Sunday 31 August 2014

Brainticket - Celestial Ocean (1974)

The third album from this German krautrock band.

Brainticket has always been a electronica based krautrock band despite of the pretty accessible Psychonaut album, the previous album. They have returned to hypnotic electronica krautrock on this forty minutes long album.

Take some vocals on the top of a lot of electronica anno 1970s and add some Hammond organs too. Then add drums, percussions, guitars and some flutes too. This is what you get from this incantation of Brainticket. A trio lineup this time with the mainstay Joel Vandroogenbroek together with a female and a male band member.

The result is a pretty much stripped down album where electronica in it's first incantation is the main focus. This is a concept album about something Egyptian and the Middle East influences are pretty obvious. I am not that fond of electronica. But this album actually works in a strange way. There is plenty of moods and ambience here inbetween some good melodies. I have to take this band for what it is and I rate this album. A bit of an oddity in my album collection and one I like. A weak good rating is awarded.

3 points

Toxic Smile - 7 (2013)

The fourth album from these Germans and my first ever meeting with them.

Toxic Smile released their first album fourteen years ago. They are also listed as progressive metal in ProgArchives and other places. That may be true for their first three albums. On 7, they are more in the generic rock and prog rock genre. Well, perhaps at the more softer end of the prog metal spectrum. What sets the band apart from the rest of this scene is their very effective use of saxophones. That and some violins. This comes in addition to the keyboards, vocals, guitars, bass and drums setup.

The vocals are really good. The guitar sound very generic with a lot of chugging. Ditto for the bass and drums. The use of some Hammond organs and saxophones freshens up the sound a lot. The sound is also good.

The songs are not that really great though and does not really makes an impact at all. Saxophones apart, this is a pretty generic album in this genre. I am not won over at all. It is another album between decent and good in my estimation.

2.5 points

Welcome - Welcome (1976)

The sixth album from Yes...... sorry, the debut album from this Swiss band. A band who released two albums before they disappeared into the Alps again, never to be heard from again.

I have often branded bands as Yes clones when appropriate. In this case, it is. Take away some of the more cow bells Welcome use and you get Yes. Welcome does not have a fantastic keyboards player and that is the two differences. The vocals are more or less identical although Welcome's three vocalists is not on par with Jon Andersson.

Strangely enough, Welcome was only a trio. They got a heck of a lot out of their guitars, bass, keyboards and drums. That reminds me a lot about what ELP got out of their lineup. There is no really outstanding musicians in Welcome though and this album is more an obscure curiosity than anything else.

Despite of that and the lack of any really great tracks here, this album is not bad at all. I very much enjoy this forty minutes long album. There is a lot of interesting details here and the band knows what they are doing. I am elevating this album up to a very good status. I quite like this export from Switzerland.

3.5 points

Saturday 30 August 2014

Cosmic Remedy. The - The Cosmic Remedy (2013)

The debut album from this multinational internet project. A project made by sharing files and then mixing it together into one album. Bogati-Bokos Akos from Yesterdays is the main man here and the songs are his old demos which did not really fit into Yesterdays.

The band has presented their music as The Beatles like progressive rock. That is what the blurb says and I am not the one to disagree with them as I very much agree with that. This is pretty uncomplicated music.

The music has been created with Moog, flutes, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals duties is shared between five men and women. The vocals are all in the naive, flowery range. They fits the music. Some of the female vocals reminds me a lot about Edie Brickell, the wife of Paul Simon (Simon & Garfunkel).

The music is pretty flowery and hippie like throughout. It is also very much songs orientated without any of the long melodies. The band has divided this fifty-five minutes long album into three suites. It still feels like a songs orientated album though.

The end result is an album which in my view lacks a great deal of substance and quality. It is hovering around boring and good. Between decent and good. I am not a fan of this album at all. It bores me and I have lost my interest. This is not for me.

2.5 points

Yurt - Ege Artemis Yurtum (2009)

The debut album from this Irish band and a free download album too.

Yurt is a power trio and they creates a heck of a racket with guitars, electronics, bass, drums and vocals. They are a power trio who creates a lot of noise in the form of heavy rock. Heavy rock with a difference, though.

This fifty minutes long album is full of experimental heavy rock with a lot of weird time shifts and quirky melodies. Take a lot of dirty space rock and add some avant-garde, hardcore and punk to it too. Then add some heavy rock in the form of Budgie and you get the drift.

The first half of this album is mostly straight forward heavy rock with a very dirty sound and quirky melodies. Some sort of melodies, that is. In this mud-storm, the art of good melody making is not easy detected. But they, the melodies, are still there.

The music here is thundering along like a freight train through the wild mountains of Canada. The landscape is desolate and does not offer up much life. The songs are very long. The longest one is twenty minutes long and has got a lot of avant-garde electronica at the end too.

I have to admit I am perhaps not their intended target as I feel this is too much noise and not enough substance on this album. That said, this is not a bad album at all. It is most certainly worthy the download and the time spent with it. This is a decent to good album and I will also check out their second album too in due time.

2.5 points

The album

Friday 29 August 2014

Fatal Fusion - Land Of The Sun (2010)

The debut album from this Norwegian band.

Fatal Fusion started out as a blues band before they broadened their horizon and embraced the more retro-1970s sound and music. Their sound is very much based on percussions, drums, bass, guitars, Hammond organs and Knut Erik Grontvedt's powerful bluesy vocals.

The music is a mix of 1970s latin-rock, soul, hard rock, blues, prog rock, stadium rock and southern rock in the vein of Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The dominant factor here is blues, though. Bluesy rock. Well, at the beginning of the album, though. The album takes a much more generic stadium rock direction after that. Some very good Hammond organs and guitars are shining through here. The band knows how to play and is probably a great live band too.

The title track is very good and the best one here. The rest of the album is not that good though. There are some rather tedious pieces of music here. The end result is a good album and one for the retro-heads. I am not won over.

