Saturday 31 May 2014

Trinity & Triage - Trinity & Triage (2014)

The debut album from this English band.

Let me begin with the most obvious: The band is female vocals fronted. And the music is a mix of everything. Take some folk rock, jazz, prog, Middle Eastern folk rock, indie and some psychedelic rock. That should give you an indication about what this band has done here.

Of comparisons, the band sometimes sounds like Garbage, Kate Bush and David Bowie. There is an unmistaken whiff of the Middle East and Arabic music here. Ditto for pretty commercial rock too.

I do not know why this album is a free download from Bandcamp. My guess is that they use this album as a business card to get gigs and some better deals. I am saying this because the band has all the hallmarks of a band who will go far if they really work hard for it. This album has some very good songs. Their vocalist is great. The band can really do a great job on gigs. I do not know the London scene, but I hope they are really burning up the gigs scene there. They can open for anyone. This band may be the next big thing.

The music is very good throughout and the free album is an offer nobody should pass up on. A killer track or two is the only missing thing here. Besides of that; this is a very good album.

3.5 points

The album 

New Trolls - Concerto Grosso, The Seven Seasons (2007)

The seventeenth album from New Trolls.

This Italian band has always been close to make a full classical music piece. Their Concerto series is a proof of that. Well, they finally made it after some very poor albums in the 1980s and 1990s.

The opening here sets the stalls out on the market square. Classical music. Some vocals and guitars joins the party after a while. Then we get a mix of classical and rock music throughout this one hour long album.

I am not a fan of this grandeur of delusions some rock acts gets when they want to make classical music and operas. That often combined with rock too. I don't rate Deep Purple's classical concerto album. Neither am I any fan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The only crossover album I like is actually this one. OK, there is some cheesy, cringe worthy moments on this album. But most of this album actually good to very good. A killer melody is missing and hence my reserved three pointer. But the overall quality is good and I would almost recommend this album. It is that good. Check it out.

3 points

Seven Side Diamond - Enigma (2011)

The third album from this Brazilian band and the only one I got.

I know nothing about their previous outputs. They seems to be a popular band with a pretty big fanbase. Listening to this album, I can understand why.

Their music is a mix of prog metal and heavy rock from the 1970s. Add some symphonic prog rock to the proceedings too and you get this album. The music is performed with guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and English vocals. Very good vocals, btw.

The music is very symphonic with the very long title track suite taking up the main chunk of this one hour long album. It is rather unfortunate that most of the music has this annoying prog metal sound with chugging guitars and a gothic feel. More than half of this album has a strong prog metal feel. Pretty generic prog metal, that is.

When that is said, the end result is good and I very much enjoy the title track. I still get the feeling of having been here before. Fans of prog metal should check out this album, though.

3 points

Friday 30 May 2014

Eloy - Planets (1981)

The ninth album from this German band.

Eloy has had a very high standard on their albums throughout the final part of the 1970s. Several great albums was released.

I was a bit sceptic towards their 1980 album Colours though. Mostly because they had moved away from what I regard as the Eloy style. My worries has been laid to rest by this album though, Planets. An album where Eloy takes their music to other planets again.

Eloy combines space rock and symphonic prog pretty well on this album. Great vocals and keyboards again. It is very symphonic at times with some barnstorming keyboards runs. The guitars, bass and drums are good too. The music is at times pretty commercial though with some clearly defined song structures in amongst the space rock here.

My only gripe with this album is the lack of any great songs. This is not an album on par with Dawn from 1976. It is still a very good album I find very enjoyable. This is what I call a worthy Eloy album and one you should check out.

3.5 points

Petrina. Ota - Super Robot (1978)

The debut album from this Czech songwriter and artist.

Ota Petrina was a pretty popular solo artist back in the 1970s behind the Iron Curtain. The cold war was raging and there was a lot of censorship back then. But he managed to release this and another album.

Super Robot is also a movie and this is supposed to be the sountrack to that movie. This does not sound like a soundtrack to me. The music is very song orientated. Song orientated in the vein of folk rock with some Genesis and Pink Floyd vibes. No less and no more. OK, I would add that the music here has something in common with Italian prog and folk rock.

Ota Petrina, a male btw for those of you, including myself, who are not an expert on Czech male and female naming conventions, has a good voice and the vocals is in his mother-tongue. He is helped out by flutes, synths, guitars, bass and drums here.

The end result is a fifty-five minutes good album with good songs overall. I like the sound and I like most of the melodies. A killer track or four would had elevated this album to a higher level. But it is good enough as it is. Check it out.

3 points

Salis - Seduto Sull'Alba A Guardare (1974)

The second album from this Italian band.

Their debut album from 1971 did not really impress me and the rest of the scene either. Their mix of beat and naive pop were already outdated in in 1971. The year is 1974 and the band has updated their sound a bit. The music is still rooted in pop-rock. There are some small and interesting details in their music scattered around this forty minutes long album.

The music is still based around some good Italian vocals. Good but uncomplicated vocals. A flute is an interesting addition to their sound and it sometimes contribute with the interesting qualities here. The keyboardist, guitarist, bassist and drummer lives a sheltered life and it not much taxed here.

The end result is still a pop-rock album in the good old The Beatles tradition with some decent to good songs. It is a slight improvement from their debut album though. That is all I can say about an album most fans of Italian prog rock will shun.

2.5 points

Thursday 29 May 2014

Area - Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano (1978)

The fifth album from this Italian band and their final album with Demetrio Stratos who passed away in 1979 after a fight with cancer.

