Saturday 28 February 2015

Nosound - Lightdark (2008)

The second album from this Italian band.

I have tried to avoid their releases for some time as I am not really into long psychedelic albums. Albums in the early Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and Marillion vein. But I have to decided to give two of their albums a chance this winter/spring.

The band is the brainchild of Giancarlo Erra on vocals and keyboards. He has got help from Tim Bowness and five other musicians. The line up is guitars, keyboards, bass, cello and drums. There are also vocals throughout this album. English vocals.

The music, one hour of it, here is laidback prog rock in the vein of neo-prog and space-rock. Gazpacho springs to mind. Giancarlo Erra and Nosound is more like painting sounds and songs than making them. The music is full of emotions.

The result is a good album. It may be a bit too pedestrian for most of us. Those into the above mentioned bands should really check out this album and band, though. They will become a fan of this band, no doubts. I am not there yet, but I would not discount it if the next album is a bit better than this one.

3 points   

Le Orme - La Via Della Seta (2011)

The 19th and so far final album from this great Italian band.

Aldo Tagliapietra had by now left the band and Jimmy Spitaleri had taken over the microphone. Besides of that, we get keyboards, bass, drums and guitars. 

This on an album which is quite a return to their first albums and the ELP like symphonic prog from those albums. They are not quite as ELP on this album as they were on those first albums. There is a lot of classic Italian progressive rock on this album too. Progressive rock highly influenced by Italian pop and folk rock. 

If this is indeed the final Le Orme album, I have to say they are going out with a bang rather than with a whimper. There is a lot to be happy about on this album. What is really missing is a final great song from this band. Besides of that, this album oozes class and style. It oozes Le Orme and everything I really loved about this band. 

This is a great album for their fans and a very good album for the rest of us. It is bordering to a great album, indeed. But I will only give it a very good rating. It may be upgraded.......

3.5 points

Placebo - Placebo (1974)

The third out of in total four studio albums from this Belgium based band. A band now long disbanded.

I liked their 1973 album a lot. Great fusion. So I had a great deal of hope for this album.

Again, we find a lot of instruments and musicians here. From woodwinds to keyboards, bass, percussions, drums and guitars. No vocals as per usual from a fusion/jazz album.

This album comes across as a disappointment in my ears. The band has moved into a much more restrained, formalistic jazz territory. This forty minutes long album sounds like it has been shackled and roped down into this strict formula.

When that is said, the music is good throughout. But there is no sparkle and not much life here. I still regard it as a good album, but nothing more than that. 

3 points 

Nirgal Vallis - Y Murió la Tarde (1985)

The one and only album from this Mexican band. The album was released through a local label in 1985 and through Musea in 1986.

Nirgal Vallis was a six piece band with a drums, bass, electric piano, synths, sequencers, violin, guitars, percussion and female vocals. I have to say that the female vocals here is not particular great. They suits this music, though.

The music here comes across as Mexican/Latin folk rock in the beginning before this fifty minutes long album broadens out into a much more symphonic prog album. Camel is a good reference here.

This album is in essence a folk and symphonic prog crossover album with a great deal of local culture and flair. That with some English folk and symph prog thrown into the mix.

The result is a good album which should appeal to a lot of prog heads. It is highly rated in all prog reviews blogs and I hope it will give this album the attention it deserves.

3 points 

Thursday 26 February 2015

Drama - Drama (1985)

The one and only album from this US band, released on Black Moon Productions. A record label who also released albums by Maelstrom and Ethos. 

There is tonnes of other bands called Drama too. This one was playing fusion with guitars, percussions, drums, bass, keyboards and xylophone. 

No vocals and plenty of slick, polished fusion on this forty-three minutes long album. The only thing not slick here is the very wrong cover artwork which makes me believe this was a metal album and the pretty raw guitar solos. 

The rest of the album is pretty good and offers up some good fusion. Not everything here is good though. The melodies are a bit on the anonymous side of the scale and I can understand why this is their only album. Hence my verdict.

2.5 points 

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Masters Apprentices. The - A Toast to Panama Red (1972)

The fourth album out of in total five albums from this Australian band. This album is widely regarded as their best album and crowning achievement. 

The hard rocking quartet take a much more psychedelic and folky approach on this album. They are really becoming a much more multi-dimensional band on this album.   

The basis is still hard rock. There is a lot of loud guitars here. There is also a lot of drums, harmonica, bass and vocals here. The songs varies from hard songs to some rather delicate psychedelic pieces.

The sound quality is not good and neither is the songs. This is very much an album lost in time and space although it has a legend status down under. It is a decent album though and that is all I can say.

2 points

Ramases - Glass Top Coffin (1975)

The second album from this UK band.

This band was set up by a man who believed he was a God. Or perhaps just a pharaoh. In any case; he was barking mad. He also released two albums under this name before the lack of commercial success closed down this band and the label support. 

