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 The Unquiet Sky by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.50 | 2 ratings

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The Unquiet Sky
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by onslo

4 stars Arena are back on form! I've had this album since their gig in London recently (a couple of weeks ago) and I've had it virtually on repeat. I won't make too much of an extensive review here but I will make a few bullet points.

* Anyone who had issues with Paul Manzi's voice on the last album should give him another chance on this one. Rob Sowden is obviously the best singer they've had. I personally liked the job Manzi did on the last album, yet it did take a bit of getting used to. But I can say that, on this album, he does an even better job and his voice is recorded and mixed in a way that suits him better.

* This is the catchiest Arena album ever, in my opinion! There are such great melodies throughout the album and I'm already singing the songs in my mind or out loud throughout the day.

* This album is not a Contagious beater. That album is so good and really hard to beat but I really feel it's one of Arena's best and I do think most people won't see it as that straight away. It is an improvement upon The Seventh Degree Of Seperation, but is also a departure from the sound of that album. One might think that 7th Degree was an indication of the sound and style they were heading in but the sound changes again for this album. It has elements of the last album but also contains some of the classic sounds of early Arena, which I think was done on purpose as this album was written to celebrate their anniversary. And with that said, this album is impressive for the time scale in which it was made. Apparently, it's the first album where Clive has opened up to let the whole band have a hand in writing.

* Track 2 (How Did It Come To This?) is one of the best songs they've ever written. Such a haunting, sober reflection on what we've come to in this world.

* Lyrically, this album is beautiful. As usual, the lyrics are very poetic and seem to roll off the singers tongue.

Summary: Make sure you give this album a chance, with repeated listens, no matter what your first impression tells you and no matter how much you want to hold onto past Arena styles. I place it in the top three albums by the band, potentially giving it the number two spot. I'm rating it 4 stars but if it were to be rated as an Arena album alone, I'd give it 5.

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 On the First Day by ALL WILL BE QUIET album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 1 ratings

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On the First Day
All Will Be Quiet Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars I borrowed this album from library after my research for unknown Finnish bands on the Archives. Soon I was deeply charmed by the music and felt happy of my discovery, since I'd be the first one to spread the word here. I even tried to contact the band but sadly it seems they are not active anymore. This 10- track debut contains extremely well done, fresh, Post Rock -flavoured indie rock sung in English. They have been compared to e.g. MEW and SIGUR ROS but are perhaps closer to pop (I don't mean they would sound commercial); the beautifully melodic songs stay economic and accessible, and yet they have a lot of dreamy, melancholic atmosphere and a cinematic rich sound. Everything's in perfect balance. Nearly too perfect for its own good.

Vocalist Aleksi Kaufman, who also plays guitar and cello, has a clean and sensitive voice that reminds me of the 80's pop artist BLACK known from the hit 'Wonderful Life', and of the singer of CRESSIDA. (There surely would be better, more contemporary references too which I can't spot right now.) The sincere delicacy of vocals is never buried under the Post-Rock grandiosity. The album has some sort of an Apocalyptic undercurrent beneath the light surface, and it's well captured in the cover painting too: the comfortably seated people wearing dark glasses are presumably witnessing a nuclear experiment. The lyrics are often quite sad and dystopic but wisely the music avoids sounding dark or depressing. The result is emotionally strong and beautiful.

As pleasantly as I was charmed at first, in the end I have to agree with the remark shared by many Finnish reviews (found via the band's stagnant homepage), that the album is "too orthodox" and lacks of greater surprises. The evenness of material and the atmosphere that stays pretty much the same throughout the whole album may become a problem on the long run. But anyway, what a waste if this extremely promising debut album will remain their last release.

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 10cc by 10CC album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.61 | 51 ratings

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10cc
10cc Prog Related

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

4 stars 10cc is an English band that has got my interest for some years now. My first encounter was Bloody tourists which I found in my grandfather's house. That was before I got interested in progressive rock and then I though 10cc sounded so different from other rock music. The nearest connection was Beatles but 10cc was perhaps even more playful I though. Now I am going to review all of their albums and I'll begin with their first named "10cc" and recorded in 1973, fourty-two years ago. It features the four very talanted artists Eric Stewart (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Lol Creme(guitar, keyboards, vocals), Kevin Godley(drums, percussion, vocals) and Graham Gouldman(guitar, bass, vocals). One of the first things you notice with 10cc is that the all four of them are first singers, just as it is with the Beatles.

