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 Electronic Music From Realisation Of Eternity by RAICEVIC, NIK album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.47 | 6 ratings

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Electronic Music From Realisation Of Eternity
Nik Raicevic Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars The most ridiculously short LP I own. I mean this album totally about 24 minutes, 12 minutes per side. Gee a Genesis, Todd Rudgren or Klaus Schulze album has more music one one side than this whole album (but Nik Raicevic's other albums are closer to 40 minutes, which is more normal). It sounds like a sound effects library album to me, just tons of sci-fi noise played on a Moog and that's about it. I like this type of stuff, and love the cover that was done by Raicevic himself. Also the album came with a warning sticker on the shrink wrap that states: "Do not listen to this album if you are stoned", but most copies no longer bear that warning as many tore the shrink wrap long age. My copy doesn't have the warning (but my copy of Magnetic Web does, which I'm so delighted). If you want something more melodic, this isn't where to do, but for those who like off-the-wall electronic music, this comes recommended.

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 Head by RAICEVIC, NIK album cover Studio Album, 1970
2.48 | 5 ratings

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Head
Nik Raicevic Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I can see many people would be quick to dismiss Nik Raicevic, but I love his ventures in to weird cosmic sci fi sound effects. There really isn't much in the way of solid melodies. Mort Garson has his weird moments, but he also had a melodic approach which Nik Raicevic didn't. I also wondered if he had Mort Garson as a mentor for concept Moog albums. If Mort Garson did Astrological (Sings of the Zodiac series), Occult (Black Mass, The Supernatural) and even Sex (Music for Sensuous Lovers) Moog albums, so Nik Raicevic did a Drug Moog album. This album was released in 1970 on Buddah, but he was quickly kicked off the label, so he started his own label, released four more albums, although the Numbers album is often thought to have dated from 1968, which is actually the Head album, probably actually the reissue. The Buddah LP is said to come with an 8-page coloring book, but most copies no longer come with them, probably due to children using them as coloring books. This is basically three lengthy cuts, "Cannabis Sativa" starts off with pulsing droning Moog, with lots of strange sound effects. "Methedrine" is full of strange sound effects that I find hard to describe, while the last one, "Lysergic Acid Diethelamyde" is basically "Cannabis Sativa" played at twice the speed. It's a bit strange for a guy who apparently stayed away from drugs to do such an album, but he did. It's too bad that Buddah didn't like the content of the album. Truly off the wall stuff that I find actually enjoyable.

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 Walpurgis by SHIVER, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Walpurgis
The Shiver Proto-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

— First review of this album —
3 stars Look at the weird art upon the sleeve at first, and keep an ear upon the psychedelic Krautrock prototype next.

This stuff can be called as one of psychedelic progressive / Krautrock legends from Switzerland, veiled in a renowned artistic sleeve drawn by H. R. Giger. Basically non-colourful heavy bluesy rock tinged with dark stoner vibes they launched, but some innovative progressive essence can be heard via such a blues rock authenticity.

The beginning shot "Repent Walpurgis" is awesome indeed. Exactly dark Kraut-ish flavour filled with deep, heavy exaggerate drumming and guitar voltage drives us of surrealism. Psychedelic watery keyboard sound surface is very atmospheric but at the same time very theatrical. Drenched in Satanic majesty like the sleeve painting, this masterpiece enough explains all of their album world, we can mention.

Anyway "Hey Mr. Holy Man" features "Dies Irae" of Gregorian Chant ... I've listened to another Krautrock version of "Dies Irae" by SHANNONDOA, that sounds drier and cooler. "Hey Mr. Holy Man" has notified us of their sticky, depressive appearance covering this whole album. On the contrary other tracks are simply blues rock ones each of which can be listened to at ease comparatively (especially "Ode To The Salvation Army" is impressive, interesting, easygoing).

One of blues rock stuffs "What's Wrong About The Blues" let's us shout the phrases. Old Krautrock, like ACHTZEHN KARAT GOLD or AIR, has exerted such a bluesy texture. Another bluesy kick "No Time" is one of old-fashioned standard numbers that has sung or played here and there (also in Japan ... cannot remember who sings this song in Japanese). Not so special for those days but conventional atmosphere might relieve us I imagine. The last "The Peddle" sounds delicate but cloudy through psychedelic effects ... enough with comfort, reminding us of something like Live Dead.

Totally via the "current" progressive rock guideline it might be a tough call to categorize them as a progressive rock combo, but hey, how do you feel their innovative musical scheme in late 60s?

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 Cross & Quinn: Cold Sky Blue by CROSS, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.00 | 4 ratings

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Cross & Quinn: Cold Sky Blue
David Cross Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars This is the kind of release that will hardly "knock your socks off" but will return to your attention when you know the kind of mood it requires for its full enjoyment.

For starters this is not groundbreaking material nor a bombastic release, opposite to that "CROSS & QUINN: COLD SKY BLUE", 2016, is a slow paced, heartfelt (sometimes a bit too much, like track 4), emotional, nocturnal and romantic journey, which travels through very difficult grounds, the 80s' style like ones, or better yet, the recreation of the most refined and rescuable parts of those.

And believe it or not David Cross and Séamus Quinn pull it through with extreme decor, which is almost a miracle. (At times you could bet Robert Fripp is guest, but you will lose the bet.)

As told, once you know what to expect, it turns out to be quiet pleasurable to listen to.

Anyway, it beholds some great moments, nevertheless not exactly flawless as a whole. If expecting Jazz or Fusion this is the wrong place to look for those styles.

***3 PA stars.

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 Mirage by SCHULZE, KLAUS album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.29 | 217 ratings

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Mirage
Klaus Schulze Progressive Electronic

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars

. . . incoming transmission - - incoming transmission - - incomi . . .

date: Unknown

parsec interval: .000007

vector: Unknown

day 7, semisolar - Fading. Power supply dwindling. Soundwave patterns persist. No known source. Natural, unnatural... both at same time. Almost human. Even forgiving, yielding. Is this death? Is this sound? Is sound death? Are moments of such peace; such delicacy and grace; but also menace. I hear bells.

day 8, semisolar - A taking of souls by unrighteous means. You have no right. But I am a free man. Twisting, distending. I live.

day 9, semisolar - ::: >`bd+\y\l ^ ;;;

. . . end transmission - - end transmission -- en . . .

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 What Lies Beneath by KERSHAW, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2016
5.00 | 1 ratings

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What Lies Beneath
Mike Kershaw Crossover Prog

Review by bonestorm

— First review of this album —
5 stars Mike Kershaw has steadily built a catalogue of impressive releases over the last few years, and in 2016 this has culminated in his best work yet - 'What Lies Beneath'.

The album opens with the epic 'Gunning for the Gods', a nine-minute plus track that demonstrates Mike's maturity as a songwriter, as he effortlessly weaves together several different moods and tempos. What's also apparent is the terrific production of the album, with each instrument given its own space in the mix, and the result is a very cohesive sound that is a joy to hear.

In my opinion, the album peaks in the middle with several exceptional tracks. 'The City Revealed' is a melancholic and beautifully restrained number that oozes atmosphere; 'Two Eyes' follows, an upbeat mesh of slide guitar and keyboards that features a killer vocal hook; and 'Wounds', another change of pace that showcases the vocal talents of Tom Slatter, and which includes some of the most evocative lyrics on the album.

The final track, 'The City of My Dreams', is another belter. One of the longer pieces on the album, it moves through several phases, including a terrific tempo shift half-way through and eventually transitions to a more pensive finale, a perfect way to end the album.

Highly recommended.

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 Moondawn by SCHULZE, KLAUS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.70 | 141 ratings

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Moondawn
Klaus Schulze Progressive Electronic

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars

incoming transmission - - incoming transmission - - incomi . . .

date: Unknown

parsec interval: .00008

vector: Centaurus, inert, linear

day 4, solar - Fourth full day, inert kinesis outbound from Sol. Audible signal now in total regular auditory; musical, sequenced. Relentless. Multiple layered signal, steady but not predictable. Now modulated, repeat modulated : risen by at least a minor third [western scale], maybe more. Highly unusual, possibly xenoformic in nature. Seems to have had frequency increase as I've moved farther from Sol.

day 5, semisolar - Signal maintained but changed; unified tone-field with smaller granulars influencing cosmosition; deeper but diluted colorations; Wait ... what's this ... what's this. Percussive. No doubt about it, impact tonalogics clear as day. Impossible but there they are-- multiple impact resonations mixed in sync with tone signals. Without doubt a form of music, either naturally occurring or sentient-made. Comp is stuck, baffled.

day 6, semisolar - Exterior transmission fully altered now; Chaotic, if I didn't know better I'd say it was the ocean on Earth. And there's something else: Odd, theremive, elastatic, profoundly organic considering I'm almost outside MW. No matter, just a few hours left before E-suit fails. Tell my family I love them. Transmitting now.

end transmission - - end transmission - - en . . .

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 Passo Dopo Passo by CASTELLO DI ATLANTE, IL album cover Live, 1994
3.29 | 20 ratings

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Passo Dopo Passo
Il Castello Di Atlante Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars You'd have to be a hardhearted soul indeed to fail to be moved by the story of this RPI band. To recap briefly, they formed in 1974 and never really disbanded between then and their 1992 debut on Vinyl Magic. They claim that they were united more as friends than musicians during that period. That may be so but the strength of their friendship is the current that powers their music, an enchanting and lovable blend of 1970s RPI and British symphonic prog. In 1993, when informed that their debut had surpassed the lofty sales peak of 3000 units, they were asked, nay commanded, to dispatch a second album pronto. What to do? They had yet to fully tap their significant repertoire amassed during 18 years sans record deal, but they had no time to lavish the same loving kindness on the other chestnuts as they had on "Sono Io Il Signore Delle Terre A Nord". So they made the only logical choice - they raided the vaults and the result is "Passo dopo Passo", a mostly live compilation of hitherto unreleased bootleg quality material from the 1974-1984 period, much of it live.

The result is bittersweet. If the band had been given sufficient time, many of these pieces could have found their way onto subsequent studio efforts, edited and produced in a manner that does justice to their underlying strengths. As far as I can tell, only one, "Cavalcando tra le nuvole" has been resuscitated in the intervening 22 years, and this is a minor tragedy. The lengthier tracks are just a few washed out bridges from being up to the level of subsequent recordings, while the mid length songs could have graced the debut album and not been out of place with minor cleanup. In particular, the ballad "Alice" (pronounced appropriately as ah-lee-chay), "Omer", the masterful mini epic "La Guerra del Topi", and the dazzling instrumental, "Chorale" (which reminds me oddly of the title cut to CAMEL's "Rain Dances") outshine their skimpy treatment. But honestly, nothing here is weak, particularly given the context. I especially enjoy the prominence of violin and flute as well as the washes of string synthesizer throughout, and the rhythm section is stalwart and accomplished.

The positive aspect to wasting these compositions in this manner is that the band could no longer depend primarily on archive material from then on. After "L'Ippogrifo", released fairly quickly the following year, they became very much a going concern in terms of songwriting, production and performance, and have released several high quality disks over the last couple of decades, including a new one this year.

My own tastes ally most with the band as they were in the early 1990s, so even though this isn't much better than the old teenage trick of putting a mike to the clock radio speaker - actually, that's probably pretty much what it is - to me the spirit shines through and handily overcome any obstacles, generously offering, warts and all, the definitive, versions of these chestnuts. Step by step indeed.

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 The Bootleg Box Set Vol.2 by TANGERINE DREAM album cover Live, 2004
2.75 | 13 ratings

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The Bootleg Box Set Vol.2
Tangerine Dream Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Better go with Volume 1

Like Volume 1, Volume 2 of the "Bootleg Box Set" series includes five TANGERINE DREAM concerts, between 1976 and 1983 this time. This means it features three different line-ups: one with Peter Baumann, one with Steve Joliffe and Klaus Krüger, and the last one with Schmoelling. Although the covered period is larger and the music is more varied than in the first box set, there are less genuine novelties here, as the band was already less improvising and began playing their studio material live from the beginning of the 80's. Like Volume 1, the tapes were remastered by Jerome Froese and, still like Volume 1, the artwork is awful again.

Despite its good recording quality and year, the first concert, Nottingham 1976, is not the most convincing. It contains good moments, such as reusage of themes from "Ricochet" and "Stratosfear", as well as partial drafts of future tracks of "Sorcerer" and "Encore". However, the overall sounds a little repetitive and lengthy. A pleasant but uneven performance, less interesting than the ones from "Bootleg Box Set Volume 1".

The second concert was recorded during TD's 1977 North American tour in Washington, the last one with Peter Baumann. Like all performances of the tour, it opens with "Cherokee Lane" and "Monolight". The rest consists of previously unreleased tracks, mostly improvised, in the style of "Encore" and "Sorcerer", with sci-fi effects and pre-trance sonorities futuristic at the time. Froese's distorted guitar gets pretty wild too by moments. However, despite all these features, the music itself is quite repetitive and not that interesting, the best passages being "Monolight" and "Octagon". Furthermore, the sound quality is average. I'd better recommend the Montreal or Detroit concerts, more inspired and now released as part of the Bootmoon series.

The third concert, Hamburg 1978, is the curiosity of the box set. Quite original, it is one of the few recordings starring the controversial "Cyclone" line-up, ie. vocalist Steve Joliffe and drummer Klaus Krüger. The tracks reuses the electronic sequences from "Bent Cold Sidewalk" and "Madrigal Meridian", and each musician uses his instrument, or voice, to fan the fire, like a long meditative trance. You have to be concentrated to really "enter" the music. Then you'll be in for an unique and unusual TANGERINE DREAM performance.

The fourth concert was recorded at Newcastle in 1981, in a transition period between "Exit" and their next albums, "White Eagle" and the live "White Eagle". It features drafts for "Logos Part 1" and "Mojave Plan". However, more interesting here are the tracks unreleased in studio versions. Sobornost is a nice icy and oppressive tune, that will be remastered and overdubbed on the "Antique Dreams" compilation. The dynamic "Bondy Parade" can also be found with a better quality, with overdubs too, on the official live album "Sohoman". "Therman Inversion" is another highlight of the performance, this trippy long transition is very cool and will be played at 1982 Australian concerts. Thus, the genuine novelty here is "Digital Times Suite", containing slight glimpses of "Convention of the 24", but overall rather lengthy and average.

