Saturday 31 January 2015

Gift. The - Awake And Dreaming (2006)

The debut album from this London, England based band. A band who released their second album Land Of Shadows last year and is playing some gigs now. I have seen them on a couple of festival posters. 

The Gift is a five piece band (I don't think the dreamtime story teller is a part of the band....) and the lineup is the usual guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and vocals lineup. There is also some mellotrons here and some dreamtime story telling. This is also a seventy minutes long double album and is also probably also a concept album.

The music is somewhere between neo prog and symphonic prog. Maybe neo-symphonic prog is the best label here. Both discs is a mix of long instrumental parts and songs. 

This is a very ambitious project and the band is largely pulling it off. The comparisons with Oldfield, Floyd, Genesis and Marillion is obvious. The music here is large and airy. Very airy. The band and the composers knows what they are doing and The Gift should be added to the list of great new bands.

The end result is a very good album which is a bit too long winded. It is harking back to the 1970s when we all had so much better time to spend on albums like this one. Right now....... It is an album well worth checking out indeed. Make some time for it.

3.5 points

Art And Ilusion - Monolithos (1993)

The second album from this Italian band.

Their debut album did not impress me at all. Nondescript neo prog was my verdict back then. This trio is now coming up with their second album and is trying to move forward.

We still get keyboards, guitars, drums, bass and English vocals. This band does not sound Italian at all. They are on the other hand very influenced by both Phil Collins and in particular; Marillion. Unfortunate, without their gift of writing and performing good music.

The whole album sounds poor from start to the end. The sound is very flat. This album is as exciting to listen to as watching paint dry. The lack of life here and the lack of any good or even decent music is what makes me label this a proper turkey. As good a turkey as you will ever get.

1 point

Underground Set. The - The Underground Set (1970)

The debut album from this Italian band who went on to release one more album before they quit the scene. This band is more or less the same as the band Nuovo Idea. On this album, the lineup is the same.

I still have not heard a tone from Nuovo Idea. Their albums is still on my to-do list. My impression though is that they were a much more Italian prog band than The Underground Set. 

What we get on these forty-five minutes is guitars, bass, drums and organs. The music is instrumental beat, blues and hard rock from the late 1960s. No less and no more. 

There are some good ideas on this album and the sound on my re-mastered version of  this album is good. The lack of any vocals and some good songs makes this album a bit hard to swallow. The music is also mostly hard rocking. It is a bit of an original album due to being mostly instrumental. That aside, this is a decent album which I don't think will appeal to many of you.

2 points  

Thursday 29 January 2015

Grandbell - The Sun And The Embryo (1996)

Another band who released one album and then disappeared again without a trace. This time, the band is from Brazil.

Grandbell was a six piece band with guitars, flutes, keyboards, bass, table, drums and English vocals. This album is over seventy minutes long divided on eleven songs.

The music is symphonic prog. The band has fused Yes and Genesis. Which is not terrible original. It is very unoriginal to say at least. The vocals are really good and that is a big plus in my book. Ditto for the sound and the guitars.

Where Grandbell has eked out their identity is their fusion of that fusion with a more Latin - American take on symphonic prog. Well, there is not an awful lot of Latin - American prog here. But still enough to give them a bit of an identity.

The end result is a decent to good album which has some good ideas and is a nice listen. I would say this is a weak good album award. The good things here outweighs the bad things. Check it out if this sounds interesting.

3 points    

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Kaipa - Notes From The Past (2002)

The comeback album and the sixth album from this Swedish band. 

The band had gone out with a whimper back in 1982 with some very poor albums. Hans Lundin returned again 20 years later and got Roine Stolt with him as the only other member in Kaipa. They were complimented by the likes of Jonas Reingold and Patrick Lindstrom (Ritual).

With Roine Stolt back, the comparisons with The Flower Kings is pretty obvious even without listening to this album. And yes, the music has a lot of The Flower Kings influences. Perhaps too many. This album though is the first tentative steps from Kaipa again after being regarded as a lost cause many years previously. 

This album is a through and through Swedish symphonic prog album. That comes with a lot of Swedish folk rock influences too. That is the Swedish sound.  

The music is very lush. That goes for the vocal arrangements and for the instrumentations. Guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. Lots of very nice details and melodies. The album is eighty minutes long and the band has a lot to say after this 20 years long break.

The result is a very good album which is an essential purchase for die hard Swedish symphonic prog fans. I am not quite one, but I like what I hear here. 

3.5 points 

Sandrose - Sandrose (1972)

Another one off band & album. This time from a French band.

Sandrose was a five piece band with mellotron, guitars, organs, bass, drums, percussion and female vocals. And yes, this is a symph prog album....... sort of. 

