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 Kingtime by KINGSTON WALL album cover DVD/Video, 2015
4.20 | 6 ratings

Kingston Wall Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by tigerfeet

4 stars I received my Kingston Wall, Kingtime DVD order from Svart Records, Finland last Christmas, and it is indeed a must watch/listen for any Kingston Wall fans out there.

Disc 1 - if you pop it in the DVD player and just press INTRO when the menu system appears, it starts out very well with a live version of 'With My Mind' playing in the inset as you also get to read about the early days and early evolution of the band. This version of With My Mind is one of the best they played and really captures the bands very essence. At this point i was extremely excited for what the rest of disc 1 held in store.

I then went back to main menu, and pressed PLAY ALL. It started a little on the messy side, and if i have been new to Kingston Wall i would have been a little put off at this point as basically, they just split the play list of the band up into sections of live performances year by year and it felt like a little bit confusing.

After a couple of songs I eagerly ejected disc 1 and put in disc 2 and boy, was i glad i did !! (but i will come back to disc 1 in a moment ;-)

Disc 2 seemed to me like the obvious place to start IMO for a any newcomer or indeed longtime KW fan. I pressed the first item on the dvd menu - 'Petri Walli in Memoriam' and was immediately engaged by the way it was presented and edited. It gave me a sense of getting to know Petri and the band through footage from the band live and studio versions of songs. I even felt my eyes welling up when a segment played one of their best known songs, ISTWAN.

I then went back to the menu and watched some of the interview sections, which were very nice and made me feel closer to the band members.

I then watched the Freakout Club sections of KW and pre-KW- Basically what the band really were about, just playing music, and not caring what others thought. They were all musical technicians but had flaws, which made them special.

I then finished up the the EXTRAS section and felt in the mood to go back to disc 1.

Now i was prepared for disc 1 mentally, and watched the entire disc in one sitting. It was excellent and i thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Overall, Kingtime is very well presented and a nice glossy feel to the presentation. The DVDs are well made and labels look as good as anything out there. It came with pull out insert/booklet and they threw in a few small KW mementos in the package.

The 2 DVDs are extensive and time consuming and that makes for a good re-visit from time to time wherein i always seem to find something new or enlightening.

5 stars from me, even though the flow of the content could have been reorganized - but the actual content was amazing. A fun DVD to watch all in all.


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 Where We Stood by PINEAPPLE THIEF album cover Live, 2017
4.04 | 6 ratings

Where We Stood
Pineapple Thief Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. It's pretty funny that every track from the previous studio album "Your Wilderness" is on here except for "Where We Stood" which of course is the name of this live recording. I have to say that "Your Wilderness" continues to blow me away to this day. I rated it as the second best studio album of 2016 but man one day it might get bumped up to number one. My favourite PINEAPPLE THIEF album for sure and it sure didn't hurt having Gavin Harrison(PORCUPINE TREE, KING CRIMSON) playing drums on it. Thankfully he's playing on this live album, it was one of the first things I checked out before spinning it. Darran Charles(GODSTICKS) adds extra guitar as he did on "Your Wilderness".

This was recorded live at the London Islington Assembly Hall on February 11/17. It was interesting to hear the three tracks off of "Magnolia" because it's the only studio album from this band I don't own, although the only two tracks that didn't do much for me are from that particular record. My top four tracks are from "Your Wilderness" and I have to say that a few times I kept this in my stereo instead of moving on to the other two cds I was listening to last week simply because I couldn't get enough. So much emotion on this album for me and take away the two tracks from "Magnolia" that don't do much for me then this is a five star album.

I'm not going to go track by track since I've reviewed all these songs except for the three from "Magnolia". By the way the one song from that album I did like on here was "The One You Left To Die". By the way Gavin is his usual brilliant self on the kit here, I can't get over the difference he makes to the PINEAPPLE THEIF sound. So lets look at my top four songs.

"Tear You Up" is a fantastic opener. The emotion and the heaviness makes this a great opener to the live set. I can't get enough of this song. "I cannot tear you up, I cannot tear you up." No I can't get rid of you like tearing up a picture and throwing it out. Before I get to the next top four tune I must say that "The One You Left To Die" sounds amazing live. It's that rhythm section really.

"No Man's Land" is an emotional piece that is ballad-like. Picked guitar and vocals much of the time. Bruce sounds incredible vocally on this live recording including the wonderful vocal melodies that are featured prominently on the "Your Wilderness" songs. How good is this 2 1/2 minutes in when it turns more intense and the vocal melodies are beyond fantastic. Check out Gavin during this section. Not worthy! It then kicks into gear. Oh my!

"That Shore" is another laid back beauty filled with emotion and atmosphere. Again I'm sooo moved here. "I throw you a rope and you do what you want with it, cause your face is leaving me. You should never have left this soon, this soon. And I can never forget you washed upon that shore. Just pull up that rope, and that's all that I beg from you." Bruce I hear you man. Been there not so long ago.

"The Final Thing On My Mind" is the longest track at around 10 minutes. Guitar and drums to begin with as it starts to build. Vocals just before a minute. Check out those vocal melodies before 3 minutes that continue and intensify. How many times I've sung these wordless melodies at work and other places. When he stops singing before 4 minutes the crowd cheers. It feels like this song has to breakout soon, so much tension. And instead he starts to sing the lyrics which are causing the water to rise in my eyes. Sometimes words seem so useless. "How did we get to be so cold, how did I let you get so far from me, we got it so wrong, so wrong. How did we get this cold". Then back to those vocal melodies. "Everything you did is a part of me, ripped apart from me" and more wordless melodies. Check out Gavin after 8 minutes. Amazing guitar solo late. Man the crowd absolutely roars when this one ends.

