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PROG ARCHIVES intends to be the most complete and powerful progressive rock resource. You can find the progressive rock music discographies from 9,875 bands & artists, 52,553 albums (LP, CD and DVD), 1,389,530 ratings and reviews from 58,089 members who also participate in our active forum. You can also read the new visitors guide (forum page).
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 Lilac Garden by POTAPOV, VYACHESLAV album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.32 | 9 ratings

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Lilac Garden
Vyacheslav Potapov Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Lilac Garden is the fourth album by Vyachelav Potapov from Kazakhstan. As always, the cover design by the artist himself is very fine. The VP albums have been released digitally only, though the latest one, Water World (2012) was recently released on disc, as we know from the lengthy review that also described the narrative concept in deep detail.

Everything in VP music is created by Potapov alone. There are several one-man acts whose music is amazingly on the same level as group efforts (perhaps the German artist T being one of the best examples today, and with the charming "Return to Ommadawn" Mike Oldfield reminded us of being the grand master in this field). I don't count VP among them. In general his music is, to me anyway, rather clinical, artificial, cold, emotionless, staring at its own navel so to speak (perhaps too clever for its own good just like the early Roz Vitalis). Occasionally the jazzier moments bring some life, but frankly I get very little out of this album too, the same way as with the other one I've reviewed here. 'Swing for a Battle Iris' and 'Was Born in Flowers' last over 8 minutes and they fail to impress me any more than the shorter ones. Quite the opposite actually. VP uses a lot of digitally made brassy sounds lacking of warmth, and the programmed percussion tastes like computer all the way. From the melodic sense the music is, in all its complexity, circling around like a blind man in a big room.

'Green Pound' has a fresher soundscape concentrating on piano and guitar. The slight meditativeness in the latter half of this track reminds me a bit of the instrumental section in YES's 'Awaken', without reaching the similar spellbinding and catharthic power, needless to say. But in this album it's easily the highlight for me. The brief and relatively minimalistic 'Withering' ends the album nicely. OK, I'm ready to raise my rating from two stars I thought of at first, helped partially by the beautiful cover art. This negatively oriented review is just my own reception, and while it may be useful for you (being the only one this album has received at the moment) remember that you may enjoy VP's music much more than I do. But those of us who appreciate warm, organic playing with acoustic instruments and a more emotional feel to the music are kindly adviced to look elsewhere.

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 Torn Between Dimensions by AT WAR WITH SELF album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.84 | 28 ratings

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Torn Between Dimensions
At War With Self Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Torn Between Dimensions" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Indianapolis, Indiana based progressive rock/metal act At War With Self. The album was released through the Free Electric Sound label in February 2005. At War With Self was founded in 2002 by multi-instrumentalist Glenn Snelwar (also known for his work with Gordian Knot) and is essentially a one-man project. "Torn Between Dimensions" does however feature session work by drummer Mark Zonder (Fates Warning, Warlord, Slavior) and bassist Michael Manring (Windham Hill, Jeff Loomis, Jim Matheos...among others).

And with a trio like that playing together it's no wonder the musical performances on the album are of a high quality. Stylistically the music on the album is instrumental progressive rock/metal with strong jazz rock/fusion leanings and more than one nod towards latin music. While At War With Self is widely considered a metal oriented act, the metal elements are limited to some heavy riffing and occasional distorted guitar sections. A couple of darker tinged tracks also contribute to the metal sound, but it's actually 90s Al Di Meola releases like "Orange And Blue (1994)" and "The Infinite Desire (1998)", that I'm mostly reminded of. So there are as many latin influenced acoustic guitar sections, jazzy guitar solos, fusion influenced drumming, and ambient keyboards featured on "Torn Between Dimensions", as there are heavy distorted riffs.

