Tuesday 30 September 2014

Pye Fyte - The Gathering Of The Krums (1998)

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

I know absolute nothing about this band. I can only write about their music.

The band produces their slightly symphonic progressive rock with Mellotrons, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals are OK.

Style wise, think a cross between The Beatles anno Sgt Peppers, Genesis, Kansas, Marillion and some AOR. This album is very much in the US progressive rock tradition. There are some theatre and vaudeville music on this album too. It feels like a joyous party, some of this music.

The end result is a forty minutes long album which is neither bad or great. It is a solid, good album which has it's moments, but who fails to move me too much. Check it out if you can find it.

3 points

Monarch Trail - Skye (2014)

The debut album from this Canadian band.

Monarch Trail is another musical vehicle for Ken Baird, a veteran in the scene. He is here helped by members of his backing band. Voila ! We got Monarch Trail.

I am not entirely enlightened on what Ken Baird has done in his solo career. I only know he has done a lot. This album is a bit different from his other work. This album is pretty polished symphonic neo-prog.

We get plenty of guitars, piano, vocals, keyboards, bass and drums. Another veteran in the Canadian scene; Steve Cochrane guest on guitars here.

This album only have four tracks. But they are very long four tracks. One clocks in at twenty minutes. The album clocks in at forty-six minutes. This is no EP !
Thankfully, it is not an album with time wasters and album fillers either. The album does not have a single wasted minute. All four tracks are full of catchy melodies and details. The choruses are really great here and I can see a commercial winner here. Which is a bit strange with these long songs. The album still sounds commercial to me.

This is by all means a great album, only slightly let down by the lack of a killer track. Besides of that, this is a great album and one to remember this year for. Can we get a second serving, Ken ?

4 points

Monday 29 September 2014

Perdio - A Robert (1998)

The comeback album from this Italian band after 20 years of silence.

Perdio is an Italian prog band from the 1970s who never got a record contract. They were there abouts but never a recording artist between 1970 and approx 1975. Then the lack of success meant they split up before they reformed in the 1990s. The end result was this album.

There is no prog rock on this album, though. Soft rock with Italian vocals and a wide variety of soft rock and popular music is what we get here. There is clearly a great deal of references to Italian pop music here. Pop music from the 1970s. There are also one decent song here; Caroline. There is also some really cringe worthy stuff here.

These forty-five minutes is mostly no fun at all. I cringe more than I should, according to my local doctor. The vocals are great. But the music is really bad. If soft rock and Italian pop is your thing; please get this album. An album which is a true turkey and a member of my turkey yard. There is some turkeys in my turkey yard. This is one of them.

1 point

Logos - L'Enigma Della Vita (2014)

The third album from this Italian band.

Logos released their two first albums Logos (1999) and Asrava (2001) to a bit of a muted response. They were also free downloads for a while too from their homepage and many had their first taste of Italian symphonic prog after downloading those two albums. I quite liked them.

And that was it, I thought. I was very surprised when they returned again this year with a new album. I think that goes for everyone. We were all surprised.

I was also very surprised when I heard this album for the first time too. Good old Italian symphonic prog with a new contemporary feel. Great vocals surrounded by guitars, bass, keyboards, Hammond organs and drums.

The music is very Italian and very playful. The band must have hugely enjoyed making this album and I can only love them for that. There are elements of jazz, prog metal and folk rock here. Most of all; this is proper Italian symphonic prog. This is proper progressive rock and a credit to Italy. No wonder this review is just another review, praising this album. One of the best albums of 2014.

My only gripe is the lack of a brilliant song. Besides of that, this is an album full of excellent ideas, melodies and ideas. Hence my verdict.

4.5 points

Barock Project - Misteriosevoci (2007)

The debut album from this Italian band.

No, we are not talking symphonic prog here. Instead, we are visiting one of the many good Italian neo-prog bands. They have so far released three albums as of 2014.

The setup is the normal keyboards, guitars, vocals, bass and drums. A four piece band, in other words. The vocals are in Italian, thankfully. They are also very good.

The music is more in the vein of light flowery neo-prog with a lot of popular rock references. There is a lot of traditional Italian pop references here. The music here is not symphonic at all. The verses and choruses are pretty light and not particular rich on substance. Not in the meaning of prog rock substance. The music is nice to the ear during the first listening sessions. Then the interest in this album drops off. There it not much here for the brain.

That said, this is a good album. But nothing more than that.

3 points

Sunday 28 September 2014

Planeta Imaginario - Qué Me Dices (2004)

The debut album from this Spanish band.

Spain has produced a lot of good jazz and fusion bands during the last fifty years. The seven man strong Planeta Imagionario from Catalonia is one of these bands. They were formed in 1999 and has so far released three albums.

Que Me Dices is a pretty traditional fusion/jazz album with plenty of woodwinds, drums, bass, some guitars, synths and piano. There is even some pan flutes here. The synths are more in the background and works as the support for the guitars, piano and woodwinds solos and melody lines. Ditto goes for the bass and the drums. The guitars are both half-acoustic, electric and acoustic.

Style wise, this album is a mix of fusion and jazz. The guitars drags the music in direction of fusion. The woodwinds drags the album back to jazz again. This is a good thing in my view.

This album is a more than acceptable debut album and heralds a band I would like to hear a lot more of in the future. There is no great pieces of music here though. It is a good album.

3 points

Pangea - Invasori (1976)

The one and only album from this Italian band.

Pangea was not really a band. It was a name the producer Mauro Paoluzzi put on his own solo album. He was joined by two Madrugada members in Pangea and that made it a band.

Mauro Paoluzzi was pretty heavy involved in the Italian jazz/fusion scene. That again is not particular evident on this strange album. An album that covers a lot of bases. From space rock, avant-garde prog to Italian symphonic prog, eclectic prog, Italian folk rock to fusion. There is a lot of strange things going on here at this fifty minutes long album.

The album is created with flutes, Italian vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and saxophones. The vocals are good.

