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 The Outer Limits by VOIVOD album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.23 | 98 ratings

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The Outer Limits
Voivod Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Voivod - The Outer Limits (1993)

Well this quickly became one of my favorite Voivod albums. The production is sharp en professional, the band enthusiastic and the songs relatively catchy. The balance between the innovative forces and the melodic forces is finally in place. Voivod playes its own brand of progressive metal with a major role for the innovative odd guitar chords of Denis d'Amour, the punky vocals of Denis Belanger and the sci-fi lyrics and atmosphere of the music. I found earlier progressive albums to be a bit poorly produced, but since Nothingface - another favorite - the band has done fine. Between these two albums we find the peculiar 'Angel Rat' album, which focusses more on art-rock songwriting in the tradition of seventies Alice Cooper. 'The Outer Limits' sees Voivod returning to their progressive metal basis, albeit a bit more polished (which a minor listener of the heavier forms of metal can find very pleasing).

On this album the main progressive force is the seventeen minute 'Jack Luminous', which many have pointed at as being a highlight of the progressive metal genre. On other tracks Voivod can be surprisingly simple and effective, whilst giving most songs some original twists and innovative instrumental sections. The opening track 'Fix my Heart' is quite approachable for newcomers and it reminds me a bit of the poppier work of Megadeth, especially when it comes to the vocals. 'Moonbeam Rider' introduces the abstract atmospheres of Voivod in a relaxing sci-fi mood, I simply love this track! They should use it for a sci-fi or racing movie. 'Le Point Noir' is a strong with a strange clean section and a brilliant heavy refrain theme which reminds me a bit of the later works of King Crimson. 'The Nile Song' is no favorite of mine, but it works fine as a Pink Floyd cover and it is defenitly way better then the underproduces original. 'Time Warp', 'Wrong-Way Street' and 'We Are Not Alone' are all more conventional tracks that are very enjoyable.

Conclusion. If you can do without the trash-element of Voivod you're left with perhaps their finest progressive metal album. A great place to start in their discography it would seem. Four stars for this one!

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 The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter by INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.15 | 40 ratings

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The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
The Incredible String Band Prog Folk

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The Incredible String Band - The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (1968)

This odd folk group has made some very enjoyable records, this one and 'The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion' being the most original in my opinion. The band has in its core Mike Heron and Robin Williamson, two songwriters and multi-instrumentalists with distinctive voices and styles. They both wrote their songs on their own, agreeing on the fact that the other could then later add instruments and lines without interference or too much discussion. The clumsy yet very authentic sound of the Incredible String Band is unique, yet it can also be quite challenging for some. A lot of the large arsenal of musical instruments sound like played by an amateur with much enthusiasm. Girlfriends Dolly Collins and Licorice McKechnie would also join the band and play percussions and keyboards.

The Incredible String Band deserves its place on the progarchives because of the original multi-part songwriting skills portrayed by both Heron and Williamson. At their best their power of imagination is unmatched and the free flow of inspired musical ideas is why I love to listen to a record like this. In addition, the music and lyrics can be really funny and a bit psychedelic. Perhaps a bit like Pink Floyd's debut album.

This album is a nonstop flow of original songs with surprising and fresh sounding ideas. I can highly recommend it, though it can take a while to get into what at first glance sounds amateurish ' but proves to be the reason why this album is among the few ageless and undying sixties records. I'm going to give this warm four and a halve star rating, enjoy!

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 A Saucerful Of Secrets by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.65 | 1249 ratings

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A Saucerful Of Secrets
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Pink Floyd was probably my first real foray outside of heavy metal though I still looked for heavy guitars as heard in parts of 'The Wall' and 'Animals'. Having an interest in music of the late sixties, one of the earlier Floyd albums to enter my collection was 'A Saucerful of Secrets'. Released in 1968, this was the second Pink Floyd album and notable for being the first to feature David Gilmour and the last to include material penned by the madcap, Mr. Syd Barrett, as the album's recording actually began in 1967 while Barrett was still a contributing member. Barrett appears on the tracks 'Remember a Day', 'Jugband Blues' and 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun'.