The balance between the different stylistic elements is an important element in At War With Self's sound. At times the dynamic music works well and other times the transitions between sections are a bit more awkward sounding. There's is no doubt that Glenn Snelwar is both a skilled musician and a skilled composer when it comes to the techncial aspect of playing and writing music, but listening to "Torn Between Dimensions" there's very little on the album that really grabs me and pulls me in. I find myself more interested in the music from a musician's point of view than from a music listener's point of view, and although that sort of "musician's music" is always interesting from a technical perspective, the music generally lacks emotional impact and memorability.

The sound production is also a bit disjointed and although all instruments individually feature a relatively good sound (the distorted guitar tone isn't that well sounding though), the instruments don't always work well together in the mix. So "Torn Between Dimensions" is an album with quality assets and some issues and therefore a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

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 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.29 | 42 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kaelka

4 stars Brilliant, boring, haunting, nerve-grating, strange... A masterpiece or a piece of junk? Neither actually. "Septober Energy", for all its crazy ambition of putting 50 musicians together for a giant jam, remains forever as one of those incredibly bold projects such as only our (well mine, however) beloved 70s could produce. If you're to young to have been around in those blessed times, put it on the turntable, if only once, and think of it : that's what musicians didn't hesitate to do then, before the first oil crisis, when booze and cigs and various drugs were cheap, when it was not necessary to come up with a business plan or nice sale prospects before recording or publishing an album. When we (well I, however) were young.

So, not a masterpiece obviously, but a nice album which fully deserves the 4 stars I'm giving it.

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 Novum by PROCOL HARUM album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.27 | 13 ratings

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Novum
Procol Harum Crossover Prog

Review by SteveG

3 stars I had some reservations about listening to this new Procol Harum album as I had heard that Gary Brooker's voice was deteriorating over the last few years. At 72 year's old, it has. And that creates a dilemma as Brooker's voice was also Procol's sixth instrument which he used, generally, while singing with a lack of diction along with a pitch shifting change between the lyric's syllables.

To compensate, this latest incarnation of Procol Harum have ramped up their playing as they were always a bit measured and reserved in the past. Guitarist Geoff Whitehorn really shines as he is able to jump from Richie Blackmore like riffing to Eddie Van Halen like flourish's. New organist/synth player Josh Phillips stays away from the old Procol sound of Bach or Handel flourishes and is more in a supporting role. Bassist Matt Pegg and new drummer Geoff Dunn really click and set off some driving rhythms in the harder rocking songs like "I Told You", "Business Man" and especially on "You Can't Say That". Great songs, by the way.

However, Brooker struggles with the ballads on the album, as his voice can just barely cover the range of this material and generally sounds scratchy. The exception being the stellar "I Am The Only One", one of those magically emotive Procol songs that would even sound good if it was sung by Tom Waits.

Long time lyricist Keith Reid is oddly missing on this outing, but former Cream lyricist Pete Brown has stepped in and, naturally, fits right in with Procol's music. The production on this album is top notch and sounds quite warm, almost analog, and dynamic. The key to Novum is if one can accept Brooker's aging vocals and enjoy the music for what it is, or dismiss the album out of hand. I'm on the fence at the moment, but I suspect I'll fall off after a few more listens. I feel that 3 stars is suitable for the band's effort to deliver something of value fifty yeas after recording their first album. They have played to their strengths this time around and that in itself is refreshing.

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 Individual Unique by MEDEA album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.30 | 8 ratings

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Individual Unique
Medea Heavy Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Medea is a dutch progressive metal band formed around the excellent guitarist Henry Meeuws. They released so far two albums, Individual unique and Room XVII in 2006. The music is very much close to another famous band from land of tulips Ayreon, but with their own twist and with a lot of great ideas. The debut is released in 2003 named Individual unique and has an very intresting concept - is about a young ambitious artist in 18th Century from Florence- Italy who is visited by the spirit of Michelangelo. Lots of cast of characters, female/male singers, musicians and all perform and give life to the story. Musicaly speaking is prog metal well performed with some bombastic parts , a rock opera I might say very much what Ayreon done in the past. The pieces are long enough to show us that the instrumental passages are well developed, some very nice guitar/keyboards moves, the opening Overture 1564 is excellent setting the mood for the rest to come, 'Day' & 'Night' the lenghtier track from here , clocking around 10 min is another top piece, Henry Meeuws handle the guitar pretty well and aswell the keyboards. All in all more then decent album in prog metal field, maybe not as great as their second offer Room XVII, but I like what I've heread on both albums, is a pitty that they've stoped only on 2 albums so far, promissing band for sure. 3.5 stars without hesitation.