This album is also regarded as the final classic Area album. And it very much follows up what the four first albums did. That means Demetrio Stratos wild vocals on the top of some avant-garde rock and jazz. The music is very playful and joyful. The instruments and the vocals are all over the place. Still within a clearly defined song structure. The music is created by a multitude of different instruments and vocals expressions.

The opening track Il Bandito Del Deserto is both a great song and a good example of how a catchy tune also can be combined with intelligent melody structures. The rest of the album follows in the same vein too. Lots of catchy stuff combined with very intelligent structures. Not to mention intelligent solos. Demetrio Stratos also sings beautifully here.

The end result is a great album from a band I think is still a bit undervalued. Their first five albums has a legend status in my view. Check them out.

4 points

Obiymy Doschu - Elehia (2009)

The debut album from this Ukraine band.

I remember this band from ProgArchives. Not that I remember why I remember the band. Maybe I interviewed them. I am too lazy tonight to check it out.

This eight piece band's debut album gives us almost an hour worth of melancholic progressive rock. The very dark operatic male vocals are in their mother tongue. The music has plenty of guitars, viola, violins, keyboards, drums and bass. The melancholic rock are also bordering to both folk rock and doom metal throughout. My Dying Bride and Nightwish springs to mind. So does Pink Floyd too.

The songs are long and atmospheric. They are very dark too. The vocals are very good and adds a lot to the good music here. Ukraine is in a very difficult place at the moment with sorrows and pain all around. It feels like this album is almost prophetic in this respect as it was released in 2009. It is spooky to watch the news bulletins from Ukraine while listening to this album. Maybe I should not do that.

The end result is a very good album which seriously need some more exposure. I am not that keen on the metallic guitar riffs here. But the vocals are great. I therefore recommends this album which really has a gothic, Eastern European feeling. A feeling of loss and pain.

3.5 points  

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Ghiribizzi - Zep Tepi (2001)

The debut album from this Belgium based band.

The band is listed in ProgArchives neo-prog genre and I thought maybe it was time for some neo-prog now after some recent hard slogs with other genres. I like variations in my life.

This is a three piece band with keyboards, guitars, woodwinds, programming, percussion and vocals. No bass, strangely enough. The bass is programmed, it sounds like. That is a bit of a spicy combination.

The sound is not particular great here with the vocals pretty much in the back of the mix. So much that the vocals is hardly in the mix at all. The piano and keyboards is very much pushed forward in the mix. A mix which is pretty terrible, all around.

Then we have the music on this forty-five minutes long album. The band tries something new here.... well, they are not a standard neo-prog or even a rock band. They have taken a chunk of Saga, some chunks of Ange and some vaudeville music. Not to mention straight rock'n'roll. And yes, there are some neo-prog here too. There are even some ballads here. Ballads killed by the mix.

The mix is terrible and none of the songs here are really any good. Yes, some of them are catchy. But not in a good way. This is a decent album though and I am looking forward to hear their other albums. This album is not my cup of tea, though.

2 points

Gardenia - Invocacion a los Pajaros (2009)

The debut album from this Argentine band.

Gardenia is one of those bands who defines new progressive rock. Take a spoonful of Mars Volta, fusion, Rush, funk, metal, Faith No More, jazz, folk rock, King Crimson and prog rock. Then you get this band. And not to forget; the Spanish vocals. That on the top of some guitars, drums, bass and synths. Then you get this thirty-six minutes long album.

The band is a very tight unit who produce some very tight music. The rhythm section is as tight as a duck's bottom. Some, well most rhythm structures has more in common with jazz than any forms of rock music. Some of the melodies are also very weird and far out there. The vocals is very good and the same goes for the rest of the band. There is also a Latin-American feel over this album.

Unfortunate, there is no really great tracks here. Nevertheless, I like what I hear on this album and regard it as a good album. I think this band is well worth exploring further. That is my intention too.

3 points

Officina Meccanica - La Follia Del Mimo Di Fuoco (2007)

The only sign of life from this pretty popular Italian band from the 1970s.

Don't let the release date fool you. The recording was made in the mid 1970s. The album lay dormant for decades before BTF released it in 2007. The band broke up in 1978 and three of their members had sadly passed away before this album saw the light of day.

The music here is not the traditional RPI/Italian progressive rock fare either. The music draws a lot on their use of trumpet and saxophone. Those again are supported by keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and Italian vocals. The sound is not particular great as in the meaning of crystal clear and crisp. The sound is very much the 1970s Italian progressive rock sound.

The music is a mix of psychedelic as in the final The Beatles albums, funk, fusion, folk rock and progressive rock. That and Ange's theatrical rock. There is a lot of theater in their music. Their gigs were pure theater too, I have been told. There is a lot of vaudeville circus in their music too. As I said; this is not the typical Italian progressive rock fare.

This one hour long album is a good album. Overall, that is. It is lacking some killer tracks and that is my gripe with it. Fans of Italian prog rock and also perhaps fans of Ange should check out this album.

3 points

I Know You Well Miss Clara - Chapter One (2013)

The debut album from this Indonesian band.

Indonesian music has increasingly meant jazz released through MoonJune Records. And hey presto, this is also the case here. Bullseye in other words.

This cryptically named four piece band consists of keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. They are also helped out by saxophone on a couple of tracks. The absence of any local folk music, as on most other Indonesian albums released through MoonJune, is notable. The band has rather got their inspirations from England instead. Which may explain the eccentric band name. English humour, you see.

The band and the music comes across as a heavy inspired by both Mahavishnu Orchestra and Soft Machine. Not to mention the Belgium jazz scene too around Mass Machine and The Wrong Object. The music here is in other words very intense with some psychedelic and avant-garde influences too. This album is therefore not really a purebred jazz album. It is very much a fusion album. As such; a purebred fusion album.