The album sees the band moving ahead, focusing more on darker, seriously-themed music with the childlike quality in the lyrics and playful approach to the music relegated to only a song or two. There is also one long experimental piece in the title track.

Side one of the album is in my view the more enjoyable, all four songs being of interest. The first track, 'Let There Be More Light' is in two parts, beginning with a rather quick bass line and rapidly developing into a space rock instrumental with Richard Wright's keyboards providing eerie tones that at times seem a little improvised as though he was asked to record them while listening to the backing track for the first time. The music then slows down for the song part and the vocals are shared by Wright and Gilmour. The song winds down with a guitar solo by Gilmour. The article on Wikipedia delves into the lyrics, describing the many references.

'Remember a Day' and 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' are both slow songs, the former featuring some pretty piano work by Wright but also some eerie, spacey slide guitar work by Gilmour who creates some very high tones in a psychedelic approach to slide guitar playing. The drumming picks up pace throughout the verses of the song but the vocals by Wright are still soothing and soft. The song looks back on childhood. 'Set the Controls' develops the haunting space theme further, slowing down to a mysterious and almost unsettling journey through the unknown. Nick Mason's percussion here is based on a repeated rhythm of light drumming and cymbal crashes while Richard Wright provides eerie tones.

The mood lifts for the final track, 'Corporal Clegg', a Water's song that begins his war themed lyrics. The song is more guitar-oriented with very sharp and harsher sounds. It's about a retired war veteran whose career is actually not as esteemed as he makes it out to be, with his one medal being something he found in the zoo (metaphor?). The song becomes very cacophonic near the end as a slowed down polka theme is gradually layered with more and more sound effects and voices. The whole mess reaches an abrupt conclusion.

The title track opens side two and is in three parts. It is a long experimental piece with lots of Floydian psychedelia. Though it has its moments, I personally find this uninspiring and a bit of a chore to get through. As my musical tastes evolve I come back to this track from time to time to see if I can understand it better; however, to this day I still find little to appreciate. It does indicate, though, the direction the band would take for 'Ummagumma', so if that's your preference then you'll possibly enjoy 'A Saucerful of Secrets'.

Interestingly, I read that someone called the next track, 'See Saw' the most boring song in the history of rock. I have always liked it even back in my high school days. Richard Wright's soothing vocals and the pretty piano cascades appeal to me and I also like how the innocence of a song of non-innocence is maintained by the naivety of the lyrics and musical theme which only occasionally drops suddenly into a darker theme with a crash, only to return to the prettier sounds once again.

The final track is Syd Barrett's only contribution to the song writing and this is obvious because of the rather bizarre lyrics. 'It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here and I'm much obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here.' Barrett was no doubt referring to how the band was keeping him as a member but beginning to make decisions about the band without him. 'And I'm grateful to you for throwing away my old shoes and brought me here instead dressed in red.'

The music is typical of Barrett's playful themes with a joyous phrase of la-la-las and some jaunty brass band music played by a Salvation Army band. The music, however, soon becomes an adventure in crossing sounds of repeated la-la-las to inserts of guitar effects, fade ins and outs of brass band music in a different key and other effects. The final segment of the song is a strummed acoustic guitar and Barrett's closing lines 'And the sea isn't green / And I love the queen / And what exactly does it mean / And what exactly is a joke'. This final part is reminiscent of music that would later appear on the album 'Opel'.

As I said above, for me the best of the music is on side one with 'See Saw' having its charms and 'Jug Band Blues' having its moments as well. The title track remains too far outside of my music appreciation capabilities though I respect that the band was eager to try this. I do prefer this album over most of Floyd's pre-'Meddle' days and I give it four stars for being mostly enjoyable while also creative.