3 points

Shadowhawk. P.J - Nevereverland (2014)

The second album from this US band.

Their debut album Land Of Dreams from 2010 was an elegant art-rock album. Well, prog rock album, that is. Or maybe a bit of both. OK, art-rock then.

With the powers of piano, guitars, keyboards, violins, drums, bass and vocals, Mr Shadowhawk is delivering another album full of elegant music. Take a big chunk of symphonic prog and add some US AOR to the proceedings. Then you got this album. Just as you got the debut album.

The music is as stated elegant and really classy. The six songs on this album clocks in at total one hour. The average song length is therefore ten minutes. The P.J Shadowhawk and hired musicians really crams in a lot of music on this one hour. A lot of details and melodies.

The music is really good and interesting. There is no doubts this is a quality product. That said, there is no real great songs here. There is no real identity in the music. The music is very nicely going into my ears, but it does not hang around that long. The lack of any great songs is my only problem with this album. It is still a good album and well worth checking out.

3 points

Thursday 28 August 2014

Ragnarok - Nooks (1976)

The second and final studio album from this New Zealand band.

I liked their first self titled album and were looking forward to this one too.

Nooks is a more polished, more folk rock orientated album than the debut album though. It can be compared to the English folk rock scene in many respect. It still retain a cool, psychedelic sound too which really makes the sound an interesting sound.

The music is created with acoustic and electric guitars, synths, bass, drums and male vocals. The vocals are pretty good.

What more can I say about the music ? It is very songs orientated with some instrumental breaks and licks. Those are really good. The quality of the songs are not really that great though. The sound is the best thing about this album and this forty minutes long album only warrants a good rating. Check it out though as some of you may find this a great album.

3 points

Budgie - In For The Kill (1974)

The fourth album from these Welsh hard rockers.

This band is often regarded as one of the pioneer bands in the hard rock scene. They got a bit of a renaissance through Metallica's inclusion of one of their songs on the $ 5.95 EP.

Budgie is not only hard rock though. The title track and Crash Course In Brain Surgery is hard rock. The title track is a very good track too. Very catchy. The following track Wondering What Everyone Knows is pastoral psychedelic song. One I am not particular fond of as it is too pastoral. The rest of the album has some more riff based songs. Some of them pretty hard and some more melody orientated.

Budgie has always been labeled as an intelligent hard rock band with quirky melodies and riffs. This album proves that point. It straight hard rock and boogie. Then again, it is not. The music is very quirky. I am not one of those who sings it's praises though. The title track is a very good song. The rest is not that good. The average score is barely good and I leave it like that.

3 points

Monday 25 August 2014

Syndone - Odysséas (2014)

The fifth album from Nik Comoglio's band Syndone.

Syndone is from Italy and it is one of the better bands in this new Italian progressive rock scene. On this album, the band has also incorporated a lot of other music styles without leaving he Italian progressive rock scene behind them. It is still Italian prog rock. The addition of jazz and folk rock is still very visible. That and some more classical pop music. There are also some big band jazz music here.

The amount of instruments here are not that great though. Vibraphone, keyboards, drums, flute and vocals. But Nik and Syndone still get the best out of these instruments and creates a great soundscape. One of the better I have heard for a long time. I am impressed.

Riccardo Ruggeri's vocals is great. The vibraphone reminds me a lot about the happy days with Pierre Moerlin and Gong. Great, great vibraphone playing from Fransesco Pinetti. Nik on keyboards does his best ever job on this album.

The best thing about this album is the songs, though. A bit over the top sometimes, but still oozing with passion and playful joy. The melodies are mostly great to superb. A killer track is missing. But their mix of jazz, folk rock, symphonic prog and Italian pop music is perfect and there is a lot of great details here. The lack of a killer track is minus half a point from a perfect score. Get this album !!!

4.5 points

Sunday 24 August 2014

Delirium - Viaggio Negli Arcipelaghi Del Tempo (1974)

The third album from this Italian band. An album which has also been named Delirium III. But I prefer the full title instead.

Delirium had shown great deal of progress on their previous two albums. Their brand of Italian progressive rock had matured and now also included a great deal jazz and classical music too. That in addition to their knack of writing really good songs too. The best example is the fourth track on this album; the mighty three minutes long Dio Del Silenzio. A superb song.

The rest of the album is some great vocals on the top of some very playful folk rock, classical music, jazz and Italian prog. All of this on a thirty-four minutes long album. Delirium sounds like a meeting of minds between Area and the more traditional Italian progressive rock bands on this album. The flutes, guitars, keyboards, strings, bass and drums are really getting free reign here.

The end result is a great album indeed. One of the mainstays in this scene, no less. This is a band I have come to far too late. But I really like them. Check out this album.

4 points

Saturday 23 August 2014

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Check 'Em Before You Wreck 'Em (2014)

The second album from these English retro metal rockers.

This rather cheesy three piece band is one of the more known bands in this retro 1970s heavy metal/hard rock scene which is now sweeping the floors on small community halls and pubs these days.

This band with this long name, named after a British admiral from the 17th or the 18th century, plays a very effective form of old hard rock. Take Budgie, Pink Fairies and Black Sabbath and you get this album. There is not so much stoner on this album as on the debut album. Black Sabbath is not a main inspiration here. Instead, this band is more into standard hard rock from that era. There are some boogie here too.

The sound is dirty and this album has got a 1974'ish sound. Neither the sound or the songs here are polished or elegant. Far from it. This album sounds as dirty as good old mud. And the band is walloping like a happy pig in the middle of this mud-bath.

The songs are not bad although this album is a downer compared to their 2012 debut album. The songs are not particular good. There are some psychedelia on this album which goes down well with me. That aside, this is a decent to good album.

2.5 points

Ixion - Garden of Eden (2009)

The third and so far final album from this Dutch project, lead by Jankees Braam.