This album is really like an infusion of new blood into the fusion scene which is now too dominated by docile elevator music like albums. I have not really enjoyed the last ones I got from all other labels than MoonJune. This album is a different kettle of fish altogether. The solos here is great and innovative. The bass is rumbling on in the background and the drums are also innovative and not there only to keep the beat going. The guitars are superb and ditto for the keyboards. There guest saxophone is also adding the dot to the i on this album. On the top of that, this hour long/short album also dishes up some great melodies too.

The end result is a great album and one that has kept my spirits up lately. It comes highly recommended to anyone into fusion.

4 points

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Arktis - On The Rocks (1976)

The third album from this German band.

After releasing two albums with mostly krautrock improvised material, the band finally pulled themselves together and released an album with proper songs. The result is not a krautrock album, though.

The result is a rock album though. You get guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and English vocals here. The sound is not particular good despite of the hard work Garden Of Delights put into cleaning up the album before the 1997 re-release of it.

The music is sometimes hard rocking with a rampant Hammond organ in the core of this album. That and some very dubious vocals from Karin Toppig. Vocals which in my ears does not sound acceptable at all. The guitars are pretty bad too. There are some very decent songs here on an album who fits the generic-rock label. The end result is a forty-five minutes long album which fails to impress at all levels. Not to mention; fails to please me. It is barely a decent album and that is it. A weak two pointer it is.

2 points

Kataya - Voyager (2010)

The second album from this Finnish band.

I was not particular overly impressed by their debut album Canto Obscura from 2008. Too much slick instrumental fusion/symphonic prog without much identity.

They have ditched the woodwinds on this album and gone for a much more streamlined symphonic prog sound. The music is still mostly instrumental with guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and some voice on one of the tracks.

The forty five minutes long album is split into three epics; The Eve, The Eclipse and The Return. All of this is instrumental. The music is still slick as oil. It has actually become a lot more slick on this album than on the debut album. I have to admit this music really bores me. There is not really any bites in the music, no identity and not much melodies either. The music is too slick without many interesting details.

I am afraid the band has taken one step back on this album. It is still a very decent album though. But it is not my style.

2.5 points

Odissea - Odissea (1973)

Another Italian band who released one album and then faded into obscurity together with their album. Where is the band members now, we can only ask ourselves.

We are in classic RPI land here. Italian Progressive Rock. The music is on the more pastoral side here without being neither too heavy or too much influenced by Italian pop. The Italian vocals are very good. Ditto for the mellotron, guitars and piano. They are backed up by bass and drums. The sound is great with this great RPI sound.

Good references for the music on this album is PFM, Genesis and Banco. The music in itself is good throughout. This half an hour long album is an album which will please other fans of RPI too. It lacks a couple of killer tracks though and that is my big gripe with it. Nevertheless; it is a good album. Check it out.

3 points

Monday 26 May 2014

Octopie - Fresh From The Oven (2012)

The debut album from this Finnish band.

Octopie is one of those bands who mixes the late 1960s/early 1970s sound with today's sound. Take early Pink Floyd and Soft Machine and add some contemporary art rock and jazz to the proceedings. Then you are more or less where this band are on this album.

Their use of Hammond organ is a throwback to the early 1970s sound and a heart warmer in my house. The guitars, bass, drums and vocals is not bad either on this forty minutes long album divided on three compositions. Three long compositions in other words. Each of the compositions offers a lot of scope for playful music and the band takes full advantage of that. There is a lot of structures here and playful playing here in equal measures.

The result is a very good album which shows a lot of promise. The only thing lacking here is some really great melody lines. Nevertheless; the band should be really happy with themselves. A plus to the funny art cover too. Clever ! Check out this album.

3.5 points

Ad Honorem - Ad Honorem (2014)

A new Argentine band with one of their first ever outputs.

The band has labeled their music as symphonic rock, metal and rock. Well, we are all entitled to our opinion. I wonder where the metal part comes in here. Or if my ears are wrong. There is no metal on this album whatsoever. What we get is South American folk rock with some vaudeville influences. The music also has some theater music influences.

An obvious comparison is Ange. There are enough symphonic rock/prog elements here to make that comparison. The vocals is pretty theatrical and so is the use of violins, bass, guitars, piano and percussion. The music is pretty somber and melancholic throughout. The music also has this Argentine identity and flavour which really stands out. Yes, the vocals are in Spanish and they are very good.

The end result is a far too short meeting with this band. A good album though, released through Bandcamp. I hope to hear more from this band in the future.

3 points

The album

Sunday 25 May 2014

Oregon - Music of Another Present Era (1973)

The debut album from this US band.

The band has released 23 studio albums and is regarded as an innovative jazz band. And that is what we get here. Jazz who takes a lot from both eastern and western music. That and a lot of avant-garde music. The band is known as one of the best improvisation band and that may be the case here.

The music is performed with a lot of oboe, horn, double-bass, tabla, percussion, sitar and guitar. There is really difficult to find nice melody lines in this predominant avant-garde jazz album. Music far too out there for my liking. In five years time, I will probably disagree with this review. But there are still some very good melodies here and that is the main thing I am taking from this fifty minutes long album. It is not an album from the mass market. It is an album for the few. I award it a weak good rating.

3 points

Mindflower - Mindfloater (2001)

The third album from this Italian band.

I was not particular impressed by their first album. See the review posted 18. May 2014. I had some hope for this album though.

