Tuesday 30 June 2015

Finnforest - Lähtö Matkalle (1976)

The second out of in total three albums from this Finnish band. A band still gigging as a hobby project, if I am not much mistaken.

This album is regarded as their best and one of Finland's best ever fusion/jazz albums. I can understand why this is so.

The debut album was a mix of symph prog and fusion. This album though is purely fusion. Take a large chunk of Weather Report and you get this album. The difference, the major difference, is that neither Joe Zawingul or Wayne Shorter plays on this album. So their two voices are absent (I am not sure of they have even heard about Finnforest....). That is the difference between their band and Finnforest.

The music here is at times very good. The fusion here is created with bass, keyboards, strings, guitars, synths and drums. The band sounds tight and great throughout.

A killer track or two is sorely missing here. This is still a very good album indeed and one fusion fans should seek out and purchase. You get both this one and the debut album as 2 for 1 CD somewhere on Amazon or Ebay. That is a very good offer indeed. Get it.

3.5 points

Cosmic Jokers. The - Gilles Zeitschiff (1974)

The fifth and final release from this German band. All of them in 1974.

This album is only twenty minutes long. That is long enough for this type of music. Music well within the electronica and collage music genre. Krautrock in other words.

Dieter Dierks (later; Scorpions manager) and Klaus Schulze is still involved on this album. Gille Lettman's spoken German words is the most dominating "instrument" here on the top of some guitars, keyboards, electronic wizardry, drums and bass. There is a lot of contributors to these twenty minutes.

The end result is a pretty charming decent album which does not outstay it's welcome. This is by no means a great album. But fans of krautrock would wish to check out all their five albums. And they should do so.

2 points  

Strange Days - 9 Parts To The Wind (1975)

The one and only album from this English band.

The band is listed as a folk rock album in ProgArchives and I had some hopes of a Fairport Convention like album. That is not what I got..... That is by no means Progarchives fault, though. I blame this on my imagination. 

The band was a four piece with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals is pretty good. 

The music is what I would label standard rock anno 1975. Yes, it comes with some pretty strong folk rock connotations. But commercial, outdoors festival friendly English rock was like that in 1975. The music does not have much prog rock either. None, truth to be told. 

The riffs are pretty catchy and the opening song, the title track, is a good track. The rest is decent enough and the musicians sometimes delivers something pretty good. That includes the lyrics too. 

This is a decent to good album which is an obscure album for a very good reason.

2.5 points  

Monday 29 June 2015

Offering - A Fïïèh (1993)

The third and final album from this Magma off shot project.

There is no secret Christian Vander is a big John Coltrane fan. So much that he set up Offering to take his music much more in the direction of John Coltrane than he was able to do with Magma. 

The Offering and Magma setup is more or less identical. Only the music is different. In the case of this album; only slightly different. 

You get a lot of jazzy pastoral zeuhl with Christian Vander's vocals on the top. At times, take for example the title track, the music is almost dirge light. The music is very slow and takes time to hit home. Not to mention; get to the point and hit the stride. There are also a lot of avant-garde jazz here too.

The music here is not particular great and I can understand why Christian Vander and the band went back to Magma after this album. The title track is very good and the rest of the album is good too. This is by no means a highlight in Christian Vander's discography. Nevertheless, this is a good album.

3 points

Symfinity - Intangible Dreams (2012)

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

The band grew out of a school of some sort and this five piece band wanted to do rock with full classical orchestral arrangements. Which is exactly what they have done here.

Take flutes, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and male vocals. Then you get this lineup. I believe the keyboards also incorporates a full symphonic orchestra. 110 musicians in a box, in other words. 

Classical symphony orchestral and classical music arrangements may lead the listener to believe that this is a progressive rock album. It is really not that. I would call this pomp rock, the forty-six minutes of music here. There are even some prog metal on this album too. 

Everything here is pomp. That both goes for the classical music pieces here and the rock pieces. There is not much crossover between those two genres in the same vein as the likes of ELP did. Not much here is prog rock either. 

There is no really good songs here either. This is a decent album which will never grace my speakers again. It is simply too dull music for such a short life as mine.

2 points

Sunday 28 June 2015

Fields - Contrasts From Urban Roar to Country Peace (2015)

The second and final album from this English band.

Fields released their self titled debut album back in 1971 and was meant to follow up that album with this one in 1972. For some reasons, I guess lack of commercial appeal and interest from their record label CBS Records (now Sony Records) meant the master tapes gathered dust in their vaults until the band, read Graham Field, finally got the tape and released it to Esoteric who finally put it out earlier this year.

In short; this is not a new album and the band is both dead & buried. Or ? I don't know. 

Fields was a three piece on this album and they were associated with Rare Birds at that time. That was a jazz band and this album also got a lot of jazz too. This album got a lot of styles incorporated. It starts out as very heavy influenced by ELP. Here we go again, I thought. 