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 The Wall by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.05 | 2155 ratings

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The Wall
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by aglasshouse

2 stars You know, I used to think that The Wall by Pink Floyd was the best thing ever. This was partly due to me having very little music at the time, and just happening to pull this dusty double album CD out of a random shelf and sliding it into my computer. I thought everything from the music to it's concept were fantastic. The stars were aligned in this album's favor. After actually comprehensibly listening to all of Floyd's music, I have a much more different idea. This album wasn't as fantastic as I remembered.

My main problem with the entire thing is Waters' complain-y sort of way he tells his life story. Not in the way of the actual subject matter or what he's trying to get across, but he tries to make his music sort so artistic that it just seems snobbish. Not to mention, it's only him really doing anything, because he barely let his band members contribute to it. It was, in a way, Waters' child. And when something like that happens, things can usually go awry. In this case, the music is so focused on his point of view that his fellow band mates couldn't play as well as they had before. Quite a disappointing prospect that was not very enjoyable to listen to. From the pseudo-metal of 'In The Flesh', to the bad attempt at spacey psych rock 'Comfortably Numb', Waters' magnum opus was nothing but a double sided excuse for over-exaggerated self pity.

I mean ugh, I don't want to sit here and listen to Waters preach to us how he's just a fragile soul who's emotional barriers caused him to be such a rude dolt to everyone who cared about him. That brings us to his treatment of his staff and fellow band mates during the tour. Bob Erzin, the producer for Pink Floyd who in the end was able to grace them with a platinum record, was treated with less than how he should have been treated. But this isn't a biography on Roger, so let me explain WHY I don't like this album in more detail.

Most of the music is built on pillars of keyboard synthesizer and spoken word that gives the album the illusion that it's way smarter than it actually is. But even then, Wright was kicked out of the band after the release due to Waters' remarks of his ineptitude on the instrument. It is all a confusing mess. I must admit that some of the vocal effects they pull off on say 'Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 1', but that's one of the few things I did enjoy. Many of the songs are drawn out to their full extent in order to really blast you Waters' story and make you feel sorry for him. Not enjoyable at all. Some tracks are keepers, though. Most of them are on the second half, and are the only reason I'm not dumping this into the one star category. 'Run Like Hell' and 'Waiting For The Worms' are two pretty cool tracks, and 'The Trial' is a mighty fine piece of conceptual music, with spoken word actually being used expertly well. The album just ends on a terrible note with the child-chorus of 'Outside the Wall', totally ruining anything 'The Trial' had accomplished. At every turn where the band actually seems to have a grasp on Waters' personal nonsense music, they fail extraordinarily with more synth led acoustic or attempts at radio friendly rock songs like 'Young Lust' (which happens to literally be filler because the band needed more space).

So, in the end, this whole album is pretty much a tangled mess that got all of the juice squeezed out of it until it was nothing but pulp. The album had extremely successful singles that weren't even that good in the first place. In the instance of the lame disco-rock like 'Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2', very reminiscent of what Yes tried to do with 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' years later and succeeded at as well. This album is not good, and I appreciate it very little. The biggest growth it had on me was it introducing me to the band, but even now I've heard so much better than it in past years, so this is just in the back of my memory now. I have no desire to revisit this album any time soon.

I do not recommend this album.

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 Ataraxia (Sky Blue)  by PASSPORT album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.09 | 22 ratings

