Monday 31 December 2012

Pitch - Conquistador (2012)

A new French band formed by Bruno Pitch. Bruno released a solo album back in 2010 named Crystal Garden. The Pitch setup is different though, I have been told.

Bruno Pitch is a classically trained musician, at university level, most known for his use of Chapman Stick. An instrument which combines bass and guitars. Read up on it on Wikipedia. This though is not a Chapman Stick album. It is used here, but the music is entirely different again. The excitement builds up..... Pitch plays a mix of female lead dream pop and neo prog. Add some French folk rock too and you get Pitch and this album. The music is performed by Chapman Stick, drums, bass and keyboards. The female vocals is good, although an acquired taste. They are very jazzy and I have to admit I am not entirely comfortable with them. The general sound is also a bit on the thin side.

Conquistador is not the usual fare in female fronted dream pop and neo prog. Pitch got their own style. Maybe because of Bruno Pitch and his Chapman Stick. The songs are not particular great either. I got some problems with this album. It is a good album though and one for those of you who want something different in female fronted art/prog rock. A meek good is awarded. Link to streamed album below so make up your own mind.

3 points

The album (streamed)


Tohpati. Bertiga - Riot (2012)

If I am not totally mistaken, this is the second album on Moonjune by this Indonesian guitarist. I have yet to listen to his first album so I am not able to make a qualified judgement on his career.

Tohpati Bertiga is a highly skilled guitaris, slash jazz musician. Riot is a guitar based jazz album. Fusion album, some would say it is. Maybe it is. The music is very melodic and also has a folky feel to it too. His skills also shines through.

This album also has the ills of a guitarist album. In my view, expressed as and in this blog, expressing skills is not enough in my view. Some great riffs and melodies is also required to please me/this blog. There are some sporadic great melodies and melody lines here. But most of this album just trundles along in a very pleasing manner without really becoming great. Neither does it have this x-factor a great album always got. This is by all means a good album. But nothing more, I am afraid. Next time, perhaps.

3 points

Sunday 30 December 2012

Addiction Dream. The - Essence (2012)

The debut album from this US band.

The US prog and art rock scene is bursting with new life, new bands. The Addiction Dream is one of the more interesting new bands. I would put them in the art rock category. Probably more art rock than prog rock. They claim Pink Floyd and Radiohead as their main inspirations. I compare them with Gazpacho and Radiohead. The sound and music is pretty understated and not overwhelming. But it is pretty easy to hear that there is something really substantial in their keyboards, guitars, bass and drums based sound. That and the very Gazpacho similar vocals.

There is no really great songs here and they have a couple of miles left to walk before they reach the same level as Gazpacho which I regard as the masters of this end of the art rock scene. But this is still a very good album which cannot fail to impress the listener. This band has a bit of an x-factor too. The undefined which makes me believe this is a band which may become one of the greats in the scene. This is a very good album I recommend. I have added this band to my talents list and I believe this band may deliver a masterpiece in not so distant future.

3.5 points

Autumn Breeze - The Autumn Band (2010)

The second album from this Swedish band.

Autumn Breeze released their debut album back in 1979 and split up. They reformed again and is still active, I believe. They were active and is still active in the same scene as the likes of Kaipa and the other Swedish prog rock bands. But this band never had a breakthrough and they are pretty unknown. It is a hobby band and there is nothing wrong with that. It is in fact a good thing; a good hobby. Long may it continue.

The music on this album is a strange affair. Mostly performed with flutes, Hammond organs and guitars, the sound is pretty similar to Jethro Tull. The songs varies from Madness like pop songs to blues, folk rock and AOR. This album is an album of very different types of songs. Variations is the theme here. Variations which means this album sounds a bit disjointed and all over the place. There is no common theme here and this album feels like ten different albums.

The quality of the songs are good throughout though. The band knows their stuff and their instruments. The vocals are very good too. The album is a bit disjointed. But that is the style this band has chosen and I guess they are far better live than on this album. I awards it a very weak good award on the strenght of Going down to Africa and Rock 'n´roll madness. Two very good songs. The rest of the album is OK too. Not a bad album.

3 points

Saturday 29 December 2012

Balmung. The - Le Porte Della Noia (2012)

The debut album from this Italian band whose band name means adulthood or something like that.

Adulthood is what we get here. Adult Italian progressive rock. The music is very much rooted in the good old 1970s and is a mix of retro and contemporary Italian prog rock. The music is not particular symphonic though. The Balmung is more leaning towards the more bluesy, hard prog end of the Italian prog rock spectrum. For a start, they use Hammond organs instead of mellotron and moog. There is a lot of blues instead of Johan Sebastian Bach in their sound. The music is much more mainstream rock than avant-garde. It is mainly verse-refrain-verse based.

The Italian vocals is great and far better than if the band had used English vocals. The music is largely performed with Hammond organs, guitars, bass and drums. The sound is very good.
What is missing though is some great songs. The music is reasonable pleasing to my ears, without really impressing me. This is a good album though and should really win the band some fans. I hope and believe this song issue will be resolved on their next album. Add this album to the many good Italian debut albums this year.

