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 Abduction by YOJO album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.82 | 7 ratings

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Abduction
Yojo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Elegance and melancholy embracing post-jazz

Second effort by Russian instrumental quintet YOJO, "Abduction" develops the classy and smoky ambiance depicted in the band's first opus, however with a few evolutions. Still displaying impressions of desolation and sadness, the music becomes softer, less oppressive, more jazz-oriented. The orchestration is reinforced by the presence of five invited wind instrumentalists. The guitars are less present and aggressive, resulting in a smoother listening experience than on the band's eponymous debut.

Once again, the surrealistic cover art - this time reminding René Magritte - faithfully transcribes the album's content. The compositions offer a sensation of something vanishing, an evanescent humanity in the modern crowded world, like if people were feeling more and more stranger to each other...

The opener is contradictory reference to the famous 70's fusion band. "Weather Report" is not funky, but rather a nice fusion/jazz title, soothing and mesmerizing instead. The cool "Contact" is quite somber and depressive, whereas the delicate "5 A.M." reveals bright moments of hope immersed in an enigmatic atmosphere. Our journey through the mysterious haze continues with "Cold Case", a soft heavy prog track, and the interrogative touching "Wipers", full of melancholy.

The "Tourist" from this record can only wander into a desolated land, maybe populated in appearance, but empty in essence. Driven by trumpet, this sad and soft waltz is pleasant, although a bit lengthy. The relaxing "Swell" displays rather strange obscure lights progressively increasing in intensity, until a free-jazz explosion. Back to depression with the nostalgic "Jump in the Mirror", evoking alternatively an once familiar but now torn environment, the mirror being the transition bridge. The emotional trip ends with the longest track of the disc, "Hazebook". Certainly a pun referring the well-known social network, these 7 minutes of sorrow are calm, sensitive, nearly aquatic. Is nowadays' ocean of over-connectivity just made of individual drops of loneliness? Perhaps...

More accessible than their first opus, "Abduction" offers a clever and suave revisit of post-rock / heavy-prog through jazz's orchestration and mindset. Again, the interest is present and the composition quality is homogeneous. Well anchored in the 21th Century and its human interrogations, YOJO confirms its talent by refining its musical style, painting melancholic, smoky, dehumanized vanishing landscapes. Another land of grey and pink...

As a conclusion, if you enjoy original and elegant modern jazz soundscapes, don't let this album being "abducted" from you!

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 Mi Kubbesi by NEKROPSI album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.18 | 60 ratings

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Mi Kubbesi
Nekropsi Progressive Metal

Review by ctasan

5 stars Mi Kubbesi (Turkish: The Dome of Mi), released in late 1996 after 3 years of works, is one of the best albums ever made in Turkey, and able to compete easily with mainstream albums. This album appeared in cassette format (which was popular in Turkey from 1980s to 2006), and later on CD. Sadly, no vinyl copies. Group members define their style as "transsexual jazz, an invention which has no reference". It blends various styles such as thrash metal, industrial, ambient, progressive with the melodies of Middle East, experimentally. Turkish percussion instruments (bendir, darbuka, classic drum) and string instruments (kemençe, bağlama) are heavily used in this album.

Opening song "Crying Game" is one of the striking openings I've ever heard. Sadly, this song is short (there are more gems in this albums like this!). Basses and electro-bağlama dominate this with backing vocals yelling, murmuring and so on. No lyrics here.

Fok (Turkish: The Seal) starts with 2-3 seconds sound of a seal, and then basses. Speed and power is variable in this song along with good melody.

Efsane (Turkish: The Legend) is an upstanding song. At some point, folk dance ambiance is present with vocals of "Hey, hey!", then everything stops and ambience switches to dark.

Çarşı (Turkish: The Market, or downtown, especially in older cities) is another short song with guitar, bendir, and darbuka. Fully folk-inspired excellent melody.

94 Kor (Turkish: 94 Cores) has metal influences and speed. Drums enter and exit like there's a gunfire combat with otomatic ones. Too angry. Remember, in their first years, Nekropsi was a thrash band! (This could be used as a film music)

Derinlik (Turkish: The Depth) starts harshly, then gets soft as you don't imagine and relaxes you after a chaos.

Dımlı Mi (Turkish: Wet Mi) is quite psychedelic and tribal. Kemençe have been used here differently, creating dark atmosphere. (Ironically, it makes you play in anywhere if you're from Black Sea) Also, some ascents and descents are present, taking you from one place to another.

