Thursday 30 April 2015

Van Der Graaf Generator - World Record (1976)

The seventh album from this English band.

This Peter Hammill fronted band released some great albums in the 1970s. I have always liked their eclectic sound and regard them as one of the leading lights in the eclectic prog scene. 

VDGG was a four piece band on this album with the classic Hugh Banton, David Jackson, Guy Evans and Peter Hammill lineup. That means a lot of saxophones, keyboards, mellotrons, guitars, drums, bass and Peter's vocals. 

I have to say I have never really warmed to this album. The great things are very thin on the ground here and the five tracks are not really my thing. I like the sound and all that. It is just that the songs does not really come up to the standard I expect from this band.

It is a good album but nothing more than that.

3 points

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Schicke Fuhrs & Frohling - Sunburst (1977)

The second album from this German constellation who released seven albums. Mostly as the duo Fuhrs & Frohling. 

This album is one of the three albums they released as a trio. The band was Edward Schicke on drums, Gerhard Fuhrs on keyboards/synths and Heinz Frohling on guitars. They had help from Edward Ruther on bass. And that was the band on this album. 

The music can loosely be labeled as symphonic prog. Well, it is symphonic prog with a lot of references to classical music. You get a pretty dominating keyboard/piano/synth with some backing of the bass, guitars and drums. That is the theme here throughout the forty-five minutes long album.

The music has some pretty strong Tangerine Dream and electronica references throughout. It is as I said pretty close to classical music too. 

Maybe this was great music in the dark year of 1977. Maybe it was even cutting edge. Today, it is not that interesting. I find this album a bit interesting and I am not dismissing it. It does not have any really great or even good music here so I am rating it as a decent to good album.

2.5 points 

Quinteto Armorial - Aralume (1976)

The second album from this Brazilian band.

I quite liked their debut album. A nice mix of folk music and chamber rock. Folk music from Brazil meets the likes of Aranis and Flairck.

The band uses a lot of acoustic instruments here and the music is still pretty intensive. And there is a lot of Flairck influences here too. I would label this band as the South American version of Flairck. What is missing here is pan flutes, though.

The almost haunting chamber rock influences has gone here though and what is left is not that interesting. I am hard pressed to find much interesting here. A weak decent award is what this album gets from me.

2 points

Monday 27 April 2015

Schizofrantik - Oddities (2001)

Hmmmm.......... Why am I doing this to myself ?

Schizofrantik is a German band and this is their fourth album. I also got their fifth album and will review it too.

Herein lays my problem. The band title says everything about the music. The music is frantic to say at least. Frantic and hyper active. Most of the music is ultra technical metallic frantic eclectic prog with lots of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals are in the nu-metal vein. 

That is one part of this album.

The other part is much more melodic and has some accordion too. Very much like Porcupine Tree too. Very strange but still with a lot of nu-metal influences and eclectic prog influences.

The result is eclectic and almost impenetrable. Almost impossible to review. A very strange album indeed. 

I am not a big fan of this decent to good album and I hope the album title means this is saved up oddities from the studio. I am though looking forward to listen to and review their fifth album. 

2.5 points

Sloche - Stadaconé (1976)

The second and final album from this Quebec, Canadian band. 

I quite liked their first album. A very quirky jazz/fusion album. So I was very pleased to find this album in my collection too. 

Sloche was a six piece band on this album with a lineup of celesta, keyboards, bass, guitars and drums. The music is instrumental with some sporadic vocals.

We are again back somewhere in fusion land. But this time in the quaint town of Canterbury, England. This is basically a Canterbury jazz/prog album. National Health springs to mind. 

The keyboards sound reminds me about Alan Gowen a lot. It is quirky and very eccentric. The bass and drums is also special.

No great tracks here. But this is a very good album which clocks in at forty minutes. It is recommended.

3.5 points 

Sunday 26 April 2015

Ark - Wild Untamed Imaginings (2010)

The third and so far final album from this English band.

Ark is/was a band who were one of the pioneers in the neo-prog scene, but never really got any success. They were at best a second-rate band. At best. 

The band returned again for this album. They returned as a five piece band with the usual lineup of keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals. There are even some flutes here. But not much of these flutes.

Neither is there much neo-prog here either. The music is a mix of pub rock, stadium rock and art rock. Forty-eight minutes divided on ten songs. None of them are longer than five and a half minutes.

The music here is as exciting as watching paint dry. I am not a fan of either pub or stadium rock. The music is decent enough and that is the best I can say about this album. It is an album bereft of any really good ideas. I am left cold here.

2 points 

Albero Motore - Il Grande Gioco (1974)

The only sign of life from this Italian band before they were disbanded and nothing was ever heard from them again.

