Sunday, 19 February 2017

Haddad - Ars Longa Vita Brevis (2004)


The fifth album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a proper band on this album. A five piece band with the Haddad brothers and three other musicians and two guest musicians. The lineup was guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, saxophone and Portuguese vocals.

I was far from impressed by their third album Orion and bypassed their fourth album. I am giving them a final try here. Well, I actually reviewed their sixth and final album for ProgArchives back in August 2011.

I do not know what they did on their fourth album. A much critized album. So I cannot comment on their progress.

Ars Long Vita Brevis offers up forty-five minutes pretty laidback and commercial jazz-pop.

There is a lot of vocals here and a lot of almost ambient pieces here. Some pieces here are ambient and something to fall to sleep at.

And there are some pseudo-classical music here too. TV series music. Or movie-soundtrack type of music. TV or film, you get my drift. Not much to take away your attention from the TV screen or the big screen in the cinema.

The result is pretty lifeless and dull. This album does not really work at all. Not for the likes of myself, anyway.

This is a decent album, but nothing more. I don't see myself as a fan of this band.

2 points



Apocalypse - Aurora Dos Sonhos (1996)


The third album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a quartet on this album with a lineup of guitars, organs, drums, piano, bass, synths and Brazilian vocals.

I like this band and you will find the recently added reviews of their debut album here and their second album here

This band is a symphonic prog band. It is one of many symphonic prog bands from South America & Mexico. A greeeeeeeeeeat continent for progressive rock.

I was not entirely pleased with their two previous efforts as you can see from my reviews. But they have pulled together and come up with their third album.

Their vocals is still dodgy and I agree with those who think the band should have got a far better vocalist on this album.

.....Which is a pity because the music here is a mix of symphonic prog and good old style neo-prog. Marillion and IQ meets Genesis. Symphonic neo-prog is a label I have seen on this album and I agree. Symphonic neo-prog it is.

This album still retains this Latin-American progressive rock sound. A sound taken from the 1970s pioneering symphonic prog bands from this continent.

This album is almost one hour long and it is overall a very good album with a lot of very interesting and very good melodies. At times, this album is almost a great album. The vocals is a sobering downer, though. Nevertheless......

3.5 points


 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Opeth - Deliverance (2002)


The sixth album from this Swedish band.

The band is a quartet on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Steven Wilson does some guitars and keyboards here + he is co-producing this album.

I was very happy with their previous album Blackwater Park. A good progressive death metal album who also dived into prog rock from the 1970s.

I was hoping that Blackwater Park meant the band was moving into the much heralded progressive rock landscape which is the reason I have decided to review all their studio albums.

But no......

The band has decided to stick to the devil they know here. Death metal in other words. But with a big twist.....

There is a lot of strange guitars and rhythm figures here. The band has gone down the route of experimental death metal. Which is in itself very progressive.... but not the progressive rock I was waiting for.

There are some really strange stuff here. Some stuff that makes me sit up and really listen. Some of the guitars and bass here are twisted and really ultra-technical. Oh yeah, Opeth can play. Really play.

There is not so much clean vocals here as death grunts. But this is nevertheless a good album. A good album but not the one I expected. I find myself giving this a good rating against all my prejudices.
This is really an album you should check out from a band who is hitting top speed.

3 points





Hero - Hero (1974)


The one and only album from this Italian band.

The band was a trio with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and English vocals.

Not much is known about this band. But Black Widow Records re-released this very obscure album on CD some years ago. It is still a very obscure album.....

This band and this album does not really fit into the Italian progressive rock (RPI) scene. The sound is very un-Italian. So we have to take the train under the Alps to get to the country where this album really belongs to.... Germany.

OK, there are some hints of RPI scattered around these forty-six minutes and nine songs. But this is essentially a krautrock album.

There are a lot of hard rock too on this album. There are also some eclectic prog here too and some theatrical prog too. The crude looking art-work gives some strong hints what this album is all about.

The keyboards and the guitars works very well with the vocals here on the more or less straigth melodies here. Some of the tracks and stuff is pretty eclectic.

The sound is surprisingly good too. The sound is actually very good and Black Widow Records has done a great, great job here. The vocals are also good.

The music is a bit so-so-so. Not bad but not good either. The music is somewhere between decent and good. 

Check out this album if this interest you.

2.5 points





Styx - Man of Miracles (1974)


The fourth album from this US band.

The band was a five piece band here with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, arp, keyboards and vocals.

It is my understanding that this is the final of the pre-classic Styx albums. I have been told I should not judge this band on this or any of the three previous albums. But I am still reviewing these four albums. See my other three reviews here, here and here.
I do like to review odd and obscure albums. I have therefore reviewed these albums.

I have always regarded Styx as a pomp prog band. Rightly or wrongly, though. There is some pomp on this album. At the end of this album, that is.

Most of this album is hard rock. US hard rock where big is better and gigantic is the norm. USA is a big country, strutting with self-belief.

The music here is strutting like a peacock and as arrogant as a mountain lion. This is a brash, big thirty-minutes long album. It is very loud and youthful too.

Unfortunate, there is not much positive to say about this album. The music is bordering to power-pop on far too many occasions. The bubblegum and throw-away factor is pretty large here. The music and lyrics is very light on substance......... and quality.

This album just falls flat on it's face. It is still a decent album. But I hope I will get some more quality on the next Styx albums I am reviewing. So far, I am far from being impressed.

2 points




Thursday, 16 February 2017

Mighty Baby - A Jug of Love (1971)


The second and final album from this British band.

The band was a five piece big band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, piano and vocals.

I pretty much liked their 1969 self-titled debut album. Good psych prog. It is also a recommended album.

The band has changed 180 degrees and to a new genre on this album who was released two years later.

Take a big chunk of Neil Young and country from the USA. Take some Grateful Dead and a lot of psychedelic rock too. Take Jefferson Airplane too. That is when you sort of ends up with this album.

Where the debut album was brash and youthful, this album is much more pastoral and laidback. The art work above kind of tells the story.

There is a lot of piano and guitars where with vocals. And that is basically that when it comes to creating some noise. Pastoral and understated indeed.

The songs are not great. But this forty-three minutes album is still very charming and pleasing on the ear. It is not a classic. But it is an honest album and a fine farewell from a band who were here only for a few years. Check out this good album.

3 points


  

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Haikara - Haikara (1972)


The debut album from this Finnish band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of tubular bells, clock bells, tamburine, saxophone, flutes, organs, guitars, bass, percussions, drums, piano, triangle and Finnish vocals.

... Eclectic and exotic indeed....

This was the first of in total five albums this band released before their final album in 2001. The band changed style and genres on the albums, according to ProgArchives. I only got this album so I don't really know.

This album is indeed an eclectic prog album. It has everything from Mexican tijuana jazz to a lot of King Crimson'esque like rhythms and melodies. There is also a lot of Finnish folk rock, hard rock and avant-garde prog here too.

The Finnish vocals also add a lot of eclectic prog feel too.

There is a lot of strange stuff on this forty-four minutes long album. The album never really gets boring or dull. Just interesting and good. Very good in fact.