The album opens with some symphonic prog before it goes into avant-garde, space rock and folk rock. These changes happens all the time. This album never really settles down into one music style. It is like a small child not being able to keep the concentration level steady enough to concentrate on one toy. It has to race around the playhouse and try everything at the same time. That is a pretty good summary of this album.

That makes this album a pretty interesting album. Interested and pretty fragmented. Unfortunate without having a really great track. It is a very good album though and one I really like. Check it out if you can.

3.5 points  

Saturday 27 September 2014

Minimum Vital - Envol Triangles Les Saisons Marines (1992)

A collection of old tracks from this French band.

Minimum Vital has released some great albums. Their first album is not among those great albums. It was/is also difficult to find already back in 1992 so Musea put it out together with some other earlier material on this album. Their first album was called Les Saisons Marines and it is here in it's entirety.

That album and the other tracks here is very different from the rest of this band's material. Slick jazz/fusion is what we get here. Think the TV series Miami Vice and other similar TV series. This compilation album has the same slick music as those TV series. Slick, slick, slick. Also very sweet as in an overdose on chocolate and sugar.

In short, this compilation is only for those suckers, myself included, who want Minimum Vital complete. The album collectors out there. The music is decent enough, but it sounds outdated by three decades at least. I am sure you can use your money on better things than this album.

2 points

Pancake - No illusions (1979)

The third album from this German band.

Germany means krautrock in a lot of the albums I am reviewing here. I like krautrock a lot. So I was happy to pick up this album as it was labeled as krautrock in ProgArchives.

Them about that. Their previous two albums was krautrock. This album though can only loosely be labeled as a krautrock album. Take some 1960s psychedelic rock and add some symphonic prog to the proceedings. The instruments here is keyboards, Mellotron, guitars, bass, drums and female vocals.

Biggi Zmierzak's vocals are OK, but not great. They fits the music pretty well. The songs are pretty long with some songs topping over eight minutes on this thirty-five minutes long album. The Garden Of Delight's re-release from 2012 comes with almost an hour extra bonus material. I am though reviewing the original 1979 album.

The songs are pretty good and has got this flower power psychedelic rock sound. There are some heavy guitars now and then. The keyboards is not particular great. The problem I got is the lack of any really good songs. It is an album is almost good, but not quite a good album. Hence my verdict.

2.5 points

Puppet Show - Traumatized (1997)

The first of in total two albums from this US band. Both are/will be reviewed in this blog.

This five piece band has chosen a rather imaginative name for their band. A band consisting of bass, guitars, keyboards, drums and vocals. A band who has chosen a mix of symphonic and neo-prog as their musical expression.

Think Genesis and the British neo-prog scene. Just transfer it over the Atlantic ocean to the shores of USA. To these fifty rebel states. I believe to the biggest one of them all; California. Or maybe Texas is bigger than California. But California is the place where Puppet Show comes from. Not a boarding school in a nice market town in England.

The music has got a great American twaang to it too. It is not only about England here. Take the AOR sound and transfer it over to this blend of neo and symphonic prog this band has enlightened us with.

The result is fifty-five minutes with elegant, slick neo/symphonic prog. The songs are all good without really being great. This though is a more than acceptable debut album from a promising band. I have already purchased their second album on the basis of this one.

3 points

Pan & Regaliz - I Can Fly (1971)

A one off album from this Spanish band who disappeared after the release of this album. Hopefully not in one of general and dictator Franco's many nasty prisons. Spain was a very repressive fascist states at that time.

The music on this album has been created with vocals, flutes, guitars, bass and drums. There is even some harmonica on this album. Pan & Regaliz is commonly known as one of the first prog bands from Spain although their music is not particular prog.

OK, there is a lot of psychedelic rock here. That and some jazz and a lot of blues. Not the mention standard rock. This album is all over the place. But the core of the album is psychedelic rock from the late 1960s with some heavy krautrock influences too. Krautrock fans will like this album.

The result is not particular impressive. As I said above, the album is fragmented and all over the place. The music is not particular good either. It would give it a rather weak decent score. That what this album is and it is not a particular interesting thirty-five minutes long album.

2 points

Brainticket - Voyage (1982)

The fifth out of in total six studio albums from this German band.

Brainticket's career has been filled with high and lows. But it was never irrelevant and they released at least one classic krautrock album.

On Voyage, a 37 minutes long album, split into Voyage I & II, Joel Vandroogenbroeck and the three other members in this band comes up with two halves.

Voyage I is a 19 minutes long sound collage and a pretty bad one too. The mix of unimaginative loops and electronics here bores me to death.
Voyage II is an 18 minutes long piece of music with a very good jazz piece/melody intertwined with some rather duller avant-garde loops. The keyboards is very much present here together with percussions. It is much better than the first Voyage.

I don't really rate this album at all to be honest. There is so much better krautrock out there than this album. It is a decent album and nothing more than that. Avoid Voyage I and only play Voyage II.

2 points

Thursday 25 September 2014

Albero Del Veleno. L' - Le Radici Del Male (2013)

The debut album from this Italian band.

This band with this rather odd band name for us non-Italian speakers, is another new name in this very much flowering Italian prog rock scene. And they both brings a new sound and an old sound from the 1970s back into life again. This time; Goblin get a makeover.

This band is by no means a copycat or have in any way copied Goblin. It is just that they share the same stage, so to speak. We are here deep into dark cinematic instrumental music. The ones that were and still is the sound track to Italian B-movies. Mostly; horror movies.

Thankfully, the music here is much more dynamic than ambient landscapes. It is very dynamic in places and full of life. Splatter-gore life. There is plenty of flutes and lighter instruments here in the sound. Which strangely enough does not makes this album a dark-fest.

The music is though movie-soundtrack type of music and the quality is good. Fans of Goblin beware. This is an album for you. I am not a big fan and I find this album good, but not great. If I need a soundtrack, I will surely re-visit this album again. It is a good album.

