Friday 31 January 2014

Unified Past - Spots (2013)

I think this is my fourth attempt in trying to review this album after giving up on the three previous occasions. I am now biting the bullet and will get a review completed and published.

Spots is the fourth album from this US band. They also released two albums under the Labyrinth name. A name used by zillions of other bands.

We are in the middle of the prog metal scene here. Well, not in the middle of it. The music on Spots is not that hard really. It is close to be a crossover between prog metal and neo prog. That and some eclectic prog and fusion influences. Not to mention; symphonic prog. This album is very much a crossover album.

The music is produced with the usual setup; keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals are great and the rest of the musicians does a great job too.

The music is very varied and offers up a lot of good melody lines and details. This throughout the one hour long album. It is an album that should unify a lot of prog rock fans. This is a very good album which should be checked out too. It may become one of your favorite albums. It even become one of my favorite albums in some years too.

3.5 points

Bondage Fruit - VI (2005)

The sixth and so far final album from this Japanese band.

Bondage Fruit started out as a great zeuhl & avant garde band before they lost their way with two dubious albums. VI sees them back in the saddle again with a fusion album in the Mahavishnu Orchestra vein. Add a great deal of blues and the Moerlin percussions from Gong and you to a large extent has got this album.

The band use a great deal of guitars, violins, percussions, bass and drums here. The music is at times pretty intense too. The guitars are very blues orientated on this album. Far more than the guitars in Mahavishnu Orchestra. Bondage Fruit has carved out their own niche with this album. There is also some folk rock here too. Subtle, but still present. The violins adds a Jean Luc Ponty feel to it all too.

The end result is a good album which does not have any great tracks, but still restore their reputation a great deal in my view. I wish they could had continued what they did on II, but that was not to be. Check out this album.

3 points

Bautista. Daniel - Eurotrip (2012)

The ninth album from this Spanish guitarist.

Daniel Bautista releases his albums for free through Jamendo (see link below). After having visited Ludwig Van Beethoven's legacy on his first album, he is now on a journey around Europe on this album. That means forty-five minutes with some pieces from most European countries. Folk music pieces with his own metal guitars playing homage to each country. Nice thought....

Daniel is a guitar shredder. No less and not much else. Some of the songs also have keyboards, bass and drums too. Most songs are in the metal guitar shredder tradition. Daniel does not offer anything new or unique to this scene. Or for that matter; the metal scene. This album has a great deal of folk and prog rock too.

As you may have discovered by now, I am not a fan of this music. This is a decent album though and worth checking out from the link below.

2 points

The album

Thursday 30 January 2014

Barclay James Harvest - Gone To Earth (1977)

The eight album from this British prog rock band.

Barclay James Harvest was a band who in 1977 still had a pretty good 1960s sound. Their music is very much still stucked in 1967 or there about. It is rock with some references to symphonic prog. One of the funnier and better songs here is "Poor Man's Moody Blues" which is exactly what this band has been labeled. A label they will never get rid of. The song is pretty similar to Moody Blues most known song and a spoof song. Still a very good song which brings out the symph prog side of this band.
Personally, I no longer regard BJH as a poor man's Moody Blues. I think BJH has their own style and character.

Taking about labels and comparisons, on other songs again on this album, the band sounds a bit like The Beatles. This is why I rather regard the likes of BJH and Electric Light Orchestra as The Beatles illegitimate children.

Back to this album.... The sound and music on Gone To Earth is good. I am missing some great tracks here. This is still an enjoyable listen and one album I will listen a lot more to in the future. This is a good album.

3 points

Asia Minor - Between Flesh And Divine (1980)

The second out of total three albums from this Turkish symphonic prog band.

Their debut album was a good album in the Camel and Genesis vein. One year later, they returned with another album in the same vein. This album, that is.

The vocalist sounds like Andrew Latimer. Ditto for the guitars too. The flutes and keyboards also adds to the Camel like pastoral music throughout most of this half an hour long album. The melodies is really lush in addition to being pastoral. On the more heavier stuff here, the band sometimes sounds like Jethro Tull too.

The end result is a very good album which was released a couple of years too late to really make this band a big name. They are undeserved forgotten in my view. Anyway; check this one out.

3.5 points

Taproban - Strigma (2013)

The fifth album from this Italian band.

Taproban has always been associated with ELP like symphonic prog. And they will remain so after this album too. Although that is slightly misleading. But only slightly misleading. Taproban is a three piece band with keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. Lots of keyboards, I have to add. This is indeed a keyboards album where the other instruments are only playing a supporting role.

The music is not particular in the ELP vein either. The first of three compositions are a Genesis homage, no doubts. Genesis anno Foxtrot. Sixteen minutes of it too. The two other compositions on this forty five minutes long album is more a mixed bag to say at least. Although instrumental, there is a lot of avant-garde and zeuhl melody lines here too. Some vocals pops up on the final part of the final minutes here. A pretty pastoral composition too.

The first composition is almost a great composition. That if you love Genesis. The final two compositions is decent to good compositions and a bit of a let down. The end result is a good album which should appeal to anyone into symphonic prog. Get all five Taproban albums if  that is your cup of tea. Strigma is not their best album.

3 points

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Divae - Determinazione (1995)

The one and only album from this Italian prog rock band.

We are in the middle of classic Italian symph prog land here. The instruments are Mellotron, flute, keyboards, guitars, bass and other instruments. The vocals, very good vocals, are in Italian. The sound is great on this forty-five minutes long album.