There is no great songs here. But the overall quality is very good throughout this album. An album I really recommend to you all. Check it out.

3.5 points


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Jeseter - Siddhartha (2016)


The third album from this Czech Republic band.

The band is a five piece band with a lineup of grand piano, synths, guitars, bass, drums and Czech male vocals.

Jeseter is a new name to me and I have not heard their previous two albums.

Their language is not what I hear every day either. It has been months, if not a year, since I have reviewed an album with this language. I am not particular overly happy with English language vocals so variations are totally fine for me.

These vocals gives the music here a nice edge too. Music somewhere between symphonic prog and neo-prog.

Take a big chunk of Genesis and add local Eastern Europe flavours. Add a lot of Italian symphonic prog too and you get this album.

The music is a bit on the melancholic side of the spectrum and pretty epic. The male vocals is adding a lot of quality to this fifty minutes long album too.

The melodies are good throughout and the band gets a lot out of the material which is not great. The guitar solos are the only great thing here.

Check out this band as they are really adding some nice, juicy flavours to the prog rock scene.

3 points

 

 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Proto Kaw - The Wait Of Glory (2006)


The second album from this US band.

The band is a seven piece big band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, saxophone, flutes, organ and vocals. 

Proto-Kaw is basically the old version of the far more famous Kansas. A band the leader of Proto-Kaw also were the leader of for a long time. His name is off course Kerry Livgren, one of USA's best and most famous prog rock composers. He did Kansas best stuff and mostly everything for Proto-Kaw.

I pretty much liked their 2004 debut album Before Became After. An album with both pre-Kansas and post-Kansas songs. It was a good album, indeed.

So I am giving them another try again. All their three albums, in fact.

Proto-Kaw sounded very much in the Kansas vein on their debut album. The difference was violin vs saxophone. Proto-Kaw has saxophone and flutes instead of violins. That was a major difference on the debut album.

Proto-Kaw has distanced themselves a lot more on The Wait Of Glory, though. There is a lot of Christian rock like toothless AOR here. Not AOR but toothless and praise the lord type of AOR. Then there are some funk here too. And a few melodies which reminds me about Kansas and progressive rock.

The end result is a bland album which does not work out at all. A couple of songs here are good. The rest of the album is bleak and bland. Totally forgetable and I want to forget this album as much as I can so I can still honour Kerry Livgren and his work. 

This is a decent album but nothing more than that.

2 points


 


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Hoelderlin - Hoelderlin (1975)


The second album from this German band.

The band was a six piece big band with a lineup of clavinet, organ, piano, moog, guitars, bass, drums, flutes, woodwind, viola and English vocals.

I was pretty impressed by their 1972 debut album Hoelderlin's Traum. An album I gave a Good rating.  

The band had taken a three years long break before returning with this self titled second album. Why it is self titled, I don't know. But I guess this means a new and fresh beginning.

The result is a forty-three minutes long album which is a radical departure from their debut album. Hence this album title, me believe.

Take a big chunk of Gentle Giant from their mid period and add some folk rock and symphonic prog. Then you get this album.

The music is very eclectic throughout. Eclectic but still melodic. The five songs...... make that pieces of music... is pretty long too. The finale piece of music, Deatwatchbeetle, is over seventeen minutes long. A pretty complex piece of music it is.

The music is good throughout. I am not totally won over by this band and their take on eclectic prog. It is nevertheless a good album which may find a lot of new fans. Check it out.

3 points




Haddad - Orion (2000)


The third album from this Brazilian band.

Haddad was Leandro Haddad (vocals and guitars) and Gustavo Haddad (keyboards, programming and vocals). It seems pretty logical to name the band as Haddad....

I reviewed their sixth and so far final album Eros & Thanatos for ProgArchives back in August 2011. I was not too impressed by this good album. 

Haddad does symphonic prog with some jazz, ambient, new-age and pop music influences. 

In the case of Orion, that means long and even longer instrumental parts with guitars and keyboards. The guitars are pretty restrained and is much more painting soundscapes than chugging along. No agression from the guitars.

The infrequent vocals is there to add some pop music elements to this album. The vocals are all in Portuguese so I am not sure about the lyrics.

The end result is a very soothing and ambient album with a lot of Brazilian charm and laid-back attitude. It is symphonic prog with an overdose of sleeping pills.

This album is almost one hour long and does not offer up much variations. I am not convinced about the quality here. There is not much of that.

The end result is a decent album from a pretty obscure band who still deserve a lot of respect.

2 points



Saturday, 11 February 2017

Howe. Steve - The Steve Howe Album (1979)


The second album from this English guitarist.

Steve Howe did all guitars, bass and vocals (on one track) here. He had company of half the Yes, a female vocalist, a symphony orchestra and some keyboards and violins here.
Roger Dean did the art-works as we can see.

The Yes and Asia guitarist continues to showcase his guitars and his own skills on this album. Skills as both composer and guitarist.

He does vocals on one track here and he is as bad as always. His vocals is terrible.

The music is a mix of Yes like songs, a couple of Asia like songs and some pseudo-classical stuff with his guitars and strings in the background.

Listening to both this album and his first album, I just get the feeling that Steve Howe is so much better in a band than on his own.

When that is said, this is not a bad album. The first part takes us through a Yes like landscape with vocals and it all. Steve Howe also contributes with slide guitars here. Yes-light is what this is all about. And it is really some good stuff here.

The final half is about pseudo-classical stuff with Steve Howe's guitars on the top. And it is some rather good compositions.

The end result is a good album and one Yes fans like myself really would like. And I like this album.
Check it out if you love Yes and want to check out one of the most prolific guitarists of all time.

3 points



Hackett. Steve - Darktown (1999)


The fourteenth album from this English artist.

Steve Hackett is doing all guitars and some vocals and synths here. He got help from numerous other musicians on all sorts of instruments. The vocals is both male and female.

This ex-Genesis guitarist has made a career out of making projects like albums with invited guests. The band itself is just Steve Hackett.

Projects like Darktown can give up a lot of different results. In this case, a pretty dark album.

The album starts with the title track. It is a dark, brooding track which sets the tone for the rest of this album. An hour long album.

During this one hour, we get a couple of Broadway like ballads with an Elaine Paige like vocalist. We also get Jim Diamond on vocals on one of the tracks, the single lifted from this album. It is called Days Of Long Ago. A not so interesting song.

The songs are pretty long and so is the instrumental, classical music like pieces too.

Steve Hackett sounds like Camel on the instrumental pieces and on some songs. Camel not on their most interesting and best, it has to be said.

I am not a big fan of this album. But it is nevertheless a good album as I have heard far worse albums from Steve Hackett than Darktown. Check it out if this is something for you.

3 points




Friday, 10 February 2017

Haze - Hazecolor Dia (1971)


The one and only album from this German band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, organ and English male vocals.

This band should not be confused with a British neo-prog band of the same name. A band far more famous and prolific than the German version of Haze.

Haze is very much in the middle of the 1971s hard-rock scene with this forty minutes long album. There is a lot of hard organs and guitars here. A lot of hard drums and bass. And a lot of loud vocals too.