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Ataraxia (Sky Blue)
Passport Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars Underrated late '70s Passport album, this album found the group with a complete overhaul of their lineup. Gone are Curt Cross, Kristian Schultze and Wolfgang Schmid, with a whole new lineup. Passport has always been Klaus Doldinger's vehicle to begin with, as the first album, Doldinger from 1971 featured a lineup that's completely different from the lineup that gave up Looking Thru up to Iguacu (except for Doldinger, naturally), so this isn't the first time Passport had a complete overhaul of their lineup. Gone is much of the Brazilian style of Iguacu, except for that last cut, "Alegria", instead you get some of that mid '70s Passport style, with a spacy electronic backdrop, and two cuts, "Sky Blue" and "Loco-Motive" bearing more than a passing resemblance to instrumental Alan Parsons Project. I happened to like the direction Passport was heading here. I am particularly fond of the electronic direction they were heading here. "Mandrake", on the other hand is more typical Passport, with that unmistakable sax playing from Klaus Doldinger. This song gets me thinking of a TV game show theme song. I have always been under the impression Doldinger was of two minds, he wanted mainstream acceptance, at the same time he had creative ambitions. Had he not had those ambitions, he could have scarily ended up as the Kenny G of the 1970s. There's at times Passport did border on smooth jazz, and that is most noticeable on "Louisiana". Then there's "Reng Ding Dang Dong". This one just utterly blew me away. Probably the most original piece of music I have ever heard from Passport (a band never known for originality). This is an electronic piece, done really funky of synthesizers. I really love this piece, I can't believe this is really Passport. While Passport in general might not be of interest to lovers of progressive electronic, "Reng Ding Dang Dong" sure does, as it's firmly in that camp! This album is not perfect, "Alegria" is Brazilian-influenced jazz I can do without (seems everyone agrees), and is probably the reason I've been hesitant to get Iguacu. Call me crazy, I found Ataraxia (Sky Blue) more enjoyable than Infinity Machine. Of course Cross Collateral is by far the best Passport album, as far as I'm concerned, but I was really surprised with this album, given if you go by this website, Infinity Machine is their last worthwhile album. For me, it's Ataraxia. Not everything is great here, but I enjoyed it much more than I imagined.

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 The Final Breath Before November by EDISON'S CHILDREN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.05 | 166 ratings

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The Final Breath Before November
Edison's Children Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I thoroughly enjoyed the debut of this band so it was an easy choice to pick up their sophomore effort from late in 2013. I still feel "In The Last Waking Moments..." is their best, I prefer that heavier sound I suppose. This recording is very enjoyable though and I can't give this anything less than 4 stars. It's that melancholic vibe that permeates throughout this album that is the main draw for yours truly. There does seem to be a connection between the two recording, in fact a line from their debut from the song "Dusk" states "When will this November end" plus there are other lyrical connections. Yeah i'm probably way off(hehe).

"Final Breath" opens with atmosphere as picked guitar and melancholic synths cry out. A beat after 1 1/2 minutes as it picks up in tempo and becomes fuller. The vocals before 3 minutes are almost spoken and seem to echo. "Light Years" opens with static like something you'd hear when playing vinyl. Strummed guitar and more join in as it builds, vocals follow. This is a catchy upbeat track compared to the rest of the record. This does seem out of place until it changes completely after 6 minutes to a beautiful, melancholic vocal-led piece. Gorgeous! My favourite section right there.

Next we get the tour-de-force called "Silhoutte" and it's ridiculous length at over 67 minutes. A melancholic start with fragile vocals early on and I like the beat and atmosphere 2 minutes in. Such a feel-good section with a hint of sadness and reflection. Vocals stop as it winds down before 10 minutes then it changes as we get an electronic beat, drums and atmosphere. Spoken words 11 minutes in before the vocals arrive once again. Nice soaring guitar in the Gilmour style here, in fact the soundscape is very PINK FLOYD-like after 13 minutes. It eventually begins to wind down until we get a change after 22 minutes of intricate guitar only. Fragile vocals join in along with strings. It turns fuller before 25 1/2 minutes and guitar comes to the fore a minute later, nice prominant bass too.

A change 30 minutes in as we get vocals and intricate guitar only. It sounds like flute before 32 minutes then it turns much fuller.An interesting sound after 34 minutes that reminds me of those orchestral sounding keys by SATELLITE. It turns heavier 36 minutes in. Nice. A change after 38 minutes as that SATELLITE sound returns along with vocals. A beautiful section arrives after 42 minutes then we get another change after 45 minutes as dual vocals and acoustic guitar take over. Another change after 48 minutes as we get a beautiful and emotional section. Very atmospheric with vocals. Pleasant guitar after 51 minutes when the vocals stop, but the vocals will come and go. This drifting section continues until becoming more powerful 57 minutes in. A complete change after 65 1/2 minutes as dual vocals and acoustic guitar return to end the song and album.