3 points

Pax Romana - Trace Of Light (2005)

The debut album from this Finnish band.

I quite liked their new album and thought it was a good idea to invest my hard earned cash into their first two albums too. So here it is.

The band has been around, with a long break included, since the 1970s and this is their debut album. That says a lot about the recording industry and this band. A hobby band before and after this album was released. I suspect they got their mind focused a bit more because of this album.

The band has two male vocalists. One that sounds like David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and the other one who sounds like a sanitized version of Tom Waits.

The David Gilmour'ish vocals songs has a lot in common with his version of Pink Floyd. They are a bit of a copycats in my view. Still good songs, but they screams Pink Floyd long way. The more Tom Waits'ish vocals songs has a more generic rock feel with some good saxophones included.

So we got two bands here for the price of one. I prefer the band when they are leaning quite heavy on Pink Floyd. I also suspect the material here is older than ten years, counting back from 2014. This band has a long history.

Nevertheless; this is a good album well worth checking out. I quite like it.

3 points

Le Orme - Florian (1979)

The tenth album, or the ninth album from this Italian band if you take away the English version of the Felona E Sorona album.

The band has always been a great Italian symphonic prog band..... up to this point. Florian sees a bit of another side of this band, though. This is still prog rock, but from another angle.

The band has thrown away all their electrical instruments on this album. Aldo Tagliapietra's excellent vocals is the dominating instrument here. Around his voice, we get cello, acoustic guitars, piano, harpsichord, mandolin and violin. The album has a lot of medieval feelings and is in essence that. A folk medieval album.

This very much draws comparisons with Angelo Branduardi's many albums in this genre. Le Orme is a bit more instrumental focused than Angelo again. Besides of that, the similarities are many. This is by no means a symphonic prog album in the vein of the earlier Le Orme albums.

The end result is a good album which I respect. Aldo's voice and vocals is the big plus here. There is no real great tracks here though and the album is too similar to Angelo Branduardi's many albums. It is a weak good award.

3 points  

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Jevtovic. Dusan - Am I Walking Wrong ? (2013)

To my knowledge, this is the debut album from this Serbian guitarist.

This album was released through MoonJune Records on the 1. October 2013. And yes, I am a slow reviewer.

In this case, this type of jazz is not my favourite type of music either. I was listening to it one time at the beginning of the year before I put it on the back-burner. But time has now come......

I do not dispute the fact that Dusan Jevtovic is a highly talented guitarist. One of many highly talented guitarists on MoonJune Records now. But to be fair, Dusan is really something. He has got help from Bernat Hernandez on fretless bass and Marko Djordjevic on drums on this album. An instrumental forty minutes long/short album.

Dusan showcases his unique abilities on this standard guitar jazz album. He is not an all out shredder. In that respect, John McLaughlin is not getting any competitions from Dusan Jevtovic. Neither is this a fusion album either. Dusan plays on different strings altogether. A lot of strings. Both electric and acoustic. The album has some folk music influences too. I presume Balkan or Serbian folk music.

This is by all means a good album. Even a newbie in this field understand that. Does this album enthuse me ? This music is perhaps too alien to me to really enthuse me. But I like what I hear..... in small dosages. Check out this album at the link below.

3 points

The album

Paidarion - Behind the Curtains (2011)

The second album from this Finnish band.

I know next to nothing about this band and I am struggling with my blindness here. OK, this band consists of members from Mist Season and Progression. I know both bands reasonable well. They are good bands from Finland.

The music on this one hour long album offers up a lot for everybody. From vocal jazz to some very complex progressive metal. I would call that big contrasts !

The music is created with female vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and saxophones. Steve Unruh on violin and Michael Manring on bass makes a guest appearance. The contrasts in the music makes me believe this is more a live band than a studio band. The band has a bit of a show-band attitude where no chances is taken and the band is walking down a wide road.

The jazz bits are good. I am not fond of prog metal and is not warming towards those bits. The material is to put it mildly all over the place and I am not sure what the prog metal is doing here. It is like two planets colliding, this album. Hence my verdict as I have a bit problems with this big contrast.

2.5 points

Pazzo Fanfano di Musica - Pazzo Fanfano di Musica (1989)

The one and only album from this Japanese band.

This band is another Japanese band who has camouflaged themselves under an Italian name. It is also a super-group with members from the likes of Teru's Symphonia, Deja Vu, Magdalena, Mr Sirius and Vienna.

The music here is a kind of eclectic chamber symphonic prog. There is a lot of strings here and acoustic instruments like flutes etc etc. Besides of Mellotron, there is hardly any electric instruments used here. Some electric guitars is what I can detect of any electricity.

The female Japanese vocals is a bit of an acquired taste. They are for me the weakest thing about this album. The songs are not that great either. This album is by all means a great idea. It is not that well carried out, though. The songs are pretty weak and mind-numbing boring at times.

The quality is simply not here and the band is trading on cliches. As simple as that. This is nevertheless a decent album where only the final two songs are reasonable good.  

2 points  

Monday 22 September 2014

Hopper. Hugh - Hopper Tunity Box (1976)

The second album from Hugh Hopper & friends.

This album was recorded after he had left Soft Machine and in Yes mobile studio. It was parked up in the middle of a big film studio and the likes of Steve Howe and Jon Andersen visited Hugh Hopper during the session as they were old friends from the endless tours around the planet together in their respective bands.
None of these two Yes members played on this album.

Elton Dean on the other hand were very much active on on this record with his woodwinds. And so was the Isotope guitarist Richard Brunton too. Hugh Hopper's own bass is also very much alive here.

The end result is an album with the type of jazz Soft Machine once played. I would also compare this album to Gilgamesh and Hopper's cooperations with Alan Gowen. This album has a large Canterbury feel running through it as blood runs through a body. The sound is very dark at times and so is the music. It is still pretty playful with a lot of vibraphone and percussions here. That and woodwinds.