Well...... not quite. We get a lot of naive 1960s rock and some jazz here too. The music is typical late 1960s and early 1970s. James Barclay Harvest is a good reference. Caravan is another good reference. 

The result is a forty minutes long album and a good one. 1972 or 2015, this album deserved a release and I am sure it will please a lot of progressive rock fans around the world. Well done, guys !

3 points 

Onevoice - To Mold This Morning's Clay (2014)

The second album from this US one man band. 

New York to be more precise and the man is Dan Costello. I really liked the first album a lot. It is named A Sound & Space, Agreed and was released two years ago, in 2013. Both albums is Name Your Price albums from Bandcamp.  

You can safely get both albums. This time, Dan has even got an artwork I really like. I was not a fan of the artwork on the 2013. That is me splitting hair... again. It does not mean an atom at all. The only thing that matters is sound & music. 

Dan is playing all the instruments here (bass, guitars, piano, drums and vocals) bar the flutes and the female vocals (shared by two vocalists). He has also done the productions and mix here. The latter one is the weakest point of this album. A bit more beef and oomph on some tracks would had been better. His vocals and the instruments are very good. 

The music is, as on the 2013, light and airy prog rock. The music is not overly technical. It cannot be because Dan is only a human being. That is obvious. It is also obvious that Dan is one of the better song writers around as he has put all his eggs where his main strength lies: The difficult art of coming up with great, interesting songs.  

And he has succeeded. The album is mainly a tour de force in post-millennium progressive rock light. This album contains fifty-one minutes with interesting songs. Most of them with a strong piano and vocals theme. Dan Costello is from New York and that shines through on this album. 

In short; this is a great album and one of the better ones from last year. And it is a Bandcamp album and a great, great credit to Bandcamp. It is also a great credit, not to mention a great triumph for New York and Dan Costello too. A weak, but still a worthy four points is heading their way.

4 points

Sündenfall II - Sündenfall II (1972)

The one and only album from this German band. 

Sundenfall II was an offspring of the German jazz band Sundenfall. The II version was put together after the main member of Sundenfall got wind of Jethro Tull and wanted to go folk rock too. The idea was to copy a lot of Jethro Tull.

That was the idea. The result is somewhat different. 

Take a great deal of krautrock and add a great deal of folk rock to the stew too. There are still a lot of jazz around here too and a lot of Amon Duul too. That is #1 of the Amon Duul franchise. Not the # 2 one. 

The music was performed with bongos, woodwinds, English vocals, guitars, bass and drums. Very folky, the whole lineup. 

The music is sorely lacking a good song or two. There is none here. The music is decent enough though. This album is most of all a collage of different styles and very krautrock confused. In short; don't bother.

2 points

Smoot. Mark - The Attic (1988)

The one and only album from this US musician. 

Mark Smoot has had a long career as a member of various obscure US neo-prog bands as an employee of an US record label. So it was about time to do something on his own. A good idea.....

Mark Smoot does all the vocals and other instruments here with the exception of drums and keyboards. And we are talking some sort of neo-prog here.

I am not sure when Mark became an inhouse producer in a record label because the sound here is pretty bad. Or maybe the budget was a zero budget. Nevertheless, this album is suffering for it.... big time.

I am not sure if the lack of budget also meant he had to do most of the instruments too. Mark Smoot is not an accomplished multi-instrumentalist. And that is to put it kindly.

The music is unimaginative blend of pop music, rock and neo-prog. That with some hints of symphonic prog now and then. Supertramp influences pops up now and then. The music is very melodic. 

Melodic and bereft of anything good. Nothing here is worth writing home about. Hence, this is a very obscure album and that for the right reasons. Don't pester the mankind with this turkey.

1 point 

Saturday 27 June 2015

Spirosfera - Umanamnesi (1996)

The one and only album from this Italian band.

This four piece band came, released an album and failed to set the world alight. Therefore; they left again.

Their lineup was drums, bass, guitars, keyboards and Italian vocals. Their music was not neo-prog. Instead, they went in a much more avant-garde direction. Take a large chunk of Area and add some more avant-garde with some chiming saxophones, although they are not listed among their instruments. But they are here and very much present on this album. An hour long album.

The sound is not too bad. But the ideas is all over the place and pretty chaotic. The music is pretty chaotic and not worked through. This album is annoying in that respect. I really like this album when it is drawing quite heavy on the Area influences. The more wilder avant-garde chaos leaves me cold.

This is a decent album and nothing more than that.

2 points

Synopsis - Minuit Ville (1979)

The debut album and the first of in total two albums from this French band.

This five piece band emerged with the final breezes of the symphonic prog wind who had swept over Europe since 1970. Synopsis arrived in a dead scene. Which was a great shame.

