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 Life Is A Long Song by JETHRO TULL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1971
4.40 | 40 ratings

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Life Is A Long Song
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This EP was released in September 1971, about six month after the classic album Aqualung. All the five songs here are non-album tracks, but they were included on the 2LP compilation Living in the Past, which was released in June 1972. That's where the songs are familiar for me, like I bet they are for most of the listeners. Despite that truly deserved reappearance, I'd like to give an extra kudos to this EP for its all-new non-album material. It was the first recording to feature the band's new drummer Barriemore Barlow.

The leading track 'Life Is a Long Song' reached No. 11 in the UK charts. It's centred on Ian Anderson's acoustic guitar and singing. Both the music and the lyrics are very nice, a metaphor of everyday life, concluding that "the tune ends too soon for us all". 'Up the Pool' is rather similar lighthearted acoustic song, but not as charming.

'Dr. Bogenbroom' reminds me a lot of the 1970 album Benefit, especially for Anderson's vocals. Otherwise a good song, but the acoustic guitar sounds a bit nasty, perhaps the recording is poor. 'From Later' (2:08) is a heady instrumental featuring the flute in the leading role. A cool rock counterpart to Bach-derived 'Bourée', one could say. The even shorter 'Nursie' (1:36) features only acoustic guitar and vocals and is comparable to the Aqualung songs 'Cheap Day Return' and 'Wond'ring Aloud'. A very charming, moody piece which ends far too soon.

This folk-oriented EP was an excellent addition to the early phase of Jethro Tull.

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 Apofenia by GIARDINO ONIRICO, IL album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.01 | 128 ratings

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Apofenia
Il Giardino Onirico Crossover Prog

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

5 stars "Apofenia" is the third studio album by Il giardino Onirico and was released in 2019 on the independent label Lizard Records with a line up featuring Stefano Avigliana (guitars), Dariush Hakim (keyboards), Ettore Mazzarini (bass), Massimo Moscatelli (drums, percussion) and Emanuele Telli (keyboards) plus the guests Alessandro Corvaglia (vocals - from La Maschera di Cera, Delirium), Jenny Sorrenti (vocals - from Saint Just), Jenna 'Sharm' Holdway (vocals), David Morucci (sax), Claudio Braccio (sax) and the choir Fuori dal Coro. In my opinion, this is a mature and refined work, enriched by the contribute of many prestigious guests, full of inventiveness and fresh ideas combined with vintage sounds and psychedelic flights that the colourful art work by Marco Marini tries to describe on the cover and booklet. The title refers to the tendency to perceive meaningful connections between unrelated things...

The long, hypnotic opener 'Onironauta' (Oneironaut) is a beautiful instrumental track where the band "resolved to go with bold entreaty whither no man had gone before, and dare the icy deserts through the dark to where unknown Kadath, veiled in cloud and crowned with unimagined stars, holds secret and nocturnal the onyx castle of the Great Ones", like Randolph Carter, the protagonist of H.P. Lovecraft novella The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. To be honest, I don't know if the work of the American writer was a source of inspiration for the band, but in my opinion the dark, mysterious atmosphere of this piece perfectly fits the subject matter...

The excellent 'Scivolosa simmetria' (Slippery symmetry) features the vocals of Alessandro Corvaglia and tells in music and poetical words of a haunting, obsessive desire that turns into stone, a thought that becomes a prison between dream and reality, delirium and magic. It starts by a frenzied instrumental passage, then the vocals evoke fiery dances upon coloured petals and magic symphonies as the protagonist tries to escape from the dangerous vortex of an ecstatic, suggestive dream that could lead to death...

'Alétheia' is a long, dreamy instrumental track that starts softly and evolves in a crescendo of psychedelic fantasies and Latin echoes, with a good sax and electric guitar work. After a sudden stop in the middle, there's a second part that veers to calmer musical landscapes. The title refers to a philosophical term that means truth or disclosure but also factuality or reality...

The title of the following 'Mushin' refers to a mental state that is achieved when a person's mind is free from thoughts of anger, fear or ego during combat or everyday life and features the guest vocalist Jenny Sorrenti. It's an ethereal, reflective piece sung in English with a slow pace, a spacey atmosphere and a touch of electronica that deals with spiritual issues like time, love and inner knowledge...

'Apogeo' (Apogee) is another track with a strong spacey atmosphere that in the first part could recall Pink Floyd while in the middle section, with a good sax work, is more aggressive and closer to King Crimson. The last part is a wonderful crescendo where the rhythm seems to take off for the outer space... In fact, the title refers to the point in the orbit of a heavenly body at which it is farthest from the earth...

