Thursday 31 December 2015

Kansas - Leftoverture (1976)

The fourth album from this US band.

This six piece band had settled down to the classic lineup of violin, bass, drums, guitars, keyboards and vocals. That and lots of vocal harmonies.

With their mix of US folk music/americana/country and English symphonic prog, the band developed their own, very distinctive sound on the previous three albums. Three very interesting albums.

It band opened up their sound and music in full bloom on this album, though. An album starting with their greatest hit and a soon-to-become-an-US-classic-song Carry On Wayward Son. A great song by all means. Even a brilliant song. OK, I will go for brilliant here. It does not need any more introductions.

But the album is not only about this song. This album has got a lot of other great stuff too. Even the closening nine minutes long Magnun Opus. That is my second favourite here and a fully blown symphonic prog piece.... with country'n'western violins and all that.

In short, this is a great album and one every prog rock fan already got in their collection. If not; get it.

4 points 

Dragon - Scented Gardens for the Blind (1975)

The second album from this New Zealand band.

This band went onto becoming one of the biggest bands ever in their homeland. A homeland on the other side of the world from the main markets for rock and pop. Not to mention; progressive rock.

Dragon was by now a five piece band with saxophone, guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals.

This too was before the emergence of the digital age where music and news flies at the speed of light. Things was a bit slow back in the 1970s as they were when the nature wildlife emerged in New Zealand. You got animals in that part of the world you don't have in UK, Europe or USA. Ditto for the bands and music too.

That explains why a big selling band in 1975 could sound like this band. A sound somewhere between The Beatles, Procol Harum and early Beggars Opera. The music is very much rooted in the 1960s here. And that also goes for the flower power brand of the 1960s.

The music is a bit poppy too. And it is proggy too. Light prog. More like light early proto crossover prog. A lot psychedelia with flowers in the hair. Add some symphonic prog elements too.

The songs are very melodic with some rather funky and harsh organs and guitars. It also have some well developed songs too.

The end result is almost a lost gem here. It is indeed a good album which really deserves a lot of attention, forty years after the release of this album. Forget most Dragon albums. This is the one you need.

3 points  

Monday 28 December 2015

Glass Hammer - The Breaking Of The World (2015)

The sixteenth and so far most recent album from this US band.

The band is back again with the same people and lineup as on the previous album Ode To Echo.

Jon Davison is now a fulltime member of Yes so Carl Groves does all the vocals. He is helped by Susie Bogdanowicz again. Fred Schendel and Steve Babb is still at the helm of this band.

The music follows in the same vein as Ode To Echo. Elegance over bombastic keyboard and guitars cascades. Which works very well on the two opening tracks Mythopoeia and Third Floor. They are the best two tracks here.

The music is both elegant and complex. Steve Unruh's violins adds a lot of folk music to the proceedings and another dimension. There is some Americana on this album, indeed.

Steve Babb and Fred Schendel knows which buttons to press to get everything out of each song. Which is very much needed here because the songs are not particular good. So a lot of details and artistery has been added by the various musicians. They have succeeded.

The end result is a good Glass Hammer album. It is by no means their best album. But it is so full of intricate details and melodies that it will keep our attention until the next Glass Hammer album. An album I am again looking forward to.

3 points

Sunday 27 December 2015

Rockaphonica - Fuera de Tiempo (2005)

The one and only album from this Argentine band.

This band is lead and fronted by the flautist Ricardo Luna. He has got help from five other musicians. The lineup is flutes, tin whistle, bass, drums, keyboards and guitars.

 The whole fifty minutes long album is instrumental. It is also an album where the flutes is pretty dominant too. There are some long guitars solos too.

In short; this is instrumental symphonic prog. Camel is a big, big, big influence here. So is most of the other classic instrumental symphonic bands too. Genesis can be detected too here. Not to mention Jethro Tull too.

Most of all; the music is Ricardo Luna's visions and it is rooted in the symphonic prog rock tradition in Argentina.

That means a lot of folky music too. That is what you get with flutes. And that is what you get here. Even some tango and flamenco rhythms is pressed into action on this album.

The penny drops when this album ends with their covers of Rhayadar and Rhayadar Goes To Town. Both of them are Camel classics.   

I am by no means a fan of instrumental symphonic prog. But this is a good album by all means. This is one album I really like a lot. There is no great original stuff here (I don't include the Camel covers here). But this is still very much an enjoyable album who needs some more attention. Check it out.

3 points

Saturday 26 December 2015

Resistor - To The Stars (2014)

The fourth album from this US band.

Resistor is the rock band from Steve Unruh, a pretty prolific solo artist and contributor to other bands. All of them far out avant-garde bands..... I believe. Correct me if I am wrong.

Steve Unruh gets help from three other musicians here. Together, they are this proper band. Their lineup is violins, flutes, guitars, bass, vocals and drums. Yes, no keyboards.

No keyboards means the band is really rocking out here. The music is reasonably heavy and pretty much contemporary guitars driven rock. Though with added violins and flutes now and then.

Sometimes the music is touching Iron Maiden territory and sometimes the music is also touching power metal territory. Helloween springs to mind here. But the baseline and the vast majority of this album is just heavy and melodic guitar driven rock. Steve Unruh's vocals are really good.

The title track is the best track here and a good track. The rest of the album is not that really good. This is a decent to good album which really does not rock my boat.

2.5 points

Wallenstein - Stories, Songs & Symphonies (1975)

The fourth album from this German band.

The band was wandering through a wide variety of musical landscapes on their first four albums. But branding themselves a symphony orchestra on this album is a bit rich. They are not a symphony orchestra on this album.

They were a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, violins, percussions, drums and English vocals on this album. An album clocking in at almost forty minutes.

The band had gone on a visit to the English apple orchards this time and come home with a sound which a great deal reminds me about Barclay James Harvest, The Moody Blues and The Electric Light Orchestra. Add some Van Der Graaf Generator too and you get this album.

The music is dark with a lot of keyboards and church organs involved. That and some chiming distorted guitars. The mood is almost gloomy at times. It is a gloomy album inbetween these apple trees.

The music is also very folky too and this adds to the warm sound here. Gloomy, but still warm.

