Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Medina Azahara - Donde Esta la Luz (1993)

The seventh album from this Spanish rock combo. One of the biggest selling Spanish bands of all time and a band who started out as a prog rock band.

The band had long time ago cast off their prog rock credential and entered the rock sphere. On Donde Esta la Luz, we get forty five minutes with powerful and emotionally charged Spanish rock with great Spanish vocals. I shudder to think how the music had been with English vocals. It would had been like fish with feathers and totally out of place. The music actually works very well as it is.

The music is not particular good when truth is told. OK, it is good rock music and works well as an exotic experience for an Anglofied middle aged sad man like myself. The music is riddled with typical heavy metal cliches like for example football terraces chants and choruses. It makes me cringe. Besides of that, this is a decent album and well worth checking out if all above sounds tempting.

2 points

Return To Forever - Return To Forever (1972)

The debut album from this fabulous fusion/jazz band. Their Romantic Warrior band really opened my eyes for fusion and is on my top 5 list of my favourite albums.

They started out with this album though. I am a relative newbie in the jazz world and only recognize Stanley Clarke and the maestro himself; Chick Corea from this line up here. Both of them is pretty much leading lights on this album. An album which is far more Spanish and Latin America dominated than my only reference source when it comes to this band; my beloved Romantic Warrior album. There are even some vocals here on this rather laid back and relaxing album. Too laid back in my view. Some of the music could had been included in TV commercials too as they feel a bit banal and easy listening.

I don' t really get the great feeling for this album. It is a good album though and it is well worth checking out. I am not a fan of this album though.

3 points 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Forward Shapes - Legacy (2012)

The debut album from this internet band where the two song writers and main men Brian Andrews and Andrei Kryssov is based in USA and is getting help from the rest of the world in the form of female vocals, drums and bass on files sent forwards and backwards on the net. One of many other bands like this.

The end result is a female vocals fronted album in the same vein as Touchstones, Panic Room and other English bands in this genre. Alison Vance's vocals are pretty good. Her vocals reminds me about Annike in The Gathering. Not particular great and not particular bad. Not exactly in the standard bearer Annie Haslam's class either.

The music is pretty much in the English female fronted crossover prog vein. A mix of commercial ballads and some rather heavier stuff. Holding On is the power ballad here and the best song. Light up the lighters and sing along. Well, this band is not playing any gigs so forget that. Turn the lighter on in your living room while you are trying not to burn down the house and the village. Sugar sweet, this song is.
The rest of the album is pretty good too and this is a solid debut album. It is not a particular impressive album though. Better songs next time, guys.

3 points

Gramigna - Gran Disordine Sotto Il Cielo (1977)

One of the many one albums wonders Italian bands. A band nobody knows much about. They define the term "obscure".

We are still deep into Italian prog here. Though, this band from Northern Italy has taken a lot of their style and sound from the Canterbury, chamber rock, RIO and theater music scenes. What made me purchase this album was the references to one of my alltime favourite bands; Picchio Dal Pozzo. There are some references here to that band. They are rather faint, though. Henry Cow and Arti E Mestieri is much more relevant references.

The band uses female vocals, a lot of woodwinds, violin and acoustic guitars in their sound. This gives their sound a chamber rock feel. It also gives the band a bit folk pop sound. Their sound is light and flowery. It is also very elegant at times. I would not really lump them into this RIO genre as I see other blogs are doing. This band's sound and music is far too commercial and light to be compared to the likes of Univers Zero and Aranis.

The songs are on average good. There is no great songs here. The sound too is good. The problem with this album and the band is that they were not enough commercial to appeal to the mass market and too light to really appeal to the more avant-garde market. This album falls through the cracks and it will perhaps not get any significant audience. I will probably not remember it either in some weeks time. It is still a good album.

3 points

Who. The - Live At Leeds (1970)

One of the most revered live albums of all.

I am reviewing this album some days after I heard Pete Townsend confess that he cannot stand Led Zeppelin. Strange way to start a review, you may think. I have friends who are fans of The Who (= the reason for the recent spate of The Who reviews in this blog). They don't rate Led Zeppelin at all. I am a Led Zeppelin fan. They are in my view the best rock band ever, The Beatles being the best ever pop band and the best band ever. The Who.... ? I have to admit I don't rate them that much. I like Tommy which is a great album and rock opera. Probably the best ever rock opera.

Live At Leeds though is their hard rock stuff recorded live on a tour to Yorkshire. The other gig on that tour, the Hull one, has recently also been released.

Why don't I rate this album and The Who ? It comes down to philosophies. I am much more prog, folk and jazz orientated than rock orientated. Rock as in the folk hall and holiday parks tradition The Who comes from bores me stiff. I want art. The Who is not art in my view on the material here. I like the stuff from Tommy on this album. Most of their classics leaves me underwhelmed. My Generation, Substitute.... I don't rate them. I like Happy Jack a lot, though.

Live At Leeds is a good live album though where the band rumbles on. It is many ways an essential live album. But....... it still leaves me a bit underwhelmed. Give me Led Zeppelin any day, any year.

3 points

Arachnoid - Arachnoid (1979)

Another French one album only band. The album was re-released on CD together with some (pretty dire) bonus material by Musea some years ago.

We are in French theatrical symphonic prog land here. Ange springs to mind. So does the RIO band Univers Zero too. Not to mention Goblin too. The music on this album is keyboards driven cinematic symphonic prog. The vocals is in the Christian Deschamps mould. Most of the music is in the cinematic music mould. The music Goblin has made their own.

