshold still maintains their position between neo-prog and progressive metal.

The songs on this seventy minutes long album is both measured and interesting. The band is exploring some new avenues here. This is therefore a bit of an unusual Threshold album. It is not a break with their style and tradition, though. Fans of this band will still like this album.

There is no great tracks on this album and that is my main gripe with it. The album is still a good album and one to saviour. Check it out because Threshold is a pretty unique band who deserve all respect and support they can get.

3 point

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Metamorphosis - Metamorphosis (1999)

The debut album from this Czech Republic band.

The band was a quartet and the lineup was cello, violins, guitars and vocals.

The band has so far released three albums. I only got this album from them.

The band has been labeled as a RIO band in the almighty Progarchives and that is spot on. The band is indeed a RIO band. Or to be more precise; a chamber rock band. Although the rock element here is not particular obvious.

The music has also got a lot of gipsy music elements. The violins and cello is very fast playing at times.

The music is mostly chamber rock. There are some vocals here too and I am at loss to understand why they have included a melodic, slightly bizzarre and melodic song like piece of music halfway through this album. Maybe that is a form of humour. But it does not sit that well on this album.

This album is forty-six minutes long and it has some good stuff. I am here referring to the chamber rock tracks. It also has some less than good stuff. Far less than good stuff. The vocals sounds.... well, they does not sound good at all. Hence my rating of this album.

2.5 points

Pererin - Tirion Dir (1982)

The third album from this Welsh band.

Pererin was a five piece band with a lineup of various acoustic strings, guitars, flutes, percussions, bass, keyboards and vocals. Welsh vocals, that is. Both male and female vocals. But the vocals is dominating male vocals and some pretty gentle ones too.

Their two first albums, Haul Ar Yr Eira (1980) and Teithgan (1981) was two pretty impressive folk rock albums.

These album was not traditional folk rock albums, but folk rock albums with a Keltic and Welsh dimension. Some years later, the likes of Mostly Autumn developed their music and this scene and came up with a winning and very good formula. That though was in the future.

Tirion Dir and 1982 is the present here. This album is forty minutes long and it has a couple of very good songs and a couple of not so good songs. There are ten songs altogether and some is stretching themselves towards six minutes. The average is off course four minutes. Which is pretty long for folk rock songs.

There are some hints and gentle pointers towards progressive rock on most songs. The songs are mostly very melodic and has a bit of a hymn feel to them.

The overall quality is good and I like this album a lot. Pererin has got my respect, yes. Fans of folk rock must check them out.

3 points  

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Midlake - Bamnan and Slivercork (2001)

The debut album from this Texan, USA band.

This is a five piece big band with a lineup of keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals.

The band has so far released four albums. I got their second and the fourth album and was about to review both of them before I discovered that Youtube had their debut and their third album. So I decided to review all their four albums as this band is not that known. They deserve a bit of recognition.

The band operates loosely within the psych acid folk rock genre. This album starts out with a great deal of nods towards The Beatles and is doing that throughout the forty-six minutes long album.

Add a lot of folk music and college rock too. Some post rock and a lot of psych rock can be added too.

The sound is pretty pastoral and so is the music too. Very warm and cosy at times. That is the big plus and the big thumbs up on this album.

What drags this album down is the lack of any really good tracks. The melodies here does not really have much going for them. A couple of hints of good things is the only plus here.

This album is decent enough and you can judge this album for yourself on Youtube. It is a decent enough debut album and one to check out.

2 points


Monday, 13 June 2016

Mice On Stilts - Hope for a Mourning (2016)

The debut album from this New Zealand band.

Mice On Stilts was founded by the guitarist and vocalist Benjamin Morley. He has got support by numerous other musicians here. The lineup is trumpet, bass, drums, guitars, synths, strings and percussions.

Mice On Stilts has got a very good reputation and a lot of hype is following this band. With some justice, it has to be said.

Take the English band Coldplay as the base camp here and add some space rock and a lot of post rock to their sound. Add some Gazpacho too into the mix. Sigur Ros is also a reference.
The vocas is very much Coldplay and most of the music could had been and should have been created by Coldplay too.

In other words; Mice On Stilts is a lot of a jazzed and psyched up Coldplay.

The mood is both somber and mournful on this album. The album title very much describe the music on this one hour long album. Very much so.

The music is good throughout and is suggesting that there is a lot more to come from this band. It is indeed a very much a band full of talents and ability.