The songs are very good throughout. There is no really outstanding tracks here and no signature melodies. But I really like this album a lot. Hence my verdict.

3.5 points

Circuline - Return (2015)

The debut album from this US band.

Circuline is a totally new band to me. The had help from a Sound Of Contact band member here and were previously the prog tribute act Downing Grey. The band has also toured as a support act for Glass Hammer. In their promo blurb, they compare themselves to 3rdDegree, Dream The Electric Sheep and Elephants Of Scotland.

Modern symph/crossover prog in other words. The band members are not exactly teenagers either. Call them well matured and rich in life experience.  This band is very likely a hobby, a very serious hobby, for the band members. Which is the right way to go about things. I could not agree more with their life choices.

Circuline is also a eight piece band with a lineup of electric violins, guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and male and female lead vocals. There is a lot of vocals harmonies throughout this album.

It is very obvious that this is an US band. Their take on symphonic/crossover prog is very modern and based on good melodies and sounds. Their music is indeed very elegant. The references to Glass Hammer is indeed pretty loud and clear. 

The band is not breaking any new ground here. This is not the invention of the wheel. Their music is full of moods and is sometimes slightly harsh with chugging guitars. The vocals is very good throughout and I like the harmonies a lot.

This too me sounds like an album from eight people who has been around for decades and have decided to have some fun halfway through their lives. And the result is a mature, very elegant very good album. There is no great songs here. But this is still a very good album. I think this band deserve a lot of credit and attention for this album. They are a credit to the US scene.

3.5 points

Friday 25 December 2015

Wapassou - Salammbô (1977)

The third album from this French band.

The band had released a couple of very good albums before they started this venture, this album, as a trio. A trio with a lineup of keyboards, guitars and violins.  That in addition to some vocals.

This is very much a stripped down version of this band. A band in the RIO/avant-garde genre. And very much so. The band did not use any drums or any bass on their first three-four albums. The keyboards doubled up as rhythm instruments.

Their last album was a Latin mass like album. The band is continuing this theme on this album too. A thirty-seven minutes long album divided on two similar lenght pieces of music.

This is very much avant-garde music. Music which is pretty slow and dirge like. Almost like a funeral dirge at times. The instruments complements each other and the tempo is at best/fastest middle-tempo. Mostly, this is slow tempo music.

There is not much life or light on this album. A couple of organ sounding keyboards solos is the sole sign of life here. This album is not terrible interesting. Or not to mention; good. It is a rather decent album and one it does not take long before it is becoming tiring. Hence my rating of this album.

2 points

Rocket Scientists - Refuel (2014)

The fifth album from this US band.

Rocket Scientists was Erik Norlander's first band. Their debut album was released back in 1993. The band has then sporadic released studio and live albums.

This band excists between the symph prog ideas of Erik Norlander and the more pop songs ideas of Mark McCrite. Don Schiff on bass completes this band. This album also has a lot of guest musicians and a wide variety of instruments. Strings, drums, woodwinds, guitars, bass and keyboards.

The Rocket Scientists albums tends to wildly vary between symph prog and more pop orientated material. It is obvious that Mark has come up with most stuff on this album as the album is very much leaning towards songs orientated neo-prog, AOR and pop music.

There is some symphonic prog here too. Some of the music is very complex indeed. But the majority of this one hour long album is very much songs based and very poppy. The songs got catchy verses, hooks and choruses.

The musicians does a great job indeed. Ditto for the many vocalists. But this album is too songs orientated for my liking. Nevertheless, this is a good album which will greatly appeal to most people.

3 points


Index - Index (1999)

The debut album from this Brazilian band.

Index is a quartet with a lineup of guitars, organs, keyboards, bass and drums.

Index was formed by an ex Quaterna Requiem member. Which may explain why this album starts with a track called that....

I got a live DVD from them called Index Ao Vivo some years ago and reviewed it for ProgArchives. The review can be found here.  The video, a gig live in studio, was the band, cameras and the audience. Very easy and cheap to make. But it also reflected very well on the band too. It is a good DVD.

Index offers up no-nonsense instrumental symphonic prog rock in the area between Camel and ELP. It is not particular bombastic. Neither is it particular folky either. It is a mix of those two bands.

The music is driven by the organs and the keyboards. The guitars chimes in now and then. But this is mostly about organs and keyboards.

The music is not the most exciting in the world and lacks a lot of identity and flashes of inspirations. This is a workman like fifty minutes long album. I cannot fault this album. Neither can I claim that this is a good album either. Hence my rating of this album.

2.5 points    

Wishes everyone a happy Christmas and a Happy New Year

I wish every reader a happy Christmas celebration and a Happy New Year.

I can assure you that this blog will go on and on. There is a lot of albums, 2000 as I write this, to review and I am motivated and very eager to go through them all.

It is the hope that I will find a hidden gem among these albums. Listening to new albums and getting new impulses is the driving force behind this blog. Curiosity is the name of the game here.

So without further ado, more reviews will be added until the end of 2015, 2016 and beyond......

Torodd Fuglesteg

Thursday 24 December 2015

Jethro Tull - Roots To Branches (1995)

The twentieth album from these British legends.

I had given up on this band by now after some really dodgy albums. Albums where they sounded like a second rate Dire Straits copycat.

The band did not give up and returned with the same five piece band for a new attempt. The lineup is guitars, flutes, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals. Ian Andersson's vocals, that is.

The band was influenced by Eastern Asia music on this album. They had also gone back to their roots as a folk prog rock band too. That combination created this album.

Ian Andersson's vocals are very good again. His flutes is very good too. The art of song writing, an art I feared they had forgotten, makes an appearance again on this album.

This one hour long album starts with the very good title track. It is followed by some other good songs and melodies. The band also shows a lot of good musicianship on the following songs. This is not necessary easy listening songs as the music is rather complex at times. Stuck In The August Rain is another very good song from this album and indeed, this band. A song which can be added to their better songs collection.

This is by no means a great Jethro Tull album. But it is a rather cosy and good album nevertheless. It comes as a nice surprise and one surprise I very much liked. Check out this album.

3 points  

Anima Dominum - Tempus Stetisse (1992)

The debut album from this Brazilian band who went on to release two more albums.