Lim (I couldn't understand what it stands for) is another short song, show of electro and bass. Hindu (Turkish: The Indian) is the same, with drums joining.

Çarklar (Turkish: The Wheels) is one of the songs I love in this album. It emulates spinning wheels perfectly, just with bass and bağlama, with speeding and slowing!

Ateis (It should reference atheist, one letter absent) starts with accords, then dominated with basses, has some metal influence.

Göç (Turkish: Migration) instead starts slowly and ambiently, then finishes suddenly with heavy guitars.

Kubbealtı (Turkish: Under The Dome) is just 30-seconds long improvisation record from 1993. A feeling like you're under a dome and echoes present.

Yollar (Turkish: Roads) starts with some ambient sound, then suddenly accerelates, takes some breaks, and finishes softly. Folk melodies exist highly, with usage of darbuka. Good guitar work.

Son (Turkish: The End) is chaotic, with guitar playing like a siren, and drums attacking sometimes. Good closing.

41 (A number has some mystic meaning) should be a track that added later issues. It resembles some industrial to me, with chaos. Like a game music.

Conclusion: An album that you can't find easily in it's genre. Masterpiece. Rating: 8.5/10

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 Unfolded Like Staircase by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.24 | 345 ratings

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Unfolded Like Staircase
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

2 stars One of the more overrated prog albums of the 1990s. Apparently Matthew Parmenter had just discovered Van der Graaf Generator prior to the recording of Unfolded Like Staircase, explaining why Push & Profit was quite a bit different. So it's little surprise the VdGG influence can be felt, but I also detect a Spock's Beard influence as well, because Parmenter's voice alternates between that of Peter Hammill and that of Neal Morse. "Canto IV" and "Crutches" aren't bad, but the problem in this CD is it's way too long and it sounds like they ran out of ideas after the first two cuts. It's CDs like this that gives me a reminder why in recent years, thanks to the vinyl revival (starting about 2007 or '08) many artists were starting to scale back to 40-45 minutes and the albums, to my ears, have improved, because you're not having to sit through lots of filler. It's easier for artists to pick the cream of the crop if having to stick to 40-45 minutes of music. Unfolded Like Staircase is much like Echolyn's As the World to my ears, just drawn out way too long. Of course I can't say that lengthy releases of the 1990s were all bad, Porcupine Tree managed some great music during their early space rock phase (pre-Stupid Dream) and their CDs were normally around an hour long or more, even during their more popular phase (In Absentia and beyond). And then you have Änglagård (who were wise to keep the music around 45 minutes), which set the standard so high it would be difficult for any other artist from that era to touch them. Still Unfolded Like Staircase doesn't fall into the neo-prog trap, but it's not entirely retro either, the vocals and style does sound '90s, even if some low key Mellotron is used. I realize in the 1990s they feel they'd sell more copies if the CD consists of two ten minutes cuts and a 20 minute piece, which I think is a dangerous trap to keep the quality consistent throughout. Spock's Beard's The Light, for example does have a couple ten minute pieces and one piece over 20 minutes, but surprisingly the CD is excellent (and I'm not even the biggest Spock's Beard fan, because my gripe about them is their frequent commercial/mainstream approach). I do take a lot of prog since the 1990s with a grain of salt, as many of them fall short of the great stuff (well known and obscure) from the 1970s. Discipline, to my ears, falls short. I know some of you will enjoy it, so I know Unfolded Like Staircase has its fans, but it simply left me cold, no matter how many times I've listened to it.

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 Contagion Max by ARENA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
4.17 | 24 ratings

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Contagion Max
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars After a ten year wait in 2013 fans of ARENA's monstrous neo-prog hit "Contagion" were finally treated to hearing the album as it was originally intended to be released in the form of the extended double disc CONTAGION MAX. Clive Nolan has always stated that the "Contagion" story was to be more intricate and drawn out with extra instrumental passages and vocal tracks that add more depth to the storyline. Well, Nolan wasn't too sure about the possibilities of releasing an extra long album and felt the pressure to to edit their ambitious project down to a single disc release. The result was that seven tracks were chopped off the listening experienced and released simultaneously on two separate EPs titled "Contagious" and "Contagium." While it was all fine and dandy to make those orphaned tracks to the public, much was lost regarding the context in which they were woven into the overall theme. After many years of a demanding public for the album to be released in full form, voila!