The band is pretty far from the RPI sound on this album. Very far, in fact. What we get here is a mix of indie rock, pop and neo prog. The sound and mood is pretty dark throughout on this album where guitars, keyboards, bass, piano, drums and male English vocals is the dominating factors. The male vocals is very dark. The occasional female vocals just adds to the dark, somber mood.

There is no really good songs on this fifty minutes long album. Neither is this my cup of tea either. It feels like this album is meant for the more college scene than the prog scene. This is a decent album and that is it. Sorry.

2 points

Saturday 24 May 2014

Maneige - Live À L'Évêché 1975 (2005)

The third live album from this great band from Canada.

This live album was recorded on November 22 1975 at Hotel Nelson in Montreal. It was stored in an archive for thirty years before ProgQuebec Records released it in 2005.

Maneige does not really need an introduction. Their music is a mix of fusion, folk rock and symphonic prog. The band's use of flute adds a big chunk of folk rock to the proceedings. I love their sound. A very warm sound.

That sound is not particular well conveyed on this seventy-seven minutes long album. An album without their best stuff, it has to be said. The sound quality is not the best one, it has to said. It is still good enough to give a good picture of the band anno that gig. The music is much more jazzy than I am used to from Maneige with a lot more saxophones and a lot more intense music too.

The end result is a good album which does not live up to their best studio albums. It is still worth checking out this album though.

3 points

Sagrado Coracao da Terra - A Leste do Sol, Oeste da Lua (2000)

The fifth album from this Brazilian band.

The band with this long name started out as a Brazilian folk music influenced symphonic prog band back in 1985 and has used the albums leading up to this album to refine their music and style.

The music is still performed with violins, keyboards, mandolin, bass, drums and a lot of Portuguese vocals. All of them are very good. The vocals reminds me about Angelo Branduardi.

Where the band produced some long songs on their previous albums, the band has dropped them and gone for a more classical music new age pop identity. There are still a lot of folk music in their music. The symphonic prog is gone though and so is most of the dynamics. What is left is a lot of sugary, but still beautiful music.

Beautiful is what I would call this album. Beautiful and a bit wishy-washy. This band still pulls it off on this one hour long album. The symph prog elements has gone though and that is a pity. This is still a good album, well worth checking out.

3 points  

Orange Peel - Orange Peel (1970)

The only album from this German band.

Released in 1970, the band and the music leans heavy on blues, space, psychedelic and hard rock. In other words; krautrock as this band is from Germany.

The dominant instruments here are bass, drums, Hammond organ, guitars and English vocals. There is a lot of Deep Purple in their sound and music. Ditto for British blues. The Hammond organ and the guitars are dueling throughout this forty minutes long album. The very good powerful vocals rests on the top of the music.

There are four songs on this album, including a cover version of the old blues standard Tobacco Road. The best piece here is the twenty minutes long opening track which has a lot of dueling guitars and Hammond organs. A pretty spaced out track in the best krautrock tradition. Taken into account the good 1970s sound, the end result is a very good album. It is a sweaty, infectious album too which will please all fans of real krautrock. It comes highly recommended.

3.5 points

Dodson & Fogg - The Call (2013)

The fourth album from this English band since 2012. They have just released a new album too.

Five albums in two years is not bad. In particular this being a folk rock band. Their music is deeply rooted in the 1970s British folk rock tradition. Include an acoustic version of Pink Floyd too and you get it.

The music is performed with the main man in this band Chris Wade's vocals, guitars, sitar, keyboards, percussion and some woodwinds. That means trumpet, flutes and saxophones. Add some female vocals to the mix too and you get it.

The music is pretty understated and based on vocals, both male and female. The music has some pastoral feeling too. It also has this pretty lush English summers in the apple orchards feel.

There are a couple of very good songs here and some good songs on this forty-two minutes long album. A very solid album and one of the best post-millennium folk rock albums I have encountered. I would highly recommend this band. Although this is not really my cup of tea, this band seems like a good bet for further explorations.

3 points

Friday 23 May 2014

Kataya - Canto Obscura (2008)

The debut album from this Finnish band.

Finland has got some new prog and fusion bands which is well worth checking out. Kataya's debut album is firmly somewhere between fusion and symphonic prog. It is also an instrumental album where human voices is used as instruments. That together with keyboards, soprano saxophone, guitars, bass and drums.

The sound is very good and presents almost fifty minutes of crystal clear music. Music which is somewhere between jazz, folk and symphonic prog. The music has a Finnish sound where the soprano saxophone and the female voices plays it's part in creating their identity.

Unfortunate, the end result is not the most interesting fifty minutes I have ever heard. It is at times very clever music which really becomes pretty dull. I shall not be too harsh with a debut album. This album is actually a good album which would please all fans of this genre..... and many others too. So I award it a good rating with a hope that their next album is better than this one.

3 points  

New Trolls - Concerto Grosso N. II (1976)

The eight album from this Italian band.

It is fair to say that their output up to now had been of variable quality. At least the band knew what they wanted on this album. An album with a classical music title. A very misleading title.

There are some classical music stuff in the beginning before the album turns down the well trodden Italian rock and pop path. You get guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals here. There is no classical music like instruments here.

The sound is pretty thin and stripped down. I expected something big and got something pretty small in return. Some of the music is Italian pop from the 1960s. There are a couple of pretty good melodies here. But my impression of this album, the disappointment aside, is that this is a decent album which does nothing for me.

2 points

Lasting Weep - LW 1969 1971 (2007)

The second of the posthumous albums from this Canadian band.

Lasting Weep were the forerunner to Maneige who got considerable more success than Lasting Weep ever did. The foundations of Maneige can be found on those two Lasting Weep posthumous albums, though.