I love this band and have for many years, even when all I could see on this site was negative reviews back in the day. If I could take three studio albums from this band it would be "Your Wilderness", "Someone Here Is Missing" and "Little Man". So yeah they just keep getting better.


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 New World Live by KERZNER, DAVE album cover Live, 2016
4.08 | 5 ratings

New World Live
Dave Kerzner Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Wonderful!

Dave Kerzner is a prolific musician that has been into the prog scene for several years, and in this decade he entered with his solo project, creating an amazing debut album entitled New World, a solid example of modern progressive rock with an obvious Floydian feeling. In the album, several wonderful musicians were invited to participate, such as Steve Hackett, Simon Phillips or the unique Keith Emerson, among others, an album that received positive critics since it guarantees over an hour of great music.

This great studio music was shared live and played in its entirety during different shows, leaving intact the order, so the band respected the concept . So "New World Live" is the result of those live shows, it is actually a blend of two different concerts with two different lineups, one from Europe and one from America, both showing high quality and confirming how good Kerzner is as composer, performer, and how well accompanied he is by the other musicians.

A thing I liked is that despite it is a performance of the studio album, it is not a full copy of it, I mean, the live vibes produce different sounds and even feelings, so the experience is not the same in any way. Kerzner's voice is wonderful and sounds clean, there are some parts in which the musicians put new elements, the McBroom girls produce goosebumps with their voices, and the keyboards also play a main role. As I mentioned above, there is an obvious Pink Floyd feeling here, Gilmour-ish vocals and guitar, but in the end the sound of the music is very personal from Kerzner's signature.

The whole album is very solid, not really weak moments, and some songs I totally adore such as "Into the Sun", the instrumental "Crossing of Fates" and of course, the amazing final epic "Redention" which closes the album in a magnificent way. I've been listening to this live album recently becaude I will be lucky enough to see Dave's band performing at ProgtoberFest, which really excites me, because it is evident their live performances give the audience priceless moments.

Of course, my invitation is to first listen to the studio version (if you haven't discovered it yet), and then listen to its live representation in this great record. Enjoy it!


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 A Perfect Forever by ANUBIS GATE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.25 | 27 ratings

A Perfect Forever
Anubis Gate Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars With their second opus, Denmark's eclectic prog metallers Anubis Gate haven't yet settled into their more familiar sound. A Perfect Forever features a different vocal style and has more prominent power metal (of its darker and slower type somewhat akin to early Queensryche) influences than its successors, but it was already clear that they were aiming at something proggy, with the Eastern motifs, six-minutes songs, frequent shifts in tempo and mood, alteration between crunchy and clean guitars and catchy vocal hooks that would become their staples. Best songs probably the shape- shifting Sanctified and Future Without Past and the more laid-back Curfew, with others catchy enough but being more of an epic power metal type.


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 One More Red Night: Live In Chicago (with John Wetton) by DISTRICT 97 album cover Live, 2014
3.10 | 14 ratings

One More Red Night: Live In Chicago (with John Wetton)
District 97 Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A nice live album for melancholic moments.

In the early years of the current decade I was introduced to District 97's music, a band of young and great US musicians that make great progressive rock in the symphonic vein, since then, I've been following their releases and wishing to see them on stage sometime, fortunately to me, I will be able to see them live really soon when I fly to Chicago for the Progtober Fest in its 3rd edition.

It was also in Chicago where the band recorded this live album, in which the amazing John Wetton was invited to play. As the title suggests (One More Red Night), the concert was a kind of tribute to King Crimson, playing songs in which Wetton participated and we all remember well, just one out of the 9 songs is not from the Wetton-KC era.

Listening now to this live album creates two different nostalgias, one is the natural one of listening to him singing his memorable KC songs, and the other is simply listening to him, because he passed away this current 2017. It is also great to see such a legend sharing the stage with younger and talented musicians such as District 97, so together created a nice album and gave a cool live experience.

The versions here are of course a bit different, the band kept the spirit of the original tracks, but naturally, they put their own sound on them. Leslie Hunt helped with some vocals, we are used to listen to her as the main District 97 singer, but this time she nicely gave way to John's voice, which by the way had not the potential of his early years, which is something we can understand.

My favorite songs here are: "Lament", "The Night Watch", "Book of Saturday" and "Easy Money". I wanted to write this review because I am excited to see the band live, playing of course their original music, but they are also playing a special tribute to John Wetton, so I guess some of the songs featured here will be played.

Si in the end this is a good live album that will make you jump to the past with a smile on your face. Enjoy it!


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 Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.51 | 61 ratings

Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars With the departure of founder member and long-serving lead guitar player Jon Preston Bouda, it's no surprise that Captives of the Wine Dark Sea represents something of a sonic shift for Discipline. With Chris Herin from Tiles stepping in on guitars, the sound of the album feels like an exploration of a path less taken - like the sort of material you'd get if, after the neo-prog-ish Push and Profit, the band had taken their sound in a more art rock direction instead of the symphonic prog-oriented sound of Unfolded Like Staircase or To Shatter All Accord.

