Sunday 30 September 2012

Tardive Dyskinesia - The Sea of See Through Skins (2009)

The second album from this Greece deathcore/hardcore/experiemental metal band. A band who is getting next to no attention from a scene who really should embrace this band.

Their debut album, reviewed in this blog some months ago, was a very technical deathcore album. Tardive Dyskinesia has put the brakes on this album and introduced some more atmospheric melodic stuff here too. They are still very technical though. Meshuggah is an obvious reference.

I am by no means a metal fan anylonger and I have no longer any interest in this tech metal scene. This album though is not bad though. The sound is great and I guess Meshuggah fans would lap up this album. It is in my ears a decent album and a wrong type of album for me.

2 points

King Crimson - B'Boom Official bootleg Live in Argentina (1995)

Please note that this album was first released in 1995 under the B'Boom Official bootleg Live In Argentina title and re-released as Live In Argentina earlier this year (2012) with two bonus tracks. It is essentially the same album though. I am reviewing the 1995 album.

This is one of many KC live albums now as they/their record label/Robert Fripp have unleashed an avalanche of live recordings on CD. Twenty or so, to be precise. In the case of KC, that is great as this band went through numerous phases and setups. This band is also among the handful of most important bands ever to grace this planet.

B'Boom Official bootleg Live in Argentina has a proper great sound and by no means bootleg sound. Don't be scared about the "bootleg" tag as this double CD is the real deal. It was recorded in Argentina back in 1994 and includes an eclectic mix of their material. It is by no means their greatest hits or even close to feature their best material. Whatever is their best material.

The version of Red is excellent and a straight version of this great song. The rest of the album is a mix of improvisations and their more eclectic material from the 1980s. There is not much from the 1970s here. Robert Fripp and King Crimson is very eccentric and that shows on this album. Very eccentric. If you want a song based live album; forget this album. If you want KC at their most eccentric, this is your album. If you love their 1980s material, get this album. I am inbetween and really like this album. Is it a great live album ? No. But I think it is a very good live album from a band who never stopped being eccentric and unpredictable. I rate KC as one of the best bands to have ever graced this planet though.

3.5 points

Genesis - Genesis (1983)

Their twelfth album and for some mysterious reason a self titled album.

Genesis had long time ago shed their prog rock music and gone for a pop Tamla Motown sound. Shades of the good old band can be found at the rather very good opener Mama. Home By The Sea is also pretty good before the rest of the album descends to the bottom of the ocean. Of their pop albums though, this is the best of the lot. It is still a pitiful experience with Phil's laboured vocals and the horrible 1980s sound as the worst of the lot.

This is a decent album which will never ever be played in my house again. Life is too short.

2 points

Saturday 29 September 2012

Farinella. Alessandro - Road To Damascus (2012)

The second album from this Italian keyboardist. His first album (2008) was named Momo and that is all I know about this album. That and that this album has been released by Musea and it is about those pesky crusades. Something that cover art work also more than alludes to.

Road To Damascus is a concept album and probably a rock opera too. It sounds like it. A lot of rock operas has been released lately. But maybe this is not a rock opera after all. I don't know.

The music is symphonic neo-prog with a lot of musical references to the likes of Anthony Phillips. But I get a lot more early Magellan references from this album. Both the vocals and most of the music. Mr Farinella's music is not as hard as Magellan was, though.

The music has a lot of keyboards (surprise !) and guitars too. The vocals are pretty good, although a bit heavy accented. The music follows the concept album formula in a quite rigid manner and the listener is not getting any surprises along the way to....... well.... Damascus. Or rather, the end of the album after forty-six minutes. Most of the music also has a pretty clinical neo-prog sound which not everyone will appreciate. It sometimes breaks out into some interesting melody lines.

This is a very good album which does not really rise above that level. I have been listening to this album on a regular basis for over a week and cannot really say this is a grower either.

This is a very good album though and well worth purchasing if symphonic neo prog is your cup of tea.

3.5 points

My Dying Bride - Like Gods of the Sun (1996)

Their fourth album and their first without growl vocals.

Like Gods of the Sun is also a break with their past as a death/doom metal band. Like Gods of the Sun is much more a progressive goth metal album. Violins and choirs has taken over from their previous harsh sound. Most of the songs are not that epic though and half of this album is pretty substandard and fillers. The first four songs Like Gods of the Sun, The Dark Caress, Grace Unhearing and A Kiss to Remember is great songs, though. The rest of this album is substandard. It is also a forewarning of the pretty dreary follow up album 34.788%...Complete which pretty much turned their fans against them without getting them any new fans.

Like Gods of the Sun is a bit of a transitional album where the band was heading for a disaster. In itself, this is a good album.

3 points

Acid Mothers Temple - Son Of A Bitches Brew (2012)

The full band name of this Japanese band is Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. This album is their fifthy second (52nd) album since 1997. Studio albums, that is. Add some live albums and EPs too and you get the picture.

The band name may give the game away. This is space rock. Not only space rock. Improvised outer space rock. I have never heard a more spaced out album in my life than this album. The album title is a reference to Miles Davis classic Bitches Brew album. Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O's tribute to this album is an all out assault on this album which at times sounds like Tibetean monks and their horns. The whole album is total chaos with not much structure at all. Woodwinds, guitars and keyboards goes totally for it for the whole 78 minutes. Which explain why they have got 52 albums out of this formula. A free-space rock formula.

78 minutes is an overkill and a very challenging listen to say at least. This album is fun and a jaw dropper for the first half of this album. An album which is an aural assault throughout. This is by far the most spaced out album I have ever heard and it is visiting parts of the universe no man has ever glimpsed. That makes this music pretty funny for a while. For forty minutes, that is. 78 minutes is far too much for me.