3 points

Acidente - Ainda (2012)

The ninth album from this Brazil based band who has been around since 1978 with various line ups.

The music styles on their outputs has also been all over the place, pending on the line ups of the day. On Ainda, they are trying out some melodic neo prog. Trying out is the phrase here.

The band sounds like they are all over the place. The vocals sounds like a black raven with influensa. He totally misses some of the tones by many miles. Terrible ! Some vocals are in Spanish and some are in English. The English ones are horrible. Stick to Spanish vocals is my advice. Or rather; give up.

The music is very standard and does not feel original at all. The band has been like thieving magpies, stealing melody lines from various bands and re-arranged them in their nest to make this album. Their ability to perform their compositions is also very limited.

In short; this (thankfully !) free album is not one I enjoyed at all. Give it a listen yourself from the link below and make up your own mind.

1 point

The album

Thursday 27 December 2012

Aqua Nebula Oscillator - Caves Recordings 1998-2008 (2010)

A collection of demo songs from this French space rock band.

The sound is pretty dire and the songs is left over material from their two albums and EPs. That says it all and serves as a warning against this album. This band is a garage space rock band. Something which tells you that we are normally not talking crystal clear sound anyway. But the sound here and in particular on side 1 of this LP is beyond dirty. It is mud and reminds me about some muddy black metal albums.

In short; avoid. Get their new album instead. A great album. Something this album is not.

1 point

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Jethro Tull - Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young To Die! (1976)

Nothing is better Christmas music than Jethro Tull. Forget Christmas carols. A Jethro Tull album has all the warmth you need in December/January. Albums from their classic period, that is...

This album is from their classic period. It is their ninth album and the follow up to the rather great Minstrel In The Gallery album. Jethro Tull has gone for more songs and less symph prog on this album though. Maybe the punk scene spooked them. But gone is most of what made Jethro Tull great in my ears. Most of their folk music whimsical warmth is still remaining though. The opening track Quizz Kid and the title track is great tracks. The rest is pretty substandard.

This is still a good album from a band who delivered a heck of a lot great albums during the 1970s. This is not one of them. A good rating is awarded.

3 points

Ex Vagus - Dream Object 5 (2009)

The second album from this French symphonic prog band.

Dream Object 5 very much follows in the Ange and Mona Lisa tradition. Not to mention in the Magnesis tradition. Theatrical symphonic prog in the French cultural tradition. Big complex eclectic compositions with several layers of keyboards and guitars. They are supported by bass and drums. This is all well and great. The English vocals though is not that pleasing though. The vocals is great by all means. But what made Mona Lisa, Magnesis and Ange so great was the lyrical French vocals who acted as an instrument in itself. This is a dimention missing in Ex Vagus and Eric Vedovati's vocals. They are English vocals and just that. Not an instrument.

There are some really great melody lines here. But this is again a nearly-so-great album from this band. A band who could/can become a great band if they stick to their guns and have the confidence to do French vocals. I really like this very good album as I am a fan of French symphonic prog. But in their own mother tongue, please.

3.5 points

Monday 24 December 2012

Amon Düül II - Vive Le Trance (1974)

Their sixth album and the follow up to the rather good Wolf City.

This band is a rather strange band who has had their transformations throughout. This time to a more west coast psychedelic rock sound. Jefferson Airplane is an obvious reference. This album is very much song focused too. The songs are short and in the verse-chorus-verse mould. There are two rather long songs here too. The other songs are all clocking in below the three and a half minutes mark. The trance references in the album title is misleading to say at least.

Renate Knaup-Kroetenschwanz vocals is pretty dominating here. She is backed up by guitars, some woodwinds, some male vocals, bass, keyboards and drums. All this in the west coast tradition.

The music is decent throughout without really pleasing me. The music is more pop/rock than krautrock. That does not go down well in my house. I find this album somewhere between decent and good. Hence my rating of this album. I am not in trance, I think it is fair to say.

2.5 points

Reasoning. The - Adverse Camber (2010)

Their third album.

The Reasoning is one of the many spin offs from the two big M's in the English female fronted neo prog scene: Mostly Autumn and Magenta. The Reasoning is a (permanent) spin off from Magenta and has probably overtaken Magenta in album sales and popularity.

Adverse Camber is a good reason for that. Well crafted art/neo prog songs with Rachel Cohen's vocals on the top and the focal point. Her vocals is excellent and she has her own style. A very distinct style which I really like. I also really like this band. I am therefore a tad dissapointed with this album. The sound is excellent. Ditto for the vocals. The music is a tad more orchestral and symphonic than usual from this band. It is also pretty hard. There is only glimpses though of what this band really can do. Most of the material here is really good, but just that. Rachel's voice is the only thing that keeps me interested in this album. I would say it is a bit of a backwards step from their previous album Dark Angel. Adverse Camber is The Reasoning running on empty. I hope their brand new album is better than this one. The EP they released earlier this year was very promising and I hope the album is a pretty big step up from Adverse Camber.