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 Trip Hazard by BROTHERHOOD OF THE MACHINE album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.39 | 9 ratings

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Trip Hazard
Brotherhood Of The Machine Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Replayer

5 stars Trip Hazard is the Brotherhood of the Machine's second and, sadly, last album to date. In my humble opinion, the album improves on its predecessor by taking the best elements and further refining them. The album title is once again a pun, since "trip" can be taken to mean "fall" or "drop" as well as "journey" (which I venture can refer to both a physical and psychological kind).

Clocking at 48 minutes, the album exceeds the time limitation of the classic LP length, but is comprised of only three tracks. Trip Hazard is recorded in entirety by brothers Dave (aka Davesax1965 here on PA) and John Francis, whereas Future Imperfect included contributions from Janne Hanhisuanto. Dave plays keyboards, saxophones and drums, while John is credited with guitar. Featuring a stately Middle Eastern melody and percussion, Meditation of the Blue Serpent continues in the vein of the debut album's Samarkand Suite. Dave Francis' echoed saxophone makes a return, playing the main melody at times.

In a nod to its Berlin School influences, the second track bears the German title Hin and Züruck, which translates to "Roundtrip" or "Down and Back". Clocking in at over 36 minutes, this mammoth rhythm-oriented track serves as program music for a psychedelic train trip, complete with train whistles, rain effects, German vocal samples and sequencer parts that vividly evoke the chugging of a steam-powered engine. In spite of its length, the track maintains the listener's attention by having instruments and sound effects continually drop in and out and having the sequencer part change every few minutes. Interestingly, the sequencer patterns reflect the roundtrip concept by cycling in reverse order back to where they stated (something like ABCBA). To summarize: this is a great effort in the style of Berlin school electronica that should appeal to fans of mid-70s Tangerine Dream (interestingly, TD's 1979 album Force Majeure features a short section with train sounds). A bold effort, chaps.

The album closes with Flying Saucer Patrol, a high energy electronic rocker with Dave's thundering drums and John's distorted guitar overlaid on top of a pulsing sequencer part. This is a fantastic album closer that pumps up the listeners and leaves them wanting more; I'm just not sure on how to parse the title: does it refers to a patrol that is on the lookout for flying saucers or are the flying saucers out on patrol themselves?

Normally, I admit don't pay much attention to drumming in rock as perhaps should, except a few of my favorite drummers such as Bill Bruford, Ginger Baker, Ian Paice or Michael Giles. However, in progressive electronic music, I think it adds a personal touch to a genre that can often sound too coldly mechanical and synthethic (pun very much intended). In addition, the drums here sound very professionally recorded and not muffled at all, which is no mean feat for a self-produced recording.

I'm not sure whether the trip concept is restricted to Hin and Züruck or whether Meditation and Patrol are also meant to be trips, though I can see how they relate. Regardless, Trip Hazard is an excellent effort that should appeal to those who like their electronic music with plenty of drums and a psychedelic flavor.