This is a decent album and a novelty experience. My life will never be the same again. That is all I can say about this aural assault. Space rock fans should check out this album though.

2 points


San Martin. Rodrigo - There's No Way Out (2010)

The second of the three albums from this multi talented Argentinian musician.

His first album 1 from the same year was a pretty good art rock album. The vocals though was pretty iffy. Rodrigo very much tries to rectify that problem by hiring in Jelena Perisic from Serbia and Craig Kerley from USA to do the female and male vocals. Both delivers some great vocals here. The music is in the same area , though.

For those who does not know Rodrigo San Martin; his music is a blend of latin pop, prog metal and symphonic prog. The coolness of latin pop combined with some vintage keyboards and guitars associated with the symph prog scene and prog metal. Think Dream Theater and Genesis. All instruments are played by Rodrigo San Martin himself. That means his ideas gets full reign on this album. That too is a weakness as the bad material is not being weeded out of the album.

This album is a good album though which lacks a pretty important ingredient: Great songs. Besides of that, this album has everything required from an album. The sound is good. The songs is good. But it never rises above that level. Which is a shame. This is a good album for those who likes middle of the road latin symphonic prog though.

3 points

U2 - The Unforgettable Fire (1984)

Once upon a time, U2 from Ireland was the best thing under the sun. They were the best band on this planet and they released two brilliant studio albums. This once upon a time was back in the 1980s.

I had not been listening to this album for over twenty five years before I put it on again some days ago. I hate the 1980s sound and decade with a passion. But this album has stood the test of time. 

The Unforgettable Fire is the first of these two brilliant albums. It is their third studio album too after War and Boy. The excellent art work really describes this album pretty well. Both the music and the sound is dark and foreboding. Edge's guitars has a special time-delayed echo sound nobody has copied. He also discovered it by sheer accident and has kept it on. The riff on Pride is one of the best and most iconic guitar riffs ever to come out of this planet. Pride, the second song on this album, is a truly brilliant song.

The U2 drums, bass, guitars and vocals setup gets support from some keyboards and more orchestral instruments on this album. Instruments that adds a lot of excellent new textures to U2s music.

Pride is a commercial song and the most immediate hit song on this album. But there are better songs on this album. The dark and gloomy title track, for example. The other songs are also pretty dark and gloomy. I would also say; pretty symphonic too. This album has all the hallmarks of an art rock album in my view.
It is an art rock album.

The songs on this album is all twisted and nowhere near straight forward. There are some shorter interlude like songs too which is very twisted. As an entity, this album is brilliant with stunning, brilliant songs which resonates even in 2012. It is also one of the greatest albums from the last fifty years and it will now be moved from a dark box to my living room. It will not be twenty five years to I listen to this album again. Make it more like twenty five days 'till next time.

5 points

Offering - Offering Part I / Part II (1986)

Christian Vander's band during the pretty long Magma break.

Offering continues on from Magma's (weakest) Merci album and develops that project further into more jazz land. Obvious references are Magma, John Coltrane and Gong, believe it or not. There is a lot of Gong influences, both Allen and Moerlin, on this album.

Offering I offers up a lot more dynamic zeuhl and Magma than the other part on this album; the more pastoral jazz tinged final half of this album. Christian Vander is doing his chants and they are supported by his own drumming, bass and a wide variety of other instruments.

This album is not as full on zeuhl and aural assault as the Magma albums. Offering is a Magma-light band on this album, at least. I am not entirely won over by the material here either. This is a good album though. But I prefer Magma to this.

3 points

Friday 28 September 2012

Eclat - Le Cri De La Terre (2002)

The fourth album from this French fusion/prog band.

Well, they were an instrumental fusion band on their previous album Volume 3 which I reviewed last month. I was not enthusiastic about that album and wanted some vocals, if my memory serves me right. Well, my wishes has been granted on Le Cri De La Terre. There are some vocals here. The sound and music has also changed to a more art prog flavoured fusion too. The fusion is still dominating this album. Long solo runs are intertwined with some jazzy guitars and keyboards workouts.

The Italian band D.F.A springs to mind as Eclat is pretty similar to them. There are some Rush in the sound too and a lot of other influences too. Even some Middle East influences.

All this makes this a good album. My gripe, as per usual, is the lack of any great songs. But this is still a pretty cosy album though. I have still to be won over by this band.

3 points

Aphrodite's Child - It's Five O'Clock (1969)

Their second album....

Their debut album was a pretty good album. And this one too starts with one heck of a song in the title track. One of the better hidden gems from this era. Check it out on Youtube.

The album takes a bit of a weird journey from there on. It really tries to include everything 1969 had to offer. That also includes space rock. This album feels more like a compilation album than a real album. The basis is in beat music though.

Besides of the title track, there is no real good tracks here. This album is saved from the turkey yard by the title track alone. It is a half decent album.

2 points

Thursday 27 September 2012

Bacio Della Medusa. Il - Deus Lo Vult (2012)

The third album from this highly acclaimed new Italian prog rock band.

This band is very much operating at the more heavy end of the Italian prog rock scene. The music is hard and theatrical at the same time. There is also a lot of symphonic prog in their music. Not to mention passion. This explains why the music sometimes breaks out in sheer hard rock on many occasions. The band also knows how to use flutes in addition to the usual guitars, keyboards, bass and drums fare. There is also a lot of Hammond organs and saxophones here. To me, this album comes across as a blend of Jethro Tull, Deep Purple and Italian prog.