This is a good album but nothing more than that.

3 points

Sunday 23 December 2012

Adramelch - Lights From Oblivion (2012)

The third or so album from this Italian power/prog metal band. A band who has awakened again after a long pause and is very active now.

This album has been heralded as the second coming of Jesus Christ in the press blurb. The music though is pretty melodic power metal with some hints of neo and symph prog. I would though label this as pretty standard power metal in the German tradition. Some pretty unusual melody lines makes this album pretty interesting. The use of acoustic guitars is a nice addition to the is normal power metal fare.

The vocals are good, the guitarists does their job and the bass and drums also fits in well. Nothing here neither surprises or interest me. I am not a power metal fan and you have to be that to really appreciate this album. It is a decent album though.

2 points

Focus - Focus 9 (2006)

Their ninth album and a continuation from their previous album Focus 8.

It seems like Focus has now established themselves again from Focus 8 and on the follow up album Focus 9; this album. They have found their soul again. A soul without Jan Akkerman. The new Focus is Thijs van Leer + three other musicians which has adopted the old Focus sound.

The material is a blend of the good old symph prog band Focus and the fusion band Focus. They have yet to fully return to the sound which made Hamburger Concertos one of my alltime favourite albums. But that album cannot be replicated and I accept that. I also accept and welcomes an album like Focus 9. My gripes with it is the lack of any really great songs. The sound is there, but not the songs. Focus 9 is a cosy album in this festive season and in all other seasons. It is not a great album though. I think this is as good as Focus can get in this day and age though. So no complaints.

3 points

Saturday 22 December 2012

Arti e Mestieri - Murales (2000)

Their sixth album and a bit of a comeback album after fifteen years in the doldrums.

Nothing much has changed with this band. We still get melody orientated fusion with an Italian flavour. Mostly pure fusion though with a lot of good melodies. Most of the music is instrumental. But there are some sporadic vocals here too. Large chunks of this album comes across as a mix of Mr. Branduardi's folk music albums and fusion. In short; the music here is very commercial and almost shopping mall music like.

The music is both airy, light and fragrant. A couple of pretty great track can be found intertwined with some pretty decent tracks. The music lacks a bit substance and teeth though. Murales is a nice listen, but does not tax my brain that much. That is my main gripes with this album. But it is still a good album which I will put on when I need some nice soothing background music.

3 points

Mogador - Absinthe Tales Of Romantic Visions (2012)

The third album from this US symphonic prog sounding Italian band. It is an album I have had my problems with for reasons explained below. Read on.

The music is US symphonic prog with some female fronted neo, celtic rock and prog metal stuff included. It is an album which starts with the brilliant piano track Whispers To The Moon and then expands into female fronted neo prog and then to prog metal and God knows what.

The seven minutes of Whispers To The Moon is heavenly superb. Agnes Milewski's vocals on the next song She Sat And Sang is superb too. Ditto for the song, btw. This part and the next celtic rock part reminds me a lot about The Reasoning. Great stuff and the album then moves into a more complex prog metal and God knows what terrain which is not particular interesting.

In short; the first half of the album is great. The second part is dithering plodding and not good at all. This album has a split personality and I am only falling down on a three points rating. I don't understand this band at all. Sorry.

3 points

Friday 21 December 2012

Psycho Praxis - Echoes From The Deep (2012)

A new Italian prog rock band with their debut album.

Although Psycho Praxis comes from Italy, they have taken their inspirations and sounds from the English and the Norwegian psych/prog folk scene. There is clear inspirations from early Pink Floyd, Fruupp, Jethro Tull, Thule and Gnidrolog. Not to mention Black Widow (the third album) too.

The music is performed with plenty of flutes, Hammond organs, guitars, bass and drums. This in addition to some very good English vocals. The sound is anno 1972, but also crystal clear.

The music is very lush and dynamic psych with a lot of folk, eclectic and symph prog influences. The overall quality is very good throughout. Fans of the combination above will break into a happy grin when listening to this album. I am though missing that dot over the i which would elevate this album to a great status. A killer track or two is missing. This being a debut album from an upcoming band, Psycho Praxis should be added to the list of the most promising Italian talents in the scene. The album is out on Black Widow Records in both LP and CD format. I also believe a direct download is available from Amazon. It is well worth the purchase.

3.5 points   

Thursday 20 December 2012

Fish On Friday - Airborne (2012)

The second album from this Belgium band.

We are talking a blend of neo prog, AOR and pop here. There is a lot of Pink Floyd, the Momentary Lapse Of Reason era here. There is also a lot of stadium pop/rock here. The sound and music is big. The songs in the very melodic category. There is hardly any teeth and edges in their music.

This is what I call bland music. The music is by all means good. This is by no means a bad album. But there is nothing really great about this album either. Each song glides straight in and out again without really being tiresome on my brain and my intellect. The very good pianos is the only really above average positives here. The rest is good but not great. Bland is the word and good is my verdict.