'Un nodo all'anima' (A knot in the soul) starts by an acoustic guitar arpeggio and the soaring vocals of Alessandro Corvaglia in the forefront. It's a beautiful piece that goes through many changes in rhythm and atmosphere with hermetic lyrics evoking dreams to hold, time spent running after appearances and the desperate need to connect mind and soul to avoid the blades of a deceitful destiny that could hurt you. Mediterranean influences, powerful melodies, flamenco sketches and heavier passages are blended with gusto and personality... A wonderful track!

The long, mysterious 'Lacrime di stelle' (Star tears) ends the album with a melancholic mood and mystic, Oriental flavours. Here the voice of the guest Jenna 'Sharm' Holdway is used just as a charming instrument to add colours to the musical canvas and put a spell on you in a starry night filled with memories and lunar visions...

On the whole, a magnificent work full of nuances and excellent pieces!

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 Last Autumn's Dream by JADE WARRIOR album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.68 | 136 ratings

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Last Autumn's Dream
Jade Warrior Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by mickcoxinha

4 stars It is difficult to give a good summary of the first Jade Warrior albums because the band explores many directions, but at least with Last Autumn's Dream, just judging by the cover, you can at least see glimpses of the direction they were going to take with the series of albums with similar covers and largely mellow instrumentals.

To start with the least interesting, early Jade Warrior had the tendency of having hard rock songs that they fortunately ditched later because they were not good on that. In this album, you have Snake and Joanne as good examples of what could have been left off the album and probably no one would miss. Snake even has some interesting touches in the intro and the outro, but both seem to be recorded in a lousy manner.

It is completely different story with A Winter's Tale, May Queen, Demon Trucker. They are also on the more commercial side, but they are well-crafted songs. One of the strenghts of early Jade Warrior, in my opinion, was their use of electric guitar as complementary instrument to their sound, and this feature is present in these alongs, along with the usual flute and percussion combo. They are all enjoyable.

Then, there is the great songs, starting with Dark River, which is a long instrumental with mostly percussion and flute, then Obedience, which is another great instrumental with excellent guitar work (lots of different guitar tracks providing different effects) over the percussion.

Then there are the two great songs with vocals. Morning Hymn is very mellow with excellent flute and vocal melodies, and points toward what Jade Warrior would do as a duo. Then Lady of The Lake, which could be lumped in the "more commercial" songs of the album, but it is extremely well crafted.

Finally, to close the album, a great choice. Borne On The Solar Wind is another instrumental that points towards what Jade Warrior would do later, mixing oriental influences in the fold, mainly through the electric guitar motif that is doubled by flutes and strings, freeing the guitar to make a countermelody. A short song, but a real gem.

The first impression is that this album is not so good as other consistent prog albums, but on the strength of the best songs, it is more remarkable than many albums with sound great but have nothing really special.

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 Twangyluck by METROGNOM album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.00 | 31 ratings

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Twangyluck
Metrognom Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars METROGNOM were a five piece band out of Norway releasing this one album back in 2006. It's a concept album about our alien friend Twangyluck and his adventures. We get four long tracks over 64 1/2 minutes. Guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and horns are the main instruments but lots of synths including mini-moog as well as some mellotron and theremin. There's even these Akai synthesizer woodwinds. The guitarist would go on to run a record label while the keyboardist became a session musician and the horn player became a Producer and DJ. Man this is a good album. I'm surprised I didn't discover this back when it came out but this one is pretty obscure. Almost all instrumental save for Twangyluck's words here and there. My top two are the opener and closer.

"Max Planet(Incl. The Sudden Turbulent Landing Procedure" opens the proceedings with beeping sounds and our alien talking in a mono-toned voice as all aliens do. Guitar takes over at 1 1/2 minutes riffing away as drums, organ and a full sound follow. Nice. What's even nicer is the section that follows led by the sax. Just this beautiful melodic section that will be replaced by the guitar and full sound as themes are repeated. Love that interlude after 9 minutes, so interesting and enjoyable then it kicks back in before 12 minutes.

"Ten Peppermint Butterflies In A Ray Of Moonlight" like the opener is 14 minutes long and those are the two shortest tracks on here. A quiet start but it kicks in fairly hard after a minute with guitar and drums as the synths shoot off everywhere. The synths turn melancholic and I like this better. It settles right down after 4 minutes with relaxed sax leading the way before it turns punchy with a full sound. Acoustic guitar only 12 minutes in then it turns dark late to end it. "Opening Ceremony To The Troll's Seventeenth Olympic Games" builds then settles but check out when it kicks in before 8 minutes. Oh my! Love that bass then the tempo picks up. Another calm before ending hard with some nasty organ.