Ixion is fairly and squarely in the neo-prog genre. They are more in the symphonic neo-prog genre than in the more pop/rock orientated end of that scene.

As on the two previous albums, Jankees Braam has got good help from numerous other musicians. There is a lot of female and male vocals here too. The songs are pretty long too. Long and slightly complex. The music is created with vocals, keyboards, bass, guitars, piano, drums and strings.

Some of the songs are bordering to progressive metal. Garden Of Eden is the heaviest of the Ixion albums. It also has the most contemporary sound too. The use of both male and female vocals are interesting. It creates light, rainbows and darkness.

My main gripe is the lack of any great songs here. The material here is a bit on the anonymous side. That said, both this band and their three albums is a lot better than I expected. The same goes for this album too. It is a good album and Ixion is not to be dismissed lightly. I think Jankees Braam should keep up his good work and this project.

3 points  

Eloy - Metromania (1984)

The twelfth album from these German masters.

The 1980s had finally arrived at this band too and the realities of the plastic fantastic sound which dominated this decade. The lost decade in music, in my view. But the general public loved it and still love it, taken into the account the many successful "we love the 1980s" festivals popping up these days. Eloy had to adapt to these new times too and the result is this album.

We still get Frank Borneman's vocals here. He is helped out by children choirs and lot's of male and female background vocals. A very plastic sounding synth is also present here. The guitars are very Pink Floyd'ish. The drum sound is also very 1980s and the bass pretty poor.

The songs are a mix of overproduced and overloaded tracks with the 1980s sound. They are in the pop and rock style with some heavy guitars dragging some of the music into the heavy metal field.

The end result is a pretty over-bloated 1980s album. It is still an Eloy album though. It is only a decent album too which I am not enjoying that much. There are far better Eloy albums out there.

2 points

Zwoyld - 200 000 (2014)

The debut album from this French band.

Zwoyld is a new band from France who has released this album, their debut album as a "name your price" album on Bandcamp. A very good idea indeed.

The band name indicates an affinity with avant-garde, rock in opposition and zeuhl. This is indeed the case when it comes to this album. Take Magma, Univers Zero and add jazz and a solid chunk of King Crimson. That is what you will end up with on this album. A forty-three minutes long album.

The music is a bit loose at times and the jazz bit is almost punk'ish. That goes for the rest of the album too. The band is really having a good playtime on this album. It has the vocals arrangements from zeuhl and the darkness from avant-garde. It also has this eclectic, tight rhythm structures from King Crimson too. The jazzy guitars is something the fans of King Crimson would appreciate.

The end result is a very good album who is only missing a great track or two to really become a stand out album. It is always nice to find a new zeuhl'ish album and this album satisfy my craving for new zeuhl...... for now. I hope this is not a one-off album.

3.5 points

The album

Friday 22 August 2014

Far Out - Nihonjin (1973)

Please note this is a review of the 2000 version which include the extra bonus songs.

Far Out was a Japanese band who only released this album before one of the members joined up with Far East Family Band to record some more albums under that name. Far Out were a pretty successful band in their own right too.

We are deep into psychedelic and space rock here. Music with a lot in common with krautrock. But Far Out's music is a lot more linear and more sane than krautrock. The music is created with keyboards, guitars backed up by bass, drums and vocals. The addition of flutes is very good and adds another dimension to the music. An essential dimension.

I am not into these eighty minutes long albums where more than half of the album consists of the bonus material. Nevertheless, both the original album and the 2000 version has some good space and psychedelic rock. The music is not particular far out space rock. It flies pretty close to the earth. The music is still good and interesting. This is why I rate this as a good album. Check it out.

3 points

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Galie - Galie (1981)

The debut album from this Mexican band.

Galie was a band who released four albums between 1981 and 1992. All of them in the symphonic prog genre. This album is very much in that genre too.

Galie's music is softly spoken and does not use fireworks. Take a good slice of South American folk music and add Camel anno Snow Goose. You will end of with this thirty-five minutes long album. Galie's main instruments are flutes and acoustic guitars. Add electric guitars, piano, Moog, keyboards, bass and drums too. The music is wholly instrumental and pretty pastoral.

I think romantic symphonic prog is the right label here. This album is very much in the Italian symphonic prog vein too. You get this blend of folk music and symphonic prog which is really both organic and romantic.

This album is missing a great melody or two. That is my only gripe with this album. Nevertheless, this is a good album although a bit dull at times. I would still recommend that you check this one out.

3 points

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Hannibal - Hannibal (1970)

The one and only album from this UK band, I believe. My problem is that there is very few information on this band available. If anyone knows anything more, please let me know.

Hannibal operated in the bluesy jazz genre. A lot of blues with some jazz, psychedelic and funk in addition to the blues. There is a lot of woodwinds, guitars, bass, drums and bluesy vocals here.

The cover artwork is great and promises a tour into outer space. A broken promise, I am afraid. There are some avant-garde here. But Hannibal keeps us grounded to mother earth. When that is said, this album has some good stuff though. It also has some less good stuff too. The vocals is one of the better things here. The drummer is also very busy. Ditto for the bassist. I am not happy about the woodwinds, though. The sounds a bit generic to me.

Fans of the early 1970s blues and jazz should lap up this album. I am not won over and would put it somewhere between decent and good.

2.5 points

Monday 18 August 2014

Moongarden - A Vulgar Display of Prog (2009)

The sixth album from this Italian band.

I was not convinced about this band after going through their 2003 album RoundMidnight. But I got this album too. Actually, I have had it for many years, since it was released in fact. But I have never given it any of my time until I started to listen to it two weeks ago.

I was hoping for some vintage symphonic progressive rock here. The album title and some long songs more than got my hopes up. I was in for a bit of a shock, though. Well, shock is not the right word. Surprise is the right word. Surprised that I found a very modern album here with some good old moog dominated melody lines dropped into a landscape of electronica, neo prog, rap and cinematic soundscapes.