Hugh Hopper is very much toying with some Soft Machine themes here throughout this forty minutes long album. An album which has some great music too. I now understand why this album is one of the most liked Canterbury albums of all time. It is indeed a great album from the maestro of Canterbury jazz. Thank you, Hugh.

4 points

Trip. The - Time Of Change (1973)

The fourth and final album from this Italian band.

The band was now reduced to an ELP like trio. And they sounded like that too at times. Take ELP, Yes and Le Orme. That is when you get the first twenty minutes long song Rhapsodia on this album.

Rhapsodia is the highlight of this album too with this very Yes inspired epic. The album falls a bit in quality after this. The rest of this forty minutes long album is a mix of lounge jazz, symphonic prog and proper jazz. The jazz bits comes in particular from the drummer Furio Chirico who later joined Arti E Mestieri if my memories serves me right. His drumming is very jazzy. The keyboardist Joe Vescovi and the bassist Arvid Andersen is keeping it all together.

I get the feeling that I am listening to an Italian version of an ELP album. But this is still The Trip and they have their own style. I am landing on a weak three pointer here on this, their weakest album.

3 points

Sunday 21 September 2014

Budgie - Bandolier (1975)

The fifth album from these Welsh rockers.

This power trio is a bit of a strange band and I am not sure how to describe their music. It is riff based intelligent rock. It has the same line up as Rush. Bass, drums and guitars. The guitarist does the vocals here. They sound like Rush on Rush's self titled debut album. After that, they went in two very different directions.

Bandolier offers up a mix of hard rockers and some strange psychedelic pieces. Some rather psychedelic ballads, that is. This weirdness secured that the band never really became that big and commercial successful.

Bandolier is a bit of a strange album and I am scratching my head again. I do that every time I am listening to this band. My scalp and Budgie is not a good combination.

The hard rockers here are both catchy and very good. The psychedelic interludes not so good. The band knows how to hold a riff and how to rock hard. They also knows how to create very intelligent hard rock songs. That is what this album is full of. Some of the songs here are really impressive. They are one of the better hard rock bands. One band that influenced scores of other bands. Metallica, Iron Maiden..... I guess they have all quite extensive played this album.

I regard this as a good album. There is no great songs here. But it is an album which rocks my world. Hence my verdict.

3 points

Minimum Vital - Au Cercle de Pierre (1998)

The one and only live album from this French band. A band who released six studio albums in their time. This live album comes between their fourth and fifth studio album.

Minimum Vital is one of those sadly overlooked European bands. Which is a pity as their six albums were pretty good. OK, perhaps not their very hard to find first album. But the rest is interesting albums.

Minimum Vital is also one of those bands which I find hard to pinpoint. Based on almost chamber like folk music from Britanny, the band also broadened their music into jazz and symphonic prog. On this album, dare I also say zeuhl. There is a lot of zeuhl structures here with the female and male vocals. Where did that come from as I cannot remember that from their studio albums ?

In addition to the female and male vocals, there is a lot of keyboards, woodwinds, guitars, strings, bass and drums here. The band has laid it on here. It is a real celebration of this band. A one hour long party, no less.

The end result is a very good live album with a great sound and some rather unusual music which really works as a treat. I am not a fan of live albums. But this one is well worth checking out. Do it.

3.5 points

J.E.T - Fede, Speranza, Carità (1972)

The debut album and first of in total two studio albums from this Italian band.

Their second one is so obscure that hardly anyone have heard it these days. This is their most famous album and one you will find on for example Youtube. Hint, hint if this review makes you interested in this band and album.

The music on this forty minutes long album is vintage Italian symphonic prog. Style wise, they are somewhere between Banco, Biglietto and Balletto. The music is very bombastic symphonic at times in between almost pop like choruses. The band was originally an Italian pop band and I believe they returned to that scene after this album too. I have heard their other album is a pure Italian pop album. You can hear the Italian pop even on this album.

There are also a lot of folk music influences on this album. An album which in sound and music is very much an Italian symphonic prog album. The vocals and the vintage keyboards is very good. The songs are not that great though. It is nevertheless a good album which should please anyone into this scene. J.E.T was a very obscure band and it will always remain so too. Check it out.

3 points

Gurumaniax - Psy Valley Hill (2010)

The debut album from this German project.

What do you get when you take Mani Neumaier from Guru Guru, Ax Genrich from the 1974 version of Guru Guru and Guy Segers from Univers Zero ? You get a pretty avant-garde jamming krautrock album.

Actually, you get an album which is pretty true to the first Guru Guru albums. I presume Guy Segers on bass is a pretty big fan of those albums as he is doing a great job here. Ax Genrich is on guitars and Mani does his normal things on drums and vocals.

A lot of the vocals here is samples. The music is mostly instrumental with a lot of classical krautrock spaced out compositions on these fifty minutes this album lasts. The bass and drums is thundering along in the background and the guitars is giving the music some directions.

The result is a good, retro krautrock album. A form of music which is becoming more popular again. The sound is really good and I would really recommend this to anyone into krautrock. In particular; those who are new to this genre.

3 points

Saturday 20 September 2014

Lineateorica - Lineateorica (2014)

The first sign of life, an EP, from this Italian band.

This band from Rome is is fairly and squarely an Italian progressive rock band. Their sound is very contemporary and not particular retro. It is still prog rock we are talking about here.

The band use flutes, guitars, bass, drums and Italian vocals here. No keyboards and that means the music is pretty heavy. Not as in hard rock, but still pretty heavy.

This twenty-five minutes long EP is divided into four tracks. All of them pretty interesting and good. There is a lot of interesting details here. The flute adds a lot of pastoral elegance to the music. Ditto for the very good vocals.

The end result is a very promising debut and one which marks this band out as a promising prospect. There is no great songs here. Nevertheless, this is a good EP.

3 points

Mikromidas - Faunus (2005)

The second and final album from this very obscure and long forgotten band from Stavanger, Norway.

