Sunday, 28 April 2013

Amon Düül II - Pyragony X (1976)

Oh fox........

Their ninth album and a total turnaround from their krautrock roots. Welcome to the mainstream pop-rock band Amon Duul II. A band who at their best on this album sounds like Blue Oyster Cult and is operating between that territory and commercial rock like for example Eagles. At the worst, they sounds a bit like Bay City Rollers.

Despite of that, this is still not a horrible album. The German accent puts this album firmly in Germany. The songs are not too bad. Some enjoyment can be drawn from it. This album is not my cup of tea though and I cannot recommend it to anyone. Get their first albums instead.

2 points

Magma - Hhai (1975)

The first Magma live album, according to ProgArchives.

I have heard a lot good about Magma live albums and has indeed purchased all of them. I have yet to listen to any of them, saving them up for later and reviews like this.

Magma is more in a funky mood on this album than full frontal zeuhl as on their first albums. Not as disco as on Merci. But still more funky jazzy than zeuhl. The music is pretty understated and not as bombastic as I was hoping for. Maybe this live album is a one off funk parade from the band. Maybe I am in for some more zeuhl related music on the other live albums.

Anyway.... The result is still a very good live album with some very good music. Eighty minutes or so with very good music. I also likes their more funky albums and get what I paid for here. The music is perhaps a bit too one dimentional. It is, actually. This is still a good live album from Magma which should interest their fans. I am one of them. I am a fan of their more full frontal zeuhl though. Anyway...

3.5 points

Rovescio Della Medaglia. Il - Lo Come Lo (1972)

The second album from these Italian prog rockers.

On this album, it is more hard rock than prog/RPI. A lot of hard guitar riffs and no keyboards. The setup also includes flutes in addition to guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Italian vocals, that is.

The result is a hard rocking bluesy album with some RPI elements. There is no great or even good melodies here and the sound is not particular good either. This is by no means a turkey. But it is not a good album either. A decent rating has been awarded.

2 points

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Windmill. The - Continuation (2013)

The second album from this new Norwegian prog rock powerhouse.

The second/new wave of Norwegian prog rock has given us a lot of great bands and albums. The Windmill from Hurum (my ex area) debuted with the very good To Be Continued... in 2010. Their new album is as it says on the tin; a continuation of that album. It is by no means a left overs album.

Their sound is somewhat between good old Prudence, Camel, Ange, Genesis and Jethro Tull. As a fan of Prudence, I feel Continuation has taken up a lot of the best parts of Prudence's sound. The flutes and the ...ehhh.... the accented English vocals. A charming feature on Continuation. The instruments are as mentioned vocals, flutes, keyboards, drums, guitars and bass. The sound is in the Jethro Tull vein. A sound also very much adopted by Prudence.

Mentioning Jethro Tull and Prudence, you perhaps now believe this is a folk prog album. Wrong. The music is symphonic prog with a Norwegian flavour. The abovementioned Genesis, Camel and Ange is the best references here. There are some (guitars) power chords on this album too and that makes the music slightly heavy and full of teeth. Most of all; it is a return to the happy 1970s. The album has a retro feel and should make everyone into that sound order this album.

With good reasons too. The music is great throughout with a lot of superb melodies. My only two gripes is when the band tries to become too folk rock. Those melody parts falls flat on it's face. The other one is the lack of any excellent tracks. Besides of that, the band really delivers on Continuation and proves that they have a valid claim to the Norwegian prog rock throne. Not that anyone bothers about who is best. Continuation is in any case a great album and one of the better ones coming out of Norway. Get it !

4 points

The Windmill


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Headspace - I Am Anonymous (2012)

The debut album from a band who to a large degree is a supergroup. A British supergroup, that is. It is being lead by Damian Wilson and Adam Wakeman. Yes, he is Rick's son.

The music is a mix of progressive metal and neo prog. Mostly prog metal though. There is also a lot of djent here. The music is also pretty melodic and it is following the now well known formula with plenty of guitars and keyboards in the mix behind Damian Wilson's powerful vocals. Add the usual bass and drums too and you get the picture.

