Thursday, 30 May 2013

Mahavishnu Orchestra - The Lost Trident Sessions (1999)

The final Mahavishnu Orchestra studio offering, their eight studio album in total. In reallity, this is their third album. Most of the songs here was released on the stunning superb Between Nothingness & Eternity live album back in 1973.

Recorded in their creative peak, the five compositions here showcases why this band is so held in high respect and love even today. Their first four albums + this one + Between Nothingness & Eternity showcases fusion/jazz of the highest quality, the highest order. The music on The Lost Trident Sessions showcases plenty of stunning impressive fast interplays between the musicians here. Between violins, bass, guitars, drums and keyboards. The musicians here is among the best in the scene back then. The likes of John McLaughlin, Jerry Goodman, Jan Hammer, Rick Laird and Billy Cobham.

I love  John McLaughlin's guitars and his guitar solos could had been longer in my view. The guitar solos were a lot longer on the Between Nothingness & Eternity live album. There is no real killer tracks here either. But The Lost Trident Sessions is still a great album and essential for any fusion fans. I am bowled over.

4 points

Monday, 27 May 2013

And So I Watch You From Afar - All Hail Bright Futures (2013)

The third album from this Belfast, Northern Ireland band.

This long winded named band is operating in the post and math rock genre. Though with both a lot of Irish folk music and techno influences on this album. Those influences on the top of a mix of post rock and experiemental metal. Or even post metal. Add some indie music too and you get this album. Or this mix as it feels like.

This is music looking forward and not backward as most of the albums I review is doing. Which makes both this band and album a bit refreshing in my ears. Not to mention; alien. But this is by all means progressive music. Probably more progressive than prog rock.

...... Anyway, this is a very good album in my ears. That after overcoming some strange music you find on this album. Most of this album is alien to me. But I like it. I like post rock in general and this band. This album is well worth checking out for those of you wanting to know the status of the new progressive music scene.

3.5 points

Museo Rosenbach - Barbarica (2013)

Their third album and the first studio album for thirteen years. The purists would say this is their second album though, Zarathustra from 1973 being their first/other album. Their Exit album from year 2000 was without Stefano Galifi, the vocalist who makes this band. Something he demonstrates on Barbarica. Museo Rosenbach without Stefano is like a hospital without patients.

Stefano has returned to the band again after his excellent stint with the new, upcoming Italian band Il Tempio Delle Clessidre. A band who took their name from a Museo Rosenbach song and was by all intents and purposes a tribute to Museo Rosenbach. Their album is brilliant, btw. I just needed to get that one into this review. Point made; Barbarica is another great album graced by Stefano's excellent vocals. It is an album who really sets out the Italian symphonic prog agenda. It has tonnes of moog, melotrons and Hammond organs. It also has tonnes of guitars, bass and drums. The music varies between heavy and pastoral lyrical. Between folk and hard rock. Just like a great Italian symphonic prog album. The songs are long too. The music is rooted in the 1970s. The album just clocks in on forty minutes. Just about long enough, in my view.

I really like the songs and I really like the sound. The opening song Il Respiro del Pianeta is the best song on an album which has no weak track and nothing but greatness. Welcome back guys and thank you for this album. I love it.

4 points

Thork - Weila (2004)

The second album from this French band.

I really like their first album. A weird, dark album somewhere in the landscape between King Crimson, Anglagard and Ange. They have continued on the same path on this album too. Although a bit darker, though. I would also therefore add influences from the likes of Present and Magma on this album. The mood is very dark on this album. Thork is the dark cousins of Ange and other French symph/eclectic prog bands.

This makes this album a pretty dark listening experience. It is also an album full of interesting details. That makes this album a very rewarding listen over several sessions. I like their dark brooding French vocals. I like their use of vintage symph prog instruments. I like their theatrical symphonic prog sound. That makes this a great album in my estimations. I really like this band and values their three albums. I hope they reforms and continues on this same path. They are needed in this scene.

4 points

Apryl - Alorconfusa (2002)

The second album from this Italian prog band. I cannot remember if I have ever heard their first album.