I reviewed their debut album Brennende Drommer back in September 2009 for/in ProgArchives. It took me 5 years to follow up that review with a review of their second album. Time flies !

Faunus is a much more contemporary sounding album than the rather 1970s sounding debut album. The band still got Norwegian vocals with some Mellotron, Hammond organs, bass, keyboards, drums and guitars. The sound is OK. The vocals rather dubious.

The music this time is much more mainstream rock and rather neo-prog like. There is not much 1970s symphonic prog left here. The Mellotron is nice and the band should have used a lot more of that to really follow up the Swedish bands from that time.

The songs are not that interesting and I find myself looking out the window at my office and looking at the roof at lot during the listening sessions. The songs are not particular good and the band not the most interesting there is. The music here should be down my alley. This album is not, though. This is a decent album and nothing more than that.

2 points

Big Goodbye. A - History In Rewind (2014)

The second album from this US band.

I quite liked their 2011 debut album Sounds & Silences whom I reviewed in ProgArchives. I notice with satisfaction that this Matt Glisson lead band is still around.

The debut album was somewhere between Porcupine Tree, Radiohead and Muse. Modern progressive rock with other words. Remove Radiohead and that is where they still are in 2014, on their new album.

The album is wildly ambitious. It comes from a country and a prog rock scene where big is better. This album is in that vein too. Very big and very long. Seventy-five minutes to be precise. The music is also pretty heavy at times and very much in the classic US prog rock tradition. Take some AOR and fuse that with Muse and Porcupine Tree. Very bold and very noisy indeed.

The guitars, bass, drums and keyboards is very heavy at times. Ditto for the vocals. Heavy and bold. The music is sometimes also pretty restrained and AOR like. Most of the music is thundering along as a freight train between Chicago and Santa Fe.

Unfortunate for the band and the listener, there is no real great songs here. There are some sporadic greatness here. But not often enough. Those into bold and brash US progressive rock will love this and the previous album. I like what I hear, but will only rate this album as a mere good album.

3 points

Curved Air - Air Cut (1973)

The fourth album from this English band.

Curved Air's previous three albums showcased a band in fine form, somewhere between the likes of Renaissance and more folk and pop rock like progressive rock. Nice, catchy songs combined with more complicated music.

The band continues this formula on Air Cut. This despite of Sonja Kristine being the only original member left of the band. She was and still is a great talent spotter. Eddie Jobson on violin and keyboards really does a great job here.

This album is said to be their most ambitious progressive rock album. The symphonic prog parts here is indeed not easy listening. The ten minutes long track Metamorphosis is one heck of a mouthful. It is also a very good track. There is also some instrumental tracks here and a lot of harsh sounding guitars. This album is not a Sonja Kristine with backing album. It is a fully blown band effort where Sonja's superb vocals is one part of the output. There is even a song with male vocals here. Strangely enough !

The result is a very good album and one that cement the band as one of those well worth listening to. This album also have a bit of a refreshing naive attitude I find charming. No really great songs here, but an overall very good album.

3.5 points

Friday 19 September 2014

Zaragon - No Return (1984)

The one and only album from this Danish band.

1984 was in the middle of the dark ages for progressive rock and most of the music scene. Iron Maiden's Powerslave and their live album Live After Death is the only positives from that year. None of them were prog rock albums, though. The scene was on a life support machine back then. It was as cool as rabies.

But Zaragon gave it a try with an album which is supposed to be a symphonic prog album according to ProgArchives. Hence, it caught my attention. ProgArchives, as reliable as they normally are, does not always get it right. This forty-five minutes album may be symphonic prog anno 1984. But not anno 2014 or even anno 1974.

What we get here is a very good vocalist backed by a band with guitars, drums, keyboards and bass. The music is halfway cool rock with a lot of West coast influences. There are also some fusion and funky bits here. That and some prog rock influences.

The vocals are very good. The music is not particular interesting and the songs are pretty easy to forget. The sound is not particular interesting either. The Hammond organ is the best thing about this band. That and the vocalist.

The end result is a decent album and nothing more than that.

2 points

Pell Mell - Only a Star (1978)

The fourth album from this German band.

Pell Mell was one of those bands who combined symphonic prog with a lot of classical music. This album is no exception. Take a lot of violins, Melotrons, keyboards, violas, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. That is what this band uses to fuse classical music and symphonic prog.

Well, not only symphonic prog. There is a lot of naive pop in the The Beatles vein here too. Or even in the Moody Blues/Barclay James Harvest vein. Take some Ekseption and ELP too and you get this album. But most of all; The Moody Blues. This album is surprisingly pop orientated.

The classical music here has an emphasis on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the more lighter classical music composers. Pell Mell copied some of the more harder and not so easy digested composers on the previous albums. This is not the case on this album.

The emphasis is on songs here too. The title track is a very good track and the best one here. The songs are cleverly composed and has some very good pieces. Unfortunate, this album also has a couple of throw away songs. Nevertheless, this is a good album from a band I think has been a bit overlooked. It was a very good symphonic prog band and a great find. I like them.

3 points

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Trip. The - Atlantide (1972)

The third album from this Italian band.

It is many years since I were listening to and reviewed an album by The Trip. Their second album Caronte to be precise. More than five years ago, in fact. I cannot remember anything from that album as 3000 albums has been reviewed in the meantime. But I have always seen them as a fusion band.

I am wrong, in fact. They were more an ELP type band. At least on this album. The opening minutes is a blend of ELP and Annie Haslam's vocals for Renaissance. The rest is more or less pretty straight forward ELP'ish symphonic prog with some Italian avant-garde vibes thrown in at the end.

The vocals are in English and the music is heavy laden with keyboards. There is no guitars here. But there is plenty off bass and drums.

I am a bit surprised to discover that the vocal lines and melodies has taken a lot from Italian beat anno 1968'ish. The melodies is not as symphonic as I thought they would be. The music is a bit on the more primitive side and not even keyboards cascades can mask that. This is nevertheless a reasonable good album which does not really impress me. It is so and so.