The music is hard-rock with a lot of blues, psychedelic rock and symphonic prog influences. Five tracks, forty minutes. That means long songs. The shortest one at six and a half minutes long.

The songs are really clever and well crafted. They have a psychedelic flavour, all of them. But hard-rock is the basic here. Hard, clever rock.

The guitars from Heinz Scwab are really good. Ditto for the vocals from Christian Scherler. The organs adds a lot of flavour too.

The end result is a good album which is really worth checking out for those into early 1970s hard-rock. I have really enjoyed this album.

3 points





Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Homunculus Res - Limiti All'Eguaglianza Della Parte Con Il Tutto (2013)


The debut album from this Italian band.

Homunculus Res is a six piece big band with a lineup of glockenspiel, woodwinds, keyboards, minimoog, organ, piano, percussions, drums, bass, guitars, synth, flutes and Italian vocals. Four guest musicans is also adding additional instruments.

There is no hiding that this band created a small sensation with this album. And with good reason.

With a name like this and an album title like this very long one, it is obvious this is not a run of the mill band and album.

The band is Italian and they have been very heavy influenced by one of my favourite bands; Picchio Dal Pozzo. So we are talking an Italian band going Canterbury scene here. And that is a lot of the basis of this almost fifty minutes long album. But there is more to it than that....

Add a lot of PFM and Le Orme too. Add Soft Machine and the Italian avant-garde bands too.

The music here is pretty abstract, playful and surprisingly melodic too. The band jumps in and out of melodies at will and with no efforts.

Inbetween the short and long melodies, there is also some very good avant-garde pieces which is very playful.

There is a lot of Italian madness here and a lot of Italian joy of life. Italian smiles and optimism. A lot of quality too. This is a great album and just what the doctor ordered for both this scene and my own health. Check out this great album.

4 points



Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Haboob - Haboob (1971)


The one and only album from this Munich, Germany band.

The band was actually three US citizens living in Munich, Germany. The lineup was percussions, drums, guitars, organs, piano and vocals.

Why did three US citizens record and release an album in Germany ? Answers on a postcard, please.

The music here is spacy krautrock with a lot of blues too.

There are songs here which is blues with heavy organs and guitars. Other songs are much more spaced out excersises from outer space.

This mix of space rock and blues was pretty normal back then in the krautrock scene. The vocals here are very American and bluesy throughout.

It is therefore a great shame that the sound is so poor as this album could have been a good, even a very good album with a half-decent sound.

This album is thirty-six minutes long and a lot of nuances has been lost in the bad sound. I guess the original master-tape has been lost forever so there is no hope for a proper cleanup and a good sound.

Nevertheless, this is a decent album in itself. The spaced out stuff here is really interesting. The blues are not too shabby either.

The end result is a decent album which is perhaps worthy a look at Youtube. You decide.

 2 points




Sunday, 5 February 2017

Witchwood - Handful Of Stars (2016)


The second album from this Italian band.

The band is a six piece big band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, organs, flutes, harmonica, synth, moog and English male vocals.

I very much liked their 2015 debut album Litanies From The Woods. Good hard rock in the 1970s style.

The band is following up with more of the same stuff. Take a bit of Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and add a lot of blues and psychedelic rock too. There is a considerable amount of Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult and The Doors influences here too. There is a lot of hard progressive rock here too. Not too mention stoner rock too.

The whole mix is very 1970s and pretty hard rocking. But the band also has a lot of brain and finesse. This is not just rocking out and banging heads into a wall.

The final song, the title song is a psychedelic song. The rest is much more harder edged. The band has also done a Blue Oyster Cult cover in the form of Flaming Telepaths from their Secret Treaties album. It is a bit of an oddity on this album.

I am not really won over by this forty-five minutes long album. It is an OK throwback to the 1970s. The band has not come up with the good songs here. The inclusion of the BOC cover is odd to say at least. The rest of the album is decent to good. This album is a backward step for this band.

2.5 points



 


Osanna - Milano Calibro 9 (1972)


The second album from this Italian band.

The band was a five piece band here with a lineup of woodwinds, bass, guitars, drums, synths, drums, percussions and some vocals.

This album is a soundtrack of some sorts although I am not sure which movie had the pleasure of hosting this music.

I was not the best pleased about their debut album L,Uomo. A pretty chaotic album. So I had no high hopes about this album.

Milano Calibro 9 is a soundtrack and feel like it. A lot of instrumental music with classical music leanings. Johan Sebastian Bach comes into mind here.

A lot of the music is a bit baroque music too. But there is a lot of hard rock here too. It is a nice combination.

There is also a Broadway musical theatres like tee jerker here too at the end of this album. The five minutes long There Will Be Time sounds like a musical song and I guess it was a big song from Osanna.

There is also a lot of epic music here which twists and turns. And that makes this a good album. There is no true great piece of music here. But this is still an album well worth checking out.

3 points



Mighty Baby - Mighty Baby (1969)


The debut album from this British band.

The band released two albums before they split up. Both are on Youtube and therefore easy accesible for those of us into finding new bands and sounds. The band is also listed in ProgArchives.
Mighty Baby is one of those finds I live and run this blog for. Just the sheer excitement of listening to obscure bands like this. Both albums will therefore be reviewed/has been reviewed in this blog.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of piano, bass, drums, guitars and vocals.

This album was actually released during the last days of 1968, during the days I was born. Not that it influences my views on this album. But it gives me a nice little chuckle.

The music on this forty-two minutes long album is pretty hard psycedelic rock. Bands like The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane and The Doors is a good reference.

The twin guitars here are pretty dominant and is driving the music forward. Guitar dominated psycedelic rock is the best label I can use on this music. The songs are on average five minutes long and is therefore not the radio-friendly format on three minutes long songs most other bands used back then.

The music is pretty heavy throughout with a great twisted, acid feeling. The vocals is also good and ditto for the sound.

I would not brand this album as a hidden gem. But it is somewhere between decent and good in my estimation. More like good than decent though so I am upgrading it to a good album. It is an album well worth checking out.

3 points


  

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Gargamel - Descending (2009)


The second and final album from this Norwegian band.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of glockenspiel, drums, saxophone, flutes, guitars, synth, keyboards, bass, programming and vocals. English male vocals.

I have just reviewed their debut album here and I really liked that album too. It is sad that they are no longer. My guess is that this was a student band and the band split up after completing their studies. Real life came calling from many places in Norway and Gargamel became history. A reunion would be nice though.... Now or in 20-40 years time.

The band continues as they left it on their 2006 debut album Watch For The Umbles. That means a mix of King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator.

Actually, they have become a lot more of a marriage of those two bands on this album. The mood has also grown a lot darker. The band has descended into a dark place on this album. A lot of melancholy and depressions is what we find in this dark place.

The music is also technical and a bit playful too with a lot of folk rock and avant-garde influences throughout this album.

The flutes are really good here. The vocals is very much in the Peter Hammill vein. It has also improved a lot from their debut. The vocalist now knows his limits and stays well within his very limited range.

There are no great pieces of music on this almost fifty minutes long album. But this is a good album and the band is more than welcome back if they would be so kind.