Their label Vertigo sunk a lot of money into this album by hiring both London and Philadelphia Symphonic Orchestra. That and a lot of other musicians. Cheap, this album was not. 

What did they get ? A kind of a hymn like album with a lot of religious dreams and imagery. Not about Jesus off course. It was about this demented guy behind this album.

At times, this album reminds me about The Moody Blues second album. A lot of instruments and a demented male and female vocal on the top. Other parts of this album reminds me about My Sweet Lord by the Beatle George Harrison. Other parts is too sickly sweet to be described. 

The quality of the material here is very poor and the fifty minutes in the company of this album is pretty bad. Several times fifty minutes in my case. Avoid this turkey at all costs.

1 point  

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Eloy - Visionary (2009)

The eighteenth and so far final album from these German masters of space rock.

Their last two albums had shown a band not too afraid of going back to their best albums from the 1970s and revisit some of those ideas again. Albums from the 1970s we fans of Eloy really love. 

Take a big slice of this day and age too. The band has not left the more commercial and not so delicious inspirations from the contemporary rock and pop scene too. Not to mention the more psychedelic rock scene. Then add the 1970s and you have this album.

Frank Bornemann is still the voice of the band and their sound. He is helped out by keyboards, bass, guitars and drums. That and some classical orchestra instruments. 

The sound is a bit too sugar sweet this time around. The songs are good though. But nothing here is really sparkling. It more feels like still water. It is still a good album though. A solid album from Eloy. An album for us fans.

3 points 

Monday 23 February 2015

Corte Aulica - Il Temporale E L'Arcobaleno (2007)

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

The band was formed to form as a bridge between Canterbury prog and Italian prog. The band is a four piece with guitars, bass, drums and keyboards. And yes, no vocals whatsoever. 

I have to admit the term "instrumental album" is starting to fill me with dread these days after having had ten too many of them on my plate. And this album is not changing my opinion about instrumental albums, I am afraid.

Take a lot of moods from the Italian prog rock scene and fuse them with some Canterbury prog. Then you get this album. And yes, deduct the fun and the life from those two scenes and you get this album. A not too bad album. But still a far too sterile album. 

There is some good details and melody lines here. And this album is thankfully not elevator/shopping mall music. It is far too complex for that. It is still a bit of a heard-it-before type of an album which is lacking in imagination and quality. Hence my verdict.

2 points 

Sunday 22 February 2015

New Trolls Atomic System - NT Atomic System (1973)

The debut album and only studio album from this New Trolls splinter group. Yes, New Trolls from Italy and New Trolls Atomic System is also Italy based. 100 % Italian, in fact...... almost. 

Vittorio De Scalzi is the vocalist and flautist here. He is helped out by six other people here. I don't really know the chaotic New Trolls history so I don't know who of the original New Trolls members was involved here.

The lineup here is keyboards, Italian vocals, flutes, woodwinds, bass, guitars, drums and percussion. The music is very much middle of the road Italian symphonic prog. All forty-five minutes of this album.

The album is pretty one dimensional at the beginning and feels like a rose who is hiding the flower in the middle of some frost. The first half an hour is bordering to dull where one theme is running through the songs. It is not a good theme and the music sounds starved of any daylight and intelligent life. It is also music bordering to Italian beat music from the 1960s.

The final two songs is so much better though and the rose is finally opening up on a fine summer's day. These two songs are both multi-dimensional and lush.

This album is as frustrating as the whole New Trolls venture. You get the feeling the musicians is not really able to unleash their potential on this album. Hence my good rating. I wish this had been a great album, though.

3 points

Art And Illusion - Seasons (1995)

The third and final album from this Italian band. 

I have to admit I have been grossly underwhelmed by their previous two albums. They were both operating in the turkey yard area. Terrible albums, in other words. My expectations for this album was

The band is still a four piece on this album. The lineup is keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and English vocals. That with some added guest instruments and musicians. Nothing exciting in my books. 

The music is now leaning towards melodic pop-rock with some hints of progressive rock. The band and the music here is not influenced at all by Italian progressive rock. 

The result is a pretty melodic and not too shabby one hour long album. The Genesis pastisj at the end of the album is pretty bad, though. This is a decent album.

2 points

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Di Terra (1978)

The eight album from this Italian band.

This band is known for their great and long bearded vocalist Fransesco Di Giacomi and his excellent voice. So I was confused to find out that he and his excellent vocals was not present here. Neither is there any rock or pop on this album either. This is a classical music piece.

A just over forty-five minutes long classical music piece divided on seven tracks. I am by no means a fan of classical music. I am in particular no fan of rock bands crossing over to do classical music. I think rock, folk, pop and jazz is strong enough on their own feet instead of having to cross over to an archaic, lifeless genre. Classical music is in my view grossly overrated and mostly hot air which is loved by snobs and people who think they are ubermenschen.