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 Lost Mankind by SATIN WHALE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.71 | 32 ratings

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Lost Mankind
Satin Whale Prog Related

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

4 stars It's hard to tell exactly what happened between this album from German proggers Satin Whale and their knockout first LP `Desert Places' only a year before in 1974. Their powerful Brain label debut was always very accessible but had a tough and constantly heavy bluesy guitar sound to its lengthy jazz-rock compositions, but here, whilst still delivering a very strong album (one that is often considered their best, in fact), `Lost Mankind' mostly sounds like a completely different band altogether. Satin Whale perform in a prouder symphonic style on this one with a streamlined melodic approach and polished production to its more varied, sophisticated and ambitious material, as well as offering much tidier vocals from an American singer no doubt brought in at the time to make the group more appealing to international audiences.

Right from the energetic and groovy opener `Six O'Clock', the change in sound from the debut is instantly noticeable. The pumping sax and trickles of Hammond organ that darted around `Desert Places' are still there, but the piece is far more compact and instantly tuneful backed up by a chorus of female chorus singers, and the lead vocals of Ken Traylor offer crisp English in stark contrast to guitarist/saxophonist/flautist Dieter Roesberg's heavily accented rasp on the debut. The title track `Lost Mankind' is a lightly playful symphonic piece with serene Mellotron, whimsical flute and humming organ that reminds a little in moments of a track like `In the Mountains' from Earth and Fire's second album `Song of the Marching Children', and `Reverie' is a pretty piano and organ interlude. Then it's all guns blazing for the eleven minute tour-de-force `Go Ahead', jammed with honking infectious sax blasts, jazzy darting flute, red-hot blazing guitar wailing and the Hammond organ out in full-blast, all woven to clever reprising themes. There's so much variety delivered with exemplary skill throughout this one, and it also serves as a fine showcase for new drummer Wolfgang Hieronymi.

The flip side's `Trace Of Sadness' is a relentless and boisterous Hammond-drenched rocker, `Midnight Stone' perhaps resembles a swooning E.L.P-like ballad where Ken's vocals almost remind of John Wetton of King Crimson, and breezy flute flits in and out of soft rocker `Song For 'Thesy' with jazz overtones and organ-driven regal bombast that echoes Focus, M. Efekt and Jethro Tull. Closer `Beyond The Horizon' again comes close to the first album with its extended instrumental stretches of snappy drumming, waves of break-neck frantic Hammond organ runs, joyous flute and bluesy swagger-drenched electric guitar wrangling, and the subtle and skilfully executed tempo-change sprints reveal again what a talented bunch of musicians these guys were.

`Lost Mankind would prove to be a real one-off from the group, with both the heavy Hammond-dominated rocking of the debut and grander symphonic fancy of this one largely removed by their more straight-forward and frequently AOR next album `As a Keepsake' in 1976, and so too singer Traylor as the proper band themselves resumed the vocals from then on (it would actually be very interesting to learn the circumstances as to how he came to be involved with the band in the first place!). The punchy debut might be their real special one, but `Lost Mankind' has stronger playing, ardent ambition and energy to spare, and if you're new to this superb German band, this would be a fine place to start.

Four stars.

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 Over The Top by JUMP album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.91 | 16 ratings

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Over The Top
Jump Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars UK band JUMP have been a going entity for more than a quarter of a century now, although this still will have them described as a part of the new scene in progressive rock by some. Self-described as an eclectic band, this is a venture with more than a dozen studio albums to their name, thousands of gigs too apparently, and at least so far rather safely tucked into the underground rock scene too for some reason. "Over the Top" is their latest studio production, and was self-released in the spring of 2016.

Jump is one of those bands where I just cannot understand why they haven't risen to a greater stature. These are well versed musicians and composers, with a good grasp for compelling melodies and with the experience to be effective in their songwriting as well as the execution of their tunes. A well oiled machine in that context, running smoothly and in a manner that should have a fairly broad reach. Lack of exposure may be a part of this obviously, but their main challenge may possibly be that they don't appear to orient themselves in towards any given niche market, and that the more mass market channels are closed to them.