The music is keyboards dominated with some sparse use of guitars too in addition to flutes and (French) vocals. That and the usual bass and drums. The mood and sound is darkened and down-tuned. So much that this is a melancholic album.

The sound quality on the CD bonus material is pretty dire and has been disregarded in this review. The sound quality on the original album is not the best either. Just so I have said that.
The quality of the songs are decent to good. I have to admit the quality of the material here is far short of other albums in this genre. I did expect better from this album, based on it's good reputation. It is a decent to good album though. Hence my verdict below.

2.5 points 

Arcadelt - Enjoy (1996)

The first of two album from this Italian neo prog band. The second album, released in 2010, is an abridged version of this album for the Japanese market.

Enjoy is an unashamed neo prog album in the good old English neo prog tradition. Pendragon is a good reference. So is Haze and Pallas too. The music is slightly symphonic too. The music is performed with the typical keyboards, guitars, drums, bass and male vocals setup. The typical neo prog setup, in other words. Some very Peter Gabriel like theatrical vocals are also included on this album. Not that they makes this album any better.

There are some good ideas here. The opening track Flight On A Marzipan Throne makes me believe I am in for a good to great album. Hopes soon dashed. The rest of the album is decent enough. My main gripe is the lack of any great tracks here and that the music offered up here is generic neo prog without much personality or even own identity.

I am afraid this album will only appeal to the neo prog fans out there. It is a decent enough album though from a band still alive. See link below.

2 points


Incredible String Band. The - The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion (1967)

The second album from this Scottish folk rock combo.

This band introduced two Indian instruments to their sound on this music; sitar and tabla drums. They even had an Indian musician playing them. The colourful cover art work promises a spaced out folk music experience.

That cover is grossly misleading. I was most certainly mislead. What we get here is traditional male vocals & acoustic guitars dominated folk music with the occasional Indian flavour added by sitar and tabla drums. The majority of  the songs is just male vocals and acoustic guitar. Occasionally helped with harmonica and some male and female vocals choir. That's it.

There are no good songs here. The only pleasure I get from this album is the colourful cover artwork and the sitar. The music is decent though and I am not complaining too much about this decent album. I am not converted into a fan of  this band from my local area though.

2 points

Cartoon - Estribo (2008)

The third album from this Brazil band. I think I got their second album somewhere in my collection too. But I am starting with this album.

The band states that they do not take themselves and the music too seriously. I would rather say that they are very playful in their creation of this album. An album who takes us from The Beatles via Triumvirat and various US arena rock bands to Faith No More. This is a very lively album who also has a lot of dept and soul too. In particular after several listening sessions.

Despite of not really having any great tracks, this is still a fun album which gives a lot. I think this band is also far better live than on record. Their music is though not my style though. This is still a good album though.

3 points

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Fright Pig - Out Of The Barnyard (2013)

The debut album from this US band.

The band is using pork and pigs as a marketing ploy (but probably not in the Middle-East). That says something. The music too is as complicated as a pig, one of the  most intelligent animals around. It is also a very complex animal. Ditto for this album.

I think it is fair to start my attempts to describe their music with claiming that the band had great fun with coming up with this album. They will probably have great fun with reading the reviewers feeble attempts in reviewing this album too. My own review included. Here it goes.....

Out Of The Barnyard is a very playful album with a lot of changing moods and themes. From 1980s AOR and hair metal to long Emerson, Lake & Palmer like passages. That and a lot of power metal and baroque chamber classical music too. This album is in many ways like Yngwie Malmsteen with a quarter of his ego and five times his IQ.

In essence; this is an American album who boldly says we do whatever we likes. Out Of The Barnyard is genre crossing and barriers defining album where even bluegrass has found some space. An album which will be lapped up by the metalheads as well as the progheads. Both communities will scratch their heads.

There are no great songs here. But the band creates a lot of fun and noise with their guitars, keyboards, male vocals, bass and drums. This is a very good album though and should give the band enough interest for them to survive in a very tough market.

3.5 points

Artcane - Odyssee (1977)

A one album band from France.

Nothing is known about this band. They came, they released this album and they disappeared again without a trace. Listening to this album, I am not surprised. Commercially viable and accessible, it is not.

The sound is good on  this album which is performed by guitars, bass, drums, tonnes of keyboards and some vocals.

Obvious references on this forty minutes long album is King Crimson, Eloy and Magma. Very eclectic in other words. The whole philosophy seems to be taken from King Crimson at their most eclectic. Unfortunate, that does not include writing great songs. There is none on this album. The music is still at times very interesting and other times not that interesting.

This is by all means a good album which has it's good tracks like the title track. Unfortunate, the album tails of at the end and becomes pretty dull. It is streamed at Youtube so check it out there.

3 points

Alhma Mater - Nova Era (2011)

The second album from this Basque region in Spain progressive metal combo.

I very much liked their first album Heuristica which they spawned in 2009. Since then, my interest in progressive metal has vanished.

The main instrument on this album is guitars. Both electric, half acoustic, Spanish guitar and acoustic guitars. The guitars is being supported by keyboards, bass and drums. This is the traditional progressive metal setup. So much used and tried. So much I am fed up with. 

The band sings in Spanish and the sound is pretty dark on this album which contains pretty standard progressive metal. Progressive metal with a lot of Basque flavour. That sets this band apart from the numerous other Dream Theater clones around. That makes me more interested in them than in most other Dream Theater clones.

It is therefore a bit unfortunate that the songs are not that good. That is my main and overriding gripe about this album. A free download album from the link below (together with the debut album). It is a recommended download despite of my rather restrained use of positives.

2.5 points

Alhma Mater download page

Goblin - Suspiria (1977)

Their fourth album under the Goblin name (and fifth when the Cherry Five album is included).