Albero Motore was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and Italian vocals. The sound is pretty good throughout these forty-five minutes. 

The music can best be described as 1970s Italian rock. Or rock'n'roll as most would call it. There are a lot of southern rock references here. Both Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd springs to mind. Add some Italian madness and pop music to the mix and you get this album. Madness like some insane vocals and some cheesy melody lines too. 

I have to say this is not a good album. Let alone; an interesting album. Some albums are obscure because they are not good. This album is a prime example. The music is decent enough and fans of southern rock should perhaps check it out. I am not one of them.

2 points  

Se Delan - The Fall (2014)

The debut album from this duo. A duo with Justin Greaves from Black Crippled Phoenix and Belinda Kordic. Belinda is from Sweden and Justin is from England.

Justin does all the instruments here and Belinda is the vocalist. The instruments is the likes of guitars, keyboards, drums and bass. In short; don't expect this constellation to tour anytime soon.

The music is a bit of a mystery to me as I am not really into this neo goth scene. The music is at least based around some rather gloomy, cinematic melodies. I have heard it is pretty similar to Black Crippled Phoenix. For me, it reminds me about the goth/gloom The Third And The Mortal did on Sorrow and Tears Laid In Rest. 

Belinda's vocals is off course shining through here and it is pretty good. The songs sounds like a bit of post rock too. A lot of scattered ideas thrown around.

This is really not my cup of tea. It is not a decent album and it is not a good album either. It falls in somewhere inbetween those two awards. Hence my rating here.

2.5 points 

Saturday 25 April 2015

No More Pain - The Post Human Condition (2015)

The second album from this US band.

I was quite happy with their debut album Debate And Rhyme from 2012. Good catchy prog rock. Pretty hard rocking prog too.

This four piece still have a lineup of keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals. Some very good vocals too. 

They have shed most of the hard rock and gone for a much more Pink Floyd'ish sound with big sound paintings and a lot of melody. They comes across as a mix of Marillion, Porcupine Tree and Gazpacho. The sound is still very American. 

The album is one hour and a quarter long. There are in total eleven songs here. Three of the songs are over ten minutes long. The closing song The Network is almost eighteen minutes long. 

Some of the music is very good. Some of it is decent and most of it is good. This is a good album with some highlights and some lowlights. I like their sound and I like most of the stuff here. Check out this album.

3 points

Cosmic Jokers - Planeten Sit In (1974)

The third album from this German band. Both in their career and from 1974. 

Five albums in one year does not leave much for quality control. When it comes to electronic krautrock as we are dealing with here, anything goes. 

Both Klaus Schulze and Dieter Dierks (the Scorpions producer) was involved here on this largely bass, drums and synthesizers albums. Well, it was only those three instruments. 

There are some melody lines scattered around. Most of this music is so outer space cosmic that I don't believe even aliens from the planet Pluto would understand it. Let alone; find much joy in this album. 

There are a couple of good melody lines here. But most of this thirty-five minutes is just aimless pling-plong and not much of a joy. 

2 points   

Nuova Era - Il Passo Del Soldato (1995)

The fourth and so far final album from this Italian band. There are some talks of a new band being recorded. But that is just rumours at the moment.

We are deep into Italian symphonic prog rock again. Nuova Era is regarded as one of the best post 1970s bands in the Italian prog rock genre. And with good reasons. Their previous three albums was great albums.

This is a concept album, lasting fifty-three minutes. The music is very much in the classic Le Orme tradition. A tradition again based on ELP. The music is very heavily based on keyboards, helped by some bass, drums and guitars. That and some great vocals from Claudio Guerrini. Where does these Italian bands find these great vocalists ? The opera scene in Milan and Rome has a lot to answer for. And that is, as you will understand, a great compliment. 

The music is pretty heavy baroque throughout. There are also some great songs and melody lines here. The album is a bit of a slow burner and a grower. But it really get into a full fire after some listening sessions. Most great albums is like that and this album is no exception.

This is a great album from a great band.

4 points  

Friday 24 April 2015

Assolo di Bongo - Spinning Like A Top (2006)

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

Assolo Di Bongo was/is a fusion band from Italy and they were an eight piece band on this album. Besides of guitars, keyboards, bass and drums..... they also had a four man big woodwinds section. Plenty of brass in this band.

Although not so much in their sound. OK, they are pretty visible here in addition to the guitars and keyboards.

The music here is pretty good fusion. Very melodic at times with some good guitar licks and some good woodwinds. Ditto for the keyboards and pianos too. Despite of that, the music is not that good. It just feels uninspired and uninspiring to me. It is too slick and does not really have much life. There is some cool detachment in their music. 