In terms of progressive rock and related categories of music, I'd pretty much say that what Jump presents on this album is music residing somewhere in the middle between Marillion's "Misplaced Childhood" and Magnum's "On a Storyteller's Night". At times with tendencies towards one or the other, but more often the material consist of similar features and details but explore a sound that is, in fact, rather different from both of these. That some of the additional associations I noted were Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Procol Harum may just indicate something as far as this observation goes.

An additional dimension brought in to the overall sound of this band is folk music. Rarely in a distinctly purebred manner, but there's something of a folk music undercurrent in most of the songs here. Subtle and downplayed to a greater extent than dominant and out in the open, but still this is an album that has a certain vibe or atmosphere to it that corresponds with this aspect. Rather far removed from the Jethro Tull's of this world I should add, I'd rather look towards the older more purebred folk rock bands as a possible source of inspiration for this aspect of Jump's material, and again emphasize that on most occasions it is a subtle more than a strongly dominant presence.

Plucked guitar motifs combined or alternating with firm guitar riffs, at times giving some of the cuts more of a hard rock feel in places, with tasteful keyboards and organ details on top, are the main ingredients of the songs here. At times in a more delicate and ballad oriented manner, in other places with a firmer and harder general feel. Occasionally adding a darker touch to the atmospheres created. The vocals are well delivered and well controlled, and the mix and production suits the material perfectly. It's a well made album on all levels, and while perhaps not quite as complex as many other albums described inside a progressive rock context, quite a few of the songs are in fact a bit quirkier than what your first impressions will indicate.

Jump is one of many bands out there that deserves a broader audience, and with "Over the Top" I'd say that the band documents quite nicely that they are, indeed, not yet fit to be placed into the category the album title may suggest. Fans of mid 80's Marillion and Magnum would be something of a key audience for this band in my book, and those who are should spend a few minutes getting to know the music of this fine band.

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 Leonardo - The Absolute Man by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.54 | 57 ratings

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Leonardo - The Absolute Man
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by VianaProghead

4 stars Review Nº 117

"Leonardo - The Absolute Man" is a very personal project of Gardner's brothers, who created the musical project Magellan, and where all music and lyrics were composed by the creative Magellan's man, Trent Gardner. If you're familiar with the music of Magellan, you will know that Trent Gardner's composition are not of the usual chorus and verse type of songs, but complex epics, with developing melodies and reoccurring themes. Their music is quite heavy and usually takes some time to grow on you. The same goes for this new project of both Gardner's brothers.

This project is about the life of one of the greatest figures of the Renaissance period and one of the greatest men of all time, Leonardo da Vinci. This project represents a very personal point of view and a tribute of Gardner's brothers to him. As we all know, Leonardo was an Italian polymath man, who studied a significant of different subject areas such as painting, sculpture, architecture, music, science, mathematics, engineering, anatomy, geology, cartography, botanic and writing. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance man. He is also considered to be one of the greatest painters of all times, and perhaps he also can be the most diversely talented person that ever has lived. I completely agree with Trent Gardner's idea that the life is unfair because some have everything and others have nothing. But for Leonard's happiness, we can say that, in life, Leonardo had almost everything we can get from life.

"Leonardo - The Absolute Man" is a conceptual album with the format of a rock opera performed by a great constellation of progressive rock singers. The cast of the singers is very extensive and corresponds to figures who took part in the life of Leonardo. So we have in this musical project: James Labrie (Dream Theater) is Leonardo da Vinci. Davey Pattison is Ser Piero da Vinci, the father of Leonardo. Michelle Young (Glass Hammer) is Caterina, the mother of Leonardo. Lisa Bouchelle (Mastermind) is Mona Lisa, the subject of Leonardo's favourite painting. Mike Baker (Shadow Gallery) is Giovan Francesco Melzi, a personal friend, companion and apprentice of Leonardo. Chris Shyrack (Under The Sun) is Ludovico il Moro Sforza, one of the powerful princes of Renaissance in Italy. Bret Douglas (Cairo) is François I the King of France. Josh Pincus (Ice Age) is Lorenzo de Medici, the man who ruled Florence. Steve Walsh (Kansas) is Bartolemeu Calco, the advisor of Sforza. Trent Gardner (Magellan) is Andrea del Verrocchio, the master of Leonardo. Robert Berry (Three) is Salai, the protégé and also the "adopted son" of Leonardo.