That isn't to say that this is a simple or straightforward release, mind; in terms of the overall attitude, I'm reminded of the warped pop music sensibilities of Slapp Happy or late Art Bears running head-first into the dark energy of Discipline's big inspiration, Peter Hammill and VdGG. At point's there's a sort of prog cocktail jazz sound to proceedings, but whilst the album reaches a quasi-mainstream peak in the middle (Love Songs, in particular, comes across like a parody on the subject), it concludes with a two-set of songs which will doubtless please prog fans with their extended instrumental breaks, even if they aren't quite in the mode we are used to Discipline working in.

I get the feeling that this is a bit of a transitional release - at points it sounds more like one of Matthew Parmenter's solo releases, particularly given the extensive multi-instrumentalist duties he takes on here and the generally more conventional song structures he tends to go for on those - but Discipline are good enough that even their transitional works are worth paying attention to. Approach with an open mind and don't hold your hopes out for Unfolded Like Staircase 2: Unravelled Like Escalator and you'll probably get the best results.


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 Albatross by ALBATROSS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.12 | 42 ratings

Albatross Symphonic Prog

Review by tlehman

4 stars This is a bit of personal insight to the Albatross LP. I am Tom Lehman, one of the credited engineers (and the voice of Mr. Natural :-) on the album. I also ran the boards for Albatross' live gigs from 1974 to 1977.

This is a rehash of a review I did in 2011 (as tlehma) with a few corrections and updates for you completion-ists out there.

This album is certainly a rarity as there were only 2000 albums pressed. Given that the bulk of the albums was never distributed, or were trashed, makes it even more of a rarity! Add that to the fact that we never really expected it to find its way out of the Rockford area it is truly astounding that the LP has shown up in even international locations! I am truly amazed and gratified that there is still talk (good or bad!) of the album after all these years.

I have read the reviews here and on some of the other Prog websites and do not intend to challenge any of the reviewers or defend any part of the album. I would only like to offer a possibly different perspective on the music and the challenge of making an album of this type at that point in time.

Over the years I have lost contact with all of the band members except Joe Guarino (Bass)... Joe and I remain the best of friends.

Ah?. Before it fades into the mysts (sic) of memory here is what and how I remember it?.

Albatross - The Band

Mark Dahlgren Keys-Classically trained musician.

Mark was a classically, college trained, musician (Masters of Music Degree) and a monster talent. He composed all of the bands tunes. That, of course, is not to say that all of the other band members didn't contribute, they did! Mark's biggest fault (if it can be considered a fault) was a lack of consistency. When I first joined the band as the sound guy I was amazed at the technical prowess of Mark's playing. But, what I also discovered was that he had the nasty habit, at least to me, of rearranging on the fly! No two performances were the same! The rest of the band did an admirable job of adapting but things tended to occasionally go wrong. As soon as we had a PA that allowed talk-back through the monitors from the boards I would admonish Dahlgren with the words: "Consistency, Dahlgren, Consistency!" To Mark's credit he saw the value of a consistent group effort to the performance and reigned himself in (somewhat anyway :-).

Equipment included: two Mellotrons, two Mini-Moog Synthesizers, Arp Odyssey Synthesizer (note: I could have sworn he used two of these as well!), Hammond B-3 (note: I was talking to Joe recently and he remembers that he cut the organ down and put it into a road case for portability), two modified Leslies (we tossed iron filings down the horns to give them that "Keith Emerson sound"!), Fender Rhodes Piano that was later replaced with a Yamaha CP-70 Portable Grand Piano. Two Tapco Mixers dedicated to the keyboards and to sub-mix to his stage amp and monitors. Mark later picked up a guitar! I have no idea what the equipment was other than I believe the guitar was a Fender Stratocaster.

Joe Guarino Self-taught Bassist and Guitarist

I saw Joe's bass playing described as "plodding" in another review. I always thought of it as "Solid". Joe was a technically proficient and very solid player. His bass lines drove the band and provided the stabilizing foundation the band needed. And, although not utilized as a lead vocalist he had a pleasant enough voice and harmonized well when called upon to do so. As a bassist myself I was in awe of Joe's technical precision.

Joe is a very detail driven sort of person with a great ear for what is right. This attribute would serve him well in the studio and later in his sound company business ventures. Without doubt Joe was the most sensible and practical member of Albatross.

Equipment: Fender Precision Bass, Ampeg SVT head, Ampeg 8x10 cabinet (mic'ed), direct box to PA

Mike Novak Vocals-professional vocal coaching

Mike's singing was usually spot-on as far as pitch (after some voice lessons). He also wrote the lyrics for the tunes. The timbre of his voice was however? unusual. He always sang in an open voice and I can't remember him ever singing in a falsetto or anything but his own natural voice. Equipment: Shure Mics, for live sound equipment see below. Mike had a great out-going personality and was great fun to be around.