As I have expressed many times, this neo prog crossover prog metal genre is by no means my cup of tea. I cannot deny that this album is a good album. OK, it is filled to the brim by cliches like majestic keyboards and diddly-dei guitar solos. The sound is excellent though. Fans of this genre will love this album. I am not, but still find this album enjoyable enough. The fifteen minutes long Daddy Fucking Loves You is also a very good song which offers symph prog fans like myself plenty to enjoy. Let us hope this album is not a flash in the pan.

3 points

Caravan - Blind Dog at St. Dunstans (1976)

Their seventh album.

Caravan does not really need any introduction. They were/are one of the best bands to come out of the Canterbury scene. They were really superb at their best and not so good on some other albums.

Caravan has moved away from their trademark mix of pop and jazz on this album. What we get on this album is a band trying to go mainstream in this onslaught of punk rock which hit the scene at that time. With Richard Sinclair out of the band, the trademark Caravan vocals has also gone. Pye Hastings is good, but he is not Richard. That is one of my gripes with this album. I do not care much about the mainstream pop-rock on this album too. The sound is not good. There is no good songs here. There is only sporadic glimpses of this great band on this album. Enough to make this a decent album. This though is a highly forgetable album though. This is not a Caravan album I like.

2 points

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Camel - Under Age (1970)

This is not the Andrew Latimer fronted English symph prog band. This is the other Camel. It also came from England before emigrating to Italy and then disappear without a trace.

Musically, these two Camels could not had been more different either. This Camel sounds like a crossbreed between Bad Company, the Who and Led Zeppelin. Raw hard rock rooted in blues in other words. It also has this early 1970s sound too and some screaming bluesy vocals. The right stuff for a perfect party in other words and this album would go down well in a party even in 2013. Timeless music in other words. Music other bands does even today. In particular cover versions of Pineball Wizard which starts this forty minutes long album.

The sound is OK and the music decent throughout. Not bad and not great. Go down to your local pub and you will probably find bands doing this kind of music there, playing for a handful of people. That is as original as this music is. Under Age is a decent album though.

2 points 

Stolen Babies - Naught (2012)

Stolen Babies is a Los Angeles based band and Naught is their second album.

This band has labelled their music as post-everything. I am tempted to agree with them. This though is supposed to be a review so I have to be a bit more precise than that. Not easy when it comes to this album and their music.

OK...... The music is female vocals lead in the Edit Piaf. Very good vocals. The music is a curious mix of cabaret, death metal (!), math metal, chamber rock, avant-garde, theatre music, goth and movie soundtrack. Yes, post-everything. The music goes from harsh to warm. Forwards and backwards along this whole rainbow, it goes. The use of accordion adds a lot of cabaret feeling. The harsh male vocals adds a death metal edge to the music.

The end result is fascinating. That is, after recovering my jaw from the floor to where it dropped when I was listening to this album for the first time, some days ago. My jaw has really never recovered from that experience. This album is not what I would call my normal music. It is most definate an avant-garde album. Or as they would probably label it: Post-avant garde.

....Whatever name given to this baby, it very much work. It is far too fragmented to really work as an album. But it is also surprisingly melodic too. Some of the songs are pretty naive melodic too. Almost like children rhymes. In this respect, I get a lot of Gong (the Daevid Allen version) vibes here. Yes, fans of Gong will understand this album. The music on Naught is also far more progressive than most of what passes as progressive these days. The music sounds fresh and vital. It also sounds organic. There is no great tracks here though. But this is still a very good album from a band who often tours USA and beyond. I am pretty sure they are great on stage. Make sure you catch them.

3.5 points

The bandpage

Litai - Litai (2012)

To my knowledge, the debut album from this Italian avant-garde band. A band and an album which has drowned a bit in the recent onslaught of new Italian albums in the avant-garde/RIO genre.

Litai takes some tentative first steps into the arena occupied by the likes of Nicklodeon, Piccio Dal Pozzo, Area and Aranis. That is the references here. A bit chamber, a lot of jazz and a lot of weird avant-garde melody structures. Add a Balkan pop'ish sound to this instrumental music too and you get this album.

The result is both a weird and a pretty melodic and easy accessible album too. An an album performed with a lot of saxophones and other woodwinds, guitars, bass, drums, samples and keyboards. The woodwinds is the leading instruments here. There is also a lot of half-acoustic guitars here too.

The end result is a good avant-garde album which has a lot of charm and quality. The only thing lacking is some great songs and that is a problem for this album. If this indeed is their debut album, it is a good platform to build on. I would suggest to them that they should keep up the good work.