Passionate is the right word for this music, yes. Not at least because of the male vocals. We are not quite in the Pavarotti country here. But the vocals is still great. It also sits in the front of the mix and jumps out of the speakers. The music is also very good to great throughout. Yes, the hype this band and in particular their fans is justified.

A couple of killer tracks is sorely missing. But there is enough in Deus Lo Vult to make it a great album. One well worth checking out.

4 points

Angra - Best Reached Horizons (2012)

OK, I am publishing a review a whole month before the album has been released. Naughty, but I did not spot the release date before it was too late. Neither could I be bothered.

Best Reached Horizons is a both a best off Angra and a collection of odd ends and covers. This is a double CD. 150 minutes of material should give the Angra fans and other heavy/prog/power metal fans excellent value for money.

Angra has gone through some phases from all out power metal to a bit more ethnic, Brazil folk music influenced prog metal. The more prog metal songs goes down best with me. I cannot stand power metal.
Angra has some good songs and this is a good collection until it arrives at their version of Kate Bush masterpiece Wuthering Heights. Angra's version is very poor.

Angra is a very good band. The 150 minutes of music gives their fans what they both want and deserve. I am not a fan so I have to declare myself not particular entertained. This is not for me.

2 points

Peggy's Leg - Grinilla (1973)

The only album from this Irish band who appeared and then disappeared again without a trace. This album was originally released in 500 copies back in 1973 before re-released with bonus material some years ago.

This album bears all the hallmarks of a debut album. That is a band throwing everything they can at an album. Everything means various styles from Beatles like beat to Yes like prog rock to Fairport Convention like folk rock. The sound are good. The songs though are not that good and the album is suffering from a bit of confusion where it limps from genre to genre. The music is mostly performed by guitars, aided by keyboards, bass and drums. That and vocals. All good and well.

The result is a decent album which feels more like a compilation album than a real album. You are not missing out on much if this album has bypassed you.

2 points

Woven Hand - Blush Music (2002)

Hmm.... I got their brand new album. But I decided to check out a previous album, their second album, first because I am totally new to this band. I did not get much wiser.

Blush Music is a bit of a journey, it has to be said. Their roots are in indie. They very much travels along that path too on Blush Music. They have included a huge slab of avant-garde, theatre music, space rock and folk music too in this album. Mostly avant-garde, it has to be said. The sound is great and the music is mostly performed by guitars, bass, drums, synths and vocals.

Blush Music is a very fragmented album with pieces of music setting out in various directions. It is ultimate not a good ride either. There is not much good music here. The album is a pretty frustrating piece of music which never really does the job. It is a decent album, but nothing more. It goes without saying Woven Hand is not on my list of favourite bands after this experience.

2 points

Cucamonga - Alter Huevo (2012)

The debut album from this Argentine band, released through AltRock Records in Italy. Not much is known about this band though.

As per usual with AltRock releases, this album is quite an eclectic album. In this case, a pretty surprising album too. This is a fusion album. No, not as in the musicstyle fusion. I mean as a fusion between fusion and RIO/avant-garde. The first ten minutes alludes to this being a straight jazz/fusion album and the listener settles into a false security. Then, the album takes a sharp left turn and we get treated to some Aranis like RIO.

I am confused.

That is my main impression of this album. Confusion. It feels like two bands is competing for the name Cucamonga. A fusion and a RIO band. But it is the same band and the same setup. The band just likes to play havoc with the listeners of this album. Sadists, they are. Or just musicians. Hard to know the difference in the case of this band. The music is performed with woodwinds, guitars, bass, drums and some samples. Mostly human voice samples.

The result is an album which make the listener.... well, listen to the album just to make sure it does not loose out on anything. I just wish the quality would had been a lot better than what we get here. The material is good though.

Alter Huevo is a slightly frustrating album. It is a good album though and I hope the band will release some more albums. They are clearly on an adventure.

3 points

Arti e Mestieri - Giro Di Valzer Per Domani (1975)

The second album from this Italian band who so masterfully combined fusion and Italian progressive rock.

There is thankfully more than a handful of bands with their sound and this type of music. Both new and old bands. Thankfully, because this is a crossover genre I really like.

There is a lot of Mahavishnu Orchestra type fusion on this album. It is impossible not to ignore how much they have influenced this album. There is also a lot of Italian prog and pop on this album. Mostly pop, it has to be said. The pop is very jazzy though. This album does not really embraces the Italian prog sound.

The quality is very good throughout. My only gripe is the lack of a great track or two. The music is really interesting. But without a great track, I am loosing interest in this album. This is not their best album. It is still worth checking out.

3.5 points

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Big Block 454 - They'd Bought a Packard (1998)

A thirteen minutes long EP from this English avant-garde band. It is now a free download too.

The band has never hidden their fascination for krautrock bands like Can. A fascination which surfaces on this three songs EP. The music has a strong beat and some bass, drums and electronica on the top of that again. It is typical Can and trip-hop territory. It is also a pretty eccentric. The music is also very minimalistic. 
Strangely enough, these thirteen minutes actually works. Each of the songs are (worryingly !) engaging. Sometimes, less is more. In the case of this EP, that rings true. This is actually a good EP which is well worth a download and your attention.

3 points

Their Bandcamp page


Circle - Manner (2012)

The brand new album from these underground legends. This is this Finnish band's 24th album since 1994. This is also my first meeting with their music.

Circle has a reputation for being totally unpredictable. They have gone from space rock to prog rock to krautrock to heavy metal and some zeuhl too. They are generally off kilter and pretty much treats every expectations with the contempt they deserves. And rightly so. Their attitude is to be admired.