Their sound and music is very much in the French symphonic prog vein. Take Ange and Mona Lisa. Take Genesis too. Those three are the references you need on this thirty-seven minutes long album.

The music is very pastoral throughout with a great deal of keyboards and guitars. Half-acoustic guitars and French vocals is always present here. That and some bass and drums. 

The music is not that great, to be honest. I am a big fan of French symphonic prog. But this album does not really set me on fire. The lack of any really great tracks is my problem. That and the lack of any great variations here. Nevertheless; this is a good album and well worth checking out.

3 points   

Haze - Cellar Replayed (1985)

The second album from these British neo-proggers.

Haze was a three piece with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The usual neo-prog lineup.

I was a not a fan of their 1984 debut album C'est La Vie and they have not improved much on the follow up album either. 

The sound is pretty bad and the music is not much better. The band has also stolen a couple of Genesis melodies and incorporated them into their own songs. The music is very generic and not particular interesting.

In short; this is almost a turkey. A couple of decent tracks elevates this album a bit.

1.5 points 

Friday 26 June 2015

Som Nosso de Cada Dia - Snegs (1974)

The debut album from this Brazilian band.

The original LP had a terrible sound and did not do this album any justice whatsoever so I am reviewing the CD instead. The CD includes a new composition as a bonus track.

This band was a three piece band with a vast array of instruments. That includes flutes, violins and plenty of synths. 

The music is a blend of ELP like symph prog and a lot of South American symph prog and folk rock. The vocals are in Portuguese and they are pretty good. Ditto for the sound.

My problem with this album is the lack of any really great songs and the final half of the album which is instrumental and pretty dull to be honest. The first half of this album is good though. I am really having problems working up much enthusiasm for this album and rates it as somewhere between decent and good.

2.5 points

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Solstice Coil - A Prescription For Paper Cuts (2005)

The debut album from this Israeli band.

This album is a follow up to a couple of EPs the band released the years before they went to a full album.

Solstice Coil is perhaps most famous for some funny Dream Theater drummer parody Youtube movies. Something that went down very well with Dream Theater who loved these videos and marketed them accordingly. The band is perhaps lesser known for their music and three albums. Perhaps.

I liked their second album Natural Causes from 2011 and reviewed it accordingly in ProgArchives the same year. I have just got their new album Commute and will review that one too pretty soon. 

On this, their debut album, the band was a five piece with Shir Deutch everywhere on vocals and guitars. He was helped out by keyboards, drums, bass and piano. Guest musicians added saxophone, cello and female vocals. 

The music is pretty much rock orientated with some Radiohead, Gazpacho, Marillion and Pink Floyd influences. 

The music varies from pretty hard to pretty soft. It is pretty dynamic too. Unfortunate, there is no really good songs here on this fifty minutes long album. Which is the big problem with this album. The sound is great though and it is a decent to good album.

2.5 points

Badge. The - La Relazioni Pericolose (2015)

The debut album from this Italian band.

Although debut album is a bit of a misguided word here. The band has been alive, from time to time, since the 1960s. That explains the terrible band name. A band name which I am sure was very hip in the 1960s but very bad this year. But I understand and respect why they have kept it on. 

It is fair to say that this quartet does not look like a boyband either. The average age cannot be far of 70. Which is no hindrance for not rocking out. Which they have done this summer in gigs and festivals. Something I am admiring them for.

The lineup is guitars, keyboards, drums, bass and thankfully; Italian vocals. The vocals is very good, btw. 

And yes, we are talking classic Italian symphonic prog here. The album is somewhere between New Trolls classic Concerto Grosso albums and Locande Delle Fate. In short, both symphonic and melodic Italian prog rock with the good 'ole classic sound. Just like I want it. 

The party opens up with the seventeen minutes long title track. A very good title track with a great melody and some very good details. 

The rest of the songs on this sixty-six minutes long album is around the seven to ten minutes mark too. And they are all good, although not on par with the title track when it comes to quality.

The Badge has done themselves proud with this very good album and I can only applaud them for this album. This is another very good addition to the great Italian prog rock scene and my own record collection. A record collection I am very proud of.

3.5 points 

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Zappa. Riccardo - Celestion (1977)

The debut album from this Italian musician. 

Celestion is the first of in total fifteen studio albums from him. I am reviewing the first three albums.

Riccardo Zappa, no relations to Frank whatsoever, is widely regarded as the best ever Italian acoustic guitarist. He was also a pioneer in recording and electronica methods. 

On this half an hour long album, he has the backing of four other musicians. That is a lineup of keyboards, drums, percussions and bass. All of them is doing a good job.