The album starts off with Rose Podwojny's pretty good vocals and this is pure folk prog from the apple orchards in England. I actually thought this was an English band too. Well, I was wrong. The symph prog comes more to the fore in the subsequent songs on this forty minutes long album. The folk rock feel is never far from the music though and the band really changes between those two styles throughout. 

The mellotron parts is the best thing here. The long instrumental parts where the mellotron is the leading instrument. The rest of the album is reasonable good and this makes it a good album. It is nowhere near being one of the best French symph prog albums though. Nevertheless, I quite like it.

3 points  

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Taylor's Universe - Evidence (2013)

The thirteenth album from this Danish band. Their first album was released back in 1994. This album is my first meeting with them.

Having seen this five piece being listed as an avant-garde/RIO band in ProgArchives, I steadied my nerves for an onslaught of weirdness. Well, that is not what I got here. I have heard this album being a new direction from this band.

The opening half of this album is like hearing a blend of Soft Machine's classic album Seven and Softs. You get the blend of saxophone and guitars here. They are helped by bass, drums, flutes, clarinets, synths and voice. Instrumental music in other word.

The fifteen minutes long opener Buildings is a great song in fact. It has this Softs riff running through it with some sax and guitar solos. A great track which enthuses me. The rest of the album takes on a more avant-garde taste too. It is still well within the fusion genre and the music is really good too.

I have been criticized for not giving enough high ratings here. This album though is a great album and I would like to check out what this band has to offer.  

4 points

Sunday 25 January 2015

Gurth - Tormentes (2008)

The so far only sign of life from this Spanish band.

Their Myspace account is a bit sparse on news and it seems like this band has split up. Which is a bit of a shame. Gurth is/was a five piece band. Their lineup is vibraphone, Spanish vocals, bass, drums, guitars and synth guitar. 

We are in an eclectic landscape here. Take fusion, Pierre Moerlin's Gong, King Crimson and Spanish prog. Take some funk and avant-garde jazz too. There is a lot of strange ideas here and off beat stuff. Something which the cover art work are alluding to. This is not the usual run of the mill prog rock album.

There is a lot of good details here. What is missing is some good music. There are only sporadic good music here. The album is rich on details though.... which makes it a good album. Those really into King Crimson should check out this album.

3 points 

Gatto Marte - Madame Penguin (2014)

The ninth album from this Italian chamber orchestra.

The four piece band Gatto Marte has got themselves a very good reputation with their chamber rock. They are well within the RIO genre. They are also suitable influenced by King Crimson too. 

Their setup is not exactly rock'n'roll. Drums, violin, guitars, doublebass, piano, accordion and keyboards. The music is entirely instrumental.

The opening track The Bells After Life's Chase To Nowhere reminds me a lot about Ianva too. It is a pretty dark opener of this album. The album becomes lighter after a while. The next song Sinfonia # 3 is a positive commercial song.

The rest of the album is occupied by the title track in six parts. All of it is very good.

That too is my verdict on this album. This is a very good album from a band I really like. It is not rock'n'roll, but I like it.

3.5 points 

Gygafo - Legend Of The Kingfisher (1973)

The one and only album from this short lived band from United Kingdom.

I have noticed that this band and album is described as Prog Related in ProgArchives. I am not so sure about that. I think this album is much more a crossover album than a progressive rock related album.

This six piece band, one guest musician included, created this album with saxophone, glockenspiel, air guitar, guitars, bass, drums, mandolin, flutes, keyboards and vocals. The music has it's roots in lush folk rock and has adopted a great deal of psychedelic rock along the way. There is also some hints of jazz here. 

The result is one hour with lush music. Take Fairport Convention at their most psychedelic. Then you get this album and Gygafo. A good album with a lot of good songs and a very good sound. I really like this album a lot. Get it from any good stores.

3 points

Saturday 24 January 2015

Green. Jeff - Jessica (2009)

The debut album from this veteran US guitarist and composer, now based in Ireland.

The story behind this album is a tragic as it can be. Jessica is the name of his stillborn baby. She died during her birth (if I am not mistaken) and Jeff (and his wife Judy) released this album during his grieving period. He got some good help from the Pallas keyboardist and some other friends.

This is a concept album about the whole grieving period and Jessica if I am not much mistaken. Large parts of this album is instrumental and with a lot of guitars. There are some poignant vocals here. It goes without saying that the music on this album is highly emotional charged. 

References here can be made to Camel and Jadis. Not to mention the Kompendium project. The music though is mostly symphonic with some neo-prog and Gaelic/Irish folk rock influences. 

The end result is a good one hour long album. It does not have the big songs. Neither can I say anything bad about this album either. An album which will really please those into Camel and instrumental symphonic/neo prog.

3 points   

Top. Jannick - Infernal Machina (2008)

The second album from the legendary Magma bassist from France. A bassist and bass who gave Magma their thunderous bass sound.