3 points

 

Proto Kaw - Before Became After (2004)


The debut album from this US band.

The band was a six piece band on this album with a lineup of bass, drums, piano, keyboards, organ, flutes, guitars, saxophone and vocals.

Proto-Kaw is the Kansas founder Kerry Livgren's band... or was as the band is probably disbanded after Kerry Livgren's stroke which means he no longer can play music. They released three albums. All to be reviewed/has been reviewed in this blog.

Proto-Kaw was also Kansas before they broke up and reformed again with a new setup... the Steve Walsh setup which made Kansas famous. Proto-Kaw means "the original Kansas" as Kaw is the indian name for Kansas. Clever, Kerry Livgren.....

The songs here are a mix of original Kansas material pre-Steve Walsh. The one that did not make any success at all. Then there are some new material too. All of this written by Kerry Livgren.

The material is off course influenced by the second incarnation of Kansas. Kerry Livgren wrote music for both versions of Kansas and it goes without saying that there are pretty strong similarities.
The difference, and it is a major difference, is that Proto-Kaw uses flutes and saxophone where Kansas is using violin.

Proto-Kaw's music is not as harsh and country'n'western as Kansas was. There is some AOR here too and a lot of elegant music. Pomp prog springs to mind as a label. It is still symphonic prog too by all means. But in the US way.

This album is eighty minutes long and the quality is good throughout. Very good at times. But there is a couple of tracks I don't care about.

It is great that we got both Kansas and Proto-Kaw. And we should all be grateful for that. Thank you, Kerry Livgren.

3 points


Friday, 3 February 2017

Half Past Four - Land of the Blind (2016)


The third release from this Canadian band.

The band is a five piece band on this album with a lineup of chapmann stick, guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and female lead vocals. There are also some male backup and lead vocals here too. But Ms. Kyree Vibrant does most of the vocals.

This is strictly speaking an EP lasting twenty-six minutes. It is as long as many album from the 1970s. Since I love the art work and finds the music interesting, I am reviewing it.

Half Past Four has previously released two albums. Their debut album Rabbit In The Vestibule back in 2008 and the follow up album Good Things in 2013. Both critically acclaimed in ProgArchives.

Their music on this EP is very eclectic with a lot of avant-garde stuff, jazz, some neo-prog and some Gentle Giant like eclectic prog. There is also a lot of references to the US band B 52s.
The underlaying feeling here is that the band is making fun music with a lot of twists and turns.

The vocals are really good and so is the musicians here. The music is diverse and twisted.

The quality of the music is also good throughout. It makes me both smile and approve of this band. A band I think has a lot to offer. A band just bubbling under the surface, ready to become a big band.
Check out this EP.

3 points




Thursday, 2 February 2017

Audiac - Thank You for Not Discussing the Outside World (2003)


The one and only album from this German band.

Audiac was a five piece band with a lineup of programming, turntables, electronic drums, bass and male English vocals.

This band is very obscure with no reviews of this album at their ProgArchives page. Which is a shame because all artists and bands deserve a review and some response. All the songs on this album is available through Youtube so go forth and give them a listen and a review if you are a reviewer. This album is worth it.

This album starts out as a Marillion, the Steve Hogarth era before it takes of via strong Gazpacho influences towards a much more psychedelic landscape. The music is also pretty avant-garde too. But Gazpacho is the nearest reference I will put on this album. A pretty faint reference, though.

Listed as a neo-prog band in ProgArchives, this album is not offering up much neo-prog. Eclectic prog would be the label I would put on this album. Eclectic prog, it is.

The music has a lot of distortions and loops. A lot of programming and a lot of pained soundscapes.
A lot of strange twists and turns.

The vocals is very good. The music is weird, weird, weird. But the quality is good. Check out this album as you may find a hidden gem there. It is a hidden gem. Period.

3 points



Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Howe. Steve - Beginnings (1975)


The debut album from this English musician.

Steve Howe is most known as the guitarist in Yes and Asia. That amongst other bands. But he has also released 20 + solo albums. I got his first two albums and are reviewing them.

On this album, Steve does the guitars and the vocals. Countless others does bass, drums, harpiscord, keyboards, synths, strings and woodwinds.

I think Yes were on a small break when Steve Howe recorded and released this album. It was released between the Relayer and the Going For The One albums. Yes, these two Yes albums.

Steve Howe made some decissions on this album. His, by far worst decission, was to do the vocals. To put it plainly, his vocals sounds like a lovesick barn owl. And that is not a compliment. I have heard some really bad vocals in my life and Steve's is one of the worst ones.

Those vocals destroys the very good Yes like song Australia. The vocals makes the listener of that song into a shivering wreck.

Yes, there are some Yes'ish songs here. There are also some classical music here with one of Steve's many guitars on the top. He uses a lot of different guitars on this forty minutes long album. That on a wide variety of music expressions. From symphonic prog to pop, weirdo rock to classical music.

The end result is a decent album where Steve shows of his guitars and how good he is on them. Pity about the vocals..... His first and last album with his own vocals, I have been told.

This is a decent album.

2 points

 


Monday, 30 January 2017

Opeth - Blackwater Park (2001)


The fifth album from this Swedish band.

The band was a quartet on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Both death growls and clear vocals.

Mikael Akerfeldt has got company of another living legend on this album. Steven Wilson, it is. Both on vocals, guitars and as a producer.

I have lost my interest in death and black metal long time ago. Ten years or so ago. The four first Opeth albums has not got good reviews from me as I find this mix of black metal and acoustic pieces pretty cheap and nasty. Hence the bad reviews.

Opeth has changed a bit on this album. There are more melodic death metal here than the melodic black metal we found on the first four albums. The Dissection inspirations and vibes has gone. And that is a very good thing.

I very much prefer the death metal on this album. In addition, we also get a lot of more fleshed out prog rock and clear vocals here. Yes, this is progressive rock in the Porcupine Tree vein.

Hiring Steven Wilson here was a very inspired choice as this is their so far best album. Even the death metal sounds pretty good here too.

The result is a good album indeed. I like this album a lot more than I thought I would. I am surprised.

3 points


 

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Altavia - Kreosote (2016)


The second album from this Italian band.

The band is a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals. That is both female and male English vocals.

I very much liked their 2011 debut album Girt Dog. I gave it a Great Album award. I also noted it was very symphonic at times.

The band is still a neo-prog band. They are one of a quite considerable amount of Italian neo-prog bands you cannot label as RPI bands. The reason is that they have taken a lot from the British neo-prog scene and almost nothing from the Italian prog rock scene (RPI).

That goes for this album which have only a faint hint of RPI. It is a very faint hint, though. Mostly a the end of this one hour long album.

Most of this album has even left the traditional British neo-prog scene. Although the female vocals is not a dominating factor here, the band has moved towards female fronted crossover prog on this album. The one scene with mostly British bands like Magenta and Touchstone.

The female vocals is not dominating here. But there is a lot of long instrumental parts here. Pretty dynamic instrumental stuff. But not that interesting.

Most of this album is rather flat and does not sound that inspiring. There is no sweat and not much life here. The songs are not that good either. This is not a bad album. But it is letdown from Girt Dog. I am not bowled over by this album and rate it somewhere between decent and good.