The music is mostly on the more mellow side with a lot of diversions into ELP like symphonic prog. The vocals are at times operatic. Ditto for the keyboards and guitars too. Well, majestic is the phrase I should use instead. They are aiming for the skies and succeeds in that. The melodies also has a lot of Italian rock and folk rock in them. The sound and music is very much in the vein of Banco from the glorious 1970s. There is also a lot of references to classical music on this album.

The result is a great Italian symphonic prog album. A debut album which should had heralded the beginning of something great. But that was not to be. This is in any case one of the hidden gems in the scene. One of those I do this blog for.

4 points

Athanor - Vos Cités Sont Des Tombeaux (2013)

The the second album from this French avant-garde band. The first album Vulv'Air from 2008 is available as a free download from here from where you can also purchase this album from. I will review Vulv'Air in due time too.

Athanor gives us one hour with chamber orchestra avant-garde music of the more extreme kind. The band uses saxophones, female soprano vocals, cello, clarinet and numerous other instruments. They also list Univers Zero, Present and Magma as their main inspirations too.

Well, so far so great. I don't find much influences of the above mentioned bands in their music. That was the reason why I bought this album, btw. I had expected a very claustrophobic dark avant-garde album. This album is surprisingly light and airy. If the band has tried to capture the darkness of the likes of Present, they have failed. There is not much unity in this album either. The concept is more dissonant than the music. That is not a good idea when it comes to avant-garde music. Some sporadic pianos scattered around the soundscape with female vocals, sampled voices and various other instruments in a disorderly fashion is what we get here.

Maybe this album is too avant-garde for me who likes Present's music. I am a bit lost on this album. I just don't think it is anything more than a decent album. Sorry !

2 points

Iona - Another Realm (2011)

The seventh album from this British band. A band who has taken their name from the small Scottish island just off Isle Of Mull, an important place of Christian pilgrimage even these days.

Iona's music is a more Celtic folk music influenced prog rock than the likes of Mostly Autumn. In this respect, they are slightly more leftfield folk rock than the other Celtic folk rock inspired female fronted bands. Iona's music is also leaning more towards Enya too than rock and metal. Well, the music is very soft here. But not as commercial and sickening sweet as The Corrs. Far from it. The music here has a solid symph prog foundation although I don't think the band see it that way. Or maybe they do.

The album's focal point is Joanne Hogg's excellent vocals. There is also uillean pipes, tin whistles and all sorts of Celtic folk music instruments here in addition to bass, keyboards, guitars and drums. The list of instruments here are too long to include here. This is a double album, lasting for almost one hundred minutes. Good value for money.

Some of the music here is pretty complex in a symph prog vein. Other parts are more dreamy as in Enya'ish. Some songs are more melodic again. Another Realm caters for a lot of tastes and musical preferences.

My main gripe, my only gripe is the lack of any really great songs here. There are none. I really like the sound though although this album gives me a slight Celtic folk music overdose. This album has grown a lot on me though. But not enough. I award it a weak very good award as I am sure I will like it even more in the years to come.

3.5 points  

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Maneige - Images (1983)

The sixth and final album from one of the best ever Canadian bands.

This band has released some stunning albums. Their sound and music was pretty unique on so many different levels. Their combination of flute in a symphonic fusion setting was a joy to behold. Ditto for their majestic compositions.

The flute is still present here to a lesser degree. This half an hour long album contains ten compositions where only the final part of Solitaire is of the good old Maneige standard. The rest of the album is instrumental fusion, bordering to shopping mall music. There is not much dynamics here and their trademark majestic compositions has been dropped.

This album is a pretty bleak end to their career and not worth pursuing. It is nevertheless a decent album.

2 points

Guinness. Id - Cure for the Common Crush (2007)

The debut album from this Canadian solo artist. An artist with background from some other bands.

Pop rock is what we get here. Pop rock with a slick production and radio friendly hooks and riffs. The music is performed with keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. That and vocals.

There are some references to both Electric Light Orchestra and in particular The Beatles here. The music also has some interesting details. But it goes mostly in verse-chorus-verse without deviating from this formula.

The music is well enough performed. A couple of country'n'western like melodies and a couple of ballads with female and male vocals is making this a pretty varied one hour long album. The vocals is good. The music itself is only decent as it has no good songs and not much to keeping my attention focused on the music. A decent album but nothing more.

2 points

Monday 27 January 2014

Medina Azahara - XX (2000)

The tenth album from this Spanish band. The kings of Spanish rock if I am not much mistaken. A band who released their debut album back in 1979.

Having dabbled in prog rock and ethno rock on previous albums, the band is now firmly back in the hard rock fold. There is even metal here. The music is produced by the usual guitars, Spanish vocals, bass, drums and keyboards.

The music is pretty hard and commercial. It still have this big Spanish flavour this band made their trademark. This makes this one hour long album pretty lush. Manuel Martinez proves again that he is one of the better vocalists in the hard rock genre.

XX is a typical traditional hard rock album. There is no really good songs here though and this type of music is no longer my cup of tea. It is still a decent to good album though. More hard rock fans should check out this band.

2.5 points

Twenty Four Hours - The Sleepseller (2004)

The fourth album from this Italian band.

Having started out as decent neo prog and art rock band, the band did not really get a breakthrough. Which may explore why they have put all their albums as free downloads.

This album will disappoint those who liked their three previous albums. And there was some of them. The band has made a total U-turn here and gone for a musical landscape somewhere between indie rock and electronica. That means some distorted vocals over electronica induced indie-rock in a cold sterile soundscape. In the middle of this album, we also get some minutes of distorted white noise too.