A Vulgar Display Of Prog is surely pointing at Pantera's legendary album with almost the same name. That is where the similarities ends. There is a lot of experimentations on this album. A lot of the old world meets the new world. There is even some djent here on this rather bewildering sixty-five minutes long album.

The result is an album which does not really have a theme running through it. It does not have much coercion or a concept. It is not an album for me either. It has a some good melodies inbetween some raving mad stuff. It is an album somewhere between decent and good in my estimation.

2.5 points

Prat. Jean Paul/Masal - Viens des Quatre Vents (2014)

Masal is a project by Jean-Paul Prat from France. Masal is being listed under his name in ProgArchives and other places. I just list it under the Masal name for now. Maybe I am wrong.

Anyway, it the music that counts. This is the fifth Jean-Paul Prat/Masal album since 1982. Not an impressive amount of albums. But it seems like the quality is pretty high throughout. This album is my first meeting with this constellation.

Take a big slice of jazz, add dark avant-garde in the Univers Zero/Present mould and add some dark zeuhl too. That is in short this album. An instrumental album made by saxophones, piano, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. The piano here makes me think about zeuhl although the music is pretty mid-tempo and not so busy as in zeuhl. The piano makes a lot of this album in addition to the saxophone. This is most of all a jazz album though. A pretty somber jazz album which sometimes almost takes the form of a funeral dirge.

The sound is great and I really like what I hear throughout these three quarters of an hour long album. I wish it had a bit stronger material. This is still a very good album and one I recommend. Check it out.

3.5 points

Pell Mell - Marburg (1972)

The debut album from this German band who released five studio albums before they gave up and were disbanded.

Krautrock..... well, not quite. This band plays a bit of a symphonic prog on this album. Symphonic prog with some folk rock, classical music and some krautrock influences. It is still symphonic prog, though. The German way, that is. It is not an ELP and/or Triumvirat copycat. Pell Mell is pretty far away from the ELP scene.

Their music is created with violins, flutes, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals are OK and they are in English. This album is forty minutes long and with five tracks. The average track length is therefore eight minutes. All the tracks here are between seven and nine minutes long. Nothing commercial here, in other words.

The music is still at times pretty catchy and nice. The flutes are great and ditto for the Hammond organs. The rest is OK.

The end result is a good album which is wetting my appetite for more music from this band. I will give them some more chances.

3 points

Sunday 17 August 2014

Blue Öyster Cult - Mirrors (1979)

The sixth studio album from this US band.

I am not sure about this band's history and what happened around this album. It sounds like the life had gone out of the band on this album. Mirrors still sounds like a Blue Oyster Cult album with Eric Bloom's vocals, the guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. That aside...

The band had probably woken up after the punk revolution and had found themselves on a bit of shaky grounds. Most bands in 1979 found themselves cut adrift. It was a bad, bad time for the good old bands. Most bands panicked and got rid of their old fans by releasing albums they thought would appeal to a new audience. I am have a healthy disdain for albums released in this period.

Mirrors is a band trying to find a new audience. This is a light rock album. It has some AOR qualities and one very good song, a classic Blue Oyster Song in the form of The Great Sun Jester. The rest of the album is best forgotten.... or so I thought. I have to admit this album is not as bad as I thought it was during the last two listening sessions. It is still not a good album though. I would not dismiss it out of hand though.

2.5 points

True Myth - True Myth (1979)

The debut album from this Canadian band.

This album and band is a bit of a historical. The album is the second ever digitally recorded album (Stevie Wonder was first) and the band later morphed into the legendary Canadian record label Hypnotic. That after the band had released their second and final album. That was the debut album on Hypnotic, btw.

Another thing about True Myth is that this is a school project from Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, Canada.

And the music is....... Well, more art rock than prog rock. Although I would say this album is very much in the prog rock genre too. It has got this US pomp rock sound and production. There is a lot of piano on this album. That and vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, strings and drums.

The vocals are good. The production are good. The piano is good and this album is rather good too. It is far too much mainstream rock for my liking and it does not have any great songs either. It has some very interesting details though. I am in doubts about what I should give this album. Decent or good ? Under doubts; this is a very decent album well worth checking out if art and pomp rock is your thing. It is not my thing, though.

2.5 points

Saturday 16 August 2014

Happy The Man - The Muse Awakens (2004)

The sixth and final album from this US band.

This US band has really made their mark on the prog rock scene despite of their far too few albums. Their mix of eclectic prog (Gentle Giant), jazz, symphonic prog and AOR sets this band apart from most other bands. The band later (largely) reformed under the name Oblivious Sun and has recently released two more albums.

This album is largely instrumental where they takes in symphonic prog and jazz. There are some eclectic prog here too. It is meandering nicely with a lot of keyboards and guitars. The music is good enough on the instrumental parts. Good, but not overwhelming interesting. I feel like most of the air had gone out of the balloon on this album. But it is still good enough. Towards the end of this fifty-five minutes long album, there is also an AOR song with vocals and all the bells and whistles of an AOR song. It is not a particular good song and I really don't know what it is doing here.

This is a good album though from a band I don't really think released their full potential.

3 points

Alex Maguire Sextet - Brewed In Belgium (2008)

This is a live album from this British keyboardist, recorded in Belgium. This album was released through MoonJune Records.

Alex Maguire is also a member of the new and exciting fusion band The Wrong Object. I have reviewed at least one of their albums. He has got three of their five members as musicians on this live album. An album which is 4/5 of The Wrong Object.

I am not particular familiar with jazz so I am not able to determine of this is bop, post-bop or whatever. I just label this as jazz. No less, no more. The album starts out with a keyboards solo and is joined by saxophone, bass, flugelhorn, trumpet, drums and guitars too. Michel Delville does the guitars and I do not know the other participants here. Yes, I am both lazy and ignorant.