Infernal Machine is perhaps the most legendary modern zeuhl album too. It starts with a very slow build up.... almost too painfully slow, before it moves into typical Magma zeuhl territory.

The album is almost more Magma than Magma themselves. The sound and music is somewhere between Present/Univers Zero and Magma. The music here, after the long intro, is dark, claustrophobic and almighty. It takes no prisoners.

The zeuhl here is delivered by bass, drums, vocals, piano and keyboards. The piano is adding a lot of jazz to the darkened repeated rhythms. The dark vocals is also adding darkness to the music.

The end result is almost like a mass. A proper zeuhl mass. This one hour long album is essential in any zeuhl collection and should be filed next to Magma's best albums. It is by all means a great album and one heck of a nice experience for the listener.

4 points  

Space Ritual - Otherworld (2007)

The debut album from this UK band.

Space Ritual is an offshot of Hawkwind. Nik Turner is the vocalist, saxophonist and flute player. He is helped by numerous other musicians here. They are carpet bombing us with guitars, vocals, bass, drums and keyboards.

It is said that this album is as good as any Hawkwind albums. I have only heard their latest albums and a reviews run through of their discography is scheduled for later this year or next year. The music here is pretty similar to the two last Hawkwind albums, yes.

In short, this is a muddy space rock album, clocking in at over sixty minutes. The songs here are good and the album has a good hippie space rock feel and sound. The lack of any great songs is the album's undoing. Besides of that, this is a good album.

3 points 

Thursday 22 January 2015

RedZen. The - Void (2011)

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

The RedZen is/was a four piece band with synths, sitar, guitars, bass, drums and the occasional vocals. The vocals is performed by a guest vocalist.

Most of this fifty-five minutes long album is instrumental. I would label it as a crossover between prog rock and fusion. The occasional sitar adds some Indian and Eastern Asian flavour to the album. Most of the album is very much synths and guitars focused. It is rooted in the USA as it has a pretty rampant US fusion and AOR sound. The vocals also adds a lot of AOR to this album.

I have to admit I don't really find this album interesting at all. Yes, the musicians is very good in a technical sense. The problem is that there is a lot of bands and albums like this. Clever on their instruments, but not so clever when it comes to writing good music. The AOR influences is also not something I am falling for. 

The end result is a decent album and nothing more than that. It is also a dull album in my estimation. Take more chances next time and sort out the art of writing good and inspiring music.

2 points 

Gift - Blue Apple (1974)

The second and final album from this German band.

Their self-titled 1973 was quite a good album in the heavy psych, blues and kraut vein. It was a bit rough in the edges, but still not a bad album.

This four piece band consisting of Hammond organs, guitars, drums, bass and vocals sees no reason to change this winning formula on the follow up album. The title track is quite catchy and showcases a band who has matured a lot since the debut album. More mainstream heavy rock in the vein of Deep Purple has been introduced and the music sounds a lot more polished and thought through this time.

The result is a good forty minutes long album in the heavy rock and psych vein. The songs are all good here and should appeal to a lot of people. Check it out.

3 points 


Wednesday 21 January 2015

Budgie - NightFlight (1981)

The ninth album from this strange Welsh band. Strange because their albums has been an eclectic mix of psychedelic, boogie and heavy metal. 

We are in 1981 and Iron Maiden turned the world upside down with their self titled album the year before, in 1980. Budgie was again a power trio as they had been throughout and also showed that they could boogie too.

And boogie is what this is is. Hard rocking boogie with lots of melodies and heaviness. A trio with bass, drums, guitars and vocals can make a heck of a racket. Which is exactly what Budgie does here.

The difference between this album and the pretty bad Power Supply album from 1980 is that Budgie is much more true to their own roots on this album, NightFlight. The band is both looking forward and back to their past. 

The result is a pretty good album which has a couple of good songs and a good ambience throughout. It is an album which makes me forget the Power Supply album. It is a good album. Check it out.

3 points

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Algebra - Storia Di Un Iceberg (1994)

The debut album from this Italian band. The first out of two albums. 

I quite liked their second album JL from 2009. A stylish album. That is not what I can say about this album.

Algebra was a three piece band, supported by some guest musicians on this album. The main instruments was guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. 

...And the music here is some sort of symphonic prog. It is not really easy to pinpoint this album because the quality is so bad. The music is all over the place, but mostly where they believe Genesis was. 

Their own music is really poor. Their own music is really good compared to the Genesis medley they have included here. At ten minutes long, it is as painful as it can get. Their version of Firth Of Fifth is horrible. The sound throughout is poor and ditto for the vocals. This album my friends is a proper turkey with feathers, giblets, beak and legs. Only play this album on a scary horror night.

1 point   

Monday 19 January 2015

Saris - Until We Have Faces (2014)

The third album from this German band.