2.5 points


Styx - The Serpent Is Rising (1973)


The third album from this US band.

Styx were a five piece band on this album with a lineup of drums, bass, percussions, guitars, keyboards, Moog, piano, organ and vocals.

I have yet to become impressed by this band's outputs. They have been decent enough, but nothing more. My recent reviews of their albums can be found here and here.

The band is yet to blossom into full bloom from what I have heard from ProgArchives and other sources.

The band is still close to their blues and hard rock roots on this album. But there is also some pop and country here. Not to mention a weirdo song like the six minutes long As Bad As This. A total joke of a song. At least, I am laughing. But I don't know why they have included it on this album.

At times, the band tries to sound like Kansas. Other times, they are just totally lost. The end result is a forty minutes long and very diverse album. The ten songs are a bit all over the place. But mostly rooted in hard rock, the US way. Something the album title and the art work alludes to. Serpents are a signal of danger in both folklore and the Christian faith.

The music is pretty poor here and the band is not firing on all their cylinders. This is not really a good album. It is decent enough, though.

2 points

 

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Apocalypse - Perto Do Amanhecer (1995)


The second album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of synths, guitars, bass, drums, piano, organ and male Portoguese vocals.

I pretty much liked their debut album, reviewed earlier this month (January 2017). So I was looking forward to this album too. I am reviewing/have reviewed all their albums and am looking/was looking forward to this.

Perto Do Amanhecer is said to be one of their best albums, according to ProgArchives. And the album is starting really positive with the two opening tracks Ao Cair No Espaco and Terra Azul. Good South-American symphonic prog with two really strong melodies.

Then something really strange is happening. The album falls down to a lot of neo-classical guitar solos and a lot of pointless plodding. Some of this is really appaling bad. So bad that I really want to turn of this album and put on some good music instead.... by other bands.

It has taken me three weeks to really come around to review this album and give it a lot of more chances. So appaled was I. But thankfully, the band pulls this album together again with the rather good Lagrimas and Corta. Both are good neo-prog songs. Very much Fish era Marillion here.

The rest of the album is rather good too and I am getting a lot more friendly with this album.

The end result is an appaling bad to a very good album.

But I cannot overlook the terrible middle section on this almost seventy minutes long album. Hence my rating.

2.5 points





Gargamel - Watch For The Umbles (2006)


The debut album from this Norwegian band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of clavinet, Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, synths, bass, guitars, flutes, drums and male English vocals. A guest musican contributes to this party with a cello.

The band has now split up after releasing two albums between 2006 and 2009. Both reviewed here/to be reviewed here. The band also played live many times. Mostly in Norway.

"That's nerdy !!", my girlfriend shouted out after the first ten minutes of this album. She is not a great fan of progressive rock and treat this blog, my most beloved hobby, with a great suspision.

Gargamel's brand of progressive rock is indeed very nerdy. Take King Crimson and merge it with Peter Hammill and Van Der Graaf Generator. Some of the vocals is very Peter Hammill like. The added cello creates a lot of darkness to their sound.

Most of the album is indeed very playful. Krautrock and bands from the Italian avant-garde scene springs to mind. I have seen others mention Amon Duul II and Anekdoten too. I agree with the Anekdoten reference. But King Crimson is the strongest reference here.

The vocals are pretty poor. Strained and not exactly in tune. The music itself is better. Much better. The musicians knows their stuff and the flute adds a lot to the music. Ditto for the cello.

The album is one hour long and the songs, make that tracks, is around the ten minutes mark.

There is no great tracks here and some of the tracks is a bit lacking in quality. So it is barely a weak Good rating here. It is still an album well worth checking out for those of you who are nerds and/or like King Crimson and eclectic progressive rock.

3 points

 

 

Cast - Com.Union (2007)


The 15th album from this Mexican band.

The band was a seven piece band on this album with a lineup of bagpipe, saxophone, flute, guitars, bass, drums, organ, mellotron, piano, synths, percussions and Spanish vocals.

I have done a lot of reviews of their, so far nineteen albums, as I really like this band. See my other reviews of their albums.

Cast is nominally somewhere between symphonic prog and neo-prog........ nominally. They have gone in many directions on their various albums.

Cast is going into many different directions and territories on this album. It is one of their most diverse albums as far as I gather (I have not had the pleasure of listening to all their albums).

There is faint hints of neo-prog here. But the symphonic prog part of this band is pretty much in command. From symphonic prog, they have moved into pop music, rock, prog metal, folk rock, cinematic music and some jazz.

There is a lot of things going on here. From female vocals and choirs to more instrumental ambient pieces. There is a lot of instrumental ambient pieces here.That makes this album a pretty ambient album with not many heavy pieces and songs.

This album is one of those long Cast albums. It is another seventy minutes long Cast album. Which means a lot of value for money and a lot of dead weight songs and pieces of music. There is not that many of these seventy minutes which constitutes a great symphonic prog album. Let alone a good symphonic prog album. The standards is slipping on this album.

The standards is so low that this album is only somewhere between decent and good. It is too long and carries too much dead weight. Check out this album if you want softly spoken music from a great band.

2.5 points



Friday, 27 January 2017

Deus Ex Machina - Devoto (2016)


The seventh album from this Italian band.

The band is a six piece band with a lineup of guitars, drums, bass, violin, organ, piano, synth and Italian male vocals.

This is really a band which I should have checked out much earlier. Many years ago in fact. But for some reasons, I have not done that. I got absolute no idea why.

Deus Ex Machina has always been in the fusion/jazz genre. See their profile at ProgArchives. But much more in the eclectic end of this spectrum than in the easy listening part of this genre.

I have heard from ProgArchives that Devoto is a much more easier on the ears than previous albums. I wonder what their other, far more eclectic albums has been compared to Devoto.....

Devoto is still far from being an easy-listening middle of the road fusion/jazz album. This album is still eclectic and is leaning very much towards the likes of Area and Picchio Dal Pozzo. I find a lot of Picchio Dal Pozzo in this album.

The vocals here are good enough and is in the good Italian tradition. I also very much like what the other musicians is doing. The violin adds a lot of xtra cream to this creamcake. A lot of style and flair.

The music on this one hour long album is eclectic and very much leaning on the avant-garde genre too. Eclectic prog is what I would label this album.

And it is a very good album too. I really like this album and I should really check out their other albums too. It is on my to-do list. Check out this album.

3.5 points





Thursday, 26 January 2017

Audite - Rocklieder (1983)


The one and only album from this German band.

Audite was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, flute, keyboards, bass, drums and German male vocals.

This album is a private press LP only and it fetches big prices on various auction places. Thankfully, it is also available through Youtube too.

The band is listed in ProgArchives as a neo-prog band. I am not sure although I will not argue with ProgArchives on this matter.

ProgArchives also sold this album (OK...... I used Youtube) to me as a Genesis copy. Well, they must mean Genesis the Phil Collins era. From their self titled album era.