Fast forward ten years and the CONTAGION MAX anniversary edition finally sees the light of day in its complete original intended format. It contains all seven tracks in the proper order stuffed into the album "Contagion" from 2003 as a double disc digipak CD release. While i found nothing wrong with the original album "Contagion" and in many ways find it to be the peak of the creative juices flowing for ARENA in their lengthy career, i must say that i much prefer hearing it as the extended double album experience it was meant to be as it smooths out the ruff-around-the-edges transitions that become more apparent once listening in the band- desired delivery mode. CONTAGION MAX doesn't exactly make the two EPs that came before completely irrelevant if you are interested in hearing electronica induced remixes of the tracks "Witch Hunt" and "Salamander" but i find them a little cliche and devoid of any true reason to exist therefore i highly recommend this beautiful extended version of "Contagion" for anyone who loves that album and wishes that it was longer.

Despite being a fairly newer release, this album has become a little difficult but not impossible to find. Initially it was released as a pre-order campaign with band members adding their autographs but was only released in limited numbers therefore not as easy to obtain as the much easier to find "Contagion." Another worthwhile mention is that it seems that CONTAGION MAX is possibly a digitally remastered version of the original plus the extra tracks in the proper order. This album sounds EXCELLENT! The production is off the charts beautifully executed with every little sound shining like a crazy diamond and all aspects of the music perfectly mix together in superb splendor. It is unbelievable how well this album sounds and how wonderful it is to experience this one as it delivers on all accounts. Perhaps if this were released as intended it would have been considered a rival force to IQ's "Subterranea" which is of the same calibre but could also stand up to any of the great symphonic prog releases of the past.

This track listing shows the entire track listing of CONTAGION MAX with the titles in bold being the seven tracks that appear on this expanded edition which were originally spit up randomly and placed on "Contagious" and "Contagium." They are followed by brief descriptions

Disc One:

1 Witch Hunt (4:17) 2 An Angel Falls (1:14) 3 Painted Man (4:38)

4 VANISHING ACT (from "Contagious") (4:11) was originally a leftover instrumental track from "The Visitor" album and had the title "Sacrifice" but was rearranged, rerecorded and renamed. It begins with a space rock Floydian echoey guitar and synth run and then becomes more hard rocking with a ample change of riffs drenched in camp mellotron. Very cool sequencer beat and guitar solos that brings aspects of "The Wall" to mind

5 This Way Madness Lies (3:32)

6 THE HOUR GLASS (from "Contagious") (5:58) begins as a sensual ballad but adds some extra punchy guitars that display the vocal talents of Sowden and thick layers of synthesizers and a heavy bass led melodic development. It adds a continuity to the story as the narrative builds another layer of darkness to the mix

7 Bitter Harvest (2:50)

8 I SPY (from "Contagious") (2:33) is primarily an acoustic guitar folk number also displaying Sowden's vocal abilities. Other than acoustic guitar, only the bass is heard

9 Never Ending Night (3:11) 10 Spectre At the Feast (5.34) 11 Skin Game (4:44)

Disc Two: 1 Salamander (4:00) 2 On the Box (2:30) 3 Tsunami (2:30)

4 ON THE EDGE OF DESPAIR (from "Contagium") (5:40) begins with the same bass line and melody of "This Way Madness Lies" from Disc 1 and sort of a revisiting of that point in the story but after almost a minute switches gear and becomes an acoustic guitar ballad once again highlighting Sowden's vocals and lyrical supplementation. It continues to alternate between the beginning intro segments and then jumps back into acoustic guitar part again. Sounds really good together as the two parts contrast perfectly and add that flavor of life when some things seem familiar while totally new aspects are being introduced

5 City of Lanterns (1:23) 6 Riding the Tide (4:24)

7 CONTAGIOUS (from "Contagious") (4:07) begins with sirens and incorporates different sounds that are from the "Contagion" album and creates a little overture of sorts to revisit certain moods of the album. It features a strong bass line with John Mitchell delivering some of the most sophisticated and daring solos on the album. There is also nice background synthesized(?) vocals that add a spooky ambience to the overall mood. Nice keyboard runs as well. This is kind of a revisitation point on the album that takes a few minutes to reflect on what's already been happening. Very appropriate and nice to take a breather.