Saris started out as a neo prog band. A pretty heavy neo-prog band though. They were that on their first two albums. They still does their music with guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and vocals. Male and female vocals.

And yes, there are a lot of neo prog here too. But the band has moved towards power/prog metal on this album. German power/prog metal, no less. The opening title track is a good example. Catchy and hard power/neo prog. There is a lot of chugging metal guitars here. That goes for most of this album.

When the band slows down with female and male vocals, very good vocals, the band goes into a bit of a power/prog metal ballads territory and follows this formula, letter by letter. 

What concerns me most is the lack of any great tracks here. The album also reeks of German power/prog metal. I have a few pet hates and this is one of them. 

This album is for me a disappointment. But I guess I am in a minority of one here as this album has got a lot of positive reviews in ProgArchives and other places. In my estimations, this is a decent album.

2 points

Saga - Sagacity (2014)

The twenty-first album from these Canadian legends. A band who very much has created their own sound and scene. 

The previous album 20/20 was not a good Saga album. Michael Sadler had yet to find his feet again after rejoining the band and that showed. 

There is no difference in the line up as far as I can see. The sound is more or less the same too. Sagacity is also a welcome return to their 1980s sound and album. Hence the very much 1980s cover art.

Fans of Saga will find a good album here. A welcome to form, no less. This is not a great Saga album by any means. But Michael Sadler's vocals is great and the rest of the band also deliver the goods here. The songs are as per usual a blend of heavier stuff and ballads. The well known Saga formula.

This is a good album by all means and I find myself liking it. Enough said.

3 points 

Sunday 18 January 2015

Gentile. Gio - Atlantide (2009)

The second and so far final album from this Italian guitarist.

I quite liked his first album Makaria. It is very much a guitar dominated album and I hoped he would expand on that album instead of just making another album in that guitar hero vein.

Gio Gentile has hired in a lot of guest musicians on this album. They don't really make any difference or any impact. Gio Gentile's guitars is very much dominant here. That with some help of a piano and other instruments. 

Think a bit Camel and some other more new-age guitars albums. Then you get this album. An instrumental album clocking in at just under an hour. The music is very much nice and easy listening. It is close to being airport music. It would certainly not disgrace an airport. That is my main gripe with this album. An album which falls a bit flat on it's face in my office where I want something far more substantial than music like this.

Nevertheless, this is a decent enough album.

2 points 

Kultivator - Barndomens Stigar (1981)

The one and only album from this Swedish band.

So far, I have yet to hear any Scandinavian zeuhl albums. That was until I heard this album. An album recommended to me by a friend in ProgArchives. 

Kultivator was a five piece band with Rhodes piano, bass, drums, female & male vocals, guitars and percussion. They also had some help from a local boys choir here.

Although this is not entirely a zeuhl album, it is much more zeuhl than anything else. Yes, there is a lot of Univers Zero here too. The zeuhl female vocals and the zeuhl structures reminds me a lot about both Magma, the Italian and the Japanese zeuhl scene. So far, so zeuhl. There is also a great deal of avant-garde here too. 

The songs are not the greatest though. This is a debut album and I would have liked to hear them develop more on some more albums. That was not to be, though. This is a good album with some good sound quality too. I would recommend it.

3 points

Hecenia - La Couleur du Feu (1994)

The second and final album from this French band.

It seems from my ProgArchives review of their 1989 debut album Legendes that I really liked that album. 4 points, no less. That review was some five years ago, the same length of time as between these two albums.

The four piece Hecenia plays symphonic prog with harp, bass, drums and tonnes of keyboards. Take away the drums here and you have neo-classical music. This album is borderline neo-classical, anyway. 

To say that this album is drenched in keyboards and church organs is to say that water is wet. This is a church organ fan's wet dream. The drums are surprisingly technical too and the bass is very active. Lots of good drums and bass lines here. The technical skills in this group is very impressive. 

The music too is good. Although, this album is slightly dull. But fifty minutes of this is good value for money. And so is this album too. A good album.

3 points 

Saturday 17 January 2015

Guerra delle Formiche. La - La Guerra delle Formiche (2006)

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

La Guerra Delle Formiche is/was a four piece band on this album. That means Italian vocals, drums, keyboards, bass and guitars. 

And no, this is not a run of the mill Italian prog rock album. Not in the traditional sense. The music here is a mix of folk rock, punk, eclectic prog, avant-garde, symph prog and psychedelic rock. This does not make an easy-listening album. 

Indeed, this is not a melodic easy-listening album at all. The guitars are pretty distorted and punk'ish. The bass and drums are rumbling along with this theme. The melodies are pretty weird too.

I wish some good music had been the result of all this. Unfortunate, this is not the case. This half an hour long album, including a hidden track, is a decent enough album. It does not hold my interest for long as I have heard a lot of music like this before........ done better by other bands. This is a decent enough album and that is it.