What I get here is a forty-six minutes long album with some pretty long songs around the eight minutes mark. The music is much more AOR and German rock than neo-prog. OK, Genesis from their self-titled album era is a good reference too. That is far from being my favorite Genesis album and era.

There are some piano, keyboards and guitars here. The drums and bass does not account to much. The horrible vocals is also pretty much everywhere. The music is far from being expansive and an adventure. It is in fact very safe music which does not raise much interest here.

It is in my view an abysmal bad album which does nothing for me. This album just annoys me. Purely annoys me. The cliches are coming too fast for my liking. The feeling of having endured these riffs and melodies before is pretty overwhelming.

This album is simply an album to avoid. Avoid it at all cost.

1 point



  

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Headspace - All That You Fear Is Gone (2016)


The second album from this English band.

The band is a five piece band with a lineup of chapman stick, guitars, keyboards, piano, bass, drums and vocals.

Adam Wakeman is on keyboards and Damien Wilson can be found behind the microphone. The lineup is the same as on their 2012 debut album I Am Anonymous. An album I liked a lot.

Not much has changed in Headspace. A little less djent and a lot more melodies. The music is still pretty much hard and heavy progressive rock. A lot of hard and heavy neo-prog too.

Damien Lewis makes a lot of this seventy-two minutes long album sound like Threshold. Fans of that band will lap up this album as a cat laps up a bowl with fat milk.

... But there is also other dimentions to this album than just hard and heavy neo-prog. Large chunks of this album is rather pastoral with either vocals supported by keyboards or vocals supported by acoustic guitars.

I welcome the variations here and the branching out to another horizont. I just wish these forays into unknown territory was a lot better than it is.

The hard stuff is good though and so is this album. It is a good album from a very good band. A band yet to reach their potential. But they are working on it, I hope. Check out this album.

3 points

 


Atria - Boulevard of Broken Dreams (1992)


The debut album from this French band.

Atria was a six piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and English vocals.

I reviewed their second album, the 1996 album Hide back in May 2010 for ProgArchives. I noted that it was a good album and the band was very similar to Pendragon.

That too also goes for their debut album. Both their albums are pretty similar, in fact.

In 2017, this is very much retro neo-prog. In 1992, it was very much the current sound. Take Pendragon with some Eloy mixed in and you get this album.

There is a subtle but still a very much noted difference. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams is a pretty heavy album. Far heavier than both Pendragon and Eloy has ever been. So you can add some progressive metal, make that, a substantial amount of progressive metal into the mix.

The songs are pretty long here. Long as in just short of ten minutes long. That on this sixty minutes long album.

The vocals is pretty good. The guitars are very good. The music a bit too standard run of the mill neo-prog for my liking. I still regard this album and this band as one of the more hidden gems in the neo-prog scene. Check them out.

This album though is somewhere between decent and good.

2.5 points





Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Casa Das Máquinas - Casa de Rock (1976)


The third and final album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, percussions, minimoog, piano and male Portoguese vocals.

I pretty much liked their 1974 self-titled debut album and their second album, the 1975 opus Lar De Maravilhas. The latter one is regarded a classic in Brazilian and South American progressive rock.

The band returned again the year after with a stripped down version of themselves.

Gone is progressive rock from last year's Lar De Maravilhas. Gone is their charming folky hard rock from their self-titled debut album. Casa De Rock is a much harder album. It is more or less a heavy metal album.

The genre Heavy Metal was not properly created until 1980 in my view. I am referring to Iron Maiden's debut album which was a mix of punk and 1970s heavy metal. But Casa De Rock is a very hard album. It is also a bit cynical album.

Inbetween this heavy metal, there is also some very soft psychedelic stuff here. I would not call this ballads. I would label it as pop music.

This album sounds like the band's final throw of the dice. And the band broke up after that. The reason is in my view the lack of quality of this album. This album is not a turkey. But it is not even a decent album. Only some of the heavy metal and some of the psychedelic pop stuff saves it's bacon. I am not impressed by this album, by far their weakest album.

1.5 points






Monday, 23 January 2017

Atomic Ape - Swarm (2014)


The one and only album from this US band.

Atomic Ape is really only Jason Schimmel (Estradasphere, Orange Tulip Conspiracy, Secret Chiefs 3) and lots of other musicians. The lineup is drums, bass, strings, synths and woodwinds. 25 different instruments or so. The music is instrumental.

This is a scene I am familiar with as I am not spending as much time on avant-garde and RIO as I should be doing. I should really dedicate myself more to this genre.

Atomic Ape has produced a forty-four minutes long piece of soundtrack for a quirky movie which nobody has filmed/made. This is officially not a soundtrack. But it feels like it.

The music is pretty jazzy klezmer. The music also has this folk rock and RIO feel too. The music is at times pretty much chamber music.  

The music is mostly acoustic with a wide variety of instruments. Most of them very exotic and exciting for an ear who is most used to rock'n'roll instruments. This is a bit alien, but still a very good experience to me.

The music is much more electric towards the end of this album with some electric guitars chiming in with some harsh riffs. Not too bad, that too.

The music is pretty melodic throughout without loosing the complexity and the avant-garde feel. All in all, this is a good album which I have really enjoyed. But the quality is also here and this is an album well worth checking out.

3 points



Sunday, 22 January 2017

This Winter Machine - The Man Who Never Was (2016)


The debut album from this Yorkshire, English band.

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

I have never heard about this band before. A band where the average age of the band members must be around 45 years, based on the picture on their homepage. You can also get this album from their homepage, Amazon and Discogs.

The bandmembers may be middle-aged men. Their sound and music is pretty youthful. We are in the middle of the neo-prog scene here. Pendragon and Arena is good references.

The songs are pretty epic without sounding particular symphonic. The sound is too thin for that. The title track is sixteen minutes long and there are two other songs which passes the ten minutes mark. The two final songs are nine and a half minutes long while the shortest song is seven and a half minutes long. No radio hits among these five songs.

The songs are pretty complex and based on keyboards and guitars. The vocals is also playing a big role here. There is a lot of breaks and epic themes here. 

The vocals are pretty good and is suiting this music. Music which is unashamed neo-prog. I also wish the sound was a bit fatter. But that is neo-prog for you. Neo-prog from the 1990s.

There are no great tracks here. But neo-prog fans and (perhaps) symphonic prog fans will lap up this album. It is a good debut album and I hope we will hear a lot more from this band.

3 points





Hoelderlin - Hölderlins Traum (1972)


The debut album from this German band.

The band was a six piece band on this album with a lineup of Mellotron, tabla, strings, guitars, flutes, piano, bass, drums, percussions and female German vocals. Guest musicians also supplied sitar.

This band was a pretty big band, commercially and artistic speaking, in the 1970s. I got their first four albums and will review them in the coming weeks/has reviewed them.

Hoelderlin was a part of the folk rock scene in Germany. A scene and a country (make that West Germany) giving us a lot of bands.

Hoelderlin was a lot more spacy and psychelic than most other folk rock bands from their generation. There is indeed a lot of psychedelic rock and krautrock here.

Nanny DeRuig's vocals is both tender and powerful. Her vocals is being supported by many different types of strings, acoustic guitar, flute, piano and Mellotron. The music though is not that complex and epic. It is a lot more complex than standard folk rock. But we are not talking epic music here.