Hence, I am not bowled over by this album.

When that is said, this fully orchestral classical music album has a lot of positive things going for it. Some really good melodies and details. It is by no means a light hearted album either. There is a lot of almost avant-garde like melodies and details here. 

The end result is a fairly good album. OK, a good album it is. 

3 points   

Nightwinds - Nightwinds (1979)

The one and only album from this Canadian band.

The year was 1979 and symphonic progressive rock was dead. Nightwinds did not have much success with this album and Laser Edge re-released it 12 years later. Also with not that much success.

It is obvious that the band has all the Genesis and Yes albums when listening to this album. Add Starcastle too and you get the picture. 

The band was a five piece and they used guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals in the recording of this album. The sound is lush and symphonic. 

This album is basically a distillation of the best of the symphonic prog scene. Unfortunate, without really making some great songs. The songs are good throughout and I am kind of enjoying this album. An album which does not add anything exciting or new impulses to my life. A weak three pointer is awarded.

3 points 

Kaipa - Keyholder (2003)

The seventh album from this Swedish band.

Kaipa is in many respect the grandfathers in the Swedish symph prog movement. The band who to a large extent created the Swedish sound. A sound later copied over by The Flower Kings and others. In the middle of both bands; we find Roine Stolt. He is one of the greatest alltime men in the progressive rock movement. A living legend, no less.

Having him both on this album and in The Flower Kings creates a bit of a problem, though. OK, a small problem. The bands sounds a bit too like in my opinion. That was in particular the problem on the previous album, Notes From The Past. 

Then again..........

Keyholder is an eighty minutes long album though and the band has moved a lot towards Yes on this album and a bit away from The Flower Kings. Yes anno Close To The Edge, that is. The opening track Lifetime Of A Journey is very much in the Yes vein. And that is good !

The rest of the album is very much Yes meets the Swedish forests and The Flower Kings. It is a proper Kaipa album with female vocals on the part of this album too. The songs are very majestic and this time, very varied and takes the listener to many different places. Many places and styles. But all within a Swedish symphonic prog setting. 

So far, this is their best album and the one Kaipa album I have enjoyed most. It is a great album and one who cements their place as one of the truly great prog rock bands.

4 points

Navigator - Phantom Ships (2014)

The third album from this US band.

Navigator is a four piece band and the lineup is keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and plenty of vocals. The typical lineup for neo-prog and other melodic prog sub-genres. 

This album is indeed melodic. References are Genesis, Pink Floyd and Kansas. The album has a very US sound too with plenty of piano and keyboards. The songs are pretty melodramatic and not overly technical. The emphasis is on melodies. Good melodies. Great melodies. There is a lot of long and soothing guitar solos on this album and a lot of very good keyboards runs.

The band is also creating sound paintings in the same vein as Pink Floyd. They are trying to do that. Not with total success, but it is not for the lack of trying. The vocals from Marcangelo Perricelli is good and suitable for the music. 

The opening suite Life has some moments of greatness. The title track is heavy influenced by Genesis from their Trespass era. The rest is somewhere inbetween the three above mentioned bands. 

Navigator is not breaking new ground with this one hour long album. It is still a very good album which will get them a lot of new fans, myself included. This band has something and I will check out their first two albums.

3.5 points    

Saturday 21 February 2015

Dschinn - Dschinn (1972)

The one and only album from this German band.

I got this album as a part of a 25 CDs krautrock albums Ebay deal. And this five piece band played something that reminds me about krautrock....... The album also included a bonus CD with outtakes and alternatives. I am not reviewing that bonus CD at all. Only fans of this very obscure band will find any joy in that CD.  

Their lineup is English vocals, guitars, harmonica, bass and drums. Which is pretty much the blues recipe. And yes, there are blues here too.

A hard rock album is what this album essentially is. There is not much German sound here at all. I cannot find anything German here. The hard rock sometimes breaks into 1960s beat and blues too. 

There is not much good music to be found here. The sound is, well, like 1972. The music sounds and is dated. The date is probably more late 1960s than 1972. The music is decent though and the bonus CD adds (?) some value to this album too. Check it out if this sounds interesting to you.

2 points  

Utopian Fields - White Pigeon, You Clean... (1990)

The second and final album from this Norwegian band. An album released on the famous Colors label and which also (alleged..) features the vocals of Bard Tufte Johansen, this generation's most famous Norwegian comedian and TV personality.

His vocals btw comes across in the same style as Tracey Chapman if that tells you anything. These vocals is not particular good. They are laid on the top of some guitars, keyboards, bass and drums.