The fifth and last concert was recorded at Frankfurt in 1983, for the anniversary of the death of German actor Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Edgar Froese composed the soundtrack of the last film he starred in, "Kamikaze 1989". Shortest of the box set with a duration of only 35 minutes, the performance is made of extracts from TD's "Logos", "Poland" live releases, as well as Edgar Froese's "Flying Kamikaze", from "Kamikaze 1989" soundtrack. The music itself is good, but it does not features any previously unreleased tracks, as they can already can found on official albums, in better quality. The 1982 Croydon concert inclusion would have been a better choice, as it contains the cool "Logotypes" suite, not officially released.

"Bootleg Box Set Volume 2" is less fascinating than the first volume, in which all material was entirely new as all performances were improvised. The choice of the two concerts with Peter Baumann is not the best, and the fifth concert is a bit useless. Highlights of this box set are thus the Hamburg 1978 concert featuring the "Cyclone" line-up, pretty unusual and incantatory and Newcastle 1981, that shows the band's creativity was still intact at the dawn of the 80's.

Not bad, but for TANGERINE DREAM connoisseurs only.

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 Embryo's Reise by EMBRYO album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.26 | 31 ratings

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Embryo's Reise
Embryo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The ultimate prog rock journey to Asia

"Reise" is the German word for "Travel", and that's exactly what the album has to offer here: a genuine musical journey... to the East. After the band's average jazz/rock/world releases during the second half of the 70's (last good album being 1973's "We Keep On"), EMBRYO's leader Christian Burchard decided to save his baby and brought with him the other members for a long trip, from Middle-East to India. During their journey, they met various local musicians, played jam sessions and recorded tracks in their company.

Instead of the band's initial jazz/rock/ethnic approach, the music is clearly oriented towards middle-eastern, oriental and Indian styles this time. Most compositions combine these genres with progressive rock (like the great "Kurdistan" and "Farid"), or even punk ("Eis Ist, Wie's Ist"), while others are fully oriental (like the Indian "Chan Delawar Khan" and "Rog de Quadamuna Achna"). As you may expect, the palette of instruments used is very large. The result is astonishing and mesmerizing. This fusion of musical genres was quite original at the time. Furthermore, there are no weak on the record. Such a little treasure will make you travel from desert sands to ancient Asian temples, through mystical lands.

This 1979 opus was the first double album of the band. However, the most common released version nowadays is the single CD edition, which does not include the songs "Paki Funk", "Maharaj" and "Lassie, Lassie", but this does not matter much.

"Embryo's Reise" is one of the finest examples of "world music", presenting a genuine and unique crossing of Occidental and Eastern genres. Even 40 years after, such mastery in mixing these musical ingredients from opposite origins remains still rare. Highly recommended if you enjoy middle-eastern and Indian music! Simply one of the best albums from EMBRYO!

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 Florasongs by DECEMBERISTS, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Florasongs
The Decemberists Prog Folk

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars You might have thought his long sabbatical after recording 'The King is Dead' would have given Colin Meloy enough time to recharge his creative batteries. That hope was quickly spoiled by the release of 'What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World' in 2015: an album sounding like the flotsam of earlier, unrealized projects, exhumed from the bottom drawer of Meloy's songwriting cabinet.

Predictably, this modest collection of leftovers from the same studio sessions appeared shortly afterward: in effect an EP of outtakes from an album of outtakes. If nothing else, the five songs here marked a full-circle retreat to the unremarkable Indie Rock of the '5 Songs' EP from 2001, in retrospect hardly a Decemberists classic but at least showing some of the youthful aspirations missing from the band's current efforts.

After fifteen years of escalating success the group now sounds a bit jaded, content to rest on their wilting laurels. 'Riverswim' is a pretty song, once again mining the same vein of faux-Americana exploited for 'The King is Dead' a half-decade earlier. 'Fits and Starts' presents another plagiarized R.E.M.-style rocker, one of many already dotting the Decemberist landscape. There's even a song titled 'Stateside', by coincidence (or maybe not) a bookend reflection of the '5 Songs' ballad 'Oceanside'.

Even the signature vocal tremolo of Meloy, so distinctive when he's singing about 'brickbats and Bowery toughs', is fast becoming a tiresome affectation. The Decemberists certainly deserve all the acclaim their music has earned them in the past. But with the eclecticism long gone, and with Meloy complacently treading very shallow water, it might be time to admit his band's best years are behind them.

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 Underground Chamber by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.38 | 4 ratings

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Underground Chamber
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars PIKE 4 - UNDERGROUND CHAMBER shows BUCKETHEAD going craaaazy and exercising his freaky side. The album contains 10 tracks all titled UNDERGROUND CHAMBER (parts 1-10) and they basically flow together creating one long freaky musical listening experience. Well, musical is a subjective term. This is highly experimental music. It is very avant-garde and free-flowing mixing not only hard rock and metal elements but dark ambient, funk and rather psychedelic tidbits as well. Most of all the album just goes left- field whenever it wants without any need for adhering to rules or regulations or attention spans. The album clocks in around the half hour mark at 30:43 and BUCKETHEAD performs all sounds on board.

This is one that most will hate. There are hooks but they disappear and are replaced by non-related hooks or no hooks at all. It's almost like a sound collage of BUCKETHEADLAND really. I hear different riffs from previous albums and many more that would be recycled on future albums. There is no rhyme or reason as to where metal begins or ends, where electronica is inserted, how tempos flow, really how anything flows. This is true musical liberation. It's almost like a musical equivalent of what would happen if suddenly all the laws of physics were repealed and gravity no longer functioned. Electrical currents no longer flowed or turned into cucumbers. If cats became llamas and beanstalks started sprouting out of your nostrils. Yeah, it's that weird. It's highly surreal but what is magical about this one is how for fleeting moments there are familiar hooks that can catch you but then distorted to extreme weirdness. In fact at times it's like two TV channels competing for screen time with one winning for a while with a smidge of the other trying to burst through but then in the long run both succumb to a new force that bulldozes over them and then that one too is usurped by something new.

This is only for the most adventurous musical souls out there. I cannot think of many albums that even comes close to this in terms of freedom. It is utterly wild and untamed like a free flowing electron relentlessly bombarding molecules of matter and ricocheting violently off in random directions only to hit another particle which changes its musical frequency. While meandering music is more common in ambient and electronic music, BUCKETHEAD keeps the energy level pretty high on this one. This is mostly high energy and chaotic with guitar solos whizzing about like a possessed saw blade flying through a salad bar or a lemur suddenly breakdancing with Cher. The music on here can be funky, it can be head-banging, it can be placid but the only constant is inconsistency. The solos can sizzle accompanied by electronica and then suddenly become funky and then turn into dissonance.

This is definitely up there in terms of weirdness. Only the early Boredoms albums can compete. The emphasis is on keeping things as unpredictable as possible and in that department is totally successful. This is for sure not the most essential BUCKETHEAD album but i actually like this kind of stuff. It is bold, it is brazen. It is just plain nuts. But that is what i like about it. While some albums reek of predictable and checking off the boxes on a certain list, UNDERGROUND CHAMBER excels in being the anti-check-the-box album. It's like laying on the ground and watching clouds roll by. Sometimes they form something familiar and cute and friendly but often are muddled and jumbled gibberish. So too is UNDERGROUND CHAMBER. An album so out there and unique that it deserves a special place just for that achievement. Can't say this is essential but can say it's really good at achieving chaos. For those who love early Boredoms and bands like Psyopus or Behold?. The Arctopus, check this out. Everyone else, run to the hills.

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 Benefit by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.92 | 845 ratings

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Benefit
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars Coming off a 30 week tour of the US with bands like Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, Creedence Clearwater and even Blood, Sweat & Tears and with constant pressures from the record company to engage in incessant radio interviews following the success of 'Stand Up,' Ian Anderson returned back to his native England and began writing new material for the third JETHRO TULL album BENEFIT. After the grueling touring schedule Anderson states that this album is much darker as a result of his cynicism with his frustration with the music industry. This album also develops the band's sound to the more classic period with the addition of classically trained keyboardist John Evan who added a new element to that band that kept the melody churning allowing Martin Barre the luxury to focus on his famous monophonic riffs and guitar solos instead of being limited to merely strumming chords and this is the point is where all the elements stack up side by side to create that instantly recognizable JETHRO TULL sound. While Evan's intent was to join on a temporary basis, things worked out so well that he stuck around for ten whole years.

BENEFIT continues the folk elements with strong songwriting, addictive melodic developments and the beautiful poetic adroit vocal suaveness of Ian Anderson's vocal style accompanied by his signature flute fills, however the addition of the keys and Barre's new freedom to expand his guitar duties make this a much harder rocking album than 'Stand Up.' A whole new layer has debuted here adding to an already rich tapestry of sounds. The band expands these elements with ease. They figured out right from the start how to meld all the folk and rock elements together in a seamless manner and alternate the soft passages with the harder edged ones. There is not a bad song on this one and this is actually one of my favorite JT albums. Starting with the very first echoing flute sounds that begin the album, Anderson kicks off the album with his saturnine singing style and the melodies unfold with addictive verses and chorus' that flow together so flawlessly with bridges and unexpected yet pleasing transitions. I have always considered Ian Anderson to be one of the best songwriters out there and on these early albums he just shines like the brightest supernova in the distant universe.

Because record companies were totally evil back then (or are they still?), they decided to complicate things and there were two versions of the album. The usual one for the UK and one for the US. While not as ridiculously complex as Beatles or Rolling Stones album, the UK version contains the track 'Alive And Well And Living In' whereas the US version doesn't but rather has the track 'Teacher' and vice versa. Luckily the remastered CD version has the whole kit and caboodle and bonus tracks to boot. BENEFIT is just bereft of any flaws in my opinion. Every track just hooks the listener and takes you to that special JT universe where you can escape into the seductive song structures where guitar riffs conjure up your inner rowdy rocker while the calming keys and flute solos take you on a folky sojourn through the pastoral lands of rural England. BENEFIT is a strong album that has been perhaps one of the most listened to on my playing list. This album may be written off by some as a mere practice session for the even better albums like 'Aqualung' and 'Thick As A Brick' which were just around the corner and true this doesn't quite hit high on the progometer quite yet, but the melodies, musicianship and strong performances make this one a very slick and savvy listen nonetheless. Just as enjoyable as the classics that follow IMHO. 4.5 rounded UP!

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 Man Of The Moment by MARTIGAN album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.58 | 40 ratings

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Man Of The Moment
Martigan Neo-Prog

Review by poito

3 stars I first listened to their most acclaimed VISION album, which I really liked in spite of the notable borrowing of style from the great symph grandpas. I thought it was a worthy piece of classic prog with all ingredients in site and excellent instrumental mastery. This former album now looks to me as a preparatory one, meaning that the borrowed elements are already here but less compacted, it sounds less natural. The brilliant moments are scarce and at least in the first half the overall taste is cheesy and easy. It kind of improves by the second half, beginning by the most inspired track Scapegoat And Scarecrow, a piano based track with an original melody and good voices. The Feast is also a track you can save for your collection. At least this tribute bands do not hide what they are and who they worship, neither do we. It is worse to pretend one is not influenced by the Grandpas while they die in the effort of making us believe they are original.

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 Eve by KARDA ESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.91 | 30 ratings

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Eve
Karda Estra Symphonic Prog

Review by poito

1 stars I came to this band attracted by their climbing to the front of Artists in the Progarch web, checked this album that has the highest rating and'nothing. Boring, that says it all. This album lacks interest. The music is dull, with no spirit, dim, good only to go to sleep or for elevators and supermarkets. It does not evoke anything'except to friends, it seems. It is totally uninspiring. I do not understand why this is here. It would better fit as orchestral music and not good anyway, but for sure it does not fit Prog of any subgenre. Skip it, you'll miss nothing.

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 Bröselmaschine by BRÖSELMASCHINE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.83 | 56 ratings

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Bröselmaschine
Bröselmaschine Prog Folk

Review by ALotOfBottle

4 stars At the turn of the seventies, Germany witnessed a radical musical revolution, which would fructify in a genre that we currently know as krautrock or kosmische musik. The term "krautfolk" was recently created to describe the German bands of the time, which based on influences of folk music and prominently used folk instrumentation. Bröselmaschine is commonly known as one of the most representative bands of the narrow sub-genre. The group was formed in Duisburg in 1969 by vocalists and guitarists Peter Busch and Willi Kismer, a female vocalist and flautist Jenni Schucker, a bassist Lutz Ringer and a percussionist Mike Hellbach. Two years later, the quintet recorded their self-titled debut album.

The impact of the sixties folk revival on later hippie folk acts, such as Fairport Convention, Pentangle or Lindisfarne, was undeniable. Bröselmaschine's style relies heavily on its legacy, but adds various their own original elements. The group's pastoral, meditative sound is enriched with influences of Indian raga, Celtic chants, and European art music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In addition, the album tends to have a strong trance-like feel, which becomes evident on lengthy and dynamically varied instrumental passages with detectable psychedelic hints. Even with so many original ingredients and such a fresh feel, the release's style does not sound unfamiliar.

Bröselmaschine's debut is dominated by gentle, feminine instrumentation. The great interaction of two acoustic guitars is supported by exotic sounds of sitar, tabla, congas and percussive, celestial sounds of a traditional European zither. Other unorthodox instruments include spoons used as percussion, a metallophon, and shells. Mike Hellbach's Mellotron plays an important role on distant, dreamy passages. Classic acid folk sounds are delivered through high-pitched flute sounds and harmony vocals of Peter Bursch, Willi Kismer, and Jenni Schucker. Electric instruments are rather rare with an exception of an electric bass and Willi Kismer's overdriven wah-wah guitar fills appearing from time to time. The overall impression one will highly likely get is that the musicians work together effectively and professionally.

The album is relatively short, with a time frame of only 35 minutes. It comprises six tracks, each with a slightly different feel. The opening piece, "Gedanken", is based on a lament bass pattern and is kept in a rather melancholic mood. "Lassie" is a ballad having a much brighter sound than the previous song. "Gitarrenstuck" is somewhat of a duel between two guitars of Peter Bursch and Willi Kismer without any help from other instruments. "The Old Man's Song" opens with a catchy motif, which returns after dreamy instrumental passages. "Schmetterling" has a very distinct, trance-like flavor, reflected in exotic-sounding jams. This track is probably the most representative of the whole release. "Nossa Bova" closes the album with an intricate meditative theme.

Bröselmaschine is one of countless bands that did not manage to leave a significant mark despite their original and worthwhile material. The band's self-titled debut album is an excellent example of German folk with psychedelic piquancy, somewhat reminiscent of krautrock. By no means a must-have, but well worth your listen. Recommended!