Most of Goblin's music, if not all of it, was movie soundtracks. This album is no exception, I believe. The fusion on this album sounds very much like a movie theme. It is elegant and performed with lots of bass, drums and keyboards. The sound is machine like and is what we can expect from a movie soundtrack.

This makes Suspiria a decent album. My main gripes is the slickness and soulless production and music. My other gripe is the lack of any great tracks here. The music does not really resonates with me at all. Hence my lack of enthusiasm for this album.

2 points

Di Meola. Al - Land Of The Midnight Sun (1976)

Al Di Meola came to my knowledge thirty years ago, but I did not really hear a tone from him before I got Return To Forever's masterpiece Romantic Warrior where he was the guitarist. His guitars on that album is incredible. At the same year, he recorded and released this, his debut album too. I am not surprised that it more or less runs along the same line too.

We are in guitars dominated fusion here. Land Of The Midnight Sun is very much a showcase of this immense talents as a guitarist. That means long and intricate guitar solos. But it is also good fusion with a lot of Spanish flavours. As I understand it, this was to become his trademark.

There is no real great songs here. Nevertheless, I really like what I hear and have purchased more albums from him. This is a good album.

3 points

Tugs - Europa Minor (2013)

Another Italian band from the 1970/80s who never manage to release an album before the 2010s. This is their debut album and it is a concept album about the history of Europe, Napoleon and all that.

The music is performed by guitars, various keyboards and piano, drums, bass, mandolin and flutes. That gives this a very organic, folky sound.  The sound is the usual lush and symph folk rock dominated RPI sound, much helped by the lush male Italian vocals. The material for this album was written in the 1970s too so that is no surprise. Their sound reminds me a lot about Banco's sound. Which is a very good thing.

The quality of the material is very good throughout. Fans of the RPI should not for a second hesitate in getting this album. They may find one of their all times favourite post 1970s albums in Europa Minor. I would not really go that far. My main gripe is the lack of any really great songs here. By all means, this album is giving me a happy grin. But really nothing more than that. I really like this album and recommends it.

3.5 points

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Sound Of Contact - Dimensionaut (2013)

So, this is the debut album from the singing and drums playing son of Phil Collins. I am almost tempted to quote the title of one of Phil's most known songs. But I believe he would be proud of what his son Simon Collins has done on this album. The parentage is pretty obvious on this album. I think it is a safe bet that this album has been going on pretty heavy rotation in Phil Collins home.

To get straight to the case; Dimensionaut sounds like the mid-era Genesis. Between the symph prog era and the final Tamla Motown era. The Duke and Acabab era. Add the 1990s Marillion era and some straight rock to the mix and you have this album. Something you would not believe when putting on this album for the first time. The album starts with a Rush riff. Not a riff they have stolen from Rush. But still a Rush sounding riff. And yes, Rush anno the 1990s should be added to the major influences of this album too.

The sound is excellent and contemporary anno 2013. Herein lays my problem with this album and why it has divided the prog rock community into to warring polar fractions. Between those who hates this album and those who loves this album. The sound and music is so full of cliches and soundbytes taken from other bands. The semi-acoustic guitars used as added texture dulls down the music. Ditto for the pling plong synths and the electric guitars. Simon Collins has a great voice and he largely sings like his father without having the Tamla Motown voice. But the generic rock sound is really annoying. Ditto for most of the songs which is a bit on the cheap and generic side of the spectrum. There is a lot of building up great moods here and then sing a long choruses. This album have a soul just like any surgically enhanced human being have a soul. But it is hard to see past the skin, the exterior of this album.

There are some great melody lines and songs here, though. The seventy-four minutes long album offers good value for money. It is such a pity that these seventy-four minutes is so full of overly used cliches and shallow generic material. I still think it is a good album though. But it is not living up to the hype it was sold to me on. It very much dissapoints in this respect and I guess the hype is the downfall of this album.

Nevertheless, this is a good debut album.

3 points

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Elysium Theory - Event Horizon (2013)

The second album from this US band.

We are somewhere in the softer side of Dream Theater land here. A land who does not really have much appeal to me. We get tonnes of guitars, keyboards and vocals here. The sound is a bit sterile. Ditto for the music. The Dream Theater references comes thick and fast. Despite of this, I would not call them a copycat. This album is also leaning pretty heavy on the neo prog sound.

The end result is a very American crossover prog album. An album with no really good songs which really appeals to me. This is still a decent album who sounds like zillion other albums in this overcrowded scene. I am afraid this is not for me.

2 points

Bondage Fruit - Bondage Fruit IV (1999)

The fourth album from this Japanese zeuhl band.

Bondage Fruit started out as a zeuhl band and has evolved from there on from every album onwards. This is the case on this album too. On IV, they now comes across as a blend of King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Add some Japanese jazz and you get this album. The main instruments is electric violin, organ, guitars, bass, vibraphone and drums. That and some vocals.

Very eclectic in other words and it would had been a favourite in my home if they had included some great compositions on this album too. The one and only problem with this album is the lack of any great compositions. When that is said, this is still a very good album which slowly creeps up on the listener. It is well worth checking out.

3.5 points

Friday, 19 July 2013

Lumerians - The High Frontier (2013)

The third album from this US krautrock band.

Lumerians and this album can be found  in the more ambient end of the krautrock rainbow. The songs, or compositions to be more precise, is built around a bass line with keyboards, drums, percussions and some vocals supporting the bass. The synths are spaced out and distorted.