8 MARCH OF TIME (from "Contagium") (7:29) continues the only two tracks that sit back to back not on the original "Contagion." This sounds more like the majority of tracks as it begins with a heavy bass driven melody and screeching guitars in a Floydian style drenched by feedback and fuzz and then slows down a bit to usher in Sowden's vocals. Generally speaking the vocal parts are more Floydian and the instrumental parts are harder rocking. It also has some acoustic parts that remind me of The Who especially on "Tommy" with that Pete Townsend type of strumming.

9 Mea Culpa (3:45) 10 Cutting the Cards (4:41)

11 CONFRONTATION (from "Contagium") (5.05) begins with some sort of mixed media narration clips before ceding into a darkened bass line that is ominously overshadowed by more possibly synthesized background vocalists and that Who inspired acoustic guitar strumming pattern once again punctuated by a staccato heavy guitar chord. It all stops and enters church organ territory and then adds acoustic guitar again only before Mitchell channels his inner Pink Floyd guitar solo instincts and lets loose. This is another all instrumental track

12 Ascension (4:34)

Total Running Time Of CONTAGION MAX = 92 minutes and 40 seconds but i can't say i get bored once through it's entirety and much prefer this version as opposed to the truncated "Contagion" album of 2003. Something about the extra tracks connects all the dots for me on this one but that does not mean that the original CONTAGION album suffers from its brevity. On the contrary ARENA hit a home run with two stunning versions of this album that works with or without the seven tracks equally in my world.

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 Contagion by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.18 | 565 ratings

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Contagion
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars As ARENA entered the 21st century they finally hit a stable lineup and for the first time and released two albums in a row with the same band members which allowed them the opportunity to learn how to coalesce their individual talents and develop a strong and stable chemistry. On their fifth studio release CONTAGION they hit the high point of their career with yet another concept album that like many of their albums delivers vague and ambiguous notions of going through the trials and tribulations of being human and experiencing every emotion there is to be had a hundredfold. This one is supposedly about the end of the human race and all the emotional baggage of being alive until it happens. As much as i try i still haven't found a decent explanation of what exactly the concept is supposed to consist of but it matters not for at long last ARENA found their perfect sound with Clive Nolan (keys), John Mithcell (guitars), Ian Salmon (bass), Mick Pointer (drums) and their third lead vocalist Rob Sowden and the quality of the compositions on CONTAGION shows it.

From the first notes of "Witch Hunt" it is obvious that ARENA got major rekindling of musical mojo. At this point they sound less and less like 80s Marillion which was the sound of their early albums and more like their contemporaries IQ who also released a concept album at the same time. This time around the band found a new lease on neo-prog by adding heavier and harder rock guitar and bass often verging into metal territory briefly with virtuosic guitar solos and heavy churning riffs and thundering bass but still manages to weave it around the intricately delicate melodies that have been carefully crafted into extremely strong and catchy tunes that build upon one another and seamlessly transition from track to track until an entire album unfolds around you. There are also many space rock references to Pink Floyd with dreamy echoey guitars, sensual solos and Salmon's strong Rickenbacker bass lines.

CONTAGION is perfectly partitioned into vocal and instrumental tracks. "Witch Hunt" begins with a thundering bass line, heavy guitar riff and powerful vocal performance by Sowden which sets the tone for the majority of the album but there are also ballad segments like the beginning of the music box beat backed "Spectre Of Feast" and the piano laden "Never Ending Night" which weaves in tender moments surrounded by more thunderous heavy rock. Despite having the qualities of AOR, something about ARENA's attention to details make the music quite sophisticated with variations in the subtleties such as keyboard runs, echoey guitar backings or different types of drum fills. The melody is the main driver of the tracks with Sowden's vocal emphasis on the lyrics being mostly in the spotlight except when the band delivers excellent musical prowess such as on the instrumental beasts "This Way Madness Lies," "On The Box" and "Riding The Tide."

I must admit that i wasn't a huge fan of CONTAGION upon first listen as it sounds very much like many neo-prog albums that may come off as gimmicky with the heavier rock elements added but after a few spins i was hooked and the intricate charms of the album shone through with synth rich ambient notes backing heavy yet melancholically addicting melodies passing the torch to the next track that takes the listener onto a new adventure and then on to the next. While there are clearly stronger tracks than others, the beauty of the album is that is places all of the elements in key places. It opens with several strong tracks and then has some quieter less powerful tracks that skillfully link the various parts together. The musicianship is extraordinarily strong on CONTAGION with every member going the extra mile to eke out the most satisfying musical performances.