Dana Williams Percussion High School Band Self-Taught

Dana was a percussion gadget freak! If something came along that he thought he could insert tonally into the mix he bought it! As I recall he had a full time job just to support his percussion Jones. He and Joe went to Chicago and bought, literally, a van FULL of drum set , traps and cases. After a day of negotiating a decent price they stopped at restaurant in Chicago to celebrate. They parked in the restaurant parking lot (it was clearly marked) and went inside. After lunch they came out to discover the van was GONE! Panicking they went back into the restaurant and called the police. The police determined the van was towed. When Joe and Dana contacted the towing company they claimed Joe was parked illegally in the parking lot. Even though Joe had his receipt from the restaurant they would not release the truck without paying a $250 "fine". I remember Dana as a quiet, humble sort of guy, always a pleasure to work with and talk to.

Equipment: Dana was a percussion whiz with a passion for unusual drum sounds. I THINK his main kit was made by Pearl but I can't be sure. What I do know is that his kit consisted of (at a minimum) double-Bass Drums, double toms up top, double Roto-Toms up top, two Timbales, three floor toms, snare, tubular bells, a bell tree, at least three cowbells, and triangle tree, blocks, and an extended range of cymbals.

Paul Roe Guitar Professionally Trained

I didn't have much interaction with Paul but remember him as a quiet, serious sort. He was a guitarist in search of his sound. Age-wise he was the youngest of the bunch and I think he felt a little behind the rest. Technically he was a good, solid player but still somewhat immature. He just got better and better!

Equipment: As I recall, and seeing as that was a long time ago :-). Paul played a Gibson Les Paul and used Orange Amps and Cabinets (Mic'ed). I know he occasionally used a couple of pedals but I am not sure what.

Live Sound

Albatross had a very good live sound. As the complexity of the music increased, the need for a more sophisticated system also increased. When I started with Albatross in 1974 they were equipped with a loud but totally inadequate system that consisted of eight Altec Voice of the Theater Speakers, some sort of six channel powered mixer and no monitoring. We eventually went to an Altec 1220 twelve channel mixer and BGW amps in order to increase the flexibility and clarity of the system. It worked but was far from ideal.

When it started to get serious the band purchased an all JBL speaker system that consisted of (as I remember it):

4 - 18" subs

6 - dual 12" cabinets

4 - Mid-range horns

4 - horn tweeters

6 - JBL wedge monitors

2 - Electronic crossovers (4 way)

Amplification BGW (Monsters!) - At least 10 BGW amps of various sizes to power all of the cabinets.

- Mics We stuck with all Shure mics for vocals and on the Bass/Guitar cabinets and with a variety of mics on the drums.

The console was still the Altec 1220 but with four Tapco mixers added for additional inputs and for monitors and sub mixes. That actually worked very well and provided for a wonderful tight and full range sound, plus it was just as loud as we wanted it to be? i.e. terrific dynamic range.

The Story?

Ah, the 70's.... Live music was still king with Disco yet to be seen (but hiding in the wings creeping into the mid-70's from the sides, ready to rear its ugly head). Rock and roll was a broad and diverse genre of the musical universe. Prog rock was dominated by, as is mentioned in most of the reviews, by Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and their contemporaries.

Oddly enough when associated with Albatross I never considered them to be a "Yes Clone". I considered the music fresh and new. Mark Dahlgren, the keyboardist, was the primary composer of the group with Mike Novac the principle lyricist but with all members contributing heavily.

Were there traces and influences of Yes in the music?... CERTAINLY! We were all great fans of Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, the Dixie Dregs, Genesis, et al. Some of the music recorded on the album was written and being performed by Albatross as early as 1971. But, much as musicians throughout history have named certain composers and musicians as their "influences", we did the same with the big names of the genre and the time. As I listen today I can certainly identify with the critics who labeled Albatross as "Yes Clones". At the time we thought new ground was being broken. Keep in mind that the Albatross album preceded the Starcastle release by a full year. (Note: Joe and I saw Starcastle live in 1976 at Rockvalley College... and yes they were a carbon copy of YES. On the other hand... they did sound good live and if you closed your eyes you could swear YES was on the stage during certain tunes!

The ALBATROSS album was produced in an effort to be noticed and to promote the band. It was done as an independent effort (something not easily done at the time) in a studio that was owned by three partners, Joe Guarino, Jim Guarino, and me. We built the studio (Audio-Trak) in 1974 in an effort to bring professional recording to Rockford, Illinois. Rockford was the second largest city in Illinois at the time.... Unfortunately Chicago was sitting only 70 miles away. Living in the shadow of Chicago it was difficult for bands and studios to compete within that market. So with a great deal of effort, not much in the way of market research, and a tremendous amount of hope (and being very naïve) we invested in the studio.

The studio was a piece of art (to us) and we had some of the best equipment of the time:

- Auditronics Son of Thirty-Six Grand Console (24 inputs and outputs!!!) I know that doesn't sound like much by todays high channel count but we were impressed :-)

- MCI (later bought by Sony) 16 track 2" analog recorder (we bought it from Milam Audio in Pekin, Ill. It was the very same recorder, we were told, that Styx had laid the basic tracks for "Lady"!)

- MCI, Scully and Revox two tracks

- DBX and Dolby A noise reduction

- EV Sentry III monitors

- Phase Linear Amps

- UREI compressors

- Allison Research Gates, Compressors and Expanders

- Nakamichi cassette

- Neuman U87 and U47 Mics, Sony C500 Mics, EV Mics, Shure Mics, Byer Ribbons, AKG Mics

- Atlas stands

- AKG Pro Spring Reverb (the thing stood about five feet tall and two feet on each side!)