Apryl is a band full of ideas on this album. A lot of ideas in the borderland between art rock, Italian symphonic prog, eclectic prog and more ambient post rock. The four ten minutes long composition here takes the listener on long journeys. Variations is the key here.

Variations but not quality. The four compositions is disjointed with some Italian vocals almost added as an afterthought. Good vocals though. This album though is a pretty frustrating listening experience. I want to love it, but I cannot. The quality is not there. What a shame. Nevertheless, this is a decent album from a band now disbanded.

2 points

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Arabesque - Beyond the Veil (1994)

The debut album and the first of two albums from this Dutch prog metal band. A band lead by the guitarist Joop Wolters.

The result is instrumental electric guitar-god dominated metal. No vocals. Just Joop's guitars, helped out by some bass, keyboards and drums. Just like numerous other guitar-god albums.

The result is a pretty decent album with some OK melodies and riffs. The guitars are in the foreground and the main reason for this album. Joop is a good guitarist and gets the best out of his trade on this sometimes jazz infused prog metal album. Decent is the word and dull is what this album is. Hence my verdict. Those who likes guitar solos following guitar harmonies following guitar solos will find an album to their liking here.
The rest of you........

2 points

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Custodian. The - Necessary Wasted Time (2013)

The debut album from this new English band, released through Laser's Edge. Also heavy backed by the same company with promo copies sent to, amongst others, this blog too.

Heavy promoted with good reasons. The Custodian is run by Richard Thomsen from the prog band Xerath. Which does not tell me anything. The stated intent of trying to create a fusion of the best of the 1970s prog on this album does tell me a lot though. Hence the band name, I guess. A fitting band name too.

What meets the listener is a wall of sound which first reminded me about the first King's X albums. And that band and their great albums is my main reference here. I really like the first King's X albums, btw. So that is a compliment. The difference is that The Custodian is not as hard edged as their US brethren. Their sound is much more based on the 1970s psychedelic rock sound. The Custodian also use a lot of Hammond organs too. That and airy electric guitars. The guitars is not chugging as in metal riffs. They are much more airy and flowing. The same goes for the vocals. This reminds me a lot about Porcupine Tree on their most melodic. And yes, there is a lot of Steven Wilson & co here. Fans of his projects will lap up this album. Ditto for the many Rush fans out there. The Custodian owes Rush a great deal.

Most of all; this album sounds as fresh as fresh fruits and vegetables. The sound is in short brilliant. The songs are not superb though. This album is missing a killer track or two. But this is still a great album and agree with their record label's beliefs in this band. This is truly a remarkable debut album which I am sure will raise a lot of eyebrows. It has certainly given me a big smile during the last two weeks. Come summer, come The Custodian.

4.5 points

Toccata - Circe (2005)

The debut and only album so far from this Argentine band.

The band and album was sold to me as symphonic prog. With this band name reference to ELP, that is what I thought I got too. I was not pleased when I found just another Dream Theater copycat. Although with female vocals. The music is somewhere between prog metal and neo prog with some symph metal thrown in too. ELP ? I cannot find much of them here. If any.

The guitars and the keyboards is pretty much following the traditional formula. The drums and bass patterns is like listening to Dream Theater. The female vocals is not particular good. Neither is the songs which I feel is pretty tiresome. Decent music it is. But nothing more. This is not really for me, I am afraid. Decent, but also a very dull album.

2 points

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Ange - À Propos de... (1982)

The ninth studio album from these French masters of symphonic prog.

Although symph prog is not what we get here. À Propos de... is an album of old French songs given a disco/1980s pop sound. The idea is horrible. What comes out of the speakers is indeed horrible too. A truly awful destruction of some, surely, great songs. I have no idea why Ange went on this rampage through them. The sound is horrible. The music is horrible. This is a horrible album.

Enough said. Don't pass me the camembert.

1 point

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Pi2 - The Endless Journey (2005)

The third album from this Spanish supergroup. A so far spectacular underwhelming Spanish supergroup.