CONTAGION was originally intended to be released as a double album but Clive Nolan got cold feet on releasing such a sprawling 90 minute plus behemoth of a double album and nixed seven tracks and would release them simultaneously on two separate EPs titled "Contagious" and "Contagium." After many years of demands by rabid voracious fans to release CONTAGION as the originally intended double album, in 2013 it finally came to be as a tenth anniversary expanded edition titled CONTAGION MAX which contains all of the missing seven tracks in their proper places amongst the others. While it was not intended to replace the original truncated form and was solely intended to provide a supplemental insight into the album's history, i have to say that ARENA scored big time with CONTAGION as i find it works equally well in either form as CONTAGION doesn't feel forced and never indicates that certain tracks were left out merely for editing's sake nor does CONTAGION MAX feel like the extra tracks were superfluous filler either. Personally i would highly recommend both editions but CONTAGION is probably the first place to stop for anyone wanting to check out ARENA's thoughtful and subtly textured symphonic progressive rock. CONTAGION will surely go down as their magnum opus as it is one of those album's that only gets better the more you listen to it, at least that's the way it worked for me.

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 Contagium by ARENA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.10 | 43 ratings

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Contagium
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars Clive Nolan's original intent for the "Contagion" album from his band ARENA was for it to be a double album with several instrumental tracks appearing at certain points in the album for there to be a smoother flow between the segments that spell out the storyline. But the record label had other ideas and the band was forced to scrap the idea and instead trim the album down to a single disc and with the leftovers created two separate EPs released simultaneously with the "Contagion" album.

There are several head scratchers about this decision of how to release these extras though. First of all instead of releasing one compilation album of the seven extra tracks, they were instead issued on two different releases, one called "Contagious" and this other edition CONTAGIUM which features the three leftover tracks "On The Edge Of Despair," "The March Of Time" and "Confrontation." In addition there is the "Special Remix Of Salamander" which sounds more like a psytrance meets hard rock track with plenty of mellotrons turned up to the max. There are also some multimedia additions that includes a video of "Painted Man," some ghost vocals that tell the story as well as a tour photo gallery and screensaver.

Like on "Contagious," these leftovers are quite decent quality listens but this EP as well has been made quite irrelevant since these leftover tracks found a new home on the 2013 anniversary re-issue called "Contagion Max" which featured all of the extra tracks in their proper place on the album as originally intended in its double disc form. The only track that has never found a new home is the remix of "Salamander" and it is hardly worthy of making this bunch of tracks relevant as the "Contagion Max" places the tracks that matter in their proper context.

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 Contagious by ARENA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
2.89 | 47 ratings

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Contagious
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars Clive Nolan's original intent for the "Contagion" album from his band ARENA was for it to be a double album with several instrumental tracks appearing at certain points in the album for there to be a smoother flow between the segments that spell out the storyline. But the record label had other ideas and the band was forced to scrap the idea and instead trim the album down to a single disc and with the leftovers created two separate EPs released simultaneously with the "Contagion" album.

There are several head scratchers about this decision of how to release these extras though. First of all instead of releasing one compilation album of the seven extra tracks, they were instead issued on two different releases, one called CONTAGIOUS and the other "Contagium." On this release CONTAGIOUS contains the tracks "Vaninishing Act," "I Spy," the title track and "The Hour Glass." In addition to these surplus musical tidbits, there is a "Special Remix Of Witch Hunt" which sounds more like an early 80s new wave band than ARENA.

While the music on this one is quite good, this EP has been made somewhat irrelevant since in 2013 an anniversary release called "Contagion Max" was finally made public and included all the extra tracks in their original intended ordered on a double CD. That means only the "Witch Hunt" remix is unavailable anywhere else and believe me it's certainly no reason to track this down separately. It's also strange that these tracks don't appear sequentially on the "Contagion Max" edition and are scattered about randomly on both discs.