- Pearl studio drum kit (I think it was Pearl)

- Mason and Hamlin grand piano Note: We modified the piano by filing the hammer pads and soaking them in lacquer to make the sound "brighter" and more defined.

- We even had one of the first digital delay lines. I don't remember the maker of the unit but had an orange face, patch cords to set the delays, a very artificial sound and was VERY EASY to overload (no headroom). It was pretty much useless by today's standards but was fun to play with back in the day?.

- JBL 4311 monitors in the studio for talk-back and playback.

We had everything except customers!

Side Note: The studio was later upgraded to 24 tracks (MCI), a 32 input MCI 532 console and Eventide digital reverb and delay, UREI Monitors (using Altec 501 speakers), BGW amplification, Yamaha mini monitors, and a lot of new outboard gear not to mention a Steinway Grand. Joe and Jim also switched locations two times after I left with each location growing progressively bigger and better! The bigger locations even allowed for natual reverb chambers.

When we brought Albatross into the studio we had only gone through three projects!

The Album - Track-By-Track - Keep in mind this was 38+ years ago and is to the best of my recollection! Any one of the band members may have a completely different take on things.

Side 1:

1. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Mark Dahlgren, Mike Novak)

Yes, this was the big one! Because of the length and complexity we had spent the most time putting this together. It was it turned out to be the most interesting and dynamic piece on the album. It was called the Four Horsemen because there were four distinct movements in the tune. Because of the many layered keyboards and the guitar/keyboard synchronization it took many takes and overdubs. The end featured a huge Chinese gong. The gong sound was from one of Mark's Mellotrons! Live this song was a little less cluttered but actually sounded great!

2. Mr. Natural (Mark Dahlgren, Mike Novak)

OK?. Somebody called this a "throw-away"?. To me Mr. Natural was a fun song. It always went over well in concert because it was an up tempo tune that the crowds liked. A lot of that had to do with Mark Dahlgren's crazy antics with an old man mask and a long extension cable on his ARP pedal. He would don the mask and run into the audience, frightening the girls (truly!) and acting outrageous. When Mr. Natural was recorded some of the live feel and performance antics, of course, were lost. The recording was fairly straight forward with few overdubs.

I was the voice of Mr. Natural. As I remember Mike Novak was in the studio trying voice after voice and not quite getting where we wanted to go. I finally told Joe, "Let me try it!" I went in the vocal booth and laid down about four takes and then when back to the console where Joe and I took the different takes and bumped them over to one of the two track recorders then started layering them on the multi-track at different speeds added reverb and delay and loops until we got the craziness we were looking for. We played a cassette dub of it before any live performance of Mr. Natural thereafter.

Side 2:

1. The Devil's Strumpet (Mark Dahlgren, Mike Novak)

Well, I hated this tune?. To me it was just a hot mess! After a long involved intro using a real pipe organ intro recorded at a local church it just jumped into these strange time signatures and tempos. No matter how many times we tried to record this it always seemed too fast and jerky (to me) with Mike always seeming to race and then lagging on the lyrics. Paul had the same issues with the guitar parts. The band had other tunes that, to me would have worked better here. It took almost as long to record this song as the Four Horsemen.

It was the same in concert and was never well received. As with Mr. Natural we played the pipe organ intro from tape with Dahlgren coming in toward the end with Mellotron Pipe Organ live. I finally got the guys to cut the pipe organ intro down quite a bit and to slow the tempo and it sounded better and played better.

2. Cannot Be Found (Mark Dahlgren, Mike Novak)

Another choice of material I did not understand. Certainly it showcased Mark's piano skills but also showed Mike's less-than-delicate ballad voice and dissed the rest of the band. It was irritating to me but there it stayed! It was easier to record as we recorded Mark's piano then later came back to Mike at a different time. We used our 7' Mason and Hamlin grand studio piano. I keep hearing occasional plays of this on internet stations like Delicious Agony and YouTube. I was talking to Joe just the other day and he did not even remember this tune as being on the album even though he was the only other instrument playing on the tune!

3. Humpback Whales (Mark Dahlgren, Mike Novak)

I really liked this song played live. I was less happy with the studio version. In concert the opening with the synths was essentially the same but Dana would take the lead in with a snare intro. The studio version with the tubular bells and triangle intro was difficult to record (the triangle kept overloading the freaking preamp in the console and we just didn't catch it!) and it seemed rather dis-jointed. At the end the "SAILING!" ending was at my insistence. They had made the decision to take out that live element and use some synth montage thing at the end. When I heard that I just freaked. The continuity of the song was ruined. I raised such a fuss they went back to the in-concert ending but kept the crappy beginning.

While the album was being recorded the band hired a local artist for the jacket art. We formed the independent label, Anvil Records, and registered everything with ASCAP. The tapes were delivered to a mastering facility and then on to the pressing plant.

We were in business!!! The records were carried to every major record store in the Rockford area and passed out to every local record station. As I recall three stores agreed to sell the record and one radio station actually played the album in its entirety.

We always carried a few LP's with us and offered them at gigs. Unfortunately we didn't sell too many.

Albatross went through some changes shortly after the album. They tried costumes (ala Jethro Tull)?. They tried free concerts and the live sound equipment was updated to an incredible array (at the time) of JBL speakers, Altec and Tapco mixers and BGW amps. The lighting system was expanded to professional level; anything to draw some positive attention to themselves.