I reviewed their second album Singularities here for ProgArchives back in 2011. I quite liked that album. So I got their two other albums too.

Anima Dominium was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of bass, drums, keyboards, guitars and vocals. Both male and female vocals. But mostly male vocals. The vocals are in English with one exception. That exception is vocals in Latin. A much underused language in this genre.

The genre is some sort of progressive rock. Symphonic prog, in fact. This although a couple of the songs are in the pop/rock mode. The four other songs on this forty-five minutes long album is a mix of Pink Floyd and Genesis.

Most of the songs are instrumentals. There are proper vocals on two of the songs. The instrumentals and the sound is very much guitars dominated too. The keyboards is more a backup instrument here.

The quality is decent to good throughout. It is actually has a good sound too. Most of this album sits well with me. This is a more than acceptable debut album from the dark age of the history of prog rock where nobody was listening to progressive rock. Check out this album.

2.5 points

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Delirium - L'Era Della Menzogna (2015)

The fifth album from this Italian band.

The band released their debut album in 1971 and took a 35 years long break between their third and fourth album. The band is now active again, doing gigs and festivals.

Delirium is a six piece band on this album with a lineup of saxophone, flutes, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and Italian vocals. Two of the members also plays in Narrow Pass and Maschera Di Cera. 

Delirium is a bit difficult to pinpoint at times. Their music is most definate Italian symphonic prog rock with a lot of Van Der Graaf Generator and jazz influences.

The sound on this album is very contemporary and the band is not stucked in the 1970s. They are very much living in 2015 and this time and age. The music is both epic and intricate.

This album is fifty minutes long and has some good Italian symphonic prog pieces. There is also a lenghty jazz piece here. The vocals is very good. My only gripe is the lack of any really great tracks.

Nevertheless, this is a good album from this band which is not mentioned among the greats from this scene, but still is a band which demands a lot of respect. Respect given by myself.

3 points 

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Teru's Symphonia - The Gate (1999)

The so far final album from this Japanese band.

The band was again a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and female Japanese vocals.

This band, one of the best one ever to come out of Japan, released seven albums before they gave up the ghost. All of the albums before prog rock again became fashionable. I wonder what today's US and European scene would have made of this album.... It would probably have sold a lot more copies than it did back in those hard days.

This album is bombastic and pretty hard. The band had moved towards neo-prog now. This is indeed a symphonic neo-prog album. There is also some vaudeville and some theatrical stuff here.

The vocals are very good and one of the best parts of this album. The music sounds a bit generic. It also sounds a bit too gothic for my liking. Nevertheless, this fifty minutes long album has a lot of good songs. All the ten songs are good here.

This is a good album which I would recommend as it is one of the better Japanese albums out there.

3 points  

Sunday 20 December 2015

Asturias - Missing Piece Of My Life (2015)

The tenth album from this Japanese band.

I have reviewed a couple of their albums and I have never really liked their music. So they are back again for another attempt to gain my approval.

Mr. Ohyama, who runs this band, has gathered around ten other Japanese musicians for this album. The lineup is synths, guitars, strings, bass, percussion, voices and clarinet.

In short; this is pretty much a classical music orientated piece. Fifty minutes worth of it, no less. This album is divided into two long suites. Both of them pretty heavy orchestrated. They are also pretty laidback.

Mike Oldfield is a very good reference here. The music works here are very much in his street. The music is not rock and it is not classical music either. It is a bit lost somewhere between those two genres.

The success of music like this depends on if there is any great pieces of music or not. This album does not have any great music. Not even good music. So it falls a bit flat on it's face.

This is a decent album which is not a disaster. But it is not really my cup of tea. Hence my rating.

2 points

Dragon - Universal Radio (1974)

The debut album from this New Zealand band.

Dragon was a five piece band with a lineup of drums, moog, keyboards, organs, bass, guitars and vocals. They released fifteen albums between 1974 and 1995.

With the exception of their first two albums, their albums was in the pop genre and they were a very big band in their homeland. They still do sold out arena gigs, I have heard. A very big local band with no success outside "down under". I have never heard about this band before I got their first two albums.

Both of they came highly recommended to me and I got these two albums. I can understand why.

This almost fifty minutes long album takes the listener back to the early prog rock scene in England. Take a lot of beat and psychedelic rock. Then add some symphonic prog to the mix and you get this sound. Cressida and other lesser known bands springs to mind. So does Procol Harum and Pink Floyd too.

The music is pretty naive and innocent. The title track is a good example. The band moves towards psychedelic symphonic prog towards the end and there is some very interesting stuff here.

The whole album is both interesting and good. There is no doubts that this album is almost like a hidden gem. Well, it is a hidden gem. It does not really have any great tracks. Nevertheless, this is a good album from a band I think deserves a lot more respect and credit.

3 points

Continuum - Continuum (1970)

The debut album from this Czech/Dutch band.

This quartet was formed when the Czech classic guitarist Yoel Scwarcz emigrated to Holland and linked up with another classic guitarist, drummer and a bassist. Yoel also plays flute, harmonica and recorder here.

I like jazz and fusion a lot. So I purchased their two albums when I got them offered to me by another reviewer and music fan. This on the basis that this band is listed as a jazz/fusion band in ProgArchives.

This album is not exactly what I thought it would be. Maybe I should had read the lineup before purchasing this album.

This album is instrumental and acoustic. It starts off as a mix of classic music and folk music. It only sporadic dips into jazz. Mostly because of the jazzy double bass. There are also a foray into more avant-garde music. But that is a brief foray. Most of this album is about the two classic guitars.

This album is forty minutes long and it is not a great album. It is a rather poor album. The double bass and the decent brief foray into avant-garde saves it from being a turkey. But it is a close call. Avoid this album.
1.5 points

Saturday 19 December 2015

Dificil Equilibrio - Trayecto (2000)

The third album from this Spanish band.

This album is my first ever meeting with this band and their music. I got two of their albums in a box with Spanish bands I purchased long time ago.

This band is a trio with a lineup of bass, drums and guitars. A power trio and a bit of a limited lineup although Rush made it work out superbly.

It is obvious that the band is big King Crimson fans. There is a lot of Crimson influences here. Add some Van Der Graaf Generator and some Rush to the mix too and you get this forty minutes long album.