2 points  

Gong - I See You (2014)

The twenty-third album from this legendary band. A band who has lived a life under various leaderships and constellations. Daevid Allen was out of the band for many years and albums before he re-joined the band again and took up the reins of this horse. 

The anarchistic, hippie and plainly weird version of Gong is back again and has been together for many albums now. I have not a bad word to say about Pierre Moerlin as I really liked his albums with Gong. But what we get on this album is the real deal in my view.

Those who loved the early 1970s Gong will lap up everything on this album with a great deal of gratitude. I was not a big fan of Daevid Allen's early version of Gong. Maybe I have moved on because I really like his weirdness now. This album is really, really weird with a mix of space rock, naive pop, psychedelic trips and jazz. Gilli Smith shows up with her space whispers. Daevid Allen does the vocals and some guitars. The new kid on the avant-garde prog block, Kavus Tobabi from Knifeworld is also doing the guitars here. There is sax and flutes here in addition to computer programming, drums and bass. Orlando Allen is also contributing on his father and mother (Gilli Smyth)'s album. This is a family affair, in many respect. Will he take over the Gong name ?

The end result is a weird and very good album which is up there among the better Gong albums. It is really an album I like because of it's musical qualities and the smiles it brings on my face. The songs are mostly very good too. The band is touring now and this band is by no means dead and a museum piece. They are alive and kicking like a horse on various herbs on this album.

3.5 points    

Blue Öyster Cult - Curse of the Hidden Mirror (2001)

The thirteenth and final album from these US legends.

Blue Oyster Cult was always a difficult band to classify and label. That was in their heydays though. After the surprisingly great Imaginos album from 1988, the life went out of the band like the air leaving a deflating balloon. 

What we get here is three of the founding members of this band. Besides of that, we also get fifty minutes of pretty standard heavy rock and rock. This is not a heavy metal album and neither is it a rock album. It has a lot of AOR tendencies here. It sounds like a 1970s album throughout. That long after this 1970s AOR sound had gone out of fashion.

The most worrying thing here is the lack of any good songs. There is a lot of huffing and puffing here on guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals here. But it goes nowhere. Nevertheless, this is a decent album.

2 points

Greylevel - Hypostatic Union (2011)

The second and most recent album from this Canadian five piece band.

Their debut album Opus One from 2006 set the tone. Spacey progressive rock. The band re-emerged five years later as a tad harder band. 

We still got the spacey epic rock here. But it is much more in the Katatonia and Porcupine Tree vein. The sound is a lot more edgier. We still get a good combination of keyboards, guitars, bass, vocals and drums here. 

With those instruments, they creates a bit of a wall of sound which at times is unrelenting hard and massive. We also get some more pastoral melodies here. 

There are no really good songs here and I am by no means a fan of this type of music. Hence my rating of this album. An album which will suit the fans of the above mentioned bands a lot better than me.

2.5 points 

Friday 16 January 2015

Garybaldi - Astrolabio (1972)

The second album from this Italian band. A band whose debut album Nuda is a semi-classic album in the RPI scene.

Astrolabio is a bit of a strange album. It is far more a krautrock album than an Italian prog rock album. It is a krautrock album, in fact.

Take two long tracks. One of them is recorded in studio and the other one is recorded live. All together, we get forty minutes of music here. Forty minutes with guitars, bass, drums and Italian vocals. 

The music is blues and psychedelic based krautrock. The music on the live track is very raw and basically a jam. The studio track is far more refined and has got a much better concept. 

The end result is a decent to good album which does not really impress me. The studio track is by far the best track here and is saving this album from a worse fate than my rating. But I have heard far better albums than this one.

2.5 points   

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Tantalus - Lumen Et Caligo II (2004)

The fifth album from this UK band and my first ever exposure to them and their music.

It is my understanding that this band was a much more pop-rock band before they expanded into neo-prog on Lumen Et Caligo I and now # II of this series. I have not heard # I and can only describe # II.

Tantalus was a five piece band on this album with mandolin, bass, computers, keyboards, drums, guitars and vocals. The sound is very much neo-prog here and the music is very melodic with a few forays into a much heavier landscape. The music also has a lot of folk rock in it. 

Bands I would compare this band and album to is The Reasoning without their female vocals. The sound on this album has a lot in common with that female fronted prog movement we have seen lately. 

Lumen Et Caligo II is said to be their best album and I can understand why. The songs good to very good throughout. I am rating this as a good album.

3 points

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Come In Un'Ultima Cena (1976)

The sixth album from these masters of Italian prog rock. An album also released in English under the title As In A Last Supper. 

Banco is a band I really like although it is long time since I have been listening to one of their albums. Let alone; reviewing one. 

