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 Frances The Mute by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.05 | 751 ratings

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Frances The Mute
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by Insin

4 stars The short version: I love this album but there's just so much random noise on it.

The Mars Volta has crafted a diverse, eclectic album with Frances the Mute. From the half-hour epic Cassandra to the catchy, almost radio-friendly The Widow; from Latin, jazz, and traces of funk and hardcore, FtM covers all aspects of a memorable prog album.

There is one major flaw with this album: the sheer amount of random noise present. Sometimes placed at the ends of songs, where it is easy to skip, but more often embedded at their beginnings or middles, it seems to have no musical function except making the entrance to the actual song structure better and more dramatic. For instance, if Cassandra did not have the ten minutes of noodling, the buildup back into the final chorus would not be nearly as powerful and satisfying. Contrarily, the noise ruins Miranda the Ghost That Just Isn't Holy Anymore. It would have made a great short track, similar to The Widow, but they managed to drag it out to almost fourteen minutes and the original song seems to get lost amid all the samples and whatnot. And then, of course, the noise is annoying to listen to on its own. It makes the songs perhaps not more atmospheric but definitely a little creepy, adding a mystique that shifts TMV even farther from the mainstream than they already were.

Cygnus? Vismund Cygnus manages to escape the curse of the noise to a degree, though the very end is full of the stuff. Still, I would cite this as Frances's standout track. After a quiet intro, Cygnus launches headfirst into a chaotic, urgent beginning, screeching to a halt and then building back up from a quiet middle to an energetic close. The buildup is done well, without the aid of random noise and instead based on a musical idea. FtM would be getting a certain five if the rest of the songs followed this idea? Another thing about Cygnus is that it starts with the same acoustic segment that ends the album? something that is simple but genius.

There's a great album hidden amid all the bursts of the random noise, and it's worth hearing. FtM blends various genres and influences into a chaotic but effective, enjoyable sophomore album, certainly living up to Deloused, with more long songs, more innovation, and more prog.

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 5 by EKSEPTION album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.32 | 43 ratings

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5
Ekseption Eclectic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After their '00.04' (1971) album, which is maybe their best, the line-up remained the same for this album. But producer Tony Vos was not present in this album, not even as a guest sax player as in '00.04', but '5' is dedicated to him, and '5' was produced again by Rick van der Linden but with assistance from Rein van der Broek and recording engineer Pieter Nieboer. So, by 1972 it seems to me that van der Linden was having an even more prominent role in the band, with him being the keyboard player, the main composer, the main arranger and also the producer of their albums.

This album stars with a bit of humor (at least for me, I think) with the brief 'Introduction', which has van der Linden playing some bars from Beethoven`s Fifth Symphony, with a Pipe Organ (this was, after all, their fifth studio album, and this musical theme was also used for one of their first singles in 1969, called 'The Fifth', but played with the whole band, but not with a Pipe Organ, of course). 'Introduction' is followed by 'Siciliano in G', which is an arrangement of J.S. Bach`s Second Movement from Sonata No. 2 in E-flat major for Flute and Harpsichord. (This musical piece also has been transcribed to be played in piano only by other Classical Music artists like pianist Wilhelm Kempff). 'Siciliano in G' is my favorite arrangement of a Classical Music piece by van der Linden, played very well by the band, with Rein van der Broek and Dick Remelink playing a very good duet with trumpet and sax, respectively, and also having very good trumpet solos from van der Broek in other parts, and a also a brief but very good piano and spinet solo from van der Linden. Van der Linden also adds very good keyboard arrangements in all the parts of the musical piece. Great playing from the band in this musical piece, in my opinion.

The next track is 'Vivace', which is an arrangement from J.S Bach`s First Movement from the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in A Minor. A fast musical piece also played very well by the band.