3 points

Ange - Moteur (1981)

The eight or so album from this French band. A band who has been labelled as France's answer to Genesis. They very much had their own sound and music though.

That too is the case here. Some ounces of their previous greatness can still be detected on this album which fully embrace the 1980s with all it's ills and crimes against humanity. The sound for example. A very plastic fantastic sound which sounds so out of time anno 2013. The songs are not particular good either. There is no good songs here. The music reminds me a lot about the worst albums Saga ever put out. OK, not that bad though. But the sound is in that ballpark. The only saving grace is Christian Decamps as always great vocals. French vocals, that is. The end result is a half decent album which I would not recommend to anyone.

2 points

V/A - The Rome Pro(g)ject (2012)

Rome, the eternal city and capitol of Italy deserves a tribute album or ten. It is a bit strange that it took the scene so many years to finally come around to do it.

And it took an Anglo-Italian project to do it too. The project, a various artists project, is fronted by Steve Hackett although I suspect it was created and lead by Vincenzo Ricca. Steve Hackett's brother John Hackett also contribute with flutes. The album starts with a long Italian monologue (a tribute to Rome, I guess) and then breaks into some long and lingering melodic instrumentals. Mostly lead by Steve Hackett's excellent guitar solos. Other prominent instruments are keyboards and flutes. The bass and drums are anchoring the music too and gives it a lot of punch. The sound is beefy to say at least.

The result is an album with plenty of great tunes. All of them in the bombastic symphonic prog mould. I am by no means a fan of overly pretentious projects based on overblown egos. In this case though, the eternal city gets what it's deserves by this project. An album that does not sell this city short. Both in the artwork, the song titles and the music itself. The Hackett brothers does a brilliant job and this is surely one of the better albums Steve Hackett has ever been involved in. Vincenzo Ricca and the other Italian contributors also gives Rome the credit this city deserve. And this album really makes me want to visit and discover Rome. I have never been there. But I will probably go there later this year. This album has sown some seeds in my head.

This is a great album which will appeal to all fans of Steve Hackett and instrumental symphonic prog.

4 points

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Oblivion Sun - The High Places (2013)

The second album from this US band who sprung out of Happy The Man.

Their self titled debut album 2007 was a curious album who bridged a lot of water. From jazz to US symph prog. It therefore feels a bit natural that the band has reigned themselves in and narrowed in the scope of this album. Now, we are talking a sophisticated form of funky art rock with a lot of symph prog incorporated. This is very much the US take on symphonic prog. There are even a lot of lounge music feel here. The jazz in other words. Oblivion Sun is still very much one of a kind band. I don't know any other band doing this mix of lounge jazz and symph prog.

And the band has also delivered on the promise they made on their debut album. Barely, that is. The High Places has one really superb song and that is the title track suite. The rest of the music is very good too. The title track suite very much represent their style. Laidback lounge with symph prog and a very strong melody too. Superb is this suite.

In short; this is a great album from a band who I think should be regarded as one of the better US bands now.

4 points

Monday, 15 April 2013

Oxhuitza - Ozhuitza (2013)

The debut album from this Italian band who I believe has been released on Fabio Zuffanti's record label. Actually, I am wrong. The band has taken artistic directions from Fabio, but the album was released on Mirror Records in Italy.

Oxhuitza is doing instrumental prog rock where they takes a lot of influences from symphonic prog, King Crimson, RPI, fusion, prog metal and Gentle Giant. I would put them in the eclectic prog label as their music is pretty eclectic. They also knows how to paint big sound collages and comes up with some majestic symphonic hymns too.

I am by no means a fan of instrumental prog as I feel most of it is lacking focus and a focal point. I do though see what the band is doing here and find it far from lacking in focus. This is one of the better instrumental albums I have heard and it is far from dull and elevator music'ish. The music is in fact not easy listening at all as the great melody lines comes on a pretty regular basis. The music is driven by flutes, keyboards, guitars, drums and bass. A bit more flutes would had added more organic flavours and quality in my view. But this is still a very good album which surprised me a lot. It is most definate worth checking out.

3.5 points

Doubt - Mercy, Pity, Peace & Love (2012)

The second album from this jazz band. Or fusion as they call their music.