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 Headroom: Direct to Disc by FM album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.79 | 76 ratings

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Headroom: Direct to Disc
FM Prog Related

Review by Walkscore

3 stars This is the second album from this Toronto-based band, and one with a very interesting history. The album was originally called "Direct to Disc", and this is because it was recorded in one go, very literally direct to disc (or rather direct to special vinyl cutting machinery, producing the vinyl lacquer used to produce the metal stamps for stamping new vinyl albums. This limited the length to about 16 minutes per side, as that is the limit to how much room the lacquer had). The title "Headroom" was added later after MCA records threatened to sue their label because MCA had released the soundtrack to the film 'FM' and did not want this band's record to conflict with their sales strategy. So, 'Headroom: Direct to Disc' it became for later pressings and the international releases of this album. Even more interesting is that only 20,000-30,000 copies of the album could be made from each lacquer, because each lacquer could only make one metal stamp, and that wore out after printing/stamping that many copies. For this album, the limit came at 26,000 copies. After the record sold this many, the record company had to find another lacquer to print the albums. FM recorded their songs four times, creating four lacquers. The last one was consider the best take, and so the first 26,000 albums printed used that lacquer. However, once that limit had been reached, the record company had to use a different lacquer, and so went with the second-best takes. So, anyone who bought later pressings of the album was buying different versions of the songs than those who bought the first 26,000 copies!

The version I am reviewing is the remaster CD re-release on Esoteric Recordings. The sound quality is excellent, and this uses the original versions of the songs (from the first 26,000 pressings). The music is relatively sparse - because it was recorded in one go direct to disc, there are no overdubs, and no opportunities to tweak any errors. With only three musicians, the recording has a very airy and sparse feel to it. It also have a very 'live in your basement' feel (augmented, I think, from the excellent remastered sound quality). This is both the album's strength, and its weakness. Strength - it feels very present, sincere and authentic, the direct opposite to typical over-produced rock music. The music combines classic 1970s progressive rock feel with early electronica and is one of the few bands with an electric violin player. Furthermore, there are solos on this, and the band stretches out in places, which is quite nice. Weakness - in order to get the best out of the compositions, the music here I think could actually benefit from more intricate arrangements, and from more instrumentation (ie overdubs). On the second side there is a drum solo, which is very nice (and I wish there were more drum solos recorded on contemporary albums), but on this track makes it drag out a bit. Compositionally, the music seems a bit rushed, like they had to finish the compositions shortly before recording them, instead of taking them out on the road and refining them based on how they sound played live.

On the whole, this experimental album has an important and unique, if somewhat minor, place in progressive rock history. It is good, but not brilliant. It makes very interesting first, and maybe second, listens, but I doubt one will want to put it on after that. I always listen to an album multiple times before I review it, as albums usually reveal their musicality over subsequent listens, and the best ones get better with each additional listen. This one started becoming boring after the third listen for me. I give this 6.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

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 Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.63 | 77 ratings

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Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Walkscore

4 stars This album is better than their predecessor 'Allelujah! Don't Bend Ascend'. It remains rooted in the harder style noted on 'Mladic' (the best composition from that album), but on this one the entire album flows together much better. Indeed, although the album is broken into four tracks, they are all part of one long composition (the formerly-named 'Behemoth', mentioned by the other reviewers). I have seen this composition performed live, and it works very well in that setting. I think it works slightly less well on the album, mainly because it starts so starkly with the two drummers hammering a loud 6/8 beat for a few bars, followed by the entrance of electric guitar power chords. That is, the album doesn't start quietly like their other albums, building to a crescendo. On this one, they begin at (or close to) the crescendo. I find the first two (of the four) tracks less musical than the last two, but those last two (the second half of the long piece) are definitely worth waiting for. The third track involves improvised droning, and a particular delight is the fuzz bass (providing evocations of Soft Machine - one of my very favourite bands - and the Cantebury scene in general - indeed, parts of the third track sound like they almost could have come out of SM live recordings from their 'Fourth' and 'Fifth' periods). On this album and the predecessor, GYBE do not feature nearly as many beautiful quiet passages as their pre-break albums, nor the many sound effects, radio/tv snippets, street noises, talking, etc that added political and emotional weight to their (otherwise instrumental) music. When they play live, they are always accompanied by visuals, which add this weight in that live setting. I am not sure this particular album needs them, but the previous one ('Allejuh...') surely could have used them. Overall, I give this album 8.0 out of 10 (on my 10-point scale) and so PA 4 stars.