The result is an hour with good jazz who even an outsider finds enjoyable. It is much more introvert jazz with some intricate solos and some avant-garde stuff instead of pretty open landscape jazz. This album is still too dense jazz for me, but I like what I hear and is taking this as another lesson in my very likely journey from being a rock and metal fan to become a jazzhead in some years time. This is a good album in my ears.

3 points

Laghonia - EtCetera (1971)

The second and final album from this Peru based band.

Laghonia was one of the pioneers of the South American scene. They played psychedelic rock in the Jefferson Airplane mould. Well, at least on this album. Take a lot of keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Then you get this album.

The vocals is in English and the sound is very hippie like. I am not sure if Peru ever had a big hippie scene. Peru is most known for harsh military juntas and repressions. Both from guerrilla movements and the various rulers of Peru. This album is a hippie album though. The sore thumb here is the song I'm A Nigger who does not sound good anno 2014. A rather jolly song with the bad N word. It does not sound good anno 2014.

The rest of the album has got good Hammond organ and guitar harmonies. Ditto for good vocals harmonies. I am very surprised that this album was released from a band from Peru as it is very west-coast USA like. Well, Peru is on the west coast of the South America and maybe the Pacific Ocean does something to people.

I am surprised how enjoyable and good this album is though. It is indeed a good album well worth checking out. Which you should do.

3 points

Thursday 14 August 2014

By Sunlight - Penumbra (2013)

The second and so far last album from this US band.

By Sunlight is one of those bands who puts every prog genre into a food mixer and gives it a good run in that machine. Then albums like this comes out. An album which is a blend of post rock, jazz, rock, 1970s symphonic prog and some eclectic prog.

The band uses both acoustic instruments like strings and woodwinds in addition to guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. That and some very good vocals.

The result is both pretty melodic and eclectic. Melodic in the sense that the melody lines is pretty lounge like jazz. Eclectic because the other half of the music is pretty dense and somewhat avant-garde.

The music is very downtuned and pastoral throughout. The music is not overpowering or trying to become monumental.

The end result is a good album which is suffering from the lack of any really great songs and melodies. It does have a personality though. That is the best I can say. But it's personality is pretty dull at times. I would still recommend checking this one out.

3 points

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Gerard - Gap Moe (2012)

This is a fanclub EP from this Japanese band and it should perhaps not taken that serious. Anyway.........

This EP includes their version of Rainbow's Spotlight Kid, Asia's big hit Heat Of The Moment, UK's In The Dead Of Night and finally; Uriah Heep's July Morning. In other words; four cover versions.

Gerard's version of Spotlight Kid is pretty horrendous and jars in my ears. I have never liked Heat Of The Moment or any thing by Asia. A band I cannot understand why these perfectly sane members of Yes, ELP and other bands gives any priority whatsoever. Gerard's version of this song is as bad as the original. Their version of UK's In The Dead Of The Night is a lot better and I better check up my UK albums again. The best song here is their version of Uriah Heep's July Morning and that by many miles. Again, I need to dive into my record collection again for their albums.

Gerard's versions has got their flavour and I am not that keen on this band. I am sure their fans will lap up this album who has one good song. The rest is rather uninteresting. And so is this twenty-five long EP too. It is nevertheless a decent EP.

2 points

Major Parkinson - Twilight Cinema (2014)

The third and the most recent album from this Norwegian band.

Major Parkinson operates in the eclectic prog area. More in the burlesque circus music genre, to be more precise. Their music is wild and untamed. Although I have to say that their previous album Songs From A Solitary Home was a much more wild and untamed album than this album. These Norwegians has gone a bit mellow and sane on Twilight Cinema.

The music is still a lot French folk music inspired and in that direction. Add some dark, male vocals and you get a somewhat dark moody album too. The music is performed with a lot of acoustic instruments in addition to guitars, bass, keyboards/synths and drums. Add a lot of male voices and samples too.

The songs are good throughout this album with some very good songs too. The seven minutes long The Wheelbarrow is a great song. This makes this a very good album which I find appealing. This album is far from being everyone's cup of tea. It is still worth checking out, though.

3.5 points

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Ekta Moai - Marte (2014)

The debut album from this Portugese band.

This album is a bit outside my comfort zone. Hence, I want to challenge myself with this Bandcamp album. A Name Your Price album too.

I know absolute nothing about the band so please excuse me for the lack of more info about this band. Ekta Moai plays a mix of post rock and melancholic indie rock on this album. Radiohead is a somewhat comparison. That is the only band I know about in that genre so please forgive me.

The music is created with lots of guitars, some male vocals, woodwinds, percussion, bass and drums. A large portion of this one hour long album is pure post rock. Not in the Iceland type of bleak post rock, but in a much warmer climate like post rock. There are almost some jazz over this album.

The vocals and the rest of the instruments are good. Ditto for the music which meander nicely in a pedestrian tempo throughout these sixty minutes. I am not impressed, but I cannot deny that this is a good album. Make up your own mind from the link below.

3 points

The album

Halloween - Le Festin (2001)

The fourth and final studio album from this French band.

The band continued in their complex symphonic prog vein on this, their final studio album. We can always hope for a comeback, but that is not likely.

Le Festin is in many ways their epitaph. Very complex music with violins, female vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and multiple male backing vocals. The music is both pretty gothic and avant-garde at times. Rio like, that is. The music is still based in French symphonic prog though with associations to Mona Lisa and Ange. The sound is very dense and does not leave much to the fantasy. Monumental music, I am tempted to label this music as. The band is building monuments in their songs. It is also at times, well, throughout this album bordering to neo-classic music too.

The vocals is very good and ditto for the rest of the band. There are a couple of great melodies here too. Most of this album is very good though. It is indeed a very good album which I would recommend.

3.5 points

Sunday 10 August 2014

A.R. & Machines - Echo (1972)

The second solo album from Achim Reichel under this name. I believe it is his second solo album overall too.

The first A.R & Machines was quite a good album. We are talking hypnotic krautrock here. That with a lot of guitars and keyboards. Add some dreamy vocals to the proceedings too and you get this album.