"Tellus Will Tell Us It's Will" is the 21 1/2 minute closer. Man this one is all over the place including the start with those strange sounds as we hear thunder in the distance. The synths sound like wind and then the guitar starts to rise out of this after 2 minutes. Great sound a minute later with the sax, drums and more. Check out the bass, drum, organ section after 5 1/2 minutes to after 8 minutes. Love that section. Organ only after 9 minutes then the drums join in. Guitar follows and it will soar bringing FLOYD to mind. Nice drum work after 15 minutes and then synth woodwinds after 18 minutes as it continues to shift and change.

A very solid 4 stars and one I highly recommend. Just so much here that I enjoy. A huge surprise to be honest.

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 Low by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.11 | 446 ratings

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Low
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nş 489

"Low" is the eleventh studio album of David Bowie and was released in 1977. Widely regarded as one of his most influential releases, "Low" is the first studio album that belongs to his famous "Berlin Trilogy", a serious of three albums with the collaboration of Brian Eno. The other two albums of that trilogy are "Heroes", released in the same year and "Lodger", released in 1979. The album represents a very experimental avant-garde musical style, with the use of electronic music, which would be further explored on his next two studio albums of the trilogy, "Heroes" and "Lodger".

"Low" has eleven tracks. All songs were written by David Bowie, except "Breaking Glass" written by David Bowie, Dennis Davis and George Murray and "Warszawa" written by David Bowie and Brian Eno. The first track "Speed Of Life" is the first instrumental by David Bowie and was also released as the B side of the second single taken from the album, "Be My Wife". This is a great song, very well balanced and where we can hear the heavy use of the synthesisers. The second track "Breaking Glass" is a very short song, the shortest song on the album. I always had the feeling this is an unfinished song. Despite that, this is another excellent song that combines perfectly well the classic rock with the sound of synthesizers. The third track "What In The World" shows, like almost the songs on the album, the use of the new techniques. It's a song that makes heavy use of the synthesizers, which shows the great influence of Brian Eno on the album. It also features the participation of Iggy Pop on backing vocals. The fourth track "Sound And Vision" was the song chosen to be released as the first single of the album. The song is notable for juxtaposing an uplifting guitar and synthesizer as lead musical instruments, with Bowie's withdrawn lyrics. It's an excellent and catchy track that reminds us Bowie's times of the glam rock era. The fifth track "Always Crashing In The Same Car" is a song whose lyrics express the frustration of making the same mistake over. The song features the use of synthesizers and treatments to bring Bowie's largely calm vocals over the sound of the band. The song finishes with a long guitar solo. The sixth track "Be My Wife" was the song chosen to be released as the second single of the album. It's the most conventional song on the album, toned down the electronic feel of the rest of it. The song features a piano opening against a backdrop of guitars and drums. It represents one of the finest musical moments on the album. The seventh track "A New Career In A New Town" was released as the B side of the first single of the album "Sound And Vision". It's an instrumental track that reflects Bowie's change from Europe to U.S.A. It's another song with the heavy use of synthesizers by Eno. The use of Bowie's harmonica on the song shows the contrast between the acoustic and the electric sounds. The eighth track "Warszawa" evokes the desolation of Warsaw at the time of Bowie's visit. The song is mostly instrumental and was developed using many of Eno's experimental techniques. The lyrics of the song are based on the Polish folk. This is a brilliant song, one of the best and most beautiful songs ever made by him. The ninth track "Art Decade" is another instrumental track and is named due a street that Bowie encountered in West Berlin. It's a droll, slow and depressing song that reflects the melancholy and decadence of the City. It's another song heavily influenced by Eno, with some reminiscences from Fripp & Eno album, "(No Pussyfooting)". The tenth track "Weeping Wall" is another instrumental track intended to describe the misery and shame of the Berlin Wall. Bowie plays all instruments, including several percussion instruments and synthesizers. It's another depressing and melancholic song in the same line with the two previous tracks. The eleventh and last track "Subterraneans" is mostly instrumental. It has brief and obscure lyrics sung near the end of the song. It was meant to evoke the misery of those who lived in East Berlin during the Cold War. It's the other masterpiece of the album, which closes perfectly well the album, with the same oppressive, depressive and melancholic mood of the B side of "Low". This is one the best and most perfect ends to an album I've ever heard.