This is decent to good album and nothing more than that, I am afraid.

2.5 points

Sezione Frenante - Metafora di un Viaggio (2014)

The debut album from this Italian band.

This five piece Italian symphonic prog rock band was formed in the early 1970s and went their own separate ways after some fruitless years, trying to break through. No record deals and not much gigs either. They were forever forgotten....

... Until they reformed in 2006 and then the record label Ma.Ra.Cash got interested. The end result is this album. An album with mostly old material and some new material. 

The lineup is guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and Italian vocals. Some great vocals too from Francesco Nardo. The keyboards sound is also very retro and very 1970s. 

There is a lot of lights and shadows in their music. The music is very much Italian symphonic prog rock. The album is also an old album length. That means less than forty-five minutes long. In this case; forty-three minutes long.

There is no real great songs here. Only sporadic greatness. I still very much like this album and awards it a very good rating. I have heard they are playing live these days together with the likes of Le Orme and other Italian bands in this genre. Go and watch them. 

3.5 points

Thursday 23 April 2015

Scarlet Hollow - What if Never Was (2012)

The debut from this California, USA band.

Scarlet Hollow is a new name to me. They have previously released two EPs before this album. An one hour long album.

The band is female vocals fronted. It is a four piece band too with guitars, bass, drums and keyboards in addition to these good female vocals.

Genre wise, we are somewhere between straight neo-prog and prog metal. I have seen ProgArchives labeling them as a heavy prog band. That's probably right. For me, heavy prog is more like music from the 1970s when there was a lot of heavy prog bands around. The likes of Rush etc etc. 

Nevertheless; this is a modern heavy prog album. There is a lot of vocals and guitar harmonies here. That in addition to some more harder chugging guitars. 

There is no real great songs here. I quite like this album and would give it a weak good rating. The band has a lot of potential and I hope they soon return with another album..... if they are still around.

3 points 

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Follakzoid - III (2015)

The third album from this Chile based band.

Follakzoid is a four piece band in the space rock genre. Their lineup is bass, drums, guitar and synths. 

I have been very pleased with their previous two albums. Both of them were solid space rock and zeuhl albums. Just down my alley, both of them.

III takes the band in a different direction again. To the heartlands of Germany. To the krautrock genre. Well, the space rock end of the krautrock spectrum. The music on this forty-five minutes long album, four compositions is bass and drums driven with some guitars and synths on the top of that. Mostly, the bass is doing the melody lines. There are some sporadic outbreaks of guitars and synths wall of sound. Darkness and lights. These contrasts works very well here. 

The word is "minimalism" and this actually works on this album. All four compositions is good and I am quite enjoying this album. Fans of krautrock should really get this album. Even I rates this album.

3 points  

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Shades Of Dawn - Graffity's Rainbow (2011)

The fourth and so far final album from this German band.

I was not too impressed by their 2005 album From Dusk Till Dawn. Too heavy and sludgy kraut/symphonic prog. 

The band has a lot of members on this album. A lot of members, but not a lot of instruments. The lineup is keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The band is again operating somewhere between krautrock, neo prog and symphonic prog.

There are four songs here and they clocks in between 11 minutes and 26 minutes (the title track). There is a lot going in those four songs. Not much of it is that interesting. The vocals are pretty poor and the other instruments is not particular interesting either.

There are a few good stuff here. But most of this album is pretty poor and I am not particular won over by this album. This is a decent album and not a good advert for German prog rock.

2 points

Scapeland Wish - The Ghost Of Autumn (2003)

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

I quite liked their first album. It had some Kings's X vibes and a positive sound and feeling. The songs was happy songs and sunny as a day in Florida. So I was looking forward to sinking my teeth into this, their second album.

The band is still a trio with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Despite of being a trio, the sound is very rich and warm. There is a lot of sound & noise here. 

This album is also a lot more rounded and well balanced than their debut album. There is a lot more proper prog rock here. The music almost got a psychedelic feel to it. 

The songs are really good here too. Some are not so good though. But most of this album really both rocks and has some good melodies. It is an album the band can be happy with and it really deserves a follow up. 

3 points

Monday 20 April 2015

Kaipa - Vittjar (2012)

The eleventh album from this Swedish band.

Kaipa is rightly regarded as a pioneer in the Swedish symphonic prog scene. Roine Stolt was one of the founding members and he took a large chunk of their sound and music with him over to The Flower Kings too. 

But not all of it......

Roine Stolt has left Kaipa some albums again and the band is now six piece band. The lineup is bass, drums, guitars, keyboards, whistles and vocals. Both male and female vocals. I have to say I am not that keen on either of the two vocalists here. The other musicians is good enough.