The music is dreamy, hypnotic space rock with a lot of echoes and sound effect. The music is mostly ambient krautrock with some Indian influences and chants. There are some orchestral instruments here too and some classical singing. The list of participating musicians is very long.

Despite of this long list, the music is very simple and pretty dull to be honest. A couple of good tunes and melody is the saving grace on this eighty minutes long album. Fans of avant-garde krautrock should check out this album. An album which is not as good as the debut album.

Nevertheless, this is a decent album.

2 points

Azabache - No, Gracias (1980)

The second and final album from this Spanish band.

Azabache were formed from the ashes of Azahar and went into a much more symphonic prog direction than Azahar. A band much more in the folk rock mould.

The year was 1980 and the punk had swept away the prog rock scene. Azabache also adopted to the new era by releasing an album with much more pop rock tunes than symphonic prog tunes. The Spanish vocals is still powerful and ditto for the keyboards sound. The use of Spanish guitars, violins and flutes adds a bit of a Spanish flair to the music too.

The main feature here is pop rock though. Sometimes with passionate love ballads and the full emotional commercial works. This is most certainly a Spanish album with little or no appeal to anyone outside the Spanish sphere. That means Spain and South America.

I find this album quite decent. It is by no means a good album and it is a solid letdown after the promising debut album. It is a decent album.

2 points

Ragnarok - Ragnarok (1975)

The debut album from this New Zealand band. A band not to be confused by numerous other bands with the same name.

New Zealand is on the other side of the planet, seen from my humble office here in Scotland and from the main music scene in USA and Europe. I would love to visit and explore New Zealand more. The nature, minus the creepy crawlie man killing animals, is right up my alley.

Their local Ragnarok is also a band right up my alley too. Psychedelic and space rock is the main course here. More psychedelic rock, though. In the beginning, at least. The band is fronted by the female vocalist Lea Maalfrid. That surname does not sound New Zealand to me......... Nevertheless, she is supported by keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. There is a lot of moog here too. Well, synths who sounds like moog.

The end result is more a krautrock album than anything else. Amon Duul II springs to mind. There are also a some symphonic prog here too. I would still label this album as a krautrock album. The music is very melodic too. My main gripe is the lack of any great tracks. Besides of that, this is a good debut album and I would recommend it to anyone who likes this kind of music or want to add New Zealand to their map too.

3 points


Saturday 9 August 2014

Camel - A Nod And A Wink (2002)

The fourteenth album from this English band and their final album with new material.

Camel was by now reduced to Andy Latimer with friends. Peter Bardens had passed on and the other members were long gone from the band too.

A Nod And A Wink was Andy Latimer looking back on the bands and artists who had inspired him and Camel throughout the years. The music on this album is very laid back with Andy's guitars in a more pastoral mode than on an all out guitar solos attack. There is a lot of flutes and keyboards on this album in addition to Andy's vocals and guitars. The songs are reasonable long too and the music is ticking along quite nicely on this one hour long album. An album which is really orchestral and almost cinematic throughout.

The album very much retains all the hallmarks of Camel. It does not really have any great songs though. It is still a good album which I found reasonable enjoyable. But not enough to really bowl me over.

3 points

Mr Sirius - Dirge (1990)

The second album from this Japanese band.

The band follows on from their 1987 debut Barren Dream with this album. An album with a much more upgraded and bigger sound. The band is no longer a two horses band.

A lot has been and a lot will be said about Ms. Lisa Ohki's vocals. She has been compared to a Broadway musical artist and a lot of other things. There is no denying that her vocals is very original. I think it suits the symphonic music on this album.

For some reasons I do not understand, this band has been labeled as a Canterbury prog band in the most reliable music archive on this planet. In this case, they are wrong. There are some small traces of jazz and fusion here. But the vast majority of this album is in the musicals and symphonic prog genre. That and some prog metal which has sneaked into this album on several songs. The songs are delivered with a lot of guitars, keyboards, flutes and other symphonic orchestra instruments. That in addition to vocals, bass and drums.

There is no denying that this album is a very big mouthful. All the fifty minutes of it. The music is both epic and dense in equal measures. It still got a lot of air where Ms Lisa Ohki's vocals get plenty of work to do. I happens to like her vocals quite a lot. OK, she is not a favourite of mine. But she is not as bad as I feared on this album.

The end result is a very good album with the vast majority of the songs and melody well above the average. It is an album I would recommend to anyone into epic and symphonic prog rock. Get it.

3.5 points

FreddeGredde - Brighter Skies (2014)

The second album from this Swedish project, lead by Fredrik Larsson.

This project includes two musicians. Fredrik on keyboards, guitars, bass and vocals. He is joined by Louis Abramson from Jolly on drums. That and a lot of studio wizardry. Which is fair enough.

The end result is a big sounding and pretty much epic neo prog sounding one hour long album. The sound is dense to say at least with vocals backed up by tonnes of keyboards and guitars. References are a mix of modern German neo prog and Scandinavian neo prog. It is a bit difficult to label this music as it  much more a world wide epic neo prog sound. It sounds like 2014, I would say.

The music is touching into prog metal at times on it's most epic runs. There is a lot of sounds and noises here. It is unfortunate a bit short on great melodies. It feels a bit too generic, a bit too soulless. Nevertheless, this is a good album which should appeal to anyone into epic music.

3 points

Black Noodle Project. The - Ghosts & Memories (2013)

The seventh album from this French band and my first taste of their music.

This band has released albums since 2004 on a regular basis. They are listed as a psychedelic/space rock band in ProgArchives. Right down my alley, then.

I became a bit bewildered when this album started with a stoner/doom metal riff and melody which lasted for several minutes. Is this metal ? Is this post rock ? Is this a Swallow The Sun copycat ? The metal bit disappear after some minutes and does not show up again. The post rock bit lingers throughout the album. Their blend of post rock and psychedelic rock is a pretty refreshing blend in my ears.