The next track is 'For Example', composed by Keith Emerson and Lee Jackson and previously recorded by THE NICE, which was one of the bands which originally inspired EKSEPTION to play adaptations of Classical Music themes, like THE NICE did in some of their albums. 'For Example' is played with a Jazz arrangement, and is followed by 'For Sure', composed by van der Linden.

'Virginal', composed by van der Linden, is a very good musical piece with influences from J.S. Bach`s music, but also having some Jazz and Pop arrangements and very good solos from van der Broek.

'A la Turka' is an arrangement of Mozart`s 'Alla Turka from Sonata no. 11 in A-minor'. A fast musical piece played with organ and wind instruments arrangements plus some Pop and Jazz arrangements, of course.

'Midbar Session', composed by van der Linden, is another musical piece influenced by J.S. Bach`s music. It is maybe the most Progressive musical piece in this album, with a length of more than 10 minutes, with a main melody played using a synthesiser, and also some Jazz-Rock arrangements.

'Pie' is a brief piano musical piece by van der Linden, with some Jazz arrangements.

'My Son', composed by van der Linden, and inspired by his son, has a 12 string acoustic guitar played by drummer Peter de Leeuwe, with also having the appearance of Rick van der Linden Junior (as a baby, of course) crying in the background (!). It also has some choral arrangements.

'Finale', like the 'Introduction' in this album, is again played by van der Linden with a Pipe Organ, and also credited as a composition from Beethoven, also reprising other musical themes from other musical pieces in the album.

As a whole, this is a very good album from EKSEPTION.

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 I Heard You Listening by ECHOLYN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 62 ratings

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I Heard You Listening
Echolyn Symphonic Prog

Review by DeSangre

5 stars I've been listening to Echolyn for about 20 years now (yikes time sure flies!) and I've grown to love each one of their albums. Their latest album, "I Heard You Listening" will probably took some listens to get fully stuck in your mind, but boy if it will be worth it!

TL;DR: BUY IT!

Messenger of All's Right 8/10 A delicate piano part introduces Ray's vocals, powerful and emotional at the same time. I love the break at 3:23 and the effects in background. Very creative use of drumming here, too. All in all a very good start for the album.

Warjazz 9/10 Warjazz has a positive "Georgia Pine" vibe to it and it's probably the first song that will get stuck in your head. The chorus is as catchy as it can get and it's supported by some fantastic tom-heavy fills by Ramsey. There isn't a single thing I don't like about Warjazz. It's just a fantastic tune, and one I'll never get tired of. I love the playful break at 2:41. Did I already say that the chorus is fantastic?

Empyrean Views 10/10 Ok. Empyrean Views. Whatever you're doing right now, stop, sit down, disconnect the phone, turn up the volume and let yourself be surrounded by Echolyn at its finest. Backing vocals are truly fantastic and I love the lyrics. If there's a song that shows how mature Echolyn have gotten in their songwriting, is this one. The "Find your way" chorus is fantastic, but the apex of the song is when Ray's aggressive vocals come in at 4:27, perfectly complementing Brett's calmer phrases: goosebumps. The final solos (guitar and keyboards) are very inspired and not a note sounds out of place. Pure bliss.

Different Days 8/10 A rocking start settles at about 0:30 on a piano carpet. I prefer the verses to the chorus on this song. I especially like the backing vocals at 2:28. Surprise: I like the change of pace at 3:15, it really evolves the song in an interesting way and to some great drumming parts. I think Buzby's work (keys) is much more prominent on this album and I love it, and his piano parts in this song are really tasteful and spot on. A very solid song!

Carried Home 8/10 Carried Home starts off with some gentle vocals from Ray, underlined by the usual wonderful backing vocals Echolyn have been spoiling us with since 1991. I love the instrumental section at about 2:50. This is another song on which I prefer the verses to the chorus, but the whole song is of a very high level.

