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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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 Further Down the Spiral by NINE INCH NAILS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
3.26 | 19 ratings

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Further Down the Spiral
Nine Inch Nails Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is yet another companion album to the highly successful "The Downward Spiral" album and serves as an E.P. even though it's duration is around an hour long. It mostly consists of remixes which further explore selected tracks from TDS. The huge hit song "Closer" is not one of the songs explored on this collection, but if you are interested in the remixes and very indepth exploration of this song, then get the other companion collection called "Closer to God" which has several remixes of that song with the addition of a few more selections. That is an excellent collection that, even though mostly centers around one song, is actually quite well done and not as repetitive as you think.

This collection though, is also very interesting, yet not quite as cohesive as the "Closer to God" collection. Several aritists like Coil, Aphex Twin and many others created these great remixes. There are a lot more mood changes in this album and the selected songs are explored quite well here. It is highly experimental, noisy at times and surprisingly ponderous in others. It starts out with "Piggy" (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)" which is a very industrial sounding remix and it is very recognizable, yet noticeably different from the original. It features the guitar parts from Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction) and starts off the album quite well, even though it is somewhat straightforward, and it prepares the listener for more in-depth exploration which can take the listener a long way away from the original tracks to follow. Next is the first remix of "Mr. Self Destruct" called "The Art of Self Destruction Part 1". The vocals here are downplayed quite a bit reduced to whisperings of certain phrases from the original song and the feeling is more quiet. The main passage used in this remix is from the quieter bridge of the original song, and that attributes to the overall feeling of this quieter remix. Following this is another remix of the same track called "Self Destruction Part 2" and it is based around the main themes of the song and focuses on Adrian Belew's (King Crimson, Talking Heads) guitar work from the original, thus creating a louder remix. This remix is definitely a noisy one and it is quite enjoyable.

Next is the remix of the title track of the original album and it is called "The Downward Spiral (The Bottom)". This one is harder to recognize as it uses a repetitive processed sound that sounds like something bubbling over. This is a processed loop of the guitar part of the original, yet it sounds like a keyboard producing the sound. Sounds very nice at first, but tends to be too repetitive. "Hurt (Quiet)" is the next remix from the original album. It is very recognizable and cleans up the original quite nicely, getting rid of a lot of the background noise that was evident on the original. The guitar build up is still present, but less noticeable and also a cleaner sound up until the explosive climax which echoes on for some time. This one is just as good if not better than the original and accentuates the lyrics better.

The following track is the first remix of "Eraser" and is titled "Eraser (Denial; Realization)" It works to build up quite well from the previous track and samples various phrases from the original song in a slowed down format so it becomes hard to recognize. The music builds back up and becomes more industrial sounding as it continues, bringing us back from the quietness of the previous track. Next comes an original instrumental track created for this collection by Aphex Twin called "At the Heart of it All". This one is a techno-industrial sounding song with a softer edge than normal, almost radio-friendly, but not quite. It incorporates a metallic drum loop as a base and later utilizes a horn section that grows and fades throughout the song. The next track is another version of "Eraser" called "Eraser (Polite)" which is a very short remix that repeats short phrases of the original and stays quite laidback and soothing, yet dark and foreboding.

Another remix of "Mr. Self Destruct" follows called "Self Destruction Final" which is a 9 minute remix that once again focuses on Adrian Belew's guitar passage from the original and also incorporates samples from David Bowie's "Time". It is very industrial and loud as you would expect from NINs. After this, another partly original track follows called "The Beauty of Being Numb" which starts out playing a backwards version of "Mr. Self Destruct" which actually sounds a lot better than you would think and is slightly ambient. This grows in intensity, but doesn't overwhelm and eventually becomes an original composition by Aphex Twin. The final track is the last remix of "Eraser" called "Erased, Over, Out" which samples synthesized sounds and thus ends the album on a slightly softer, yet still industrial note.

Overall, this contains some great highlights, but is still somewhat repetitive. The song explorations are great and I find that listening to the album is enjoyable except for the repetitive sections. Not as good as the "Closer to God" compilation or the original album, it is still a good album, it just isn't essential unless you love remixes and song manipulation. 3 stars.