Kaipa has gone a bit native this time. Back to the Swedish folk music scene and they have adapted their symphonic prog to the folk music elements they started with on Angling Feelings.

The result is a melodic album with all the usual Kaipa ingredients. It is a good album where everyone get satisfied and perhaps the band win some new fans. I am a bit disappointed though. Nevertheless.....

3 points 

Tangent. The - A Place In The Queue (2006)

The third album from this English band.

The Tangent is one of the best post millennium bands in the prog rock world. Their mix of symphonic prog and Canterbury prog is a heady mix. 

The Tangent has had some changing lineups over the years. On this album, it included the likes of Theo Travis, Sam Baine, Guy Manning, Jonas Reingold, Jaime Salazar and Krister Jonsson. That in addition to the band owner Andy Tillison. He is also the vocalist here and he does a great job behind the microphone. The rest of the instruments are drums, saxophone, bass, keyboards, Moog, flutes and guitars.

The band has not changed style much since the debut album. Some very melodic and complex songs which gives each musician plenty of room to shine and express themselves. 

The title track is a twenty-two minutes long suite and it is a very good piece of music. The music is sometimes a bit too whimsical for my liking. The main part is very classy and sometimes a bit too calculated. Nevertheless, this is a very good album which all lovers of British prog should own.

3.5 points

Sunday 19 April 2015

Junipher Greene - Communication (1973)

The second album from this Norwegian band and the follow up to their legendary album Friendship. An album everyone, with the exception of myself, really loved. 

The band was a five piece band on this album and with a lineup of flutes, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals duties was shared among the band members. 

Communication really follows in the same footsteps of Friendship. One long progressive song, the title track, which has a lot of decent to good ideas and then some not so progressive songs. The sound is surprisingly good. Well, it is good. 

The music on this album is somewhere between folk, prog, hard rock, psychedelic and normal rock anno 1973. It is still a bit of a weird album though and not exactly a mainstream rock/pop album.   

The problem with this album is the lack of really good songs. There is none and the album falls a bit flat on it's face in today's standards. It is a decent album and that is that.

2 points

Opposite Of Hate. The - Beginnings (2015)

The debut album from this Brazilian band.

I know nothing about this band besides of what they have written on their Bandcamp page where you can also purchase this album. 

The band describe their music as a mix of electronica, progressive rock and jazz. Well, even the bands are entitled to their opinions. I am not so sure they are right. 

Take some guitars, synths, vocals, drums and bass. That is the lineup. The vocals comes in all shapes here. From death metal grunts to football terraces chants and reasonable good clean vocals too. And yes, there are some progressive rock music here too. But this album reminds me a lot about Linkin Park's debut album. An album I have not been listening to for a very long time. Well, since it was released. But you get my drift. 

Take a mix of Linkin Park and some modern progressive rock bands. Then you get this album. I am not a fan of these chugging guitars and I am not fan of this nu-emo-metal scene. I am dropping out of this album already here. There is no real great songs here although I like the more prog rock aspects here. 

This is an album where the target audience is at least half of my age and a decent album in my view. Hence my verdict.

2 points

Ark - The Dreams of Mr Jones (1988)

The debut album from this English band who went onto releasing three albums. The last one in 2010.

Ark was one of the first bands in the British neo-prog scene. That is their reputation, at least. They did not get much commercial success with their albums and tours. They are still to be respected, though.

Ark was a five piece on this album with a lineup of synths, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals are not overwhelming great. But they are OK and they are working in this musical setting.

The album is rather short, clocking in at just four seconds short of half an hour. The songs are pretty short and in the verse-chorus-verse formula. There are one fairly good song here and that is Through The Night, a pretty good ballad. The rest of the songs are not anywhere that standard.

The result is a decent album and one you can manage without. Anyway, check it out if neo-prog is your thing.

2 points

Saturday 18 April 2015

Schnauser - Protein for Everyone (2014)

The fifth album from this band from Great Britain.

I am totally new to this band and their music. I did not even know about them before this album dumped down into my mail box. They are supposed to be popular in the more alternative rock scene. 

I am not sure what alternative means these days. Mainstream and alternative tends to swap places due to the shifting sands in the music fashions. But I take their word for it.

Schnauser is a four piece band and the lineup is a wide variety of acoustic and electric instruments. Most of these instruments has strings. Mandolin, guitars and the likes of that. Add drums, vocals and keyboards to the proceedings too.

The music is a bit psychedelic too. Not as in spaced out. I guess a mix of psychedelic rock, rock, pop and some folk is fitting here. There are also a cool lounge jazz feel here. The use of Hammond organs makes me happy. Make that, very happy.