The band has been labeled as Neo-Prog in ProgArchives. This album is not anywhere near neo-prog though. Take some Pink Floyd and put that into this big art-rock genre. I am tempted to add college rock too. The music is hard to label and I have seen others compare this album with some Wishbone Ash albums. I am not sure about that.

The songs here are not good at all and there are only some sporadic decent to good details here. The drums is pretty annoying and so is the vocals. The rest is pretty decent. I am putting this album just outside my turkey yard as it is not a fully fledged turkey. It is a close, close call though.

1.5 points

Nuance - Reflets (1996)

The fourth and probably final album from this French band. A band whose debut album was released back in 1982. Their first two albums was released on cassettes which was the prevailing media at that time. 

Reflets was a private CD pressing and not a so much sought after album. I think a re-release on Bandcamp or a proper CD is in order, though. 

Reflets offers up forty-five minutes of French neo-prog. As with symphonic prog, the French bands did things differently. You can take a large slice of Jacques Brel again and add some French chanson. In other words; what Ange and the Deschamps brothers has done since 1970 and is still doing to this day. 

The only difference between the likes of Nuance and the likes of Mona Lisa and Ange is that Nuance has a bit of a neo-prog sound aka Marillion and Pendragon. You still get some classical orchestra bits on Reflets. Yes, the borders between what Ange and Nuance does is a bit blurred. Reflets is most certainly on the more symphonic end of the neo-prog scene. 

The end result is an album without the great songs. It is still a solid, good album which deserve a larger audience. A much larger audience. A re-release is in order here.

3 points 

Yang - A Complex Nature (2004)

The debut album from this French band who went onto releasing another album in 2009 too.

The band originates from the split up Philharmonie, a French eclectic prog band who released five albums. 

Yang is a different entity altogether. The lineup of this four piece band is guitars, bass and drums. The fifty minutes long album is entirely instrumental.

The music is pretty harsh and atonal at times without really becoming avant-garde. It has a lot of post rock influences though and is very much minimalistic. There is a lot of King Crimson references here too. Most of all; this is a bit of a jazz album with mostly jazz guitars, bass and drums.

The music is not too bad. Fifty minutes of this and even the most hardy listener will find this a bit of a hard album to really appreciate. There is no really good melodies here either. The band is just sporadic showing up some good to great details. Hence my verdict.

2 points  

Monday 16 February 2015

Illusion - Enchanted Caress (1990)

The third album from this British band.

Don't be fooled by the 1990 release year. The album was recorded almost two decades previously, in the early 1970s, and the band had split up long time before 1990. So this album did not get much promotion. 

Illusion is basically Mk. 1 of Rennaissance. This is the non-Annie Haslam version of that band. Jane Relf and Jim McCarty is doing the vocals here in place of her. Illusion is also a supergroup with members from Strawbs and Yardbirds too.

I quite liked their first two albums. They and this one is not in the same class as the Rennaissance albums from that same era. They still has some charms and good class.

Illusion basically comes across as a mix of Rennaissance and The Beatles on this album. The sound on this forty minutes long album is very good and the album sounds like a throwback to the flower power era of the 1960s. 

The songs are good throughout with some great vocals and keyboards. I would recommend this album from a sadly overlooked band. Get it.

3 points 

Sunday 15 February 2015

Sebastian Hardie - Blueprint (2012)

The third album and the comeback after a 35 years long break from this Australian band. 

Their 1970s symphonic prog albums was quite good and I liked them a lot last time I heard them. So a comeback was in order, then. One of numerous comebacks in the prog scene during the last ten years. 

The linup is keyboards, lots of it, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. That and some mandolin.

Blueprint is not strictly speaking a symphonic prog album. It has a taken on board some other genres too. Mostly melodic rock. The music has retained the 1970s feel and ambience. The innocence of the decade. A bit flower power from Australia too. A lot of Australian fun in the sun, in other words. 

There are a lot of really great details here too. And the songs is good too. Yes, some parts of this album is a bit cheesy. But this album is really a charmer. An old charmer and it is really worth checking out.

3 points 

Alluminogeni. Gli - Geni Mutanti (1993)

The second album from this Italian band, released 21 years after their debut album.

That should normally mean a retro RPI album or something like that. First of all; their 1972 album Scoloprendra was never really a prog album. It was a pop album with prog and hard rock influences. So we can forget the RPI label here.

The band has not changed that much during their 20 years away. We get some mad vocals over some overblown pompeous hard rocking pop music. Yes, that is a contradiction in terms. That is what this album is in it's entirety. A bit of a madhouse with some crazy synths, drums, Italian male vocals, guitars and bass. 

The result is a bit of a circus to be honest. It also sounds very 1980s and 1990s. It does not sound good at all. It is a madhouse album with little value to me. Hence my rating.