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 Slow Dance by PHILLIPS, ANTHONY album cover Studio Album, 1990
4.24 | 131 ratings

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Slow Dance
Anthony Phillips Symphonic Prog

Review by branchranch

5 stars This album is phenomenal! I have listened to some of Mr. Phillips other work, and I think his presence really elevated Genesis' Trespass album. The pastoral sound which he brought to that group was sorely missed by me when he left. His music has always been peaceful and enjoyable to some degree. However, the only other recording by him that I own is Geese and the Ghost, which I like but not nearly as much as this one. But suddenly, out of nowhere, nearly twenty years later, the hand of God falls on Ant, and he creates this masterpiece. The equivalent of two side-long epics in the tradition of Thick as a Brick, this is an instrumental composition of incredible magnitude. And most surprisingly of all, his incredible guitar takes a backseat on this one. This recording is so filled with orchestral instrumentation, it could easily be classified as semi-classical, although comparisons to Michael Oldfield could easily be made, as well. The record starts out with one of the most enchanting themes I have ever heard. This theme will reoccur throughout the recording, and provides the glue which holds the entire piece together. A harp sound sets the mood, and then the orchestra enters bringing warmth and power to the main theme. Simplicity seems to be the key in this masterwork. Much of the record is spent is soft reflection between a couple of solo instruments playing counterpoint with the current melody line. Although there are a few segments where percussion takes center stage, the recording is so soft and pastoral, it is hard to classify it as rock at all. (after all this is a progressive-ROCK site) Transitions between musical passages are almost seamless, which is hard to fathom in a nearly 50- minute composition. The repeating main theme serves its purpose well here. Part two is a bit less interesting than part one, but only a little. On the downside, there are some cheesy-sounding synths and sampling from time to time, but that was a reflection of the time it was recorded. If you are a fan of classical or semi-classical music, Michael Oldfield, soft instrumental music, even easy-listening, you will find a lot to like here. If you insist that your music always have a driving beat, you will miss a real hidden gem. Final score: 4.75, rounded up to 5 stars, no doubt.

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 UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar) by NICHELODEON album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.18 | 12 ratings

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UKIYOE - Mondi Fluttuanti (with Insonar)
Nichelodeon RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars Olives

Fellow esteemed reviewers have already gone into detail about this highly interesting offering from Claudio Milano and his cohorts Nichelodeon. Fact of the matter is this man has been rummaging round the outskirts of the Italian prog world for nigh on a decade now - still very much the outsider. Hell one of the first times I spoke to him over mails, he mentioned this outsider status had rubbed off to the outside world - leading the cutting edge RIO festival in Carnaux to ditch him because he didn't make the kind of music they were looking for.

So he's not RIO or avant enough for the cool cats in France, and he's not close enough to the old prog rock of yesteryear to be mentioned in the same breath. Basically this music is outside of the norm - beyond stickers. That additionally means it makes it almost impossible to convey in words just how this really sounds......that is without resorting to the glib ways of nonsense, which I naturally am about to do:

In many ways you could say that Ukiyoe sounds like a series of disturbing lullabies handed over to you by a vocal sorcerer of the wind....or maybe this is neoclassical folk music with a romantic yodeller floating elegantly overhead?

No matter how you approach this bugger you'll be struggling with your boxes. There just aren't any befitting ones available. To me that is a good thing. Considering that 90% of the current prog scene is enamoured with a style of music that seized to be progressive some 40 years ago - again and again trying to regurgitate a sense of structural complexity and far reaching sonic and intellectual motifs, it becomes all the more important that people like Claudio and his compatriots actually try to focus on what made prog of the 70s so vital and fresh, although with a completely new sound behind them.

With over 30 musicians lending a hand to this massive project one could easily be lead into thinking that Ukiyoe is a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. That is not the case though. The tunes all reek of intimacy and acoustic instruments - like a small gig in a beautiful shrubbery with harp and violin players dangling from the trees.

For points of reference........hmmm yeah...maybe go back to the earlier glib descriptions - that's all I can say. That and then occasionally I'm reminded of the wonderful operatic lunacy of yet another Italian group: Opus Avantra. Whilst they were fronted by one furious woman named Donella Del Monaco, it's the music and overall feel I'm referring to here. The combination of wildly experimental, yet at the same time gentle and soothing, vocals and this wafting kind of modern classical music rather mimics or indeed reflects some of the same strengths as Ukiyoe. To top it all off throw in some electronics, carefully placed usage of dissonance, folk music that isn't folk, classical music that isn't classical, bongos, the sound of seagulls, the odd drone and........wait for it.............. a boat! -Then you're almost there.

In truth, there is no way on earth to properly explain how this album sounds, and I find that exhilarating to say the least. If we are ever to find the spark that once lit up the 70s in fire and flame, then we have to start looking in places we haven't looked before. We have to be willing to taste a bit of something new before we proceed to knock it.