Another winner from these two and while I didn't find it as engaging as the debut I can't help but be taken with their melancholic and atmospheric style.

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 Live From Manticore Hall (Emerson & Lake) by EMERSON, KEITH album cover Live, 2014
3.34 | 7 ratings

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Live From Manticore Hall (Emerson & Lake)
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by JD

2 stars Slow and steady may win the race But some of these tunes need to pick up the pace

Full Disclosure :

Emerson shaped my youth with his brash, attacking style and Lake's smooth full voice filled my head with wonder, but as is life, we all have our "Time and a Place". As much as I still tell people who care about such things that ELP is my favorite band, this is a 'stroll' down memory lane and not an 'invigorating raunch' as would have been preferred. So this 'Rocker Walker' tour release must be viewed from that perspective.

Production :

If only ELP had had this same production value on earlier live albums, clean, clear and punchy. But that's only a part of production. Not having a real drummer is one of the first scars I find on this recording. Through no fault of their own (or maybe it was?) Carl Palmer is clearly absent. This leaves the recording a little thin and as much as I appreciate what Keith and Greg wanted to provide here they should have had a drummer in the wings to provide that vital support.

15/20

Song Writing :

During Greg's intro to this concert he speaks of he and Keith getting together in his studio to write some songs as the inspiration for this concert. Yet no new songs appear on this album. I find this to be one of the biggest issues I have with this album. What better way to thank the fans that have stuck around this long but to dish up some new music. Unfortunately it's not to be. Instead we get another greatest hits live outing. There is really nothing to draw an audience to this album short of completionism and I plead guilty as charged.

5/20

Originality :

I've mentioned in other reviews that live albums are tough for me to score high unless the musicians make a concerted effort to elevate the songs beyond their original arrangements. Few musicians or bands have done this well although I place ELP among them for re-arranging their own songs from time to time to keep things interesting. Opening the album is a very pleasant rendition of "From the Beginning" which promises an album of sonic bliss to come. For the most part it does deliver. Tarkus on the other hand is the counterbalance to this with a slow trodding version that ends in a distracting noisy synth solo that does nothing to enhance this once excellent piece of music.

6/20

Performance :

Like the 40th anniversary High Voltage concert this performance suffers from a lack of raw energy. But at 70 years of age for Emerson and 67 years for Lake what's to be expected. All our bodies break down over time and none expose it so much as athletes or musician who built their legacy around sacrificing their bodies for the love of their craft. The speed that made many of these tunes legendary has been slowed considerably and still the boys have trouble staying in time with one another.

Without Carl's involvement here, turning to the infamous 'Japanese Drummer' when needed left me feeling hungry for a more rhythmic performance. A complete re-arrangement of songs like 'Bitches Crystal' to a more, jazzy piano guitar piece might have saved this album a little.

One of the few saving graces I found was the beautiful guitar serenade on "From the Beginning" and the sweet piano intro to Luck Man that concludes the album. There is little to no improvisation here and it's a quality I greatly miss in this recording, even the Lucky Man synth solo is weak and dull.

8/20

General Impressions :

This was certainly a disappointment after waiting so long to hear it. It could have been an excellent memoir of two of Prog's greatest contributors but instead turns out to be a soon forgotten night of two buddies kicking back, not quite sure how to remember the times of yore.