3 points

Eloy - Codename Wildgeese (1985)

The thirteenth album from this German band.

This is also the first of three albums where these masters of space and krautrock lost their mind and went da-da dilly-dally. Codename Wildgeese is a movie soundtrack to a movie hardly anyone have seen. Well, it has been re-released on both DVD and Blu-Ray now. It is a bad, bad B-movie.

The movie is about cutting of the heroin supply from the golden triangle, ie Laos, Cambodia and Burma. It is supposed to be an all out action movie on a strict budget. So Eloy got this job, then.
Frank Borneman, the main composer in Eloy was now out of Eloy and the band consisted of three guys. None of them came up with anything remotely like Eloy here. Take an AOR song which were probably released as a single to promote this movie + a lot of ambient stuff made by computers.

The result is an abysmal bad half an hour long album. Half an hour too long in my opinion. It truly disgraces the Eloy name and brand. It is as good as turkeys come. Hence my verdict.

1 point

Monday 15 September 2014

Halloween - Silence...au dernier rang (1998)

The live album from this French band, released before their final album and after their first three albums.

I am no longer a great fan of live albums as I find them not offering up much new music. Halloween was an interesting band though with some weird symphonic prog albums to their name. Weird even after the French symphonic prog standards. And French symphonic prog is normally really weird.

The music is fronted by the female vocalist Geraldine Le Cocq. The version of Van Der Graaf Generator's House With No Door is great. The live versions of Halloween's own songs are also very good. Geraldine's heavy accented English is not particular good. She is best in her mother tongue.

She is supported by violins, piano, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. That and some orchestral instruments. The sound is not the best but it is good enough. The end result is a very good live album and a epitaph to a band who should not be ignored. They were very weird, but also very good. Check out this album.

3.5 points

Sunday 14 September 2014

Event - Human Condition (2001)

The second of in total three albums from this US band.

I thought for a long moment that I had got a King's X album on my hand here. A band I very much respect and like. But this album is from Event. A band who on their 1998 album Electric Skies sounded like a crossover between Dream Theater and King's X.

Well, we can forget Dream Theater on this album. But I guess King's X were ripe for a copycat too. Something Event very much is on this album.

I have to admit I am not a big fan of this album at all. There is no real good melodies here and there is not much of any interesting details. The drums are annoying to say at least. The vocals too much like the King's X vocals. This is simply not my cup of tea. Nevertheless, this is a decent album.

2 points

Blue Öyster Cult - Cultösaurus Erectus (1980)

The seventh album from this US art rock band. Art rock or whatever you may call it. Their music are difficult to pinpoint, to say at least.

Starting with the superb Black Blade, one of their best ever tracks and a heavy art-rocker, I got my hopes up for this album. The album then takes some strange, or rather some familiar Blue Oyster Cult turns towards jazz, AOR and synth rock. Inbetween, we also get a good slab of art-rock.

Nobody would deny that this band present highly intelligent, intriguing art-rock. That is the core of this band. Their DNA profile. The reason why this band intrigues me a great deal. It is why I got everything they have released. The band sometimes makes it a bit difficult for themselves by insisting trying out various things in full public. That synth rock track is not a good thing. And so is some sloppy standard AOR tunes too. The main core of this album is good to very good though.

The end result is a forty minutes long, interesting time with this band. It is bordering between good and very good in my estimations. But I would elevate it to a very good rating.

3.5 points

Minimum Vital - Capitaines (2009)

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

It is many years since the last time I reviewed a Minimum Vital album. Perhaps five years or so. I really liked the previous albums from this band who has been hiding under the surface throughout their lifespan. They never really got the recognition they perhaps deserve. It is indeed a hard world out there.

Capitaines is mostly an instrumental album with medieval ages inspired symphonic prog. Add folk music tunes from the Brittany area of France too and you get this album. This band is run by the Payssan brothers who also have released an album under the name Vital Duo. On Capitaines, they have expanded to a full band effort again.

The music has a lot in common with Camel and die-hard fans of that band will probably love this album. The main idea and melodies are very good here. The album is a bit too pedestrian for my liking and I am not getting into this album. It is a good album, but it's flaws is the lack of any great melodies. You should still check it out.

3 points

Saturday 13 September 2014

Watch. The - Tracks from the Alps (2014)

The sixth studio album from this Italian band. Or the seventh if the lone album from The Night Watch is included too.

The Watch alternates between playing Genesis songs and original material. They have made a good touring career as a Genesis cover band. I am not so sure if they are touring their own material too. Which is a pity because the band has some good songs on their five previous albums. In their own right, The Watch is a very good band.

We are deep into neo-prog land here with a very large Genesis influence. There is no denying that Simone Rossetti sounds like Peter Gabriel. Where Yes are making albums and is touring with Jon Anderson soundalikes vocalists, Genesis with Simone Rossetti would had been a great idea. The Watch has also cornered that market, though.

On their own, The Watch does not come up with the classics, I am afraid. Some of the songs here are a bit weak and reminds me too much of Phil Collins less good solo material. The good stuff here is very Genesis like. On their own, The Watch is not a Genesis copycat. Their basis is in neo-prog. Not in symphonic prog.

The end result is a good album. I would also add; perhaps their least great album too. The album sounds a bit underwhelming uninspired. It feels like the band is threading water. It is still a good album with some very good melodies inbetween some rather dubious material. An uneven album, in other words.

3 points

Spettri - Spettri (2011)

The one and only album from this Italian band.

Don't be fooled by the 2011 release date. The album was recorded and then shelved in 1972. It was probably recorded as a kind of demo as the sound is not particular good. It has a demo/bootleg sound quality.

The music is on the heavy prog side. Take a great deal of Deep Purple and some Led Zeppelin. Then you get this album. There is a lot of Hammond organs here. That and some raw powerful Italian vocals. Add some raw unpolished guitars, bass and drums to the proceedings too. Then you get the picture.