Come In Un'Ultima Cena is really following in the same tracks as their previous albums. A lot of theatrical symphonic prog with Italian vocals by the great Fransesco Di Giancomo. He is also their public face. His face, his voice and his facial hair. 

The music here is still very melodic and theatrical. It has all the hallmarks of this band. It is still a bit of a disappointment to me as it has no really great songs or even great melody lines. The art of great song writing is missing here. Sorely missing here. 

This is by all means a good forty-five minutes long album. It does not really grasp me as their previous albums. Hence my rating.

3 points  

Monday 12 January 2015

Placebo - Balls Of Eyes (1971)

The debut album from this band from Belgium. The band released four albums between 1971 - 75. The band was lead by Marc Moulin who were known from other bands too. 

Placebo was also the first fusion-jazz band from Belgium with an album out. This album. Which makes this album a bit historic. Their brand of jazz is not too far away from Soft Machine on this album. There is a lot more brass in Placebo's take on jazz than in Soft Machine. Placebo is also a lot more laid back on this album too.

Brass has been mentioned. We also get keyboards, percussions, drums and bass here. There are also a guitarist here which is hardly contributing anything. 

I have to admit I am finding this album a bit too rich on brass and not much rich on good melodies. The band is onto something here. They are not really in full bloom here and that is why I only would rate this half an hour long album somewhere between decent and good.

2.5 points 

Sunday 11 January 2015

Thibault. Laurent - Mais On Ne Peut Pas Rêver Tout Le Temps (1979)

The one and only solo album from one of the founding members of Magma, the masters of zeuhl.

Laurent has got a lot of help on this album and the amount of instruments and vocals is staggering. Amanda Parsons does the female soprano vocals here, just to mention the most famous guest on this album. Laurent himself does bass, guitars, vocals and sound effects.

This album is not as bombastic zeuhl as most other French zeuhl albums. The zeuhl is here, but in a much more subtle, softly spoken version than Magma did. That does not mean it is particular jazzy either. Well, the jazz too is subtle and softly spoken. The music is perhaps much more folky and ambient than I expected. There is also a lot funky zeuhl here. The overall impression is that the music is pretty orchestral throughout.

The end result is a very interesting take on the zeuhl genre and one that really breaks new ground. This half an hour long album makes me wanting more of the same. It is a very good album and one to check out.

3.5 points  

Gift - Gift (1973)

The debut album from this German band who released two albums before they gave up the struggle.

Gift was a five piece band with English vocals, guitars, flutes, keyboards, bass and drums.

We are loosely speaking in the krautrock scene again. Loosely speaking because the music has a lot of blues, beat and rock in it. Add a lot of folk rock too and you get this album. There is a lot of 1960s beat music hanging around in their sound. Not to mention hard rock too.

What we get here is a pretty varied meal and it is pretty obvious that the band is still struggling to find their way on this album, their debut album. It also feel that some of the material here is pretty old too. The standard of the musicianship is not great either. This album has a spat-of-the-garage feel.

The end result is a decent album and barely that. I would not recommend it.

2 points

Mountain Mirrors - Asylum Acres (2012)

The fourth album from the US musician Jeff Sanders & friends.

I know nothing about this band and just picked this album in an internal lottery I got among my albums. A lottery to add plenty of spices to my life. Which it has done in this case. 

Take plenty of melancholic, almost atonal vocals by Jeff Sanders, add some acoustic guitars, violins, keyboards, drums and bass. That is when you get this album. Actually, that is not quite right. The music played here is a kind of dark rock. It is not as proggy as Van Der Graaf Generator. Nevertheless, fans of that band will quite like this album. 

The music on this twenty-six minutes long album is pastoral and softly spoken. The music is also good throughout. I find myself really liking this album. An album which I really feels is coming from the mountains in USA. The Appalachian mountains, to be precise. 

This is a good album with a lot of class. It comes recommended.

3 points 

Saturday 10 January 2015

Quarteto 1111 - Onde, Quando, Como, Porquê, Cantamos Pessoas Vivos (1974)

The third and final album from this Portuguese band. 

This band is most known as the band fronted by Jose Kid. He plays mellotrons and does the vocals here. He is helped by a guitarist, bassist, drummer and another guitarist. 

This is a half an hour long album consisting of two songs. Or epics if you want. It is also an album drenched in mellotrons. It is a mellotron lover's best dream, no less. Jose Kid's vocals is also very good.

The band is from Portugal. But the sound is Italian and it has this great Italian symphonic prog feel and music. The only thing that does not make this an Italian symphonic prog album is the nationality of this band.

Both songs, part 1 and 2 of the title of this album, is very good. I very much like this album. A couple of great melody lines is missing though. Besides of that, this is a very good album and essential if you are into Italian symphonic prog.

3.5 points

Gentile. Gio - Makaria (2003)

The debut album from the guitarist Gio Gentile from Italy. Gio Gentile is active in some other bands in addition to his own solo career. A solo career which so far has produced two albums.