1.5 points  

Green. Jeff - Elder Creek (2014)

The second album from this Irish-US musician and the follow up to Jessica from 2009.

Jeff Green has got together a band/project this time. To his guitars, vocals and mandolin, you can now add keyboards, female vocals, bass and drums. Sean Filkins and Alan Reed also makes an appearance here.

Elder Creek is a concept album about becoming old and the memory loss in old age. A very good concept too. The music is very emotive and is following that concept.

The music is somewhere between symph and neo-prog. That is; post millennium symph and neo prog. The music and sound is very modern with a lot of emotions and a lot of power chords taken from prog metal. I guess this is called symph and neo prog for the new generations.

Besides of some heavy stuff, there is also a lot of more reflective pieces here. Even some ballads kind of emotive songs. 

I am by no means a fan of this type of albums. I have been won over though. It is impossible not to be won over by an album like this one. Jeff Green knows what he is doing and that is to make very good albums like this one. Please start work on a new one and release it as soon as you can, Jeff. We need you. In the meantime, the rest of you should get this very good album.

3.5 points

Saturday 14 February 2015

Budgie - Deliver Us from Evil (1982)

The tenth album from this Welsh band.

The band had now entered the 1980s and the new time in the music business. They were still a power trio with bass, drums, guitars and vocals. They were also helped out by a fourth member. A keyboardist. That and some samples and modern stuff like sampled strings. Yes, sampled strings from a symphony orchestra.

The music here is a mix of AOR and 1980s heavy metal. There is not much boogie left here. The songs are a mix of ballads, a bit harder stuff and some mid tempo stuff. There are even some country'n'western meets symphony orchestra on one of the songs here (Alison).

The end result is a decent album with some decent songs which is miles away from the best Budgie ever did. But commercial pressures and all that....... I still think they would had been far wiser by sticking to their guns and their power trio boogie. This album will not last long in my record player. 

2 points

Gash - A Young Man's Gash (1972)

Another one off band from the krautrock scene in Germany.

Gash were a four piece band whose lineup were keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Their only claim to fame was this album and then they disappeared again.

Gash is belonging to that proto-krautrock end of that krautrock scene. Take a lot of blues, add some African rhythms, hard rock and some beat music too. Then you get this album. I get some Osibisa vibes here in addition to the hard rock and blues bands from that time. There are also some rather faint Beatles references here.

The album is just over forty minutes long and the sound is decent. I think Garden Of Delights re-released this album on CD some years ago. That has cleaned up the sound.

The songs are not really that good. The keyboards and the hard organ playing is as usual the best thing about an album like this. This is a decent, dated album and that is it.

2 points 

Unreal City - Il Paese Del Tramonto (2015)

The second album from this Italian band.

Their 2013 debut album La Crudelta Di Aprile was hailed as a masterpiece by some reviewers. A perfect mix of good and old RPI, they said. So did I too, if I am not mistaken.

The band is continuing on the same path here and is refining their identity on this album. Take a lot of Area and mix it with Banco and the other classic middle of the road RPI bands. Take keyboards, guitars, violins, bass, guitars, drums, flutes and Italian vocals. Then you get the right ingredients for an assault on the RPI genre.

And an assault it is. 70 minutes long one. There is no really superb tracks here. Nevertheless, all tracks here are a great take on the RPI genre at the same time as the band is creating their own identity too. The music is both a bit gothic in the vein of Goblin and light in the vein of Banco and PFM. There is also some Le Orme lurking around here. 

In short; this is a great album which requires everything from the listener. But those who listen will be rewarded..... richly rewarded. 

4 points  

Sacka - Lontano Nel Tempo (1999)

The first and so far only album from this Italian band who is rumoured to be working on a follow up album.

This album was really a demo and recorded under pretty basic circumstances. Which is pretty evident on the not so acceptable sound. Anyway, the result is this fifty minutes long album. 

Genre wise, we are somewhere in the RPI camp again. Somewhere, that is. The flutes and Italian vocals is pretty dominant here. Add guitars, keyboards, bass and drums too. The music is RPI with a strong jazz/fusion influence. The songs varies in length from twenty seconds to over five minutes. It is a kind of a concept thing, this album. I am not sure. It sounds just messy to me. 

The music is decent to good throughout. There is no really good song here. Neither is this music too bad either. The sound is as problem for me. Hence this verdict.

2.5 points

Friday 13 February 2015

Flyte - Dawn Dancer (1979)

Another one album wonder band. This time, the band comes from Belgium.

This six piece band emerged after the death of the symphonic prog movement. So they chose to play.... symphonic prog. Sort of, that is.

Take a large dash of neo-prog and traditional rock from the 1970s. Then add some symphonic prog and some pop music with some Southern European influences. All this is driven forward by Hammond organs, keyboards, some guitars, bass, drums and some truly dreadful vocals. The vocalist cannot sing at all and that is why he is trying to diversify into talking and some "amusing" other sounds. This album has some of the most dreadful vocals you will ever find. 