This is by no means my cup of tea. The Hawkwind inspired opening track Dogon Genesis is a great track though and I also find the rest of this forty minutes long album quite agreeable to my ears. This despite of not being on any funny herbal cigarettes. I quite like this album and awards it a good status.

3 points 

Periferia Del Mondo - Nel Regno Dei Ciechi (2013)

Their fourth album.

Periferia Del Mondo is an Italian rock band who loosely can be regarded as a prog rock band. It is not a perfect label on this band though. I would call them rock.

It is not an album it is easy to review. The band is really spreading themselves very thin with deep forays into party rock, blues, fusion and some more art rock pieces. The blues stuff is pretty much run of the mill. The heavy guitars also gives this album a pretty heavy sound. Ditto for the Hammond organs. The vocals are both in English and in Italian.

There is not much good to say about this album though. The fusion stuff is good. Ditto for the six minutes long title track. The rest is not particular good. I am afraid this is nothing but a decent album who tries to please the casual rock fan. It does not please me.

2 points 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Aquarelle - Live In Montreux (1979)

Their live album after releasing their one and only studio (self-titled) album the year before.

This live album is not live versions of their studio album songs. All compositions here are new and not recorded in studio. Which is a bit odd as they were invited to this famous jazz festival (still ongoing, btw) on the strength of their studio album. Anyway, this makes this a much more interesting live album.

The sound is reasonable good. The music is Quebec fusion with some Canterbury influences. A bit quirky in other words. The music is performed with violins, woodwinds, female vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. Yes, there are some female vocals here. This is not a vocals driven album though. They are used as an instrument.

The music is pretty quirky throughout. It is fusion though and pretty melodic. They also sounds a bit like Mahavishnu Orchestra at times. It is a pity that the band gave up after this live album as they were a very good band. Despite of a bit iffy sound, I quite enjoy this good album. If only they had continued.......

3 points

Arpia - Terramare (2006)

The second album from this Italian band.

I quite liked their first album Liberazione from 1995. They played a mix of neo and prog metal back then. They have not changed a lot, eleven years later. They have added a female vocalist to the mix and they have become a lot more prog metal though. That and some infused art rock. The vocals are still in Italian.

The second song Rosa starts well and the first two minutes on that song is the best piece of music on this album. It is actually a very good song. The rest of the album is a mix of theatrical art rock and prog metal. So theatrical that the vocals is pretty dominating on most songs. The sound is very much temporary and very good.

The end result is a good album who I have to admit is not my cup of tea. They kind of reminds me about Flotsam & Jetsam's Quatro album. I award this a weak three pointer.

3 points

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Cocai. I - Piccolo Grande Vecchio Fiume (1977)

I Cocai was one of those Italian one albums and then disappear without a trace bands.

This album is safely residing in the Rock Progressivo Italiano genre. They are very symphonic melodic too. PFM springs to mind when it comes to references. The use of Hammond organs gives the sound a pretty big psychedelic sound too. The band's background is obviously in the beat and psychedelic rock. The guitars are pretty heavy and spacy too with some long solos. The Italian male vocals is great too.

The sound is very good and this album has stood the test of time. Yes, it sounds like the 1970s album it is. It still sounds relevant anno 2013, though.

The lack of a killer track or two is the main problem with this album. Besides of that, this album has plenty of small, intricate details and melody lines to keep it interesting. I really like what I hear on this very good album. It is recommended.

3.5 points 

Caravan - Better by Far (1977)

The seventh album from this Canterbury prog band. One of the best ones in the genre based on their first albums.

The rot has set in and the balance between jazz and pop has been replaced by a mix of Canterbury influenced pop and pretty sloppy sentimental ballads. In 1977, I am not sure which audience they targeted here. Despite of the pretty sloppy ballades of whom there are far too many of here, their roots as a Canterbury prog band shines through. This album is a mix of cringe worthy melodies and some really good stuff. There are really no great songs here and Richard Sinclair's vocals is sorely missed too. Pye Hastings is not a good replacement. The cover art work is also pretty horrendous.

I take some positives out of this album. It is though not an album they should be remembered for. A decent to good award would suffice.

2.5 points

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Asturias - Legend of Gold Wind (2011)

The seventh album from this Japanese band. They released two albums in 2011 and the other one were typical neo-prog if my memory serves me right.

Legend of Gold Wind is nowhere near neo-prog. This is an acoustic album, dominated by flute and guitars. Piano and clarinet is the two other instruments. That says it all. This is what we call chamber rock. The two most known band in this genre is Aranis and Flairck. Asturias very much sounds like a lighter, more upbeat version of those two bands on this album. The flute also sometimes lays a layer of Eastern music on this album. Besides of that, this is very much Flairck territory.

The music sounds a bit chaotic and not particular worked through before putting it on an album. This band still has a long way to go before they reach the heights of Aranis and Flairck. There not many good ideas here. We get an onslaught of chamber rock without much substance. I am afraid this is not for me, this album. It is decent enough, though.

2 points

Dialeto - The Last Tribe (2013)

The third album from this Brazil band and their first on MoonJune Records. I reviewed their second album Chromatic Freedom many, many months ago.

MoonJune's signing of this band raised some eyebrows. Not at least; mine ones. The Last Tribe is though in the MoonJune mould. Instrumental and highly technical music somewhere between prog, jazz, fusion and hard rock.

Dialeto is a guitars-drums-bass power trio. Which sets the sound and music. Pretty intense guitars, thundering bass and textures fills by the drums. That and the sound is great. When the music is the traditional cross road between hard rocking and jazzy instrumentals, that should not be a problem if they do all this on some great melodies. Unfortunate, this is not the case here. Listening to this album is like drinking tea without the tea. Hot water and sugar lumps in other words.