Lasting Weep played a mix of folk rock and fusion. The music is very much progressive rock with some psychedelic and space rock included too. There is plenty of flutes, guitars, bass, woodwinds and drums on this instrumental album.

The sound quality is not particular good and it is obvious the record label has been scraping the bottom of the barrel here. The music is pretty good though, although not anywhere near the level Maneige operated on. These seventy-six minutes is a bit of an ordeal too at times. Half of it is a live recording and the rest is demo tracks. Nevertheless; this is a decent album which fans of Maneige would find an obligatory purchase.

2 points

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Ethos - Relics 1973 1975 (1975)

A compilation album released on the back of the success of their debut album Ardour from 1975. The band toured with King Crimson and other big bands. They were about to set the world alight and the record label wanted to cash in.

Ethos did not set the world alight at the end. Their 1977 album Open Up saw the end of the band. A great US symphonic prog band. This album with studio and live tracks proves why. The sound quality is a bit dubious though. But we let that pass.

The music here is much more in the Genesis vein than on their two studio albums. They are very Genesis here. The mellotron adds some great flavours to the songs here and reminds me a lot about Anglagard.

This is one of the better B-sides and left over songs compilations I have heard from any band lately. The sound is not good and that let's it down. The lack of a killer track is also a problem. Nevertheless; this is a good album.

3 points

Onza - Reino Rocoso (1991)

The debut album from this Spanish band who has released three studio albums.

Onza is listed as a neo prog band in ProgArchives. That is a probability on their 2003 and 2007 albums. What comes out of my speakers here is not neo prog. The music here is jazz in the Pierre Moerlen's Gong vein with some Spanish folk music influences.

You get guitars, percussions, drums, bass and keyboards here on this mostly instrumental album. There are some vocals here too when the band tries out pop-rock in the middle of this album. A very feeble attempt, btw.

The jazz stuff here is decent enough, although not particular original or inspiring. The end result is a decent album which is not tempting me to purchase their two other albums. I have heard enough, thank you.

2 points

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Falena - L'idiota (2013)

The debut album from this Italian band.

The Italian prog rock scene is in rude health. I just wish I could had been that healthy myself. Jealousy aside, the scene comes up with a lot of great bands. 2014 has seen some debut albums which makes my eyebrows moving towards the back of my head. This album is one of those facelifts.

The music is created with guitars, keyboards, flutes, organ, bass, drums and some very good Italian vocals. The band has listed Banco del Muteo Soccorso, Porcupine Tree and Genesis as their main inspirations. And yes, those three bands are good references. Add both Gentle Giant and King Crimson to the mix too. The music on this album is both challenging and eclectic. It is also very much a RPI album with it's base in folk rock and symphonic prog.

The band has not fallen for the considerable temptation of re-creating the 1970s feel and sound. The sound is contemporary while still being firmly rooted in the RPI tradition. That makes the sound here one of the better I have heard for some time. In particular the flutes sound which is excellent.

This album is a bit short, clocking in on thirty-four minutes. Then again, any flabby dead weight has been removed and only the best stuff remains. Other bands could/should also copy this idea. The result is a very good to great album. This album is missing a killer track though and that is why it only receive a very good rating from me. The album is a borderline great album though and a very, very promising debut album. I have duly noted this band and cannot wait for more albums from them.

3.5 points

Landberk - Lonely Land (1992)

The second album from this Swedish band who went on to releasing three albums between 1992 and 1996. I think they have split up now. Lonely Land is also the English language version of their debut album Riktigt Akta. Only the band knows why they have totally changed the title of this album from "genuine true" to Lonely Land.

Landberk was in the same scene as Anglagard and Anekdoten back in the 1990s. Swedish symphonic prog in other words. Dark, melancholic symphonic prog, that is. Melancholy with a lot of mellotrons, acoustic guitars, dark male vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, accordion, flutes and drums. That also gives this album a pretty strong Swedish folk music vibe.

Landberk reminds me somewhat about Anglagard. Landberk though is more folk music inspired than Anglagard. They are also a lot more pastoral than their more known countrymen.

There is no bombastic songs here with the big wow factor. Lonely Land slowly creeps up on the listener and stays there..... for a while. This fifty minutes long album, my sole Landberk album makes me yearn for more of their albums. This is indeed a very good album and recommended.

3.5 points

Monday 19 May 2014

Ouija - Addiction (2013)

The debut album from this French band, released through Musea Records.

French bands are normally pretty strange and original, compared to the rest of the scene. Ouija is not perhaps the most original band out there. Their brand of prog metal is pretty dark with some Tool and avant-garde influences. Not to mention; some Yes and Genesis influences. The vocals are in English and they are pretty downtuned dark. King Crimson also springs to mind on this album where the vocals are supported by chugging guitars, bass and drums.

Ouija is a trio and they makes the best out of that format. The songs are not particular great though. Their dark, melancholic sound reminds me a bit about David Bowie and produces fifty minutes of some good, original prog metal, bordering to crossover prog. It is not rich on pastoral melodies. It still sits nicely with me and I rate it as a good album. I better keep an eye on this band in the future.

3 points

Fashion Pink - ..... To Brainstorm (2000)

The first of two posthumous albums from this German band.

This is not really a studio album. It is some radio recordings, possible broadcasts, in the SWF Sessions series. It is a cobbled together album of those recordings.

As you would expect from this information, this band plays krautrock. Take a lot of beat, hard blues, jazz, avant-garde and space rock. Then you get this album. An album from a band who really never made it. Not under the name of Fashion Pink anyway. The band developed into the far more famous band Brainstorm.