It is pretty obvious to me that Mike Oldfield and his first three albums has been a major inspirations behind this album. Oh my holy squirrel does this album sounds like a stripped down Mike Oldfield album. The main difference is that this is an album wholly dominated by acoustic guitars. Riccardo Zappa's guitars. And he is a great guitarists on this album. 

The problem is that acoustic guitars is not exactly the type of instrument I really like. 

I have to admit the start of this album is mind numbing boring. This despite of Riccardo's undoubted great playing and some studio trickeries with layers of acoustic guitars. It cures insomnia, that's for sure. 

The album really comes alive after ten-fifteen minutes. If you are still awake, not to say alive, the album really picks up with something of a melody and a bit of life. The final ten minutes is pretty good. 

This is still a decent album and not the classic album in my ears as everyone else regards is as being. I am not won over by Riccardo Zappa.

2 points 


Sakre - Bitzitako Gauzak (1978)

The one and only album from this Spanish band.

Spain has always had a great folk rock scene. A scene ranging from the more hard rocking bands to the more traditional folk rock bands. Spain is a collection of very independent regions/nations too. Each region/nation got their own very folk rock scene and to a large extent; their own sound too.

Sakre is a Basque band and they are more on the hard rocking and rock end of the spectrum than the traditional Basque folk music end of the scene. Most of the music here is hardly folk rock at all. If any at all. 

The band was a four piece and they used drums, keyboards, guitars, bass and local vocals on this thirty-six minutes long album.

The music is not bad at all. There are some catchy stuff here and I really like the keyboards. That aside, there are no good songs here. Hence my verdict.

2.5 points 

Monday 22 June 2015

Alco Frisbass - Alco Frisbass (2015)

The debut album from this French duo. 

This duo consists of Fabrice Chouette on keyboards and Patrick Dufour on.... well, keyboards too. Although, let me add that this album also includes a lot of vintage and new keyboards, including melmotron, moog and Rhodes organs, plus programmed drums. 

And the result is a bit surprising although I should not really have been surprised as this is a French duo. They do things differently in France. Something the excellent label Fading Records has picked upon as they are the label now hosting this band. Another great signing from them.

The music is a mix of symphonic prog and Canterbury jazz. No less and no more. The sound is excellent throughout and this fifty-five minutes long album has a lot of very interesting details.

Unfortunate, there are no real great tune or even melody here. But this is still a very good album everyone should check out. 

3.5 points 

Sunday 21 June 2015

Sorrenti. Alan - Di Notte (1980)

The sixth album from this Italian artist.

Alan Sorrenti's debut album Aria is supposed to be a very good album. I have just purchased it and I really hope so. And I hope it is a really good Italian prog rock album too. 

Alan Sorrenti had found a lot of local fame and fortune with his appearance in the annual European Melody festival. A festival known for it's outright terrible music and Euro pop. He had also had a major hit single taken from the 1979 album, LA & NY. 

The LA & NY album was a predominant disco album. There is a lot of disco on this album too. There is also a lot Italian and Euro pop on this album too. Music with a lot of slick vocals and strings. So slick that it includes all of Italy's annual use of grease and oil based products. 

The result is a turkey of an album. Something the cover more than alludes too. This album is as bad as they comes. It is one of the worst record label released albums I have ever heard and that says something. Avoid at all cost.

1 points   

Apple Zed. The - The Fruits Of Their Labours (2014)

The debut album from this US power trio.

Let me first add that this album is a "name your price" Bandcamp album. I am not known to turn down gifts like this one although I should really send them some dollars too. Hmm... A good idea.

The band was formed in a university in Baltimore. The lineup is keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals. The vocals are very good, indeed. That goes for both vocalists, btw.

Being an US power trio, the comparisons with the likes of Rush and King's X will eventually arrive. In my mind, at least. And yes, there are some comparisons. Add a lot of college rock and Porcupine Tree influences too. In short, we are in clever young men territory. Or clever dicks as these sorts of persons are normally referred too.

Despite of that, there is a lot of soul in this album. Soul and life. Life which is to be lived and is currently being enjoyed. There is also a lot of reflections here.

What hits me a lot during these fifty minutes is that the band and this album has a great deal of potential and the rather mystical/mythical x-factor. The music is both lively and melodic. The album is full of interesting details. What it is lacking is a great track though. Nevertheless, this is a good to a very good album. It is a very strong album and the band should really get on with a second album and seek out some partners to get their music distributed a lot better. Get this album !

3.5 points

Van Der Graaf Generator - Present (2005)

The ninth album from these prog rock legends. 

I am including this band in my top 5 of all progressive rock bands. Just to start of with that confession. I really like this band a lot. 

Present was their comeback album after a 28 years old album silence. Peter Hammill and the three others here, David Jackson, Guy Evans and Hugh Banton had been occupied with their daytime jobs, solo careers and other bands. The list is too long to mention here. 