By all means; this is a very good album. The band shows great techniques here. I would though suggest that Dialeto and other bands in this hard rock/jazz crossover genre take a look at what made the first three Mahavishnu Orchestra albums so great.

I would still recommend The Last Tribe to anyone into this genre.

3.5 points 

Bolus - Triangulate (2013)

The fourth and so far the latest album from this Canadian band. It is my first taste of the band too.

The band has been labeled as a neo-prog band on several websites. When it comes to this album, that is a plainly wrong label. They sounds more like Porcupine Tree than anything else. Add some college rock, art rock and heavy prog to the mix and you get the drift. Modern prog in other words.

Keyboards is only sparely used here. Instead of the keyboards, we get a lot of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals are great. The rest of the sound is pretty powerful. Not to mention; youthful and enthusiastic.

The songs are good throughout with no really outstanding tracks. It is ticking over nicely and I like what I hear. Maybe I should check out the rest of their albums.

3 points

Monday, 15 July 2013

Clash. The - Sandinista ! (1980)

A bit of a strange album to write about in this blog. Sandinista was a very strange album indeed and I accidentally bought it in a flea market the same year it was released. Probably put there by a person who thought he/she had bought London Calling # 2 or a punk album. The Clash was indeed a punk band in the beginning. I also thought I had bought London Calling # 2.

Sandinista is a double cassette (as I bought), a double CD and a triple LP. It will be re-released as digitally remastered later this year. Sandinista is not a punk album. It is a rebellious album though. It has a very wide variety of music incorporated. I have never heard any other albums with so much variety on one album. From doo-wop via gospel, reggae, rockabilly, rap, rock and punk to hard rock.

The album is next to impossible to listen too in one listening session. The Clash doing gospel is not what I expect. Sandinista is an all out outrageous album. It shames all the 1970s concept albums and out-excess them. It is simply an album you need to hear to believe.

The shock has abated thirty years after I bought it and I find it a pretty good album. Almost an essential album. And the music is good throughout. But it requires a very, very open mind. I would still recommend it. I will probably purchase the re-mastered version when it released too. Check out the album on Youtube.

3 points   

Dedalus - Dedalus (1973)

The debut album from this Italian band. A band who altogether released four studio albums before they quit. This album is reputed to be the only worthwhile album from them.

This album has often been compared to Soft Machine's Seven album. Hence my purchase of this album. The music on this album is most certainly in the intense jazz category. It is indeed pretty similar to Soft Machine too. Take away Elton Dean's alto sax and Hugh Hopper's fuzz bass from Soft Machine and you will probably end up with this album.

Being much more straight and traditional, this album still throw a punch though. The music is pretty close to avant-garde too. The music is as intense as you can get. It has this devil-may-care attitude I love Soft Machine for. The bass is almost a solo instrument here. It both hammers and floats around in the excellent sound. The keyboards and the woodwinds is also excellent here.

The end result is a great album that both thrills us Soft Machine fans and would also thrill fusion and jazz fans. It is one of my finds of the year and I really enjoy it. It is highly recommended.

4 points

Morild - Aves (2013)

The second album from this Norwegian symph prog band.

Morild's first album was a double CD and I am pleased to report that they have scaled back to a single CD this time. Though, it is 75 minutes long. That includes two 20 minutes plus long songs. The other songs are pretty long too. Radio friendly, they are not.

The English vocals still have a heavy Norwegian accent. Flutes is still also very much present in the sound. It seems like flutes in a symphonic prog setting is a trademark Norwegian sound. The Norwegian symph prog sound. Keyboards and guitars are also very much present here.

The music is pretty epic and symphonic. The references to the English scene from the 1970s pretty evident. The music is a bit too pedestrian for my liking. There are no really great tracks here either. This is by all means a good album. I like it, but I don't crave it. Morild has something going here, but they have unleashed their full potential on this album. Better luck next time and I hope we will see them on tour soon.

3 points 

Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)

A groundbreaking album who set the sound for bands like The Beatles and The Who. It has also been listed as the best album ever by several magazines.

Let me offer a different opinion, though.

Pet Sounds, with the hilarious album art cover, was the first album to feature multi layered sounds. An unknown form of black art back then. Most albums today has multi layered sounds. Pet Sounds also laid the foundations for The Beatles and their magnum opus; Sgt Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band.

And yes, the sound on Pet Sounds is simply superb. The multi layers comes to the fore here with a multiple amount of different instruments. The music is like The Beatles with a west coast sound. It is not much surfin' USA here. The music is not particular good though. There is no real killer tracks here as on their other albums. But the sound alone and the influence it has had on the music business is reasons enough to purchase this album. On it's own merits, it is a decent to good album. It is not my style, though.

3 points

Glass Hammer - Lex Rex (2002)

The new US masters of symph prog returns with their sixth album.

Their first five albums has been a bit on and off, quality wise. Their first two albums pretty dire. They were a bit too Tolkien obsessed. Many fans discovered their albums through the Tolkien fan websites. A smart career move by the band perhaps.

Anyway; Lex Rex is a move into a more lush symph prog landscape. Yes is a good reference. But Lex Rex is much more symphonic classical than Yes ever was. That requires some great music. The just over one hour long Lex Rex mostly pulls it off. It is clearly a concept album where the interplays between keyboards, vocals and guitars is the melody lines. The bass and drums is there to add some textures too. The sound is very traditional US symph prog. The music is almost ambient at places. There is not much contrasts in their music. That is the reason why they are not quite pulling this off.