Once I Get Mine 8.5/10 Another very direct and aggressive song. The paradoxical fact is that I initially disregarded the song a bit. Took me a bit to get into it, and that's because it's a much more complex song than what the lyrics and the initial minute make you believe. Just listen to the drums... Or to the break at 2:38... How cool is that? Hey I told you it was a very direct song, then what the hell it's happening at 3:00? and then at 3:12?!?!? It's Echolyn happening, that's what. Ok so the "usual" choruses end the song at 4:30? No! We're in for some more shouting! And for another calmer part! And for a hard-rocking finish! Holy macaroni!

Sound of Bees N/A Ok now you might be wondering why I didn't rate this song. Well I consider Sound of Bees a transitional song, a bit like the Poems in the Cowboy Poems for Free were, but not in a dismissive way. It allows you to rest your ears a bit, while you listen to a great vocal performance by Ray Weston. It's a very personal song.

All This Time We're Given 9,5/10 A deeply rich and complex song, which start off relatively calm, with some very charming verses, which lead to the part at 2:43 "All This Time We're Given..." which reminded a bit of Echolyn's first album. The central part (4:02) features a very emotional guitar part, followed by the usual intense vocals from Ray. If the song ended now, it would be already a very good song. But then a voice shouts "I've got nowhere, nowhere to go!" and throws you into what's in my opinion the best 30 seconds Echolyn has ever recorded: Chris piano part is -melodically amazing- and the chorus is really, really as close to harmonic perfection as it gets. An incredible way to finish a fantastic song.

Vanishing Sun 9/10 Now, I confess making a mistake with this album: my first listens were done with crappy phone earphones, so crappy I could barely hear the bass... DON'T MAKE THAT MISTAKE: listen to this album with good speakers and/or earphones. I'm saying this now, because initially I couldn't get into this song, and I was wondering why. Well, after I could -finally- listen to it on a decent setup, it really made the difference. The beginning part of the song is interesting and "angry", with a nice vocal break at about 2:40. It's weird how your perception of a song changes after you've listened to it for a few times, and this song is probably the perfect example for it. Why? Well because at 4:46 it's like being thrown into a different room of a club, just to be finally pushed to the "best final chorus of any album ever" room. Really, are you ready? A great ending, to a great album.

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 Blue Days by INNER PROSPEKT album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Blue Days
Inner Prospekt Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars Alessandro is a crafty little Roman devil! Not content to redefine the classic RPI with his band Mad Crayon, he also explores the thin line between prog and electronica with his Inner Prospekt project. "Dreaming of Tony Banks" and "the Gene Machine" are both stellar musical propositions, offering electronic music done prog style, which means tons of soloing on a variety of keyboard instruments as well as typical prog structure. The pieces are developed, constantly in flux and never droning endlessly. In fact, it's quite vibrant, fresh and audacious, inspired by walking adventures in the mountains, breathless alpine scenery, deep gorges, icecaps, cascading rivers and dense forests.

"Blue Days " lifts off with a blazing piece entitled "High Snow" that actually adds voices (and not vocals) to an avalanche of slithering synthesizers, a gleaming undertow of electric piano that hints at Manfred Mann's classic Springsteen remake "Spirits in the Night", a nice choppy rhythm with a strong beat and a real good sensation. The jazzy feel can even evoke a distant Steely Dan feel that is sublime as the tortuous synth solo sweetly hisses amid the calmer mellotron pools as well as giving off a wintry feel.

The mood becomes quirky with the slippery "Valleys", a 6 minute synth-led piece that has all the rhythmic trimmings down pat, funky prog electronic music all rolled into one, mellotron howls just to remind you that this is definitely a prog rock work and not some fluffy facsimile. The solemn piano testifies to the constant veering into contrasting moods, at first elegantly effusive, then suddenly bombastic, urged on by rolling organ and whistling synth soloing. Thrilling and totally exciting and unpredictable with a minimalistic finale.