He has got help from a drummer, bassist, keyboardist, dobro player and a percussionist on this album. A wholly instrumental album.

The music here is a mix of Italian prog and fusion. It is centered around Gio's guitars. The music is pretty much laid back and not particular based on hyper fast shredding. There is none of that here. The guitars is combined with plenty of piano and keyboards.

The end result is not particular interesting to be honest. The music is good background noise. As a type of music I am trying to concentrate on, it falls a bit flat on it's face. Gio's problem is that his market is over crowded. He is a good guitar player and the solos is very good. The music is not imaginative or good at all. Nevertheless, this is a decent album.

2 points

Greenwall - Zappa Zippa Zuppa Zeppa! (2014)

The fourth album from this Italian band.

I have to admit that I have never rated this band particular high. I did not like their debut album at all and have stayed well clear of their second and third album. I got this album and decided to give it a try.

I did not have any hopes at all when I was met with this annoying acapella opening track Superpezzi. It is by far the weakest track of the album. So I was more than pleased when the album developed into a female vocals dominated album. Michela Botti's vocals is really great and the best thing about this album too.

The music here is a mix of neo prog, Italian symphonic prog and art rock. The band is lead by a keyboardist (Andrea Pavoni) and the keyboards and pianos is the dominating instruments here. That leads to, at times, very elegant music. Most of the times, actually. There is also an art rock feel over this album.

That said, I wished there had been some great songs here. There are none. The art of writing great songs has eluded the band on this album. Nevertheless, I really like this album and rate it as a good album. Check it out.

3 points 

Galadriel - Galadriel (1971)

The only sign of life from this Australian band.

Galadriel was a minor six piece band even in Australia and they had a very short career. A second album was written and planned to be recorded before the band split up and the members went back to their lives in obscurity. 

Obscure is what I would call this music too. This forty minutes long album has a mix of blues rock and folk rock. The flutes and everything else on this album reminds me a lot about Jethro Tull, their first two albums. 

The songs here are not bad, though. The usual mix of flutes, guitars, male vocals, bass and drums. The sound is good and the songs is a mix of fast paced songs and some ballads. 

The end result is a decent album which some may like. There is too much pub rock and blues here for me to fully like this album, though. But check it out.

2 points 

Friday 9 January 2015

Quantum - Quantum (1983)

The first of in total two albums from this Brazilian band.

Camel was quite a popular band in Brazil and they inspired a lot of bands. This six piece band is one of them. Keyboards, drums, guitars, bass and percussion is what we get here. And every minute of this forty-three minutes long album is instrumental. 

We get a lot of piano and acoustic guitars here too. Everything is very ambient and at times; very much elevator music. There is no real bite here and no real good melodies here too. Albums like this is not what I really appreciate. This is a decent enough album with the 1980s sound and illnesses. If instrumental prog is your thing, this album is for you.

2 points

Masters Apprentices. The - The Masters Apprentices (1967)

The debut album from this legendary Australian band. 

Legendary in Australia at least where they have been credited for the emergence of the popular rock scene there. 

Back in the 1960s, traveling from Europe and US to Australia and New Zealand was quite a serious trek. There was no Boeing 747 back then and the jets were small. At best, it took two days to get from London to Sydney. It was hideous expensive too. Getting European beat bands to tour Australia was next to impossible. So the Australians had to invent their own beat music and their own copycats.

The Masters Apprentices was one of these beat copycats. They did songs in both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones vein. They also got their own style and they served Australia very well indeed. 

The music here is beat and it is not bad at all. The guitars, bass, drums, harmonica and vocals are decent enough. The sound too is decent. This is a decent album by all means and all around. 

2 points   

Weather Report - Sweetnighter (1973)

The third album from this US fusion band. One of the bands who emerged from the Miles Davis genre setting Bitches Brew album (sessions). 

And there is a lot of Miles Davis and Bitches Brew on this album. Weather Report is regarded as a fusion band. There is not so much fusion here. The music here is much more funky jazz with a lot of Latin American rhythms. 

Both Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul is very much present here. Wayne Shorter on his saxophones which is the dominating instruments here. The bass lines is also strong here with Joe Zawinul's keyboards honking around in the sound too.

The emphasis on funk makes this album a bit too one-dimensional for my liking. I cannot really get a foot for this album and it leaves me slightly limp and dead. It is a decent to good album. That is all I can say about this album.

2.5 points

Thursday 8 January 2015

Quill - Sursum Corda (1977)

The one and only album from this US band.

Quill were a three piece US band who obviously has been listening a lot on their English symphonic prog albums. The likes of Yes, Genesis and in particular ELP crops up a lot on this album. But there is another band who this album reminds me most about. That's Germany very own Triumvirat. Quill is more or less a good copy of that band.