The result is a weird, but still a very cool and melodic album. The music is not hard at all. Neither is it ambient or particular dull and soft. It just has this jazzy feel which I like.

Have this album converted me to becoming a Schnauser fan ? Nope. I like this music and this is a good forty-five minutes long album. There is no killer tracks here too. This though is a good album from a band who has my full respect. Bands like this one is much needed.

3 points

Stackridge - Friendliness (1972)

The second album from this English band.

Although listed as a folk rock band in ProgArchives and other places, this band was once described as the west counties answer to The Beatles. The west counties means the seven (?) counties west of Bristol in England. 

The same counties is also very much known for it's folk rock scene. To my knowledge, most English folk rock bands comes from these counties. The scene has off course been heavy influenced by the cider these counties are so known for. Cider is a sweet alcoholic drink made by apples. 

And this album is also pretty sweet. Take a five piece with violins, guitars, cello, bass, drums, keyboards, flute and male vocals. Then you get this band and this album.

The music is indeed not dissimilar to The Beatles. Take a lot of folk music and add to the sound and music of The Beatles. Then you get this one hour long album. The Moody Blues and ELO also springs to mind.

The music is very poppy and based on short songs. Too short songs in my opinion. But the music is pretty enjoyable and very much in the 1960s vein. The end result is a good album with some very good songs and some not so good songs. I quite like this album.

3 points   

Circus 2000 - An Escape From a Box (1972)

The second and final album from this Italian band.

Circus 2000 was a four piece band with a female vocalist and English vocals. They operated in the psychedelic rock genre on both this and their debut album. Velvet Underground and Jefferson Airplane is good references.

Their lineup was guitars, bass, drums and vocals. 

The vocals is decent enough and so is the music. Music which is in the west-coast psychedelic rock vein. Very fluent and pretty cool. 

The problem with this album is the lack of any good songs. There is none of those. I find this album pretty dull, all of this half an hour long album. This is a decent album and nothing more than that.

2 points 

Assolo di Bongo - Primetime (2001)

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

Besides of a great prog rock scene, Italy has always had a great jazz and fusion scene too. In most cases, the prog and fusion/jazz scene has crossed over into each other. Area is a good example. 

This four piece is not particular a crossover band between the fusion and the prog rock scene. Nevertheless, you will find some symphonic prog in their music too. The lineup on this album is keyboards, guitar, bass and drums. That gives a not so organic sound throughout this instrumental album.

The music here is a bit harder than I am used to from fusion bands. The guitars is very much in the prog metal vein and the drums also kicks like metal drums. Most of the music here is somewhere between fusion and metal. 

The music is good throughout and I really like most of this album. There are some good melodies too although the emphasis is on technical prowess. 

This is a good album.

3 points

Friday 17 April 2015

Different Strings - The Sounds of Silence Part II (2015)

The third album from this Malta based project.

Different Strings is Chris Mallia with friends. That is six friends to be precise. The lineup is keyboards, vocals, bass, guitars and drums. 

Chris Mallia has so far given us three neo-prog albums. Neo-prog with some twists and turns. More eclectic prog turns on the first The Sound Of Silence album from 2011. 

On this album, the # 2 in the series, the emphasis is more on heaviness and prog metal than eclectic prog. There is still some quirkiness here. But not much. 

The emphasis is on heavy guitars with some pastoral parts inbetween. And there is some symphonic prog parts here too. Chris Mallia has his own take on neo-prog, yes. 

The end result is a good album. Good, but not that exciting. I prefer the # 1 version in this series. It is still an album everyone should check out. Go so forth and do so.

3 points 

Thursday 16 April 2015

Quinteto Armorial - Do Romance ao Galope Nordestino (1974)

The debut album from this Brazilian band who went onto release in total four albums. All of them is to be reviewed here. 

Quinteto Armoral was a folk music band on this album. All their instruments was acoustic and the main instruments was flutes, guitars and violins. 

The music here is mostly straight folk music. The music has a lot of chamber rock/RIO influences though. Or maybe it is the chamber rock scene who has been inspired by this band. Nevertheless, I get a lot of those vibes here. The music is tight and intense. There is no ballads here. Just a lot of intense folk music in the Brazilian vein.

I have to admit I find this a very strange and alien soundscape. I am not sure I am fully grasping this world and I guess that will be happening for the three other albums too. This is in my view a decent listen and a decent album. It is not entirely my cup of tea although I really like the chamber rock vibe here.

2 points

No More Pain - Debate and Rhyme (2012)

The debut album from this New Jersey, US band.