"The Path" sounds like some 60s breezy psychedelic affair at first , what with the windswept harmony vocals but when the scintillating synth takes over, front and center , you will be slain. Emanations of Banks, Mann, Bodin and Tillison abound, all dedicated keyboard virtuosos unafraid to take the lead. Alessandro's gravely and accented voice may startle at first but it's a personal testament by an artist that creates music for pleasure. As the title implies, "Sitting Back" is a more relaxed affair, where the atmospherics and the polyphonic rhythms kick in to create a restful excitation, a piano lounge on top of a mountain retreat, a panoramic view and some soothing sounds. Though accessible and jazzy, it's also quite experimental.

"Mrs Braies" relates to one of those 'hidden from the tourists' gems (like my favorite Seealpsee in Switzerland), the Braies valley in South Tyrol is an achingly gorgeous vista of an alpine green lake and its surrounding towering Dolomites peaks. The evocative music exudes a sense of massive grandeur, intense visual beauty expressed with bombastic mellotron waves, a sweeping synthesizer melody and also occasional gentleness.

Brash, jumpy, curious and vivacious just like any true 'bambino' or 'bambina', the final piece "My Child" insists on a vast arsenal of characteristics that keep you constantly alert and on your toes (just like a good father), the various keyboards expressing the thrill of discovery and adventure, the yearning for learning, the sweetness of innocence. Bubbly synthesizers lead the way, child voice effects and a slick rhythmic package keep the buzz alive and kicking. To add some more of a personal touch, Alessandro adds his voice to the blessing.

Every release from Inner Prospekt has been a total delight and I urge all prog fans to check this artist out at innerprospekt.bandcamp.com and see what all the fuss is about. Unless you dislike synthesizers, there is no reason not to give this a spin.

4.5 Azure mornings

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 I Heard You Listening by ECHOLYN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 62 ratings

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I Heard You Listening
Echolyn Symphonic Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

3 stars The release of "Suffocating the Bloom" was a big event in my listening experience in 1992. I was discovering a rare American band with complicated music structures with three part vocals, but yet easy to get into. The influence of Gentle Giant was obvious and i didn't need more to become a follower of their music through the years. After their hiatus in the 90's, the band came back with "Cowboys Poems Free" that had a more direct rock approach. But with the album "Mei", the band was back with a more adventurous album with a 45 minutes epic. And now with this one, we have songs in the range of 5 to 9 minutes. This is not the most progressive release of the band, many songs are on the mellow side with the constant presence of vocals, which keep the songs enjoyable. "Different Days" is the typical Echolyn song of the past with some breaks, jazzy parts and that typical guitar style. The band continue to play with the intensity of the music that goes to the delicate to the more heavier parts. There is still a lot of piano on this CD. "Once I get Mine" is showing that Gentle Giant influence with the keyboards upfront and a nice break bass/guitar.I had felt in some long passages of that CD that there was not much going on to excite me, despite the beautiful vocals of Raymond Weston. Is this another band that over the years didn't connect with me as much as they did at the beginning? I don't think that the band did change, probably only me.

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 Oltre il Sipario by BEDEDEUM album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.30 | 11 ratings

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Oltre il Sipario
Bededeum Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Once upon a distant time, when city states ruled the remnants of the dislocated Roman Empire , when powerful merchants in Venice, Genoa, Florence, Milan, Siena, Pisa and many others ruled what is now called amusingly Italy and provided the universe with talented architects, painters, scientists and inventors, the medieval arts also flourished mightily. This ancient tradition still lives on today, every time a mandolin is strummed and let us all remember once again that the Celtic bagpipe evolved from similar instruments that spanned the entire European continent , scouring into Africa (Maghreb) and the Middle East and as far away as Central Asia. Traditional folk stories were set to music and the bards and troubadours were all the rage throughout the various kingdoms of the Continent.