The first half an hour of this one hour long album is not bad at all. Some pretty good indie with electronica is OK fare. The last half an hour is running out of steam and the band is falling into the white noise trap.

This album is not a turkey. It is totally different from the rest of their albums and will lose the band fans from those albums. I don't see the point of releasing under this moniker either. It is close to being a turkey, but not quite a turkey. Download link below.

1.5 stars


Fluttr Effect - Trithemis Festiva (2004)

The debut album from this US art rock band.

It is not often I get to hear a different take on the neo prog and art rock genres. The wheel has largely been invented and explored to the full in those genres. Then again; this female vocals fronted band brings something new to the table.

We are in art rock territory again. Art rock with a chamber rock feel. The chugging guitars more than hints about prog metal too. The cello brings us back to chamber rock again. There is a constant dynamics between chamber rock and prog metal here. Add percussion and Kara Trott's pretty theatrical and broad range vocals here and the album also takes on an ethno jazz feel too. The keyboards, bass and drums complements the sound.

The result is a very modern art rock album which also takes in some electronica too. An album that surprises a lot. It even have a great, epic song in the thirteen minutes long Detrimentalisman. This album is a very good album which I am sure will surprise a lot of people and therefore deserves a lot more attention.

3.5 points

Sunday 26 January 2014

Seven That Spells - Superautobahn (2012)

The tenth album from this Croatian space rock band.

Three compositions, one hour long album. That is what we get here. When listening to this album before reading the credits, I thought this music sounded like if Mr. Kawabata Makoto from Acid Mothers Temple had worked with the band on this album. Guess what ? He is the guitar player here ! That explain why this album is such a racket, such an hour full of distorted space rock.

The first song The Wall is a pretty chaotic songs which leads nowhere. The second song The Pyramid is a pretty melodic, slightly distorted three bars bass line with tonnes of distorted guitars and saxophones on the top of that. For twenty-two minutes, that is. The best song here by miles. The final song The Colossus is a more heavy song again where chaos reigns and there is a bit more melodies in swing.

The end result is a very heavy, a times very chaotic space rock album which have a pretty basic rhythm structure upon where our Japanese friend Kawabata Makoto uses to unleash terror with his distorted guitars. For some reason, this album actually work. This is actually a good album and I like it a lot. Check it out if you can.

3 points

Goblin - Zombi (1978)

The sixth album from this Italian movie soundtrack band and the fourth movie soundtrack from them. This is the soundtrack to the classic horror movie Zombie Dawn Of The Dead. A movie still selling well on both DVD and Blue-Ray. You get various versions of this movie on Amazon. I don't have it and I have no plans of buying it either as I am no fan of horror and zombie movies.

Goblin's soundtrack is what it is, a soundtrack which feels a bit isolated from the movie. I am in doubt if I should even review them for this blog as I find it a bit pointless. I am not a fan of soundtracks at all.

OK, here I go though. The first track, Dawn Of The Dead is a very good track with a horror ambience. The second track, Zombi sounds like one of the songs from Osibisa's debut album and I am pretty sure Goblin has "loaned" it from that band too. Then we get a ragtime number and some more typical soundtracks.

The music is pretty electronic and with no vocals. There are some guitars here too and plenty of keyboards. The sound and music is not far away from Italian prog rock.

Well, how do I rate this album ? I don't like soundtracks. But this is a good one and one I am happy with. So I award it a good rating.

3 points

Skeem - ...Just Suggesting (2013)

The second album from this French neo prog band and their follow up to their self titled album from 2001.

The long break may explain why this is a 2 CD album, 102 minutes long. 12 years of saved up material, that is. Good value for money, in short. That is if you like their music.

Their music here is commercial neo prog. That is middle of the road neo prog with guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and English vocals. The music is unusually gentle with no detours into prog metal which is now the rule in neo prog. Their sound is therefore a bit oldies and stuck in the 1980s/1990s. The sound is rather dry too.

This album is an old style neo prog album in the vein of the English neo prog scene anno 1990. It is not symphonic either despite of the long songs.

My gripes is as in the paragraph above. No symphonic melody lines despite of long songs. No epic songs. Just songs lasting up to ten minutes. Just simplicity filled with the occasional guitar solo and keyboards run. My other gripe is the lack of any great songs here. There is none and neither is there any good songs here either.

The end result is a decent album which does not have much personality or any bite which sets it apart from the many albums in this genre. Hence my shortage of points.

2 points

Giardino Onirico. Il - Complesso K MMXIII (2013)

The third album from this Italian band and the follow up to their Perigio album from 2012. An album I thought I had reviewed, but I cannot find the review anywhere so I have to go back and see if I got the album. I believe I got it. Their new album is loosely based on their first album Complesso K from 2010 and cannot really be described as an entirely new piece of music. I have yet to hear their 2010 album too.

This album is also based on prog rock. But with a modern twist. The music is mainly instrumental with some very sporadic vocals. Style wise, this is post-metal, post-rock. Somewhere in the borderline between those two genres. You get the whole post-metal spectrum here with some chugging guitars and keyboards on the top of bass and drums. Then you also get some typical post-rock ebbs and flows genre signatures. The music is pretty experimental too. The final minutes have some traditional prog metal stuff with vocals and it all.

There are five songs on this forty minutes long album plus an intro. The songs are called Parte I-IV where Parte IV is the best song here and the one with the most traditional prog metal structures.

The end result is a pretty good album which fails when it comes to good songs. Call me old fashioned (I am), but this album is not for me. It is a decent to good album. It is one to check out if you are more into post-metal or post-rock than I am.