New Jersey has previously given us the likes of Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen too. The four piece bnad No More Pain is not following in their direction although No More Pain also have a good nose for a good melody or four.

The lineup is bass, drums, guitars, vocals and keyboards. The usual lineup. The music is a mix of college rock and progressive rock. I would compare the band to King's X, Rush and Bad Company. There is a lot of the 1990s and the 1970s here. They have thankfully bypassed the dreadful 1980s. Wise choice.

The music is both a bit grungy and a bit hard at times. The band also have a good eye to some harmonies inbetween creating some guitar walls. The vocals is really very good. Ditto for the sound. 

There is a lot to be happy about on this album, their debut album. It is a good to very good album indeed and should be purchased for those who likes classic rock with a progressive edge. 

3 points

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Syndéresi - I.N.R.H (2003)

An Italian band with a demo before they split up.

The band originated in the 1970s, they claims. They reconvened again in the 1990s and recorded this demo CD which was then put out on Bandcamp after they split up in 2003. 

This is a demo and that should be remembered. The band was a five piece with keyboards, Italian vocals, drums, bass, flute and guitars. 

The band played Italian progressive rock in the good old vein. The symphonic prog vein. The 1970s in other words. The sound is not particular good and the material sounds a bit unfinished and unpolished. The songs are not particular good either. 

This is a decent album/demo.  If you can find this thirty odd minutes long demo as a free download, get it. If not; forget it.

2 points

Monday 13 April 2015

Swedish Family - Vintage Prog (2004)

The one and only album from this Swedish "mystery" band.

Mystery because the musicians tried to make it as it was an obscure band from the 1970s, recently dug up again from someone's archives. All the band members had fictitous names and it was all a mystery, this band.

Well, it was not. Swedish Family was actually Thomas Bodin with friends. That includes many members of The Flower Kings, including Roine Stolt on guitars.

But The Flower Kings, this band and album is not. The band uses a lot of accordion and the music is based in Swedish folk music. Music I know well as a Norwegian. I would say late 1960s Swedish folk music. Then the band has added on some jazz and a lot of symphonic prog. Swedish symphonic prog in the vein of Kaipa.

Besides of lots of accordion, we also find Hammond organs, guitars, bass, vibraphone, flutes, drums and saxophone. That and some sporadic vocals.

The end result is a pastoral Swedish prog rock album. A fifty minutes long album too with some music I find refreshing and very old at the same time. This album reeks Sweden long way. The smell of forests, small villages in the middle of nowhere, small rural churches, forestry, old horses, chickens, barking dogs and the rugged people of the rural Sweden. This album may or may not be tribute to all this.

This is a very good album and a great idea from Thomas Bodin & co. It is an essential album for those into Swedish progressive rock. And the music is very good too. It is recommended.  

3.5 points

Shadow Merchant - The Tunnel (2014)

The debut album from this US band. 

This picture of this four piece band shows a mature band. Not as a band, but in average age of the band members. Band members who entertains us with keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals. 

I mentioned the age there because the band comes across as a teeny bopping youngsters band on the opening song Noah. This is a very catchy song and would go down very well with the younger generation. I on the other side is not particular looking forward to hear the rest of the album.

Thankfully, the band sheds this teeny bopping plague/cancer on the rest of the album and goes a bit more reflective and progressive. Kansas and Rush is very good references. The sound is still very fresh and as daisy as newly harvested vegetables. That is a plus in my books. At least when it comes to these songs.

The band shows a lot to make me happy here. OK, the album is a bit too happy chappy American throughout. For a cynic like myself, that is a bit of a mouthful to swallow. The songs here are good though and the band is pretty refreshing hard rocking at times too. A sure winner in USA. Hence my verdict.

3 points    

Sunday 12 April 2015

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Banco '83 (1983)

The twelfth album from this Italian band.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso was a brilliant band in the 1970s who released some really brilliant Italian progressive rock album. They are rightfully regarded among the four best bands in this genre. A genre I love.

1983 though was a bad, bad year for those who loved this band. Gone was the prog rock. It was replaced by some mindless pop-rock. OK, Fransesco Di Giacomo was still present on vocals. He does a good job here and is the only positive, flickering light on this album. 

The music here is simply ghastly and really, really bad. This is a thirty-five minutes long painful album and a member of my collection of fat turkeys. Terrible the word.

1 point

Shadowfax - Watercourse Way (1976)

The debut album from this US band who released nine studio albums between 1976 and 1992.

Shadowfax was a five piece band who used guitars, woodwinds, bass, tabla drums, drums, keyboards and some vocals in their music. They used a lot of different instruments and this forty minutes long album takes the listeners to many different places.