Their first two albums did not really do anything for me. Pi2 delivers a mix of commercial AOR and symph prog/fusion on The Endless Journey. I should had already seen the warning signs when I looked at the incredible cheap and tacky cover artwork. The artwork serves more like a warning than a buy-this-album invitation. The album starts off with some vocals rich AOR/neo prog in the US style. Very tacky and very bad. Cringeworthy is the word here where the vocals intertwines with some 1980s sounding synths and guitars. OK, some melody lines are pretty good though and the album improves a lot after we are getting the AOR stuff left behind us.

The final half of this hour long album is occupied by the twenty-five minutes long title track. A track which is a mix of symph prog and fusion. It is also dominated by keyboards. Spanish folk music also makes a guest appearance here. Besides of that, this track serves more like a cure against insomnia than anything else.

In short; this is album has some good melody lines inbetween some underwhelming and cringeworthy material. It is not worthy our attention though. Avoid.

2 points

Erlkoenig - Erlkoenig (1973)

A flash in the pan album from a German krautrock band who came, released this album and then vanished without a trace.

Which is a pity because this band had something really something going with this album. Krautrock is what they did. Krautrock with a lot of symphonic prog influences too. That and some space rock, folk rock and jazz. The music here is truly eclectic. You never knows what's around the corner on this album.

The music is being performed with a lot of Hammond organs, vocals, some guitars, bass and drums. The vocals is very good.

The music is very good throughout. It is almost impossible to describe though as it is full of oddities and strange surprises. It is one of those albums you have to hear to believe. Get it if you can.

3.5 points

Comedy Of Errors - Fanfare & Fantasy (2013)


Despite of living in the same area as this Glaswegian band comes from, I have never really rated this band. I never really fell for their 2011 Disobey either. Their self titled 1988 debut album is best forgotten. It has also taken me a lot of time to get into Fanfare & Fantasy too. Perhaps far too much time.

We are knee deep in neo prog here. Neo prog from the 1980s. They are veterans from the scene, following in the wake of the likes of Pallas and other Scottish neo prog bands. They were mainly opening for those bands back in the 1980s. Then life happened, the band members had to sort out their respective lives. Which they did. Then they found out that they had unfinished business and the band reformed again. I guess this is what happened. That explains the rather not so great Disobey and this album. A far better album.

Comparing Disobey with Fanfare & Fantasy; the sound is the same. The songs on Fanfare & Fantasy is far better though and I get the feeling the band is now up to full steam. Probably more so now than in the 1980s. Style wise, they sounds like a mix of Pendragon and Genesis. Melodic, symphonic neo prog in other words. I like their keyboards and guitars interplays. Great stuff. Ditto for the songs here. I am still not comfortable with thin, light vocals like Joe Cairney's vocals. That is a personal preference though. His vocals cannot be faulted though.

I am not a big fan of classic 1980s neo prog. This music is like symphonic prog without the brains. But Fanfare & Fantasy is one of the few albums I really like from that scene. Hence my weak, weak great award.

4 points

Magma - Inedits (1977)

As a Magma fan, I still agree that not everything Magma has released is good/great/superb.

This live album, offically their second live album, contains live recordings from 1972 to 1975. The collection of the tracks here concentrates more on the jazzy side of the band than the full frontal attack zeuhl I so much love them for. Which is fine enough if it not had been for the bootleg sound quality. That ruins most of this album in my view.

The music itself is decent and I still find some joy in this live album. But I think I will let this album gather dust and rather concentrate on the many other Magma albums instead. This is not a recommended Magma album.

2 points

Happy The Man - Crafty Hands (1978)

The second album from this US band. A band who sounds like noone else. That said, they sounds like Oblivion Sun, the new US band whose includes most of the Happy The Man members.

Crafty Hands is very much down the unique music and sound path. The band and this album sounds like a mix of Yes, Gentle Giant and Genesis. Most of the music here is instrumental. Instrumental as in a mix of symphonic prog, eclectic prog and fusion. Long, lingering melody lines which also taking a lot from new age. Then the band fires of an pretty commercial AOR like track with vocals and a conventional radio friendly sound before the band retreat into themselves with a couple of closing eclectic symphonic prog tracks.

Very strange. Very strange. Very strange.

...And not so easy to review or even form, let alone express an opinion on. Happy The Man was a truly original band. One of a kind.