Conclusion: "Low" is, in my humble opinion, a great album and one of the best albums ever made by David Bowie. It hasn't any weak point and it's a very uniform and cohesive album. We can say that it has two distinct parts. The first part, the A side of the album, has a great collection of art rock songs in the same vein of Bowie's previous glam rock albums, first Eno's solo albums and the first two Roxy Music albums. The second part, the B side of the album, is more based in ambient and electronic music with melodic and harmonic changes and is also much more progressive too. "Low" represents another radical change in Bowie's musical direction. It's an album where we can clearly see the great influence of Brian Eno on its final sound. However, in terms of popularity, this musical change didn't affect Bowie's image. I even dare to say that "Low" was so important in Bowie' musical career in end of the 70's, like "The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars" was, in the begin of the 70's. "Low" represents a new masterpiece.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Flex-Able Leftovers by VAI, STEVE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
2.63 | 33 ratings

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Flex-Able Leftovers
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by DangHeck

2 stars A decent compilation of early Vai, but... really just for the fans...

I guess I'm dealing with a different song order than what's listed above, as I'm listening to the 25th Anniversary edition.

And of course, being Flex-Able Leftovers, these are (please forgive me) the supposed leftovers from Flex-Able (1984), and we gotst plenty of quirk and ZAPPA-isms herein (see below).

"You Didn't Break It" nearly broke me: just terrible. Then... saved(!) by the beautiful "Bledsoe Bluvd", the first of many Zappa-esque likely-Zappa-homages, perhaps most reminiscent of Vai's own "Salamanders In The Sun" of the aforementioned release. This is followed by "The Beast of Love", a low-energy, silly lounge tune (not unlike some early-80s FZ repertoire--replete with *snork(s)!*). The bizarre hilarity continues on "So Happy", a strange rambling about "never being sad" and eventually featuring Vai-penned guitar-transcription (I can't believe he continued with this insanity after getting out from under "the whip"...).

Continuing on, "Details at 10" is quite the early-Vai tune. I really actually like his voice; sorta forgot how decent he is in this department, ya know... for obvious reasons. It is most apparent on this track that Suzannah "Thana" Harris (wife of Bob) is the main female vocalist on the album; she is most famous as the (I think excellent) vocalist on Zappa's Sleep Dirt's 1991 overdubs for CD (my preferred version). She delivers a very nice fake news report about... some admittedly awful things (this bit sort of reminded me of "Greggery Peccary", not in theme, but in effect).

"Little Pieces of Seaweed" was... okay...

"Chronic Insomnia" was... a lot... Atonality, discordance, noise. Take that as you will... [Not so] Strangely enough, this made the very handsome "Natural Born Boy" all the more satisfying. Great riff, great melody and some of the greatest (straightest) playing that we've been offered on this journey. Welcomed, to say the least...

Regardless of when it was actually recorded (even if it was recorded yesterday--the recording for this ended in 1998, by the way), "Massacre" is insane. Just another proof, if we needed one, of Vai being one of the greats (love him or hate him). And speaking of... taste... "Fuck Yourself" is... uhhh... well performed?... I really disliked it. This moment(?) and this compilation was saved(?) by the very, again, Sleep Dirt-esque "X-Equalibrium Dance". That weird alien guitar tone that shimmers and wavers. Hard to explain if you don't know it.

For my closing thoughts, see my opening thoughts.

True Rate: 2.5/5.0

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 I Believe In Father Christmas EP by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1995
2.46 | 29 ratings

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I Believe In Father Christmas EP
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Humbug

This five-track Christmas EP was released in 1995 and features the iconic photo of the band very warmly dressed during the Works era. The first track is the original 1975 solo single version of Greg Lake's classic Christmas song I Believe In Father Christmas. Humbug was the b-side of that single and one that I had never heard before, it appears here as track three. In between, we get Keith Emerson's Troika (From Prokofiev's lieutenant Kije Suite) which is dated 1995, and is the most interesting of the five tracks featured here. Personally, I hadn't heard this anywhere else, but apparently it appears also on some versions of Emerson's solo Christmas album. After that we get the Works Vol. 2 version of I Believe In Father Christmas, which differs slightly from the original Greg Lake solo version. Finally, we get Nutrocker, originally from the Pictures at an Exhibition album, which let's Carl shine with his short drum solo and screams of "yeah".