This band's debut from 1973 is a talanted and very fresh encounter and it certainly has a lot to offer for curious music lovers. It isn't as seamless as some following records but it has a high standard and some gems. What also characterizes this record is that the band was perhaps even more playful and funny than later on. Often they parody different styles of music in a talanted way. The debut album of 10cc could also be a good first listening to this band.

I think two songs stand out from the others with especially good qualities: "The Dean and I" a funny and spectacular show of wonderful pieces (10/10) and "Rubber Bullets" (10/10) which is a very hard and bright shining track. Very recommended to hear are also "Johnny don't do it"(8/10), "Headline Hustler"(8/10), "Speed kills"(8/10), "The Hospital Song"(8/10) and "Fresh air for mama"(8/10). The other three songs are interesting to hear as well.

This progressive pop rock music from the middle of the seventies should be listened to carefully and with a lot of joy. The song length aren't progressive and 10cc hasn't problems with doing hit songs but they don't compromise with their musical visions which you will hear! This is a soplid and promising debut from a great band. Four stars for "10cc"!

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 FZ:OZ by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Live, 2002
3.94 | 44 ratings

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FZ:OZ
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is a live recording of most of the show performed at Sydney, Australia in January of 1976. The line up is one that is a rare one when it comes to live documentation, but it consists of one of the smallest live line-ups in FZ's discography. The band was pared down to the bare minimum here and the timing was right between the Bongo Fury album and the Zoot Allures album (which utilized this line up for the most part). The album was released posthumously by the Zappa family trust and was quite an anticipated release because of the rareness of releases of this time in Zappa history, unless you didn't mind having a bootleg.

The line up isn't bad, but it was just before the best line up would be formed. The concert itself has some songs on it that were rarely heard live plus one song that was not recorded anywhere else. This fact heightened the anticipation for the release. The recording isn't too bad as far as quality most of the time, but it isn't as good as some. The tape used had to be changed throughout the concert and this left some spots in the show that were not recorded, so, in order to release this show, the gaps had to be filled in with whatever bootlegs were available, thus resulting in a few spots in the recording that are obviously not as well recorded as others. But, the fact that most of the release was from mostly one show was an exciting prospect and in fact, is the most attractive thing about this recording. Other than that, there are much better recordings of the staple songs on other albums, but there are also a lot of rare performances on this that might make it worth while for Zappa-philes.

This album starts out with an introduction of the small band and a little goofing around before slipping immediately into a decent rendition of "Stinkfoot", moving on to "The Poodle Lecture" and on to "Dirty Love". These first songs fit together because of a common theme and are usually performed together on plenty of other live albums. Next comes a less often heard instrumental called "Filthy Habits" which comes from the "Sleep Dirt" album which wouldn't be released until 1979. This shows that many songs existed before being officially recorded, that FZ would often try out songs in concert to perfect them before officially releasing them. Thus you get an early version of this great instrumental. This is the first reason to find this album. Next comes some very early r&b style music from the debut Mothers album "Freak Out!". Brock at this point takes over the lead vocals from Frank and it brings a new feeling to these songs that were originally sung by members of the original Mothers line-up, so these songs can really sound different from the originals, namely "How Can I Be Such a Fool", "I Ain't Got No Heart" and "I'm Not Satisfied". After this trio of songs, the band plays some tracks from the then future "Zoot Allures" and it is interesting to hear these tracks in their early development. An almost 12 minute version of the classic guitar barn burner "Black Napkins" kicks in and the instrumental is awesome here. The theme is pretty much the same as the official studio version, but the improvised keyboard and later guitar solos are amazing. Then comes an 11 minute version of "Advance Romance" (from Bongo Fury) but without Captain Beefheart singing, this falls once again to Brock. He does a good job and the soloing in the middle is in fine form once again. The famous "Illinois Enema Bandit" comes next, but there are better recordings of this out there. Going back again to the future past, the band picks from unreleased material and plays a mediocre "Wind Up Workin at a Gas Station" and a shortened and quicker version of "The Torture Never Stops" which you can tell is underdeveloped, but enhanced with a harmonica solo instead of what would later be a hallmark for the killer guitar solos in future shows. The harmonica is played by a local Aussie talent who throws in an attempt at humor.