The music is performed with guitars, keyboards, flutes, bass, drums and vocals.

The sound here is not the best. Neither is the material here particular interesting unless you are a die-hard fan of pre-krautrock. There are some pretty good stuff here though. Most of the album falls into the archive-material bracket. It is a decent one hour long album and that is it.

2 points

Sunday 18 May 2014

Fugato Orchestra - Noe (2010)

The second and so far last album from this Hungarian band. Or to be more precise; orchestra.

Both this orchestra and this almost seventy minutes long album falls a bit outside the rock and pop format. A lot of the music here is pure classical music. Other music here is electronic and funky popular music. There are also some swing and jazz here. All of this with bass and drums.

There is a huge variety of music here. Some of it makes me cringe. It is that cheesy. It goes from Prince like funk to reggae and classical music. There are also some female opera vocals here in addition to a male singer who copies Bob Marley. The huge list of musicians here, more than twenty musicians, are kept busy.

Fugato Orchestra is trying to be everything at the same time. In around seventy minutes, that is not easy. The contrasts here is massive. The common thing here is that everything is bland and too slick. There is not much soul here. The best parts is when the female vocalists are let loose with some proper songs. The only saving grace on this album. The rest of this album is too much plastic, too fake, too fragmented.

Avoid this album and get their first album instead.

2 points

Mindflower - Purelake (1995)

The debut album from this Italian band who so far has released four albums.

Mindflower is a bit difficult to pinpoint, genre wise. They use both male and female vocals. They also use keyboards, guitars, bass, programming and drums. The drums are a bit loose and the sound mired in the plastic fantastic 1980s sound. It is not good at all. Ditto for the guitars and vocals which sounds out of place.

The music has it's roots in English neo prog. Added to that, we get some dark chamber rock and symph prog. The 1980s feel is very much present. The band also goes a bit avant-garde here.

I am well aware of the fact that this is a debut album where things are tested to find out if they work or not. Most of the things does not work here. The sound is wrong and there is no really good songs here. The band shows some potential, but that is all. This is a decent album and nothing more than that.

2 points

Hands - Hands (1977)

The debut album from this US band who is still alive and kicking. They have so far released four albums.

This album was actually released in 1996 on Shroom Productions, a small label who also has released some other obscure US symphonic prog albums. Hands was one of those bands who never reached the album stage due to lack of interest from the record labels. This album, which consists of several recordings from 1977, did not see the light before 1996.

We are deep into US symph prog land here. Take some early Kansas, Camel, Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull. Then you get something near this band. I would also add a bit Mahavishnu Orchestra to this mix.

The music is mostly instrumental and is created with flutes, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and a lot of other instruments. The music is to say at least colourful, but still within the symph prog genre. Some of the melodies here are very good. Others again is only decent. The album is really suffering from the lack of a killer track or two. Seventy minutes with this album is well spent minutes though. I am dithering between good or very good here. But I land on a good rating. Check it out and judge for yourself.

3 points

Saturday 17 May 2014

Ange - Rideau ! (1995)

The fourth live album from this French band.

Ange was and still is one of the best French bands of all time. Their and the French scene's take on symphonic prog was very French with a mix of theatrical music, English symph prog and folk music in the Jacques Brel vein. You cannot nothing but be impressed by their first studio albums.

Rideau is a shortened version of the much longer live album Un P'tit Tour Et Puis S'En Vont from the same year. A bit more compacted down to seventy odd minutes. You get some soaring guitars and keyboards here on the top of Christian Decamps superb vocals. Live, his voice sounds a bit more forced than on a studio record. But it is still more than good enough. The sound is also great.

The end result is an enjoyable seventy odds minutes with this band. This album is by no means a great live album. It is still a good album which should light up the day for any Ange fans. Check it out.

3 points

Anekdoten - A Time Of Day (2007)

The fifth and so far final album from this highly influential Swedish band.

The band's first two albums, Vemod and Nucleus, signaled the return of Scandinavian prog rock and were two very good album. Get them !

In 2007, the band had moved on again and into a much more Marillion, Radiohead and a more post rock direction with A Time Of Day. The mellotrons is still very much present here. The music is a lot more stripped down and based on moods. Post rock moods, that is. The music is very pedestrian at times. The vocals in the college rock mould and very restricted. Less is more is the obvious motto here on this forty-five minutes long album.

The band has retained the Swedish melancholy. This is very much an Anekdoten album. Unmistakenly so. The songs are good throughout. I feel the band has moved a bit too much towards mainstream post rock kind of rock here. The songs are only good and there is no real killer songs here. Hence my verdict. But I am happy to lend my ears to this band and I hope we will soon see a return of Anekdoten.

3 points

Glass - Spectrum Principle (2010)

The third album from this US band who first saw light in the 1970s before they disbanded in frustration of getting nowhere. The band started afresh in 2004 with their first album No Stranger To The Skies.

Glass plays symphonic prog with some ambient and avant-garde influences on this album. Add some psychedelic, space and Canterbury prog elements too and you get this album. All of the music, with the exception of some spoken words, is instrumental.

There is a lot of piano, mellotron and moogs here. There is no guitars here though. Bass and drums completes the picture. The music has a traditional 1970s feel.

This one hour long album is not a straight forward symphonic prog album. It has too many weird facets to really be a run of the mill symph prog album. The space and psychedelic elements are pretty strong here. The album is as much a krautrock album as a symph prog album.

The album has some very good stuff and some pretty dire stuff too. It is an uneven album where 1/3 of it should had been binned. The law of the average tells me this is a good album. Be prepared to be challenged with this album, though. It is not a run of the mill album. Check it out.