Like another reviewer has pointed out, even though this EP was issued under the Emerson, Lake & Palmer name, the bulk of the material is solo rather than band in nature. Still, the same could be said about the band's Works era, and Humbug would not have been much out of place on Works Vol. 2. So I guess you might think of this EP as being a "Christmas Works".

Since most of the music is available elsewhere, and already familiar to most fans, I cannot give a higher rating, but with the exception of Humbug the music is of course great.

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 The Hungry Heart by SMALLTAPE album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.14 | 23 ratings

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The Hungry Heart
smalltape Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars An artist that is new to me despite the fact that they've been around for over ten years. This is their third full studio album release--one that has been receiving quite a little attention. So, I had to check it out!

CD 1 (41:28) 1. "The Hungry Heart" (4:51) very seductive introductory song! I love the unusual synth-wash chords used. (9.5/10)

2. "The Golden Siren" (5:30) drum machine track opens with a few reverberating guitar notes over which raspy male voice whisper-talks his thoughts. After 90 seconds more instrumentation and drums are added while voice continues talking. Then a chorus is injected into the music with some surprisingly high-pitched voices singing some rather saccharine lines about "she's everywhere I go, my golden shay". Reminds me of the music & style that the British band tinyfish made with their album releases in the Naughties. (8.5/10)

3. "Hunger" (7:20) rather cheesy and simple. Kind of like an Chroma Key or Alan Parsons Project song with some Peter Gabriel elements. (12.5/15)

4. "Our Desert" (4:08) gently picked acoustic guitar chords set up a gentle folkie vocal. This stark soundscape lasts until 1:40 when some water sounds and ghost-like background "distant" vocal sounds begin to creep in with a pulsing frequency. (8/10)

5. "One Day" (4:40) opens with a force reminding me of Bruce Swoord/The Pineapple Thief and more recent Steven Wilson songs. A decent song despite questionable sound engineering choices. (8.5/10)

6. "Burning House" (6:57) the first really proggy sounding song since the tease of the opener--it's the complex multi- rhythms of the drums that do it. The opening 2:50 remind me of something from Peter Gabriel's Passion soundtrack. The next couple of piano and sax-dominated minutes are very much like something more modern-- maybe, again, Steven Wilson or Kevin Moore. A very engaging and satisfying song--and an instrumental! Perhaps the best on the song. Hearing this, I definitely think this band has potential. (14.5/15)

7. "Colors" (5:18) an excellent melodic crossover tune in the vein of LIFESIGNS or MYSTERY. (9/10)

8. "Asylum" (2:44) acoustic guitar, simple vocal, piano later. Very pretty, memorable song. (4.75/5)

CD 2 (24:02) 1. "Where We Belong" (2:47) opens with ANATHEMA chords from one of my all-time favorite Anathema songs, "Endless Ways," before going more lounge-jazz piano. Pretty. Nice use of ancillary spacey synth & guitar noises. (4.5/5)

2. "Dissolution" (21:15) Three minutes a hand-held recorder monologue from an Australian male voice expressing his morning feeling of being unsettled and his successive exploration of the basis for those feelings. This is all accompanied by the melodic, uptempo play of a somewhat-jazzy solo piano and, eventually, side voices, strings, and synths. Drums, bass, and orchestral instruments jump in in the second and third minutes as the singer enters to offer a more generalized perspective of the same disconcertment and general disenchantment with today's state of "civilization." Quite a piano-jazz-inflected musical journey. I really like the STEVE REICH-like piano and tuned percussion section that begins at the end of the eighth minute. At 9:25 the vocalist and piano recapitulate the Anathema "hold on" theme from the previous song. Nice guitar and strings work in the 12th minute. Then there is a dramatic shift into a bare-bones xylophone solo that reminds me of 1970s Gary Burton or Rainer Brüninghaus' work with Eberhard Weber. Solo electric jazz guitar takes over in the 16th minute. This is so 1970s! (Which I LOVE!) But then, because of these familiar themes, riffs, and sounds, it causes me to almost lose some of my enjoyment: I can't help but wonder if it is, in fact, original, or copied. A little Thomas Thelen sneaks into the 19th minute before Philipp returns to the "hold on" theme for the chorus in the 20th. Nice blend of rock and orchestra in the final 90 seconds. An absolutely enjoyable jazz-pop epic. (36/40)

Total Time 65:30

Though an overall very enjoyable listening experience, I wouldn't consider this a masterpiece as a whole; there are several excellent songs, however. The syncopated beat patterns of the drummer do the most to give the music a progginess, otherwise the melodies and vocals are definitely more mainstream in their melodic sensibilities and treatments.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of Crossover prog; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