Bededeum seeks to rekindle the glowing candle of the past and remind us that music can be a time travel voyager of infinite discovery. Their impossible to find debut 'Brevistele' was a total masterpiece of medieval tinged genius, a selection of tunes fueled by flutes and harps that promulgated the simplicity of musical beauty. The follow-up goes deeper into more symphonic realms, adding strings such as viola and violin to the mixture of bagpipes, woodwinds and singers Micaela Guerra and Davide Lazzaroni complement each other brilliantly. The stories recall more recent events such as WW1, the Irish Troubles, a 1911 quarry disaster in the town from which this band originates (the marble center of Carrara) and some literary influences as well (Arthur Rimbaud and Umberto Eco). In true troubadour fashion, the music relies on solid stories, tales and historical events that give the work way more depth than singing about love and romance.

The first seconds of "Pietre Bianche" (the White Stones) sets that standard from the very onset of crisp acoustic guitar, flutes, Celtic Harp and Uillean pipes that prep the stage for a haunting female vocal, recounting the legend of Carrara marble. Swirling, hypnotic and intense, the music shudders, hushes and disturbs by its utter beauty. The listener is transported back in time and space with a melody that aches and inspires, an immediate immersion into a faraway realm. The male and female voices combine to spin some serious magic. The spirit of Ireland is expertly emoted on "Le Voci di Derry", a tune you would swear to be purely Celtic in all its trappings, a melody very similar to the classic Gordon Lightfoot "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" which was originally recorded by Christy Moore using lyrics written by IRA prisoner, martyr and icon Bobby Sands. Combining past and present is lovingly used to create something out of this world and the solemn words are sung in Italian and the effect of the dual vocals are stunning and imbue the melody with profound depth and passion.

"Geordie" presumably refers to the name used to define someone from Newcastle, though this is a traditional British folk song that has been played by many other artists worldwide, with a melody that many will perhaps recognized. Again the Italian lyrics give this tune a different spin, leaving the violin, flute and guitar to weave the simple arrangement. A funky slap bass guitar section will raise quite a few eyebrows.

A more epic piece is next, "Gerard Duval, tipografo" denotes the emotions of a WW1 soldier , a French 'poilu' who is about to write a final solemn goodbye to his love , before assaulting the barbed-wire, machinegun infested quagmire he must run through, obeying to some insane order from above. This swirling dance of fire even dares to include a strong sense of avuncular finality, facing assured death and immortality. An inspired instrumental "Pee Wee and the Quaker" is a combination of a take on an Irish traditional as well as some obvious American influences (all that is missing is the banjo) and showcases some furious string picking. The second part involves lots of flute and pipes, twirling like a spinning top at breakneck speed.

"Una Stagione all'inferno" suggests more somber sentiments, inspired by crazed but brilliant French poet Arthur Rimbaud, whose poem (Une Saison en Enfer) is considered to be masterpiece as well as a revolutionary illustration of symbolist writing.

The mining disaster of Bettogli in 1911 caused the death of 10 people from Carrara, so this story has a great amount of historical perspective to the Bededeum crew. Needless to say that with the advent of the industrial revolution, many thousand died in mine shafts throughout Europe, inspiring artists to write songs to commemorate the events (Barclay James Harvest, the Bee Gees, U2, among many others). Between 1850 and 1914, more than 90,000 were killed in British mines, so it's not surprising that traditions of remembrance live on.

"Quando qui Distesa" has a definite Argentinian texture, a nervy dance with a strumming guitar, swerving violin and a chugging pace to provide a platform for a passionate vocal that has a real tango feel. "An dro and Dies Irae" is the highlight piece here, a two-part instrumental that has strong Breton feel (Alan Stivell, Malicorne, Tri Yann), highly cyclical in its delivery, remindful of the sameness/diversity of the sea This terrific album ends with a suave lullaby, a Tuscan classic that was altered by the band and inspired by an Umberto Eco novel, about a priest consumed by flames as he is tied to the stake. The mood is forlorn and tragic, only heightened by a prolonged silence and a hidden piece that repeats the word 'Bededeum' as if relating to a Zeuhl/Gregorian ritual. Brilliant.