As a debut album, this is more than acceptable. I hope we will hear a lot more from this band in the future.

3 points

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Midian - Soulinside (1994)

The one and only album from this Italian band.

Not much is known about this five piece band whose lineup was violins, keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals. English male vocals, that is.

The art-work gives me associations about a heavy metal, or at best, a prog metal album. So I get a bit of a shock when some Gentle Giant like vocals and weirdness starts this album.

The Gentle Giant weirness does not last long, though.......

I think it is fair to say that this is one of the most weird and diverse albums I have ever heard while running this blog. Gentle Giant has been named here. There are also some Mekong Delta weirdness here. Yes, and some Yes vibes too. That and a lot of prog metal too. The violins also adds some folk and jazz to the proceedings. The violins is a bit gypsy music like too.

The rhythms and melodies are plainly weird. It is like some weird German thrash/speed metal band gatecrashing a prog rock party in a gypsy camp. Which is mindboggling.

The music is almost too weird to make sense. It is too weird to make sense and that is the downfall of this album. It is also diverse and is all over the place.

The music is not particular good either and is lacking in quality. After getting over the shock, the considerable huge shock and shock value, I find this a decent album which has to be heard to be believed.

2 points

Midday Veil - This Wilderness (2015)

The fifth album from this US band.

This band is a six piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, synths, computers and female vocals.

I was pretty impressed by their 2013 album The Current. Good krautrock in the vein of Brainticket. So I was looking forward to this album.

The art-work reminds me a lot about old thrash metal albums from the 1980s. A bit tacky and nasty, but still a good art-work. So I did not really know what to make of this album before I put it on.

The band has developed a bit since their previous album The Current. The krautrock is still there. But you can also add on a lot of electronica and trip-hop.

The sound is indeed very contemporary and Emily Pothast's very flowery vocals floats on the top of some very trippy spaced out music. Trippy and spacy..... but still melodic.

The music is pretty understated and at times, very pastoral. No big bangs and no big walls of noise can be found here. Understated, the music here is indeed. This throughout these forty-two minutes of music.

The end result is a good album without any really great tracks. But it is still a good album. Check it out if krautrock and trip-hop is your thing. I guess their main audience can be found well outside the prog rock fraternity. Which is a bit of a shame because the prog rock fraternity should also check out this album. Do so.

3 points

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Hillage. Steve - Motivation Radio (1977)

The third album from this English artist.

Steve Hillage was the ex guitarist of Gong, Khan and Uriel before he went solo and had, and still have, a pretty good solo career. He is a living legend in his own right.

Steve Hillage has got help from a drummer, bassist and keyboards player on this album. There is a heck of a lot of studio and keyboards wizardry on this album.

His first two solo albums was pretty hard rocking and much more straight than I expected from an ex Gong guitarist. Which perhaps his two hits Hurdy Gurdy and The Salmon Song explains.

There are no hits on this album though. Instead, we get a mix of hard rock/psych and Gong like melodies. Yes, Steve Hillage has returned back to his Gong days on this album.

You get some straight songs. Twisted, but still straight. Then you get some weird spaced out tunes here too. There is some electronica here and I guess that this is where Steve Hillage first started to explore these avenues. Avenues pretty dominant on his later albums.

The end result is a spacy album which takes in a lot of Gong and the psychedelic soundscapes from that era. Some songs are straight. Some are spaced out.

The end result is a good album. Barely a good album as this is not a solid good album. It does not really have any great songs or some standout tracks. But the more weird stuff is the best here. Check it out.

3 points

Flower Kings. The - Desolation Rose (2013)

The twelfth and so far latest album from this Swedish band.

The band was a five piece band on this album with Roine Stolt, Jonas Reingold, Hasse Froberg, Felix Lehman and Tomas Bodin as the persons in the band. The lineup is vocals, bass, guitars, keyboards and drums.

That lineup has served the band very well during their long career. 20 years or so, if I am not that mistaken.

And the band is again going back to the original recipe. Namely symphonic prog with a large twist of Swedish..... well, Sweden. The sound, a mix of some subtle hints of Swedish folk music and a large dash of symphonic prog, was created by this band. A formula the band is sticking to on this album.

A great formula in my view. A bit more of a folky, earthy symphonic prog than the more fantasy and technology orientated English symphonic prog scene. Hence, I am a fan of this band.