Comebacks can be a lot of things. In this case, it opens with one of their all time best songs; Every Bloody Emperor. A seven minutes long dirge which really belongs to the all time great songs. I love that song. 

The other great song here is Nutter Alert. The rest of disc 1 of this 2CDs album is also very good. David Jackson fires on all cylinders with his saxophone. Peter Hammill does a great job on vocals, guitars and piano. Hugh Banton follows up on bass and keys. Guy Evans shores everything up on drums. A great effort all around. This album belongs to David Jackson, though. 

Disc 2 is sixty-five minutes with improvisations and should be ignored in it's entirety. I don't like this disc at all. The thirty-seven minutes long disc 1 is what this album is all about.

Hence my verdict here. I rate this as a very good album indeed. As a comeback, you cannot ask for anything more than this album.

3.5 points    

Saturday 20 June 2015

String Driven Thing - String Driven Thing (1972)

The second album from this Glaswegian (UK) band.

Their self titled debut album did not set the world alight so they gave it another shot with another self titled album. Confusing ? Oh, yeah. 

String Driven Thing emerged with the growing folk rock scene and is said to have had an immense contribution to the progressive rock scene. This four piece band had a lineup of viola, violin, banjo, bass, guitars, percussions and both male and female vocals. The latter ones from Mr and Mrs Adams. 

Mr Adams, Chris Adams, was the founding member of the band and is still the mainstay of the band. The band is still on and off active as a hobby project. Or old age pensioner project as it is these days. 

There is not much gentle pensioner and free bus passes in this album, though. An album which sparks off as a wild horse with the opening song Circus. A song that both includes a lot of references to pub rock and David Bowie's more arty rock. I think the band has stolen one of David Bowie's riffs on that song. Or is it the other way around ? Fair enough.....

The album settles down into a much more traditional folk rock album after the opening salvo. The band is not as brilliant as Fairport Convention. Nevertheless, this album and the band is really onto something on this good album. An album with the Glaswegian devil-may-care attitude. 

This is a good album I would recommend to everyone. 

3 points 

Sonus Umbra - Winter Soulstice (2013)

The fifth album from this Mexican band.

This is also my first meeting with this band. A band totally unknown to me before I somehow got this album.

The band released their first album back in 1999 and has been ticking over nicely in the Mexican prog rock scene until the release of this album. And we are talking prog rock here, yes. Sort of....

The basis of their music is somewhere between intricate progressive rock and pretty basic rock. Add a dash of jazz too and you get this album. I would also add US college rock into the mix.

The sound is very clean and straight with some acoustic and electric guitars supported by keyboards, bass and drums. That and English vocals. The vocals is soft and sounds naive. There are some accent in the vocals too. I am not a fan of these vocals from Roey Ben-Joseph.

The overall quality is undeniable good. It is not a very exciting album though and it is clocking in at over seventy minutes. Which is not a good thing when forced to listen to it several times. I am feeling indifferent to this album although it is a good album. The band need to come up with a lot of fireworks next time, I am afraid.

3 points

Asterix - Asterix (1970)

The one and only album from this German band. 

Asterix was a rather obscure five piece band with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and English vocals. They gigged for a while before giving up the ghost.

Their music and indeed the band has often been compared with Lucifer's Friend. In other words; an American hard rock/arena rock sound with some krautrock references. This album is indeed included in the 5 CDs Krautrock Original Albums now available for a nice price through Amazon and other places. I got this album from that box. 

The music is decent enough hard rock with a good melodic song at the end, Morning At My Dawn. The rest of the album is decent enough and not really my cup of tea. The sound is at least good and someone may even like this album. I have my reservations.........

2 points

Nucleus - We'll Talk About It Later (1970)

The second album from this British jazz/fusion band.

Nucleus was a band who contributed greatly to my favourite band Soft Machine with members and ideas. On this and their debut album, Karl Jenkins, now Sir Karl Jenkins, and John Marshall still remains together with Ian Carr, Nucleus main man. So we are all set for some fireworks, then.

And that is what we get. The opening track Song For The Bearded Lady is a superb song with some guitars on the top of a great song. Chris Spedding is the guitarist here. 

Ian Carr does a lot of trumpet solos on the rest of the album and I understand why he is so compared to Miles Davis. The same Miles Davis and his groundbreaking and genre defining Bitches Brew album is a good reference here when trying to describe the forty-five minutes of music on We'll Talk About It Later. Karl Jenkins plays organs, oboe and baritone saxophone on this album too and is doing a great job here. Brian Jones also contributes on saxophones while Jeff Clyne on bass and John Marshall on drums keeps it all together. 

I am not sure why the two tracks with vocals are doing at the end of this album. Those two tracks are great though and does not really weaken this album at all. This is a great album and one to really love for everyone into jazz and fusion. Get this album.