Meanwhile... The album was not selling. Disco was becoming more popular and live progressive music less popular. And, they were totally overshadowed in the Rockford market by Cheap Trick. (Sidebar - Bun E. Carlos happened to be Mark Dahlgren's cousin) Note: even before the release of their first album Cheap Trick dominated the area club scene through a combination of solid management, an incredible live sound and an absolutely incredible stage presence.

The band was getting absolutely clobbered, ignored and pushed aside.

In an effort to become commercially viable the band went into hiding for eight weeks to re-tool. Even the live sound guy (me) was not allowed in the practice sessions. Coming out of isolation for a gig in Rockford I was informed that they had an entirely new set. They still refused to even give me a song list telling me only that they would start with an original that had been in the line-up since the beginning of the group, a song called "Saturday". "Saturday" was an original rocker that usually worked well with all types of audiences.

To my astonishment the band appeared on stage sans costumes (something that had been poorly implemented anyway!) and proceeded to play. After "Saturday" I was given the play list. I was flabbergasted! There were songs from a variety of artists that included Bob Seger, Queen, the Beatles, other rock acts of the time. Even Gino Vannelli!!! (Note: I have to blame myself for the last?. I had introduced the band to Gino! At least the tunes they played were "Mama Coco" and "Son of a New York Gun"!)

I could not believe my eyes or ears! Mark Dahlgren had even picked up and played a GUITAR! It seemed that the world had turned on end! That dogs and cats would soon be mating and that the lions would lie with the lambs! The only other original song they played that night was "Mr. Natural". To best of my knowledge they never played "The Four Horsemen" again! The only other Prog tune they would still hang on to was "21st Century Schizoid Man" by King Crimson.

I have to admit this sort of format change did bring more gigs and a little more visibility to the band but would also end up being the death of the band as well. This format would continue to be the norm until Albatross disbanded about 18 months after the album was released.

Most of the band members would go on with a band called Blitzen and after a year of so go their separate ways.

Mark (Keys) Would go on to other musical ventures like Puppet. You can actually find a video clip from a Rockford news station posted on YouTube about Puppet :-)

The only other references I could find of Mark were as a sort of community activist still in the Rockford area.

Joe (Bass) Would go on with the studio and then on to establish a very successful live sound touring and sales company. Today, he still resides in the Rockford area and still owns Audio-Trak, runs live sound, and specializes in sales, installation and service of REALLY BIG AV systems. He has expanded into high end home theater design, sales and installation. There are lots of references to Audio-Trak on the web. Dana (Percussion) Would go on to manage a cafeteria. Sorry Dana I lost track after that!

Mike (Vocals) Would go on to other bands, suffer an aneurism, recover and work with a band called the Blues Hawks. Sorry Mike! I lost track after that! There is a picture of Mike on the Blueshawks website.

Paul (Guitar) Sorry Paul! I lost track after the band broke up. I was able to track down at least one pic of Paul performing as a guest with the Blues Hawks. Check the Blueshawks website under "guests" for pictures of Paul.

Me (live sound) I left the band about three months before the reformation into Blitzen for personal reasons. I also had to sell my part of the studio to Joe and Jim because of an ugly divorce. I did stay associated with the studio until 1980 when I moved to Dallas, Texas and returned to my interrupted career in the electronics industry. Over the years I stayed in that industry as a technician or manager of technicians, as a videographer and video editor and IT support and eventually ended up at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center as co-director of a disaster medicine/response training program. ( ). Update: 2016 I retired from UT but continue to manage the disaster medicine gig and well as manage websites for two programs.

Well I know that this was certainly long winded and way more than any of you probably wanted to know! But there it is! Albatross was a great bunch of people and players and had a very good live sound. Each and every one of us, band and grunts alike, wanted it to work. Unfortunately we all had far more optimism and hope than experience or know-how.

If anyone is interested I think Joe still has a few unopened LP's left :-).... (UPDATE! All the albums are gone. I still have my personal beat up copy and Joe still has one of the original master proofs left. It's all out there so if you want a copy you'll have to find it "In The Wild" !

Still Loving the Music,

Tom Lehman


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 Distant is the Sun by VANISHING POINT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.64 | 17 ratings

Distant is the Sun
Vanishing Point Progressive Metal

Review by demolition man

3 stars A fast paced album from start to finish. It lasts a good distance, running in at 64minutes.

Very strong drumming, guitars and vocals dominate this album. The orchestration interplays are also very good. The result is that I can't help but to make a comparison to the heavier side of Dream Theater; which can't a bad thing!!

All the tracks are classic power progressive metal with only the exception of; "Handful of Hope" which drifts nicely to a more mellow affair, and the finale track entitled "April" which closes the album with a reflective acoustic theme.

Without having heard the previous albums at the time of writing I would say that this is a band with intensity and skill. Time to review and research their back catalogue . A solid 3+ stars for Vanishing Point.