2.5 points


Mo.Do - La Scimmia Sulla Schiena Del Re (1980)

The only album so far from this Italian band. With all these bands from that age reforming, I would not bet against this band suddenly reforming and releasing their second album sometimes soon.

Italian prog rock is what we get here. That means flute, vintage keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and Italian vocals. That also means Italian prog rock with a lot of influences from the likes of Genesis and in particular; Gentle Giant. That makes this band a bit more untraditional than the rest of the Italian prog rock scene. This half an hour long album mixes up symphonic prog and eclectic prog.

The vocals is very good. The sound is good. The guitars and keyboards is very good. The music is full of interesting details. The songs are good. My gripe is the lack of any really great songs.

The result is a good album, well worth checking out. This album is an eclectic twist on the term "Italian progressive rock" and a good one.

3 points

Saturday 25 January 2014

Dr No - Guerrers de Mitjanit (2009)

The second and so far last album from this Spanish neo prog band.

Their debut album was a pretty good foray into middle of the road neo prog. Neo prog with a lot of associations to Marillion and Pendragon. Their new album, released by Musea, follows in the same path.

The music is created with a lot of keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. That and some pretty good Spanish vocals. The album is seventy minutes long, divided on nine songs.

The songs has a slight Spanish sound with a lot of Spanish pop music vibes and melodies too. The music is therefore not that particular technical and does not have any intricate details to speak of.

The end result is a pretty good album, a decent to good album which does not bring much news to the scene. I like the Spanish flavour and nothing much else on this album. Some good melody lines also makes this a pretty interesting album. Besides of that, there is not much else worth mentioning here.

2.5 points

Ange - Le Bois Travaille, Même Le Dimanche (2010)

Their twenty-first studio album.

Ange released some great albums in the 1970s and only a few sporadic good/great albums for the next three decades. I had heard a lot of positive things about this album and went for it. I was in for a big surprise.

First of all; neither their sound or music is a copycat of their previous albums. On the surface, that is. Rhythms has got a bigger role to play on this album. There is also a lot of electronica here. When I scratched the surface after the first listening sessions, I still found the good old Ange. But new times = a refreshed sound.

I guess Christian has got new inputs from his son Tristan too (on keyboards) and that may have inspired him a bit. The good old theatrical vocals and music is still very much present, indeed the dominant factor on this album. It is a theatrical album in the good old Ange vein. Christian sings beautifully again. The rest of the band also does a great job.

The songs are also great here. From the shock opener Des Papillons which made me wonder what Ange were up to this time and on the rest of this seventy minutes long album. This is indeed French symphonic prog, but with a big twist. The music is still grandeur and majestic as heck with long instrumental runs which makes me a happy man. The guitars still plays a vital part here. But with a twist...

This is a great album and an essential album for those into Ange. I highly recommend this album.

4 points  

Efterklang - Piramida (2012)

The fourth album from this Danish post rock band.

This album is inspired by a visit two of the three members in the band made to the ghost town Pyramiden on Spitsbergen, Svalbard. A town pretty close to the North Pole. It was run by the Russians from 1927 to 1998 when it was abandoned. In other words; a pretty perfect theme for an Efterklang album.

The music is pretty cold too. Take Coldplay, strip off all the melodies and organic warm material from their sound and add a lot of electronica. The end result is more or less this forty-five minutes long album. The instruments here are keyboards and electronic instruments in addition to the very good vocals and piano.

The end result is a musical landscape I am not familiar with and feel home in. The landscape is too electronica for my liking. It strangely enough have the type of symphonic instrumental sound The Beatles used in their masterpiece A Day In Life.

The end result is a good album though which I guess fans of electronica will love more than I do. This is not my cup of tea though and it is not traditional prog rock, let alone cat music.

3 points

Friday 24 January 2014

Vortex - Les Cycles De Thanatos (1977)

The second and final studio album from this French avant-garde band.

Vortex may be an unknown band. Both their albums warrants a lot more recognition for these French guys. At least in the avant-garde and jazz scene. And that is where we find this album. Somewhere between Univers Zero and Soft Machine.

The band was an eight piece band on this album. That means a lot of woodwinds, Rhodes organ, bass, drums and percussion. Oboe, saxophone and bassoon springs to mind among the woodwinds. The end result is eclectic and a lot of noise.

The music is very much RIO, avant-garde with a lot of jazz too. It not an all out crossover between jazz and avant-garde though. There is also some clean chamber rock avant-garde pieces here. The jazz stuff has some great melodies. The avant-garde stuff is pretty dark and haunting. Still great though.

The end result is forty minutes with great music. I really like this album a great deal. A hidden gem in the scene and one that deserves a lot more attention.

4 points

Timeline - New Dreams, New Hopes (2013)

A new Italian band with their debut album. I know next to nothing about them. But I am sure we will hear a lot more about them, those of us into Italian prog rock.

Yes, we are in Italy again. In an Italian prog rock landscape. Somewhat, that is. The male vocalist is using both English and Italian vocals. The setup is the usual keyboards, guitars, bass and drums in addition to the vocals.
The music is based on Italian gprog rock, but they also makes detours into a much more prog/goth metal landscape now and then. They also visits commercial, bland rock too. This is in short almost an hour with a band who are not sure where they want to go. That is not unusual on a debut album.

The overall quality is good. That is the median on the fifty-five minutes. Some of the songs is great. The ones where they stick to the traditional Italian prog is great. These songs is more a heavy Italian prog rock songs than a more poppy, folk rock influenced Italian prog rock songs. And they work because the vocalist sings in Italian and within himself. Therefore; the vocals is very good.