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 Nemrud by NEMRUD album cover Studio Album, 2016
5.00 | 5 ratings

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Nemrud
Nemrud Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by vega

5 stars This album follows the same space rock model as Nemrud's previous albums Ritual and Journey of The Shaman, but shows a great deal more confidence on the part of the band. Nemrud's career is dominated by concept albums with a somewhat gentle space rock vibe. There is a concept here to tell us their own creation story. This is hard psych to be sure. Drums kicks scream through walls of distortion and the guitars are turned up to eleven. Levent Candas, the band's new bassist, might enjoy some of the credit for them tightening up their act, since the rhythm section this time around attains the compelling, hypnotic intensity that the likes of Hawkwind were enjoying at the time. In all though, a superb collection of tracks, and certainly one of Nemrud's finest albums. Pink Floyd and Camel influences are undeniable, and the band make no attempt to disguise them. There are though some majestic sounds and fine compositions here. Nemrud easly deserve 5 stars without question, recommended not only for Nemrud fans but for those who listen to good spacey progressive music in general. Excellent.

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 Kontinuum by SCHULZE, KLAUS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.80 | 61 ratings

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Kontinuum
Klaus Schulze Progressive Electronic

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars

date: Unknown

parsec interval: .0009

vector: Just past Sol, veering at Centaurus

day 1, solar - Survived impact of biswift Tanaka, must've been superparticle. Damage catastrophic. Moving through space in E-suit, comfortable but shaken. Not a lot of hope for rescue. Inert movement OK, spatial kinetics proving a challenge. Fields check-out but now getting something unusual on, of all things, my exterior receiver. Sounds like solid waveform with pulse. Pleasing, layered with corrected forms creating "echo". Patterns are regular but comp says no; comp says varied. That's odd. Hold on ... hold on ... form alters. Repeat; form a l t e r s. Off for now -----

day 2, solar - Most peculiar. Altered form held for second day and now vox mimic. Repeat vox mimic. *New alteration*, slight increase in temporals, comp now reading multiple source transmission. Source signal lost, flares-- flare interference. Background vibratories, a shadow?

day 3, solar - Shadows developed, extraordinary. Much like music, expansive, sedate but vast, reminds of the Tuvan throat singers, overtonal, tangible. Beginning to help relax me, pass some time, emotionally stabilize. I actually got five hours sleep(!). Most gratifying. Getting more now, becoming part of my reality. Tapering off. Sounds like thunder.

Transmit now ;: Transmit now :;

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 The Muse Awakens    by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.58 | 93 ratings

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The Muse Awakens
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars The late 70s and 80s may have been the greatest test for progressive bands to weather out the storm with some, mostly neo-prog bands holding out and carrying the torch against hurricane force winds but the 90s saw a calm in the storm with bands like Anglagard and Dream Theater unapologetically reviving the complexities of 70s prog traditions and updating their sounds. The second generation of prog was born! and that coupled with digital technology making it infinitely less expensive to produce music and the popularity of the internet to by-pass record company whims was the perfect recipe for old school bands of the 70s to re- emerge from their slumber. HAPPY THE MAN was one of those bands who emerged just a little late in the game in the 70s to really garner a huge following. Their only two studio albums of the 70s came out in 1977 and 78 just when 'Saturday Night Fever' and the Sex Pistols were crashing the party and changing the musical soundscape. The band was, frankly, lucky to achieved what they did at that period but it is a testament to the outstanding musicianship that the band engaged in and it's no wonder they have kept a cult following after all the years that have passed.

Fast forward to the year of 2004 and HAPPY THE MAN finally, at long last, graces the world with a third full-length studio album. Forget all those demo and archival albums ('3rd - Better Late,' 'Death's Crown,' 'Beginnings') which are fine and dandy for collectors but not what i'd call real albums that you can just get lost in. THE MUSE AWAKENS is the real thing that stylistically fits somewhere between the band's 70s studio releases with an updated sound and production that suits the band sound, oh quite well! THE MUSE AWAKENS features only three original members, those being Stanley Whitaker (guitars and vocals), Frank Wyatt (saxes, keyboards and woodwinds) and Rick Kennell (bass). The newbies are David Rosenthal on keyboards and Joe Bergamini on drums and percussion. HTM had the Spinal Tap complex with all three studio albums having different drummers. As far as i know, there were no bizarre gardening accidents or spontaneous combustible moments! One of the first things i noticed is the use of much more prominent guitar making itself heard above the symphonic touches.

The album pretty much continues where the last two left off. The beginning track 'Contemporary Insanity' humorously lets the listeners know that HTM is quite aware of its current timeline and yet opts to anachronistically take us to that point in time in that imaginary universe where 'Crafty Hands' was a huge success and this was the much anticipated followup release. And yes, the energy, the jazz-fusion meets symphonic prog leanings, the syncopated rhythms and time sigs gone wild are all on board dictating to the world that true 70s prog is back and this is no joke. Is this album really good? Well, yes it is! However, it doesn't take long to prove that this album doesn't have a really good flow pattern to it. Starting with the second track which is the title track we get the first of some really slow 'soft' jazz-fusion tracks that as always bring The Weather Report to mind, however at least this one picks up the energy level after a bit. The track is redeemed by its intensity build-up. The one thing that keeps me from giving this album a higher rating are the smooth jazz moments that are counterproductive to the overall feel of the album.

The band can rock like nobody's business but there is a deliberate holdback as found on the mellower tracks like the title track, 'Maui Sunset,' 'Slipstream,' 'Adrift.' I should emphatically state that mellow doesn't mean boring. Tracks like 'Stepping Through Time' are mellow yet awesomely effective in carrying out a successful progressive rock inspired fusion that blows the mind utilizing all the members on boards to create an addictive atmosphere. Tracks like 'Psychedelicatesson' are magical and i truly wish the album was stuffed with these kinds of tracks and my absolute favorite HTM track of all time 'Barking Spiders' which takes their jazz- fusion approach and REALLY marries the rock really make this album worth the price of admission alone including the most guitar oriented track of the band's existence.

Yes, this sounds like a collection of tracks composed through the track of a couple decades and yes, this doesn't flow as nicely as a 'true' organic album should and yes, this may have more mellow tracks than it should, but i am quite enthralled with not only the diversity of the album but by the compositional skills involved and the fact that a 70s band created a really beautiful album that still resonates into the 21st century. Given all the obstacles placed in their way and the fact that this is not the most perfect album that could ever exist, i'm still very pleased with its achievement. When all is said and done, this album has more than enough to deliver to the hardcore HTM fans who were craving the top notch musical deliveries with a pleasing retro feel and musical repertoire that could transport the listener to the classic days of prog albeit the latter tracings. Perhaps a worked for 4 star appreciative effort but after many listens, one that i have found it to be

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 Guns by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.44 | 47 ratings

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Guns
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Lewian

4 stars A number of people don't seem to love Guns as much as pretty much all other Cardiacs albums. Why is this? Certainly it's a fully valid Cardiacs album with excellent Cardiacs music on it.

Well, one explanation may be that the album is off to a somewhat weak start with Spell with a Shell, and people may not then be able to shake off the first impression. This comes with a fairly thin sound, a not particularly interesting rhythm, a single chord for quite some time and just two for some more time and some not particularly catchy singing from the first moment. To be fair, at some point it takes off into a more intense chorus and actually starts to make some sense.

Anyway, from then on things go uphill. With There's Good Cud the album certainly hasn't yet reached the peak. It's a fast and hard rocking punk orgy which will appeal to headbangers. Wind and Rain is Cold is the first highlight, more folky and poetic, with typical Cardiacs theatre spirit and some rare but great and dreamy Sarah Smith vocals; she returned for this album and is extremely welcome. Cry Wet Smile Day is again rocking harder and has one of these iconic crowd singing choruses, ah, the choruses! You want to join in so much but it's not that easy. OK, then Jitterbug (junior is a). This starts like a typical energetic Cardiacs song and then from the 3 minute mark get caught in a strange slow outworldly succession of chords in spacey sound over which Tim's voice meanders around, for almost 5 minutes. Depending on your mood this may be very annoying or genius; I'd be interested in whether anybody has followed this often enough to know exactly where it's going in the next moment, this is probably a half life's project. Sleep All Eyes Open is another fast rocker; nice how they already start fast and then give you the feeling of ever getting faster, wait, there's some illusion somewhere in it, like Escher's stairs that go upwards all the time. Come Back Clammy Lammy is again fast and quite straight for a Cardiacs song. It has another addictive crowd chorus but the Cardiacs can be accused of recycling some of their own older ideas in places (also in the odd other song).

The band then calms down a bit; Clean That Evil Mud Out Of Your Soul doesn't go for speed generally, although it has a weird and fast guitar melody in its instrumental bridges, but also they wind it down at some moments, this is melodic and rich in contrasts. Ain't He Messy Though is also about the melody and the chords, it's very nicely crafted with the typical twists, a strong keyboards sound and some very nice sax by Sarah.

Then Signs, which alone is strong enough to justify buying Guns; it's my no. 2 favourite Cardiacs song (behind Big Ship) and has the most memorable and intense chorus of them all, which is most effectively build on some very calm and vulnerable almost standing still ballad parts in between. I can listen to just this song for ages.

Song of a Dead Pest is a rather straight keyboard oriented melodic song, which sounds rather uplifting and relaxed, in stark contrast to its title and the lyrics. Will Bleed Amen is again a fast and hard finale with once more fascinating melodic turns. Attached to it is an epilogue that has Tim singing to the organ, leading up to a closure by the full band.

Perhaps I shouldn't have written that much on the individual songs, ultimately it's the Cardiacs and they totally defy description. Anyway, overall this has developed into something pretty strong again. OK, in the context of the Cardiacs universe it may not be seen as one of their peaks and there are some self citations in this one, and also (as usual) one can criticise the mix at times. On the other hand, when it comes to memorable addictive (but still twisted) melodies and choruses, Guns is second to pretty much no other Cardiacs album, with some real crackers on it, notably the stunning Signs. So this is the real deal, not some kind of second rate album, just if you test-listen to it, don't start in the beginning.

Get well soon, Tim, you're missed!

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 Like It Is - Yes at the Mesa Arts Centre by YES album cover Live, 2015
3.59 | 35 ratings

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Like It Is - Yes at the Mesa Arts Centre
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I think that this is the last YES's new official release on which Chris Squire appears. But in fact it was released shortly after his death in June 2015.

It is good to see Squire playing with the band during his last tour with them in 2014. This concert video / CD was recorded in August 2014 in Arizona with the band playing all the songs from two of their most popular and successful albums from the early seventies: "Fragile" (1971) and "Close to the Edge" (1972). From which is considered the "Classic Line-up" of the band which recorded both albums (Squire, Steve Howe, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Bill Bruford) only Squire and Howe remained by 2014. Alan White replaced Bruford at the very last moment in 1972 for the "Close to the Edge" tour, and with Squire, Howe and White being by 2014 the members of the band which had a lot of years of being playing with the band since 1972 (with Howe being out of the band for several years). Since 2012, the line-up of the band had Squire, Howe and White joined by another "old" member, Geoff Downes, and by new lead singer Jon Davison. They had the idea to tour playing some of their old albums in full. In 2014 they previously played in full in concert their "Close to the Edge", "The Yes Album" and "Going for the One" albums. The songs from the "Going for the One" and "The Yes Album_" albums appear in their live album "Lke It Is - Live at the Bristol Hippodrome" which was released in late 2014.

If their concert in Bristol lacked some power and some good playing by the band as a whole (particularly in the songs from the"Going for the One" album), this concert in Arizona shows the band in a better shape, playing the songs with energy and better, even if the management of some tempos is not very good by the band as a whole. Anyway, the band sounds like they rehearsed better for this Arizona concert, and maybe the songs from the "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge" albums were not as demanding from them as some songs from the "Going for the One" album could have been, on which particularly Downes seemed like having some problems on songs like "Awaken". Or maybe "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge" are among Downes's favourite albums from YES (he and Trevor Horn said that both were fans of the band when they joined the band in 1980 for their "Drama" album).

All the members of the band played very well all the songs from the "Close to the Edge" and "Fragile" albums. Maybe the member who shines more is Jon Davison, showing a very solid voice. His voice is somewhat different to Jon Anderson's, but Davison reaches the original very high notes without apparent problems.

"Siberian Khatru" is really played very well, with Downes playing very well the harpsichord parts. He also plays "Cans and Brahms" in a very similar way as Wakeman played it. But in this song I think that he used some programmed keyboard parts to play it properly. In "South Side of the Sky" he also does a good job with the piano parts and the synthesiser solo at the end of the song. The band also used some pre-recorded vocal parts in "We Have Heaven", and in "The Fish" they also used some pre-recorded bass guitar parts apart from Squire playing his bass guitar on stage, having a lot of fun. In "Heart of the Sunrise" Downes played the song in a very similar way to the original studio recording (something that even Wakeman never did in concert!). In the "Close to the Edge" album title song Downes plays a different but very good organ solo.

As a whole, this live album and DVD is very good, showing the band playing and singing very well and having a lot of fun. Something which is not the same in their concert video and CD from Bristol. So, being this Arizona live recording the last official release from the band with Squire playing during his last tour with the band, it is good to see the band playing very well and the audience also having a good time. The recording and mixing of the sound and the quality of the images of the video are also very good.

A 3.5 stars rating for this album from me.

As everybody knows by now, YES still is playing on tour in 2016, but with Billy Sherwood replacing the late Chris Squire since their 2015 tour.

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 Fantasy Absent Reason by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.88 | 15 ratings

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Fantasy Absent Reason
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The second and most recent studio album by US band Ovrfwrd arrived to my ears thanks to the kindness of keyboard man Chris Malmgren, who I thank for it. This second album has the name of Fantasy Absent Reason and has just as the debut, five tracks, the first is a long 17-minute epic, tracks 2 and 5 are the shorter ones, while 3 & 4 have that 8-9 minute range that the songs of the first album had. The running time is around 46 minutes here.

And well, they decided to open with the majestic title track "Fantasy Absent Reason", an ambitious composition full of energy, explosions, changes and loads of prog rock elements. The first two minutes are bombastic, first with a harpsichord, and later a heavy and powerful sound produced by Malmgren's keyboards, who seems to be free to create whatever he wants to create, which means keyboard followers will have a feast here; just before the fourth minute arrives, an extraordinary guitar solo appears, taking the leadership for a while, while bass, drums and organ keep low profile as background. Just as I learnt on the first album, their instrumental music is full of contrasts so one can be listening to soft and delicate music but a minute later it turns out to be aggressive, heavier, but always enjoyable. There is a clear Crimsonian feeling on some moments here, but well, which band does not have King Crimson blood? And well, the song progresses, increases the energy, decreases the rhythm, makes a lot of changes but it is always (I repeat, always) interesting, so those 17 minutes run without any piece of trouble, everything good.