I hated olives growing up. They tasted like an unwashed bellybutton or wet lycra socks, that is until I overcame my fears and tasted them again at 29. My girlfriend at the time were lying in bed with me - obviously more interested in munching on something indefinable from beneath the bed than watching The Shining with your's truly. She then kissed me softly, but instead of enjoyment and the subsequent hand down her trousers, I was repelled by the smell coming off her breath. WTF had she been eating!?!?!?!!! Yup, turns out it was olives. Irritated by this pseudo Greek lying next to me and the fact that I had to stay with her for the remainder of the night, I decided to take the plunge... 'Hand over one of those bad boys baby'...and wow am I glad I did! Not only did I overcome my fear of olives - I additionally got into her panties.

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 The Lost Tales by AINUR album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
4.00 | 5 ratings

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The Lost Tales
Ainur Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

4 stars The works of fantasy writer J.R.R Tolkien, most recognized as the author of `The Hobbit' and `The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, have certainly influenced a number of progressive music artists over the years. Swedish keyboardist Bo Hansson was inspired on his `Lord of the Rings' LP, modern symphonic masters Glass Hammer offered `Journey of the Dunadan' and `The Middle Earth Album' early on in their discogrpahy, and Marillion themselves were initially named after a less widely-known known Tolkien tome, `The Silmarillion'. Also taking inspiration from that particular work even further is an Italian collective known as Ainur, a group that boasts no less than 18 musicians and singers. `The Lost Tales' is a compilation of both reimagined earlier pieces and unreleased tracks, yet it works perfectly well as a standalone album all its own. Every one of the thirteen compositions on offer here present a kind of light symphonic/medieval/folk and Rock Progressivo Italiano prog based around Tolkien's worlds with accessible arrangements, tasteful (frequently acoustic) instrumental playing and always pleasing male and female vocal melodies. Brief vintage prog sounds of the Moog, Mellotron and organ weave blissfully between violin, cello and harp, and it all comes together with evocative and sumptuous taste.

Looking at some of the standout moments, right from opener `Welcoming of Eriol', Gianluca Castelli's piano delicately and subtly dazzles, as a mix of charmingly Italian- accented English vocals (perhaps bringing to mind a less stuffy and grandiose version of Hostsonaten's `Alive in Theatre' live album) swoon around a haunting melody with restrained power and conviction. Violin, cello and harp weave magically together with warm group harmonies in the chorus of the madrigal `Mourning - The Coming of Nienor'. Tracks like `The Beginning of Days' are sweet and joyous, the droning group harmonies of the finale of `Verge of the Forest' is hypnotic, and the album closer `Lorien' is refreshingly upbeat and softly romantic. More ambitious and lengthier pieces impress even more and hold the most interest to progressive music listeners. `Yavanna's Song' begins with softly stirring horns and violin and careful jazzy drumming, before taking an uneasy, more up- tempo darker acoustic guitar turn alongside groaning cello.

But best of all is when the group moves closer to a more traditional Italian prog/RPI sound. `The Fall of Gondolin' features a passionate and raspy theatrical male vocal, melancholic flute, and a dashing range of exotic acoustic guitar flavours with wilder jazzy and classical piano outbursts. `Glaurung's Death' includes dirtier huffing flute and a pompous operatic vocal with a fiery Mediterranean acoustic guitar, violin and piano extended instrumental finale. The first half of `Hirilorn' has a lovely extended instrumental build on clarinet and acoustic guitar before sprightly piano, flute and violin duel in the finale, and `Return from Death' has a sprinkling of maniacal classical piano and tricky murmuring bass throughout. The symphonic drama of the almost ten minute `The Time Beyond' incorporates everything from operatic vocals, sweeping orchestration, glistening classical piano, heavenly violins that rise into the sky and the most sly of tiny Mellotron wisps.

Admittedly thirteen tracks equalling seventy four minutes mostly in a similar style becomes a little repetitive after a while. I'm not sure if the band would even fully identify themselves as a full-blown progressive rock band, but they should definitely consider incorporating longer instrumental breaks more often into their music, as many of the pieces here are loaded almost beginning to end with vocal passages that become a little tedious from time to time. However, this is immaculately performed with great conviction, and looking over the photos of the group all dressed in medieval garb inside the CD booklet reaffirms what a true sense of community these performers share together. Tolkien fanatics who will connect closer with the lyrical themes and book references will be the ones who really cherish `The Lost Tales', able to appreciate it on so many more levels than more general progressive rock and RPI listeners. But so much love, passion and devotion has gone into this work from the Ainur collective that the sheer talent on display cannot be denied.

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

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 Selling England By The Pound by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.63 | 3108 ratings

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Selling England By The Pound
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by Westonbirt

5 stars As I bravely set out to review Genesis' catalogue, I had to decide where to start. Probably best to go from the top and also the most uncontroversial. As such, here is "Selling England By The Pound", arguably best Genesis album and best title ever written.