The music is wholly instrumental and the music is pretty limited in scope. It is pretty heavy too and is a bit intricate. There are some interesting pieces of music here. Most of this album is pretty dull though. Very dull, in fact.

Many other trios has done this type of music better than this band. A plus for their take on King Crimson. That is really all on this decent album which does not really move my world.

2 points

Glass Hammer - Ode To Echo (2014)

The fifteenth album from this US band.

The band has released one album a year now for the last years. As professional musicians, that is perhaps the only way to stay afloat in these wolverine times.

Jon Davison was now in Yes and is here doing some lead and backing vocals. The new Glass Hammer vocalist is Carl Groves. Susie Bogdanowicz from the Three Cheers For The Broken Hearted album is also back again on lead vocals and backing vocals. This album has got no less than three lead vocalists in other words.

Fred Schendel and Steve Babbs is still the mainstay and indeed the real Glass Hammer on this album. They are also helped by other musicians here.

The news, and it is big news, is that the Yes copycat sound has gone. The sound they had on the two previous albums. This album is also much more softly spoken than any other Glass Hammer albums. The bombastic symphonic prog rock sound has gone.

The music is almost pop-rock at times. It is very softly spoken and not particular big. It is an album which takes a lot of time to understand.

And even then, the listener will soon raise a "missing in action" request for any good songs. There is none here. The good stuff only shows up sporadic on this fifty-five minutes long album. Most of htis album is dull to say at least. There is not much direction here either and it is hard to understand that this is a Glass Hammer album. It does not feel like a Glass Hammer album at all.

This is not an album I will fondly remember. Glass Hammer has sold themselves short on this album and it is a bit of a mistake. I rate it between decent and good.

2.5 points

Friday 18 December 2015

Wallenstein - Cosmic Century (1973)

The third album from this German band.

The band was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of vibraphon, Mellotron, keyboards, bass, drums, electric guitars, violin and English vocals.

Wallenstein was an interesting band on their first four albums as they were on a zig-zag journey between space rock, psychedelic rock, symphonic prog and krautrock. This combined with a lot of melodic prog too.

This journey is something they undertakes on this album too. There are strong symphonic prog, melodic prog and psychedelic rock influences on this album. It is in those genres you will find this album. As a crossover of those genres, no less.

This forty-two minutes long album has got some very good melodies and some very good details too. This album is divided into six songs where two of them are ten minutes long and two others are over seven minutes long. A short two minutes interlude and a six minutes long song completes this album.

Not everything is rosy red here. But the vast majority of this album is very good. I really like their crossover between genres and their use of melodies combined with Mellotrons.

This is a very good album and one to check out.

3.5 points

Ayers. Kevin - Whatevershebringswesing (1972)

The third album from this eccentric English legend.

Kevin Ayers started out in Soft Machine and played on their first album. Then he went his own way on a quite successful solo career.

He was helped by a lot of great names from the scene when doing this album. Robert Wyatt, Mike Oldfield, David Bedford, Didier Malherbe and other great names from the scene.

Kevin Ayers vocals is the bearing element on this album. An album which neatly fits into the weird psychedelic pop/rock genre. Most of the songs are clearly very folk rock influenced and with a strong west coast of US flavour. Still with a very strong psychedelic vibe.

Kevin Ayers vocals are pretty weird. The lyrics are very weird. There are a strong vaudeville and circus vibe over the whole thirty odd minutes long album. There are also some more or less hidden avant-garde elements throughout this album.

In the middle of all this, the songs are good throughout. The songs are short and strange at the same time. But still, good.

The mood and eccentricity of this album is clearly very English. British humour is a strong element of this album. And you need to understand this humour to understand this album.

This is a good album in it's weird eccentricity. And I can understand why Kevin Ayers was held in such high esteem. Check out this album to get Kevin Ayers and his world.

3 points 

Thursday 17 December 2015

Relayer - Last Man on Earth (1999)

The third album from this US band who released four albums between 1994 and 2008.

Relayer was a four piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Male vocals.

The band is listed as Symphonic Prog in ProgArchives. Hence my interest in this band. I am still very much a fan of symphonic prog.

This is not what we get here, though.

Take some Rush and add traditional rock. Add some pop and you get this album. Add some college rock too and you are straight onto this album.

I call this music generic as this band is not adding anything to the scene with this album. Just nice rock with some hints of progressive rock. All this on a sixty-four minutes long album. We even get a ballad here.

This formula of nice rock is well used and well used up. This album is decent enough and this is a good band. But this album does not rock my boat.

2 points

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Recordando o Vale das Maçãs - As Crianças Da Nova Floresta (1977)

The one and only album from this band from Brazil.

This very long band names means The Valley Of The Apples in English. Strangely enough, no English band picked up that name for themselves. A lost opportunity, me thinks.

The band with this long name was a four piece band with a lineup of violins, keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and Portuguese vocals. One guest musician adds flutes too. There is a lot of flutes on this album.

As you may detect on the album artwork, this is indeed an album full of lush music. Take Camel and add a lot of Brazilian folk music to the proceedings. This album is bang in the middle of the South American symphonic prog sound and tradition.

A lot of keyboards with added violins, flutes, acoustic guitars and vocals is what we get here. The music is pretty pastoral throughout these forty minutes.  There are a few outbreaks of more agressive, bombastic symphonic prog. But most of the music is pastoral and softly spoken.

Both the male and female vocals are really good here. The same goes for the sound. The songs could had been a lot better. But they works. This band is perhaps not the best band from this scene. Nevertheless, check out this album.

3 points

Monday 14 December 2015

Rare Bird - As Your Mind Flies By (1970)

The second album from this British band.

Their self titled debut album was a good wake up call for me as it made me discover this band. One of the more unknown British bands. Unknown but not bad.

The band was a quartet again with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals. Graham Field of Fields was still with this band.

This is an half an hour short album. But it really throws a punch. Take some Barclay James Harvest, add a lot of ELP and some blues. Then you get this album.

The band is playing around the tones and melodies a lot on this album. They are even visiting ELP compositions a couple of times.