8/20

Total = 42/100 (42% of 5 stars)

2.10

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 Short Stories by JON & VANGELIS album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.08 | 66 ratings

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Short Stories
Jon & Vangelis Prog Related

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

3 stars `Short Stories' is the 1980 debut album that resulted from a collaboration between avant- garde keyboard player Vangelis and the lead singer of symphonic prog legends Yes, Jon Anderson. Although not even remotely as daring as the Seventies work of the Greek composer, nor as exciting as the classic Yes output from that same era, this first work still holds some moments of worthwhile music, with the two artists frequently blending together and complimenting each-other in interesting ways. On this album, the pair occasionally succeed in grafting Anderson's quasi cosmic/hippie enlightened words and Vangelis' spontaneous keyboard flair to mostly strong melodic compositions without truly aiming as low as obnoxious and vapid popular chart/top 40 music. Some moments get a bit drippy here and there (with Anderson involved, that's probably not all that surprising!), but there's a constant airy variety on display, and both the artists bring enough inspiration.

A lengthy and dramatic instrumental build from Vangelis offering reverberating fan-like beats and energetic Hammond runs brings just a touch of unease and mystery throughout opener `Curious Electric'. Jon Anderson soon pops up to offer some matter of fact stream- of-consciousness musings over jagged discordant slicings, and I'm sure ever so briefly his melody drifts to the opening of Yes' `The Revealing Science of God'? `Each and Every Day' begins as a dreamy spacey drift of synths around a protective vocal from Jon that soon grows in power. `Bird Song' is a twinkling synth rumination with a grand chorus. The romantic `I Hear You Now' was a deserved hit single on it's release in the UK, and it's all pretty synths, a lovely melody and a sprightly Anderson vocal with swirling deep-space effects. `The Road' is an acoustic gospel piece with an unsurprisingly reflective lyric punctuated with big churning synth stabs.

`Far Away in Baagad' could be a distant relative to Anderson's `Olias of Sunhillow', droning chanting harmonies and frantic vocals weaving around building synth fanfares. Sadly, from here on the second side of the album takes a sharp dip in quality. `Love Is' has a swooning overwhelming loved-up vocal from Jon over New-Age ethereal synth washes, sweet but get's a little overwrought and definitely overstays it's welcome. `One More Time' is even more sickly-sweet, a late-night jazzy electric piano ballad with a syrupy vocal. A playful, almost theatrical vocal from Jon is seriously grating throughout the quirky `Thunder' too. Thankfully the closing track `A Play Within A Play' is much more interesting, with longer instrumental shimmering synth passages around a soothing vocal, before breaking into an up-tempo synth freak-out in the middle! If only more of the second side had been this inventive and promising!

One thing instantly noticeable is how confident and freed Jon Anderson's vocals are throughout `Short Stories'. Compare his performance on this album to his by-the-numbers going through the motions on the 1978 Yes album `Tormato'. Likewise, Vangelis seems up to the challenge of reigning in his more self -indulgent tendencies, and it's nice to hear him focused and a little more subdued after his schizophrenic mid to late 70's solo works! Although hardly a progressive blowout, and despite some of the later stretches getting a little too cute, `Short Stories is still an intelligent and often tasteful adult pop release. It's gentle, but there's still moments of artistic inventiveness and quirky flourishes to keep things interesting.

Three stars.

(Special thanks to Sam (Archives member Meltdowner) for mentioning this one to me, glad I gave it a chance!

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 KaLIVEoscope by TRANSATLANTIC album cover DVD/Video, 2014
4.44 | 16 ratings

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KaLIVEoscope
Transatlantic Symphonic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars First of all, my edition is not the one pointed on PA. I have the 3 CD+DVD edition.

Anyway, by now everyone that pay attention on Neal Morse's career know that he's into the 'one studio album, one tour, one live album' situation. Of course that in one of his big projects, Transatlantic, would not be different! KaLIVEoscope (2014) was released following their tour to support their new studio album Kaleidoscope (2014) released earlier this year.

You might argue that we don't need yet another Transatlantic live album, after all this if their 5th (against 4 studio albums). But truth is, each tour has a different taste. I own Whirld Tour 2010 (2010) and I can say that KaLIVEoscope (2014) feels different, by many reasons.