Kind of ironic that two of the finest medieval folk albums in progressive rock stem from Italy, as both Gian Castello and Bededeum have set the highest possible bar, each with two stupendous releases that span time and space. Extremely original and highly entertaining.

5 Torn curtains

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 Turn Off by SHAMALL album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.97 | 158 ratings

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Turn Off
Shamall Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars SHAMALL is the project of German Norbert Krueler who is an influential DJ in his native land. We have a guest female vocalist helping out along with a drummer and guitarist. The music reminds me of the "Wish You Were Here" era of PINK FLOYD, in fact Norbert describes his music as being "German PINK FLOYD with own influences". There are lots of electronics at times bringing TANGERINE DREAM to mind as well, and i'd also mention AYREON with all the bombast. That bombast is often contrasted with the melancholic spacey sections.

SHAMALL has been around since the eighties and this particular album is a double disc with almost 2 1/2 hours of music, and yes it's a concept album and it's about the enviroment. And as i've said many times i'm not into concept albums usually or very long recordings like this. A lot of these tracks blend into each other and I also want to mention that to my ears the drums were a machine until I looked it up and saw there was an actual drummer, not a fan of his playing at all, especially the dance-like beats we get at times.

My favourite tracks are the two on the second disc, namely "The Creeping Dead" and "Clouds Obscure The Sun". The former is heavy and bass driven, and I must say if there's one thing I really like about this album it's the very upfront bass. "Turn Off Pt.I" reminds me more of "The Division Bell" especially the vocals. We get a sampled conversation on "Horrible Nightmare" which is different and on disc one's "The Devil Never Sleeps" I like the sound of blowing wind and the electronics that come and go. We also get some piano and sax on this recording at times.

I just can't get into this one at all but if you like latter day FLOYD and electronics with the bombast of AYREON you should check this project out.

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 Relics by PINK FLOYD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1971
3.55 | 298 ratings

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Relics
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by SteveG

5 stars Five stars for a review of a compilation album? Surely you jest?

No, I'm quite serious. It's not often that one gets a history lesson as pleasurable as listening to an album like Relics, for starters. It is also a skeleton key, if one knows how use it, to see why Pink Floyd started out as a singles band and could not maintain their stature as a British Top of the Pops hit band.

For those unfamiliar, Relics, released in 1971, contains Floyd's two certified UK chart hits, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play. Both songs contained enough pop sensibility to scale the British charts in the era of psychedelia, while also ensuring a social critique or character study in Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, respectively. This was something that songwriter Syd Barrett would never duplicate in his career and that other members of Pink Floyd either failed to grasp or ignored until Roger Waters started spilling his guts on the Dark Side Of The Moon album that was released in 1973.

When Barrett became mentally defunct, keyboard player Rick Wright stepped into the breach and penned the truly wonderful Remember A Day and the fantastic pop tinged psych wonder Paintbox. Both of these songs delivered on what The Animals were trying to produce on their Odyssey and Oracle album from the same year but only hinted at. Wright's vocals are sublime as are his understated but heavily treated keyboards, with the rest of the band taking up the slack and virtually carrying this material in Syds' mental absence. However, Remember A Day and Paintbox did not sound like Syd's pop ditties and did not have the lyrical connection that a song like Arnold Layne had with the public. We're all guilty, at times, of doing something that hurts no one and either having regretied it or having been punished for it. So we're all Arnold Layne. We are not all part of Rick Wright's psychedelic daydreams, however, so the British public didn't respond to Remember A Day or Paintbox. Next up in the songwriters box is Mr. Water's sublime Julia Dream and angry Nile Song, with the newly acquired Dave Gilmour showing off his wares to good effect with both excellent voice and guitar playing. Again, two stellar songs, while not intended as singles but certainly had the quality to be released as such, still went unnoticed from the OST from the 1969 movie titled More.