The songs that does not work is the more goth songs and the more heavy prog metal songs. The vocalist is over straining himself and the English vocals is not good. Take my advice and stick to the Italian vocals. Drop songs where the vocalist is over straining himself. I was sorely tempted to call out an ambulance during those songs to fetch the vocalist. Painful is the word. Besides of the vocals, these songs are good enough. But not great.

The median quality is good to very good. I give it a good rating and recommend everyone to check out this album.

3 points

Aaron Clift Experiment. The - Lonely Hills (2012)

The debut album from this US band.

The band is a totally new name to me and most of you guys too, I guess. The band is already working on their second album which will see the light of day later this year.

Their music is somewhere between prog folk, pop rock and symphonic prog. Lonely Hills offers up fifty minutes of middle of the road music. The music still have a great deal to offer a proghead too. The male vocals is very good. The music sometimes strays into symphonic prog (Read: Genesis) although it is firmly rooted in folk and pop rock. The melodies are actually pretty complex although the bass and drums does not really strays away from the pop rock formula. A bit boring. The flutes, keyboards and guitars are bit more exciting though.

The end result is a good, honest album who does what it says on the tin. A couple of great tracks would had made this even a better album. I still think we should look forward to their second album. I am.

3 points

Thursday 23 January 2014

High Wheel - There (1996)

The third album from this German symphonic prog band.

I have to admit that this band has really never impressed me. Their debut album 1910 was weak and I have bypassed their 1994 album Remembering The Colours.

High Wheel is one of those bands who balanced on the edge between neo and symphonic prog. Which they still do on this album. They are more symphonic on this album, though. A lot more original too. The basis is symphonic prog with a big chamber rock influence too. The setup is the usual keyboards, guitars, bass, drums, vocals + accordian and flute. They still sounds like a crossover between Marillion and Yes though. The difference here is that they have at least tried to clear their own path.

The attempt is not a success though. There are some sporadic very good material here. But not really enough to declare this ambitious album a success. It is by far their best album though and that counts for something. It is a good album.

3 points

Fromuz - Quartus Artifactus (2011)

The third album from this Uzbekistan band. A country with a great scene.

Fromuz has established themselves as one of the better bands from the ex USSR countries. Their music is a mix of all the prog rock genres, with the exceptions of zeuhl. The band label themselves as chamber prog.

Their music is created by keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and flute. That and some sporadic vocals. Quartus Artifactus is a one hundred minutes long album of various genres and ideas. Which makes a rather bewildered listener. Most of the stuff here is good and some is very good. There is also some rather ambient and cinematic stuff here which makes me a bit cold.

What this album is lacking is great tunes and a lot of teeth. This album is a good background noise and a relaxing listening experience. There is not many melody lines which wakes me up though. Everything here is peace and love. The musicians is doing a great job. But the dot over the i is missing here. Hence my verdict on this album.

3 points

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Eloy - Silent Cries And Mighty Echoes (1979)

The seventh album from this German band.

...And they are really on the roll now. They have been on the roll for the last three albums. The music is spaced out krautrock with a lot of melody and ambience. The music is created with keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. The music is pretty symphonic. Ditto for the sound. This album cannot escape the comparisons with Pink Floyd, the Dark Side Of The Moon era. I much prefer Eloy and this album to any Pink Floyd albums though. OK, maybe not. They are pretty equal in my estimation. But I really like Eloy and rate them as perhaps the best ever band from Germany.

This album is a joy to behold throughout. My only gripe is the lack of a killer track. Besides of that, this album offers up three quarter of an hour with great krautrock. Enough said.

4 points

Present - Barbaro (2009)

The seventh album from this Belgium based RIO band.

Present was a Univers Zero spin-off and one of the founders of the RIO genre. I regard them as one of the masters of sinister, dark avant-garde music. This very much applies to this album too.

Barbaro offers up three compositions, forty-five minutes of dark, sinister cinematic RIO where each melody lines gets plenty of breathing space. The piano throws daggers at the listener. The keyboards, guitars, tuba, saxophone and cello lays down a sinister sound. The drums and bass adds darkness to the sound too.

There is also plenty of beautiful, melancholic rays of sunlight in these three compositions. Not to mention majestic soundscapes. So much that the listener feels enthralled by this album and feels this album is something special.

The overall quality of this album is great and I rate this as the best album they have ever come up with. I rate it as one of the best ever RIO albums. It is an album everyone should have a copy of.

4.5 points

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Asgard - Tradition & Renouveau (1978)

The second album from this French folk prog band. One of many bands with the same name.

French symphonic prog and neo prog is largely based on folk music and theater music. This folk and theater music goes back at least two hundred years. Bands like Ange and Mona Lisa distilled this tradition into their, the French highly original form for symphonic prog.
Asgard again did not go that extra mile towards symphonic prog. Nevertheless, those who love Ange and Mona Lisa will find a new friend in this thirty minutes long album. Those who love Harmonium's albums will love this album too.

This album is full of superb (French) vocals, piano, flute, violin, guitars, bass and percussion. Patric Grandpierre's vocals is superb and can be compared to the vocalist in Harmonium. The music is melodic, very melodic and epic folk rock. It reminds me about Jaques Brel and those greats from the French culture. There is a lot of keyboards in the sound and this album is by no means an acoustic album. It is fully electric. It also have a great ambience and sound.

My only gripe is the lack of a killer track or two. Hence my very good rating. Fans of French symphonic prog and the Canadian band Harmonium can safely purchase this album.

3.5 points

Efterklang - Under Giant Trees (2007)

The second EP from this Danish post rock band and their fourth release altogether.