The music is good throughout though. It is still found wanting and I am left wanting a couple of great tracks too. But by all means; this is a good album which will not disappoint any symph prog fans.

3 points

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Soft Machine - Breda Reactor (2005)

The gig at the Breda Reactor from 1971 with an unusual SM line up; Lyn Dobson, Mike Ratledge, Hugh Hopper, Robert Wyatt and Elton Dean. In other words; the classic SM lineup + Lyn Dobson on woodwinds. He and Elton Dean on woodwinds. This is the same short lived lineup who can also be found on the live album Noisette.

I found this album for seven pounds at Amazon and decided to get it despite of it's far from good reputation. Reputation earned because of the alleged bad sound quality. That is why I had given it a wide berth until now. And yes, the sound quality is not the best. But it is good enough to get a great musical experience from this album. A 2 CDs album who also include a full version of Facelift. A great version, btw.

The songs are mostly taken from Third, probably their best album. The music is very intense. It is full front attack by the two woodwinds players Lyn Dobson and Elton Dean. They are supported by a full artillery barrage by the rest of the band. For a SM fan like myself, this is great stuff. Where do I rank this album among the many SM live albums ? Pretty much in the middle of the pack. The sound is a bit of a let down despite of being decent and not as bad as I feared. This is a very good album which I am sure will give me plenty of pleasure in the years to come.

3.5 points 

Films - A Forbidden Garden (2013)

The second album from this rather mysterious Japanese band. A band with two female vocalists.

The band name gives some info about the music here. Ethereal female vocals based music who sometimes also sounds like a movie soundtrack. The pretty dominant instrument here is viola. Piano also plays a big part in the sound. The vocals though is what I would remember them for.

The music here can be compared a lot with both Kate Bush and Kari Rueslaatten. It is obvious that Kate Bush has been a big influence here. Films sparely use keyboards and electronica. Their sound is very organic and very somber.

It is a pity that there is no real great tracks here. Films has done everything else to perfection here. The songs are a bit too dull and more based on setting a mood rather than being based on good melody lines. That is my major gripe with this album. The rest is excellent and I would suggest that you check them out. This is a very good album.

3.5 points

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Alms - Beyond (2013)

The debut album from the Spanish composer Aitor Lucena who record under the name Alms.

We are deep into the territory occupied by Mike Oldfield in the 1970s. That means a mix of neo-classical music and symphonic prog. Three long compositions clocking in on around forty-two minutes. All instruments are played by Aitor Lucena and the sound is surprisingly pretty organic. We are thankfully not being assaulted by a battleship with computers and keyboards.

Instead of an keyboards driven assault, we get plenty of flutes and guitars in additions to the keyboards and some sampling. The music is therefore pretty, well, pretty. That is the positive thing about this album. Neither of these three long compositions does have any really great melodies going for them. The ideas seems a bit scattered around. The few very good melody lines here are some folk rock and hymn themes. That makes this album much more neo-classical than symph prog in my ears.

When that is said; this is not a bad album. It is a debut album though with all it's ills and errors. Too much too soon. Too much eagerness from the artist. I sincerely hope Aitor Lucena will give us many more albums. There is a lot of good things on this album he should develop further.

3 points

Weather Report - Weather Report (1971)

I heard a lot about this band and their music when I grew up as they were quite regular on Norwegian radio back then. They never really interested me though. Thirty - forty years later, I have become quite an obsessive fan of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever and Soft Machine. Fusion has become a genre I really love. Weather Report is regarded as one of the three best fusion bands together with Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever. So it is time to visit their music.

This is their debut album.  Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter had just recorded Bitches Brew with Miles Davis. Hence the reason why this album is so influenced by Bitches Brew. The music here is much more jazz than fusion. Actually, there is next to no fusion here. The sound is dominated by woodwinds, keyboards, bass and drums. The music is pretty introvert intricate jazz. No less and no more. Melodies are hard to come by here.

The end result is a bit of a shock to the system for those of us who are not jazz experts. But I have started to like this album. I have started to like this band. The music is not easy listening and it is not comfortable. It is though a good forty minutes long album.

3 points

Friday, 12 July 2013

Larynx - Es War Schon Fast Herbst (1979)

To my knowledge, the only album from this German band.

The Canadian and Quebec scene gave us a lot of prog rock influenced folk rock back in the 1970s. Cano and Harmonium was the best known bands in this genre. Larynx is the German version of this scene. Pretty elegant folk rock with prog rock influences. The music is dominated by the female sounding male vocals. There are though a lot going on in the background. A jazzy guitar and bass line in one of the songs. A rampant Hammond organ in another song. All of this in a folk rock setting. But still pretty interesting.

There are no really good songs here on this forty minutes long album. It is ticking over nicely in it's pedestrian way. It is maybe a good purchase for everyone into the Quebec scene though as it is a decent album. Get it through Ebay.

2 points

Locanda delle Fate - Homo Homini Lupus (1999)

Their second album. Their debut album Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Più from 1977 is regarded as one of the better Italian prog rock albums. It was therefore with a great expectation the fans of this scene bought this album.

They were in for a nasty shock. Homo Homini Lupus is a mix of ethno rock, pop and rock. The music is not particular complicated when it comes to structures. The vocals is light and so is the music. There is not much greatness here. None to be precise. It sounds like Angelo Branduardi on a bad day. It is in that tradition and it is a total waste of time and (my) money. A couple of good melodies makes this a half decent album. That's all.

2 points

Alhandal - Rotta (2012)

The second album from this Spanish band.