"Brother Jack McDuff" is one of the shorter tracks here, and again what first caught my attention was the sound of keyboards, its sound has that 70s vibe but I believe it is clear the band comes from the XXI century. Some bluesy hints here, but the lush keyboards keep the symphonic spirit, though later guitars appear with a marvelous solo. This is a wonderful song that due to its length could be named as single and could work as an introductory track to Ovrfwrd's world. "Dust Nova" has a much softer sound, delicate guitars, bass and drums for the first three minutes, just before they become more aggressive and provide much power. Guitars create several notes and sounds, always producing nuances that make the listener pay attention until the very end. The drumming here is also wonderful in all parts, in the aggressive ones and also in the softer ones. Great track!

"Utopia Planitia" brings a new element to the road: flute. And man, thank you for it! The addition of the flute brings new textures and colors than let the listener explore into different musical realms, so the band took advantage of that new element to create a magnificent composition, where Wobbler meets Anekdoten meets King Crimson. As usual, there are different passages or episodes in this one song, so later we can enjoy another great guitar solo than when it finishes, it opens the gates to keyboard fiesta. The song has in fact elements of several bands of the scene, besides the previously mentioned, I could say some Opeth and Porcupine Tree hints are perceived here. An exquisite tune, indeed! The album finishes with "Creature Comforts" whose first minute has electric piano giving a jazzy feeling; later it becomes rockier and the song takes a new direction, and though it is great as always, I could say this is not my favorite at all.

What a great surprise has been listening to Ovrfwrd, so if you have the chance, please go and discover their music because it is worth it and a great addition to your prog rock collection. My final grade would be 4 stars.

Enjoy it!

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 Beyond the Visible Light by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.72 | 10 ratings

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Beyond the Visible Light
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars One of the advantages of the internet, is that now it is easier to know new bands and projects because people recommend them to you, or because the same artist contacts you in order to introduce you to their music. This was the case of Ovrfwrd, a band from the United States that is entering to this prog rock realm and aims to be heard around the world, which is why keyboard player Chris Malmgren contacted me and introduced me to their two albums, thanks Chris. The debut album is entitled Beyond the Visible Light, released in 2014 which features 5 solid compositions that range from 8 to 11 minutes, making a total time of 47 minutes.

They create interesting instrumental prog rock that of course has some influences from 70s bands, however they have managed to create a fresh sound that purely belongs to this millennium. The album opens with the aggressive 'Can We Keep The Elephant?' which shows since the beginning that the band has a prog orientation and that the members are great on their respective instruments. It has several changes but always keeps a fast and exciting sound which in moments explodes and becomes even more powerful. They let us know their compositional skills here, because the song is simply great, a wonderful introduction to their music.

'Stones of Temperance' has a softer start, however little by little the intensity increases, adding some dark and somber motifs that create a dense atmosphere splendidly played by the piano. After three minutes there is a moment of silence, a stop, and then a new structure begins to be built up, adding some highs and lows with nice atmospheric keyboards contrasted by raw guitars. It is once again a great song that would appeal to any prog fan. The longest track is 'Raviji', a song that has some spacey atmospheres, heavy prog moments and even a sound that reminds me of Rush, mainly due to the guitars. This is a true progressive rock song, and there are parts that it will make you remember some older acts of this genre, also, Ovrfwrd manage to make several changes without losing the path, I mean, they never break the song to make it less interesting, no, all the changes keep us interested and waiting for a new surprise.

'The Man With No Shoes' is truly interesting, a salad of sounds, a roller-coaster of emotions exquisitely represented with energy and cadency, creating textures and notes that are closer to the jazzy side of rock, but also using some psych elements that give as a result this intrepid heavy progressive rock music. The last song is 'Darkest Star' which starts soft with guitar and synth, reminding me of some Crimsonian impros, or Fripp-alike soundscapes. Later as usual, the song morphs several times, giving us a great mixture of sounds that in the end could please any progressive rock fan.

An excellent debut album from this US band whose music has to be heard by more and more people, I hope so. My final grade, 4 stars,

Enjoy it!

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 Following The Unknown by JAM IT! album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.83 | 16 ratings

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Following The Unknown
Jam It! Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Once again I feel satisfied for the recommendations that I receive via web. This time, I was asked by Nikolaj (who already introduced me to the amazing Pandora Snail) to listen to another Russian band whose music would not let me down, this band was Jam it! A band whose music was unknown to me but that right now I appreciate a lot, simply because the music is great. So Jam it! Is a four-member band that was formed back in 2006 inspired by Mike Portnoy and Dream Theater's music; they have so far released 3 studio albums being Following The Unknown the most recent one, released in 2015. The music can be easily categorized as jazz fusion, and though it does have some metal-like or heavier tunes, I can say this album does not sound like Dream Theater of its offshoots at all.

It features seven songs making a total time of 58 minutes. The opener is "Following The Unknown", an amazing progressive-jazz-fusion song with an outstanding guitar work, though I must say the four members create awesome music, all playing their instruments doing their best but working for the band, so it is evident that at least musically speaking, they get on well each other so the result is pure bliss for the listener. This is a solid song that perfectly works as the opener for this album. "Sea Breeze" is a bit friendlier, I mean, the sound is catchier for prog fans and even for pure jazz fans. After a couple of minutes the song introduces heavier tunes that talks about that influence bands such as Planet X could have had on Jam it! This is a nice song but not my favorite of the album.

"Through the Forest" is a great track, exquisite jazz fusion more in the jazzy side than in the metal one, definitely, with even some 70s nuances that remind me mainly of Dixie Dregs. Great bass lines and amazing drums, complemented of course by the "leading instruments" such as guitar and keyboards. "Mountain of Solitude" is a longer track, reaching almost the 10-minute mark, this one is not that bombastic like the opener, here the sound and rhythm are softer, much softer but enjoyable as well; and though later it progresses and implement new nuances and atmospheres, I think there is something missing, so I could never fall in love with this track.

In "Avalanche" the instruments that caught my attention at first were drums and bass, but mainly drums and that is something not common on me, I actually use to give less importance to drums because they are not my favorite instrument, so when I notice it from the beginning is because they must be awesome, just like they are in this song. I like how the band makes those nice changes, from a soft melodic tune to heavier and rockier moments, all played with delicacy and ambition, always taking care of details. This is one of my favorite tunes here. "Into the Mist" is a softer and shorter track, but man, it is a delicious one. Here its delicacy matched with me, so since the very first time I listened to it I loved it. Music for my senses!

And finally the longest one: "Random Name Hero". A progressive metal / jazz fusion epic with several contrasts, passages that go from soft nuances to heavy and powerful textures. Here I love the work of keyboards and how the band dedicates every single minute of the song to bring different experiences, passages that might tell a story guided by the lead instrument in turn and by the intensity of the sound. Of course, the guitar riffs are also amazing, so it was a great decision to finish the album with this epic track, summing up the best face of Jam it!

The album is wonderful, the musicians are incredibly talented and since I first listened to the album I like it overall, however, I think there are some uneven moments, some passages that I did not love and that in a bad day, I might skip (it has not happened, but might happen), which is why I will give this album 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Enjoy it!

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 Romantic Warrior by RETURN TO FOREVER album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.23 | 501 ratings

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Romantic Warrior
Return To Forever Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Progressive fantasy jazz rock

Often considered as RETURN TO FOREVER's best album, "Romantic Warrior" is more avant-garde and less funky than the band's previous efforts. Featuring a more important usage of electronic keyboards and rocking guitars, the musicians also incorporated symphonic/heavy prog elements from bands such as YES or KING CRIMSON in their music. Combined to the strange and charming synthesizers of Chick Corea, the result is quite original and inspired, while remaining accessible. The question is: what's the relation with the title?

"Medieval Overture" (by Chick Corea) is in fact not really medieval. Instead, this composition is a rather retro-futuristic spacey jazz/rock with various keyboards in the style of YES. Very nice, and sets the tone for the rest of the disc. Lenny White's "Sorceress" is the funkiest track of the record. Opening with a calm and groovy bass line, it contains a few guitar and keyboards interventions with a slight flavour of McCoy Tyner. In contrast, the title track (by Chick Corea) is fully acoustic. Majestic and delightful, however a bit too long.

Despite its title, the cool "Majestic Dance" is not very dancing but rather the rock-iest passage of the disc with its distorted guitars. This is logic when you know this was composed by Al Di Meola. Stanley Clarke's "The Magician" is the most complex composition, and also my least favorite track. Quite odd and changing, it incorporates fun small melodies. Ironically this song is the only one truly related to the album thematic, as it sounds a little medieval by moments. Once again by Chick Corea, "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" is the longest composition. Contrarily to the previous song, the music is more accessible and built around a nice melancholic melody as a main theme, with a few surprises inside...

Only after the listen can you understand the album title. "Romantic Warrior" do not naively refer to love or martial metal songs. Instead, it should rather been taken as an oxymoron that corresponds to the musical style: both calm and turbulent, light and ferocious. Everything is a matter of contrast. Unusual, original and with an unique sound, this 1976 opus is one of the proggiest and greatest achievements of its genre.

Very recommended to jazz rock / fusion aficionados or hard rock fans wanting to discover the style!

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 Lost and Found by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.46 | 13 ratings

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Lost and Found
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Multinational virtual band THE SAMURAI F PROG, steered by bassist Marco Bernard, continue tirelessly their pilgrimage into the 70's epic progressive rock. The core trio is again accompanied by a big cast of international prog musicians, and this time to the fullest extent keyboardist Stefan Renström and guitarist Johan Öijen (whoever they are). As you may remember, TSoP's first two albums contain covers of mostly well-known prog classics, and the music on The Imperial Hotel (2014) was composed by the keyboard-playing collaborators such as Robert Webb of ENGLAND. I was pretty enthusiastic for that work, but now I feel sort of exhausted and I'm not completely convinced of the material that originates from the mid/late 70's.

Actually my initial listening was coloured by negative thoughts of pretentiousness, the kind of "prog for prog's sake" that screamed for the table-cleaning tsunami of the punk movement. That is, these long and complex compositions left me rather cold emotionally (just like TULL's A Passion Play does). I even thought very cynically: what else to expect from originally shelved and unfinished works by relatively minor followers of YES, GENESIS and ELP, such as LIFT, CATHEDRAL and QUILL? On my second listening I began to admit the possibility that the closer you learn these tracks, the more you like them. For sure, all the musicians give their best, as if these pieces really were lost masterpieces that criminally never before were given a full treatment. It's the vocal department that I'm permanently least satisfied with.

'Preludin' is a complex instrumental originally written for PAVLOV'S DOG, featuring its guitarist Steve Scorfina. It's a bumpy ride, but Steve Unruh's flute and violin are used effectively. 'Along the Way' is a brief piano piece by David Myers, continuing the tradition of all TSoP albums. 20-minute 'Inception' originates from the archives of the US band LIFT. I don't much like the nasal voice of Unruh, but the Genesis/Yes/ELP influences are interesting to say the least.

'She (Who Must Be Obeyed)' - originally composed for ODYSSEY of which I have no specific knowlegde - features vocalist Jon Davison, whose high-pitched Jon Anderson imitation becomes a nuisance on this non-YES context. Anyway the sound is nice & warm with lots of Mellotron and Hammond. When we get to 'Plight of the Swan' sung in a Gabrielish manner by Unruh, I really begin to wish other kinds of vocalists. This one's probably going to remain as my least favourite here.

CD 1 approaches 53 minutes, but CD 2 is even longer with its sole track, an epic dealing with an adventurous quest for magical book (practically worth of a lengthy concept album of its own). The American band QUILL were heavily influenced by ELP and YES. The members are as usual, featured as guests. Sadly this 36-part piece plays as a single track on the CD player... There are beautiful instrumental passages, but again the vocals are the weak link IMHO, and frankly I have no big interest towards the extremely pretentious dramatic context. In the end, for me this monstrous epic is an exhausting time-stealer instead of an uplifting, magnificent listening experience that a prog epic ought to be.

All in all, the grandiose and complex prog itself gets only 3˝ stars with all my negative remarks considered, but the lavish artwork of Ed Unitsky easily dictates how I round my rating!

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 What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World by DECEMBERISTS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2015
2.72 | 26 ratings

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What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World
The Decemberists Prog Folk

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The first Decemberists album after a four-year recess continued in the same, mainstream direction as "The King is Dead", to the dismay of anyone who, like me, first discovered the group through their ambitious "The Hazards of Love" project in 2009. Since then the band has retooled its idiosyncratic style in pursuit of a more commercial muse, playing shorter songs with fewer eccentricities, explicitly tailored for lower common denominator NPR airplay.

There's nothing wrong with that. When properly motivated, Colin Meloy can write incredibly well-crafted pop songs ("Make You Better") and lovely acoustic ballads ("Lake Song", and is that a Mellotron I hear over the chorus?). But the material here sounds oddly disengaged, lacking even the lightweight thread of backwoods Americana that held the "King" album loosely together.

"We had to change some", Meloy insists at the start of the album, in a narcissistic ditty transparently named "The Singer Addresses His Audience". The author denies any autobiographical bias, but I don't believe it: he's too smart not to realize the song plays like a slap in the face to longtime fans who treasured the band's originality. We get it, Colin: you've outgrown that trademark antique Victorian charm and tongue-in-cheek narrative whimsy. Change is good, but not when you're defending your weakest album to date (and still performing "The Mariner's Revenge Song" on stage).

Ironically, "The Singer Addresses..." is by far the album's strongest track: a thrilling return to form, at least musically. Elsewhere the songs too often go in one ear and out the other, and thankfully too: "Easy Come, Easy Go", as Meloy sings in the (almost) catchy rocker of the same name. That old-thyme American folk sound from "The King is Dead" resurfaces in "Carolina Low" and "Better Not Wake the Baby" (what was that you said about needing to change, Colin..?) And the band hits rock bottom in the twin nadirs of "Cavalry Captain" and "Philomena", the former sounding not unlike the worst of '80s Phil Collins (but with pithier lyrics), and the latter a fluffy pop nonentity with atypically smarmy lyrics unworthy of the pen that wrote "The Crane Wife".

Let's hope such a unique songwriter, who describes himself (in "Lake Song") as being at one time "seventeen and terminally fey", soon grows tired of career-building and reconnects with the buoyant spirit of his wayward youth.