I do like this album a lot though. The instrumentals, that is. The AOR interlude falls a bit flat on it's face. The rest of the album is good. Do I understand this album ? Not really. But I still find it good and I find this band a bit of a mystery. But I like them.

3 points

Gong - Zero To Infinity (2000)

The nineteenth Gong album and a return to the classic lineup. Well, neither Steve Hillage and the electric guitar solos is present. But Didier Malherbe does the saxes, Daevid Allen the male vocals and Gilli Smyth the female vocals. Theo Travis is also involved. Good news, then.

The music is a bit of a mix between the jazzy Pierre Moerlen's Gong and the more whimsical Daevid Allen's Gong. Between trippy jazz, whimsical children rhymes, avant garde jazz and some funk. The funky Magdalene is a great opener. Gilli Smyth does the trippy jazzed out The Invisible Temple. An eleven minutes duet between her and a saxophone. A great song and the best on this album. The rest of the album is a mix of the cringeworthy bad Yoni On Mars and some rather good stuff.

In short; this is an album with one great song, some good songs and a couple of hideous bad songs. This is a good album and another reason why this band is never really boring. Just a bit frustrating.

3 points

Lobate Scarp - Time And Space (2012)

The debut album from this new US band. It is being lead by the vocalist and keyboardist Adam Sears. Over fifty musicians (!!)were involved in this album.

Adam Sears is thinking big with this album and the sound is indeed both bold and big. Music wise, we are somewhere in US symph prog land. That and with some prog metal influences. The songs are pretty long. The title track is clocking in at over fifteen minutes. The music though is pretty melodic. Sometimes, the cliches geiger teller hits a dangerous high level.

The music is being delivered by a mix of electric guitars and keyboards. That and a lot of orchestral instruments. The vocals is great. Ditto for the rest.

The title track is great and showcases some great melody making abilities. Unfortunate, the rest of the album is not in the same class. There is no doubts that Adam Sears is a great talent and that he should continue down the same track. This is a very good album. I am in no doubts it will be regarded as a superb album by most others though. I am though missing some more great tracks before I would go that far. Nevertheless....

3.5 points

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Kadaver - Abra Kadaver (2013)

The second album from this German band and a follow up to last year's self titled debut album.

The album title gives associations to Black Sabbath and that is where we can find the roots of their music too. Space rock based stoner rock. Perhaps more stoner than space rock. The band still lives in 1972, sounnd and music wise. The music is as retro at it can be.

The end result is a good album with plenty of style and attitude. The sound is both dirty and heavy. Fans of old heavy metal and hard rock will really like this album.... a lot. This retro hard rock scene is a popular scene, popular among three generations. Family friendly music, in other words. That is what this album is. A heavy, noisy album with good songs. I give it my two thumbs up.

3 points

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Electric Light Orchestra - Out Of The Blue (1977)

Their seventh album and a double LP. Seventy minutes long, it is a single CD. Good value for money, in other words.

Electric Light Orchestra continues on from the previous year's album A New World Record. That means The Beatles with some strings and a more elaborate pop sound. I fully understand why Jeff Lynne has played with Ringo, Sir Paul and George after listening to this album. This is by all intents a pop album.

I have to admit I got a weak spot for Electric Light Orchestra and their music. Just as I have got a weak spot for The Beatles. My patience with Electric Light Orchestra is wearing a bit thin after listening to this album though. It is by all means ticking over nicely and I have got more into it during the last listening sessions. The music is by no means great. The music is pretty light hearted and airy. The sound is as only Electric Light Orchestra could make it. Unique, in other words. Refreshing too. Which is what saves this album in my view. But seventy minutes is too much and too many songs here are just decent and nothing more. The only thing I remember from this album is the sound. The songs are dull, to say at least. Hence my verdict. Love the sound; not the songs.

2.5 points

Man - Greasy Truckers Party (1997)

Two tracks, the two Man tracks, lifted from the triple album from the same legendary 1972 gig. A triple album which also included, amongst others, Hawkwind.

This album is merely half an hour long. The first track Spunk Rock occupies twenty-one minutes of this album. The other track Angel Easy occupies six minutes.