The Hammond organs takes no prisoners at all while the guitars too is making a lot of great noise. The bass and drums is thundering around in the background.

This album is dominated by the twenty minutes long Flight suite. A very good suite where the band is visiting a lot of different scenery. Just like a bird would do. Well, at least a big bird like for example an eagle.

There are some shorter songs here too which is good to very good.

The end result is a very good album which offers up a lot to everyone into progressive rock. Rare Bird is most certainly a band which deserves a lot more attention from the prog rock community.

3.5 points 

MIA - Magicos Juegos Del Tiempo (1977)

The second album from this Argentine band.

This short lived band released three albums before they quit the scene. They were a short lived, but still a highly influential band in Argentina and South America. They were also one of the best prog rock bands from this continent.

MIA was a quartet with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, piano, mellotron, bass, drums, flutes and vocals. Spanish vocals.

It is fair to say that the band released a highly complex and eclectic album with the release of this album. The music goes from pastoral acoustic pieces to raw guitars driven fusion. Raw jazz guitar solos, indeed.

Inbetween these two extremes, you get a lot of ELP like symph prog and Genesis like symph prog. Add some King Crimson and Gentle Giant like pieces too. On the top of that, there is also a lot of Argentine folk rock.

This is in short a forty minutes long album that demands a lot from the listener. This is by no means easy listening.

The result is a good album with some really good pieces. There are also plenty of not so good pieces here. But the overall quality is good and I can recommend this album. Just beware that this album demands a lot from the listener. It is indeed an eclectic experience.

3 points 

Kansas - Masque (1975)

The third album from this US band.

Kansas is legends in their true right after five-six genre defining albums. They were also one of the biggest bands of the 1970s. I got some of their albums and I have reviewed Kansas albums quite sporadic over several years.

The band was a six piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, violins, drums, keyboards, Moog and vocals.

Kansas had one leg in the US traditional rock, AOR and country. Their other leg was firmly planted in the English prog rock tradition around Genesis, Gentle Giant, Yes and King Crimson. I would also add Van Der Graaf Generator here.

This duality makes Kansas one heck of a band. Their sound is very lush. This is also due to the very lush vocals.

This is said to be the most pop orientated albums from their classic period. It is indeed a songs orientated album. Robbie Steinhardt's violin is everywhere though and it gives the sound an edge few other band ever had. This is true for this album too. The guitars too gives the album an edge.

The result is a good to a very good album. It is by no means a great album. But I like this forty minutes long album a lot. Nevertheless; this is a good album.

3 points 

Sunday 13 December 2015

Red Noise - Sarcelles Locheres (1970)

The one and only album from this French band.

This band was a part of an anarcistic commune in France. Most of those listening to this album would claim that this commune was pretty narcotic too. Listening to this album myself, it is an pretty good educated guess.......

This band was a six piece band and the lineup was guitars, saxophone, bass, drums, hammond organ, flutes and some pretty silly vocals in English. Toilet humour is silly and the first song of this album is silly.

The first minutes is toilet humour and naive pop. Then a bit of a mental hospital like French voices arrive before a hard bopping saxophone and guitar takes over. The hammond organ and flute also joins this madness. Madness which at times steps over to krautrock. Nevertheless, this is proper avant-garde music.

The result is an avant-garde album where the toilet humour is pretty bad and the instrumental pieces is pretty good.

This is an obscure album, both as the 1996 CD and the 1970 LP. And it is not an album worth looking for. It is a decent album which sold almost nothing. Listening to it, I can understand why......... This is only for the avant-garde fan.

2 points

Ciccada - The Finest Of Miracles (2015)

The second album from this Greek band.

Their 2010 debut album A Child In The Mirror caused a minor sensation in the prog rock scene. Well, it caused a major sensation. I was one of the few ones who did not fall over in praise for that album. So the band is back again for another attempt.....

The band is a five piece band with numerous guest musicians. That also goes for numerous instruments. Most of them are acoustic. This album is mainly an acoustic album with an electric core of electric guitars, bass, synths and keyboards. Add numerous woodwinds and strings to this electricity too and you get the drift.

And you also need to add the female vocalist Evangelina Kozoni and her vocals. Some great vocals. Some great English vocals.

The music is a mix of classical music, folk music, symphonic progressive rock, pop and jazz. Evangelina's vocals floats on the top of a very lush, colourful landscape. The music sounds very mature and elegant. The many acoustic instruments adds a lot of flavour to this forty-five minutes long album.

My only gripe with this album is really the lack of any great songs. There is none. But the music sounds very clever and mature. Ciccada is most definate one band to be reckoned with and one of the better bands in the progressive rock scene. Get this very good album.

3.5 points   

Rainbow Danger Club - Souvenirs (2013)

The second full lenght album from this Chinese band.

I was not particular impressed by their 2011 debut album Where Maps Ends. Too bland for my liking.

So the band has returned again as a five piece band and a lineup of all possible instruments. A mix of acoustic and electric instruments.

Again, the band is going total Western music with a blend of post rock, jazz, rock and pop. Even the band members has got English names although they are from China.

This album is seventy minutes long and most of it sounds like a long, colourless post rock dirge. There are some jazz inbetween and some pretty good melodies too. But this album is at least half an hour too long. The music is mostly on a pointless tour of the Gobi Desert, figurative speaking.

There are some good things here. A couple of minutes here and there. But the overall quality is decent. It surely kills insomnia as this album is pretty dull. There are even some 1980s cheap synth pop here. That is when I am hitting the Off button.

In short; don't bother.

2 points 

Saturday 12 December 2015

Delusion Squared - The Final Delusion (2014)

The third album from this French trio.

This trio, which includes a female vocalist, has been making hay with their previous two albums. Two very good albums indeed.

This trio consists of Lorraine Young on vocals, Steve Francis on guitars and Emmanuel De Saint Meen on keyboards. And they makes a lot of noise as a trio. Even without an official bassist and drummer. But the music also includes a rhythm section.

The band has made a seventy-two minutes long concept album here. The music is a mix of hard and soft edge music. Between more prog metal orientated music and a lot of pastoral folky music.

Lorraine sings her English with a lot of French accent. Which is fair enough. She sounds like Dido at times as her vocals is not particular fully bodied soprano. The vocals are very good, but not operatic. But they works very well here.