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 Decameron. Ten Days in 100 Novellas - Part II by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.05 | 47 ratings

Decameron. Ten Days in 100 Novellas - Part II
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Despite the Colossus Projects beginning their ambitious projects in 2001 to promote the outstanding accomplishments of Finnish progressive rock (which there have been many), the whole thing kinda took on a life of its own as the collaboration with Musea Records created a synergistic effect that guaranteed an exposure to a worldwide network of tuned in prog aficionados salivating for something both creative, traditional and, of course, entertaining! After a diverse eclectic palette paving the way for even more sophisticated projects, in 2011 Musea Records released "Decameron - Ten Days in 100 Novellas - Part I" which isn't remotely Finnish but rather a collection of Italian tales excavated from the 14th century. The word DECAMERON is a neologism of the Greek words deca (ten) and mera (days) and THE DECAMERON which is subtitled Prince Galehaut is a collection of novellas written by the author Giovanni Baccaccio (1313-1375) and is structured as a frame story that contains 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men who were sheltered in a secluded villa outside of Firenze (Florence), Italy in order to escape the black death plague that was rampant at the time. Well, three years after the first installment of this series comes DECAMERON - TEN DAYS IN 100 NOVELLAS - PART II which continues the themes in musical form with some artists making a reprise and yet others entering the Musea equation for the very first time.

Once again, this collection also consists of 4 compact disc each clocking in over an hour's length, holds a whopping 35 tracks beautifully played out by 34 exquisite artists. Only Robert Webb who provides the "Intro" and the "Outro" is represented twice. Once again most of these tracks are instrumental but many are not and exist in the realms of the world of classic 70s symphonic prog only with the most updated production values and interesting and compelling creativity attached to the sense of traditional prog values. Several artists like The Samarai Of Prog, Nexus, Karda Estra, Jinetes Negros and Ars Ephemera seem to owe their career to the Colossus Projects utilizing their prog talents on seemingly every album but there are many other newbies fully represented here as well with an equal variation of styles that despite being limited to the subject matter at hand with a stylistic approach to boot, all seem to rise to the occasion to unify under one thematic flag and produce some of the best that melodic symphonic prog has to offer in the 21st century.

Because of the retro nostalgic nature of these albums, DECAMERON - TEN DAYS IN 100 NOVELLAS - PART II also exudes a prog-by- the-numbers check list approach as it basically takes the playbook of the 70s bigwigs such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yes, Jethro Tull, Genesis and Pink Floyd amongst others and takes excruciatingly detailed notes and then constructs their compositional prowess accordingly. While that may sound like a turn off from the get go, it is anything but as these artists under the confines of the musical limitations of the thematic structure are forced to exude their creative forces in limited yet seemingly unfettered ways. In that regard, all tracks are very much connected in not only theme but musically as well and the creative outlet comes in finding new ways of extending these limitations in various methodologies. The results are similar to the first installment of this sequel and utterly stunning in scope and delivery. Overall i would say that this 2nd edition is a bit more sensual than #1 with bands finding it in them to exude a slightly folkier take on the symphonic prog of the first edition.

Four discs of material at FOUR hours THIRTY-SIX minutes and THIRTY-THREE seconds is a whole lotta music to digest and despite the sense of overwhelming proportions is reigned in by one addictive take on symphonic prog after another with all bands rising to the occasion of producing incredibly melodic hooks that exude the truest sense of traditional prog elements but not over exaggerated nor overly sentimental as to sound like mere ripoffs of the greats of the past. While the influences are clearly worn on drooping sleeves, enough reverence for the past greats detracts from any disrespectful treading on sacred territories. This reverence is felt in full effect on the entire album as bands steer their influences into fresh new territories that sufficiently distance themselves from the past masters.

Some of my favorite tracks on this one include: the prog Italian funk of Intarsia on "9th Tale," the exquisite folky rock "First Tale (V, 1)" of The Samarai of Prog which even has sort of a Steely Dan jazz-rock vibe with its symphonic keyboards antics. Good guitar soloing as well, Steve Unruh's "Second Tale (V, 2) with its classical guitar meets Tullish folk flute escapades that take off into way cool heights, the tango turned synthpop symphonic prog track "Third Tale (V, 3)" by Ars Ephemera, the intriguing "Senogul - Ninth Tale (V, 9) which starts out sounding like an Indian raga but turns into the ever so rare mix of prog rock with traditional African tribal music, the synth rich riffs of the Italian "Camelias Garden - Tenth Tale (V, 10), the multi-themed 20 minute "Ninth Tale (VI , 9) by Unitopia, Karda Estra's "First Tale (VII, 2) with its tasty piano, chime action and cool progressive epic feel and D'AccorD's Bowie-esque "Third Tale (VII , 3).

This is yet another outstanding collection of prog tracks in the Colossus Project collection. I have to admit overall i prefer "Decameron - Ten days in 100 novellas - Part I" over this PART II ever so slightly as the tracks on here are just a tad below that high quality mark but there are no bad tracks here and so many great ones that i could write a review for each and every one. The packaging is off the charts beautiful with not only colorfully painted CDs but also contains a big fat booklet with not only gorgeously illustrated artwork but is also chock full of liner notes, lyrics and philosophical mythology all coming to gather in one sanctified place. Once again this is a whopping 4 disc album clocking in at over 4 and 1/2 hours and not even one track is worthy of skipping. I cannot recommend these Colossus Projects more for those who love the zeitgeist of 70s melodic symphonic prog with modern day spins and production value. It certainly doesn't get any more diverse or divine than this.