Manner is a brew of everything they have done, really. Involuntary a kind of a compilation of all their styles, I guess. The material varies from straight heavy metal to krautrock and space rock. That and a lot of post rock too. I would mainly label Manner as a krautrock album though. They are leaning a lot on Amon Duul II on this album.

Most of the music, with the exception of the heavy metal stuff, is improvised spaced out workouts. There are even some sami folk music here. Joiks, it is called. This makes this a musically very varied album which really engages and never becomes dull. It is an intriguing album which begs the questions: Why is this the first Circle album I have ever heard ?

My main gripe is the lack of any great tracks. Besides of that, this is a good album which really showcases this band. I want more of this band.

3 points

October Tree - The Fairy's Wing (2012)

This is the debut album from this Maryland, US band/project. See more at the link below, their homepage.

The music is female and male vocals lead with a healthy dosage of guitars, keyboards, bass and drums too. The music is a mix of bohemian theatre music, symph prog rock, a bit Daevid Allen's Gong, a bit Frank Zappa and a large chunk of folk rock. I would label the music as art rock although the band uses the term prog rock. This album is a concept album too and the concept is both spelled out in the CD and on their homepage. A forty six minutes long concept album.

The music is both intriguing and good throughout. The plentyful use of Hammond organs. The vocals are very good too. The music is also very arty and complex. Some of the music is pretty immediate good. Other parts of this album require some time.

The Fairy's Wing is a very good album, done by some good musicians who knows what they are doing. I do understand why certain magazines has hailed this album as one of the best debut albums of the recent years. This album does not really sit that well with me. But nevertheless; check it out. You will not regret it.

3.5 points 

The band's homepage

Monday 24 September 2012

Koenjihyakkei - 2 ni / Viva Koenji! (1997)

To say that this band's music is an attack on the listener's senses is an understatement. Koenjihyakkei continues their war against the listeners on this, their second album.

Koenjihyakkei operates within the zeuhl genre. Their music is not so much stringent zeuhl formula based as the likes of Magma. Koenjihyakkei has expanded their music into other territories too. None of their music is easy listening, though. The music is still zeuhl and very extreme. Elements from screamo, eastern music, hard core, death metal, jazz and opera has been implemented on this album. The result is a big flower bouquet with various flowers and smells.

The music is dominated by the opera female vocals. They are supported by male vocals, guitars, keyboards, drums and bass. All this delivered in very intimidating, menacing manner.

There is no really brilliant songs here as the opener Loss from their debut album. But there is no really dull moment either. The songs on this album is much more solid than the songs on the debut album. The amount of small interesting details is staggering. This is great music in my estimation and I am firmly in the Koenjihyakkei end of the zeuhl genre. This is progressive music in my estimation. Much more than the type of music which passes as prog rock these days. Check out a Koenjihyakkei album today.

4 points 

Gatto Marte - Marte Sulla Luna (2012)

Their eight album.

This band comes from Italy and is listed in the RIO/Avant Garde genre in most websites. I really liked their debut album Danae from 1997 and reviewed it last month. I have not heard any other albums though. After listening to this album, I am not sure if I could be bothered either.

Where Danae had nerve and a lot of bite, Marte Sulla Luna falls short in that respect. It is a RIO-light album with violin, piano, electric guitars (!!!), bass and drums. It is still instrumental. But the RIO and chamber orchestra element is watered out and the band has moved to more accessible, almost shopping mall cafeteria type of music.

The result is a lack of good tunes and a lack of what makes chamber rock so great. The electric guitars is also very annoying. It feels like it has been plastered on the music from the outside and does not feel integrated at all. It does not feel natural at all. Any good stuff is being harpooned and sunk by these guitars.

The end result is a decent album which could had been a lot more than that.

2 points

Bill In The Tea - Bill In The Tea (2012)

The debut EP from this Italian band. A band from Sicily, no less. They are here to give you an offer you cannot refuse. This is a free EP, in other words.

The indie rock like name betrays a sound which indeed is indie rock. The music is a mix of indie rock, a bit jazz and a large chunk of Italian progressive rock. The more pastoral part of the Italian scene, though.

The music is mainly performed with keyboards, guitars, drums and bass. That and some vocals. The band knows what they are doing, no doubts. The EP is full of small intricate details. The songs are not really that impressive. But this twenty two minutes long EP tends to grow on the listener and gets it's own life within the parameters of the listener's memory bank.

Instead of spelling out the songs in big letters, the songs is more hinting and whispering the songs. There are nuances in the songs which reminds me a lot about post rock. The song structures is in the post rock mould with no clear defined melody lines. There is no grand standing here.

Even after some listening sessions over two weeks, I am not entirely convinced about the quality at all. It is somewhere between decent to good in my estimation. This band has a lot of potential though and I hope they get the chance to follow it up with another release.

2.5 points

The EP

Magnum - On The 13th Day (2012)

Their 16th album since their start up in the mid 1970s.

I have never been a fan of this pomp rock band. A band who had their most successful days at the end of the 1980s where they toured with Iron Maiden and other bands in the British heavy metal scene. A scene they really not fit into.

I have never really given them much attention either, to be honest. Maybe I am missing out on something great here. This album shows a lot of promise. It also has some really good songs too. Yes, their material is pretty cheesy and entirely verse-chorus-verse based. The vocals are great. The music is based on guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. Most of the songs though are good to great. The title track is a great song though. The same goes for So Let It Rain. The rest of the material is mostly good and shows a band who really knows their pomp rock formula. This album has gone a long way to improve Magnum's image in my eyes.