This album starts with the forteen minutes long epic Tower One and is going nicely along in a Swedish symphonic prog landscape throughout this one and a half minutes long album.

The songs are all very good and this makes it, not surprisingly, a very good album. It is not their best album. But I am not complaining. Let's hope they will one day return for some more albums.

3.5 points

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Steeleye Span - Ten Map Mop or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again (1972)

The third album from this British band.

The band was a five piece band with Maddy Prior on vocals and with support from mostly acoustic instruments. That includes strings, violins, organs, keyboards, percussions, spoons and bass.

I really liked their 1971 Please To See The King. A great folk rock album. I was therefore very much looking forward to sinking my teeth and ears into this album.

Where Please To See The King is lush and full of life, this album, the follow up album, is pretty barren and back to basic again.

Back to basics as in back to basic folk music. There are some sporadic folk rock here too.

This thirty-seven minutes long album is mostly male and female vocals over some pretty basic instruments. Worst of all; the melodies are not really up to standard either.

This album is a pretty primitive sounding album and it does not really rock my boat/cradle. It is also a pretty agressive album with a lot of in-your-face songs which wants to jump out and strangle you.

This is a pretty decent album, but nothing more than that.

2 points 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Goblin - Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark (1978)

The fifth album from this Italian band.

The band was a four piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. A saxophone is guesting here as a fifth member of the band and lineup.

I have decided to run through the remainder of the Goblin albums this year after previously reviewed a couple of albums for ProgArchives.

I am not a big fan of movie soundtracks. Hence me delaying reviewing the remaining albums of my Goblin collection.

... Hence, I was surprised to find a proper band album when I started to listen to this album. This is not a movie soundtrack. Well, maybe it is. But it sounds more like a proper album to me.

The music is Rock Progressiv Italiano.... RPI. The music is slightly edgy with a hard edge and some heavy rhythms and guitars. This inbetween some more pastoral pieces too.

The album is thirty-five minutes long and it is a pretty typical RPI album. What is lacking is the more Italian pop and folk rock stuff most RPI albums has got. This album is leaning slightly more on the English sound with early Deep Purple as a good reference. The Italian vocals makes it a bona fide RPI album though. The same goes for the guitar sound.

This is by all means a good album. Good to very good and there are some very good stuff here which elevates this album to a very good album. It comes recommended from me. Onwards to the next Goblin album and this time with a lot less trepidation.

3.5 points

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Porcupine Tree - Stupid Dream (1999)

The fifth album from this British band.

Porcupine Tree was a quartet on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, synth, keyboards, strings, drums, woodwinds and vocals. The most imporant man in today's prog rock scene, Steven Wilson, is both at the guitars and on the vocals.

I very much liked their previous album, the 1996 album Signify. A great album by all means.

I am also a slow starter when it comes to both Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree. I have had other priorities despite of off course admiring his work and his energy level. I also guess he is an unassuming man. Great for the scene, in other words.

This one hour long album follows up very nicely the great work at Signify. In other words; highly intelligent and smart progressive rock. Progressive rock somewhere between post rock, psychedelia and heavy prog. And add eclectic prog too. The music is both eclectic and commercially open at the same time.

There is a lot food for thought here. All of the album. From the first haunting words on the great opening track Even Less to the music itself throughout this one hour with the band.

My only gripe is the lack of a truly brilliant song. Besides of that, this is a great melodic eclectic progressive rock album. Get it.

4 points

Monday, 6 June 2016

Rousseau - Retreat (1983)

The second album from this German band.

Rousseau was a six piece band with a lineup of guitars, flutes, bass, drums, keyboards, synths and some vocals.

Their 1980 debut album Flowers In Asphalt was a good symphonic prog album in the instrumental symphonic prog and Camel vein. I liked it quite a lot in my review.

The band returned three years later with much of the same.

Camel is still a very good reference here. Some vocals, but not many tones, has been added. The vocals are fairly good vocals. It adds spices and context to this album.

The music is mostly pastoral and gentle. I have seen other reviewers has referred to this album as from the Moonmadness era of Camel. Which sounds good to me. I am not a big Camel expert. Neither am I a big fan of that band.

The result is a gentle, good album. A forty minutes long album. An album which does not surprise or shock me. It has plenty of flutes, electric guitars, acoustic guitars and keyboards. It has good melodies too. But not any great melodies. The result is a good album. Check it out.

3 points

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Ougenweide - Ousflug (1979)

The sixth album from this German band.