Spunk Rock is an overlong space rock/blues rock which neatly sums up both this scene and Man. Excess all areas. This is not a bad track at all. It starts with a wimper and closes pretty strongly. Cut the first seven minutes and this track would had been a good track.
Angel Easy is a much more structured track. Still not a good track, but still not too bad.

In short; this is not a release for me and I wish I had got the triple album instead.

2 points

Setna - Guérison (2013)

The second album from this much critically acclaimed French zeuhl band.

Although zeuhl in the sense of an all out Magma type attack may be a bit of a misleading label. Setna invites us into a much more ethereal jazz landscape on this album. The main instruments are Rhodes keyboards, percussion, bass, guitar and a voice which works as an instrument. The music is pretty laid back. Laid back, but never really uninteresting or irrelevant. There are a lot of interesting details on this album. So much that it really intrigues me.

In this respect, the music reminds me a lot about zeuhl. As a fan on of that genre and not entirely converted into jazz yet, I find a great album in this album. OK, not everything here is great. But enough for me to label it a great album. An album that continues to give and give over many listening sessions. I recommend this album.

4 points 

Monday, 6 May 2013

Montibus Communitas - Alive (2012)

Hmm.... A live album from this krautrock band from Peru.

Yes, krautrock has a lot of fans and bands on all continents. Montibus Communitas is one of the bands in the new wave of krautrock. On this live album, they reminds me a lot about Amon Duul. Not the second and best incarnation of Amon Duul. I am referring to the first Amon Duul. Long space jams with a rather poor sound quality.

What Montibus Communitas has though is some good ideas. There is no doubts that Montibus Communitas is a great band. All this is disappearing in the bad sound quality on this album. I would rather go for one of their studio albums than this live album. A live album streamed on their Bandcamp site and it is also for sale there as a name your price album. Free in other words. I will check out their studio albums though.

The band and the ideas are good. The bad sound quality is a let down.

2 points

The album

Gong - Live etc (1977)

The first live album from this band I am pretty undecided about. The problem with Gong is that they are two bands. The Daevid Allen version and the Pierre Moerlin version. I like the Moerlin version far better than the Allen version. Or do I ? I am undecided. Gong is a bit of a mystery to me.

This double album is said to be a mishmash of various live recordings. It is basically two sets where Daevid Allen and his drugged out cups of tea and gnomes dominates. The final half is much more spaced out jams.

....Strangely enough, I have come to like Daevid Allen's tea pots as much as I like the more Steve Hillage dominated space jams here. And I am an avid admirer of Steve Hillage. OK, Daevid Allen falls well into the downright silly category several times during this album. Cringeworthy so. But his tea pots and gnomes really flies and I find myself enjoying this a lot. The best track on this album though is the superb space jam Isle Of Everywhere.

My major gripe about this live album though is that it feels a bit fragmented. That aside, this is a very good live album I really enjoy. I also have some other Gong live albums and will give them some spins later. Gong is still a bit of a mystery to me though. Nevertheless, I feel I am about to crack this nut.

3.5 points

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Drama - Una Segunda Opurtunidad (2013)

The second album from this neo prog band from Uruguay.

Their first album Inspiracion from 2002 did not set the world alight. Their Genesis/Marillion take on neo prog did not really win them many fans in Europe. They have now changed style a bit on this, their second oppurtunity. That is what I believe is the English translation of their album title. Gone is Marillion and in comes a much more ethnic pop/rock sound with some AOR included too.

The vocals are still in Spanish and those are great. The best about the whole album. The music is pretty generic and does not hit me at home, I am afraid. It is far too commercial minded and focused on their local market to hit me at my home here in frosty Scotland. The quality is also not there either. The music is pretty dull. Competent delivered and with some gutso, yes. Still dull, though. This is a decent album and nothing more than that.

2 points

Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979)

One of the true legendary albums, some may call it monsters, in the history of popular music. An album still being toured by Roger Waters to this day and next year (new tour). An album with a massive reputation. So massive it is difficult to relate to the music on it. Nevertheless, I will give it a try.

The Wall is Roger Waters taking over the band and is omitting the other three members in his quest to give us an album with a message. Message with capital letters. This is Roger Waters world and album. His message.