This is a very looooong album and there is a lot of things happening here. Unfortunate, nothing of this is great. The music is female fronted progressive rock and that is all. References are the British bands. That is; you will not find any keltic elements in Delusion Squared.

This is a good album and that is it. It is not their best album, I am afraid. But I am hoping for a new great album from them.

3 points

Teru's Symphonia - Do Androids Dream of Electric Camel (1997)

The sixth album from this Japanese band.

I have just purchased their final three albums as I find Japanese symphonic prog pretty exciting. Their 1993 album Clockworked Earth was a good album. You will find the review somewhere else here.

The band was again a five piece band with a lineup of keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and female vocals.

There is no denying that Ms. Megumi Tokuhisa's vocals is a stumbling block for anyone listening to this and other Teru's Symphonia albums. It is a Japanese thing and I respect Japan and it's language. I actually love Japan. When that is said, the vocals here are great and Ms. Megumi Tokuhisa comes out of this album with flying colours. Most of her vocals are in Kate Bush territory with same technics and feelings.

The music is Japanese symphonic prog with a lot of keyboards and guitars. I state symphonic prog. But you can also add some neo-prog here. And you can also add the sound and music Kate Bush had on her first three albums.

The music is at times pretty heavy. It is also soaring and majestic with some hints of classical music. It is still symphonic prog, the Japanese way.

The end result is a good album without any really great stuff. But I really like this album and would recommend anyone into prog rock to check it out.

3 points

Jethro Tull - Catfish Rising (1991)

The nineteenth album from this English band.

Ian Anderson, Martin Barre and Dave Pegg was still in the band. They got Doane Perry too in the band. The lineup was harmonica, flutes, bass, guitars, keyboards, drums and vocals.

They also got some guest musicians here. Mostly on keyboards which is not Ian Anderson's favourite instrument.

The band is following in the same path again as they staked out on the previous two albums. Americana like folk rock with some Mark Knofler influences. The opening track This Is Not Love is a hard rock, even a heavy metal like song. Heavy guitars and a lot of heavy metal stuff.

Thankfully, this is not a heavy metal album. The sound is the 1980s sound and it is a pretty horrible sound.

Ian Anderson had run out of good ideas by now and the band is just floating on old albums. This one is a decent one hour long album. There is no good songs here. But there is no really turkeys here either. Hence my rating.

2 points 

Friday 11 December 2015

Revelation - Addicted (1995)

The one and only album from this English band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, flutes and male vocals.

And no, this is not the doom metal band with the same name although the logo indicates that. Maybe the end of this band came when the doom metal band claimed exlusive use of that logo and name.

This Revelation is a neo-prog band in the vein of Marillion. Neo-prog with some elements of jazz and straight rock. Add some elements of theatrical vaudeville music too and you get this album.

This album is fifty minutes long and there is not much interesting here. The songs are OK and decent enough. The jazz elements not that interesting and this band did not have much going for them on this album. Maybe it was not such a bad idea to end this band........

2 points 

Thursday 10 December 2015

RanestRane - Shining (2011)

The second album from this Italian band.

RanestRane has been touring a lot lately and have also released two more studio albums + a live album. It is my understanding that they are a multi-media band with a picture show in addition to their music too. If they ever come to Glasgow, I will be there.

The band was a quartet on this album with the lineup of keyboards, guitars, bass, Moog, drums and vocals.

This album, which clocks in at just short of two hours, is loosely based on Stanley Kubrick's monumental piece The Shining. A movie which is one of the true classics in the world of movies.

And we find this band and this album in the middle of the movies. Their music is very cinematic with a lot of movie sound samples. This in addition to their normal fare which is Italian symphonic prog. Not in a classic sense, but still Italian symphonic prog. Add a lot of Pink Floyd too and you have this band.

Two hours is one heck of a mouthful of music. Then again; you get full value for your money here. This as you did if you got their debut album.

The music is not great. It is still a very interesting and a good album. It is most certainly well worth a purchase. Get it.

3 points 

Glass Hammer - Perilous (2012)

The fourteenth album from this US band.

The band has gathered again in a recording studio to launch a new assault of symphonic prog. The band released new albums every 15 months now.

The band was a four piece band with the now Yes vocalist as their vocalist. His name is Jon Davison and he is getting help from Kamran Alan Skihoh on all guitars. The two other members are the real Glass Hammer; mr Steve Babb and Fred Schendel on bass and keyboards.

These are again helped out by a string orchestra, a choir, a drummer and various other vocalists. That also includes a female vocalist.

The sound is pretty big. The comparison to Yes is very evident as Jon sings like Jon Anderson. But Glass Hammer is Americans and their sound is this bigger than life American symphonic prog sound. Add some AOR too and you get it.

The songs on this one hour long album are all good. There are a lot of very good details here too. This is a solid, but not particular exciting Glass Hammer album. It is not one of their best albums. But it is still a good album.

3 points

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Winter Tree. The - The Earth Below (2015)

The eight album from this US band.

The band also released albums under the Magus name. A name they are indeed listed as in ProgArchives.

The Winter Tree is in essence Andrew Laitres with hired hands. In this case; Mattias Olsson from Anglagard and Jacob Holm from White Willow. Those two vikings and a couple of other musicians too. The lineup is keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals.

The band has a long journey as a neo-prog. But they have shed most of that tag on this album and gone for straight progressive rock instead. Melody focused progressive rock.

That means music somewhere between The Beatles, Supertramp, Genesis and others more melody focused progressive rock acts.

The opening song Plank has a very nice The Beatles theme and is a great song. The rest is not up to that standard. But this forty minutes long album sounds focused and is overall a good album. There is not revolutions or even some technical difficult stuff here. But the melodies are good to very good. Hence my rating.

3 points

Red Orchid - Blood Vessels & Marshmallows (2011)

The second album from this US band.

I was far from impressed by their 2009 debut album Sky Is Falling. An album I won in a Progarchives lottery. The band was a quartet back then.

Red Orchid is now reduced down to a duo. Tom Dupree on drums and Sanmeet Sidhu on guitars, synths, piano, bass and vocals.