One of these places are India. There is a lot of Indian music here. There is also a lot of jazz here too. Add some symphonic prog and hard rock too. 

The music is very good played and the band knows what they are doing. The end result is a good album. Unfortunate, the only album I have from this band and I would not mind getting some more albums from them. 

This is a good album for those who wants something extra food for thoughts. This album delivers just that and that in abundance. 

3 points

Scapeland Wish - Reason (2000)

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

The always very informative and trustworthy Progarchives has put this band in the neo-prog genre. Which I am not disputing that much. 

US neo-prog is a different beast than the UK version of neo-prog. Scapeland Wish from Connecticut has obviously been listening to a lot of AOR and Crosby, Stills & Nash in addition to the likes of IQ and Marillion. I would also add Rush here.

This three piece band has had help from three other vocalists in addition to the lead vocals they have been providing themselves. There is a lot of vocal harmonies here. The lineup is the usual keyboards, guitars, drums, bass and vocals. 

Harmonies is the main feature here. Both vocal harmonies and all kinds of other harmonies. The music is neither hard or soft. It is....... well, harmonious. Very harmonious in fact. The vocals is very good and ditto for the instruments. The songs are not too bad on this one hour long and the album is at times a sheer listening pleasure. 

The music is also very complex at times with some fusion and pop influences too. Most of all, this a prog/art rock album from USA. 

The end result is a good album which should please anyone into gentle harmonious progressive rock. 

3 points

Slychosis - Fractured Eye (2012)

The fourth and so far final album from this US band.

Neo-prog has also got a scene in USA. Normally, that mean neo-prog with a great deal of AOR and pomp rock influences too. US of A is both big and brash. The music "over there" reflects that. In particular progressive rock.

This four piece band from Mississippi is not among those who has mixed neo-prog with the US culture. Instead, they have gone for a much purer English strand of this music genre. 

The lineup is keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The sound is good and the musicians does a good job.

Half of this seventy minutes long album consists of re-recorded versions of old songs. The first half is of new songs. I much prefer those new songs as they are good songs with good melodies. 

The final half is of old songs and the band has obviously improved their song writing skills since the first album. An album I am glad I don't have in my collection if those new versions is much improved from the original versions.

I have to admit this band does not appeal to me at all as I regard them as a run of the mill neo-prog band. And this album just confirms my view. This is a decent to good album and nothing more than that. Their songs is simply not good enough. Hence my verdict.

2.5 points 

Saturday 11 April 2015

Scapa Flow - Uuteen Aikaan (1980)

The one and only album from this Finnish band.

Scapa Flow is a natural harbour in the Orkney Islands, Scotland used as the harbour for the British fleet during WWI and WW2. I don't know why the band chose that name, though.

Scapa Flow was a six piece band and I am here including the guest musicians too. The band itself was a three piece band. The lineup was flutes, Finnish vocals, bass, guitars, keyboards, drums and saxophone. 

That may give you the impression that this is a fusion album. It is not. There are some strong hints of cool jazz here. But the music is most of all a blend of pastoral symphonic prog and folk rock. There are some very strong hints of Genesis anno Trespass. 

The flutes are great and so is the guitars. The sax adds some spice to the proceedings too. The album has a good warm feeling and offers the listener a lot.

There is no really great songs here though. This is a good half an hour long album which I think should have a lot more listeners. Genesis fans should really check out this album.

3 points

Sloche - J'un Oeil (1975)

The debut album from this Quebec, Canadian band. A band who sadly only released two albums before they split up.

Quebec had a very impressive scene back in the 1970s with Harmonium, Maneige and some other bands too. Most of these bands were in the fusion/jazz genre. 

Sloche's music is firmly in the fusion genre. There are some folk and symphonic prog too in their music. But this five piece band's music is largely fusion. The music was created with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums, French vocals, saxophone, organ and piano.

J'Un Oeil is a forty minutes long album with a mix of vocals lead songs and instrumental fusion workouts. The title track is a haunting good folk & symphonic prog driven fusion track. The vocals here is very, very good. It is a great five minutes long song.

The rest of the album is not of the same standard. Those into fusion should and must check out this album. 

3.5 points   

Moody Blues. The - The Other Side Of Life (1986)

The twelfth album from these English legends of art rock and symphonic prog. 

The naughty 1980s had arrived and all styles and good taste had made a runner. Justin Hayward was still at the microphone & the guitars, John Lodge playing the bass and Patrick Moraz on the keyboards. They were helped out by Graeme Edge on drums and Ray Thomas on flutes and harmonica.

The sound is plastic fantastic with a nasty synth sound. Everything was off white and off blue. The album cover says it all and it screams "Don't buy this album !!". This is the worst of the 1980s.