Clocking in at half an hour, this strictly limited EP offers up good value for money. That is, for those into this kind of music. A type of music that I find a bit difficult to explain. I will give it my best....

Cinematic pastoral post rock is perhaps not such a bad label on this music. The band's approach is like the zeuhl bands approach to jazz. Fill the sound with woodwinds, violins, cello, keyboards, choirs, guitars, bass and drums. Let the music float instead of create clearly defined song structures. That is their sound and music.

The result is music which approaches both ambient music and classical music. It floats and floats around. It is also a good EP despite of being untraditional and is breaking a lot of conventions. If this sounds tempting; check out their albums as it contains more of the same. A weak good is awarded.

3 points

Phaedra - Beyond the Storm (2013)

The second album from this Italian band after their rather promising Ptah album from 2010. An album who showcased a band who had yet to find their style and their comfort zone.

They have settled down a great deal on Beyond The Storm though. This one hour long album has been made with the help of keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and English vocals. All of them competently done and the very good vocals are in the Peter Gabriel vein.

The music is still a bit all over the place on this, concept album kind of an album. The music is in the Genesis vein. That is the basis for this album. They have expanded a lot into neo prog too and some instrumental prog. The music is pretty light and flowery. It is not as lush as I expect from an Italian band. A couple of great songs is also missing. There are a couple of great melody lines on this album who proves that the band are talented, but has not yet to get into full bloom.

The end result is very good album who only sporadic showcases what this band is able to do. It is an improvement from their Ptah album. But they are not yet there. Their next album will be a killer album and a classic album in this genre.

3.5 points

Monday 20 January 2014

Twenty Four Hours - Oval Dreams (1999)

The third album from this Italian band.

It is far from easy to get under the skin of an album from this band. Their mix of psychedelic, neo prog and indie rock is not something I am used to. On this album, they also sounds like Caravan on a couple of songs.

Their music is created with a lot of guitars, some keyboards, bass, drums and English vocals. The sound is light and flowery. Very indie rock, in fact. Their mix of Caravan like prog rock and clean all out indie rock is pretty effective too. Add some symphonic prog and ambient music into this mix too and we get a pretty unusual mix.

The end result is a decent album with no good songs. An album which still have some good elements and the ability to surprise a great deal. Positive surprises is a bit thin on the ground. This album and their other albums can be downloaded from the link below so check it out for yourself.

2 points

The album

Pyranha - Pyranha (1972)

This album is the only ever sign of life from this Swiss krautrock band.

Nothing is known about this band. They released this album and then disappeared. A familiar story. This album is just over thirty minutes long and gives us some improvised krautrock jams. Xhol Caravan is a good reference. The band uses saxophones, bass, guitars, bass, organs and drums to create their music.

The sound is not the best. The end result is a couple of good tracks and some decent tracks. This album is obscure for a good reason. I find the avant-garde stuff a bit unsatisfactory. The more jazzy jams is a bit too pedestrian too. This album is a decent album and that is it.

2 points

Twenty Committee. The - A Lifeblood Psalm (2013)

The debut album from this promising new US band.

I have heard the new label "prog pop" being banded around a lot when it comes to this new band. Them and some other bands, in fact. Electric Light Orchestra springs to mind. Yes, I agree there is a lot of new melodic prog album which does not fit the rock tag either. Maybe label "progressive pop/prog pop" is what best describe this album too.

This forty-five minutes album does have it's fair share of rock and even some metal riffs too. A lot of this album is what I would call progressive pop too. The best parts of this album, that is. The music is performed with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and male vocals.

The music is melodic throughout. The sound is very good. The songs are pretty majestic and somewhat pomp rock sounding. What is missing here is a great song or two. Being a debut album, this album is more than acceptable. It is a good to very good album, well worth checking out on the link below.

3 points

The album

Sunday 19 January 2014

Camera - System Solaire (2013)

This EP is the second release from this German krautrock band and a follow up to their excellent Radiate! album from 2012.

I really loved Radiate! as it was a return to traditional krautrock. Unfortunate, this EP is a bit of a move away from krautrock. We get some krautrock here and a lot of electronica and house music. Hard house music. The music is generally hard here and a bit of a mystery to me.

This is an eighteen minutes long EP which I hope is a bit of an experiment and a sidetrack from this band. It is not my cup of tea, though. Too much electronica and house for my liking.

2 points

Panta Rhei - P.R. Computer (1983)

The third album from this Hungarian band. A band with classically trained musicians. A band who released three very different studio albums.

P.R Computer is an entirely computer electronic album. Some of the music sounds like a 33 LP played on a 45 Single speed. Yes, we have all done it on our own LP players and it is no longer any fun. Other parts of this album has a more ambient feel. It still sounds computer generated and very cheap. It is a very cheap copy of Jean Michel Jarre.

OK, this album may have been quite adequate in 1983. Compared to today's electronic music, it falls flat on it's face. It sound so cheap, so 1980s and so desperate bad. It is a turkey of an album. But you don't have to take my word for it. Download it yourself from the link below.

1 point

The album

Electric Light Orchestra - Balance of Power (1986)

The seventeenth and final true Electric Light Orchestra album before the band split into two bands. Bev Bevan released two albums under the the ELO II name and Jeff Lynne one album under the ELO name. But Balance Of Power is their final album.

Gone has the orchestra and much of the lights two. Gone has what made the band so good too. What's left here is half an hour with some light bubblegum pop music made by some highly annoying synths, some substandard vocals from the usually dependent Jeff Lynne, some pretty dire bass and drums + a pretty flat sound. It sounds like a Roy Orbison album and I am pretty sure he also guests on this album too on one song.