3 points

Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out (1959)

This review is a bit of a jumping on the Dave Brubeck bandwagon after his passing some weeks ago. A passing mourned by many of my friends and the curiosity got the better of me as I had no idea who Dave Brubeck was before he passed away. I went out and got this album. I am glad I did.

My interest in jazz is mainly centered around very brash avant-garde jazz in the vein of Soft Machine's 3-7 albums. That and fusion. Time Out is a different kettle of fish, though. Softly spoken throughout and full of very minute small details which is easy to overlook. It requires a different type of mindset and approach.

What we got here is forty minutes of mostly understated jazz. This album also gives us one of the biggest jazz hits of all time; the superb Take Five. But it also opens with the song Blue Rondo which has also been done by ELP and other bands. Those two tracks are the signature tracks and they are superb. The rest of the album is more sofly spoken with subtle piano and saxophone solos supported by some excellent bass and drums. Dave Brubeck's piano work is excellent.

I believe this is a classic jazz album and one of the standard bearers in this genre. I am not surprised at all because this is truly a great album. I feel a bit alien to this music so it is not a masterpiece in my ears. But it is a great album though which has opened my ears to another world again. Just as Romantic Warrior (Return To Forever) and Third (Soft Machine) did some years ago. I am not so sure if I am a convert, though.

4 points 

Murky Red - Time Doesn't Matter (2012)

This is to my knowledge the debut album from this Mr and Mrs Fleming run Belgium band. I got the album from them and have taken my time to get into it.

Murky Red is a real band who does a lot of gigs too. It is not a file sharing band who puts together the albums through the world wide web. The experiences Murky Red has got on the roads and in the pub has been put to good use on this album. There is nothing here they cannot play live. There is no fancy studio work here. This album sounds like blood and flesh.

Music wise, they comes across as a power trio. To my knowledge, they are not that. But the comparissons with Rush is obvious. Add a lot of krautrock and blues too into the mix. Strangely enough, there are some Adrian Smith-Dave Murray like solos here too. Murky Red has fused in Iron Maiden into their sound. That and King Crimson too. Not to mention Camel too. It is difficult to pinpoint this band. Murky Red is pretty much out on their own, somewhere near the krautrock scene.

The musicians is doing a great job and it is obvious that this band is the real deal, best enjoyed in a pub. Not in an office somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The overall quality of their material is very good though and this band most definate have a future. I am missing a killer track or two. The material falls a bit down on the anonymouse side of the fence. This is still a very good album they should build on. Both on the road and in the studio.

3.5 points

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Kompendium - Beneath The Waves (2012)

This year has been a pretty patchy year, quality wise, until the final two months of the year which has seen the release of two masterpieces. The first one was the Shadow Circus album. The second one is this album.

Kompendium is Rob Reed from Magenta's solo project. He is being helped by Steve Hackett (Genesis) and many others. It is a project drenched in celtic folk music and symphonic prog. It is a crossover between the above mentioned Hackett's solo stuff, celtic prog (for example Iona) and English female fronted prog (for example Mostly Autumn). If you love Steve Hackett, Iona and Mostly Autumn; you cannot live without this album.

Kompendium has also delivered the best song of the year too. The title track, to be precise. A brilliant female lead celtic prog song with a very strong melody. A classic song which surely will be included in many best off prog compilation albums in the years to come.
A video has also been released and it is on Youtube. It will do wonders for the Scottish and Irish tourist industry too. It is cheesy, real and very effective. The same can be said about this album too. Cheesy which plays on everyone's heart strings. Not only if you are into the above mentioned bands. This album has a pretty massive crossover appeal which should translate into a very substantial album sales. Only die hard Sex Pistols fans would not like this album.

I have mentioned the title track. There are some other great songs too. The two opening songs for example.
Unfortunate, the album falls into a bit of a lull halfway through with a symphonic orchestra bit which I have yet to find agreeable. Rob Reed sometimes bites over more than he can chew. But the album recovers again and final twenty minutes are superb too.

I honestly find nothing less than superb stuff on this album. An album that both sounds and feels very expensive and classy. Which explains the pretty expensive looking digi pack version and the not so cheap download version too. The price is justified though. This is not a run of the mill album. This album oozes class like a 16 years old Lagavulin single malt whisky. If you want something cheaper and less classy, buy something else.

This album will despite of it's pretty high cheese percentage and crossover appeal go into the annals of progressive rock as one of the classic masterpieces. I am willing to bet my good reputation on that. Confront me with these words in 50 years time. Nothing less than five points is sufficient for this album.

5 points

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Shadow Circus - On A Dark And Stormy Night (2012)

The third album from this US band. A concept album based on Madeleine L'Engle book A Wrinkle in Time.