Alhandal is following in the good old Spanish art rock tradition. The Spanish vocals automatic gives this album a Spanish flavour. Alhandal's music is also almost impossible to pinpoint to one genre. They are jumping from banal pop to rock, eastern music, heavy metal, ambient and electronica on this 2 CDs album. A double album in other words. So let us call their music for art rock. Art is what this type of music is and art is what Rotta is.

Rotta is also a concept album about one young person called Jacob who has cerebral palsy and then reaches success and an identity crisis. There are some Tommy over this and this The Who rock opera is not far from what Rotta is.

The music is performed by keyboards, guitars, samples, bass and drums. All of it competently played. The sound is very good. This double album is a very big chunk of music to swallow as it is so diverse. That too makes it very interesting. The band has a massive potential and Rotta is their crowning glory. It is the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and Tommy of our time.
Some of the music here is very good. Other parts is not so good. But in a strange way, it really captures my attention. It is a very good album who is only missing a killer track to really make it a great album. I recommend this album.

3.5 points

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Capricorn College - Lp di Primavera (1974)

The second album from this Italian band. A band who released numerous '7 singles and two albums.

Listed as progressive rock in various blogs and archives, I pushed the boat out and got this album. An album who are more in the vein of popular Italian music anno late 1960s and the 1970s. That means a mix of easy listening instrumental fusion and Italian pop music. Pop music with female seducing vocals. This album has a mix of woodwinds, guitars, bass, keyboards, piano and drums. That and tonnes of vocals.

The vocal harmonies are OK. The band sometimes comes up with some good melodies. The dominant factor here is easy listening pop and fusion. Music who takes a lot from popular boy-meets-girls movies from that time. The music is light weight to say at least. It is though a decent album and nothing more than that. It is not a progressive rock album. Nevertheless; a decent album.

2 points

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Unreal City - La Crudeltà Di Aprile (2013)

The debut album from this Italian band.

We are again deep into Rock Progressivo Italiano territory. In particular the bit of the scene populated by Le Orme, Osanna and Biglietto Per L'Inferno. That means a bit heavier prog with plenty of moog, mellotron, church organs, hammonds, piano, guitars, bass and drums. That and some good Italian vocals.

The sound is both a return to the 1970s and very much modern anno 2013. The sound is excellent and plays nicely on my heart strings. The same can be said about the music. There is no real outstanding songs here. But the album is full of great melody lines and details. The songs are also long and more like proper compositions than songs. The album clocks in just under an hour.

This album is a great album in my view. I award it a weak four pointer.

4 points

Monday, 8 July 2013

Vintage Cucumber - Tom mit de Bon Style (2012)

The debut album from this German combo. A one man project who has released some albums, eps and splits through Bandcamp.

We are deep into space rock, kraut and ambient here. Hypnotic music it is with a lot of subtle melodies. This is in my view kraut rock. No less and no more. The music is mostly performed with the use of electronics. But some piano and Hammond organs are involved. This does not feel like just a bedroom project.

I tend to hate this type of music. This album though and Vintage Cucumber is onto something here though. This is not a bad album. The music is nicely weaving itself around in an ambient forest. It is still too ambient for my liking. But I would still recommending checking it out. It is a decent "name your price" album.

2.5 points

The album

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Fringe - Shock Of Life (2012)

The debut album from this Edmonton, Canada based band. A "name your price" Bandcamp album.

We are deep into prog metal land again. Fates Warning and Dream Theater. No matter how the band is trying to sell  themselves; this is prog metal. Prog metal with some djent and indie rock influences though. Their admiration for Dream Theater sometimes breaks into clean cut copying of their sound. It is like hearing Dream Theater at times. The band tries to include some nu-metal, indie rock and djent to develop their sound and that is a good idea.

I quite like this album. The band has tonnes of ambitions and they are able to fulfil them too on this album. In  the field of prog metal; Fringe is among the new talents. The final track is a thirteen minutes long track on an album which clocks in at sixty-four minutes. Check out this good album.

3 points

The album

Amon Düül II - Only Human (1978)

Their eleventh album.

The standards of their albums has been declining during the last albums. Only Human is not among the albums I want to remember this band for. Pretty standard west coast rock with some re-introduced krautrock again and some space rock. Most of all; this is a pretty standard west coast rock album released by a German band. That says it all. The vocals is pretty bad and the outbreaks of funk does little to improve the bad mood this album gives me.

Avoid at all cost.

1 point

Who. The - Tommy (1969)

I have never been interested in this band. But after reading Pete Townsend's excellent autobiography (paperback version), I decided to lend them my ears.

The Who is one of those big bands from the 1960s and they are still very much touring. Now with their only two remaining members Daltrey and Townsend + other musicians.

Tommy was their fourth album and their first of two rock operas. Tommy was also one of the first ever concept albums and rock operas. It most certainly launched David Bowie and some other artists excesses during the 1970s and to this date. Tommy also has a legend status. It is also a great piece of music.

The Who were a mod band and operated in the borderland between pop, hippie, hard rock and working men clubs. Music wise, Tommy is in that area. The music is not complicated. The lyrics deals with childhood abuse and not so pleasant things. The lyrics, through Roger Daltrey's excellent vocals, is pretty thought provoking. They hits home.

The album has some great tracks and some fillers who acts as bridges between the great stuff. Listening to it from start to beginning gives the story meaning. There is a theme going through it. In this respect; Tommy is the best rock opera I have ever heard. The whole concept works very well.

This makes Tommy a great album in my estimation and one who really impresses me. I am sure this is sentiments generations after me will share too. A great album.

4 points

Soft Machine Legacy - Burden of Proof (2013)

I am in danger of being a bit too critical in this review of their third studio album.