There is one good song here and that is the five minutes long Getting To The Point. A good ballad, indeed. The rest of this album is an utter waste of time and space. It is almost turkey material. It is a sad end to this band.

1.5 points

Visitor 2035 - Visitor 2035 (1978)

The second album from this British fusion band.

I got this album after I had been told that Joe Mason from Fruupp was a member of the band. He is indeed the keyboard player on this album.

Well, he also changed music genres from Fruupp to Visitor 2035. If the band name sounds science fiction, it is because it is just that. The music is spaced out fusion, not so unlike The Weather Report. The difference is that Visitor 2035 has a lot of space rock in their sound and music too.

The music is very much guitars driven with great help from keyboards, trumpet, bass and percussion. The music is entirely instrumental. The rhythms are very infectious and my feet is thumping along with the music under the office desk. Very infectious indeed. The same goes for the guitars and keyboards too.

There is no really great tracks here. Nevertheless, this is a very good fusion album which fans of fusion should check out. It is a hidden gem, no less.

3.5 points

Direction - Va Le voyage d'Alex (2011)

The sixth album from this very promising, now established Canadian band.

I had the fortune to get their 2009 album Ere. A good album which sounded like a mix of Rush and Yes. They have changed direction a lot during the two years between Ere and Va.

Va is a pure concept album in the cinematic symphonic prog vein. There is a lot of spoken words here in between some acoustic pieces and proper songs. The songs are in the neo prog vein. Some of the acoustic pieces is very orchestral too with the full symphony orchestra treatment, supporting an acoustic guitar. All spoken words and vocals are in French. I am not sure what the concept is all about.

This is a double album too, lasting two hours. A very, very ambitious project. A project they don't really pull off. Very few bands, and I can count them on one hand, has managed to do that since 1970. The music is good throughout and I am sure the story told here needs to be told over two discs and two hours.

This is an album for those into concept albums and cinematic symphonic neo prog. Being a French speaker too is an almost must to really enjoy this album. It is a good album which leaves me both cold and warm at the same time.

3 points

Saturday 18 January 2014

Pax Romana - Let All Men Know This Is Sacred Ground (2012)

The third album from this Finnish neo/art rock band.

If I am not wrong, the roots to this band were set in the 1970s. But their first album was released in 2005 and their album has got a good reception.

We are deep in neo prog land here. Sort of, that is. The line up is the normal keyboards, guitars, bass, vocals and drums. The added use of woodwinds like flutes, soprano and alt saxes gives the album a pretty substantial art rock slant too. The same goes for the use of female vocals on some of the tracks here. Mostly as duets with the male vocals.

This album is very varied with some folk rock and straight rock influences too. Acoustic ballads also makes this album a mixed bag. Which is nice when the music is great and it feels it has a purpose. The music on this very long winded titled album is not particular great. This is indeed a good album. The good things is the songs and the sound. That and the Scandinavian melancholic feeling it conveys. But it is not a great album. Check it out if you can find it somewhere.

3 points

One Shot - Live In Tokyo (2011)

The second live album from this highly rated French fusion band. They had up to that point and up to this day also released three studio albums. All of them highly rated.

One Shot plays hard edged fusion with some metal and some zeuhl influences. They are very much associated with the zeuhl genre due to their association with Magma. Hence my purchase of this album as I am mad about everything zeuhl.

I am not disappointed with this hour long live album. The bass and drums are very zeuhl. They are supported by guitars and Rhodes organs. The end result is a pretty brooding, dark fusion album with a zeuhl sound. I would also add Present here as they have done albums with the same sound.

I really like what I hear on this album and will make it my business to get hold of their other albums too. This is a great album where my only gripe is the lack of a killer track or two. But this is very much my kind of milk.

4 points

Laquesis - Laquesis (2013)

The debut album from this Argentine band.

We are in symphonic prog land again. That after the formalities of the first minutes of the seven minutes long Efecto Placebo has been completed. Those minutes are pure neo prog. The rest of the song, and indeed the rest of the album is pure symphonic prog though.

The music is performed by guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and some vocals. There is not much vocals here though. Most of the music here is instrumental. Majestic instrumental symphonic prog, that is. The music is cinematic too with a lot of melodies who would not had been out of place in a movie. Or for that matter; a nature movie about eagles or pumas. I can see the band have a career in that respect. Not at least because they know how to use symphony orchestra samples to the best possible effect.

Yes, they sounds like Genesis too. Add Yes and Camel too. They also have a typical South-American symphonic prog sound too. The sound is very dense though and full of intricate, interesting details. Not to mention long guitars and keyboards runs.

This hour long album is therefore a joy to behold for those of us who love symphonic prog. My only, half a point big gripe with this album is the lack of any killer tracks. This album is still as good as a debut album can get and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

4.5 points

Friday 17 January 2014

Visible Wind - Emergence (1994)

The third album from this Canadian neo prog band.

I really liked their first album Catharsis a lot. Great symphonic neo prog. But the band has cast off their symphonic sound and gone more mainstream English neo prog again. The music is very 1980s neo prog. The line up is keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. That and not so great vocals. This time, the vocals are both in English and French.

That is not that bad. The bad thing is the messy sound, the messy music and the feeling that the band is rudderless on this album. They are drifting around and bumping into Fish, Ange and some indie stuff too. There are also a lot of mainstream rock here too and some rather odd flirts with reggae.

The end result is a decent album and one that really disappoints me. I had hoped for something a lot better than this. A couple of good songs can be found here and that is all.