The music is not much better. It sounds tired and worn out. The quality is not here at all. The opening song Woman is the only decent song here and that is this album's saving grace. The rest is very bad.

1.5 points

Placebo - 1973 (1973)

The second album from this band from Belgium.

Placebo was one of the first jazz bands from Belgium who made a recording. Their debut album was pretty decent too. 

The main man and composer in Placebo, Marc Moulin, got help from around ten musicians here. That means a full set of woodwinds, guitars, drums and bass. Himself was playing both Moog and Rhodes keyboards. The latter ones gives the band a bit of a harsh sound. A great sound which makes me compare this band to Soft Machine. And that is a compliment and it picks up my interest in this band and album.

What we get here is forty minutes of acid jazz. Marc Moulin's keyboards is dominating the music and the music never really becomes big band jazz. It is all less-is-more based. It is also a very good album which even a beginner in jazz finds fascinating. The opening number Bolkwush is a great piece of jazz too and I am really enjoying this album. Get it.

3.5 points 

Thursday 12 February 2015

Mostly Autumn - Go Well Diamond Heart (2010)

The ninth album from this British band. One of the pioneers in female fronted prog rock. One of the best bands too, in my opinion. 

I think Mostly Autumn is one of the best British bands post millennium. Full stop. Even after when the excellent vocalist Heather Findlay left them and Olivia Sparnenn took over the vocals duties. A job she is doing superbly here.

We are again treated to a mix of female and male vocals on the top of eight pretty commercial sounding folk prog tunes. Let me start with a bit of a turd of a song here. The four minutes long Something Better makes me cringe big time. A over the top commercial country'n'western tune which should not be anywhere near a Mostly Autumn album. Or any other albums, for that matter. I am not too happy about the commercial slickness of some of the other songs too. But that is just a minor complaint. 

The positives....... The vocals are great and most of the other songs. The opening song For All We Shared and the title track is great. Yes, the songs are a bit over the top and a bit cheesy. It is still a very good album from a band I think is still too under valued and has not really got the recognition they fully deserve. Get this album.

3.5 points  

Vintage Cucumber - Mc Goyl Style (2012)

The second album from Johannes Sculz, Germany. He has released a few albums and EPs under this name. He still is, to my understanding.

I was not particular impressed by his debut album under this moniker. Too one dimensional ambient music. This one is still in the drone and ambient genre. 

This album is also very much spaced out and like a soundtrack from outer space. A lot of bass and some distorted guitars. Some drums and some voice-samples. Take some keyboards and fuzzy muzzy computer generated sounds too and you get this album.

Ambient and drone, it is. Nevertheless, there is a lot of interesting details here and the music actually works. This is one of the best albums I have ever heard in this genre. A genre I normally shies away from and avoids like the plague. This one is an album I can recommend. It is a weak good rating.

3 points 

Nuova Era - L'ultimo Viaggio (1988)

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

This band is claimed to be one of the best new era (nuova era) RPI bands. It is more than strange that I have more or less heard not single tone from them before now. I have had this album and a compilation album for a couple of years, but they have never come up on the top of my looooooong list of to-review albums.

Which is a pity because the band showcases what RPI really is on this album. Take a great chunk of ELP/Le Orme here, add some heavy Italian prog, jazz and some Italian folk rock too. That is when you end up with an album and a band like this. 

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

This album has then taken this and developed this into some highly interesting forty minutes of great music. Everything here hits the right note in my view and I really love what I hear. Everyone into RPI should get this album and I am myself scrambling around to get their three other albums too.

4 points

Sunday 8 February 2015

Five O One Am - 21st Century Dream (1996)

The one and only album from this Dutch band.

This album was released in a small print and it ended up in my house as a part of a small Dutch prog package on Ebay some years ago. Looking at it, this is very much a DIY album. Which is fair enough.

This five piece has created a fifty minutes long album with the help of keyboards, guitars, bass, vocals and saxophone. The vocals are both male and female. 

Despite of a saxophone showing up now and then, the music is pretty standard neo-prog in the British vein. And the sound is not as amateurish as the package would indicate. This is a pretty sophisticated album which maybe deserve a re-release. Labels interested in finding something to release should take notice as I think this album would go down very well.

The vocals is not the best. They are still acceptable enough. The guitar solos are good and the keyboards are good too. The bass is the best part here.

The end result is a good album with decent to very good songs throughout. Fans of neo-prog should check out this album if they can find it.

3 points

Moody Blues. The - Seventh Sojourn (1972)

The eight album and generally regarded as the final strong album from these English legends.