Maybe jazz is the best label for what the trio Lex Maguire, Michel Delville and Tony Bianco doing here. Avant garde jazz is also a label I would use. That in addition to some rock flirts on their version of Hendrix' Purple Haze. With the exception of that track, easy listening is not what I would label this album as. The music is mostly performed with a Rhodes hammond, guitars, drums and bass. That and some samplers and sequencers. The music is inwards looking and very intense.

I am by no means a jazz fan and I got my hands full with this album. There is stuff I really like here and some stuff I just think is album fillers. I really like Michel Delville's guitars and think the other contributions is great too. That makes this a good album in my view, but not one I would probably play that often. So now you know.

3 points

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Yleclipse - Songs from the Crackling Atanor (2012)

The fifth studio album from this Italian neo prog band. A band whose albums has some interesting art work.

I reviewed their third album Opus some years ago and I have noted that what I wrote in that review is not far away from what I am going to write now. Yleclipse has found a sound and a style they are happy with and that is OK for me.

We are talking a crossover between Genesis and Fish era Marillion here. So much that Yleclipse reminds me a lot about another Italian band; The Watch. The sound is warm and organic. Ditto for the vocals. The keyboards, guitars, bass and drums setup works well here. There is no doubts Yleclipse is one of the better neo prog bands out there. A neo prog band I am happy to lend an ear to. Hence the purchase of this album.

I am happy with the sound. I am a bit disappointed by their inability to take one or two steps up when it comes to writing great songs. There is none here. The album is good throughout and a pleasure to listen to. A pleasure and a frustration too as it never really kicks on and move into a higher gear like the albums from The Watch always does. This is still a very good album though and that is that.

3.5 points

Times Up - Snow Queen (2012)

The debut album from this British band who are supposed to be veterans in the scene. The musicians, that is. This band was established in 2006.

We are back in neo-prog land again. Pretty pompeous larger than life neo prog too. Not symph though. Pomp prog is the more right label. The music is performed with the usual guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals formula.

Formula is the right word here. The music follows the usual neo prog formula and does not really offers anything outside that. A formula used by so many other bands. Which is fair enough. The music is decent throughout and I find nothing offensive here. I am just slightly bored by this album who falls well short of interesting me. It is a decent to good album who offers no real good songs, but still has something to offer to those of you more into neo prog than I am.

2.5 points

Hatfield & The North - Hattitude (2006)

A posthumous album with live tracks from the 1970s. The line up is the classic line up, arguably one of the best ever line ups from the Canterbury, namely Phil Miller on guitars, Richard Sinclair on bass and vocals, Pip Pyle on drums and Dave Stewart on keyboards. What can go wrong with this line up ?

Well, nothing on this compilation of live songs. Richard sings as good as he has ever done and really adds warmth to the songs. The other three is excellent too with great musicianship on their most known tracks. Tracks which is in the middle of the Canterbury tradition. The sound is great too with a great audience participation too.

The result is one hour of great, hugely enjoyable music. It is also a timely reminder how great this band was and that I should really dig out their two studio albums again. OK, this is a compilation of live tracks though and not a real live album. That shows and take some enjoyment out of this album. But this is still a great hour, made into many, many hours by myself who finds it hard to let this album go and write a review. O boy, they don't make music like this any longer. Sadly.

4 points

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Iron Maiden - Maiden England '88 (2013)

Iron Maiden live albums....... hmmm..... There is a lot of them.

Maiden England was originally released in 1988'ish and was one of the best selling VHS gig videos of all time. It was about time it also became available on CD too. 1988 was their first real best year with a sold out Donington Park (107 000 people) and a best selling album called Seventh Son Of The Seventh Son. I also saw them in Drammen, Norway on the same tour as this live album documents.

It is a pre requisite that you like the Seventh Son album if you want to get this album. Me..... I feel this album has fallen a lot in my estimation. I am still a big fan of Powerslave which for me is the ultimate Iron Maiden album. An album which still gives me great pleasure. Seventh Son is a bit too polished for my taste. Maiden England relies heavy on that album and includes some Iron Maiden songs I do not particular enjoy. Wasted Years is a good example. On the positive side, getting the Seventh Son title track live is great and it is sad that they don't play this song more often live. That is the best song on this album by a mile or two. Infinite Dreams is great too. The rest....... well, the nth version of Halloved By Thy Name and Iron Maiden is met by a resigned shrug by myself. I love the first song. But much better versions can be found at the Live After Death live album from 1985.