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 Back To Times Of Splendor by DISILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.21 | 163 ratings

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Back To Times Of Splendor
Disillusion Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by RuntimeError

5 stars This is one of those 'hidden gems' that people sometimes rave about.

Completely unheard of, the band 'Disillusion' released a masterpiece of aggressive and challenging piece of progressive metal that combines elements from bands such as Opeth and System of a Down. The album opens with 'A Mirror Cracked' - which has become my favourite song in this album. When I first listened to this - the vocals seemed to annoy me but not completely kill the mood. The riffs are absolutely killer, the drive is fantastic and songwriting is phenomenal. The clean section after the 2nd chorus is just so gorgeous. There are obvious Opeth elements but they are quite transparent - anyhow, this certainly should appear to 'Opethians'.

'Fall' continues the riff madness. Instantly you are swept into magnificent progressive metal riffing and absolutely fantastic vocal performance by the frontman 'Vurtox' (yes the vocals are sometimes a little flat but it doesn't really matter at all here) . There is not a single bad moment in this shorter piece - magnificent!

'Alone I stand in Fires' is probably the weakest of the album. While it continues with much of the same mood than the previous songs, it doesn't really do anything special. There is one very cool super heavy section in the middle of the song which is really cool.

The album centerpiece and the title track 'Back to Times of Splendor' opens with a theme violin melody. Yes, the first 3 songs are super heavy blasting progressive metal and then you get a freaking violin opening up a song. The song then evolves into very Opethian riff and aggressive heavy vocals. There are so many fantastic riffs building up this song into the chorus which utilizes the theme melody with the violin. The song goes through many fantastic movements and melodies. The highlight of the album certainly - while the first song is perhaps my favourite, this is in terms of aesthetics a better song.

As the end of the album nears. 'A Day By the Lake' is given. It is a fantastic mellower song that builds itself into a fantastic climax. Starts slowly with echoed guitars and superb drumming. The bass line is fantastic as well (booooaahh boing). I love this song to death.

The final song 'The Sleep of Restless Hours' is another long epic. Going through various stages like it's predecessor 'Back to Times of Splendor'. This song is another killer track which seem a little streched at the end. But the riffs here are again 5/5 and the clean vocal melody is very nice. The final 3-4 minutes is an instrumental, while it's good it doesn't really do much other than fill the album.

In overall, this is a must have for Opeth fans. The harsh vocals are going to annoy you at first but once you get over them, you are in for a treat. The production is a little too loud for my taste and the audio seems to clip a little here and there. In any case, easy 5/5.

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 3 Foot Clearance by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.91 | 4 ratings

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3 Foot Clearance
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars BUCKETHEAD is not only the master of confusion in categorizing his music due to his genre blender and musical smoothie approach of unorthodoxies but he is a nightmare for those even trying to categorize his albums in a database. This album is the perfect example of how crazy this dude's discography is.

Originally released on 21 Dec 2010 as an untitled album with untitled tracks and then renamed HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM BUCKETHEAD (with still untitled tracks) that included a hand drawn holiday greeting card drawn by BUCKETHEAD himself as a limited edition. Each edition was an original hand drawn cover. It was basically a homemade dealie bop to give the fan an artist's hands-on feel. This was released just before the beginning of the PIKE series and then the album was re-released as the regular edition and renamed PIKE 3 - 3 FOOT CLEARANCE under the BUCKETHEADLAND moniker on 17 Aug 2011 with the new album cover that fits into the PIKE series. The album is unique in the PIKE series for being one of the few to be significantly over the half hour mark by clocking in at 40:23

Of course if that wasn't enough. The tracks are all the same but moved around depending on which edition it is and there were different versions of different editions. Someone give me an aspirin, please. THIS review covers the track order of the PIKE 3 - 3 FOOT CLEARANCE edition

"Griffin's Spike" starts out as a heavy metal rocker with a classic metal riff that is powerful and loud. After building up the melody and rhythmic patterns we are treated to an outstanding tasty emotionally provocative guitar solo, the kind that sets BH apart from the others. This is a pretty decent opener although it's not the most original thing he's ever done. It still however reaffirms he can make "normal" heavy metal :P

"Rammellzee: Here Of The Abyss" Well, he couldn't stay normal too long. This one starts out with a stop and go type of riff and a "chirping" sound. It's definitely a heavy metal track but has more progressive time sigs. It continues the patterns and has some electronica flair ups and wah-wah guitar parts as well. It ends with a Hendrix inspired guitar riff. Another decent track.

"Floating Graveyard" starts off creepy and slow with an echoey guitar and background noises. It breaks into a slow tempo doom metal riff with a higher register lick and then speeds up to a nice bouncy metal rocker and then back to the doom riffage. It continues to alternate between the two styles adding bluesy solos.

"Ballad Of Jerry Mono" lives up to its name and is a slowed down number that starts out with clean echoey guitar with that jittery riffage BH is known for. The track develops melodically and remains slow with an uptick of speed at the end where a guitar solo shreds into the scene. The percussion is pretty busy for a ballad and follows the jittery echoed guitar's lead.

"H.D. Autopsy" does a total 180 and we get an instant frenetic thrashy guitar riff and then some sizzling guitar soloing that sounds like wailing souls or angry ghosts. Not sure which.

"Droid Hunt" is weird. It is mostly electronic noises that sound like a machine malfunctioning and then joined in by a funky bass line with a cool funky guitar as well. The riff trades off with the "talking robot" effect of the electronically manipulated guitar(?). Very cool and very original. Strange time sigs and strange lead guitar that accompanies in the end. Ends franticly.

"Battlefields" is another rowdy metal rocker where guitars, bass and drum attack with full fury. It slows down a bit and carries out a more subdued riff for a while and then alternates with the speedy one. OK and kind of the type of track he'd do to death on future PIKES.

"Handprint Ornament" is another slowed down mid-tempo track with clean guitars and a bass that is more energetic. There is ambient keyboards in the background and the instruments take turns dropping out and letting the others have a chance to shine. The guitar solo is slow and melodic, not fast.

"Three Headed Guardian" starts out with what sounds like a harpsichord but then breaks into a jangly alternative rock sound which adds a bluesy guitar lick over the top and then the jittery riffs come into play. It eventually turns into a strange kind of mellow thrash and then a classic heavy metal sound and then fast guitar solos that become freaky.

"Harpoon The Goon" starts out as a hard bluesy rock riff, kinda like old AC/DC then breaks into a heavy bluesy rock riff with lots of percussion and cymbal action. Pretty much creates a blues rock melodic development. Nothing special but well done and then has some slower parts that remind me of ZZ Top breaks but becomes a bouncy AC/DC rocker again.

"Critical Leg Assignment" cranks out an avant-garde feedback scratching effect? This is the strangest track on here. It has a nice steady drum beat with an oddly-timed guitar doing strange chugging that follows. It manages to throw in a weird guitar solo. I love it! So original and BUCKETHEAD at his most freaked out state.

"Siamese Butterfly" is a short little heavy rocker that has only a guitar riff and a drum playing together in a strange time sig dance. It all changes it up often in different ways in its 1:56 playing time. Very original and pretty cool. Lots crammed into this one. Kind of a psycho-bluegrass feel to the whole thing.

"X-Ray" (0:49) is a strangely distorted guitar riff that stops and goes really fast and then goes really wild and then before you know it the album is done.

I love this one! This one crams the traditional with the zany. These early PIKEs rock!

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 Timewind by SCHULZE, KLAUS album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.19 | 209 ratings

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Timewind
Klaus Schulze Progressive Electronic

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars

Is. This. What. It. Is. To. Be. Dead.

Or of a segment pulled through with pain and pleasure. Or of humming underwater with the sun. Or of, not you moving but that moving over you. That separating past you.

It is always tilting to a point of constant return until the equality of that perception unfolds as bits of thirst, grains of her thoughts, the meal of the Recycler of Souls. Grist of reality of sleep of lifting so that all atomized particles are longer without time or that which this new house of wardship is took up by the thoughts. Of me and you and them and.

Without time. Out with time. With or without time. Times with, times without. In with time, out with timeout. Out time with times of in. Times are in, time is out. Of in, of out, of time. In time; In time; In time. Out of time out of time out of time out of time out of time out time out of time out of time out time of out time of out time of out time of out time of out time of out time of out time time of time time of time of time of time time of time time of time time of time time of time time of.

The always of it I'd rather be watching other lives not in motion but in singular blends of hewn of nothing traveled to it nothing traveled to it nothing traveled to it traveled to it traveled to it traveled to it to it to it to it to it to it. Believing me, believe you me, you believe me, me you believe or we could dance but unlikely curtains make it difficult of bowls of steam that may or mayor or may. Provides an underbelly; mask of foundation so that the heavy mentals may weigh upon each and every. Notwithstanding or without standing outstanding standouts standing out of standing, lucky we had a thought of such as this.

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 Here It Is by TRILOGY album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.62 | 25 ratings

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Here It Is
Trilogy Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars An one off german group of the late 70´s. Strongly influenced by Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Triumvirat, plus a little from Genesis too. This quintet had two keyboards players, plus guitar, bass and drums. However, the guitar parts are hardly ever heard, except for a few short solos on a couple of tunes and a nice acoustic overlay on the first track. All the tracks are instrumentals. It was released by the small independent label Cain in late 1979. It sank without trace, which is no real surprise: It was no time for prog music, much less an instrumental LP. It was later released in the CD format by Musea.

I found the music here a bit derivative and not exactly too exciting, but good anyway. Lots of fine analog keys (no cheesy and plastic 80´s synth stuff here, thank god!). The rhythm section is very competent. Nice melodies overall, with no bad tunes nor great highs either. If you´re a fan of the aforementioned bands and don´t mind the lack of originality, chances are you´re gonna like Here It Is very much. It is really a pity they had no chance to record a follow up, since the potential for greater things is quite clear.

Rating>: 3 stars. Good, but definitely non essential

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 After The Rain by RYPDAL, TERJE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.90 | 30 ratings

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After The Rain
Terje Rypdal Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I consider myself a huge Rypdal fan but this album would be the first going chronologically that I couldn't get into. It's unusual as well for this to be Terje by himself without anybody helping him instrumentally, his wife does add some vocal melodies on a couple of tracks though. The followup to this called "Waves" released in 1978 is another one I gave 3 stars to, I'm just not into this period of his music I suppose. Terje plays electric and acoustic guitars, sax, flute, electric piano, bells and something called string ensemble piano which is where the string sounds come from. I can't get over how much Terje's electric guitar sounds like a violin, very much crying out mournfully much of the time. The music is very ambient and pleasant fitting well with the ECM label.

"Autumn Breeze" is my favourite and like many of these tracks it opens with piano before strings and acoustic guitar join in. Vocal melodies 1 1/2 minutes in as it becomes haunting. This is my favourite part on the whole album. The piano is back leading before 3 minutes as the vocals have stopped, then the electric guitar and strings return for the final minute. "Air" is the only other song I can get into. Electric piano and electric guitar lead the way in this beautiful but mournful piece. "Now And Then" is laid back with acoustic guitar melodies throughout while "Wind" is also relaxed but with flute throughout.

"After The Rain" is slow moving with electric guitar and strings. We do get some vocal melodies 3 1/2 minutes in as well as bells. "Kjare Maren" features electric guitar and piano with atmosphere. "Little Bell" opens with piano as the flute joins in before a minute. "Vintage Year" begins with piano as the electric guitar starts to cry out. "Multer" has strummed guitar to start but then the guitar turns classical sounding. "Like A Child, Like A Song" starts with piano then the electric guitar arrives a minute in as it cries out in a reserved manner as piano continues. It actually brightens 2 minutes in. Piano only 3 1/2 minutes in.

Apparently after the rain we should all have a little nap, or is that during the rain?

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 Camembert Electrique by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.78 | 313 ratings

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Camembert Electrique
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After recently enjoying "Obsolete" by Dashiell Hedayatt with pretty much this same lineup of GONG backing him up I had to finally review "Camembert Electrique" which was released the same year as "Obsolete". According to the liner notes this is the first "real" GONG album as "Magik Brother" was a solo Daevid Allen release although they put Gilli's name on the album cover too. Subsequent re-issues changed "Magik Brother" to being a GONG recording but in reality "Camembert Electrique" is the first true GONG record. This album really does fit in well with the trilogy that would follow. It's maybe less polished and as mentioned in the liner notes "... Camembert epitomises the early GONG, ie stoned loonies having a great time, who also happen to be excellent musicians. It's full of raw energy, more tape loops, space-whisper and glissando guitar, topped off with inspired sax playing. The later albums were more sophisticated and polished but they lack the edge and anarchy of Camembert."

"Radio Gnome Prediction" and the closer "Gnome The Second" are 27 second opening and closing bits with spoken words and strange sounds. "You Can't Kill Me" is a rock song with Daevid on vocals as Gilli helps out. Sax before a minute. Check out the guitar 2 minutes in on this great instrumental section that lasts until after 3 minutes. It turns instrumental again except for Gilli's whispers then Daevid returns on vocals while Pip keeps busy on the drums, lots of sax too. "I've Bin Stone Before" sounds like a Dylan song both vocally and the theme. This is like a hymn with that floating organ helping out. Sax eventually joins in and Daevid channels Wyatt briefly before 2 minutes.

"Mister Long Shanks/ O Mother/ I Am Your Fantasy" opens with a catchy sax led section that speeds up as the vocals join in. The "O Mother" section sounds like an early Zappa tune on the chorus part. The final section starts before 2 1/2 minutes and it's melancholic and mysterious as Gilli speaks the lyrics slowly in a haunting atmosphere. Love it! "Dynamite/ I am your Animal" has this line repeated over and over as drums and more help out. It kicks into a groove before a minute as the second part of this song arrives with Gilli on vocals as sax joins in in this determined and relentless passage. Contrasts between the two sections continue.

"Wet Cheese Delirium" is a very short piece with funny spoken words and sampled sounds. "Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads" is just over 10 seconds of sampled voices. The next three tracks are my top three tunes on here, so I imagine if I owned this on vinyl back in the day I'd have worn out side two. "Fohat Digs Holes In Space" features dramatic sounds as the drums pound and spacey synths help out. It settles in quickly though with bass, percussion and spacey sounds reminding me of "Continental Circus" a soundtrack that GONG released the same year. So good! Vocals after 4 minutes as Daevid and Gilli both sing. Sax before 5 minutes after the vocals have stopped. What a great track!