4 points 

Friday 19 June 2015

Sneddon. Greg - Mind Stroll (1975)

The one and only album from this ex Men At Work keyboardist. 

Greg Sneddon is from Australia btw and this album was locally released down under before it got some small distribution in the rest of the world too.

Greg Sneddon is the keyboardist, pianist and everything ebony & ivory on this album. He has got help from a guitarist, bassist, drummer and a female vocalist on this album. The female vocalist, Dayle Alison, sounds like Annie Haslam and it took me some time to accept that Annie Haslam did not sing on this album. In short; the vocals here are superb.

Music wise, this half an hour album is a soft and a bit poppy symphonic prog album. Take Yes and Greenslade. Add some Renaissance too and you get this album. 

The sound is good and so is the music too. It is light and flowery. The melodies are good throughout and I would recommend this album to anyone.

3 points 

Bakmak - Out Of The Blue (1976)

The first of in total two albums from this short lived German band.

Bakmak was a five piece jazz band with a lineup of saxophone, guitars, bass, drums, piano, keyboards and synths. 

Bakmak is also a very obscure band who were living in the shadows of the likes of Kraan and Passport. Those are the two bands I would use as references here. 

Out Of The Blue is a forty minutes long album which also reminds me a bit about Miles Davis too. It feels like a fusion album than a jazz album. The saxophones are pretty good here and there are some other good details too.

The problem with this album is that the music is a bit on the generic side and the solos is not that good. Neither is the backing too. 

I would still award it a weak good character based on the first two tracks here which is at times very good. It is a pity that the rest of the album does not follow up the good start.

3 points

Atoll - Illian I Hear the Earth (2014)

The seventh album from this French band.

Atoll debuted in 1974 with a pretty legendary album and followed that album up the year after with another very good album. Then......... well. 

The band is listed as a symphonic prog band in the always trustworthy ProgArchives. Despite of that, Atoll has delivered seven very different albums. Being a fan of them...... well, do this band have any diehard fans ? I doubt it.

This time, the leader of this band Chris Beya takes Atoll into a straight rock landscape. Straight rock with some celtic folk rock inbetween the bland rock'n'roll and pop music. Sometimes, the music is pretty hard too. The instruments are organs, drums, guitars, keyboards, bass and English vocals.

This album has a suite too. Still, the music is pretty bland and commercial. The music is pretty decent though and this album is by no means a turkey. It has some good stuff too. Nevertheless, this is a decent album.

2 points 

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Máquina de Hacer Pájaros. La - Peliculas (1977)

The second and final album from this Argentine band. 

The band has been tagged as a symphonic prog band. Which is right in the sense that this album and band is symphonic prog in the South American vein. 

You will find a lot of flowery, pastoral music here. Music performed by guitars, keyboards, organs, drums, bass, strings, woodwinds, children choirs and Spanish vocals.

There is a lot of instruments here. But the music still reminds me a lot about James Barclay Harvest at times. Other times about Italian progressive rock.

The sound is good and so is the music on this almost forty minutes long album. I really like these minutes a lot and would like to recommend this album to everyone.

3 points  

Sunday 14 June 2015

Corde Oblique - Per Le Strade Ripetute (2013)

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

I really liked their 2011 album A Hail Of Bitter Almonds. Great melodic folk music. The band has continued in the same vein on the follow up album; this album.

This album has numerous musicians. The music is wholly acoustic. Cello, violin, flutes, acoustic guitars and bass is the most used instruments here. That and Ms. Evi Stergiou's excellent vocals. 

Her vocals is pretty strong and dominating throughout this album. An album which starts out nicely with some very melodic folk rock. The music has some of Ianva's harshness at times. But it is still pretty melodic. Mostly due to these vocals.

Unfortunate, there is no real great songs here and the album tails off at the end and goes into a somewhat instrumental acoustic guitars fronted landscape. That aside, this is another good album from this band.

3 points  

Haze - C'est La Vie/The Ember (1984)

The debut album from this British album.

Haze was one of the very first neo-prog bands to appear in the UK and in this genre. Their career was ......... ehh......... sporadic to say at least. They were and still is very much an underground act in an underground genre. It did not help them much that they changed their name to World Turtle on two albums. More about that on the reviews of those two albums. 

The band was a three piece on this album. Keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The usual lineup.

The music is everywhere. From new romantics (Duran Duran & co) to a bit more pop-rock like songs and some epics like songs. 

The vocals are good and some of the music is not bad either. The live tracks here are not impressive. This is not a good debut album and I find very few good things to say about it. It is not a hopeless affair though. The band soon reappeared with their second album.

1.5 points 

Sylvan - Home (2015)

The ninth album from this German band since 1999.

Sylvan is one of the best bands in the very impressive German neo-prog scene. A scene who has seen a lot of great album in the last five years. 