In short; those who want everything by Iron Maiden (that includes myself) will lap up this album. Those who loves the Seventh Son album will love this live album. I give it a very good status.

3.5 points

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Taika - Pulsate (2012)

I guess this is the debut album from this female fronted Japanese band. I got no info on them whatsoever.

Taika plays a mix of neo prog and modern indie rock. The female Japanese vocals is pretty dominating, the music being built around it. The bass and piano is also a pretty dominating feature here. So is what I believe is some accordian too. Some guitars and drums completes the sound.

The sound and music is flowery Japanese rock with a lot of crossover classica music/rock (Rennaisance springs to mind) and folk rock included. It is like a Japanese garden with tonnes of various types of flowers. Very colourful. Unfortunate, a bit one dimentional too. This album, at least. There is no great or even good songs here. The album ticks away without really making any impressions, besides of the Japanese vocals which is not something you will hear coming out of my speakers quite often.

....However, the album does grow on the listener and I am quite liking it now. Maybe it is worth checking out. It is a decent to good album.

2.5 points

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Barclay James Harvest - Baby James Harvest (1972)

Their fourth album.

BJH And Other Short Stories was a great album and one that made me buy this album, the follow up to that album. The band still sounds like a bit of a poor man's Moody Blues with a mix of classical music, blues and very The Beatles influenced songs. Baby James Harvest has a mix of everything.

Herein lays it's problem. Baby James Harvest feels like an album full of left overs from other albums. The music here is wildly diverse from light hearted The Beatles copycat to classical music and blues. It is an album really difficult to grasp. The quality is not that great either and the left overs from other albums is a overriding feeling on this album.

I am afraid this is only a decent album from a band I had expected a lot more from than this.

2 points

Monday, 1 April 2013

Jeremy - From the Dust to the Stars (2012)

The fifteenth or so album from Jeremy. He has probably released some more albums too. Most of the album has been he and his guitar on some ambient new age long winded albums. From the Dust to the Stars is a different kettle of fish though.

From the Dust to the Stars sounds and feels like a band effort. The music is sunny, west coast like rock. I would compare the music to a lighter version of King's X first four albums. Light spacy music with a lot of bite and substance. Jeremy's guitars is pretty dominant here and the keyboards, bass and drums is filling in nicely too. Not to mention the vocals.

The end result is a good album which would please anyone into west coast rock. My only gripe is the lack of any great tracks. I am not a fan of this music either. This is still the best Jeremy album I have ever heard though. Check it out.

3 points

Daimonji - Into A Blind Alley (2005)

The second live album from this Japanese zeuhl band who up to then only released live albums. They released a studio album the year after though.

I really liked their first live album. Their mix of jazz and zeuhl were and still is refreshing. The band, who consists of members of Ruins and some other Japanese avant-garde bands, continues down the same path on this album. They sound very much like Magma throughout. Magma at their most jazzy moments. Offering is also another good reference. The band also use both male and female operatic vocals. Most of the vocals is totally over the top mad. The Hammond organ is the platform where the music is being performed from. That means with bass, drums and some guitars. Their use of Hammond organs reminds me a lot about what Mike Ratledge in Soft Machine did on the third to six album.

As expected from a Japanese zeuhl album, the music is very frenetic and sometimes chaotic. There is no real great music here though and I feel the band is running a bit empty here after their great first live album. A bit more quality would had been a good thing. This is still a very good album though...... in small dosages.

3.5 points

Herd Of Instinct - Conjure (2013)

The band too progressive to be called progressive rock is back again with their second album.

This Texan band impressed me with their self titled debut album from 2011. Their mix of King Crimson like monuments and jazz blew me over. I am pleased to report that Conjure is another meal with the same ingredients. A lot more laid back this time though and with some ambient stuff. But still innovative and progressive as few other bands are today. All the music here is instrumental. But it still have some focal points.

The music is delivered by guitars, drums, bass, moog, mellotron and keyboards. It is both intricate, melodic and full of interesting details. It both looks back to the 1970s and to the future.

In short; Herd Of Instinct is one of the very few truly progressive bands out there. Conjure is another great album from them and I am now a signed up fan of them. This is what progressive music is all about.

4 points