Beyond the singers, we have also the musicians. But when we look at the musicians we realize that Gardner's "Magellan" Bros, Trent and Wayne, are who really conduct the whole work. So, the line up of the musicians on this album is Trent Gardner (keyboards and trombone), Wayne Gardner (guitar), Patrick Reyes (guitar), Steve Reyes (bass), Jeremy Colson (drums), Luis Maldonado (guitar and bass) and Joe Franco (drums and orchestral percussion).

"Leonardo - The Absolute Man" has eighteen tracks. Of all, there are ten vocals tracks and eight instrumentals tracks. The structure of the work is like a rock opera. The characters sing depending on their roles and the music accompanies without too much protagonism. And I'm surprised to see Gardner's great sense of the composition structuring different intensities depending on the moment. But mainly this album has lots of melody. Vocally, this is a stupendous project, and all the participants really shine in their solo spots. Sections that feature Labrie and Pincus together, and Walsh, Shryack, Baker and Douglas, are quite good. The Magellan stamp is always present, especially in the chorus sections, where the Gardner vocals are full force. The women of the group, Young and Bouchelle, also turn in fine performances as well. Musically, there are some neat keyboard passages, very orchestral sounding, and some heavy guitar riffs here and there, but this is mainly about the vocals and the story behind it. I'm sure it must have taken Trent Gardner a while to put this all together and find the right singers to fill each part, but the end result is quite polished and enjoyable.

Conclusion: First, a word about Magellan and Gardner's brothers. I'm a big fan of Magellan. Magellan represents the second wave of American progressive rock music. About Gardner's brothers I've always respected and admired them. Their great fascination for the great values of culture was once more proven with this work. They had already done it with the choice of the name Magellan. Ferdinand Magellan (Fernão de Magalhães in Portuguese), was the name of a Portuguese navigator. He was the first man to complete the first circumnavigation around the world. As unfortunately the brothers are no more within us, here is my homage and tribute to them. "Leonardo - The Absolute Man", is an ambitious project where the concept works very well. It has great music and lyrics and is a very well balanced and modern work. The choice of the singers was very good and they made a perfect rock opera. The complex compositions and arrangements may take some time to get into, but at least you won't get bored. This is an album not to be missed.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Futuristic Worlds Under Construction by RESIDENTS OF THE FUTURE album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Futuristic Worlds Under Construction
Residents Of The Future Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars This EP was released back in 2004, and was the first music made available by Yuval Ron & Residents of the Future. Given that it was another eight years before the debut album came out, and there has been nothing official since (although the band regularly tours, and has also released videos), they aren't exactly the most prolific act around, but don't let that put you off from discovering their music. This is an instrumental five song EP, clocking in at some thirty-three minutes in length, and somewhat surprisingly for a band led by a guitarist, starts with lots of synths. But, from here on in we have a band that is cooking, and are very much a band as opposed to a backing outfit for Yuval, who is indeed one helluva guitarist. The interplays between him and keyboard player Ofir Shwartz are reminiscent of how John McLaughlin and Jan Hammer used to play off each other, with each providing the backdrop for the other to solo against, while Yaniv Shalev (bass) and Yatziv Caspi (drums) are also given plenty of opportunities to show just what they can do.

This is jazz fusion, played by exponents of the art who know what they want to achieve, and can do just that. Moving forward to the current day, and Yatziv is still there with Yuval, although Ofir and Yaniv are not, and they are still very active and touring and playing internationally. This is incredible music, and there are more details on this plus everything else that is going on at his website, www.yuvalron.com. This is great music, and if you love electric jazz then this is simple indispensable.

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