It certainly have the good old sound they debuted in 1969 on the Days Of Future Passed album. A mix of classical music and The Beatles. Lots of strings and softly softly vocals from Justin Hayward, one of  the best male vocalists of all time. 

I was surprised to hear he coming across as David Bowie on the opening track Lost In A Lost World. I thought it was David Bowie making a guest appearance here. I was wrong. That just tells you how good Justin is. 

His vocals is on the top of some sweet melodies which also has a lot of substance. I very much like this band and this album. I like the warmth of their music and the very good melodies here. I rate it weak, but still a very good album. Everyone should have some Moody Blues albums in their collection.

3.5 points

Saturday 7 February 2015

Le Orme - L'infinito (2004)

The eighteenth album from this Italian band. 

Le Orme was down to two original members at this time. Their vocalist and mainman Aldo Tagliapietra and the drummer Michi De Rossi. They were joined by two keyboardists. Which indicates that this is not a raw rock album. Add some strings and a choir too and the picture is complete.

The music is very melodic and the usual from Le Orme from their heydays. Very classical music inspired. Very Italian symphonic prog. That with one big exception and one I am not so sure if I like. A track with only Aldo on sitar. OK, I have no problems with sitar and Indian music. But on a Le Orme album and this album ? No, I think this is the wrong album for a sitar concerto. 

The music is a bit too sugar sweet too. It is like these "let's not offend anyone and let's entertain the whole family" albums which people of a certain age releases. 

Most of this album is very good. The sitar track and the overdose of sickly sugar is not doing the album any favours. It is a big improvement on their 1990s albums though. This is a good album. 

3 points  

Kada - Kada (1999)

The debut album from his Hungarian jazz band who has gone on to releasing four albums and some other releases. 

Kada was recommended to me as a Soft Machine inspired band. Inspired, yes..........

Kada was a six piece band on this album with saxophone, flugelhorn, trombone, trumpet, bass, percussion, drums and guitars. A wide array of instruments and sounds.... on the paper.

What is a bit odd is that the band has gone down a bit of a minimalistic avant-garde jazz route here. The guitars is the most dominating instrument here. There is a lot of guitar solos here. There is not so much woodwinds here. The bass and drums is also very much present here.

A lot of this fifty minutes long album is pretty dull where avant-garde'ism is taken to the extreme and offers nothing but repeated melody lines and guitar solos. There are some interesting bits here. But they are not what I will remember this album for. I find this a dull but still decent album. An album not for me.

2 points   

Grey Lady Down - Star Crossed (2001)

The fourth and a come back album from this UK band after they had split up in 1998. It is also so far their final album and I guess they have again split up.

United Kingdom is the birthplace of neo-prog and it has spawned a lot of neo-prog bands during the last thirty years. This five piece band is one of them. 

Their keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals line up is as neo-prog as you can get. And this album is that. The band is pretty much in the middle of the road of this scene with a lot of good keyboards and guitars runs over the top of some very typical neo-prog songs. One hour of it. The good old heavy metal guitarist Bernie Marsden plays guitars on the final song and that adds some strangeness to the album too.

The end result is a good album for those of us who likes neo-prog and an album everyone who does not like neo-prog will hate with a passion. I quite like this album and awards it a weak good rating.

3 points 

Gate 6 - God Machines (2012)

The debut album from this Dutch band. A band who is almost a Dutch prog super group. Well, from bands from the last ten years.

ProgArchives have labeled their album as heavy prog. I can agree with that sentiment. This five piece band gets a lot of noise from guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals. The sound is massive and big. .......And at times, very heavy too. Heavy prog, it is. Heavy and modern. The guitars sometimes wanders off into Dream Theater territory. Ditto for the rest of the band too. There is some Dream Theater here. And there is also a lot of Dutch neo-prog here too. A crossover between those two genres is what we get here.

The sound is great and ditto for the musicianship. The songs are a mix of ballads and more heavy songs. Which is a bit of a throwback to the 1980s heavy rock albums. The songs are not that great either. The band has got everything right but the songs. I am sure traditionalistic prog metal and progheads will lap up this album. I am rating this as a very strong good album though. I want some great songs from this album. A debut album which should encourage the band, if they is still alive, to release more albums.

3 points

Friday 6 February 2015

Gigi Pascal E La Pop Compagnia Meccanica - Debut (1973)

The one and only album from this Italian band. As the title says, this was supposed to be the first of many albums. That was not to be, though. The band disappeared after a couple of more singles.

The band name is next to impossible to remember too. In particular for a non-Italian speaker like myself. The music though is RPI, Italian progressive rock.

To be more precise; pretty soft and Italian pop dominated progressive rock. Take the softest of the Gabriel era Genesis and you get this album. The organ/moog sound here is great although the overall sound is not that great. The vocals too is good and the bass, guitars and drums is supporting them in a decent manner. 