The band creates their music with the usual vocals, keyboards, bass, drums and guitars lineup. Nothing original there. And the music is not particular original too. A lot of post rock and Pink Floyd like music. Add some neo prog to this mix too.

The result is a softly spoken album which hides behind the opening few minutes salvo of molten metal. There is no great songs here though and that is my main gripe with this album. Fans of Pink Floyd and post rock should really check out this album.

3 points    

Thursday 7 August 2014

Babau & I Maledetti Cretini. Il - La Maschera Della Morte Rossa (2013)

The second album from this Italian band.

Their debut album from 2003 was in the Picchio Dal Pozzo vein and quite a good album. It had some good grooves too. I therefore had high hopes about their new album.

I was a bit shocked to say at least after the first listening sessions and did not really want to review this album. But I picked it up again and gave it another chance. With the same result, it had to be said.

Their new album is a pastisj of electronica and some vocal and guitars on the top. It feels like this is a poem with background noises. It is very performance art related.

The music is very poor and so is the vocals too, if such a nice word can be used on them. The angry screams is off putting and better spared for the gigs. A couple of half decent melody lines spares this from the turkey yard. Just about, that is. This is an album best avoided.

1.5 points

Azahar - Azahar (1979)

The second album from this Spanish band.

This Spanish folk rock band was on their last legs in 1979 before they split up and the majority of the band formed Azabache who then released two albums before they again split up. That is the story behind this band.

On this self titled second album, they are flirting with progressive rock. Or to be precise; symphonic prog. Spain had a good symphonic prog scene at that time and Azahar was tapping into this scene on this album. There is still plenty of folk rock here. 50 % of the album is folk rock and the rest is a mix of symphonic prog, jazz and heavy prog.

The lyrics and vocals are still in Spanish. The instruments are the usual keyboards, guitars, bass, vocals and drums. The music is pretty melodic and a bit jazzy at times too. There is a lot of interesting details on this forty minutes with some good keyboards and guitars based melody lines.

The end result is a good album which may appeal those into Spanish prog rock.

3 points

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Ixion - Talisman (2006)

The second album from this Dutch band.

Or to be more precise; a project lead by Jankees Braam. He has got support from a wide variety of other musicians and the result is a kind of a Dutch neo prog supergroup. Or a super-project. The list of contributors is very long.

The result is a concept album and that much more in the symphonic prog genre than in the neo prog genre. It is a concept album about the talisman concept, going from 33 AD to this day and age. I have no idea what that means as I am not that much into the new age spiritual things. The result is a melodic album with plenty of keyboards, guitars, male and female vocals, bass and drums. There are some prog metal fused into the symphonic prog here. The sound is contemporary anno year 2006. Not the greatest vintage, but this album is a good album though.

There are some very good songs here and some substandard songs. The end result is an enjoyable one hour and ten minutes in the company of some good music. I have enjoyed the listening sessions here. My gripe is too much of that prog metal stuff and too little symphonic prog. I am in a minority here, I guess. Check out this album.

3 points

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Moongarden - RoundMidnight (2003)

The fourth album from this Italian band.

Moongarden is listed as a symphonic prog band in ProgArchives. That is not Italian symphonic prog, but symphonic prog in the English scene version of this term. I agree with this definition. Moongarden and indeed this album has far more in common with the English and Scandinavian scene than the Italian scene.

I am not sure if this is a symphonic prog album either. I am more leaning towards neo prog in regards to this album. There are a few mellotron melody lines on this album. It is a lot more English vocals, keyboards, guitars, drums and bass though. The sound is the typical neo prog sound with the exception of the occasional mellotrons.

The title track is a very good track and as it is the first track on this album, it promises a lot for the rest of the album. Promises not exactly fulfilled as the album is starting to get pretty pedestrian on the remaining songs. The songs here are not exactly sparkling great songs. Nevertheless; this is still a good album from a band I have heard a lot of positive things about but not had the chance to sample myself before I got this album. I will get their latest album too and review it here.

3 points

Curved Air - Second Album (1971)

The (surprise, surprise) second album from this English band.

Curved Air has been seen as a poor relation of Renaissance in the eyes of myself and some others. Which is unfair towards both bands. Grossly unfair !! Please accept my apologies.

Second Album takes up the baton from the first album and takes the band more towards both pop music and the symphonic prog Renaissance did with such a great success. I would not say Curved Air is copying Renaissance though. They have got the same ideas, but Curved Air is taking this idea to their own corner and is developing it their way.

Sonja Kristine is really coming to the fore here with her excellent vocals. The band too has fully grown up from the rather insecure debut album. This album is a much self assured effort.

As far as I understand it, the Back Street Luv is their most known song and it comes as song # 2 here. It is by all means a great sweet & short prog song with a great hook and verses. The other songs is not much bad either. This is really an album I am enjoying and I am finding myself checking into the Curved Air fan club. I will get my membership card on the basis of this album, yeah. This is a great album although it has some small flaws. A weak four points is awarded.

4 points

Monday 4 August 2014

Major Parkinson - Songs From A Solitary Home (2010)

The second album from this Norwegian band.

I strongly suspect that this band is from Bergen on the west coast. Their music is very much in the same vein as the Bergen avant-garde rock scene. A small, but very productive scene. Major Parkinson's music fits in very well in that scene.

How can I describe this music ? Take the same ideas which gave us the likes of Gong. The same whimsical pop rock combined with something else, weird and wonderful. In this case; everything from hardcore to vaudeville rock to jazz and Balkan folk and dance music. Combine that with a lot of the Canterbury prog feel and you get this album.

The vocals here is dark male vocals. The band uses a wide variety of instruments to create this music. Oh yeah, Gong is a good reference here. The music smashes up all barriers.