3 points

Friday 16 May 2014

Barclay James Harvest - North (2013)

Not really a full Barclay James Harvest album as John Lees is the only original member of the band featuring on this album. It is though regarded as a BJH album and it is the 20th BJH album.

This album is very far away from once was BJH at their finest. What we get here is vocals, guitars, keyboards, drums and bass. The music is standard rock. Music you can easily tour pubs and small assembly halls with. The music is very stripped down.

John Lees vocals are OK. The fifty-five minutes here is not particular full of adventures. There are some sampled symphonic orchestra bits here and there. Most of this is generic, standard rock. I find it difficult to dislike this as I find it difficult to write anything bad about John Lees. I really like BJH too. This album is not particular worthy of the BJH name and it is frankly pretty dull. It is nevertheless a decent album.

2 points

Willowglass - Book Of Hours (2008)

The second album from this British one man project.

Willowglass is the Yorkshire man Andrew Marshall's project. So far, it has released three albums. He is helped by David Brightman on drums on this album. Andrew plays keyboards, guitars, flute and bass on this album. That and mellotron.

The result is a fifty minutes long instrumental symphonic prog album. Comparisons to the likes of Camel and Genesis are obvious. The melodies are soaring. In particular where mellotron and church organs is used. The guitars too are very much present here.

The music is more melody based than technical prowesses based. It is changing between guitars and keyboards. That is the dynamics here. The end result is a good album which comes up a bit short. It is mostly a very solid album without any flaws of any kind. It is not terrible exciting though. But by all means; this is a good album and well worth checking out.

3 points

Jack O'The Clock - All My Friends (2013)

The third album from this US folk rock band.

Or maybe folk rock is not the right genre. Jack O'The Clock is a difficult band to pinpoint. Take some bluegrass, college rock, avant-garde prog, Americana and jazz. Then you get somewhere near this band and album.

This five piece band deliver their music with a wide variety of acoustic instruments + some loops. This album also got ten different guest musicians too. Despite of that, the music is pretty bare and not particular stuffy with many instruments. Some parts of this album got a the circus comes to town feeling. A bit vaudeville adds to the music too.

One thing I have discovered is that the album needs to be played a bit loud to be fully appreciated. It is most certainly not an album you can listen to while doing other things. It is a very demanding album. Despite of giving it my full attention during many listening sessions, I am not fully subscribing to the view that this album is a masterpiece, like other reviews will tell you it is. This is not really my kind of smorgasboard. The male and female vocals are really very good. The music itself not that good. It is lacking some really good songs and some instrumental bits who adds value and joy to the listening experience.

This is by all means a very decent album which would appeal to a lot others than me who likes more instrumental and soaring melodies than what is presented here. Sorry !

2.5 points

Thursday 15 May 2014

Gandalf's Fist - From A Point Of Existence (2012)

The third studio album from this British band who also released four EPs before they released this album.

Gandalf's Fist is a two members band. That is Dean Marsh and Luke Severn from Cumbria in the north-west of England. They both do the vocals and all instruments. That off course gives the sound it's limits. But in today's digital world, their sound still gives the listener a good punch. It is big, in other words.

We are again in a landscape filled with Floyd'isms and epic neo prog. Add some Genesis and some American AOR to the mix too and you get this album.

The music is powerful enough with some soaring guitars and keyboards. Ditto for the many guitar harmonies the band scatters around the songs here. The vocals is not particular great and the band should ask themselves if not a hired in vocalist could do a far better job. The music is not overly interesting either. It is full of cliches and I am getting a bit bored after some listening sessions. I feel the band has taken one step backwards with this album and is driving very safe on this album. Stagnation sometimes means falling behind and the band has just done that on this album.

This is a very decent one hour long album though. Check it out.

2.5 points

Wlud - Second (1979)

The second and final album from this French band.

Their first album was a solid, good instrumental prog album somewhere between fusion and symph prog. I really like that album. The band more or less continues on in the same track on this album too.

That is; during the first forty-five minutes of this album. The final twelve minutes is filled with pretty dull French rock in the reggae and pop tradition.

The instrumental first forty-five minutes is dominated by guitar and keyboards solos over some both epic and funky melody lines. It is clear that the band had adopted the late 1970s funk rock and had one foot in that scene. The other one was still stuck in the symph prog scene. The melodies here are good to very good at times.

Then we got the final twelve minutes with is pretty dire........ The vocals and the melodies is a dying man's desperate attempt to gain popularity. The attempt fails.

In short; this is a very decent album which may please the instrumental prog fans out there. I am not one of them though. But check out this album.

2.5 points

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Arktis - Arktis Tapes (1975)

The second album from this German band.

I was not the biggest fan of their first album. Their primitive version of krautrock made me draw comparisons with Amon Duul. It is with some relief I can report they have moved on a bit from the pretty uneventful debut album.

You still get some pretty horrible female vocals and a lot of guitars. The band has developed a bit and that in the direction of Guru Guru. The music is still very primitive on this far, far too long album. Seventy-three minutes is far too much of this type of music. The type of music is variations on a theme played by a guitarist. That and some vocals.

There are some good things here though. But flowery, melodic music it is not. Neither is it much of a krautrock album too. This is though a decent album and can be enjoyed in small, twenty minutes long dosages.

2 points

Osta Love - Good Morning Dystopia (2013)

The debut album from this German band.

Osta Love is a bit of a strange name. The music is not that strange. You get guitars, keyboards, drums, bass and vocals from this two-man strong band. The two gentlemen is Leon Ackermann and Tobias Geberth. Nice chaps, I believe.