3 points

Sunday 23 September 2012

Midwinter - The Waters of Sweet Sorrow (1993)

The one and only album from this English folk trio who later, minus the vocalist, became the much more well known Stone Angel.

This album was released in 1993. But it had been recorded in the 1970s and the tapes put in a storage. This is not unusual in today's scene. Another Midwinter album is still in cold storage, I have been told. It is not likely this album will be released though.

The music on The Waters of Sweet Sorrow is angelic vocals lead folk music backed by violin, guitars, harp, banjo and mandolin. It is as primitive as folk music can get. Their version of Scarborough Fair is stripped down and made into a middle aged sound. The rest of the album too follows that tradition.

The songs are pretty good throughout. Jill Child's vocals is excellent and her withdrawal is a loss to the music scene. The not so good songs material is outweighed by her vocals and makes this a good album. For those who seeks more than good vocals; bypass this album. For the rest of you; check it out.

3 points

Saturday 22 September 2012

Oldfield. Mike - Ommadawn (1975)

Ommadawn is supposed to be his real masterpiece and crowning glory. It is also his third album (fourth if the cash in turd The Orchestral Tubular Bells is included).

Ommadown is continuing where his debut album Tubular Bells and partly the follow up album Hergest Ridge left it. It very much feels like Tubular Bells, the Ommadawn edition. Various orchestral instruments and studio concoctions weaves two pieces of instrumental music. Altogether thirty six minutes, Ommadawn last.

The result is a crossover of celtic folk music, new age and some symphonic music. The two pieces are decent to good. Though not that interesting. I have to admit Mike Oldfield has yet to hit me at my home. This album and his music was very much the cutting edge back in the 1970s. In today's world, I can hardly stifle a yawn when listening to this album. I simply don't get it.

Ommadawn is a decent album in my estimation.

2 points

Friday 21 September 2012

Nexus - Aire (2012)

The fifth album by this Argentine band. Aire is also the first of their two albums released this year. Nexus arrived on the scene back in the 1970s, but did not release anything before twenty years later. They still have a legend status in the scene, though.

Their music is symphonic prog in the vein of Genesis, the Wind & Wuthering era. The keyboards and guitars are very solid on Aire. Ditto for the Spanish vocals too. I have nothing bad to say about the bass and drums too. This album is a very solid handicraft from a band who knows what they are doing.

What is missing is the dot in the i. The little extra. Some great songs. Something that jolts the casual fan of symphonic prog out of it's chair. Aire is a good soundscape, but nothing more. There is nothing surprising here. There is no intricate details here which catches my imagination. It is a good album, but nothing more.
This is a good band and a band who can do better than this.

3 points

Jethro Tull - Minstrel In The Gallery (1975)

The eight album from this British band.

I really like this band. So much that they are among my favorite bands. The reason is albums like this one. This album is a welcome return to the concept album format. The music is performed with the usual guitars, flutes, organ, bass, drums and Ian Anderson's excellent vocals. This in addition to some orchestral arrangements. Vintage Jethro Tull, in other words.

The album opens with the concept of a band entertaining the royals in a court. It open with the excellent title track. A complex track. From there on and to the end, we are treated to some truly great music by this band. The music flows together and becomes one single entity. It captivates me and drags me into their world. A world I really like. This album is a grower and it has grown on me over the last two weeks. I regard it as one of the best Jethro Tull albums ever. In short; get it.

4.5 points

18 Karat Gold - All Bumm (1973)

An album who sneaked into the Krautrock box I bought.

18 Karat Gold is a German band and that is all I know. Their music is commercial middle of the road pop-rock. The vocals are in English and the sound is typical English too with bass, guitars, drums and vocals.
The band makes a very good job in hiding their origins at the same time as their music is appealing to the German market too. I would not be surprised if this album was a big hit.

The music is straight forward pop rock with no hidden depts and twists. The music is pretty good and this is a decent album. It is not my type of music though.

2 points

Thursday 20 September 2012

Medina Azahara - Sin Tiempo (1992)

For some reasons I don't really understand, I bought a lot of their albums last year. Not one of my most inspired decissions, it has to be said.

Sin Tiempo is their sixth album. After some rather promising art rock albums, the band is back doing what gave them a legend status in their homeland Spain: Passionate rock. That is hard edged rock with a lot of passion, hair, balls and guts. Some hard guitar runs is intertwined with some passionate ballads. All of it in Spanish. This album and their music has a lot of local flavour. It is not bad too. Neither is it good either. The songs are not particular good and the band is somewhat lost in a sea of mediocrity. In short, avoid this album unless Spanish hard rock is your thing.

2 points 

Reasoning. The - And Another Thing (2012)

A twenty minutes long EP from this British female fronted band.

The Reasoning has built up a pretty big fanbase during the last five years. They have released some albums too. Albums I have not bothered about due to my pretty indifferent attitude towards the type of perceived hypes spread by the Prog Magazine. It is just recently I have started to get into this scene. A scene with substantial substance.

There is very much substance in The Reasoning, judging on this EP. Their sound is off course dominated by Rachel Cohen's excellent vocals. Her vocals is some of the best I have ever heard from any vocalist in this scene. Not that I am an expert though. But her vocals are excellent. Her vocals lays on the top of a slightly celtic folk music coloured art rock sound. The second song on this EP; Apophenia, is a prime example of that. The best song of this EP by a long distance. The three other songs is pleasant enough. They are vocals and guitars driven art rock. A bit too commercially minded at times. But this EP gives me enough motivation to really check out their albums too. This is a very good EP which is worth checking out.