Word of God says that this album was written at a time when there was a fear among the still small, dedicated base of the group over whether or not they would sell out to the dirty Americans and their new-world ways. As such, here is the album equivalent of a communitarian revival.

This is of course a caricature. This album has indeed a very English folk charm, but it is at this point a distillation of Gabriel's songwriting wonder, combined with the musicianship of Tony, Steve, Mike and Phil. For this album doesn't have the resonance of say, Dark Side, whose sparse lyrics were bordering on tautology at times.

No, this is isn't a broadly appealing piece - as noted by many reviews of the time. What it is is a brilliantly woven series of tableaux. Beginning with the opening track which transitions from a charming folk ballad to an explosive electric number so seamlessly it's almost offensive. It then peaks, sustains and gently glides back to earth - a complexity of texture that will seem familiar over the next 54 minutes.

Following with the almost successful single I Know What I Like, a delicious digestible piece that was quite rare at the time for Gabriel's Angels. Firth of Fifth needs no introductions - it is a wonderful Banksian work brought to impossible heights by Hackett. More Fool Me is meh, but then again it was written by Phil and Mike on the porch, so I wont be too hard. Battle of Epping Forest is a bit harder to swallow. While the lyrics are not bad, it's not greatly executed, very wordy without having the musical chops to sustain itself. But Tony thinks so too, so I don't feel alone.

Returning on the mode of the first piece, After The Ordeal. While shorter, it is also pleasant. The true second standout moment of the album is The Cinema Show. A truly magnificent work, from its gentle start to its finish on the leitmotiv of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight. Essentially instrumental, it serves a great ending ot the album (Aisle Of Plenty is more of an epilogue).

Phil's drumming brings the whole enterprise to a nice chug, while Hackett in bursts and Banks pretty much whenever manage to show tremendous skill. One reproach you could make it is quite a pretentious number. But I guess, to me, the pretentiousness of The Lamb crushes everything else. All and all, it is a really great album, and definitely one to hang over the chimney. A+

If you'd enjoy it more if it was on a slower boil, try Foxtrot. If you'd like it more if it had more material and was less idiosyncratic, try A Trick Of The Tail.

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 A Billion Years of Solitude by SKY ARCHITECT album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.97 | 132 ratings

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A Billion Years of Solitude
Sky Architect Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I really enjoyed this band's debut from 2010 called "Excavations Of The Mind" but skipped their next one after seeing some not so favourable reviews. This most recent recording by SKY ARCHITECT is pretty darn good but in my opinion it doesn't match the quality of the debut which was two years in the making.

"The Curious One" has a dramatic intro that gives way to some meandering drum work and spacey sounds. Strummed guitar and spacey synths take over after 3 minutes. Reserved vocals after 5 minutes then it starts to kick in after 7 minutes instrumentally, an impressive display. The vocals will proceed to come and go as the song plays out. I like the laid back atmospheric section starting after 12 minutes, especially when the spacey sounds are added. It kicks back in before 15 minutes for a kick-ass ending. "Wormholes(The Inevitable...)" opens with vocals, drums, organ and more before it settles into a groove although this song will continue to evolve and change. Some good organ runs late before we get a big finish. "Tides" is one I like a lot with those melancholic vocals which are the focus. Water sounds end it.

"Elegy Of A Solitary Giant" opens with piano and atmosphere before it kicks into an ANGLAGARD-like section which is really surprising and well done. It changes after 2 minutes with reserved vocals and a mellow sound. It starts to build. Horns 4 minutes in which is another surprise. A calm with piano like the intro follows then it kicks back in after 5 1/2 minutes. Impressive. Piano and a mellow vibe again before 8 minutes as we get a dreamy section with more horns. It's heavier late to end it. "Jim's Ride To Hell" is a really good kick-ass instrumental with some great bottom end sounds with atmospheric synths. Check out the guitar as well. "Revolutions" is my favourite and it has a punchy instrumental passage to start that is quite impressive along with the guitar before a minute. Organ to the fore then we get a calm before 2 1/2 minutes with vocals. Some nice guitar as a new instrumental section takes over at 5 minutes, but the vocals will come and go. "Traveller's Last Candle" is a catchy vocal-led piece that changes before 2 minutes with mellotron and manipulated spoken words. A calm with melancholic synths before 3 minutes then the vocals return a minute later. I like the way it drifts along after 5 minutes then it kicks back in. Vocals are back before 10 minutes then an intense slow burn ends it all. Nice.

3.5 stars but i'll stick with the debut when I reach for a SKY ARCHITECT album.

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