Taking the band name and the album title into account, I was not surprised when the speakers were giving me a mix of Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree. That is basically what I can say about their genre. The music is pretty melodic and psychedelic. The vocals and the vocal harmonies is really great. The title track (called Prologue and Epilogue) is a very good song. The sound is really very good too. The guitars and the guitar harmonies is very good. Ditto for the keyboards.

What is missing here is really a killer track or two. There is none here. This is though a very good fifty-three minutes long album without any weaknesses. This is an album all fans of Porcupine Tree should or even must check out.

3.5 points


Hoggwash - Spellbound (2013)

The second album from this Antony Kalugin (Karfagen, Sunchild) lead project. The other member in Hoggwash is William Mackie on keyboards. They are supported by some session musicians.

The music is performed with guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, some alto sax, vocal harmonies and Antony's lead vocals.

The music on this almost seventy minutes long album can best be described as contemporary epic rock with a lot of neo prog influences. The sound is great. The vocals is very good. The other musicians are very good too. The music competent enough.

Still....... there is something missing here. Great songs, a soul and identity. The music is playing on all the right tangents. It really does not come across as great though. I find it difficult to even write a review of this album because it is so competent, still very bland. There are some very good melody lines at the end. But that is after sixty minutes of generic epic rock.

This is still a good album where the band is not making any mistakes. But some soul and identity, some flashes of inspirations and the unexpected would not hurt at all. A weak three points is awarded.

3 points

Monday 12 May 2014

Lasting Weep - Le Spectacle De L'Albatros 1976 (2007)

The first of two posthumous albums released by this Canadian band in 2007.

The band is the forerunner to Maneige and therefore a part of the Quebec scene. The roots of the mighty Maneige can be found on this and the other posthumous album.

This album was recorded live in Montreal between 28. February and 1. March 1976. Yes, that year also had a 29. February too as it was one of those years. So three nights it was. The result is over seventy minutes of music.

The music is performed with a wide variety of instruments. The flutes is pretty dominant in the picture and draws similarities with Maneige. No wonder, really. There is also a lot of woodwinds, guitars, keyboards, vocals, drums, percussions and bass here.

The recording is mainly concentrated around the tale of an albatross. Hence the title here. The music is epic throughout. Epic with the roots in both folk rock and jazz. The end result is a less refined version of Maneige where ideas is tried out in the public. Not all of the ideas is great here. Nevertheless; this is a good album and an essential album for those seriously into Maneige. Myself can be counted among those. Check it out.

3 points

Ethos - Open Up (1977)

The second album from this US band.

We are deep into the deep symph and ecletic prog 1970s here again. The British bands to be more precise. Ethos is a four piece band who created a lot of noise with drums, percussion, bass, guitars, keyboards and male vocals. A very tight band too.

The music takes a lot from Yes and Gentle Giant. The sound is like Kansas too and you will find a lot of Kansas influences here. A bit early King Crimson influences is also very much notable.

The result is a mix of epic symphonic prog, the US sound and eclectic prog. Which is fine enough on it's own. This album though is great from the beginning to the end. The wonderful keyboards sound, the Steve Howe like guitars, the intricate epic songs, the vocals... These forty minutes dishes up just what the doctor has ordered for the tired prog rock lover.

This album has been described as a hidden gem in ProgArchives and by other reviewers. I agree. It is very much a hidden gem and a great album. The only thing missing here is a killer track. Besides of that, this is a must-have album.

4 points

Sunday 11 May 2014

Fyreworks. The - The Fyreworks (1997)

The only album from The Fyreworks, one of Rob Reed's side projects.

Rob Reed is very possibly a genius. Last year's Kompendium album Beneath The Waves was the best album of 2013 and a coming classic in the prog rock genre. His work with Cyan and Magenta has also produced some great albums.

Which is why I am not sure what he meant with The Fyreworks. Is it left overs from other projects ? I don't know. This album has a lot of same type of the ideas he developed as Kompendium sixteen years later. The mix of neo prog and symph prog with a lot of celtic music thrown into the mix too. Yes, the best parts here very much reminds me about Kompendium.

Then this album also got some really cringe worthy recycled, generic neo prog too. It is like taking some of the worst of this genre and dusting it off for a relaunch. You get some of it on this album. The keyboards runs, the guitars and the bass lines. Not to mention the drums. This is neo prog as we want to forget it.

Then we get the fifteen minutes long Broken Skies who very much points towards Kompendium, sixteen years later. That is a great epic with celtic and symphonic prog. That is great fifteen minutes.

So we got that epic and some really not so good stuff. The law of average says a good album. I will drag it down to a very decent album and nothing more than that. Not everything Rob Reed touches turns to gold. This album, for example.

2.5 points  

Tai Shan - Iceflower (2013)

The second and most recent album from this Finnish band.

I did get the feeling that this band was perhaps not my cup of tea on their first album, their Lost Horizon album from 2011. Nevertheless; I still got this album.

Tai Shan does fusion/jazz of the more pedestrian sort. Not intense like Soft Machine. Not as laid back as elevator/shopping mall music. The music is performed with drums, guitars, synth and bass. This one hour long album is wholly instrumental. It also takes some influences from symph prog too. The likes of Camel.

The music is as stated above pretty pedestrian and easy-going. The piano has some good solos and melody lines. That is the most positive I get from this album. My gripes is that the music here is too pedestrian and too much of a background noise. There is not much here grabbing my attention. The band is very, very good. But good sometimes has to be translated to good music. This album does not have that.

This is still a very decent album which should appeal to those who like easy going jazz/fusion. I am not a fan of this album, though.

2.5 points