The songs are not particular interesting. They are pretty standard heavy rock from that time. What sets the band apart is that they are from Italy and mugs like myself buys everything Italian. Hence this review.

This is a decent forty minutes long album and nothing more than that.

2 points

Maelstrom - Maelstrom (1973)

The debut album from this USA band who went onto releasing three albums altogether.

Labeled as a jazz/fusion band in ProgArchives, I was looking forward to some jazz and fusion again. I was much mistaken here and I wondered if I had got the wrong album or even the wrong Maelstrom. I had not.

OK, there are some jazz and fusion here. Most of this album is a blend of folk rock, symphonic rock and eclectic rock. Very pastoral at times too. Take some of Gentle Giant's most pastoral moments, add a lot of Genesis and some English folk rock too plus some R & B. Then add some Pierre Moerlin too. Then you got this album.

There is a lot of flutes here. That and keyboards, guitars, bass, harpsichord, mellotron, vibraphone, drums, percussions and vocals. The vocals are great, btw. Jeff McMullen's vocals. The rest of the instruments are great too.

It is a pity that there is no real great songs on this album. It is by all means a good album which does not shine above a good status. It is an album which has a lot of everything, but not a lot of greatness. It is still an album well worth checking out.

3 points

Friday 12 September 2014

Kungens Man - Transportkatalogen (2013)

To my knowledge, this is the debut album from this Swedish band.

I am not sure what to label this fifty three minutes long album as. Very probably krautrock. Yes, it is krautrock indeed. It is too weak and pedestrian to be labeled as a space rock album.

This album is very much at the spaced out end of the krautrock spectrum. Take guitars, lots of bass, drums and some samples and keyboards. That is what you get here. Or drone krautrock as they have labeled their music as. I just found their Bandcamp page and they have released an album every month since November 2013. Oh, dear God ! I am perhaps going to review some more of their albums....... or perhaps not.

The music here is pretty softly spoken. There is no walls of sound and no mad, loud guitar runs. It is a mix of drone and proper krautrock. It is all very pedestrian.

The quality of the material, four long tracks, is pretty good. Good, in fact. It appeals a great deal to a krautrock fan like myself. I am not so happy about the drone thing though. A bit more "action" would not have gone amiss here. Nevertheless; it is a good album under the "name your price" offer from Bandcamp.
You cannot go much wrong with that.

3 points

The album 

Thursday 11 September 2014

Welcome - You Are Welcome (1978)

The second and final album from this Swiss band.

Their self titled debut album was a Yes anno Drama copycat. Enough said about that album. Well, it was also a very good album. I was warned that this album, the follow up album was a bit of different kettle of fish altogether.

There is still a lot of similarities to Yes here. Just take off their complex music and turn on the pop-rock tap. The music is still dominated by the Yes sound. That goes for the keyboards and guitars too. Mostly, that is. The music is pretty light-weight, though. It is like Yes were trying to go commercial anno their Drama period.

There is some difference between this and a Yes experiment. The band is Swiss after all and has got this German sound too. The keyboards sound is thick as a glacier. Ditto for the guitar sound. Welcome has also included a children choir here on one of the songs. A cringe worthy song and something Yes thankfully never did.

Some of the melodies here are good. Some are cringe-worthy bad. Most of the album is decent though. I land on a decent to good rating for this album which is better than it's reputation, but not much better.

2.5 points

Aisles - 4:45am (2013)

The third album from this Chilean band.

I got this album directly from the band themselves around 2 months ago and it has taken me some time to get my braincells organized enough to write this review.

I believe this is my first meeting with this band's music. I did not review their two previous albums when I was in ProgArchives and I don't believe I have reviewed them here in this blog either. No, I have not.

Their 2009 album In Sudden Walks was highly rated by many as a great neo-prog album. The band was well known to say at least. Popular too. This album is not entirely neo-prog though. It is a mix of alternative rock, traditional rock and neo-prog. Let us call it for what it is; art rock.

This one hour long album has been created with plenty of sound effects and samples, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and German Vergera's vocals. Very good vocals, although a bit of an acquired taste.

The music is good enough. My main gripe is the lack of any good songs and some blandness in the material. It is varied enough, the songs. But they are not really setting my world on fire. They are not inspiring me and painting a picture in my head. Nevertheless; this is a good album and well worth checking out.

3 points

Ragnarok - Live In New Zealand (1977)

The one and only live album from this New Zealand band and the final sign of life from them.

This album consists of radio recordings made two weeks before their second album Nooks were released. Both their albums has been reviewed in this blog. Both of them pretty good albums.

Ragnarok were a pretty good psychedelic band and their two studio albums were good albums. That is why this live album is such a let down. It only contains three own compositions and three cover tracks. One of Rory Gallagher, one Pink Floyd medley and one Led Zeppelin song.

The sound is very bad and the choice of songs baffling to say at least. The band has more than good enough songs to do a full live recording of them. This album is a total waste of money and time. I love the mellotrons here so half a point is awarded for that and the three original Ragnarok compositions. Stick to the two studio albums, please.

1.5 points

Tuesday 9 September 2014

A.R. & Machines - A.R. IV (1973)

The fourth album from Achim Reichel and friends.

This is off course a German band/project in the krautrock genre. Very much in the krautrock genre. You find this album in the hypnotic, improvised spaced out end of the krautrock spectrum. Four songs, forty-five minutes.

The main instruments here is Achim Reichel's guitars supported by percussions, electronica, drums, bass, his own vocals, drums, sitar, flutes and saxophones.
The vocals are more like sound effects than anything else. They are rather meaningless.

The main difference between this album and the first two albums is that the tempo and sound is more or less the same throughout this album. There are some jazzy elements creeping into this album and is enhancing it. The hypnotic elements are not that strong either. This is by far the weakest album I have heard from this band/project. Nevertheless, it is a good album. Although a pretty one dimensional album.