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 Garolou by GAROLOU album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.67 | 13 ratings

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Garolou
Garolou Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

4 stars This is Garolou's best album, and the one that best describes (and thus would be the best introduction to) their sound. Some of the members are new since the debut, and they changed their name (from Lougarou to Garolou), and in doing so became more firmly re-oriented in the Quebec progressive rock scene. The change in line up is particularly felt on the vocal front, as a number of these songs feature multi-part harmonies that are really quite beautiful (e.g. 'Wing-tra-La'). Garolou largely got their inspiration from historic folk tunes (and indeed, re-made a number of them into art-rock songs) and the history of French settlement in North America. While some of the tunes remain folk songs (again, 'Wing-tra-la' and the (already noted very fast) 'Alouette', others become rock songs ('Aux Illinois', 'Victoria' etc). The longer 'Germaine' is a show-stopper, a classic 1970s progressive-tinged rock song. On the whole, this is a very musical album, and like their first album (Lougarou) stands the test of time and multiple listens. There is not a bad song on the album (some don't like 'Victoria', perhaps the most 'normal' rock-radio song on the album, but I find it quite listenable, easy to sing along to). It is a classic Canadian album. It receives an 8.7 on my 10-point scale, and thus just a tinge short of receiving a 5-star rating. So, PA 4 stars.

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 A Lenda do Quarteto 1111 by QUARTETO 1111 album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2008
3.20 | 6 ratings

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A Lenda do Quarteto 1111
Quarteto 1111 Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead

3 stars Review Nº 107

"A Lenda Do Quarteto 1111" is a compilation of Quarteto 1111 and was released in 2008. It has songs released by the band on EP's, singles and also on their eponymous debut studio album, Quarteto 1111, released in 1970.

As I wrote before, the presence of Quarteto 1111 in the end of the 60's in Portugal represents the birth of progressive rock music in my country. Nothing was the same after them. They were a breath of fresh air in Portugal, at the time. Quarteto 1111 was a band strongly influenced by the British music of those days, mainly The Beatles, despite their lyrics were almost in Portuguese. They made music influenced by the British music with typical Portuguese features.

"A Lenda Do Quarteto 1111" has twenty tracks. The first track "Os Faunos" was released on their debut EP. It's a song about fauns, which was a rustic Latin god or goddess of Roman mythology. The second track "A Lenda De El- Rei D. Sebastião" is the title track of their debut EP released in 1967. It's about a Portuguese king who disappeared during the battle of Alcácer-Kibir, in Morocco, and Portugal lost its independence to Spain in the XVII century. The third track "Balada Para D. Inês" is the title track of their second EP released in 1968. It's about the tragic love of infant D. Pedro, the future king of Portugal, with D. Inês de Castro, a noble Galician, which was executed by order of the father's king, D. Afonso IV, the king of Portugal, in the XIV century. The fourth track "Partindo-se" was also released on their second EP. It's about anguish and sadness in our eyes when we see our beloved family depart to distant places in search of a better life. The fifth track "Dona Vitória" is the title track of their third EP released in 1968. It tells us about the contrast between those who lived well and had a good job and those who lived in the suburbs and had no job. The sixth track "Meu Irmão" was released as a single in 1968. It's a psychedelic song that speaks about love, solidarity, friendship and brotherhood among men. The seventh track "Dragão" was also released on their second EP. It's about the sad, dull, hard and routine life of any working man. The eighth track "Os Monstros Sagrados" was released on their single "Génese" in 1969. It's about the purity of nature against the human technology and its industrial applications. The ninth track "Génese" is the title track of a single released in 1969. It's about the beauty of nature in contrast with people that suffers because the different colour of their skin. The tenth track "Bissaide" was released on their single "Nas Terras Do Fim Do Mundo" in 1969. It's a very simple instrumental song. The eleventh track "Nas Terras Do Fim Do Mundo" is the title track of a single released in 1969. It's about one of the most brilliant chapters of Portuguese History, the Portuguese discoveries, released in the XV century. The twelfth track "Domingo Em Bidonville" was released on their first studio album in 1970. It's about Portuguese emigrants who left their country in search of a better life, and leave their country, family and friends. The thirteenth track "João Nada" was also released on their debut album. It's about emigration. It's about a man who returns to his homeland, at the end of his hard working life, and he has nobody waiting for him, except his coffin. The fourteenth track "As Trovas Do Vento Que Passa" was also released on their first album. It's a cover of a song of Adriano Correia de Oliveira with a poem of Manuel Alegre. It's a song of the resistance of Portuguese University students against the dictatorship regime. The fifteenth track "Maria Negra" was another song released on their first album. It's an anti-racist song about the women with black skin, which are often viewed and treated as inferior human beings. The sixteenth track "Todo O Mundo E Ninguém" is the title track of a single released in 1970. It's a song with intimate and symbolic lyrics about life and dead. The seventeenth track "É Tempo De Pensar Em Termos De Futuro" was also released on their single "Todo O Mundo E Ninguém". It's another song with intimate lyrics. It tells us that it's now time to think about to build a better world, uniting races and breaking down the barriers. The eighteenth tack "Back To The Country" is the title track of their single released in 1970. It's a song that appeals to men to the return to the fields. It represents the first attempt to internationalize the band singing in English. The nineteenth track "Ode To The Beatles" is the title track of a single released in 1971. It's represents homage to The Beatles. It represents also the second attempt to internationalize the band singing in English. The twentieth track "Uma Nova Maneira De Encarar O Mundo" was released on their single "Sabor A Povo" in 1972. It's a song, as its name indicates, which makes an appeal to a new way of seeing the world. This is a way of seeing it with more peace and love.