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 Plague Accommodations by THANK YOU SCIENTIST album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2021
4.54 | 15 ratings

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Plague Accommodations
Thank You Scientist Crossover Prog

Review by Grumpyprogfan

5 stars In my opinion, Thank You Scientist, are one of the best modern prog bands. Their music is a fusion of heavy rock, jazz, soul, R&B, and metal. It definitely takes an open mind to appreciate because this is not background music. There is a lot going on and it demands your complete attention with zero distractions. There are so many subtle nuances that will pass you by if you don't focus. It also should be played loud, preferably on a system with speakers, not buds, that aren't made of plastic. For the vinyl fans, there is an etched copy available. Etched vinyl has music on one side and an etched design with no music on the other side.

"Plague Accommodations" is the bands fifth release (second EP) and is distributed on the bands newly created - Flying Jangus Records. Clocking in a bit over twenty minutes there is not a wasted second. Superb songs, musicianship, and humor that this band has in abundance. It begins with "Gigglebutton" an instrumental fusion number that sounds different from anything they have done before. Great groove and the brass section get a workout. Unfortunately, the song ends too quickly at 1:55. Next up is "Creature Comfort" that begins softly then slowly morphs into that unique sound that only TYS have. No other band could pull this off. Love the brass arrangement that begins at 3:05. Catchy chorus and the sax solo kills. Off into jazz-metal territory. "Soul Diver" has some very energetic drumming with some very fast double bass sections, the violin solo is awesome and reminds me of something Ponty would play. Finally, the intricate bass/drum/violin riffs are off the chart and the song fades with a cool syncopated rhythm that ends with layered A Capella vocals. The last song, "Plague Accommodations" is another upbeat ditty with an off-kilter time signature. Love the effects Tom uses on his guitar and the jazzy break with the fierce guitar solo rips my head off! Of special notes, the rhythm section is so spot on and tight that it's scary, and Salvatore's voice, as always, fits the music perfectly.

This is definitely one of my top five for 2021, but unfortunately since it was released without much promotion, I think this will go unnoticed. 4.5 stars. Great EP.

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 Vigesimus by CAST album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.07 | 108 ratings

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Vigesimus
Cast Symphonic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars With four decades of active career, Cast is one of the important progressive rock bands in Mexico. The relevance of this group comes not only from their musical production, they are also known because their leader, Alfonso Vidales, who was the founder of Baja Prog, the most important festival of the genre in his country. Cast strike again after 4 years of waiting. After "Power And Outcome", finally a new studio album by the most famous progressive rock band in Mexico. The musicians have been formed since the late 1970s and have been busy releasing one album after the other from the mid- 1990s and always at the highest level.

"Vigesimus" offers great symphonic prog, which is again characterized by the varied playing on the keyboard instruments. Bandleader Luis Alfonso Vidales holds the reins tightly in his hand, but gives his band members enough space to develop. Many of the most successful moments belong to the violinist Roberto Izzo, who gives the pieces a certain lightness. Guitarist Claudio Cordero also gets space for soulful and sometimes hard solos, the work of the rhythm section is on point and gripping. The two singers are very solid, but the instrumental is clearly in the foreground here. Cast act with tempo and sophistication in the compositions, play very varied, also increasingly with a progmetallic hardness.

Anyone who is afraid of being overwhelmed by the sheer dynamism and tempo during the 76 minutes will be amazed and at the same time delighted by the repeatedly interspersed symphonic, classical, almost hymn-like, epic passages. So there are always enough moments to breathe deeply and regenerate in order to be able to continue listening to the Mexican fireworks with sufficient attention. Excellent musicians, complex, varied compositions and many demanding changes in tempo. On the current album, Cast celebrates progressive rock in their own special way by combining different styles. Harder, almost metallic and classically symphonic elements stand side by side on an equal footing.

The present new album contains 10 songs, not all with an excessively long playing time, even shorter pieces such as "Another Light" or "Black Ashes And Black Boxes", for example, captivate with beautiful melodies that stay in your head, that's how this album is not as difficult to access as many others in this genre. The opener "Ortni" is a purely instrumental track, but it starts and ignites without any lengthy preliminary skirmish. With "Manley" there is a second instrumental piece in the middle of the album and three of the songs crack the ten-minute mark. All in all, Cast offer fast-paced Progressive Rock and some pieces are almost classic sympho-proggers. Actually, you can't go wrong with "Vigesimus" - as long as you are of course suited to the genre.

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