3.5 points

Magma - Mëkanïk Kömmandöh (1989)

The ninth studio album from these French zeuhl masters/inventors.

Mëkanïk Kömmandöh is the follow up to the pretty dreadful Merci album which took Magma out of zeuhl and into jazz and disco. Mëkanïk Kömmandöh is thankfully a return to zeuhl. It also feels like a rehash of old ideas from their 1973 album Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh. Which indeed it is. It is the band going back to redo this album again. No wonder I felt I had heard it all before.

I very much like Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh and see not much point in the 1989. It feels like the band is on it't last legs. Which indeed it was too for a long while. It took them fifteen years to release another album.

Mëkanïk Kömmandöh is a good album in it's own right. But it is not as good as Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh by any means.

3 points

Kadaver - Kadaver (2012)

The debut album from this new German band. A band who has set out to capture the spirit for the 1970s.

They have very much managed to bottle the spirit of the 1970s on this forty-one minutes long album. This album is like coming straight out of the Hellhound Records record label. It is not though as the 'hound closed their doors twenty years ago. Kadaver does a mix of stoner, kraut and space rock. Obvious reference are the Ozzy era Black Sabbath. Others are St Vitus and the other Hellhound bands. Other reference are Hawkwind and the current generation of German hard rocking space rock bands.

The sound is dirty as in the 1970s sound. The music is performed by guitars, some synth, bass and drums. The vocals is a mix of Ozzy and Dave Brock. The vocals are very good and very much fits into the hard, guitars based sound.

The material is good throughout and this makes this album an enjoyable ride back to the 1970s again. My main gripe is the lack of any really great songs. This though is a debut album and I am sure the band will improve on this album on coming albums. For fans of retro prog and kraut; check out this album.

3 points

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Stratospheerius - The New World (2012)


The fifth album from a band who was sold to me by the shop as a mix of symph prog and fusion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Stratospheerius plays a mix of americana, rock and funk. The band is fronted by the violinist Joe Deninzon. He also doubles up as the vocalist on this album. In addition to plenty of violins and Joe's great vocals and vocal harmonies, you also get guitars, keyboards, bass and drums on this album.

The music is good throughout with some pretty catchy songs. A good example is the two minutes Tech Support song with lyrics which has made me a good laugh. Yes, those lyrics describes us well. There are also some good instrumentals here where the violins are let loose.

This album is well worth checking out if americana is your cup of tea. I liked what I heard.

3 points

Moody Blues. The - Days Of Future Passed (1967)

The second album from this band and the album which introduced mellotrons to the world. A historic album, in other words.

This album also owe The Beatles a big favour. It also owe the pre-Beatles pop crooners from the early 1960s a big favour too. The sound is a mix of those two periods. The sound also got a lot of mellotrons and classical orchestra (The London Festival Orchestra) too. The end result is an album full of mellow, symphonic prog. An album which complements the Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Band album by The Beatles.

The end result is a great album which rightly so has a massive reputation. Music from this album is also being used by BBC all the time as I recognise most of the stuff from this album from my TV. All songs here are great. The best song is the haunting beautiful Nights In White Satin. A couple of more songs like this and we would have talked an absolute masterpiece. I would still regard this album as a close to essential purchase.
It is a stunning album.

4.5 points

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Yes - Time and a Word (1970)

The second album from this band after a very fine debut album.

I have to admit I had to take a double take on this album when I heard the music. The music is not particular Yes, to say at least. Only Jon's vocals alludes to the identity of this band.

This album has been over burdened with orchestras and orchestra arrangements. Some of the album sounds like a James Bond soundtrack. Most of it sounds like a band has got lost in a lack of good melodies and self control. Only Jon Anderson is doing a good job here on the worst Yes material I have ever heard. Even the 1980s albums is better than this one.

Thankfully, the final two tracks Astral Traveller and the great title track saves this album from being a total disaster. The six other songs are best forgotten though. This is a decent album I will never listen to again. Yes means more to me than this album. Much more.

2 points

XII Alfonso - Claude Monet Volume 1 1883-1889 (2002)

The third album from this very ambitious French band.

 This is an hour long album about Claude Monet's life between 1883 and 1889. # 2 of this two albums series was released three years later.

XII Alfonso's music is a blend of French folk music and rock. Their music is conceptual as in trying to be grandeur and symphonic. But the music is basically pastoral folk music performed with a variety of instruments. Mostly guitars, keyboards, piano and some male and female vocals. Most of the music is acoustic though.

The music is elegant. Elegant, conceptual with narrations and pretty dull throughout. There is not really enough variations in the music to keep the listener interested. This is a problem XII Alfonso had on their previous two albums too. The art of song writing is not something they have grasped on neither this and the previous two albums.  That is a shame because I sympatize with the band and wish them all the best. Unfortunate, this is not a good album. It may be worth checking out, though.

2 points

Monday 17 September 2012

Spheric Universe Experience - The New Eve (2012)

The fourth album from these French prog metal merchants.

This album reminds me about why I am so bored about progressive metal. Spheric Universe Experience does a technical variation of the usual Dream Theater prog metal fare. This album starts with some deathcore and then move over to some ballads and more familiar prog metal territory. Very cleverly done. The band is very clever. The music is very clever. I also find this album and their music very boring. I have got my fill.

Their music is decent though. It is filled to the brim by cliches after cliches. This album gives the prog metal fraternity exactly what they want. This album is not my cup of tea though.