My favourite though is "And You Tried So Hard". It opens sounding like heaven and it builds. Daevid's vocals are so smooth and well done. This sounds like a 60's hit before theatrical vocals and a rougher sound take over. Back to that earlier sound 2 minutes in and Gilli sings a minute later. It ends like it began. "Tropical Fish/ Selene" has funny vocal sounds to start which are replaced by an uptempo instrumental section. Vocals join in reminding me of Syd-led FLOYD. I like the instrumental section starting before 2 minutes with lots of guitar and sax. This is so good as Gilli helps out. Daevid's back vocally after 4 minutes and I love the passage before 6 minutes as Gilli sings and the guitar riffs.

A very solid 4 stars. I just want to quote the liner notes about a second manager that GONG hired back then named Giorgio Gomelsky. "One day Gomelsky turned up babbling about this band he'd seen. Like GONG, they had their mythology, even their own language-MAGMA. In due course Gomelsky took them on as well and Daevid got to see them! As he recalls, "Incredible. All these men in black with inverted tantra symbols. Their music took the breath out of your lungs, it was like upside down Wagner. Christian Vander delivered imitation Hitler speeches in the middle of drum solos, and the singer looked like Valkyrie and had a four octave voice. Anyway they were like our shadow. There was GONG, colourful, anarchic, all going different directions, but trying to pull together. MAGMA were all incredible musicians, but totally disciplined, Vander would hit them with a stick if they played a wrong note. It was like ying and yang."" Gomelsky did put them on tour together with each alternating as the headline group but there was not a single night where both bands played well.

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 Pretending 2 Run by TILES album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 15 ratings

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Pretending 2 Run
Tiles Heavy Prog

Review by OldSchoolProg

5 stars This two disc concept album has been many years in the making, but well worth the wait. Part time proggers Tiles and producer Terry Brown show us that they can craft some great stories backed by a solid progressive, and at times, heavy sound. It's gets better and better with every listen, there's a lot of music here, something for everyone. Most notable differences from other Tiles releases, vocal layering and harmonies, including a choir, are in the forefront of this Tiles sound. Musically with minor comparisons to Rush, but still distinct and original. A bevy of guest artists make an appearance, most notably Ian Anderson and Mike Portnoy (and son Max recording together for the first time). This release rivals their critically acclaimed Presents of Mind, if not bettering it in maturity and experience. It's a lot of music to get through in one sitting, I gave Presents a 4-4.5, I'm going all the way to a 5 on this as the pinnacle of their catalog at this moment.

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 The Ultra Zone by VAI, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.64 | 72 ratings

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The Ultra Zone
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Guitar-virtuoso Steve Vai sends us another collection of excellent, personality-filled, artful hard rock jamming with Ultra Zone, his 5th release. More so than his other works that I've heard, this one is all about Steve's fingers doing crazy things to his guitar. Half of the songs on this album are instrumental set pieces, each with a distinct vibe and varying shred-factor. Vai is a killer player, and if you're into guitar and rock, it's hard to be disappointed. Each of these instrumentals (which take up the entire first side of the album), are crisp, modern, and filled with personality. While none of it is especially daring or experimental from a songwriting perspective, Steve's playing makes them a lot of fun; great for some rocking background grooves, but also creative enough to reward careful listening. Some make more of an impact than others, but all are solid. Vai handles vocals for the remaining songs, which are also great. There's an inherent likability when it comes to Vai's playing that makes this work easy to enjoy.

For many listeners, Ultra Zone will be a fun rock album with crazy guitar effects; for musicians aficionados, it could be an academic experience. I sit somewhere in the middle. I had a lot of fun with Ultra Zone, but was left wanting more in terms of scope or composition. That seems crazy to say, given Vai's pedigree, but I didn't feel a sense of build or drama with this release; each song could be taken on its own, and while a great experience when taken in isolation, the album as a whole doesn't drive home a musical message beyond a sense of playfulness. This isn't a bad thing, just something that makes Ultra Zone a good but not great release for me. Lots of fun when the mood strikes.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

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 Axis by AXIS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.53 | 19 ratings

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Axis
Axis Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ALotOfBottle

4 stars Similarly to their better-known countrymen, Aphrodite's Child, Axis were a Greek outfit, who moved to France, because of the right-wing regime in their motherland. The band was formed in 1970 by multiinstrumentalists Dimitris Katakouzinous and Demis Visvikis. In 1971, they released their debut album Ela Ela, which featured their take on a Greek folk standard of the same title. The work was heavily inspired by the contemporary psychedelic pop. 1972 marked the release of their self-titled album. One year later, Axis released another album by the name Axis, which was radically different than all their previous efforts, only to break up soon after.

The style of Axis' swansong shows strong influence of Canterbury scene bands such as Soft Machine, Egg, and Matching Mole, jazz-rock of Nucleus, Mahavishnu Orchestra or Keith Jarrett, free jazz of Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman, hard rock reminiscent of Uriah Heep and Free, and progressive rock of acts such as King Crimson. There are also some electronic parts that seem to owe a great deal to Can, Tangerine Dream, and Klaus Schulze. So far, so good, right? The elements of the previously mentioned groups seem to work especially well, creating an unclassifiable musical extract. The band's sound is characterized by rich instrumental layers, professional musicianship, and exceptionally clever detailing.

The instrumental abilities of Axis' members really deserve a mention. Demis Visvikis's keyboards play a crucial role in the band's sound. He goes from Thelonious Monk-inspired jazz on grand piano, to bulldozer-like fuzz organ, very much in the vein of Dave Stewart, to ambient Mellotron parts. Chris Stassinopoulos' guitar playing is versatile as well. He finds himself comfortable playing heavy rhythm guitar riffs and jazz guitar solos alike. These are supported by a very competent rhythm section of Dimitris Katakouzinos on bass, who is capable of phenomenal grooves and George Hadjiathanassiou on drums, who keeps up very well with the band's dynamic style.

There are ten tracks on Axis and I could easily say that every single one has its own distinct style. There is, however, a sort of inexplicable link between them that makes them sound alike and prevents the release from sounding inconsistent for that matter. The pieces go from hard rock-fueled 'Waiting A Long Time', to the ambient 'Sewers Down Inside', to free jazz-inspired 'Asymphonia', to majestic, liturgical 'Pa Vu Ga Di'. In short, the band makes great use of their record time, not limiting themselves to only one style.

Throughout its four-year career, Axis managed to release three albums. Their self-titled work from 1973 is their last and definitely their most accomplished effort. Its main characteristics are enormous eclecticism and near-to-flawless musicianship. With such a wide plethora of influences, it perhaps is not very innovative, but entertaining throughout and well-worth your time. Highly recommended for fans of obscure progressive rock and Canterbury scene!

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 Cosmic Music Experience  by LIMBUS 3 & 4 album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.70 | 10 ratings

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Cosmic Music Experience
Limbus 3 & 4 Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The music of Limbus 3 was hardly proficient enough to qualify as avant-garde (meaning: the forefront of an artistic movement, which these guys certainly were not). Instead, they were content to function as motivated amateurs, with no real creative agenda beyond a noisy disregard for structure and form. At a time when music was learning how to liberate itself from the twin manacles of melody and rhythm, this was truly artless stuff, even when it skirted the ragged edge of an actual riff, usually by accident, and never for long.

But at the same time it's hard not to admire their slapdash, anything-goes attitude. "Oneway Trip" opens the album with a sudden cartoon 'sproinggg!' and a gust of laughter, which sums up the project nicely. Midway into the trip a cool groove actually develops...until it falls apart, of course.

A pair of brief, almost cheerful interludes follows. "Valiha" is named for one of the trio's more arcane instruments: a bamboo zither from Madagascar with a lovely bucolic sound. And "Brueghel's Hochzeitstanz" (Brueghel's Wedding Dance, featuring an obviously tipsy bridegroom) is even more playful: The Residents at pre-school, snacking on milk and graham crackers.

Which leaves the 22-minute "New Atlantis", subtitled "Islands Near Utopia" and likely filling the original album's entire B-Side. The track's length suggests an epic journey, but don't be misled: the fabled Lost Continent might have been an inspiration, but needless to say we're a long way from Eloy's "Ocean" here. On a purely aesthetic level it's little more than a Rorschach inkblot set to music, and the image it presents isn't a pretty one, full of atonal cello scrapes and other organic noises, all of them no doubt fabricated on the spot.

To best approach such hardcore noodling you only need to ask one question: were the performers actually listening to each other, or simply indulging in reckless noisemaking? I'm inclined to suspect more of the latter here, but in 1969 this kind of arbitrary improvisation served a greater purpose. Without such contrary impulses, would the full spectrum of Progressive Rock ever have evolved?

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 Pride by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.64 | 285 ratings

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Pride
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars for sure

The second album of this famous neo prog band was issued in 1996 named simply Pride. With a new vocalist Paul Wrightson and a new bassist the well known abong proggers John Jowitt from Jadis and IQ fame Arena did another worthy album in this zone, continuing the same level left on previous album, thier first baby. The musicianship is as expected solid all throughout the album, with some really nice parts. The music is solid rooted in IQ-Marillion style but with with their own twists and turns added in the mix. Pieces like opening Welcome to the cage, one of the tunes played in almost every gig since then, Empire Of A Thousand Day or Medusa show maturity in song writting and aswell confirmed once again that Arena has something to say in this scene , confirming the high level of this band gained in few years. So, to this point, Pride is regarded as one of their best, only The Visitor and few more are in front of this release so far. 3.5 stars, their next one is even better and definatly their mahgnum opus and one of the better neo prog albums ever written The visitor.

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 Master of Puppets by METALLICA album cover Studio Album, 1986
4.09 | 599 ratings

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Master of Puppets
Metallica Prog Related

Review by CassandraLeo

5 stars Does the world really need another review of Master of Puppets? Probably not. But it's the album that got me into more extreme forms of metal, and as such has had an immeasurable impact on my musical taste, so I'm going to write one anyway.

To fully appreciate this album in its proper context, one must first be aware of the background: Metallica burst onto the scene in 1983 with Kill 'Em All, which has been called the first full-length thrash metal album ever recorded. This consensus is not universally shared among listeners; some will point to Venom's 1981 effort Welcome to Hell instead (note that Venom also had a substantial influence on the yet-to-be-named style of black metal, which actually takes its name from the band's second album). Regardless, what is a matter of consensus is that Kill 'Em All rewrote the rules of metal. It was faster, louder, and heavier than anything that had been released before, and it did not sacrifice musicianship in the pursuit of these goals.

Metallica, however, were not content to rest on their laurels. They began incorporating substantial progressive rock influence on their next album, Ride the Lightning, and even incorporated an honest-to-god ballad as the fourth track (though, in a form that Metallica would repeat several times throughout their career, it eventually built to metallic sections). The band also incorporated a lengthy instrumental showcasing the skills of bass monster Cliff Burton (named for H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, no less), and the album also featured one of their signature songs, "Creeping Death".

However, even that monster of an album couldn't have prepared people for what was to come in Master of Puppets. No one had ever done anything like this album before. The song were longer and more complex than ever, the aggression was generally higher than ever, and the quality of the music surpassed Metallica's already high standard. From the opening acoustic notes of the album opener "Battery" to the last thrashy chords of the closer "Damage, Inc.", there is not a single moment here that qualifies as even remotely dull. The band's intense musicianship doesn't let up even once; there is not a single moment on the album where Burton, Hetfield, or Hammett aren't playing something technically fascinating. Indeed, the only respites from the album's frenetic pace after the distorted guitars come in on "Battery" are the lyrical solo on the title track, the opening half of the album's obligatory fourth-track part-ballad "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", the more subdued moments of the instrumental "Orion", and the opening chords of "Damage, Inc." (It has become a Metallica tradition for the first half of the fourth track to be a ballad and the penultimate track to be an instrumental; they have repeated this with ...And Justice for All and Death Magnetic).

The production on this album is almost perfect. The instrumental clarity is astonishing for a metal recording made in 1986, and the fidelity remains superb whether the band are playing with their amps turned up to 11 or whether they're playing a more subdued clean passage. The album is mixed quite well, with all its dynamics intact. My only complaint with the album is that I'd like the bass to be a little higher in the mix, but at least it's still audible, which can't be said for the band's next album, ...And Justice for All.

Master of Puppets remains Metallica's highest artistic achievement. It's more polished than Ride the Lightning, more unrelenting than Death Magnetic, and doesn't have the fatal production flaws that marred ...And Justice for All (or the original version of Death Magnetic, for that matter). It also doesn't help that the band's virtuoso bassist Cliff Burton tragically perished in a bus crash after this album. His successors Jason Newsted and Robert Trujillo are no slouches on their instrument, either, but no one could truly have match the standards Cliff set. Additionally, it might be a slight exaggeration to say the genre of progressive metal wouldn't even exist without this album, but it certainly would sound a lot different. Every metalhead needs to have this album in their collection, and if you aren't a metalhead yet, it just might make you into one.

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 Crafty Hands by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.86 | 168 ratings

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Crafty Hands
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars HAPPY THE MAN had a series of serendipity by impressing an exec at Arista Records and then impressing Peter Gabriel after auditioning for his solo band, who helped them secure a music contract. The band was also fortunate to support their debut album as an opening act for various popular bands such as Foreigner, Renaissance and Hot Tuna, but the live touring thing was too much for drummer Mike Beck and he was replaced by Ron Riddle who was in an early lineup of The Cars and would appear on their second album CRAFTY HANDS. While still quite progressive and in some ways even more challenging than the debut, there are signs that the record company was stifling the creative process and lobbying for more commercial music at points molding the band to take on a Styx type of sound such as on the one and only vocal track 'Wind Up Doll Day Wind.' Well the rhythmic drive has a Styx feel to it in the keyboards. Vocally Whitaker sounds more akin to Colin Goldring of Gnidrolog at times. Even though the band wanted to make this sophomore release all instrumental, the bigwig at Arista demanded that they include at least one vocal track in hopes of increasing marketability and creating a wider mass appeal. The track is the one and only vocal track on here and while they complied to the boss' desires, they still managed to jazz it up enshrouded with sophistication and an 11/8 time signature!

CRAFTY HANDS takes all the elements of symphonic prog and jazz-fusion (and the occasional Gryphon-esque folk sounds such as the flute and oboe on 'Open Book') that appeared on the eponymous debut album and tamed them down a bit. The fact that there are less vocal tracks is a plus for me and for the one that does appear, Stanley Whitaker sounds much more accomplished here. The one aspect that is missing from CRAFTY HANDS that the debut flaunted is the sense of recklessness and bold progressive workouts that would appear suddenly in the midst of the dreamy polyphonic synthesized dreamscapes that the band effortlessly conjured up. This album seems a lot more polished and even-keeled, however don't think for a second that the progressiveness has diminished in any way. These guys still deliver some of the most delicious musical calisthenics that were to be heard in the late 70s. It's just that they are melded together in a more seamless manner and there are no fast tempo Keith Emerson keyboard moments to be found. This one is much more relaxing, much like the most sedated music of Camel and could possibly qualify as elevator prog if such a thing were to exist!