Soft Machine Legacy is as the tin says; a band who has taken up the legacy of Soft Machine. Most members here has played in Soft Machine too. This is no ordinary tribute band. But a tribute, they still are. Which is a good thing.

Their versions of old Soft Machine tracks are good too. It is performed by Theo Travis, John Etheridge, Roy Babbington and John Marshall. The band gives new life to old songs. They make their own 2013 versions. My big favorite here is Kings & Queens which is simply brilliant. It stands head and shoulders above the rest of the songs here.

This is a good album for Soft Machine fans. It is not adding anything of any interest to the rest of the scene. But good on the band and MoonJune for releasing this album. I am still preferring the original Soft Machine albums though as I feel the Legacy is missing the whole intensity the original band had. This "devil may care" attitude. Hence, I am still buying their live albums. Soft Machine Legacy and their music is too laid back and too pedestrian for my liking.

3 points

Cerchio d'Oro. Il - Dedalo e Icaro (2013)

Il Cerchio d'Oro is a band who has been around since the early 1970s. They released some '7 singles in the 1970s, split up, did other projects, Psych-Out Records records released a compilation of those singles + other songs in 2006 and the band finally came around to release their proper debut album in 2008. It was named Il Viaggio di Colombo and I liked it. A good Italian prog album.

 Il Cerchio d'Oro returns five years later with the follow up. This album, that is. We are talking proper Rock Progressivo Italiano here. That without the hard (rock) edges some of the bands also use. But the music here is not overly soft either. I would call the music here middle of the road Rock Progressivo Italiano, sound and style wise.

The sound is excellent. Ditto for the Italian vocals. The music is performed with plenty of moog, melotrons, keyboards, guitars, flute, piano, bass and drums. The songs are mostly great and this one hour long album is a triumph and a joy to behold for anyone interested in this scene. It is by far their best album too and one of the best new Rock Progressivo Italiano albums. I am enjoying this album so much that I have put of reviewing this. "One more listen, only one more listening session please". Well, I will enjoy this album for a long time. It is highly recommended.

4 points 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Gens de la Lune - Alors Joue! (2011)

The second album from this Francis Decamps fronted band. A band which is his solo project. It is a proper band too.

Francis Decamps is the main man in the legendary French band Ange. The Eiffel tower of French prog, it has been claimed. Well, perhaps Magma is the Louvre museum of the French scene. Magma and Ange is the best bands to ever come out of France. Both bands are alive and well. I am not sure where Gens De La Lune fits into these things, though.

The band sounds like good old Ange on this album (and their first album too). A blend of early Genesis and Jacques Brel in other words. Very theatrical at times. Francis Decamps vocals dominates the sound. They are helped by a great amount of keyboards and guitars. The sound is orchestral and very much like a return to the 1970s. Just like any Italian prog rock albums these days. No complaints here from me.

 This album starts with the two best songs. The title track is theatrical, very Genesis and simply superb. Je te Laisse is another superb song too. The album nosedives a bit after the opening two salvos. But the album never becomes irrelevant or even boring. I am a big fan of this sound and the music Francis Decamps does here and in Ange. Hence my rating. This is a great, great album.

4 points

Monday, 1 July 2013

Black Sabbath - 13 (2013)

The surprise of the year, so far.

13 is rumored to be the final ever Black Sabbath album. It is also their twentieth album. Not all of these albums deserves the Black Sabbath moniker. The Black Sabbath name was become a bit of a tired joke with albums like Tyr, Forbidden and Born Again. I am therefore delighted with the return of Osbourne, Iommi and Butler in fine form. Bill Ward declined the invitation though and that meant this is not really a reunion of the classic Black Sabbath lineup. But in reality; this is a reunion of the 1970s lineup.

This lineup has also reunited with the sound and music which made them such a great band in the early 1970s. These days, this is called stoner rock. 13 is a stoner rock album, released by the band who invented stoner rock. That is the best thing about this album. It is unbelievable heavy. It is an unbelievable rip-off of their old albums. If any other bands had released this album, I am sure everyone would had screamed "theft". But this is Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Ozzy Osbourne having a final look at the streets that once made them the kings of the town. That was forty years ago. Forty-three years ago, to be precise.

Being an unashamed rip-off, there are unfortunate no Iron Man, Paranoid or even any songs in the same class as their masterpiece War Pigs. God Is Dead is the best Black Sabbath song since the Ronnie James Dio era. The other tracks is also good on an album which really surprises me and that in a positive sense.

It is nice to hear Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Ozzy Osbourne doing songs where they really stretches themselves and makes one heck of an effort. If this is indeed their final album, they could not had gone out in any better way.

4 points

Giganti. I - Terra In Bocca (1971)

The third studio album from this Italian beat combo and a major departure from their beat music.

I Giganti goes Italian symph prog on this album. Their one and only foray into this scene. A foray which has left a lot of people impressed, if the reviews is to go by.

The band has chosen to keep the four vocals on this foray into unknown territory. The music is very much vocals driven. Behind the vocals, we find guitars, keyboards, melotrons and moog. That in addition to bass and drums. Flutes too has been added. The sound is classic Italian 1970s sound. A mix of prog and Italian pop, the sound is. The songs is not surprisingly pretty raunchy and heavy. The more silent, lyrical melody lines though is a bit of a surprise to me. They are the best on this album.

It takes a lot of time to see past overwhelming vocals which sits in the front of the mix. The pop like songs also reminds me a lot about Italy's contributions to the annual, very tacky European Melody Festival at that time. The devil is in the small details though. It is in the small details the album really shines and grows on me.
No great songs though. But this is still an album I really like and rates. Rates as a good album. Check it out.

3 points