2 points

Threshold - Wounded Land (1993)

The debut album of this British band who has often been referred to the British answer to USA's Dream Theater. A bit of an unfair label. Threshold has very much stood on their own feet since the release of this album. They have very much had their own sound too. A big fat sound somewhere between neo prog and prog metal.

It is in this landscape we find this album too. Straddling the border between majestic neo prog and prog metal. The synths are very much neo prog. The guitars are firmly planted in the prog metal camp. Somewhere inbetween, we find Damian Wilson's excellent vocals. The bass and drums too is straddling this border.

I have always liked their pretty cheesy sound. A sound very much evident on this album. An album without any great or any good songs. It is a debut album where the band is announcing themselves to an appreciative world. But I can listen to their sound all night long. This is a good album and a good start to their career.

3 points

Luop Garou - Subliminal Naps Lazier Jams (2012)

This is an album given to me through the commentary field for another review in this blog. I said yes to review it and is hereby keeping that promise.

This is an album which makes the first Amon Duul albums sound like overproduced pieces of pure art. That says a lot because the first Amon Duul albums is very poor. But this album is even worse. I don't fathom how it is possible to get so bad sound in this computer age. Subliminal Naps Lazier Jams has a horrible sound and it is hard to even get an impression of the music. It feels like it has been recorded in an intoxicated past the planet Mars state of mind. The little I can detect of this music is some kind of vocals and some acoustic guitars. That is all. Avoid.

1 point

Check it out

Syndone - La Bella E La Bestia (2012)

The fourth album from this Nik Comoglio lead Italian band.

Syndone can safely be labelled as an Italian symphonic prog band. A modern symphonic prog band, though. They draws a lot on the 1970s Italian symphonic prog scene and sound. They also incorporate a lot of jazz and some blues influences into the music on La Bella E La Bestia. The lyrics and this album are based on Jeanne Marie Le Prince de Beaumont's musings from 1756. That does not tell me anything. I have just copied over this from the blurb given to me.

There is no guitars whatsoever on this album. The role of the guitars has been replaced by a lot of keyboards. That and bass, drums, vibraphone, marimba and flute. The music is pretty varied with some jazzy parts and some more pastoral Italian symph prog parts. The sound is great. The vocals are in Italian and very good. The music on this album is pretty complex at times. Unfortunate without really including some great melody lines or details. This album meanders away without really taking off into the skies. The overall quality is good throughout though.

La Bella E La Bestia is one of those slighly frustrating albums I really want to say is great. But it is not. It is an almost-there album. The same can be said about their previous album too, if my memories serves me right. Frustrating, but still a good album.

3 points

Fairport Convention - What We Did On Our Holidays (1969)

The second album from this band.

I watched an one hour long TV programme about this band on BBC last week. I have a handful of their albums, but has never bothered to listen to them. The TV programme made me dig out these albums. This is the first of them.

What We Did On Our Holidays is the first Fairport Convention album with the ethereal voice of Sandy Denny. One of the finest voices ever to come out of the rock/folk/jazz scene. I mostly know her from the Robert Plant duet The Battle of Evermore from the Led Zeppelin IV album. A truly wonderful song. Her vocals for Fairport Convention and on this album is also truly remarkable. The same goes for Richard Thompson's guitars. There are two geniouses at play on this album. Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson.

Unfortunate, the songs here are not that great. Not in the beginning. The best song by many miles is She Moves Through The Fair. Sandy Denny's vocals here is excellent and gives me goosebumps. That song and the two remaining songs Meet On The Ledge and End Of A Holiday is truly great songs. In particular Meet On The Ledge. The rest of the songs are decent to good.

I would still recommend this album though because it showcases a bloody good band. A band who is still going strong and deserve all plaudits coming their way. I will listen to the four other albums and perhaps raid Amazon for more albums too.

3 points

Sunday 16 September 2012

Epsilon - Epsilon (1971)

The first of three albums by this rather obscure German band. I got this album in a twenty albums plus krautrock collection I bought in an online auction.

The label Krautrock is not entirely telling the truth about this album. They sounds a lot like an early version of The Who on this album. The vocals are in the Daltrey vein. Powerful bluesy vocals in other words. I would label this album as hard rock with some krautrock influences. In particular the keyboards which sounds like Jon Lord in Deep Purple. Early Deep Purple is a good reference too. The version of Stones hit song Paint It Black is an oddity on this album and should not give you any false hopes about the band leaning on Rolling Stones.

The sound is very good throughout. The songs are decent. The music is good and the musicians does a very good job. There is no really good songs here and their version of Paint It Black is at best an oddity. It is frankly speaking not a good idea. This album is pretty obscure and it will forever remain so. If you are into early krautrock with a lot of blues, this album may rock your rocking chair. Mine is not moving, though.

2 points 

Eversham - Eversham (2012)

I got this album from a friend and I have heard this is their second album or so. I don't know where this band comes from either. I am in the dark and can only go by their music.

The music is heavy shoegazing post rock, bordering to experiemental metal. The music is instrumental and in it's entirety performed with guitars, bass and drums. It is also the normal shoegaze fare with lots of guitar cascades with lots of half acoustic guitars lead pastoral parts. Introvert shoegazing and very touchy feely stuff. The only thing that breaks up the post rock are some detours into metal now and then.

The music is well done and pretty much in the middle of the road when it comes to hard post rock. If you like this kind of music, you cannot go wrong with this album. You may even love this album. I though does not find anything unusual or new on this album. It is middle of the road and it is safe. And there is nothing wrong with that. I kind of like some excitement in my music and this is not really moving my earth. This is a decent album though. I will give them that. Download the album yourself.