Disc 2 continues where we left off with the rare short instrumental piece "Canard Dujour" followed by an otherwise unavailable live version of the ultra rare song "Kaiser Rolls". Is it worth the search of this album for this track.....not really, but Zappa-philes will have to have it you know. Another track from the future "Zoot Allures" follow in "Find Her Finer" which is just annoying as usual, then the ever popular concert staple "Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy" which is an okay version but has a great guitar solo in it. The rare live version of "Lonely Little Girl", "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" (with vocals!) and "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body" all from "We're Only IN it for the Money" follow, but the versions here are again a bit lackluster, so not really worth the trouble. After this, a great version of the rare "Chunga's Revenge comes next with a very long sax solo and finally a drum solo, this after 15 minutes flows into another long instrumental off of Zoot Allures (the title track) and this is also great, but it turns into what will be known as "Ship Ahoy" with the echoing effects of the guitar giving a great ambient sound. The show was supposed to end after the usual "Keep it Greasy" but after a demand for encores, the band comes back and ends with the excellent 1 - 2 -3 punch of the showstoppers "Dinah Moe-Humm" which had been requested numerous times through the show by some demented fan and in this case has a nice doo-wop section, then "Camarillo Brillo" followed by "Muffin Man". This was a favorite encore set for the fans and the band in that it ended the show on an upbeat and exciting way. On this album, we are treated to another version of "Kaiser Rolls (du jour)" which is the rehearsal of the song recorded a few weeks before the actual show, again this song is not available elsewhere.

So is it worth it? To the casual listener, it might be okay, but there are better choices out there with better sound. For the Zappa-phile, there is quite a bit to get excited about though. For me, I have to average it out to 3 stars. It is entertaining enough and there some great bits here, but for the most part, there are better recordings out there.

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 Home by SYLVAN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.76 | 62 ratings

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Home
Sylvan Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars German band Sylvan has finally stamped its name on the prog scene, having defined a particular sound that is instantaneously recognizable, in a style that finds comfort in an emotional urgency that is perhaps closer to mid-period Marillion, though lead vocalist Marco Gluhmann has a resonance and mostly a delivery that is even more unique than that of Steve Hoggarth or Queensryche's Geoff Tate. Marco wails with incredible sustain and energy, hitting all the high notes in typical German precision, though I am quite sure he has a few detractors. Sylvan also is the possessor of a classic album in the person of 2006's 'Posthumous Behavior' which has installed itself into the pantheon of prog jewels. Since that colossal release, the band has replaced its guitarist on two occasions which seems not to have affected the otherwise stable line-up. The amazing double album 'Sceneries' went somewhat unnoticed which is a sad state of affairs as it was another masterpiece in my eyes. The refined style on 'Home' is perhaps a lot mellower than Posthumous, perhaps encouraged by that controversial 'Presets' recording which I still consider to represent their ultimate opus (raked in the mud by some because it followed the big opus). With newcomer Jonathan Beck wielding his marvelous guitar in a way that doesn't challenge predecessors Jan Petersen and Kay Sohl, building endless axe fortifications that give the already emotionally charged music even more depth and volume. They have opted for a heady mix of these assets, sweeping melodies and tight delivery, as well owners of a seasoned and professional rhythm duo, both Mathias Harder and Sebastian Harnack provide great musculature to the arrangements. The spotlight does remain on the exquisite Marco Gluhmann, surely one of prog's rare quality microphone wielders. Keyboardist Volker Sohl is more of an orchestral sound sculptor, relying on walls of synthesized squalls and massive doses of elegant piano, as best exemplified by the self-titled finale.

The album starts off with some sweeping strings, almost outright classical in scope and feel, which perhaps leave a sour note in the mouths of the heavier prog aficionados who are pining for another heavy release, even though it's quite evident that the group has moved on. I prefer this more cinematic approach anyway, even if it seems to conjure images of 'plasticene porters and marmalade skies' and a more psychedelic style. Some have claimed an affiliation with Coldplay which I do not see, hear or get (lots of piano now means an infatuation with Coldplay? Really? I would have opted for Mozart, Liszt or Chopin, or even Juergen Fritz, but whatever). In fact, the devout lads have never deviated from the path taken on 'Presets' and that seems to still chagrin a few out there. It's all good, the artists are in charge of their own destiny and not the fans, come hell or high water.