I reviewed their Posthumous Silence album back in 2008 and liked that album. By sheer accident, I have not reviewed any other Sylvan albums. I am not sure if I have got any other Sylvan albums too.

The two opening tracks sets the tone here. Two very majestic pieces of music. More symphonic prog than neo-prog. Then we move more towards neo-prog and prog metal again before the final songs on this seventy-six minutes long album takes us more towards mainstream neo-prog again. 

That means melancholic neo-prog. There is a lot of Radiohead here and a very strong melancholic theme throughout this album. Even some Coldplay. The music is melancholic and beautiful at times. 

Then again, we got some pretty bland prog metal blasts here too. Something I am not happy about. The album is too long too. A bit more restraints and one hour of this would had meant a much better album. Hence my verdict.

3.5 points   

Holy Lamb - Salt Of The Earth (1999)

The second album from this Latvian band. A band who started out as a thrash metal band but then moved onto progressive rock.

Neo-prog to be precise. Somewhat precise, that is, This five piece delivers their music with a lineup of keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and English vocals.

At their most interesting, the band sounds like Marillion, the Fish era. At their most dull, the band sounds like a boring rock'n'roll combo. This forty-five minutes long album has a lot of light and shade. Too much in my view. I am having great difficulties even forming an opinion about this album.

The music is complex and technical. It is not alway particular interesting though. The band wanders from lush landscapes to barren deserts on this album. The end result is a decent to a good album. Nothing more.

2.5 points 

Saturday 13 June 2015

Finnforest - Finnforest (1975)

The debut album and the first of in total three albums from this Finnish band.

Throughout the times of the prog rock era, there has been some crossover albums between fusion aka Mahavishnu Orchestra and symphonic prog albums aka Camel. In particular; instrumental albums. 

Finnforest's debut album, this one, is one of them. This three piece has got a lot out of their bass, drums, guitars and keyboards lineup. A lot in the direction of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Camel. Add some Caravan influences too and you get this album.

The sound is pretty good and the eight pieces on this half an hour long album really throws a punch. The music is not as intense as Mahavishnu Orchestra's first albums. Neither is it as laid-back as Camel's albums. There is a lot of fusion on this album too. There is also some majestic melodies too.

The end product is a very good album which I really like. Check this one out if classic prog is your thing.

3.5 points 

Sintesis - En Busca De Una Nueva Flor (1978)

The debut album from this band from Cuba who so far has released eleven albums. 

Sintesis is a nine piece band on this album. Which normally means a lot of instruments. Well, not in this case. The lineup is harpiscord, Moog, piano, drums, bass, keyboards, guitars and lots of male and female Spanish vocals. 

My guiding light ProgArchives lists this as a folk rock band. Which is right. But not necessary for this album. What we get here is very flowery and pastoral symphonic prog in the good old Italian symph prog vein. 

The songs are not particular long. But the music is so flowery that we are talking about a rose garden here. The sound is also very flowery. The Moog and the harpiscord adds a lot of class to this album too. Fans of Italian prog rock will love this album. The male and female vocals are also great. In particular the female vocals.

There is no real great songs here. Nevertheless, this is a very good album which will appeal to everyone. Get it.

3.5 points 

Soft Machine. The - Tanglewood Tails (2014)

Another 2 CDs box in the name of this British band.

The Soft Machine has got a lot of fans. A lot of new fans too. Fans who buys everything which bears the name "The Soft Machine". I am one of them. I am one of the new fans of this band and I have been that for the last five years. I got a collection of....... of....... well, mostly everything released under this name. That includes some turkeys. Really bad turkeys too. But their best albums is so adorable fantastic that I am content with that.

I am also content with owning this two hours long album too. The musical values of this album is zero. Some very dodgy tracks with a bad sound. It is obvious this is songs the band never intended to be released. They gave it to their dogs for dinner before this record label, Secret Records, got it from the dogs again.

This album is bit laughable and I am glad I did not pay a fortune for it. It was actually pretty cheap. So I am content about having been ripped off.

The worst thing about this album is not the studio floor boards cuttings of some songs. The worst thing is the 5 - 7 minutes long extracts of classics like Moon In June. Terrible is a word which is not strong enough. It is beyond that and the word "joke". There is no value, except from cash, in these extracts. 

In short; this whole thing is one heck of a giggling turkey. But as a Soft Machine fan, you will probably buy this album. Being a fan of a band is a sad thing, really. And now, I want to listen to Third again as I want to forget this whole Tanglewood Tail thing.

1 point    

Source. The - Prickly Pear (2009)

The second album from this US band. It is also their last album..... so far. 

This four piece was once regarded as the great new hope in the US prog scene. Their lineup of keyboards, guitars, piano, drums, bass and vocals created a good progressive sound. 