The end result is an album which musically does not live up to the reputation this album has got. Musically, it has some really dull moments. Turkeys, no less. It also has some great songs too. Comfortably Numb is the best one although the many live versions is far better than this version of this great song. Goodbye Cruel World, Run Like Hell and Another Brick In The Wall # 2 is also great. The latter one a surprise hit single. The rest is not up to the usual Pink Floyd standards set on albums like Dark Side Of The Moon etc etc. The Wall is a pretty disjointed effort which does not really sits with me that well. It is still a good album though. I have to admit that I will not play it that often though. I also have to admit that I am disappointed with this album whose reputation is far bigger than the album itself. Sorry, but this is not my cup of tea.

3 points

Emerson Lake & Palmer - Live In Poland (2001)

One of the numerous ELP live albums.

The problem with all ELP live albums is that they all pales into insignificance compared to their Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends masterpiece from 1974. A live album almost as good as the best live album of them all; Purple's Made In Japan.

Live In Poland is not a bad live album though. ELP takes us through most the old songs here. It starts with Karn Evil 9 so Greg Lake can utter the famous words "welcome to the show". The rest of the album takes us through a pretty good list of mildly sedated classics. There is no real explosions and life here. Greg Lake's voice is not as good as it once was, mostly serving as a warning against doing cocaine. The two medleys at the end is not particular interesting either.

This is by all means a good live album by all standards. It does not really comes to life and although it is nice to hear their good old songs, I am pretty underwhelmed by this album. I liked them better in the 1970s.

3 points

Zylver - Van Verre (2013)

I believe this is the debut album from this Dutch artist. Or maybe I am wrong.

Albums like this sometimes lands on my lap and I am supposed to have an opinion about it. Van Verre, which was sold to me as a neo prog album, is the type of albums which has made me turn away from the pop/rock genre. Zylver does what he/they can to appeal to the mass market, to the women buyers. I don't understand much of the Dutch language. The lyrics is in Dutch language and it is delivered in a passionate tone. Que the melting of female hearts. It is worse than the melting of the glaciers in Antarctica. Well, it is supposed to be that.

The music is not terrible. It is competent delivered and there is a huge market for it there. This may be a hit album too and I have heard far worse hit albums than this album. So I wish Zylver good luck. The music is though as dull as watching paint dry, coming from an angle of wanting exciting and untraditional music. Hence my verdict. Don't buy this album if you are into the likes of Magma and Soft Machine.

2 points

Saga - House Of Cards (2001)

Their fourteenth album or so.

Their preceding thirteen albums was a mixed bag to say at least. Rivers deep; mountains high is the best description, to borrow the title from the Ike & Tina Turner classic. Saga obviously took stock as most of us did when the church bells chimed in the new millenium. The result is back to their sound from their first albums. The typical Saga sound. That is what we get here. Saga.

The quality of the songs are good throughout. They have dropped the ball on a couple of cringeworthy songs. That aside, the sound is great and I have a lot of affections from this band. The band that was my door into progressive rock. So this is a good album in my ears..... and just that. Recommended to the fans of the original Saga sound.

3 points

Marbin - Last Chapter Of Dreaming (2013)

The third album from this Israeli fusion band.

Marbin's second album Breaking The Cycle from 2011 (I have yet to sample their first album) was a pretty untraditional album with a lot of Israeli folk music fused into their brand of fusion. The band very much continues on the same path on Last Chapter Of Dreaming.

I am not so sure if the music here can be labelled fusion at all. It is either jazz or crossover music. The crossover is between folk music and jazz. There is a lot of folky tunes here, given a bit of a jazzy overhaul. The music also has a lot of Mexican tijuana feel over it too. The music is performed with guitars, saxophones, bass, keyboards and drums. The music is instrumental.

The music here is by no means exciting and I feel the band has taken a very easy-way-out route on this album. The music is also pretty light on technical details. It feels like it is a jazz-lite album. The longviety of this album is short, I fear.

I still think this is a good album. The melodies are good. But it has it's limitations and the band has not fulfilled my expectations with this album.