Sure, mini-epics like the serene 'Shaped out of Clouds', with its uber-melancholia will grate on the metal maulers but its undeniably passionate music. Ja, grandiose, magniloquent, affected music, loaded up with 'sturm und drang' that is closer to the romantics than to the head bangers altar of worship. The ending has this odd mix of James Bond-You only Live Twice and sweeping Mike Oldfield orchestration that I happen to really enjoy. The epic 10 minute 'In Between' is straight out of the Presets catalog, closely using modernisms found on a tune like the whopping 'When the Leaves Fall Down', combining monotone verse and tiki-taki drum fills that are perhaps closer to urban rap but sandwiched between harder edges than veer closely to heavy metal, showing Marco's incredible lungs and concentration at Mach One speed. The Ronald Reagan 'Open this gate' sample is followed by some crazed rifferama which clearly goes against all the marshmallow criticism levied by the inattentive. Neither plodding nor facile, this track rocks! Ja, it has its softer moments, including some brilliant bass underpinnings, slick guitar curls and delicate piano rivulets but the angst is skin deep and ardently charged. Beck shuttles along, spitting out hot little solos that spit fire, swirling synth acrobatics in tow, escorting that devilish piano. My fascination for the grand piano has matured to the nth degree, as I really 'feel' the passion exuded by the ornate ivories.

Clearly influenced by Hoggarth-led Marillion, a series of sweet and fragile songs like 'With the Eyes of a Child', 'Black & White', 'The Sound of Her World' and 'Sleep Tight' will again repulse the hard core fans of edgier prog and I cannot blame them, as it's not exactly steamroller material. All packaged together as if some kind of mini-suite, the music is lush, luxuriant and dense, the orchestrations are undeniably huge, but I like them immensely. This is resonating music, irrefutably feminine and will enchant the fairer sexed fans (of which we need desperately more of). The scorching 'Black and White' ballad in particular is gut wrenching, explosive and I daresay, armed with a rather orgasmic guitar rant. The following track has some choir crescendos and a swift pastoral turn that is effortlessly bold and charming, featuring Marco's divine wail. My new lady friend looked at me with melancholy eyes that almost made me blush, I was almost at a loss to admit such overt sentimentality, instantly erased by a celestial osculation (kiss, for you simpletons) that made me tremble with inner delight. 'The Sound of Her World' will please her and then she will please you. The cavernous and volatile 'Sleep Tight' seeks to ratchet up the tension to boiling point and get the body tremors going, Beck's guitar raunchily pushing forward like some panzer spearhead smashing through paltry defenses. The ending is pure 'mashed potato schmaltz' as early Bryan Ferry would state for the record.

Things get highly romantic with a two-pronged assault on febrile feelings with first the brief and volcanic 'Off her Hands' showing a crushing tendency to delicacy, a near lullaby, something a gentler IQ could come up with to woo the softer hearts, a delightful little rant that sets the table for a breathtaking segue. A colossal song like the melodramatic 'Shine' is quite illustrative of this collision of emotionally charged bellowing with cracking rock foundations and it finds itself cherried by an awesome axe solo to instill a coup de grace of whopping proportions. An easy progressive rock mega-hit, on par with the immense 'Chains' or even early urgent U2 when Bono was actually and credibly stunning , this is a thoroughly enjoyable high point to a rich and exalting album of really, really good songs.

This burgeoning heavier side is followed up by two harder-tinged rants that sort of bleed into each other, the quixotic and mercilessly tough 'Point of No Return' is first in line, a nasty undercurrent straight from the very onset leads to a binary guitar thrash, pummeled by some bulldozer drumming and howling vocals, all ensconced in a glorious melody and a thrilling variety of cinematographic sceneries that add power and punch, recalling the great epic moments of their huge classic album. 'All These Years' shows quirky tendencies, profound insanity and aggressive despondency, as the shrieking chainsaw guitar screeches in the foreground, Marco wailing like some bunkered madman, delirious and suicidal. The massed orchestrations are almost Wagnerian in intensity, as the singer now showcasing a high pitched lament, violin sweetness/bitterness crawling alongside, forlorn piano stating a sad 'auf wiedersehen'.

The title track serves to encompass all the previous emotions, closing the parenthesis that began with the first two tracks, infusing a return of the entrancing 'Shine' chorus and that 'You Only Live Twice' 'like melody that enhances the entire audition to unreachable heights of enjoyment.