Where next? Another crack at a group instrumental, naturally, with the studio version of Careful With That Axe, Eugene that, while not being as good as the live version found on Ummagumma, is every bit the equal of Interstellar Overdrive which was also included on Relics, having been taken from the seminal Piper At The Gates of Dawn album from 1967. Relics also includes the previously unreleased blues and New Orleans' like brass band concoction, from 1971, titled Biding My Time, which is quite good and displays Water's ever growing lazy vocal style to great effect.

The Floyd still have melodic muscle and inventiveness and decided to go forward from there with their next album, the ambitious Atom Heart Mother. So everything sounds like it will go to plan until we come to the closing track on Relics, the clever endearing Bike, also from Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, that top's off Syd Barrett's great lyrical and vocal work with an astounding sound collage of clocks, bells and chimes which quickly reminds us, after the fading panning kazoo sounds, that the Floyd are in for a steep uphill climb from here until they reach The Dark Side of The Moon.

As I stated, these songs are not only sublime in themselves, they also have been meticulously tracked by the Floyd so as to flow seamlessly from one to another. They are also a most pleasurable history lesson.

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 Siegfried, il drago e altre storie (2015 version) by ERRATA CORRIGE album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.86 | 3 ratings

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Siegfried, il drago e altre storie (2015 version)
Errata Corrige Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

5 stars I confess, I'm writing this the very same day that I received the package of promo CD's from Italy's Black Widow (some hours ago), and I just had to return here to tell you how positively impressed I am by this release. I simply love it! Hopefully my infatuaton with the music is not a flash in the pan, so to speak, but actually I'm pretty certain that I will enjoy it for years to come and it will eventually become one of my personal classics in the RPI subgenre.

From the leaflet: "In 1976 ERRATA CORRIGE was a band made of four friends who enjoyed playing together, but who had other life-choices ahead. Before breaking up we decided to record what we had composed up to that point. (...) The vinyl became one of the most prized and covetewd rarities of Italian and European Prog. Now, almost 40 years on, those four friends have met up again at the studio and they have given new life to those 5 original songs, recording the way budget, experience and technical considerations had not permitted at the time (...) with the help of excellent professional players for the parts originally intended for French horn, oboe, sax, trumpet and cello."

Needless to say I'm not familiar with the original, which by the way is also re-released by Black Widow. No doubt it may have aged beautifully with the imperfect production and all, but I'd be extremely surprised to hear anyone blaming this new version for ripping down the spirit or sounding too clinical or whatever. This is pastoral, mellow, romantic, acoustically oriented RPI at its very finest. Comparable to the likes of CELESTE, PIERROT LUNAIRE and APOTEOSI. The British influences must have included the pastoral sides of early KING CRIMSON and GENESIS, maybe CAMEL too. Those who prefer the edgier and heavier end of RPI will probably find this work a bit too lame and soft.

For me however the sound blending acoustic and electronic instruments is truly beautiful, and the elegant vocal harmonies by all four members are faultless despite the fact that these men are over sixty now. And the melodies, ah! A big AAAH! It's a pity that the lyrics are not printed and translated in English in the leaflet. Siegfried is a hero in ancient Germanic folklore, (and il drago is naturally a dragon, right?) and I presume the rest of "altre storie" deal with Medieval stories too.

The stylish digipak set includes pictures of the musicians in the inner fold, plus a DVD of all five tracks being played in the studio. The camera work and editing are very good (I only wondered why the close-up shots of the keyboard misses the playing fingers by an inch or two most of the time...) and the members share few brief comments in between the tracks, with English subtitles. As the cherry on the top the DVD includes an Italian-language performance of 'Cadence and Cascade', the lovely acoustic tune from KING CRIMSON's second album, originally sung by Gordon Haskell.

My rating is an easy choice. I wouldn't hesitate to speak of a masterpiece. Thank you.