In case you're wondering here is the whole list of Colossus Projects released so far:

Tuonen Tytar: A Tribute To Finnish Progressive (2000)

Kalevala - Finnish Progressive Rock Epic (2003)

The Spaghetti Epic - Six Modern Prog Bands For Six Seventies Prog Suites (2004)

Odyssey - The Greatest Tale (2005)

The Colossus of Rhodes (2006)

The 7 Samurai - The Ultimate Epic (2006)

The Spaghetti Epic 2 - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly (2007)

Treasure Island (2007)

Giallo! One Suite for the Murderer (2008)

The Empire and The Rebellion (2008)

Dante's Divine Comedy Part I - Dante's Inferno (2009)

Dante's Divine Comedy Part II ? Purgatorio (2009)

Rökstenen - a Tribute to Swedish Progressive Rock of the 70's (2009)

The Spaghetti Epic 3 - The Great Silence (2009)

Tuonen Tytar-A Tribute To Finnish Progressive Rock Of The Seventies - Volume Two (2009)

Iliad: A Grand Piano Extravaganza (2010)

The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe: A SyNphonic Collection (2010)

Decameron - Ten days in 100 novellas - Part I (2011)

The Stories Of H.P. Lovecraft: A SyNphonic Collection (2012)


Decameron - Ten Days In 100 Novellas - Part III (2016)


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 In The Passing Light Of Day by PAIN OF SALVATION album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.87 | 241 ratings

In The Passing Light Of Day
Pain Of Salvation Progressive Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I didn't keep following PAIN OF SALVATION's career after "Be" other than hearing of the controversy of the albums that followed like "Scarsick' and the "Road Salt" recordings. I haven't heard the ones between "Be" and this latest offering called "The Passing Light Of Day" but I want to check them out down the road. So I can't say that this is a return to form but other reviewers have said this. Please check out jjlehto's review for some great information about this. This is a return to the heaviness of their classic period and an album that many feel sits proudly with those albums. I know this record impressed me in a big way and I wasn't expecting that.

This album seems to deal with one's mortality which isn't surprising given Gildenlow almost died to the flesh eating disease. That will have an impact on your thought process obviously. This is a fantastic album and it was the heaviness that surprised me initially, especially that opening number. We get some different instruments like accordion, mellotron, lute, zither and so on while electric piano is prominent along of course with the guitar, drums and bass. The vocals are quite varied and there's a lot of emotion on this album.

"On A Tuesday" opens with crushing riffs that get even heavier as the guitar starts to play over top. A calm with spoken words and atmosphere before 1 1/2 minutes then it kicks back in with vocals this time a minute later. We get a beautiful section after 4 1/2 minutes with strings, piano and high pitched vocals. It kicks back in a minute later and ground shaking riffs will follow. Another calm with piano only arrives 7 minutes in as fragile vocals join the piano then we get this majestic vibe before 8 minutes. It's building until it kicks in with emotion around 9 minutes.

"Tongue Of God" opens with piano only as bass and I believe lute join in before it kicks in hard a minute in. Heavy stuff as reserved vocals join in. Soon he's singing with passion. A calm arrives before 4 1/2 minutes with spoken words to end it. "Meaningless" is heavy to begin with and I'm digging this a lot. It settles back as almost spoken vocals arrive. It turns melodic with atmosphere then heavy again with passionate vocals this time. Contrasts continue. I think that's zither that comes and goes. Lots of emotion as he speaks the lyrics with passion after 4 minutes.

"Silent Gold" opens with piano only as reserved vocals join in. When it turns brighter after a minute I feel emotion. Drums before 2 minutes as it starts to pick up slightly. There's that emotional section repeated later. Nice. "Full Throttle Tribe" opens with a sample of someone walking and people talking as drums arrive and build. This sounds like classic POS right here. Vocals just before a minute and it kicks into gear a minute later with passionate vocals. Contrasts continue. Man it's heavy before 4 minutes as the vocals step aside. Just killing it then another calm arrives before it turns heavy again late with samples of distressed sounding people amongst the heaviness.

"Reasons" is different with that brief section of GENTLE GIANT-like vocal arrangements. This is a stuttering and heavy tune that is quite interesting to listen to. Lots of explicits as well plus he sings an answer back to the sung questions as it were. Like I said this is different and interesting. "Angels Of Broken Things" opens with picked guitar I think, atmosphere and more. Vocals just before a minute and a catchy beat. It kicks in at 4 minutes with some ripping guitar over top. It ends with a sample of people talking. Another interesting song.

"The Taming Of A Beast" is catchy with piano and a beat. Vocals before a minute then it kicks in hard with emotional vocals 2 minutes in as contrasts continue. "If This Is The End" is ballad-like to start with relaxed guitar and fragile vocals. Accordion after a minute. Drums kick in before 3 minutes with heaviness and passionate vocals. He starts to speak the lyrics before 4 minutes including lines from the opening track. The heaviness is back! So good! Might have been a great closer here but that honour is for the 15 1/2 minute title track.

"The Passing Light Of Day" is mellow to start. We get relaxed guitar, bass and reserved vocals at first. How good is this before 6 1/2 minutes as it starts to build with vocal melodies but then it settles right back. It's building again after 7 1/2 minutes. Heavy stuff is the result 9 1/2 minutes in until a calm arrives 12 1/2 minutes in and mellotron and reserved vocals will help out here. It becomes majestic sounding as vocals continue.

A very solid 4 stars in my opinion and a reminder why I used to like this band so much.


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