2 points

The band and download link

Breathing Space - Below The Radar Live (2011)

Breathing Space was Ian Jennings band after he broke out of Mostly Autumn. Breathing Space was disbanded after three studio albums and this live album. They have now reformed again under the Stolen Earth monic and released their debut album A Far Cry From Home earlier this year. I gave their album a good rating in August this year.

Breathing Space was a pretty decent female fronted band in the indie/prog rock vein. Mostly Autumn is a good reference. Breathing Space was one of many bands in that scene and did not really have any success. During their Below The Radar tour or gigs, someone taped one of their gigs. The sound quality was dubious, but they still released it as a live CD and DVD. The bad sound quality really hides their music. The music is rather good though. But the value for money is rather poor. Avoid this live album and go for one of the three studio albums if this band interests you.

2 points

Area - Caution Radiation Area (1974)

The second album from this avant-garde Italian prog/jazz band. A highly influential band.

Where their debut album Arbeit Macht Frei had a lot of Soft Machine and sane moments, the band has gone all out for the lunatic asylum on this album. The album title does not lie. This album comes with a warning. A justified warning.

The music is scattergun avant-garde jazz with a lot of melodies. Scattergun because the melodies and ideas is scattered around this album as if distributed by a scattergun. There is method in this madness though. It takes the listener some patience and some listenings to get the concept. A concept delivered by hammond organs, woodwinds, guitars, bass, drums and Demetrio Stratos madman vocals. Or voice, as his vocals is just voices added on the top of the other instruments.

The result is a bewildering, but still a good album. It is also a good funny listen too. Most of the ideas and melody lines are good to great. Others again are pretty poor. Hence my good rating. This album never becomes boring though and it is worth checking out for all those of you with a robust mental health.

3 points

Anekdoten - Nucleus (1995)

The second album from this Swedish band. A band who was and still is important in the revival of the Swedish prog rock scene.

Anekdoten's sound is pretty dark and gloomy. It is indeed the sound of the Scandinavian depression. Dark forests and darkened minds. This is the sound of this album. It has been created by lots of mellotrons. That gives this album both a vintage and a gloomy sound. They are supported by vintage half acoustic and electric guitars. The vocals, bass and drums are in the indie rock vein. Radiohead is an obvious comparisson for this album. Anekdoten has also introduced a lot of King Crimson type of melodies on this album too.

The result is a pretty gloomy and complicated dense album which does not offers any free rides. Unfortunate, the music here is not that great either. It gets bogged down in repeated mellotron and KC copycat runs. The lack of great melodies is the problem with this album. An album with a great sound, but not much else. This is a good album though from a good band.

3 points

Ange - Tome VI (1977)

Their first live album. The first of many live albums.

Many Ange fans would argue that their finest albums was their first five albums. I don't know about that. Those five albums though is really great. This live album covers those albums and the stuff is really great. For those who does not really know this band, it is worth mentioning that Ange does a theatrical version of Genesis like prog. The Peter Gabriel era Genesis, that is. The French vocals is really important here and Ange really have this French culture feeling throughout. There is a lot of keyboards and guitar runs in Ange too and their music is really special.

And so it is here too. My main gripe is the bad, almost bootleg sound on this album. Tome VI screams out for a remaster with a cleaned up sound. That is a massive disappointment with this album. It serves as a good intro to Ange though.

Half a point deducted for the sound = .........

3.5 points

Saturday 15 September 2012

Subtilior - Absence Upon A Ground (2012)

The debut album from this Areknames side project.

We are talking RIO here in the vein of Aranis. A clean break with Areknames, in other words. All instruments are acoustic as in a chamber orchestra and the music is instrumental throughout.

The music is neither light or dark. The music is somewhat lacking in nerve and cohesion. It is somewhate pedestrian too and does not really break into a coherent unit. The masters of this genre, Aranis & Co, has mastered the art of making beautiful/disturbing pieces of music within the chamber orchestra genre. The same genre as Subtilior has broken into. It seems like Subtilior has not really grasped the nerve and the concept which makes Rio and avant-garde great when it is done by the masters in the genre. Absence Upon A Ground is just aimless meandering away. The result is a pretty poor album which is barely saved from they turkey farm by a couple of decent tracks.

This is by no means a good debut album and I would suggest try harder next time. Or rather; concentrate on Areknames full time.

2 points

Friday 14 September 2012

Iron Duke - First Salvo (1974)

Dredging up a really obscure album and band.

Iron Duke was from Denmark and this is their debut album. Maybe their only album too. I am not sure. Their music is bombastic organ driven rock, somewhere between ELP and space rock. It is rock anno the 1970s with plenty of Hammond organs and guitars. Add bass, drums and vocals to the mix too. This music is heavy inspired by the rock scene anno 1970.

The music is decent throughout without really becoming good. The ELP copycat hammond organ is too strong to be ignored. This album is sorely lacking from both a lack of quality and originality. Sorry.....

2 points

Fates Warning - Best & More (2012)

A kind of a best off and some previously unleashed live tracks from this band. A double album and I got it directly from their record label as a promo.

I have never really been into this band at all. I am not a heavy metal fan. Neither am I a power/prog metal fan. Fates Warning straddles all these three genres. They have to a large degree invented the prog metal genre together with Dream Theater. Where Dream Theater has always been more symph prog orientated, Fates Warning has been leaning heavy on the heavy metal tradition. Hence, they are not a band which interest me.

Best & More is a two CDs album set and I guess their fans will lap this one up. I find this a pretty decent collection of songs and a reminder why I don't like this genre.

2 points