Pretty large parts of this album is also acoustic with sparse instrumentations. The electric parts of this album is full of violins too on some pretty spaced out music.

The end result is a good album which fails to come up with great music. It is still a good album and I am looking forward to hear and review more albums from this band.

3 points


Atlas Volt - Memento Mori (2015)


The debut album from this Swedish band.

Atlas Volt is a duo with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. Some guest musicians provides this album with cello and vocals.

The band released two EPs before they released this album. EPs well received.

The band's basis is the heavy progressiv rock genre. That is where you find the likes of Tool, Rush and Porcupine Tree.

This album is quite an ambitious album which also incorporates a lot of space rock, alternative metal, post rock, classic rock, progressive metal, krautrock, stoner rock and even some death metal. You can even find some avant-garde rock here.

There is a fine mix of traditional hard rock from the 1970s and much more innovative and even avant-garde rock from year 2000 and to this day....... well, to the day this album was recorded.

This seventy-two minutes long album is not a one trick pony. That's for sure.

Most of the stuff here are interesting too. References are Tool and Porcupine Tree. But there is also some of Indian and Middle-East music here too.

The songs are not great and these seventy-two minutes is one heck of a mouthful. But this is not a bad album at all. I am not entirely won over and this is not really my cup of tea. But I like what I hear on this good album. More people should check out this album.

3 points



Saturday, 21 January 2017

Return To Forever - Music Magic (1977)


The seventh and final album from this US band.

Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke was left of the brilliant quartet who released the fantastic Romantic Warrior the year before, in 1976. Al Di Meola and Lenny White was replaced by a lot of woodwind players, Gary Brown on drums and Gayle Moran on vocals.

Guitars has gone out and female vocals is back in again. Stanley Clarke is also helping out on vocals.

Gone is the magic and fast music from Romantic Warrior. Return To Forever anno Music Magic is a totally different entity again.

Laidback and kind of Broadway like jazz. There are still some jazz here. But it is almost lounge jazz throughout.

There is a lot of vocals and a lot of honey like sounds and sweetness here. It is also some sounds best left to musicals and elevator/shopping mall music tapes. Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and the other musicians is on a rare occasion given space to branch out here. But not often. The vocals and the lounge jazz tunes here kills of everything.

This is not the Return To Forever I want to remember. I want to remember them as Clarke/Corea/Meola/White. Not as a lounge jazz band.

This is not a good album at all. Hence my rating.

2 points

 

Atmosphera - Fogo E Ar (1998)


The one and only album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and Portoguese vocals. A guest musician provided flute.

Atmosphera was one of those few Brazilian symphonic prog bands who were just bubbling under the surface, not getting much attention. The year was 1998 and progressive rock was not that popular. That changed some years later with the emergence of ProgArchives and some other prog rock blogs and websites.

But Atmosphera was before their time and died before they had the chance to really shine. Which is a great shame...

Fogo E Ar is mostly an instrumental album. The very few vocals here are very good. But most of the music on this one hour long album is instrumental.

Genre wise, they are most certainly Brazilian. Rousseau and Tempus Fugit is two good references. And so is Camel too. The guitar runs reminds me a lot about Camel. So does the music too. But their Brazilian heritage shines through and there is also a lot of Brazilian folk rock here.

Most of this album is very pastoral and softly spoken with plenty of acoustic guitars and soft keyboards. There is a lot of Brazilian ambience here. A lot of Brazilian culture.

The end result is an interesting, good album which makes me wish for more from this band. But that will never happen. But the band has left a good legacy. Check it out.

3 points



Friday, 20 January 2017

High Tide - Interesting Times (1989)


The fourth album from this British band.

Twenty years after their debut album Sea Shanties, the band was reduced to a duo. Simon House and Tony Hill.

The two previous albums had not been particular good from what I hear and the duo tried to bring life into the name and logo again. A logo used for the final time.

The music here is a mix of folk rock, space rock and some progressive rock. There are bass, violins, keyboards, drums, guitars and vocals present here.

I am not sure if the duo really knew what they were doing here as the material is both diverse and based on a bit copying other songs and bands. What was meant to be is spoiled by the bad production and mix.

This album is really unhinged and is lacking everything a great album should have. Originality is one of those things. The instruments are played pretty poorly too and the producer must have been in coma during the production of this album.

I would not even recommend anyone to check out this album as it is really, really poor throughout. It is an annoying album too. It is as a great feathery turkey. Kvapp kvapp kvapp is the last thing I hear from this album before I dispatch it over to the other turkeys in my turkey yard.

1 point



Thursday, 19 January 2017

Cyril - Paralyzed (2016)


The second album from this German band.

Cyril is a six piece band with a lineup of mandolin, guitars, clarinet, saxophone, percussions, drums, keyboards and English vocals.

Guy Manning has been credited with the lyrics and the band has members from other German bands like Toxic Smile, Flaming Row and Seven Steps To The Green Door. I believe I have reviewed their albums somewhere else in this blog.

Cyril's debut album Gone Through Years was released back in 2013. The band was a more hard edged hard rock band back then, the reviews in ProgArchives tells me. 

The music on Paralyzed is a much more neo-prog orientated. Cyril is another German neo-prog band. But Cyril is doing something very unusual which sets them apart from the rest of the scene. They are using mandolin, clarinet and saxophone.

That gives their music an extra dimention. An xtra edge.

The vocals here is leaning towards Peter Gabriel in Genesis. But their music is much more straight than Genesis.

Most of the music is straight neo-prog. The final song Secret Place pt1 is a nineteen minutes long epic with some instrumental and ambient parts. This epic is not particular good.

The end result is an hour long album which falls short on quality and good songs. It is a decent to good album. But check it out.

2.5 points 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

It - Over and Out (2002)


The third album from this UK band.

It was a quartet on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Guest musicians provided female vocals and wailing, samples, percussions and keyboards.

The band is run by Nick Jackson who is their guitarist and vocalist. I have reviewed their debut album The Stranger Inside The Self here and their second album Two Worlds here.

It is.... well, was a neo-prog band on their first two albums. Neo-prog leaning towards Pink Floyd, the David Gilmour era on the debut album and leaning a lot more towards Pink Floyd on their second album.

Over And Out sees the band completing this journey from neo-prog towards totally adopting Pink Floyd, the David Gilmour era.

When that is said, there is also a lot of The Wall (yes, still Pink Floyd) too. There is a lot of the same concept and the same type of samples. There is also some space rock here.

But the main body of this album is the latter days Pink Floyd. Division Bell and A Momentary Laps Of Reason. The songs are different though and the music has not been copied over from Pink Floyd. But you get their package with wailing female vocals and some distorted male vocals.

The samples takes too much of the opening minutes and the listener soon loses interest. The final half is a lot better.

The songs are not too bad. But they are still not great. Most of them are not even that good. Or good at all. The Pink Floyd references comes thick and fast.

The result is somewhere between decent and good. Pink Floyd fans will lap up this album, though. Check it out if you can.