Sensual, sexy and sensory are traits not necessarily associated with Teutonic efficiency but let me tell you, this is HOT music, almost carnal and utterly exhausting. I may choose to agree that nearly 80 minutes is perhaps too long but what woman would not want an hour and 20 minutes of good, dedicated and unselfish love making? Hmm, you may have a point, Don Juan Romeo Casanova! If you want to enjoy the manly, macho and angry Sylvan, 'Posthumous Silence' is always going to be there for you to relish and 'boys will be boys will be boy-oy-oys'. But when the lovely ladies enter the playground to see what all the fuss is about, all stitched up and hungry for love, this will get their passionate juices flowing (figure of speech of course!).

5 Love nests

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 Oranur III by SCHLOSS TEGAL album cover Studio Album, 1994
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Oranur III
Schloss Tegal Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch

— First review of this album —
5 stars 'Oranur III' is the creepiest album I own. Even more so than 'Current 93's' "Nature Unveiled". Turned up loud, it sounds like zombies clawing out of graveyards. Almost purely electronic at source it's a swirling, throbbing and groaning recording that is unlike any other I've heard.

]Oranur III' is based on the theories of Wilhelm Reich with his outsider beliefs in 'Orgone' technology, UFO's and 'Cloudbusting' machines. This deep droning menace of an album sounds like all of the aforementioned condensed into a 40 minute prototype exercise in terror.

Comparisons could be made with bands such as 'Throbbing Gristle', 'Kluster' and 'Lustmord'. However, there's something deeply unsettling and undeniably disturbing about this particular recording. It's unrelenting in its oppressiveness.

The opener 'Oranur III' has a very eerie metallic drone which becomes very intense through waves of slowly pulsing keyboards. You can just imagine the creature from John Carpenter's 'The thing' slowly creeping up behind your back.

'Scary Bejeesus' is the only way to describe 'Dark Eyes'. A sliding, slushy drone of weird chords is played under effected spoken vocals which recite alien abduction encounters. In itself this should be laughable, but this and the following track '"L5' paint a very spooky and real death-like scenario. Gruesome sludgy, whining keyboards grate and grind creating in a swirling death effect leaving the listener unnerved.

The HP Lovecraft inspired 'Beyond the Wall of Sleep' evolves into a more ethereal sound, like an old Victorian haunted mansion. If you listen carefully enough you can almost hear voices from past millennia in the distorted keyboard chords.

'You Just Got Tired' has more alien abduction female screams going on but is delivered with a swirling, electronic semblance of a tune, which runs through my mind for hours after completion. Beautiful... but ugly.

This is probably my most listened to album of all time since purchasing it in '95. 'Oranur III' is only suited to listeners of the more extreme end of prog. It is without a drum, guitar, bass, or tuneful vocal.

On the whole, this will be abject torture to most prog listeners. For me it's a thing of beauty that has not been matched in it's genre since it's release..

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 Fuzzy Logic by SUPER FURRY ANIMALS album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.56 | 12 ratings

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Fuzzy Logic
Super Furry Animals Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Fuzzy Logic is the debut album by Super Furry Animals, and in my opinion, the band did a pretty good job of nailing the sound of glam-rock which is pop based rock with an edge, the same kind of rock done by other great prog related artists like....hmmm, lets see.....David Bowie, Roxy Music, Queen, 10CC, yes even early Pink Floyd, the Beatles and Genesis....to name a few. This is the same kind of music that is performed by this band. Having said that, you will get an idea of what this music is about. Somehow, however, it got labeled by a lot of people as being alternative, but I guess many people would consider Bowie alternative too. SFA actually got the sound right the first time, which many alternative bands and new wave bands from the 80s couldn't get right for a while and some of them never did. I consider this music not pop, but anti-pop, which is demonstrated by the eccentric nature of the bands and the eclectic sound of their music. This is over the top music, not so much in the sound of the music, but in the performance of the music.

SFA do this kind of music, and they do it well. All through this album you can hear shades of David Bowie and Roxy Music doing what they did best. This music is very psychedelic, but has a more updated sound. Yet it still remains true to it's roots. This band just does not get the attention or the accolades that it so much deserves. This first album is a bit all over the place in a way, and not as focused as some of their later albums. But I listen to it and I am so surprised at how they really nailed it faster than so many other bands that people claim to be better than them. You get a few crazy guitar solos, a lot of chaotic sounding brit-pop (gone mad that is), and a very glam-rock type sound. But, this album shows some immaturity in the sound, which the band would adjust in the near future. For now, though, this is a fun album, full of surprises and even some heartfelt moments.