3 points

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Churn Milk Joan - 8 Black Postcards (2013)

Churn Milk Joan is a two man band consisting of Richard Knutson and Colin Robinson. It is a side project of Big Block 454. Well, that is probably unfair towards the much travelled and highly experienced Richard Knutson as he is not involved in Big Block 454. Anyway; USA meets Yorkshire. The result is Germany.

...or krautrock to be precise. 8 Black Postcards is the third album from this highly productive band who has just released their fourth album. I will catch up with that album later.

This duo named Churn Milk Joan makes surprisingly lush krautrock with some Depeche Mode and avant-garde influences. Yes, their studio is good and you can make a lot of noise with a good studio. The sound is really superb and professional. This is not a garage product. The music on 8 Black Postcards is krautrock in the Can and Faust vein...... I have been told. I know Can, but not Faust. Anyway, the two distinguished gentlemen is using a lot of guitars, voices, drums, bass and sound effects to churn out their music. Some rather confined, claustrophobic music. Rather lush too. I gladly admit this is not an area I am familiar with. But I find the music rather good and I like what I hear. The music is streamed from the link enclosed so check it out yourself. You will not regret it.

3 points

Their Bandcamp page

Ptf - Percept from...(2013)

The debut album from this Japanese band.

We are back in instrumental symph prog land again. Although with a twist, though. Symph prog is perhaps the wrong genre to lump this band into. Their music has more in common with Mahavishnu Orchestra's fusion than with the likes of Camel and Genesis. So let's drag Ptf out of the symph prog genre and put them where they really belong; in the fusion genre.

The music is dominated by violins. It is supported by keyboards, bass and drums. The violin is though dominant. It reminds me a lot about what Jean-Luc Ponty did on the two Mahavishnu Orchestra albums he did. In particular on Visions of the Emerald Beyond. Ptf's rhythm section is also really good and I also very much enjoy the piano here.

The music is also very passionate and gypsy like at times. There is a lot of thumping pulse on this album. There are also some reflective pieces which takes the tempo down a couple of notches.

The end result is a very good instrumental fusion album which sometimes also wanders into symphonic prog. An album which should give this band a lot of new fans also outside Japan. They are doing a lot of gigs in Japan and those who lives there should check them out. Get this very good album from Amazon or thereabouts.

3.5 points


Hostsonaten - Winterthrough (2008)

Fabio Zuffanti's Hostsonaten runs through the four seasons with this album dedicated the winter.

Hostsonaten is named after a famous Ingmar Bergman movie. The music is a fusion of all kinds of European symphonic prog. From the cold wastelands of Sweden to the lush Sicily. You find it all on this album.

This is an instrumental album. The music is in the epic symphonic prog genre with long and lingering guitar and keyboards solos. The music is not particular technical. Building up an ambience and mood is the main focus of this album. Which sometimes, make that most times, makes up for a pretty boring listening session. Not in this case though. The main theme is great and it is supported by some smaller themes too. There are even some fusion on this album too and that livens things up a lot.

This is a great instrumental symph prog album and one I highly recommend. If you want to relax and to find out what this sub genre of prog rock sounds like; this is a good album for you. Recommended.

4 points

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Gentle Giant - Free Hand (1975)

Once in a blue moon, I discover albums from the past which knocks me out of my stride. Well, these moments are now once a month as I am giving priority to albums I hope will be great. Sometimes, they are.

Gentle Giant is one of those bands which really clicks with me. I love their mix of baroque classic music and prog rock. I live their eclectic sound and music. I love their vocals. I am a fan of this band. In particular; after listening to this album.

Free Hand is their seventh album and it is more or less their trademark. The music on this album, that is. If you want to know what this band is all about; this is the album to get before you explore the rest of their albums. Their music is truly eclectic with a basis in baroque, chamber rock. Into that, they have added symphonic prog rock, jazz and folk music. The result is both melodic and weird. Gentle Giant and King Crimson is the creators of eclectic prog and that shows on this album.

The best song here by far is the brilliant His Last Voyage with the haunting vocal harmonies. The title track ant the rest of this album is brilliant too. There is nothing I would mark down on this album. Nothing at all. It is a true classic album and one I am now very fond off.

5 points