The album starts with the eight minutes long Overture and the scene is set for a classic concept album with a lot of twists and turns. Think the classic 1970s concept albums which was more like rock operas than rock music. On A Dark And Stormy Night very much fits into that mould. The music is both majestic, dark, melancholic and bombastic throughout. Shadow Circus has always gone down the circus theatrical route too and this is also the case here. Circus music is very much their sound and trademark.
The main instrument is keyboards, moog, melotron, guitars, bass and drums. David Bobick's vocals has some company of some female vocals too on this album. The vocals is great, btw.  The melotron sound is great throughout and should give the band a lot of fans from the symph prog genre followers.

Overture is a great song and the signature song of this album as it implements all other ideas on this one hour long album. An hour of music I regard as one piece of music as this is a concept album. This is though one of the best albums of the year and substantial improvements on their two other great albums. This is also an album I am sure will be much talked about this winter too.

One more killer track would have meant I did not have to throw a coin up in the air to decide if this is a 4.5 or a 5 points album. The coin landed on a crown got it and it is a fiver album.

5 points

Thursday 13 December 2012

Anno Mundi - Cloister Graveyard In The Snow (2012)

A new Italian hard rock band with this 100 copies LP title only.

The first thing I notice is that the band has used the exact same art work and photo their fellow countrymen RanestRane used on their debut album Nosferatu. Which is odd as that album is both well known in Italy and only a few years old. I am not impressed.

Anno Mundi though plays proto doom metal in the St Vitus and Black Sabbath alley. Not as spaced out as St Vitus though. Maybe Trouble and Witchfynder General is better comparrisons. The LP reeks of the 1970s. Not at least because of the sound and the vocals. Both pretty dirty.

The songs are mainly verse-chorus-verse formula. No spaced out excersises though to my disappointment. The music is more metal than hard rock. The songs are pretty decent without really impressing me. The band is appealing to a small segment in the market. The retro doomsters and the stoners, that is. I am not one of them and this LP does not hit home. The quality of the songs are simply not there either. It is a debut and the LP will without any doubts become a collectors item in some years time. I would not give up if I was the band. Move on, write more stuff and spread your music in more than 100 copies. But this is not for me, I am afraid.

2 points

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Area - Crac ! (1975)

The third album from this Italian band. A band who is slowly getting a new fan in myself although the band is now disbanded and the vocalist has passed away if my memories serves me right.

Crac is a very playful jazz/fusion album which takes a lot of influences from the likes of Soft Machine, Gentle Giant, National Health, Mahavishnu Orchestra and the Italian symphonic prog scene. A scene Area was one of the leading bands in. The music is as you now understand not purely jazz or even fusion. It takes a lot from rock and classical music too.

Demetrio Stratos vocals are still well over the top. The bass is rampant and the drums is backing that up. The guitars, flutes, clarinets and keyboards delivers melody lines full of small intricate details. In the eight minutes long song Megalopoli, the band also has something of a hit song on their conscience. It is a superb song who elevates this album up a notch. The rest of the music is very good to great too.

In short; this is so far their best album and one album that fascinates me. Area is a band I really rate very highly now.

4 points

Aviator - Turbulence (1980)

The second and final album from this English band. Their self titled debut album was released the year before. Aviator had a brief, but hectic career before they burned out and fell down from the skies, never to be heard from again.

Their music is a mix of Steve Hillage (first two albums), Rush and Gentle Giant. The music is performed with mainly guitars, bass and drums in addition to some keyboards. That and vocals. The vocals is prominent.
The sound is pretty OK. It has this early 1980s sound, but is not too infested with the 1908s synth sound. That is a positive.

The negative is a bit of a lack of good songs. There is no real good songs here. It is pretty obvious why this album did not sell well enough to push the band forward. Lack of good songs and quality is the answer. This is a pretty dull, but still a decent album. Enough said.

2 points

Mahogany Frog - Senna (2012)

This album is the reason for the lack of reviews lately. Read on....

The sixth album from this Canadian band.

I really liked their previous album DO5 which was a slab of monumental post symphonic prog rock. That is what we get here on this album which I suspect has something to do with the late racing driver Ayrton Senna. The best ever racing driver according to BBC and most other media outlets. A life tragic cut short 1. May 1994 in the front of my eyes. The music on Senna starts with a monumental rousing feeling and then goes over to a more melancholic mood.

All this music is instrumental and the music can best be desribed as a mix of post rock and symphonic prog. As simple as that. The music is monumental as the Canadian mountains itself. Both rousing monumental and melancholic monumental. The melodies are great and really inspiring. The album impossible to put aside. Unfortunate, the album falls away a bit during the final ten minutes. The rest of the album is superb though and some of the best music from 2012. If not the best music from this year. This album is close to being a masterpiece and I upgrades it to a five pointer as it deserves it.

5 points

Monday 10 December 2012

Highdelberg - Highdelberg (1975)

A one album only German project with Mani from Guru Guru and some others.

Guru Guru is a good reference and this album is pretty similar to what they delivered on their 1971 album Hinten. Krautrock with some rockabilly and a lot of space rock. There are even some Shadows like guitar rock here. Highdelberg comes across as a blend of Daevid Allen's Gong and Guru Guru. The instruments are mostly guitars with some keyboards added on. The sound is pretty good throughout. The musicians is doing a decent job and the vocals are very good.