The result is a good album which unfortunate is far too short. Twenty-six minutes is not long in today's world. It is still a decent to good album well worth checking out if you can get hold of a copy.

2.5 points 

Thursday 5 February 2015

Unto Us - The Human Landscape (2014)

The debut album from this UK band who feature the ex Also Eden vocalist Huw Lloyd-Jones.

That is really everything I know about their past and the band in general. More info can be found at their homepage. That also includes ordering informations.

I was not surprised to find out that the line up here was synth, guitars, bass, drums and Huw's great vocals. The music is neo-prog.... with a bit of a twist. 

The twist is that the band has tried to incorporate some jazz and metal. Both with reasonable success. This though is in essence a neo-prog album. There is nothing to be ashamed of here. Neo-prog is great if the songs are great. 

In this case, the music and this fifty minutes long album is bursting with promises which remains unfulfilled in this case. The songs are not great and that is my main gripe with this album. A good album by all means and one the band can be satisfied with. 

3 points 

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Masters Apprentices. The - Choice Cuts (1971)

The third album from this Australian band and my second meeting with them and their music.

This band was very much the Australian answer to the European bands of that era and has a special place in the hearts of the Australians. I can understand why.

This album is a just short of forty minutes romp through late 1960s and early 1970s rock'n'roll. Incorporated, you will also find a lot of folk rock, psychedelic rock and hard rock.

The sound is good and the lineup is the usual drums, bass, guitars, vocals and harmonica. The latter one is not normal. But this is a rock album which has some Bob Dylan and in particular The Rolling Stones incorporated deep in it's sound.

The end result is a dated, but still decent album. It has no good tracks, but it is still decent enough. I am not a big fan of this type of rock so this album is not really for me.

2 points

Universe - Universe (1977)

The first of two albums from this US band whose homepage can be found here

I don't know that much about this band & album so this review is based on what I hear from the speakers. The album is half an hour long. The lineup is keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. 

The music here is psychedelic rock with some krautrock too. Take a mix of West-Coast rock, hard southern rock, psychedelic prog and krautrock to be more precise. 

The music is pretty hard at times. It is also pretty catchy in the US way of catchy. It is very obvious that this is an US rock album. You get the 1970s US big arena rock sound here.

The songs are good throughout and I am close to naming this album as a hidden gem. It is indeed a hidden gem and I really like what I hear. Get this if US rock is something you like.

3 points 

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Gall - Anonym (2010)

The first solo album from Lukasz Gall from the Polish neo-prog band Millenium. A band I got some albums from. But I have still not come around to review them. Later.... much later.

Lukasz Gall released this album to a mostly silent, ignorant scene. I have not seen many reviews of this album or any blurb on it. Which is a bit of a shame, really...

What we get here is some pretty dark and brooding neo-prog. It is very vocals dominated and probably some miles off what his band and daytime job Millenium is doing. I hope so as there is no reason to walk down the same path. 

The sound is great and Lukasz vocals is supported by lots of guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. The music is very melodic and brooding. There is a lot of quality here.

My only gripe is the lack of any really great songs. That aside; this is a good album and proves that I should really check out Millenium rather sooner than later.

3 points

Monday 2 February 2015

Nathan Mahl - Justify (2014)

The eight album from this Canadian band and my first ever meeting with their music. The band debuted in 1983 and have had a long career. A long career below my radar, though. I am not perfect.

This four piece is getting help from the living legend Andy Latimer (Camel) on guitars on this album. That in addition to their own two guitarists. Keyboards, drums and bass is completing the line up on this album.

It is a bit difficult to describe this album too. They are really hedging their bets with some traditional AOR songs and some slick fusion and some prog metal with a lot of heavy guitars. The band is listed as a jazz/fusion band in ProgArchives and I guess that is right for their previous albums.

This album though is a bit everywhere from song to song. From AOR to fusion to instrumental prog metal. The music is also rather dull and I find the music here not so inspired... or indeed; inspiring. This is a decent to good album which does not win me over as a fan of this band.

2.5 points 

Green Space - Behind (1990)

The one and only album from this French band who also released two EPs along the way. Nothing has ever been heard of this five piece again.

We are again visiting neo-prog land again. Keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. There is a twist here though because the band also use vibraphone. Another twist, and not a good one, is the mix of English and French vocals songs.

I really like the more French songs here which also lies in the more French symph prog tradition. Strangely enough, the English vocals songs are far more commercial neo-prog and pop influenced. They are in that vein.

The sound is good and ditto for the songs. Well, the French ones are mainly good and the opening track Erevan is a very good track. A very dynamic track with some nods towards Ange. The English tracks are not that good. 

The law of average says that this is a good album. Indeed it is. I would not pay much to get this album though. There are far better obscure neo-prog albums out there.

3 points