Ougenweide was a six piece band with mainly acoustic instruments. Both strings and woodwinds. The only electric instruments here is electric guitars, bass, keyboards and synths.

.... Which is too much electricity compared to their previous albums.

The band is mainly a medieval folk music band. That with lots of flutes and acoustic instruments. The vocals are also in the olde German language. My German is pretty good and most of the lyrics here are 200 years before my time and age. Which is great.

The band has moved very much towards rock on this album. Very much towards Jethro Tull on this album. The electric guitars are jarring in my ears and is not adding any benefits to the songs and the sound on this forty-three minutes long album. Ditto for the synths and keyboards too.

It is obvious that the band has moved with the times and taken a wrong turn in the process. The electricity has added a very much unwanted dimention to their music.

The lack of any good songs does not make this album any better either.  So the band has added some nonsense to this album to mask this deficency. Children rhymes and the likes of that. It does not work and I can see right through this nonsense.

By all means, this is a decent enough album. But it is not as good as their other albums. Which is a great shame.

2 points   

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Novalis - Augenblicke (1980)

The seventh album from this German band.

Novalis was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, synths, bass, drums, flutes and German vocals. Male vocals. Pretty good vocals too.

Novalis has some good albums and some not so good albums behind them. This band was a bit of an oddball in the scene with their mix of symphonic prog and krautrock.

On this album, they have understood that the symphonic prog and the krautrock scene is dead. Releasing albums like that was as socially acceptable and popular as releasing plague. So they did not bother.

What we get instead is German rock of some sort. Oddball rock, it is. It is not krautrock, though. There are still some psychedelia in their music though. So they are sailing pretty close to the krautrock genre here. But not close enough.

This album is thirty-six minutes long and it is not the most interesting album I have heard. Not this year and not today. It is a pretty dull album with a mix of uptempo songs and ballads. It is the German way, though.

This is a decent enough album, but would only appeal to those who want everything. Loonies like myself. And I am not the smartest person around. The smarter ones of you can bypass this album.

2 points 

Sylvan. Nad - Courting the Widow (2015)

The fourth album from this Sweden based US artist.

Nad Sylvan has been involved in a lot of bands in addition to releasing four albums on his own. The most known bands are Unifaun and The Agents Of Mercy. Bands reviewed in this blog. Nad Sylvan is also a member of Steve Hackett's band on the Genesis Revisited projects.

On this album, he has got help from Roine Stolt & The Flower Kings, Steve Hackett, Nick D'Virgilio and many other guest musicians. This in addition to himself doing vocals, guitars and piano.

Not unsurprisingly, the music is somewhere near these guys named above.

Take The Agents Of Mercy, The Flower Kings and Genesis. Fuse them together and you get the sound and music here.

.... Which is loosely a right description. Some violins adds a real celtic feel to it all, too.

The music is very melodic to say at least. It is also pretty epic with the twenty-two minutes long To Turn The Other Side as the major piece here. A good piece. This one is followed by a song about a cat on a ship. A ship's cat, no less. A cat keeping the ships free of rodents and a mascot. That theme is a first for a symphonic prog album... A pretty odd five minutes long song poppy too.

This is undeniable a symphonic prog album which fuses the symphonic prog tradition from England with the one in Sweden.

My only gripe is the lack of any really great tracks. There is none. But it is a good album and one every symphonic prog fan should check out.

3 points

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Midas - Beyond The Clear Air (1988)

The debut album from this Japanese band who went on to release five studio album between 1988 and 2013. I am not sure if they are still alive.

Midas was a quartet with a lineup of electric violin, synths, bass, drums, piano and vocals.

I reviewed their second album, the 1996 opus Midas II seven years ago for ProgArchives. I really liked that album a lot. Japanese symphonic prog and with a very different sound from their US and European symphonic prog brethren.

Although this is a very different take on symphonic prog than you get from other scenes, it is still unmistaken symphonic prog.

There is some Japanese pop music here too and the electric violin creates a new dimention. There is no denying that this album has an Eastern-Asian feel too. An oriental feel. Very exotic. Very refreshing.

The vocals, these thin falsetto vocals, takes some time to get used to. I got my reservations. The rest of the music is very much my cup of tea and I like it.

There is no real great tracks here. But this one hour long album still provides the listener with a lot of good stuff and melody lines. This is indeed a very fine album from one of Japan's finest ever bands. Check it out.

3 points