The quality of the music is not that good, though. The big problem is the lack any really good songs here. Despite of the material leaning pretty heavy against Gong, I get the feeling the material is unfinished Guru Guru scetches and left overs. This is a decent album though and essential for all Guru Guru fans. For the rest of you; forget it.

2 points 

Anabis - Heaven On Earth (1980)

The first of altogether three albums from this German band.

Anabis was in full flow in the mid 1980s in Germany. They are listed as krautrock in some 'pedias. Something I cannot understand. It is obvious this band has been listening a lot to Genesis though. The music here is very much Genesis anno Wind & Wuthering. What Heaven On Earth is missing is the rich and full bodied sound that Genesis album has.

The sound is pretty thin and poor. It is also pretty much neo-proggish with the synth sound, the vocals and the guitars. The vocals is very poor btw and a major downer on this album. The songs are pretty decent without really being imaginative and original. The musicians does not really impresses me and the unit sounds very loose and unfocused in their playing. There are some good melody lines scattered throughout the album. But what could had been good is being let down by the band and the sound.

This is a decent album which leaves a lot to be desired. I cannot find any good reason to repeat my mistake by purchasing this album.

2 points

Sunday 9 December 2012

Alameda - Calle Arriba (2008)

The seventh and so far last album by this Spanish band who released their debut album back in 1979.

Alameda was one of the bands in the Spanish prog rock scene back in the 1970s and thereafter. They have been compared a lot to Triana. Not an unfair comparisson. The vocals are in Spanish, there is plenty of flamenco and folk music here. The music is folk pop with some passionate rather heavy guitars and keyboards to back up the vocals. This is very much a song and vocals orientated album. Verse-chorus-verse... that is the concept here. The music is very Spanish. Let me put it like that.

The quality is not particular great though. The music is too slick and too bereft of substance. There is no real good songs here. A couple of attempted jazzy racy melodies saves this album from the turkey yard. I somehow don't believe this is their best album though. Maybe I should get one of their other albums too. This one is not to my liking though.

2 points

Adramelch - Broken History (2005)

The second, third, fourth or I don't know album from this Italian band. The band has released an album earlier this year and I have got a copy of it. Hence this review too to tie up some loose ends.

I liked their 1988 album Irae Melanox which was a conceptional sounding power metal. Broken History is just power metal with all the cliches, all the ills and not much good music involved. Adramelch does not have much own identity and they follow the scene by copying it on this album. Helloween, Gamma Ray etc etc. Those are the bands you find a lot on this album. Even the vocals are very copycat like.

If you like power metal, you may find this album to your liking. There is not much orginality here though so I doubt it. A couple of good tracks does not make this album a total disaster. It is just boring though and I find it a decent album without any major flaws, but without any major positives either. Hence....

2 points 

Saturday 8 December 2012

Anamorphose - Palimpseste (1986)

A French one album wonder band. A jazz band, no less.

This is also a live album and I guess lack of funds to do a proper studio album is the reason for that. The music is performed with a mix of violin, keyboards and saxophone as the solo instruments. The bass and drums is supporting them again.

The music reminds me of both Mahavushnu Orchestra and Soft Machine. It is pretty intense throughout. The sound quality is great and I don't really understand why this Musea album is now out of print. It should be put out through Bandcamp at least. The music is very good at times. The saxophone solos is great. The keyboards too is coming up with some good stuff. The violins reminds me a lot about Jean Luc Ponty in Mahavishnu Orchestra. Not all songs here are really that good. But this is still a good to very good album which sometimes becomes a bit anonymouse and dull. But it has left a good impression on me and I hope it will see a re-release.

3 points 

Ummagma - Antigravity (2012)

Their second album this year and a follow up to the Ummagma album.

To my knowledge, their first album was conceived in Moscow a long time. This album was conceived with new impulses and fresher air in Ukraine. Which, if I am not mistaken, they think is a better environment for them. I have to agree with that sentiment. Antigravity is a lot better album.

We are still in the dream pop territory with Shauna McLarnon's ethereal voice floating on the top of some half acoustic guitars and electronica. Think jazz, think electronica and think indie rock. They have kept the Bjork, Sigur Ros and Radiohead references from their Umnagma album and added The Smiths and All Over Everywhere influences too. In particular the latter criminally underrated band. They have also added a lot of song crafts and the art of quirky verse-chorus-verse songs. The song Live and Let Die is a mix of The Smiths and  All Over Everywhere. It is also the best song here with Shauna McLarnon's vocals over some Johnny Marr 'ish melody lines. An excellent song.

Ummagma has created a great album which is worth the download. Yes, it is a name your price download so you can pay whatever you think it is worth. It is one of the best Bandcamp albums this year by far. In short; get it.