The sound has also largely changed a lot. A duo lineup has it's limitations. So they have become a lot smarter this time around.

Take a lot of post rock and add some grunge and Eastern Asian sounds to the mix. Then you largely get this one hour long album.

There is a lot of very good moods and ambience on this album. The instruments are painting sound walls here too. Pretty big sound walls too. Mostly with guitars and synths. The mood is a mix of melancholic and cautious optimism. This is not a particular dark album.

Not everything here is great or even good. But I really like this album as it has good moods and melodies. The band has improved a lot and this is an album well worth checking out.

3 points  

Monday 7 December 2015

Wapassou - Messe en Ré Mineur (1976)

The second album from this French band.

Wapassou was a French avant-garde/RIO band with moderate success. They are not regarded as the best in the scene. And that by some distance. But I don't really care what other says. They are getting a fair chance in my blogg.

Wapassou was a four piece on this album with a lineup of violin, guitars, vocals and keyboards. Yes, that is no bass and no drums. The keyboards is keeping what goes for rhythms on this album. That is not much. The vocals is used as an instrument and not as conveying words and a message.

It is my understanding from the title that this forty minutes long track album is a mass. And it sounds like it, indeed. It has a large degree of choral feelings. It also got a cathedral like feeling. It also has a religious, Christian, feeling.

The violin, harmonic and disharmonic, is together with the other three instruments, creating one heck of a mass. An almost disturbing mass. It is surprisingly melodic too although this is clearly avant-garde music.

The end product is a very good album and one of the better I have heard in this field. This album is one you most definate have to check out. I really like what I hear as it also gives me a piece of mind.

3.5 points

Sunday 6 December 2015

Gizmo - Marlowe's Children # 1 (2015)

The fifth album or so from this English band.

This band has been around since the mid 1970s on a hobby basis. I have reviewed a couple of their albums. Hence, I got this album sent to me. It has taken me long time to get my head around it.

I thought Gizmo was history after the tragic passing of their guitarist Martin Reed. But thankfully, I was wrong.

Gizmo is a bit all over the place in their history. I don't really understand why they are not listed in ProgArchives as they are a proper prog rock band in my view. An eccentric English prog rock band, that is. Weird, in other words. Proper weird.

The band sounded like a blend of Bowie, Zappa, Caravan and 'Generator on their self titled 2012 album. On Marlowe's Children, they have still retained those above to a larger and/or smaller degree. This though is a concept album. A forty minutes long concept album with a lot of weird stuff. Some of the weird stuff reminds me a lot about Madness and that off kilter ska scene. Nevertheless; the first band that pops into my head when listening to this album is Gong.

Yes, Daevid Allen would have been pleased with this album. There are a lot of Gong'esque over the very nice and uncomplicated pop tunes on this album. Pop tunes, but still weird as proper eccentricity.

The songs here are very good and so is the weirdo stuff too. The vocals is also very, very good. Almost Beatles like at times. And funny enough, The Beatles is also another very good reference for this album.

In short; this is a very good album from a criminally underrated band. 

3.5 points

Rainbow Danger Club - Where Maps End (2011)

The debut album from this Chinese band.

This album comes a year after their excellent The New Atlantis EP. An EP I praised in ProgArchives five years ago. The band has become a huge band in China and that is pretty much deserved.

The band is a quartet with a lineup of trumpet, keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and English vocals.

The music here is what we can call modern prog rock. Or even modern melodic rock. Take some elements from symphonic prog, electronica, post metal, some avant-garde, rock, pop and in particular; post rock. This one hour long album has a lot of post rock. It also got some really good melodies too. There is not much Eastern Asia and/or Chinese elements here.

Although this is a very melodic album, it covers a lot of ground too. Not all of it is that great. But most of it is good to very good. The final part of this album is not that good though. The first half an hour is very good, though.

This is a band well worth checking out. It should not be China's best kept secret as this album has a lot to offer. It is a good album.

3 points

Rare Bird - Rare Bird (1969)

The first of in total five albums from this British band.

Rare Bird was a quartet with a lineup of Hammond organ, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The guitars is not particular present here. In reality, this is a two keyboards band.

I have heard about this band for a long time but it is just recently I have managed to get their first three albums. I am so far not disappointed.

Take psych prog and add a lot of classical music and ELP like symphonic prog. Then some jazz too. Rare Bird has mainly been compared to Barclay James Harvest. Something I can fully understand. They are a bit more classical music and ELP orientated than BJH.

There are a one million copies selling hit song here in the two and a half minutes long Sympathy. There are some oddities pop songs too here. But mostly; the music is psych and classical music orientated with two keyboards attacking the notes.

The end result is a very good album which for me puts this band on the map. Yes, I am a bit slooow. But better late than never. Check out this album !

3.5 points  

Iconoclasta - Movilidad (2013)

The eleventh and so far last album from this Mexican band.

The band released their debut album back in 1983 and that was a promising album. Promise not entirely fulfilled, I have to conclude.

The band is now a quartet with a lineup of bass, keyboards, drums, guitars and female vocals. They have scaled back to a more manageable lineup.

The music is still in a bit of a noman's land. Take some metal, folk, Latin-American jazz and progressive rock and mix it together. There are even some hints of zeuhl on this forty minutes long album. All of this music is pretty light-weight and not particular complex. The bass is pretty much on the forefront too. A very good bass, but I am not sure why this is so prominent in the mix. It does not make sense. 

The female vocals are not that great and the music is not particular good. I am not sure what this band is doing at all. This is a decent to good album with some positives.

2.5 points

Saturday 5 December 2015

Quantum Jump - Barracuda (1977)

The second and final album from this British band.

This band was the famous producer Rupert Hines serious foray into making his own band. A trio no less and a trio helped out on strings by the Penguin Cafe String Ensemble. Rupert Hine plays all keyboards here and the ex Caravan member John G Perry plays bass. Trevor Morais does the drums here. They are helped out by numerous other guest musicians too.

The music here continues from their self titled debut album from 1976. Jazzy funk. This time with a lot of pop music too. Third rate pop music from that era.

The vocals are frankly cringe worthy. It has all the disco and light pop music cliches from that era. The music is also operating fairly close to disco and commercial pop music from that era. Everything is slick and greasy. Even the woodwinds which has a horrible sound.