In all this barn doors and barriers smashing up fest, the songs are really good too. A lot of them are very good too. There are some stuff I do not like. Nevertheless, this is an album I find enjoyable because it challenges me and because the music here is good. I will get their new album, then.

3 points

Proteo - Republikflucht! (2013)

The second album from this Italian band.

We are strangely enough neither in symphonic prog land or in avant-garde prog land. Instead, we are landing in the growing Italian neo prog scene. A scene which has given us a lot of new bands lately. Although, as I pointed out in my review of their 2009 debut album Under A Polar Red Light, this band is much more an art rock band than a neo prog band. That same goes for this album too..... largely.

The band makes a lot of elegant sound collages on this one hour long album. The music is created with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and English vocals. The songs are on average ten minutes long and I guess this is a concept album about the Berlin Wall and Eastern Germany. The life behind the iron curtain, in other words.

The music is elegant enough and win some brownie points on that. There are some more vaudeville like pieces too on this album. All of it very elegant and the same can be said about the sound too.

Elegant does not necessary creates any great songs. There is a lot of interesting details on this album and the vocals are very good. The overall quality is also good. There is no killer tracks here though and that is my only gripe with this album. It really needs great songs. This is still an album well worth checking out.

3 points

Sunday 3 August 2014

Holy Mountain - Ancient Astronauts (2014)

The debut album from this Glaswegian band, Scotland. That is from my local area, yes. Or to be precise, 10 km away.

The band name and album title gives the game away. We are somewhere in the space. Or in this case, somewhere between stoner and space. Take a large slice from both Hawkwind and Black Sabbath. Then you get this album. That is the easy, short review of this album.

The sound is sufficiently dirty and muddy to make it a good spaced out exploration. The guitar solos shines through the mud to make it interesting enough. The vocals is also in the stoner tradition. It reminds me about Trouble. The bass and drums is driving the music forward though. They both creates as big, thick wall.

The end result is a refreshingly short album where everyone else is kicking around the 80 minutes barrier. Holy Mountain keep it to 36 minutes. Long enough to get the message across. This is therefore a good album I enjoy in small dosages, but not all around the day. Add this band to the other UK bands in this scene and get them on the road.

3 points

Laghonia - Glue (1971)

The debut album and the first of two albums from this band from Peru.

It is claimed that this band was among the first ever pop/rock bands from South America. That may be right. They were the first band to use a Hammond organ. An instrument this album is largely built around.

Take one large chunk of psychedelic rock, add a lot of blues and some Tamla Motown soul. This well used recipe has created this album. An half an hour long album created by the above mentioned Hammond organ, drums, guitars and bass. That and male vocals. The vocals are in English and heavy accented.

The end result is a pretty standard album which sounds like it was recorded in 1966 and has all the hallmarks of that time. This is by no means the worst album I have heard from that genre. It has a good drive although the first songs are very much naive pop before the psychedelic rock kicks in. The end result is a decent album from a time and culture many have now forgotten. It is nice to have this album as a reminder.

2 points

Azabache - Días De Luna (1979)

The debut album from this Spanish band. The first of in total two albums.

Spain had a great symphonic prog scene back in the 1970s although the dictator general Franco was still in power and his successor king Juan Carlos was still fighting to install a democracy there. That happened around 1979, if I am not much mistaken. Spain was dead poor back then, too. But they still had a great culture and music scene. Spain is a great country and one of the cultural powerhouses on this planet.

Azabache was a splinter band from the Spanish folk-rock band Azahar (see reviews). Azabache was formed to expand their music into a much more symphonic prog direction. That is exactly what this album is. A Spanish symphonic prog album with it's roots in both Genesis and Azahar. In other words; English symphonic prog meets Spanish folk music.

This album also has a lot in common with the Italian symphonic prog scene. Yes, there is a lot of flamenco here. It is still a pretty similar to the Italian scene with flutes, guitars, mellotrons, drums, bass and local male vocals. In this case; Spanish vocals. The music is still passionate and vibrant.

My main gripe with this album is the lack of any great songs. This is still a good forty minutes long album and one I really like. Check it out.

3 points

Saturday 2 August 2014

Mr Sirius - Barren Dream (1987)

The first of three albums from this Japanese band.

Forget the PA listing of this band. They are listed as a Canterbury band there. This album is far remote from any Canterbury prog. There is hardly any rhythms here. Not to mention jazz and quirky tunes. Barren Dream is female vocals fronted symphonic prog with cascades of keyboards and vocals.

The main man here is Mr Kazuhiro Miyatake on keyboards. The vocalist is Ms. Hiroka Nagai. They are supported by flutes, guitars, bass and drums.

Together, they have produced a one hour long album with mostly pastoral symphonic prog. Besides of the occasional keyboards cascades, the music is softly spoken with a lot of mellotron and piano. Some rather softly spoken guitar solos and flutes is scattered around this album too. The vocals is on the softly spoken end of the spectrum too. The keyboards reminds me a lot of Keith Emerson at times. The sound is a bit on the weak 1980s sound where plastic fantastic were the norm.

This is an album which demand the full attention of the listener. Even then, it is hard to ignore the lack of any great tracks here. OK, this is a good album. It is not much going on this album and it is too pastoral and pedestrian for my liking. Nevertheless; this is a good album.

3 points

Vedda Tribe - Vedda Tribe (1999)

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

We are deep into eclectic prog here. King Crimson is a very good reference here. So is the RIO/avant-garde scene too. This band, a trio has taken a shine to this scene. The trio creates their music with guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, piano and some vocals.

Some parts of this album reminds me about Present. Other parts of this largely instrumental album reminds me about King Crimson. The music is pretty claustrophobic at times. The sound is very dark at times. Some cinematic elements has also been included on this album which is largely rhythm and dark guitars/keyboards focused.

I have to admit I have really tried to like this album. But I don't. I think it is far too one dimensional and narrow in it's expression. There are some good stuff here. But the main part of this album is dull and decent. Hence my verdict here.

2.5 points