4 points

Download the album   

Friday 7 December 2012

Scherzoo - 02 (2012)

The second album from this Francois Thollot run band. He released two solo albums before he joined up with some other musicians and formed this band. The first album, very imaginative named 01, was released last year and that was a good album.

Scherzoo is listed as a zeuhl band in many 'pedias. Although there is some zeuhl connotations in both their albums, Scherzoo is by no means a zeuhl album. Darkened jazz with a lot of avant-garde, Canterbury and some zeuhl influences is my label on their music. Where the first album was saxophone dominated, there is a lot more Hammond organs on this album. The balance between Hammond organs, guitars and saxophone creates an entity which really works on this album. The music itself is pretty much RIO melody structures dominated. The mood is dark and brooding. The music is intense throughout. This is neither a trad jazz or a happy jazz album. To that extent, this can be labelled as a zeuhl album. I understand where this label comes from, let me put it like that.

The quality is very good to great throughout. Invasion is a great track. The other tracks is kicking thereabouts throughout. The music never becomes boring. Under some doubts, I award it a four pointer. A weak one. But albums like this is well worth promoting for a blog like this in a sea of mediocrity and hype.

4 points

Jumble Hole Clough - Three Bags of Madder (2012)

Colin Robinson's (Big Block 454 & Churn Milk Joan) solo project. Colin and his guitar and bass making noises. Hardly any vocals is present. It is Colin exploring and expressing his local landscape with his strings. That is what Jumble Hole Clough is all about. Three Bags of Madder is the first of two albums this year. I will get back to the second album soon/read the review of the other album somewhere else in this blog.

It is an understatement to label this album as introperspective and introvert. This is not a Bob Dylan copycat. The music is both avant-garde and krautrock. The music more based on moods than melody lines. It is an album that requires a lot from the listener.

This is a decent debut album and the first foray into this area of the music world from Colin. His two main projects makes a lot more racket than this one. Colin is looking inwards and at his many hundreds excellent landscapes photos on this album. The result is decent. I am by no means a big fan of this kind of ambient music. The music is too ambient for me. I have heard far worse albums than this one and it is a good start. Link below.

2 points

The album

Thursday 6 December 2012

Necronomicon - The Queen of Death (2012)

The second album from this Brazilian band.

Necronomicon came to my attention because of my unhealthy interest in kraut and space rock. Some browsing and links from other bands lead me to this album and Necronomicon. Yes, it is a free Bandcamp album.

The cover artwork is great and gives a good 1970s vibe. Which this album has in abundance. The music is a mix of 1970s hard psych, krautrock and some doom metal. Mostly 1970s hard psych though. I thought this band was from Germany as the vocals sounds very German to me. But on closer inspection, the lyrics is in English. The songs are pretty long and interesting. They are driven by both Hammond organs, guitars, bass and drums in addition to some good vocals.

There is no real great songs here. But the album is well edited and I would had believed it without batting an eyelid if someone told me this album was released in 1972. It has that feel and ambience. The overall quality is good and it is a sure download for everyone into krautrock and hard psych. Link below.

3 points

Download album

Ligro - Dictionary 2 (2012)

Another MoonJune find from Indonesia. A country with a lot of good local flavour influenced jazz bands. Ligro is no exception from this rule. Ligro is though a more trad jazz influenced band than the other MoonJune bands from this country.

Dictionary 2 is their first international release. I hope that means they also have other albums too. The reason is that Dictionary 2 is a surprising melodic, but also a virtuous riveting technical album too where each musicians gets free reign to do shine. The guitarist, bass and drummer does a great job. There are also a lot of great melody lines here. Even my jazz hating partner and one of my female neighbours, accidently present in my living room with this album as the background noise really like this album. They correctly made the connection between Ligro and the jazz-rock from the 1970s. The likes of Mahavishnu Orchestra springs to mind. But krautrock lovers will also find a lot of pleasures in this music as my German neighbour did.

Dictionary 2 is a great jazz album and another great find from Indonesia. I really like rate this album very highly.

4 points

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Aranis - Basta (2009)

This is a the Aranis mainman Joris Vanvinckenroye's solo album. But it is listed as Aranis fourth album in most 'pedias. The music itself is very much like Aranis too. So I will list as an Aranis album here.

Joris Vanvinckenroye is the bass player, contrabass, in Aranis. The compositions here is based on contrabass and written around this instrument. That means a pretty dark chamber orchestra album with plenty of chellos too. The most striking compositions here is performed with chello and contrabass. The music on Basta has much more in common with classical music than rock. There is no rock music on this album whatsoever.

The compositions is good throughout. My usual complaint is the lack of any great compositions. The music is also a bit too one dimentional and black/white. It is chamber orchestra without the orchestra bit as only chello, contrabass and downtuned violins is the instruments here. It is still an interesting album though and worth checking out. It defends it's place in Aranis fine discography.

3 points

Magrathea - In Search of the Crystal (2012)

The fourth album from this English band and originally released in 2006. Now re-released with a re-recorded guitars on Bandcamp.