2.5 points


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Casa das Máquinas - Lar de Maravilhas (1975)


The second album from this Brazilian band.

Casa Das Maquinas was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, minimoog, synths, piano, drums, percussions, bass and Portuguese vocals.

I was not a big fan of their self-titled 1974 debut album. I did find it a pretty charming album, though. But still lacking a lot in quality.

Lar de Maravilhas is rightly or wrongly regarded as a classic South American progressive rock album. One that set some standards other bands aspired to.

And I can understand why. The band has kept most of their charming sound from their debut album and slowed down a lot. Gone is their hard rock. In comes music that reminds me a lot about Genesis and Yes. Genesis and Yes but still with the Casa Das Maquinas take on symphonic prog.

The music is mostly, with one exception, very gentle and pastoral. But there is also some more Yes dynamics here.

The very good vocals sets this band a part. But their use of minimoog is also very good. They use minimoog a lot here.

There is no great or even very good tracks on this forty-four minutes long album. But the music is ticking over very nicely and this is a good album indeed. It sounds dated and it is perhaps not the standard bearer as it once was. But this album is very much worth checking out.

3 points


 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Medina Azahara - Paraiso Prohibido (2016)


The 18th album from these Spanish legends.

The band is a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and Spanish vocals.

Medina Azahara is legends and a national institution in Spain. Their first album, a self titled album, was released back in 1979. The vocalist Manuel Martinez has been the vocalist on every album if I am not much mistaken.

They are listed as a symphonic prog band in ProgArchives. That is not a correct label although the band started out as a symphonic prog band on their first album. Medina Azahara has mostly been a hard rock band, touching over to heavy metal on several albums.

The band is most of all a Spanish band who carries the Spanish soul with them. A soul incorporating the various nations which is Spain, a confederation of various nations.

Manuel Martinez gives Medina Azahara their soul and identity. The music is hard rock with some Arabian, Spanish folk music and Spanish pop influences.

The music is being lead by Manuel Martinez vocals with a lot of chugging guitars and keyboards too. The bass and drums is pretty sharp too. But Manuel Martinez is the star here. And his, very untraditional vocals, is a joy to behold. 

And the music is pretty commercial too and is not the type of music I should like. But I find this band and their music very charming. My, by default, grumpiness towards this type of music is being disarmed.

There is a lot of quality in this album too and it should be checked out although this album is as cheesy as a dairy farm. I give it a good rating.

3 points


Hackett. Steve - Genesis Revisited (1996)


The twelfth album from this British artist.

Steve Hackett is on guitars and some vocals here. He has got help from numerous guest musicians including Paul Carrack, Bill Bruford, Tony Levin, his brother John Hackett, Nick Magnus, Chester Thomson, The Royal Philarmonic Orchestra and John Wetton.

A big production on an album with old Genesis songs. Genesis songs Steve Hackett himself played on.

This is not a rehash of those songs. This is not a safe, money grabbing album. This is a complete rework of these old songs with new arrangements and all.

These are also some of my alltime favourite songs with new arrangements and totally reworked.

And frankly, these new arrangements and reworked versions is not for the faint-hearted. I was looking forward to a Genesis hit parade and got some strange distortions instead. Strange distortions who reminded me about these Genesis songs.

It is a brave Steve Hackett who has done this. "Heresy !!!", I was crying after the first listening session. Then again, Steve Hackett is in his full right to do whatever he has done. The greatest track of them all, Firth Of Fifth, has been totally reworked. And it is not even close to be as excellent as the original version. I can continue with the other tracks here too.

I admire Steve Hackett for this album although I don't really like most of what he has done here. He is right when he said these reworked versions shines a new light on these classic songs. But I prefer the old versions......

Nevertheless, this is a good album and one every fan of Genesis should check out.

3 points



Giant Hogweed Orchestra. The - The Giant Hogweed Orchestra (2004)


The one and only album from this Finnish band.

The Giant Hogweed Orchestra is/was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, percussions and flutes. Three guest musicians added didgeridoo, Moog and trumpet.

For some reasons, I expected a Genesis like tribute band when I put this album on for the first listening session. I was wrong. Very wrong. Genesis is nowhere to be found here.

What we get here is some instrumental jazzy psychedelic space prog. There is also a lot of post rock in their music.

There is no wild space rock excursion into outer space here. The music is very pastoral.... most of the times. Sometimes, this album also explodes like a Porcupine Tree track. The music here can be very heavy at times. But it is mostly very pastoral as in Pink Floyd.

There is also some symphonic prog on this album. Mostly on the nineteen minutes long Halogen. A good track which opens with some flutes. The flutes are in general very good here.

The guitars, both the electric guitars and the half-acoustic guitars are the stars here. They are really driving the music forward. The occasional moog and trumpet is also adding a lot of quality here. The rhythm section is also delivering the goods.

The end result is a good album which has a lot to offer to symphonic prog, space rock and post rock fans. I really hope we will hear more from this band.

3 points


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Return To Forever - No Mystery (1975)


The fifth album from this US band.

Return To Forever was a super-band with Stanley Clarke on bass, Chick Corea on synths, Al Di Meola on guitars and Lenny White on drums.

This is perhaps the strongest lineup we have ever seen from a fusion and jazz band. Maybe in any forms of music. And this lineup later went on to release the wonderful Romantic Warrior........

Their first ever album together was the 1974 album Where Have I Known You Before. A great album.

No Mystery is the follow up to that album. And it is also a bit different from Where Have I Known You Before.

The four band members is much more soloing and creating their own space on this album. That over some pretty basic melodies and ideas. Four different members trying to solidify their own contributions into a coherent band and output is never really going to work.

The melodies and the nine tracks on this forty-two minutes long album is not really that great. The musicians is great and they are delivering some really great solo stuff......... but together ?

The end result is great musicianship and some not so great melodies. I am hard pressed to label this a very good album. But this album is growing on me and some of the Chick Corea solos are great. Hence.......

3.5 points




Giles Giles & Fripp - The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles & Fripp (1968)


The one and only studio album from this British band.

Giles Giles & Fripp is Michael Giles, Pete Giles and Robert Fripp. Their lineup is Pete on vocals and bass, Michael on drums and Robert Fripp on guitars. There are some guest musicians on this album too who provides various instruments on this rather stripped down production.

And yes, this band later became King Crimson. And yes, Robert Fripp is a genious.

The year was 1968 and a lot of weird, wonderful and very weird things happened in the music world. That was when these three musicians arrived and made their version of the weirdness.

The album title is most fitting and spot on. Take The Beatles at their most silly, Daevid Allen and Gong. Also take some good old working men clubs variety artists and you get this album. Well, add Monty Python too and you really get this album.

The vocals and the narration is well into the la-la land and silliness. But behind this silliness and cheerful insanity, there are really some good music too. Not at least; innovative music. Music who later formed King Crimson.

Michael Giles is a great drummer here. Pete Giles a great vocalist and bassist. But Robert Fripp really impresses me most on his guitar.

The result is, shock horror shock, a good album who really have something to offer behind the lyrics and narrations. Lyrics and narrations who is not bad either. But the music is really good. Hence my rating.

3 points