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 Ondes Intergalactiques: Live at the Cosmic Nights Festival 2015 (Michael Brückner and Mathias Brüssel) by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Live, 2015
4.82 | 3 ratings

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Ondes Intergalactiques: Live at the Cosmic Nights Festival 2015 (Michael Brückner and Mathias Brüssel)
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars `Ondes Intergalactiques - Live at the Cosmic Nights Festival 2015' is the result of a collaboration between German electronic musicians Michael Brückner and Mathias Brüssel. The third Cosmic Nights electronic music festival was held at the planetarium in Belgium on Friday May 29th of this year, and the event presented a number of artists working in a variety of electronic styles, all backed to a kaleidoscope of psychedelic visuals. Usually performing together under the project name `Le Mansarde Hermetique', Brückner and Brüssel delivered a captivating improvised set of deeply immersive ambient and progressive/electronic/Berlin School atmospheres, and this complex and ethereal live document is one of the most rewarding electronic works of the year.

Listeners aware of the range of different electronic styles Michael Brückner has offered on his numerous solo releases over the years will already know of the variety the musician always delivers, but with the addition of Mathias Brüssel here, his music has perhaps rarely reached the exploratory and allusive levels it does on this set. The two musicians are in complete control of their aural environments, constantly complimenting and even perhaps challenging each-other through all manner of direction and sound changes, yet always remaining in perfect unison with each-other. The sound-journeys they weave together are vivid and hypnotic, floating one minute then mysterious the next, but never losing focus or becoming completely aimless.

Despite a wealth of material available on this collection (more on that later), the main highlight of the set is the title track performance from the Festival by the pair. A three-part slowly unwinding, ever-evolving extended work `Ondes Intergalactiques' unfolds over the course of more than forty- five continuous minutes. A restrained cacophony of chimes, machine oscillations, snippets of voices and electric ripples open the piece, with a booming pulse that bursts to live just after seven minutes of floating in space a real moment. Sequencers trickle around wondrous ambience, shimmering synth strains caress, grinding distortion snarls and hissing unease snakes across the background before a wistful theme brings a source of solace. Sprinkling droplets bubble, rippling loops grow in urgency and spiral into infinity behind glistening electric piano and whistling reflective Mellotron cries, a final heroic and joyful theme emerging from within soothing serene electronic washes. Sustained ebbing levitates in the air, thrumming loops ring, and the chiming outro recalls Tangerine Dream's seventies and eighties live albums.

The bonus tracks that round out the disc are more than deserving of praise all their own, with `Störtebecker (encore) - 5th Rehearsal' lurching into slinking trip-hop beats, and `Extension of an Early Sketch' a gripping low-key twenty minute Mellotron drone. Both of these pieces are more than worthy on their own merits, and they reveal exciting directions Brückner and Brüssel could go on future collaborations - hint, hint, fellas!

`Ondes Intergalactiques' is available in a standard one disc version of the main concert, a two disc set that adds some additional recordings, and, taking a page out of Pink Floyd's book, a `Full Immersion' three disc expanded collection. This comes with additional download content that includes the equivalent of nine - yes, nine! - discs in total of bonus music. Hours and hours of demos, rehearsals and discarded or reworked passages are offered, and they provide a fascinating insight into the way these two artists experiment, hone and form their compositions. Yes, it's a lot to get through, but it delivers a deeply rewarding experience for serious fans of the two artists or challenging progressive electronic music in general. Some listeners may even find the outtakes and rehearsals initially more approachable than the final performance! The Immersion set is truly a progressive electronic tour-de-force.

While occasionally revealing its vintage influences, this is no lazy `homage' or imitation of the defining masters. This is thriving, inspired electronic music full of depth and intelligence, with modern and past sounds perfectly balanced and all performed with great subtlety and attention to mood. `Ondes Intergalactiques' is for those listeners who view electronic and ambient styles as hugely vital, fascinating and worthy forms of art in music, and it's a triumph for Michael Brückner and Mathias Brüssel.

Five stars.

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  4. apps79 (2629)
  5. Warthur (2195)
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  31. Chris S (753)
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