Lovers of Bowie and Roxy Music will find a lot to love here, just as I do. The band got the sound down so well that this album was considered on of the 1001 albums you must hear before you die. I couldn't agree more, but you got to go into it expecting prog related music in the same vein as all the best glam rockers. Those that profess that this is not progressive rock have forgotten that there is an entire genre of prog music that they have dismissed. It's true that this album doesn't have a lot of tricky rhythms (even though there are moments that make me go "WTF was that?") and the songs are not of epic length, but that doesn't mean this band doesn't deserve to be on this site. If that was the case, then Bowie, Roxy Music and Queen shouldn't be here either. This is the sub-genre of Progressive Music that everyone likes to forget about when trying to think of the definitive sound of prog, but let me assure you this is prog and deserves to be here.

You may ask, so that's all well and good, but what does this album sound like? Well, the entire album, though a little unfocused, sounds like Bowie, Roxy Music, early PF (the Barrett Days) and etc. just like I've been describing. That sound is evident through the entire album, with an occasional whacky guitar solo, a few strings placed here and there, psychedelic at times and experimental at others and though they rely a lot on the sound of glam bands, they still have that distinct sound that lets you know you are listening to SFA. I really can't give this excellent effort anything less than 4 stars. Great music by a great band that just doesn't get the recognition it deserves.

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 Sweet Child by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.64 | 35 ratings

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Sweet Child
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars The Pentangle's follow up album to their self titled debut, titled Sweet Child, does not suffer from the usual "sophomore jinx" that plague many other followers of a debut album. Perhaps except that the shock of the group's musical formula may have worn off on some listeners along with some surprise that the double album follow up contains a new live material recorded at the London Festival Hall, with the second disc comprised totally of new studio songs.

I can only surmise that the band's touring schedule may have cut into their studio time. However, the first disc is excellently recorded in front of a rapt and extremely quiet audience. At least during the performances that is.

The group once again mine material from traditional English folk, Charles Mingus penned jazz classics, original folk/blues compositions as well as Elizabethan era dances played on a glockenspiel from drummer Terry Cox.

John Renbourn plays electric guitar as was he's want during live performamces and this steals a little bit of thunder from the usual guitar interplay between himself and Bert Jansch. Howerever, fear not, as the two resume their acoustic guitar dueling on several tracks of the studio disc along with some brilliant outtakes that have been added as bonus tracks to the 2 CD Castle Records reissue.

Aside from making marginal vocalists like Renbourn and Jansch actually sound good, producer Shel Talmy deftly recorded both guitarists in wide separation stereo which really shows of their breathtaking improvisational playing. As one guitarist starts a lead section on one channel, the phrase is telekinetically answered by the guitarist on the other and when both play intricate leads together, it simply sounds like one guitarist has filled the sound stage and is a testament of the extraordinary playing skills of both.This is extremely prevalent on the instrumentals In Time and Hole In The Coal, as well as their alternate versions.

Double bass great Danny Thompson struts his stuff on the above mentioned Mingus songs while the incredible Jacqui McShee again shows her vocal prowess both traditional songs like So Early In the Spring (sung unaccompanied ) on the first live disc, as well as soulful jazzy originals like the stellar I've Got A Feeling from the second studio album.

I've felt a need to review this album again in light of the current Indie folk rock (Nu folk?) resurgence as well the current trend of modern rockers like Mark Knoplfler to produce albums exploring American Roots and Folk music.

The Pentangle still defy classification almost fifty years after releasing their debut album and their collective musical skills have still not equaled to this day. Four stars for another of The Pentangle's landmark albums. The Castle CD re-master has fantastic sound quality as well as the wonderful bonus tracks that also include live versions all of material that was released on groups' self titled debut and is featured on the first live disc.

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 Suiciety by METHEXIS album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.15 | 10 ratings

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Suiciety
Methexis Crossover Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I was kindly asked by Nikitas Kissonas to listen to this album and to write a review about it. He is the composer and guitarist in this album from the project called METHEXIS (I mean, it is not really a band, but it is more a solo project by Nikitas Kissonas, with collaborations from other musicians). This is the second album from the METHEXIS project. The first album, titled "The Fall of Bliss" from 2011 (for which I also wrote a review about it some years ago), has Kissonas playing all the instruments (and also doing all the vocals), except the drums (which were played by a drummer). In this second album, Kissonas has other very good musicians playing with him, and it seems that this album was even a more ambitious task.