Frankly, this album is so bad that I have been holding of a review for a long time as I did not really want to waste a small part of my life on this horror show of an album. It is as good a turkey as you will ever find.

1 point  

Ayers. Kevin - Shooting At The Moon (1970)

The second album from this English man.

When Kevin Ayers passed away on the 18. February 2013, he was hailed and remembered as a true genious song writer. Some of that came through at his debut album Joy Of A Toy from 1969 which I reviewed and really liked one year ago (or so).

On the basis of that album and his reputation, I bought his Original Artists box. Something I do not regret.

Shooting At The Moon is regarded as a much more The Whole World album than a Kevin Ayers solo album. The New World is one heck of a band with Robert Wyatt, Mike Oldfield, Dave Bedford and some others well known musicians from that time. This album is therefore regarded as his most untypical album.

The music here is a mix of naive psych pop songs like the great opener May I and some avant-garde studio tapes experiements. Some of the latter ones are pretty pointless. The more straight songs here are all very good and indeed very special. The rather spaced out title track is also a very good song.

This album is an album in two halves with some very good stuff and some not so good stuff. Hence my rating which is an average.

3 points

Rebel Wheel. The - Whore's Breakfast (2013)

The fourth and so far the latest album from this Canadian band.

I don't know their previous albums although I interviewed the band for ProgArchives four-five years ago.

The band is here a..... well, one person. David Campbell, it is. He does guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. Everything in short.

The music has been listed as Crossover in the always almighty ProgArchives. And indeed it is. This fifty-five minutes long album is crossover between neo-prog, funk, pop, college-rock, post-rock and jazz. The vocals are OK and the instruments tolerable.

The music is on the ideas and fragmented melodies level. It feels like Prince has had a very major influence on this album. At least Prince from the 1980s as I really don't know what he has been up to lately. But trying-to-be Prince is a good reference.

Unfortunate, there is no really good stuff here. The stuff here is decent enough with some stuff which resonates with me. But there are also stuff here who leaves me stone cold. Hence my rating.

2 points

Rak - Lepidoptera (2004)

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

I reviewed their 2012 album The Book Of Flight back in March 2012 and was not that impressed by that rather good album. But I have given them a new chance.

Rak is a nine piece project on this album with a lineup of keyboards, violin, cello, bass, drums, guitars, female choir and male lead vocals.

We are in concept albums land again. Symphonic prog concept albums. I am saying symphonic prog. But this is really a neo-prog concept album. The music is very melodic. It also has some prog metal influences.

The music is meandering away in both a bit pastoral and then a bit heavy landscape. The music ebbs and flows. There is something for everyone here.

The vocals is not really good. They sounds a bit too forced. The overall quality of the music is good throughout. There is nothing bad, but also nothing great here. This is a good one hour long album which will appeal to everyone into concept albums.

3 points

Friday 4 December 2015

MIA - Transparencias (1976)

The debut album from this Argentine band who went on to releasing three albums before they split up.

MIA was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of flutes, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and some vocals. There are only vocals on one song. The rest of this forty minutes long album is instrumental.

Take a lot of ELP and add the very early Genesis with Anthony Phillips. Add a lot of local Argentine flavour too. That is when you get this album.

The music changes between majestic and softly spoken. I would say most of the music is very softly spoken. The guitars are mostly acoustic 12 strings guitars. There is no bombastic music here.

The music has a very good vibe throughout although it is a bit thin on the ground when it comes to greatness. The minutes here is nicely thicking over and it is a pleasure filled experience. At the same time, it does not really give any release of saved up moods and vibes either. I am therefore not entirely satisfied. But it is a good album indeed and one to check out.

3 points

Thursday 3 December 2015

Delusion Squared - II (2012)

The second album from this French band.

I really loved their self titled debut album from 2010. I cannot understand why it has taken me so long to get onto their second album.

The band is a trio with a lineup of drums, bass, keyboards, guitars and female vocals. The band sounds a heck bigger than a trio as the sound is very full and big. The joys of the studio.......

It is very natural to compare this band with the female fronted bands from just across the English Channel. They got the same sound and the same music. Just take away the keltic aspect and you get this French band.

The music on the one hour long is medium heavy and symphonic. It is reasonable complex though and full of interesting details. The vocals is not the best though and that may be a weakness for some.

The music here is good to very good. I really like this type of music, but I can see there is no really great tracks here. So it gets a solid good award. Check out this band if this is your cup of tea.

3 points

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Teru's Symphonia - Clockworked Earth (1993)

The fifth album from this Japanese band.

I have never heard as much as a tone from this band before I purchased three albums by them a couple of years ago. They are listed as symphonic prog in ProgArchives and that is always a purchase trigger. I love symphonic prog.

I do not know this quartet at all. Their lineup is drums, bass, keyboards, guitars and female vocals. Japanese female vocals, that is. That intrigued me.

This one hour long album is indeed an hour with symphonic prog. Take ELP and add some neo-prog influences and a lot of Japanese colours. Also add some prog metal too.

The vocals are a bit strange. Japanese is a bit strange and the vocals here are thin and a bit screamy. But it is what Japanese vocals is.

The music is pretty standard fare. It is good fare though and I like what I hear here. This is indeed a good album and I am intrigued because this is regarded as their weakest album by ProgArchives. I am looking forward to listen to the two other albums I purchased.

3 points

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Yuka & Chronoship - The 3rd Planetary Chronicles (2015)

The third album from this Japanese band.

This band is on this album a four piece band with a lineup of piano, keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and some very sporadic vocals. Wordless vocals, mostly.

This album is more or less entirely instrumental. It is very ambient too and is also based on the Japanese culture and music tradition. That and the English instrumental symphonic prog tradition.

Lots of piano and some guitars are leading the melodies on this one hour long album. There is also a lot of melodic bass here. The keyboards is mostly as sound collages.

There are no really great or even very good melodies here. The melodies are fairly good throughout. Besides of using it as a movie soundtrack, which it perhaps is, I am finding difficulties in understanding where the band want to go with this album. It is a decent to good album. That is really it and I am not convinced.

2.5 points