2 points

Gong - Acid Motherhood (2003)

Their twentieth album. Not bad !

Well, the label says Gong. But this is really a coop between Whatever-Gong-is-now and Acid Mother Temple. That band is a mad Japanese band who release three albums a year with spaced out space avant-garde jams and tours the world with ditto type of madness. My reviews of three of their albums leaves nothing to be desired. This album has a great degree of the same madness.

In Daevid Allen, they have found a true brother in arms. That except from his version of Gong being pretty structured while the Japanese madmen is not.

So we get fifty minutes with Daevid Allen and Gilli Smith's vocals over some pretty banal songs. We also get some good jazz and space rock here. Then we get Acid Mother Temple at full flow. For example at a song called Makototen which is fourteen minutes with Acid Mother Temple at full flow. In particular Kawabata Makoto's very feedback driven guitars.

Actually, this may sound a bit negative. I am not a fan of Acid Mother Temple. But Daevid Allen has harnessed them to good used under the Gong name on this album. Add his and Gong's own contributions and the result is a very good album which sits well under the Gong name. It is very much in the spirit of Gong.

Yes, I find myself really liking this album a lot. So much that it is up there with the better Gong albums. Check it out.

3.5 points

Mogul Thrash - Mogul Thrash (1971)

When the guitarist on the first two classic Colosseum albums suddenly found himself ejected from that band, he went his own way and created the short lived Mogul Thrash. This is their only album. Nothing was every heard from mr. James Litherland again..... although his homepage can be found here.

Anyway; the end result is this album. An album which is regarded as a semi-classic album. John Wetton from Yes also plays bass here. That has off course added to this album's prestige.

Besides of guitars and bass, this album is also enriched by plenty of woodwinds, drums and some very good vocals. If this sounds familiar, it is because this is identical to the Colosseum line-up too. This album sounds like their first albums too. We are talking bluesy jazz rock here with plenty of woodwinds and guitars.

The result is a good album with plenty of charm and life. I am neither a Colosseum fan or a fan of bluesy music. So this is not really my cup of tea. But I like this album a lot and find it a good album. It is well worth checking out and I think it deserves it's semi-classical status.

3 points

Rikk Eccent - The Garden Of Delights (2013)

The debut album from this Finnish classic rock project.

Classic rock from the 1970s is what we get here. Think Bad Company, Whitesnake, all the classic arena rock bands and even Rush.

That is a bit strange taking into account that Rikk Eccent is one Finnish man, mr Kimmo Salmela. He plays all the instruments plus delivers some great vocals here. The instruments he plays is bass, guitars and synth. The drums is obviously programmed with a laptop. The fact he is a one man band makes it difficult to play this music live in a sweaty pub, concert hall or in a festival. That's where this music belong, out there among people.

There is no great songs here. But the music is very good throughout and it highlights how good classic rock is when it is delivered like this. Classic rock with great vocals, a bit funk and a lot of life and joy. Even grumpy old men like me breaks out in a happy grin when listening to this album. Start the party and put this album on.

3.5 points  

Dzyan - Time Machine (1973)

The second album from this German krautrock band.

Dzyan was more on  the avant garde jazzy end of the krautrock scene. Something they proves here on this forty minutes long album. This type of music is mostly a hit and miss type of music.

Dzyan uses a lot of bass, guitars, synths and drums in their music. The idea is to create a dystopic musical landscape on the first half of the album before it opens up a lot on the rest of the album. Opens up to a more traditional jazz landscape.

The end result is a good jazzy avant garde album in the good old krautrock tradition. Some of the jams here are very good. Others not so good. It is well worth checking out this album though.

3 points

Thursday 16 January 2014

Medina Azahara - Tanger (1998)

The ninth album from this Spanish rock band. The most known Spanish rock band during the last thirty odd years. They are popular there, but not much elsewhere.

Which is a bit of a shame as they sometimes springs a surprise and release a good album. Tanger is mostly a Spanish rock album with some Arabic influences.... sorry, make that North-Africa influences. Tanger is a town in... Morocco ? Yes, Wikipedia says Morocco.

The music here is the usual fare from this band. A mix of rockers and ballads. Soft vs hard. Everything with great vocals from Manuel Martinez, one of the more underrated vocalists in the rock scene. His vocals, although in Spanish, is a joy to behold.

The North-Africa influences also makes this a pretty interesting album. There is not enough of them though. Nevertheless; this is a good album which proves that this band knows what they are doing. I got a pretty big soft spot for them despite of not speaking or understanding Spanish at all. I like Medina Azahara. I like this album.

3 points

Subsignal - Paraíso (2013)

The third album from this German neo prog band. One of very many German neo prog bands these days. The current neo prog revival is mostly lead from Germany. At least when it comes to quality.

When the most recent German output in the neo prog genre has been more melancholic and somber, Subsignal has a different take on the genre altogether. OK, still a bit melancholic. But most of the album is very commercial with a strong emphasis on good refrains and hooks. There is a lot of sing a long stuff here during the first half of the album and it makes me cringe a lot. This is pop rock. No less; no more. It is also pretty cheap and bereft of any interesting details.

The album picks up a lot on the best song of the album, the duet with Marcela Bovio named The Blueprint Of A Winter. A melancholic song with a strong melody and great male and female vocals. A great song miles better than the rest of this album. The rest of the album is more in the neo prog meets prog metal vein.

This is an album of two halves where the first half is not good at all and the second half shows a substantial improvement. That elevates this album up to a good standard. I don't think I am signing up to a membership of their fanclub, though.

3 points