This "Suiciety" album is a concept album which has as central ideas the influences of the outside world (from society, that is, family, friends, school, institutions, etc.) against the inside world and psychological resources of the individual persons. Kissonas`s opinion (as long as I could understand it from reading the lyrics and the explanation of the concept of the album in his Bandcamp web page) is that the influences of the "modern civilized world" are really against the healthy psychological development of the individuals. While I agree with him in some of these ideas, I really think that the individual person has to have some optimism to live in this world against the possible bad influences from society. The concept of this album is, in my opinion, somewhat influenced by the concepts of Roger Waters`s for PINK FLOYD`s "The Wall" album (not one of my favourites) and film (a very good film...but not one that I could want to watch again) . But, at least Kissonas really composed very good music in most parts for this album. The lyrical concept could seem pessimistic in some places, but the music acts as a contrast against that pessimism in some places. In fact, the best songs in this album for my taste are the optimistic "Prey`s Prayer" (an instrumental piece of music with very good guitars by Kissonas and very good keyboard parts by Linus Kåse) and "Sunlight" (with lyrics about having some faith in life). I really don`t think that all the influences from society are "suIcidal" or "bad" for all the persons. Life is hard, yes, but not totally "bad" or "tragic", in my opinion. Anyway, it is valid to express in words and music all the ideas that the artists have...even if the reviewers don`t think in the same way.

The recording and mixing of this album is very good. There are some very good production ideas, and I think that the making of this album was really a hard work. I think that having several other musicians really helped Kissonas to develop the musical ideas better (he credits the other musicians for additional musical arrangements). The singer Joe Payne really sang very well, sometimes singing in a "dramatic" way, but his voice sounds very well in general.

As a whole this album musically is very good...even if I don`t agree very much with the concept.

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 Futile by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.43 | 124 ratings

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Futile
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A great companion E.P. to "In Absentia" as it contains a variety of material from those sessions. This review is based on the digital version of this release. The other "hard copy" version contains another live track, and interview with Steven Wilson, an Opeth track from their "Damnation" album which SW helped co-write and produce and contributed to some of the instrumentals, and a promo ID from SW. This downloadable album makes more sense since it is more available than the original E.P. and is more consistent since it contains only music from PT.

It starts out with "Collapse" which is a very shortened alternative version of "Collapse the Light into Earth" from the original album. I love the original song and this acts as more of a intro to the E.P. and give you an idea of how the entire song sounds. It serves the purpose of being a great opener and only lasts a minute and a half. This was originally supposed to open the "In Abesentia" album, but was left off probably because of repetition, so it is used as an introduction to this E.P. From there, we go into the MOR song called "Drown With Me" which is also available on the European edition of IA as a bonus track. This one is very accessible and has a nice hook with a great chorus full of the signature PT harmonics. Following this is a hard edged instrumental called "Orchidia" which sounds more upbeat and even in it's current underdeveloped state, still is an excellent track. The title track of the E.P. is next and is also a harder edged PT song this time with vocals. Any of these outtakes would have fit quite well upon the original album, but who is to complain when you can add these extra songs yourself to an already excellent album.

The following track is a live version of the excellent epic song "Hatesong" performed in Philadelphia on July 26, 2002. This is a definite hard and heavy song in a live atmosphere and is one of the excellent highlights of the original album. The song transfers well to a live format, and you can hear some differences in the vocal harmonics and a slightly heavier sound with some pronounced keyboards in certain passages and also features an extended guitar solo. This gives a slightly more developed sound to the song, which remains amazing. The last track is another great outtake that isn't available on the hard copy of the E.P. or anywhere else before this called "Chloroform" which is a very moody mid-tempo song with an accentuated bass line, some amazing vocals from Steven Wilson and later develops into a hard instrumental break with an excellent guitar solo. This one lasts over 7 minutes, so you know it's worth getting the downloaded copy over the hard copy (which is actually just a promotional release which explains the strange addtions of the interview and the Opeth song).

Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson fans owe it to themselves to get this as it is one of their best E,P.s and it is worth the money to get the extra additions to one of the most loved albums in the PT discography. I can't call it essential because it really belongs together with the "In Absentia" album, but it is definitely excellent even at the 32 minute run-time. Excellent companion to the IA album by all means. 4 stars.

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