Magrathea was formed in the early 1990s under a different name (Drama) but did not do anything under that name. They play a mix of symph and neo. On this album, I would say mostly neo. References are both Genesis and Marillion.

The sound is good. The guitars still feels a bit jarring in the sound and the negative on this album. The vocals are good and the use of flutes are great. The bass, drums and keyboards are good too. The music itself is good too without really impressing me. The music is too much neo prog for my liking and there are some light hearted poppy songs here too with the much hated 1990s sound. There are some brief flashes of inspired moments on this album. But not many enough. Fans of Genesis and neo prog should really lap up this album though as it is a name your price album. Link below.

3 points

The album

Monday 3 December 2012

Aqua Nebula Oscillator - Excavation (2010)

Aqua Nebula Oscillator from France has for me been one of this year's better discoveries. I like their mix of punk, garage and space rock. They are in short a French krautrock band.

This EP, which I suspect is an old demo, starts out as pure punk and moves into some space rock halfway through the eighteen minutes. The first song Girl has a bad demo sound and is also pure punk with some space rock influences. It is a very poor song. The final three songs also have a very poor sound even to Aqua Nebula Oscillator standards. This band has built their career on bad sound. But the sound on this EP is very poor even to their standards.

Neither is the songs particular good either. They lacks a lot of texture and teeth. In short; this is not an EP worth being bothered about. Avoid.

1 point

Focus - Focus 8 (2002)

The first real Focus sound album since the Hamburger Concertos back in 1974.

Focus dabbled into a lot of styles on the albums inbetween. Mostly fusion though. But Focus 8 is strangely enough the real follow up to Hamburger Concertos. This despite of Jan Akkerman being absent and the only remaining original Focus member is Thijs van Leer. The other three members played in a Focus tribute band who then morphed into Focus itself. Not a bad idea. An idea later copied by Yes and other bands.

The result is also good. The ex Focus tribute band musicians knows how Focus was meant to sound and the result is a welcome return to old form. The songs are good throughout. There is no classic songs here and it lacks a lot of sparks and fizz. But this is still a nice album for all Focus fans. The title track is the best song here by miles. I like this album although I will probably only play their first four albums when I feel for some Focus.

3 points

Akt - Blemmebeya (2011)

Their second album.

Akt is one of the big hopes in Italian art rock. On this album, they mix Italian symphonic prog with a healthy dosage of jazz and eclectic prog (King Crimson) into a very healthy stew. The sound is excellent and the use of guitars, moog, melotron, keyboards, bass, drums and Italian vocals makes this a very special album.

The music is very intricate and dense. It is not an easy album to review and that is why I will keep this review very short. It is a free download anyway and one of the best free download albums out there. It is a great album and one of the best post millenium Italian albums you can get.

4 points

Download the album 

Sunday 2 December 2012

Ummagma - Ummagma (2012)

Ummagma is a very much talked about cooperation between Shauna McLarnon from Canada (Yukon province.... I did not know anyone lived there) and Alexx Kretov from Ukraine. They have so far released two albums. Both of them this year, in 2012. A review of the other one is coming up before the end of the year/can be found somewhere else in this blog. The band got extensive coverage in the last edition of Rolling Stone magazine and some coverage in this blog is an logical career progression.

Ummagma is catering for mostly everyone on this album. The basis is dreampop with Shauna McLarnon's ethereal voice. Her vocals is floating on the top of some electronica lounge-jazz eclectic progressive indie.... well, the typical post millenium progressive sound which both incorporate Bjork, Sigur Ros and Radiohead. All the music which our grand children will label classic progressive rock in the future while their GenesisCamelYes loving grandparents think this music is blasphemous new stuff. Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovski the news.

The sound is good although I presume it has not been recorded in Abbey Road and Sir Paul McCartney neither play mandolin or bass on it. Shauna's vocals has got the place it deserve in the mix. Not too low and not too high. Belive me, but this is a very difficult balance to make and they have got it right. Not all songs are great here. Well, none are great. But this is a debut album and the band has set out their stall with this album. This is a very good album who lack some teeth. A bit more better melodies, hooks and "this is Ummagma" identity will hopefully be added to upcoming albums. Hopefully it is already there on their second album of this year. I think this is a very good album. See link below for this name your price album.

3.5 points

The album

Saturday 1 December 2012

Aera - Humanum Est (1975)

The first of five studio albums by this German band.

Aera was a jazz/fusion band who were often being compared to Embryo. I cannot remember Embryo or their music. To me, Aera and this album sounds like a less intense and a more melodic version of Soft Machine's Six and Seven albums. Aera does not have Elton Dean's intense woodwinds and that is a major difference between Aera and Soft Machine. That and Aera's use of flutes. This album is also anchored in both folk rock and krautrock too.

The music is good throughout and it is delivered by flutes, saxophones, guitars, bass and drums. The flutes are pretty dominant on this pretty melodic fusion album. It is an album which should find friends among krautrock, jazz and space rock friends. I like this album a lot.

3 points