Quill is not a copycat though. They have their own style inbetween the cascades of keyboards. Drums, bass and vocals is also present here. But keyboards is what I will remember this album for.

The result is a good album if you as I do really like symphonic prog in the vein of ELP and Triumvirat. There is no real great songs here. Nevertheless, this is a good album for the likes of me. Others beware.

3 points

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Van Der Graaf Generator - Still Life (1976)

The sixth album from this English band.

It has been a long time since I have been listening to them again. The reason is this blog. I have now decided to finish of their discography this year. 

I do not deny that I am a fan of them. Then again, who is not ? Their dark and very powerful, yet pastoral brand of progressive rock really resonates with me. And when they also comes up with a batch of great songs too, I am sold. 

This album is forty-five minutes long and it has one major hit in Pilgrims and four more subtle songs who really grows on me and surely other listeners too. This album is just short of another masterpiece. That is my only gripe with this great album. 

4 points

Sunday 4 January 2015

Tortilla Flat - Für ein ¾ Stündchen (1974)

The one and only album from this very obscure German band.

The Canterbury scene was not really popular in Germany where the krautrock movement were king. That and symphonic prog.... and jazz/fusion. But not the sounds and sights from Canterbury, Kent. Tortilla Flat is one of the very few exceptions.

There are some krautrock influences here in the form of the harsh guitars sound. That aside, the music here is Canterbury jazz with flutes, keyboards, glockenspiel, bass, drums and percussions. There are no vocals here at all.

The music is both groovy and full of interesting details. It is also enough avant-garde to give it substance. This is not easy listening airport music. The flutes and the keyboards is the main instruments when it comes to driving the melodies forward. 

My main gripe is the lack of any great tracks. That aside, this is a very good album which deserve a proper CD or digital release. If you can find it, give it a try.

3.5 points 

Saturday 3 January 2015

Quintorigo - English Garden (2011)

The seventh album from this Italian band and my first ever meeting with their music.

In short, I know nothing about their music. They are listed as a Rock In Opposition/Avant-Garde band in ProgArchives, my main source of band info. 

And a bit avant-garde they are. They are also a chamber orchestra with saxophone, cello, violin, double bass and both male and female vocals. The vocals are in English. This sets us up for quite a ride....

... which is far less avant-garde than I expected. Take normal rock with some punk folk'ish attitude and do it with a chamber orchestra. Then you get this album. An album with a fitting title and art cover, btw.

The result is still weird. It is also a very English album with all it's history, eccentricity and weirdness. The sax and the vocals together with the cello weaves some good melodies around this theme. Some of the songs are pretty normal rock. Others has something more to offer than rock'n'roll.

The end result is a good album from a band I should investigate more. I would recommend this album.

3 points

Quantum Fantay - Terragaia (2014)

The fifth album from this Belgium based band.

They are based in Belgium, but they seemed to be on a space trip around the moon. That is how I have got this band described to me as I am totally new to them. I have also been told that their music is very similar to Ozric Tentacles. 

I have to admit that I have put exploring Ozric Tentacles on hold because I have wanted to explore other bands and directions first. So I cannot verify if there is any similarities here. This is also my first meeting with this band and their music. Anyway, the music on Terragaia is wholly instrumental and created with guitars, synths, samplings, drums, bass, flutes and some other woodwinds. 

As the cover art and album title indicates, the music here is wholly space rock. Space rock with some folk rock and symphonic prog elements. The music is surprisingly organic and flowery. It is at times like walking through a meadow full of flowers. Very nice and very folky. 

This though is space rock and the music is pretty majestic at times. It also has a lot of references to Chinese and Far-East music. There is some pretty big references to Chinese classical music here.

The end result is a, for me, surprisingly very good album. I very much like this album. It has no great songs. But the band is onto something here and I may have a look/listen to their other albums. I like this band.

3.5 points    

Trevor Harmonic - Eleazar (2014)

A new Argentine band with their debut album. 

Not much is known about this band, beside of it being from Cordoba and it is a three piece band with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and Spanish vocals. This album is one hour long too.

What first pops into my head when hearing this album is the Argentine band Pez. Their music is pretty similar to Trevor Harmonic's music. Music which is pretty similar to King Crimson. The emphasis is rhythms and atonal weirdness. Add some punk to the mix too and a lot of South American eclectic prog. This is in short eclectic progressive rock. 

The vocals are good. The melodies changes rhythm and melody patterns on a frequent level. It feels like the guitars are off key all the time. Ditto for the vocals. But that is a false impression. The guitars and vocals just does what the music requires them to do. This is by no means traditional progressive rock.

This is quite an eyeopener and a ear cleaner I really like. It is nice to get new impressions onboard. This is a free download too and one all progressive rock fans should get. This is a good album and I hope the band will follow it up with more albums. 

3 points