This album is is very impressive. All the compositions are exquisitely done. The musicianship is impeccable and the atmosphere and mood of the entire works show the band named itself well as the music is cheerful and upbeat even when tamed down to dreamland. Perhaps a few listens may be required for these complex rhythms and polyphonic assaults to sink in, but once they do, they find a firm foundation in your soul. Unbeknownst to the band, this was a make or break album and when the album failed to result in even the slightest commercial interest Arista records dropped the band like a hot potato on a restaurant floor and the band was forced to seek out a new label, but in the late 70s, none came to the rescue. HAPPY THE MAN sallied forth determined to continue and recorded material for a third album, but the pressures of a prog fish swimming upstream in the currents of a punk and disco torrent proved to be too much and the band ultimately called it a day. CRAFTY HANDS, and the debut, for that matter gained many fans as time went on for the clever use of polyphony, brilliant integrative musical styles and highly complex musical runs that still managed to remain somewhat catchy and have even been cited as the influence of many bands like Dream Theater and beyond. Personally i love this album as much as the first although i miss the spontaneity and reckless abandon of the debut. CRAFTY HANDS is a more calculated beast that has lost its youthful innocence but gained in sheer sophistication and remains a steadfast cornerstone of American symphonic prog. 4.5 but rounded up. These guys deserve it

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 Together  by JANE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.69 | 122 ratings

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Together
Jane Heavy Prog

Review by Igor91

4 stars Jane's debut album, "Together," is a prime example of early heavy prog from Germany. They also inject a bit of psychedelia into their brand of heavy prog. The reviews/ratings of this album are varied here on PA, and good points are made both to praise and to criticize this album. I, for one, really enjoy this album.

The songs are all good, but what really stands out for me is the singing of vocalist Bernd Pulst. This would be the only album he would be featured on, and the next year he was dead. Such as shame for a great talent to die so young. I have not been able to find any information on why he passed away, but I'm guessing it was drug related. Anyway, to give you an idea what he sounded like, think of something like Joe Cocker with a German accent. Some people don't care for it, but I think his vocal performance gives the music an emotional element often missing in prog rock. While none of the musicians are technical masters of their instruments, the performances are solid. At times some of the songs sound a bit like Eloy circa "Inside" or "Floating," but this album actually predates those, so I guess Eloy sounded a bit like Jane! The opener "Daytime," and the closer "Hangman" are the two standout tracks for me, primarily for their emotional impact. The most progressive track is the 11+ minute "Spain," which changes direction several times.

While Jane would go on to greater success on subsequent albums, their first is by far my favorite. Recommended to those who can enjoy a progressive rock album without all the technical wizardry that often goes with it. 4 stars.

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 Dead Meadow by DEAD MEADOW album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.43 | 16 ratings

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Dead Meadow
Dead Meadow Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Igor91

5 stars Dead Meadow are one of the premier psychedelic bands to come out of the U.S. in the past 20 years. Their self-titled debut is a showcase of retro, bong-rattling psychedelic rock to the highest (no pun intended) degree. On this album they mix the heavy, fuzzy riffage of Black Sabbath, the wah-wah pedal workouts of Jimi Hendrix, and the mellow psychedelia of Pink Floyd. Every song is superbly executed, and immediately creates a smokey atmosphere that remains throughout. My personal favorite track on the LP is the opener, "Sleepy Silver Door," which hypnotizes as much as it hits you over the head. The only caution I would give the listener is singer/guitarist Jason Simon's vocals. His voice kind of has a nasally whine to it, but it actually fits the music pretty well. I feel that this album is their brightest moment, with their third release, "Shivering King and Others," coming in a close second. Following that album, Dead Meadow would gradually move in a more psychedelic pop direction, dropping some of the heaviness from their early days. While not very progressive in nature, Dead Meadow's debut is an absolute must for fans of heavy psychedelic rock. Highly recommended for late nights around a wood fire with friends. 5 stars.

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 Trespass by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.16 | 1918 ratings

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Trespass
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

5 stars In their Gabriel-Banks-Rutherford-Hackett-Collins heyday, Genesis produced some incredible music, including some veritable masterpieces. However, despite all of the great material that came out from this line-up, they never released a true masterpiece album; each one, even my favourite, Nursery Cryme, had its flaws here or there. But without Hackett or Collins, while Genesis was still in its incubation phase so to speak, they somehow, and I'm sure you could attribute it to either youthful energy or beginner's luck, managed to pull off a perfect album. So while 1970's "Trespass" may not necessarily rise to the same absolute peaks as some of the band's later material, the album provides such a cohesive, intertwined pastoral journey that it is absolutely essential for any prog collector.

While this album is usually brushed aside as just folky, or just soft, with The Knife waking you up at the end, there really is much more subtlety and finesse to the whole experience, and it really gives a good diversity of moods. Take "Looking For Someone", for example. Peter Gabriel is obviously Peter Gabriel here, with his eccentric lyrics and melodramatic delivery giving a hazy, haunting opening. And what really makes this track, as well as the others on "Trespass", stand out in the Genesis catalog is the fact that, although Gabriel takes many poetic liberties in his libretto, the lyrics aren't quite as overblown as on "Foxtrot" or "The Lamb"; the sentiments still feel genuinely human.

Anyhow, after "Looking For Someone" erupts to a climax, the album does generally settle down in terms of intensity, though the energy is still prominent. As I said, the album is very consistent throughout and there are no serious standout tracks between "White Mountain" and "The Knife"; they're all quite excellent. Some particular moments do shine through, of course, but I'll leave those to you, the listener, to pick out.

With all of the mystery and enchantment of the British highland countryside that we see on the cover, "Trespass" takes the listener into territory seldom crossed, a genuinely breathtaking, human, but still magical, view of the often caricatured medieval imagery that prog dabbles in. 5 stars.

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 Leaves by NINE STONES CLOSE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.35 | 21 ratings

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Leaves
Nine Stones Close Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Sombre expanses, decidedly forceful environments and desolate reactivity. Nine Stones Close (NSC) have altered their state, moved beyond the zone of calm twilight and flung themselves into a completely different sonic dominion. A rather massive shake-up of personnel was at the forefront of such an adjustment as Adrian Jones on guitars and drummer Pieter Van Hoorn have re-tooled their muse, bringing in talented Dutch keyboardist Christiaan Bruin (who has a few albums under the 'Chris' moniker), bassist Peter Groen and a versatile Irish vocalist Aio O'Shaughnessy (Frameshift) . Adrian's fabulous Jet Black Sea project obviously tailored a new and fresh direction, a stark universe loaded with intensity and gloom. While quite a new experience from their previous works, their melancholic nature is forever present, now heightened by a sharper palette as well as a more masculine vocal presence that does take a little getting used to at first.

Things start out in classic form on 'Complicated', a brooding mood swings in the atmospherics and little time is wasted to introduce Adrian's scratchy guitar and Aio's rather exalted vocals , elevating the power levels to raunch and launch, the driving bass and van Hoorn's powerful drum fills giving all the support needed. Angry and, well ''complicated'! Sinuously seductive with a dash of sonic perversity, this could have been a heavy Porcupine Tree styled song, if not for the more urgent vocal stylistics. Short and to the point, welcome to the new NSC!

The next 4 tracks are all 10 minute + affairs, so this is a dense, developed to the gills opus that provides immense depth and width. First up, 'Goldfish' is a whopping expanse of annoyed ambiance, heavily drenched in cyclical psychedelia that forges mood over matter, feeling over formula. Fizzy somnolence allied with electric rage, there is a panorama of emotions that span the gamut, from anguish to irritation, showing little penchant for platitude. Adrian laces a myriad of licks, bites and chomps to the synthesized stew, at times clanging, chiming and ringing chords to great effect, using some slide guitar phrasings to add some garnish. Bruin remains discreet, effectively coloring the arrangement with tons of modern flourishes, rich in electronic effervescence. Aio languishes in his lament, cuing the rhythm section to forcefully kick in the door and let the power enter the fray, brutally and uncompromisingly! A tremendous epic track of the highest order.

The bittersweet expression of 'Lie' is totally unexpected, an oblique, raw, almost dissonant and grungy piece that exhorts a desire to stupefy and confront. This is a heavy, greasy and unshaven colossus, hinting toward a more hurricane-like delivery that yearns for discomfort and sleaziness. The stunning vocals are desperate, almost frenetic, hence quite the polar opposite of the more feminine (but brilliant) style of Marc Atkinson. The insistent rough guitar shrapnel pains, threatens and scars the uninitiated listener, all kinds of interesting stylistic experiments that truly are progressive in terms of evolutionary context. Yes, this is more demanding and complex that the previous NSC works, requiring open-mindedness, participation and concentration. Adrian outro solo is agonizingly stellar.

The longest track, 'Spoils' clocks in over 16 minutes, an adventure in progressive mastery that may remind some fans of PTree's glorious epic 'Anesthetize', in that it stretches the scope from hushed romanticism to hysterical abandon, with every other emotion in between. The balls it takes to leave a man and a microphone alone with scarcely any accompaniment is quite the gamble, as Aio hurls forward his wounded venom, until the rage explodes like some monstrous cyclone of dread and doom. The Led Zeppelin (a la Kashmir) riff will catch you unaware (even if I gave it away), a sudden and booming elevation into the upper territories of bombastic symphonic prog, Aio bellowing and blaring with unchecked sizzle. This teeter-tottering between black and white, once soft and then hard is expertly displayed, in the most convincing manner by all the instrumentalists as well as the lead singer, each focused on the prize. The lyrical content is dour, pessimistic and flat out despondent. Another sensational but arduous ride, squeezing the soul with apparent impunity.

The final and title track is the clincher, a tremendous opus stamped with genius of unparalleled proportions, displaying incredible restraint and creative intelligence, Peter Groen in particular doing some finesse work on his bass guitar, Adrian caressing his frets with vivacious delicacy, the subtle jazzy drum filling and Aio's muttering grievance, all in tune as if in a gentle and relaxed bubble, waiting for the release. When he states 'I only drink when I am drowning', the sheer brilliance hits you like a ton of bricks, the soporific voice reminding one of vocalists such as Steve Hoggarth or early Mark Hollis, undeterred by the clever electronic keyboard barrage. The impression that this fleeting feeling can go on forever is slashed by a whopping guitar solo, a crescendo slowly building up momentum and passion that is purely mesmerizing. With more astute lyrics like 'Have you ever seen the light, have you ever lived your life', the realization that both artist and spectator are in a symbiotic pleasure dome that has achieved the loftiest level of intensity: aching beauty, delirious melancholia and the coalescence of simplicity. The finale is grandiose and explosive, proof is in the undeniable impression of sonic afterglow.

If a fan of the heavy progressive scene, you will find all the challenges that you need to continually discover new twists within tracks you may hear many more times gain, it's just THAT dense. It's not an easy listen, no fluff, no respite, no ballad, no top-ten attempt. The Porcupine has chopped down its Tree, perhaps it's time to rake in the 'Leaves'.

Just plain amazing!

5 Shrubberies

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 Sorcerer by TANGERINE DREAM album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.29 | 171 ratings

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Sorcerer
Tangerine Dream Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A bewitching soundtrack

3.5 stars

First movie soundtrack by TANGERINE DREAM, "Sorcerer" was commanded to the German trio by film director William Friedkin ("The Exorcist", "The French Connection"...). Contrarily to what the title may suggests, the film deals neither with witchcraft nor black magic, but is a remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1953 "The Wages Of Fear". The scenario is about trucks transporting nitroglycerine, "Sorcerer" being the name of one of the vehicles. Friedkin discovered the band's electronic soundscapes during a projection of "The Exorcist" in Munich and confessed he would have asked TD to take care of the film's music if he had knew them before.

TANGERINE DREAM supposedly composed the soundtrack before a single scene of the movie was shot, only by reading the scenario, which is quite unusual in the cinematography industry. Initially an hour and a half long, the selected material was finally shortened to 44 minutes by the film director. The style is in par with the band's releases of the 1976-1977 period, "Stratosfear" and "Encore", however the tracks are much shorter than usual. This may surprise the fans used to long evolving soundscapes. Instead, this disc consists of small disturbing, threatening or gloomy ambiances. The danger lurks everywhere...

The opener "Main Title" is in fact not a theme at all, but is rather a nightmarish ambient piece with strange electronic effects. "Search" is more melodic with its nice changing sequences. One of the best passages of the record. Then comes "The Call" a cool floydian track in the vein of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"'s opening. The slow "Creation" displays a menacing atmosphere, whereas "Vengeance" possesses slight reminiscences of "Statosfear", however more sinister. The most original composition is "The Journey". Its unusual robotic rhythm contrasts with the smooth melody.

"Grind" pre-dates the fast sequence used 3 years later for "The Thief", that will become a gimmick of TD's concerts during the 80's Schmoelling-era. Not very peaceful, "Rain Forest" is a rather somber HELDON-esque jungle. "Abyss" is the longest track but unfortunately not the best. A crazy and messy ambient pit. Calm and hope come back with "The Mountain Road" and "Impressions Of Sorcerer" and their tribal percussions. The ender "Betrayal (Sorcerer Theme)" is of course the iconic tune of the disc with its dark electronic loop and hazy mellotron interventions.

The music in par with the title and the picture. I did not saw William Friedkin's movie, but I saw Henri-Georges Clouzot's, so I would tend to say the soundtrack suit the film scenes. Overall, despite a few less interesting passages, "Sorcerer" a nice collection of different eerie ambiances. Do not expect long hypnotic spacey soundscapes here.

Recommended for fans, this first movie soundtrack by TANGERINE DREAM is probably their best. It marks the entrance of the band into the film industry, who will become one of its most prolific film music composers...