3 points

Fatal Fusion - The Ancient Tale (2013)

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

I was not too impressed by their 2010 album Land Of The Sun. A far too much blues orientated album and I am not a big fan of blues. It is therefore very pleasing that the band has moved on from that album and over to another landscape.

The landscape they are now operating in is a landscape filled with some symphonic prog and heavy prog. The band is both looking backwards to the heavier prog bands from the 1970s and forward to this day and age with their pretty heavy slab of heavy prog. It is both retro and contemporary.

This time, Knut Erik Grontvedt's vocals are spot on and picture perfect. It is a powerful voice who really fits in well with this epic and pretty hard prog rock. Epic is the word here. 5 songs. 70 minutes. It goes without saying the songs are epic. In addition to the powerful vocals, you get a lot of keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. Some of the keyboards has both a Hammond organ and a Moog sound. Great sound in my ears. The guitars too are very good.

My only gripe is the lack of any truly great songs here. There are some very good melody lines in between the good stuff here. But the dot over the i is missing. This is indeed a very good album and one to check out.

3.5 points

Monday 8 September 2014

Le Orme - Storia O Leggenda (1977)

The ninth studio album from this Italian band.

Le Orme is one of the best bands from the Italian symphonic prog scene. They started out as an ELP copy, but soon moved more towards normal Italian prog with a lot of emphasis on the good melody and a warm sound.

This is very much the case on this album too. Gone is their ELP roots and in comes a much more balanced blend of rock, pop, folk rock and prog rock. The sound is very lush to say at least. Aldo Tagliapietra's vocals is hover over some keyboards, guitars, Moog, bass and drums.

Some of the songs are very pop music orientated and commercial. This album sold rather well and that is due to this album's commercial sound. A sound pointing towards the 1980s. Some of the synths here are pretty annoying to say at least. Very plastic'y feeling. Not my style at all and it seems like the band has been listening to Kraftwerk a great deal.

There is no really great song here. Most of the album is good though and I like most of it. It is not one of their best albums, though.

3 points

Motis - Josquin Messonnier (2014)

The sixth album from this French band.

I very much liked their 2011 album Ripaille. It was a great folk music influenced symphonic prog album in the Ange vein. The band won a fan in me with that album and I got their new album on the back of that album.

Motis still keeps the folk rock flame burning. There is far less of symphonic prog on this album, though. The vintage keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals is still here. The music is not that expansive though....

I still get some of the Ange feel from this album. Emmanuel Tissot's vocals and keyboards are still great. But the band has returned to a more restrained form of music and the music is not as flowery and risk taking as on Ripaille.

The keyboards are great though with a lot of Mellotron, Hammonds and analogue synths. The music lacks a great deal of imagination though and I get the feeling that the band is threading water throughout these fifty minutes. The emphasis is on the vocals and not on the music here.

This is a good album but nothing more. I am a bit disappointed.

3 points  

Sunday 7 September 2014

Life - Spring (1971)

The only sign of life from this German band.

This album has one of the better cover artworks I have seen from a German album. Or any albums for that matter. It is such a pity that the music is not exactly of the same class.....

Life was a short lived project in Germany, run by Julius Schittenhelm from Amon Duul II and numerous other krautrock bands. That is why I expected krautrock here. There are some krautrock here, but not much. Instead....

... we get a mix of 1940s blues, 1960s psychedelic, 1960s garage rock and some krautrock. The sound and production is not the best with the vocals in the background and the instruments in the foreground. Instruments like guitars, harmonica, bass and drums.

The quality of the songs are dire, to be honest. The sound is clear enough and leaves nothing to my imagination. The production is as I mentioned above, pretty dire too. What positive things can I say about this album ? Let me think....... hard..... even harder. Nope, there is nothing good I can say about this album. It is a turkey, forever wandering around in my turkey yard, waiting for Christmas.

1 point  

Synaesthesia - Synaesthesia (2014)

The debut album from this English band. A much heralded band who has been taken under the wings of the neo-prog icons IQ. And with good reasons too in my view. This band is one of the better new bands to emerge in the neo-prog and crossover scene during the last five years.

Take a big slice of neo-prog, add a lot of pomp rock, pop music, symphonic prog and some prog metal. Add some jazzy quirkiness too. Then you get this album.

The twenty-two minutes long Time, Tension & Intervention suite sets the tone. A great modern epic with great keyboards, vocals, drums, bass and guitars. This five man big band uses the normal and well tried neo-prog lineup with some mellotron and moog sounds from the keyboards too.
This suite has some great lyrics and some great melodies. A superb suite with a lot of exciting, quirky details.

The remaining half an hour is not in the same class. But it still manages to retain my attention. This album is very much a great album and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Some of the lyrics is a bit banal and the choruses well into the pop music terrain. There is no really great excellent tracks here too. That is my only gripes with this album which I guess will be high on many best-of-2014 lists.

4 points


Yurt - Archipelagog (2011)

The second album from this Irish band.

I was not too fond of their 2009 debut album Ege Artemis Yurtum. Too unfinished and unpolished. And that says a lot for a dirty sounding experimental metal album. I am therefore pleased to report that the band has polished and refined their sound and music a lot on the follow up album.

Take a big slice of stoner, space rock, some electronic krautrock, a great deal of experimental metal, some avant-garde, some hardcore and some punk. That gives you this album. The sound is polished dirty and raw. It has exactly the sound their album requires. The music feels a lot fresh and innovative for me who mostly deals with 1970s progressive rock and jazz. See the other reviews and you get my drift. This album therefore comes across as rather alien to me.

Despite of that, I really like this album. It has some good melody lines and interesting details. The dirty space rock also appeals a great deal to me. It also appeals a great deal to a Black Sabbath fan too. I think Yurt has got a good blend of various spices and I am happy to report that the band is still alive and well too. Let us hear more from this band. This is a good album and a free download too. See link below.

3 points

The album