The music is pop-rock with no traces whatsoever of what made The Moody Blues such a great band at the end of the 1960s and in the beginning of the 1970s. This album has no redeeming features and it is a member of my collection of turkeys.

1 point

Shades Of Dawn - From Dusk Till Dawn (2005)

The third album from this German band.

The band was a five piece band on this album with the usual keyboards, bass, guitars, drums and male & female vocals lineup. 

We are again somewhere between neo-prog and symphonic prog. Again because this crossover genre has got a lot of German bands and has their own scene on those shores. There is a lot of great bands in this genre coming out of Germany.

The album starts out with some ELP references before it goes a bit darker and then a lot more darker. The music is pretty symphonic at times. The use of both set of vocals is used throughout. The guitars is pretty heavy at times. Sometimes, the music reminds me about Eloy. But most times, the album is more neo-prog than symphonic. 

This one hour album starts out very good and falls away at the end. My average rating of the whole album is a good rating. I am not happy about the final twenty minutes which is too dull and too gothic for my liking. Hence this rating.

3 points 

Secret River. A - Colours Of Solitude (2014)

The debut album from this Swedish band.

The band is an unknown entity to me and I don't believe any of the band members has a past in any other bands. The band is a four piece with the usual keyboards, guitars, bass and drums lineup. 

... And vocals of course. The vocals (male) is very good and is also complemented by some vocal harmonies. Style wise, we are somewhere in  rockland with strong hints of progressive rock and normal rock. There is some Rush and Flower Kings associations here. The band has this Swedish symphonic prog sound and flavour.

That said, the music is very slick and very sugary throughout these fifty minutes of music. Fifty minuted divided on eight songs. The music is bordering to feel-good toothless pop-rock throughout the whole of this album and that is not really my cup of tea. Then again, some tones of Swedish symphonic prog, scattered around this album, picks up my interest again.

The end result is a good album. A bit toothless, but still a good album. Check it out.

3 points  

Circus 2000 - Circus 2000 (1970)

The debut album from this Italian band who in total released two albums before they gave up the ghost.

Italy had a pretty big psychedelic rock scene in and around 1970. This five piece band were one of the leading bands in this scene. They were fronted by the female vocalist Silvana Aliota. She was helped out by some drums, guitars, keyboards and bass. Yes, and some male vocals too.

The music is a mix of psychedelic rock and folk rock. The vocals are in English and the music has a pretty big English folk rock influence. Now and then, a bit of Italian pop music shines through too.

The album is just under half an hour long and it has a very weird, psychedelic avant-garde feel on the first songs here. Then the album changes more over to a more folk rock and Italian pop direction. One of the songs are even a pure pop song with a solid hit potential. Unfortunate, I believe this is a cover version of another famous song. So no fame and fortune for the band.

The end result is quite a quirky, decent to good album. I am not a fan, but I like half of it and does not like the other half. Check out this album if Jefferson Airplane is a band you like.

2.5 points  

Friday 10 April 2015

Junipher Greene - Friendship (1971)

The debut album from this Norwegian band and the first ever double album from a band from Norway.

This album is regarded as a historical album in Norway and the grand daddy of them all amongst the Norwegian progressive rock albums. The band is still playing one or two gigs a year in Norway and they have their fans in Norway and further afield.

The music here is not strictly progressive rock, with the exception of the title track, a twenty-six minutes long suite. That is a suite which touches into heavy prog, space rock and symphonic prog.

The music on the other half of this album is a mix of good old psychedelic rock and heavy prog. Or hard rock if you want. The music is pretty hard and psychedelic. The very good flutes gives some 'Tull associations too. The Hammond organ, guitars, bass, drums and vocals is good too.

The end result is a good album where the title track, the suite, is the best part of this album. The other and far shorter songs are so and so. Not particular good, in other words. Check out this album.

3 points 

Malibran - The Wood Of Tales (1990)

The debut album from this Italian band. I believe they are actually from the island Sicily. The band has so far released seven albums and I got a few of them. 

The band was a six piece on this album. The line up was flutes, saxophone, bass, guitars, drums and vocals. English vocals, unfortunate.

The band is regarded as an Italian progressive rock band. That though is not evident on this album. Neo prog is what we get here. Neo prog in the good old English style. Pendragon springs to mind. Pretty standard fare too.

The vocalist is pretty hard pressed at times. So hard pressed that I am tempted to order an ambulance for him several times on this forty-four minutes album. The flutes are very good and so is some of the guitars. 

The music is good throughout and it is evident that the band, the vocalist excluded, has got some talents. Hence my rating of this album.

3 points