The music is pretty much in the middle of the prog college rock scene. A lot of inspirations has been taken from the art rock scene. So much that this album is much more art rock than prog rock. There is also a lot of college rock here and some folk rock. The band has also clearly been inspired by the likes of Yes too.

The sound is very American prog like and I find it a bit difficult to really like this sound. I am not the biggest fan of US prog rock. 

The music on this fifty minutes long album is pretty technical with a lot of intricate melody lines and half acoustic songs. The band has taken technical prog to another level on some of the songs here. Songs which is also a long suite. The balance between the rather good vocals and the instrumental bits are good.

The end result is a good album which I hope will not be forgotten and end up in the very obscure albums category. Prickly Pear deserves a lot more than that.

3 points

Friday 12 June 2015

Cast - Landing In A Serious Mind (1994)

The debut album from this Mexican band who are still releasing albums. Eighteen albums so far, to be more precise.

Cast is a five piece band on this album. An album with a keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and English vocals lineup. 

.... And yes, we are talking neo-prog here. Big time, that is. Take Pallas and Pendragon and you get this album. The sound is very much neo-prog and ditto for the music on this seventy minutes long album. 

To finish with the positives first, the melodies here has a great deal of potential. That is good. The negatives is the vocals which is pretty thin and very limited. The sound is not good either and the music a bit too naive. 

That makes this a decent debut album and not their finest album. I know they can do a lot better than this album.

2 points 

Thursday 11 June 2015

Weather Report - Black Market (1976)

The sixth album from this US fusion/jazz band.

Of those bands and musicians originating from the fusion scene, Weather Support is widely regarded as the most dense jazz band. More jazz than rock and more jazz than fusion. 

Lead by the two masterful musicians Wayne Shorter (sax) and Joe Zawinul (keyboards), the band has a musicianship bettered only by few other bands. The involvement of the superb bassis Jaco Pastorius on two tracks here makes the band even better. A band who evolves from album to album. A restless band.

Besides of the great musicianship and the great jazz which is infectious groovy and inspiring, the album opens with two excellent tracks, make that melodies, in the name of the title track and the superb ballad Cannon Ball. Great, great stuff.

The rest of the album is much more dense jazzy. This on an album which ranks among the best fusion/jazz albums I have ever heard. This is close to perfection. Very close to perfection.

5 points

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Silberbart - 4 Times Sound Razing (1971)

Another one album wonder band from Germany and the krautrock scene.

Although krautrock is probably a bit misleading. OK, some of this album is krautrock. This three piece band and their drums, guitars, bass and vocals lineup creates a heck of a noise with most of this album.

This forty-two minutes long album comes thundering at the listener in 200 miles an hour. Yes, it is hard and it is heavy metal. The album takes another turn after ten minutes and evolved into a krautrock album with a lot of psychedelic rock. Still very hard. OK, this is a krautrock album, then.

The album has a bit of a legend status. That is in my view totally without any justice. Most of this album is pretty bad to put it bluntly. Third rate hard rock as most of this is. There are a few glimpses of decent music which saves this album from the turkey yard. 

This is an album well worth avoiding.

1.5 points 

Plastic Violins Of Darkness - Spiral (2014)

The second album from this one man project from Leipzig, Germany.

I have just discovered that this project has also released an album in 2013. So what I thought was a debut album is indeed the follow up album to the 2013 self titled debut album. Both albums can be downloaded from this Bandcamp webpage. 

One man and his instruments can mean a lot in this computer era. In this case, we are talking very slow stoner rock. I would even claim that most of this album is bordering to funeral doom. That goes for all the three tracks on this album. That is fifty-two minutes of syrupy doom. 

There is not much variations here. The mix of guitars and keyboards, make that computers, makes this a very doomy album with a great end of the world sound and atmosphere. There is no light at the end of the tunnel here.

I quite like this album. It is one dimensional, yes. It is still a pretty good album which rekindles my interest in funeral doom and sludge metal again. Check out this album.

2.5 points 

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Astrolabio - L'Isolamento dei Numeri Pari (2014)

This Italian band released their 2005 debut album under the name Elettrosmog and this is therefore their second album. Or so I believe......

I do not have that 2005 album, but it is on my wish-list as I want as many Italian prog rock albums as I can get. I am a collector.....

Yes, this is an Italian progressive rock album. The band is a four-piece with a lineup of flute, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and Italian vocals. The music is pretty contemporary with some long glancing looks back towards the 1970s and those great bands.

There is not much symphonic prog here. The music is much more leaning towards standard songs based neo-prog than symphonic prog. By all means, the songs are good and this is a good purchase. I am not really warming towards this album and I have been listening a lot on this album while trying to find out what to write about it. Not an easy task, believe me. 

This is a good, but still a bit of an uninspiring album which delivers the goods, but not any excitement.

3 points