First, this time we don't have Daniel Gildenlow as the 5th member of the band, as he was still recovering from his skin disease. Instead we have Ted Leaonard (Enchant & Spock's Beard) playing guitars, keyboards and singing (very well by the way). Second, the band changed the tracklist for this tour so they could play the new tunes and also play songs they weren't playing for some time such as 'My New World', there's even some Focus on the bill too. Unfortunately we don't have 'Duel With The Devil' but as it was always present in the past live albums I can understand why it's out this time.

3 CDs may seem too much but for Transatlantic is needed as their show is almost 3 hours long. The cherry on the top of the cake is the DVD that comes in the box. The nice thing about this set is that the CD was recorded in Tilburg (Netherlands) and the DVD in Cologne (Germany), this makes the experience of watching and listening unique instead of just a repetition.

Despite the weak joke with the name of the album KaLIVEoscope (2014) is a highlight for 2014, a year that for me was very weak in new releases, this album comes as a joy for as this ears are tired of the so called 'new prog'.

Go for it without reservations! Very recommended.

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 Coffins On Io by KAYO DOT album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 35 ratings

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Coffins On Io
Kayo Dot RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars Toby Driver keeps on evolving. Perhaps more than any other artist . . . ever. Miles. Fripp. Genesis. Sylvian. Herbie. Mahavishnu John. Zorn. Ulver. Trying new styles, new personas, stretching himself instrumentally and compositionally, Toby Driver's Kayo Dot discography alone would compare favorably to any of the above shape-shifting artists--and Coffins on Io does not disappoint on that account. The much-mentioned Goth/glam-synth-pop sounds from the 1980s are absolutely present here (the over-long "Library Subterranean" [8:23] [9/10], the feel of the guitar chord sequence and vocal in the first two sections of "The Assassination of Adam"), but there is so much more. There is a haunting soundtrack jazziness to the saxophone-laden "Spirit Photography" (10:06) (10/10). And yet there are still vestiges of the Post Metal heaviness of previous Kayo Dot albums, such as on the second half of "The Assassination of Adam" (5:47) (7/10; a bit too grating for my ears), as well as some of the sensitivity and enjoyable melody-making of Toby's maudlin of The Well era ("Longtime Disturbance on the Miracle Mile" [4:07] [8/10]). Parts of "The Assassination of Adam," interestingly, also fit into the realm of psychedelia.

Two of my favorite three songs sound like they came straight out of the 80s. In the haunting "Offramp Cycle, Pattern 22" (9:25) (10/10) I hear bits and pieces of bands like DIF JUZ, TALK TALK, BLUE NILE, THE CURE, GENE LOVES JEZEBEL, NEW ORDER, DEPECHE MODE, ICEHOUSE, ROXY MUSIC, and even STEELY DAN (in the drumming).

Despite its length, "The Mortality of Doves" (11:54) (9/10) has one of my favorite Toby Driver vocals of all-time. Though it is very heavily treated in reverb, it is his most consistently 'normal' vocal ever. It is also heavily steeped in similarities to the glam styles of 1980s Glam rockers like Brian Ferry, Ira Davies and Dave Gahan. And yet it is Toby Driver--his own fresh, new territory. Where the song suffers, however, is in its lack of variation and 'development' over its twelve minute length.

"Spirit Photography" (10/10) escapes being pigeon-holed in the 1980s umbrella due to its spaciousness and its jazzier drums (though 1990s TALK TALK does come to mind). The gentle central groove with its DICK PARRY-like breathy sax is quite reminiscent, to me, of the wonderfully soporific songs "Breathe" and "Us and Them" from PINK FLOYD's Dark Side of the Moon.

Still, this is, for me, the most impressive--and my favorite--Kayo Dot album since Choirs of the Eye. The others have been either too unpolished, too dark and depressing, or seeming undeveloped and without direction. While Toby's signature chunky, rolling bass remains central to every song, Coffins on Io has seen Toby & Co. take a definite turn down a "road less travelled by" other bands. Let's hope that it is the one that makes all the difference.

4.5 stars--one of the best I've heard from 2014.

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