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 Embergép / Man Maschine by ANDROID album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 6 ratings

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Embergép / Man Maschine
Android Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Hungarian progressive rock group Android is back with its third release, the aptly titled "Man Maschine" which finally consecrates them with both respect and admiration for how they have progressed through the years. Led by keyboardist Jozsef Tozser and guitarist Janos Dudas , the band has finally lived up to its rather scientific-leaning name by producing a work that is decidedly futuristic , an ode to the android man machine that undoubtedly one day rule over our lives. With a double keyboard attack featuring both Tozser and Sandor Milesz, a tight rhythm section in bassist Zoltan Nikolin and drummer Orban Mezo as well as supremely talented electric guitarist in Dudas , the musicality of the ensemble is a non-issue as these guys can play with the best of them. The big improvement I hear from their previous works (2011's "Midnight Ball" and "East of Eden" -2009) which were most pleasing, is the mature song writing and attention to pace and detail and I even recall stating that ' their next one should consolidate them further within the prog community'. Of course, understanding Hungarian is no problem for me, which adds to my enjoyment.

The tempestuous "Dialectics" is a sprawling nearly 9 minute affair that sets the tone for the album, a delightful plunge into modern electric prog with sweeping electronics, sizzling synthesizer runs, serpentine bass and thoughtful drumming. The electric guitar bites and snarls like some unhinged bitch while the voice sweeps along in Hungarian, a fluid and unique language well suited to prog. The soloists trade blasts that utterly convince, bold, brash and confident. The crisp keys provide symphonic bombast while the flaming axe grinds like a well-oiled machine. A thrilling opener that grabs the attention and excites to no end.

The heavy and rock n' roll influenced "Who Am I?" is super greasy, so as to avoid an overtly robotic set list of songs, hearkens back to something Blue Oyster Cult would create in its most progressive profile, with loads of bluesy guitar scratches and sweltering leads , the blase vocals suitably buzzed and detached. Heavy, nasty and oily. Dudas rips off a series of pyrotechnical leads that benefit from some stellar rhythmic activity as in a driving bass and drum attack, his brief solo is a classic piece of showmanship, stating 'this is who I am!'. "Staying Empty" continues in a rockier pub-rock style, with a chorus of "Hey!" to underscore the need for drinking one more round, another liter of wine to keep up the spirits and shove the engine into overdrive with a frenetic solo and a frantic pulse. A trembling e-piano introduces "I Am the One", laying down a somber foundation for a different guitar solo, closer to a bluesy David Gilmour and then veering into Gary Moore, in its more expressive delivery. The melody is expertly sung, with powerful passion.

Definitely one of the highlights, "Recruitment Song" is a return to bombastic symphonics which is something this band does very well, there is almost a Manfred Mann's Earth Band-like feel especially with both the electric guitar and the synthesizer interplay, which should not come as a surprise as Mann was very popular in Hungary back in the day. It also has a quasi-military march mood, marshaling drums leading the parade and the keyboard work gives the arrangement a lot of depth. A killer track that should attract quite an audience. "I Will Stay Anyway" is the obligatory ballad but features a unique whistling synth solo that is quite stunning, as well as great guitar splashes and truly fabulous singing. In a more dramatic setting, "Bluebeard" is a French classic tale of an evil serial wife murderer, fuel for Bela Bartok to compose an opera, hence the Hungarian connection. Slightly Gothic in feel, the piano leads a rather dark theme, blending theatrics and dynamic flashes, until the crunching guitar takes it by the scruff of the neck and saunters onward. A slithering synth volley leads "Holes in the Skep" (skep is a kind of beehive, an open-end-down basket) into a luminous keyboard exercise that relays over to a slide guitar squawk that wins at Steve Howe. The pace slows as the growling rhythm guitar chops through, unmolested.

Back to the longer epic tracks that really give the group room to maneuver and frankly, where they excel, first with the intriguing "Casemates" loaded to the gills with marimba-sounding keys, grouchy guitar bursts and swift keep things fresh and exciting. Lots of complex passages, turn-on-a-dime pirouettes and a river of constant change that is compelling. Once again, the Manfred Mann Earth Band parallels become obvious as Dudas has a lot of Mick Rogers in him, carving shrill solos and brandishing his axe proudly, while keysmen Tozser and Milesz combine to worship the famed South African legend. A thoroughly interesting and intense piece.

And finally, the massive title track finishes off in grand style this fine release. Molten guitar blasts give way to ambient, almost Floyd-like electronic atmospherics , slowly building up steam until the rock elements kick in, bombast and symphonics paving the way and then veering back to softer climes. The initial vocals are mostly spoken, robotic and doom-laden as the power surge widens its thrust forward. Churning organ is a most welcome addition, as the voice now starts singing the sad plight of men machines, torn between technological perfection and human deficiency. Dudas kills it with a deadly display, the man can play with the best, fast, hard, subtle and hard. The finale is way more urgent , the vocals insistent and exalted, a true classic of Hungarian prog.

Not yet the perfect album but getting there. The epic, more sci-fi pieces are stunning, while the shorter, rockier tracks are enjoyable but certainly not as rapturous. As a bass fanatic, I always would prefer a more upfront bass guitar but that's just me. Recommended.

4 Hun Automatons

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 Photo Musik by BOULÉ, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.34 | 5 ratings

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Photo Musik
Christian Boulé Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Christian Boule has played live or in the studio with such acts as Steve Hillage, GONG, CLEARLIGHT, LARD FREE and many others. His style of guitar playing is very much in the Steve Hillage mode although on this his first studio album he also plays harmonica, synths, flute and glissando guitar. Cyrille Verdeaux from CLEARLIGHT plays organ, electric piano, moog and more on here. We get a variety of saxophones as well plus a female singer who seems to get mixed opinions about her voice. She's not on the two bonus tracks though which feature Tim Blake from GONG as well as male and female vocals and Cyrille on keyboards. I do like the album cover.

"Elastic Minute" opens with intricate fast paced sounds before it kicks into gear around 1 1/2 minutes. Spacey synths help out as well as the sax plays over top. The guitar arrives around 2 minutes sounding really good. This is a Hillage-like track and it's all instrumental. "Photo Musik" starts out with strummed guitar as another solos over top. It turns fuller rather quickly and vocals join in. Some excellent fuzzed out guitar here as well that comes and goes. Again the guitar reminds me of Hillage. Harmonica ends it as the song stops abruptly. "Crystal Palace" is a top three tune for me. It's spacey at first with twittering sounds. It's building but then it settles back after a minute with strummed guitar, a beat and vocals. She reminds me of Sabine from GILA on that "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" album. She stops singing as the guitar comes to the fore after 2 1/2 minutes. Nice! Man this is so good. Check out the guitar before 4 minutes and the drum work that follows. The vocals are back before 4 1/2 minutes as it settles back some. "22 Broad Street" is my least favourite, a little too mainstream I'd say sounding like a New Wave song. Lots of energy and some ripping guitar as well.

"Radio-Arc-En-Ciel" opens with radio samples as the organ floats and these spoken female words join in just before a minute and they will last for about a minute as the floating organ and synths end it. "Seme Ocean" features vocal melodies as strummed guitar and more joins in. It's building as piano comes to the fore. So much going on here, very impressive. "Aqua Deva" is a top three as we get lots of atmosphere and water sounds as spacey synths join in as well. It blends into my final top three tune "Inter Galactic Cosmic Triolet" where it continues to be spacey but a minute in it turns fuller with vocals. The vocals echo and remind me of the female singer on BRAINTICKET's debut just not as out there. Cool song. "Orange Climax" opens with church bells and atmosphere and the tempo picks up after a minute and gets fuller too. Catchy stuff 3 minutes in then piano comes to the fore after 4 minutes. It's the sax now leading around 5 minutes in then it settles down before 6 1/2 minutes and it continues to wind down to the end. The two bonus tracks are pretty good as well, especially "Estella Futur".

It's hard to imagine anyone who's into Steve Hillage not liking this but then again some don't like the vocals. I'm quite pleased to recommend this one though as I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

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 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.30 | 1007 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

3 stars Looks like Steven WILSON be one of prolific musicians and honorable creators in the progressive rock scene. Wonder what he means to do via lots of his productions.

Mysterious procession and a graceful curtain call can be heard in this stuff as usual. Dramatic guitar avoidance (from every annoying matter) as well makes the audience comfortable. Keyboard appearance has got altered colourfully, sometimes from a beauty phase to hard-edged style or sometimes from a tough call to a delightful theatre ... just case by case. Psychedelic Fantasia, heavy deepness brushed up by guitars or drums, etc. etc. every single variation rushes over in front of us.

His composition and production is basically filled with catchy essence seasoned with multi-rhythmic accents and capricious hints, all of which might be provided for popularity or hospitality for the listeners, I guess. Sadly in this album such a popularity would be more overemphasized than his musical progressiveness for commercialism and his identity should be veiled deeply into subliminal pleasure for everybody. To be honest any ambition cannot be heard.

Steven's strategies for launching progressive structural masses are not ordinary nevertheless. Various scenes can be imagined via instrumental, phrasal combinations ... whether soft or hard ... crystallized by him. In this sense, this album can be recommended for every progressive rock beginner.

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 Distant Monsters by MARTIGAN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.91 | 40 ratings

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Distant Monsters
Martigan Neo-Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Try to pick up the spirit and create your own thing! Since they are active for more than two decades in the meanwhile, the MARTIGAN crew have the ability to make a lasting impression, at least when it comes to such a distant monster like this. The band is mainly, but not solely, underway in the neo prog tradition. Thus, from time to time you will detect hints pointing to the likes of IQ, Marillion, Saga, RPWL, Gate6. So much for a rough orientation music-wise. What matters in the end, no wonder, touches the quality of the compositions, and the characteristics the particular members are contributing.

Concerning the latter I'd like to mention Kai Marckwordt first of all. His vocals are one of a kind really, very empathic, optimally integrated into the sound. Just starting with Theodor's Walls all the aforementioned attributes are blended here. I mean the unusual multi-variant song structure, rich guitar riffing in between, the quite simple but perfect piano loop which accompanies you over the course, and finally a singing voice which leaves me with no option but to be excited. This track appears to be outstanding, a real masterpiece!

The following songs are offering more diverse impressions, from a wonderfully relaxed and melodic appearance regarding Simplicius and TipToe to some extended instrumental parts to be found on The Lake or Fire On The Pier for example. Hell! It took some time to write my words, released in December last year the album ultimately obtained a place on my top twenty list for 2015 at least. Recommended, 'Distant Monsters' is an album of a high caliber. Don't miss that!

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 The Collection (The New Dance Orchestra) by DOWNES, GEOFFREY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
2.00 | 1 ratings

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The Collection (The New Dance Orchestra)
Geoffrey Downes Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars "And you remember the jingles used to go"

The Collection is a compilation album covering the career Geoff Downes, focusing primarily on his "New Dance Orchestra" albums from the 1980's and 90's. The CD opens with the epic instrumental East West from Downes' first and best solo album The Light Program originally released in 1986. Next up is a track from Geoff's collaboration with John Wetton which sounds like a second rate Asia song. Then follows four numbers from 1992's Vox Humana, the second "New Dance Orchestra" album. One of these is a re- recorded version of The Buggles' hit Video Killed The Radio Star with Glenn Hughes on lead vocals. Three numbers are taken from Geoff's cover album Evolution, and even if I hate that album I must admit that he has chosen the least bad tracks from it; The Moody Blues' Nights In White Satin, Procul Harum's A Whiter Shade Of Pale, and Kansas' Dust In The Wind. Don't Walk Away is a song from Geoff's collaboration with Glenn Hughes, released as The Work Tapes. This one is just awful!

The "Downes solo" is a live recording taken from the Asia album Live Acoustic and The Journey Begins is taken from the Asia album Rare. The latter album is indeed very rare and it doesn't sound at all like an Asia album but is rather much more in line with Downes' solo output making its presence here very fitting. I believe that this instrumental album was initially meant to be released as a Goeff Downes solo album, but since John Payne played on it the record label insisted on releasing it as an Asia album.

Four tracks are taken from 1999's World Service, another all instrumental "New Dance Orchestra" album. Everything up to this point has been previously released and available on other albums, but the final two tracks are rarer and were new to me. One is a very short demo version of You Can Fly From Here, a song that Geoff has written prior to joining Yes in the early 80's and which were performed by Yes then and which many years later became the title track of a Yes album. Finally, there is an instrumental piano version of Video Killed The Radio Star from a Korg Sampler CD. Personally, I think this is the best version of that song and in general it is the instrumentals of this collection that stand out. But like in most cases, you should start with the source albums.

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  51. In a Silent Way
    Miles Davis
  52. Hand. Cannot. Erase.
    Steven Wilson
  53. The Power And The Glory
    Gentle Giant
  54. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
  55. Octopus
    Gentle Giant
  56. Free Hand
    Gentle Giant
  57. A Trick of the Tail
    Genesis
  58. Rock Bottom
    Robert Wyatt
  59. In The Land Of Grey And Pink
    Caravan
  60. Zarathustra
    Museo Rosenbach
  61. The Road Of Bones
    IQ
  62. Second Life Syndrome
    Riverside
  63. Blackwater Park
    Opeth
  64. In Absentia
    Porcupine Tree
  65. Ghost Reveries
    Opeth
  66. Arbeit Macht Frei
    Area
  67. Emerson Lake & Palmer
    Emerson Lake & Palmer
  68. Fear Of A Blank Planet
    Porcupine Tree
  69. Viljans Öga
    Änglagĺrd
  70. Acquiring the Taste
    Gentle Giant
  71. Misplaced Childhood
    Marillion
  72. Spectrum
    Billy Cobham
  73. Hatfield And The North
    Hatfield And The North
  74. The Inner Mounting Flame
    Mahavishnu Orchestra
  75. K.A
    Magma
  76. Hamburger Concerto
    Focus
  77. Space Shanty
    Khan
  78. Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
    Gong
  79. The Perfect Element Part 1
    Pain Of Salvation
  80. Pale Communion
    Opeth
  81. Rubycon
    Tangerine Dream
  82. Script For A Jester's Tear
    Marillion
  83. Remedy Lane
    Pain Of Salvation
  84. L'isola di niente
    Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
  85. Doomsday Afternoon
    Phideaux
  86. Lateralus
    Tool
  87. Voyage Of The Acolyte
    Steve Hackett
  88. Elegant Gypsy
    Al Di Meola
  89. If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You
    Caravan
  90. Grace for Drowning
    Steven Wilson
  91. Caravanserai
    Santana
  92. Felona E Sorona
    Le Orme
  93. Uzed
    Univers Zero
  94. Time Control
    Hiromi Uehara
  95. Part the Second
    Maudlin Of The Well
  96. Anabelas
    Bubu
  97. Bitches Brew
    Miles Davis
  98. Operation: Mindcrime
    Queensr˙che
  99. Leftoverture
    Kansas
  100. Uomo di pezza
    Le Orme

* Weighted Ratings (aka WR), used for ordering, is cached and re-calculated every 15 minutes.

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