Conclusion: "A Lenda Do Quarteto 1111" is the third compilation of Quarteto 1111. The others are "A Lenda De El- Rei D. Sebastião" and "Singles And Ep's". Like the other two, it's also a very interesting and important compilation with many similitude with the other two. After reviewing the other two compilations, I can say that "A Lenda Do Quarteto 1111" is a better option, because is the biggest and most complete of the three. If you want to have on a single album many of the songs released by the group and dispersed on so many singles and EP's, this is the right place to have it.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Pike 251 - Waterfall Cove by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Pike 251 - Waterfall Cove
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars BUCKETHEAD (as Bucketheadland) / Pike 251 - Waterfall Cove / 8th release of 2017 / All instrumental / Contains 4 tracks / Clocks in at 28minutes 50seconds / everything played by Buck-buck-buckethead

"Waterfall Cove" (7:41) begins soft and dreamy. Clean guitar, slow and sensual bass. Cymbal action. Then it picks up with heavier drums but still slow and serene like a summer breeze in the Bahamas. It slowly and steadily picks up steam and somewhere over the TWO minute mark adds some more energetic passages as it quickly goes back to soft and serene and then finds enough confidence to pick up the steam a bit. While these sorts of BH tracks are very hit and miss, this one has a decent ambience and overall mood setting to it. Not his peak but still quite pleasant. The guitar has a particularly pleasant tone to its twanging about

"Whispers Way" (11:22) begins slow and easy with breezy ambience and clean guitars and light drumming action. It continues the basic melody with a slow and steady delivery and has tinny guitar solos, bass and drums follow a predictable path down the mellow zone. Yeah, this is similar to countless PIKES before but there's something about the newer technology of production, the slightly tweaked ways of playing (yeah, i'm paying attention) and the attention to percussion not being a lazy follow that works for me. While this doesn't blow me away, it doesn't blow me off either however it does drag on for too long and hasn't enough ideas for totally excitement. It does pick up a bit towards the end with lead guitar albeit in bluesy mode but pleasant enough to prevent suicides

"The Barren Plains" (2:47) starts out with extra echoey clean guitars and creates a guitar melody in clean mode and adds bass and drums. Nice ambience. BH has gotten the overall effect thing down for sure but compositionwise this is pretty standard stuff at this point. If you can't get enough of this, you'll love it but for me. Yawn

"9001" (7:00) seems to take off where the last track left off. It is a clean guitar with bass and light drums but then suddenly after a but totally metamorphoses into a grungy heavily distorted guitar sound that makes me wanna jump in the mosh pit but then just as i've acclimated gets cold feet and becomes clean and echoey again in the most mellow of ways. Oh wait! More moshing to be done! Just as i've acclimated to clean, it rocks again but then simmers down to semi-rock and then grungy rock with a cool sustain on the grunge and then back to clean. Not a bad track actually

This one is somewhat derivative of many of the PIKES of the past but somehow stands out a wee bit more. Yeah a WEEEEE bit more. It's not gonna exactly usurp any of my favorite PIKES for sure but at least has a nice delivery system of previously presented ideas which makes it OK but not outstanding. So a good album it is without being OMG great

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 Ultimo by PANDA FIGHT CLUB album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.05 | 2 ratings

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Ultimo
Panda Fight Club Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

4 stars The amusingly named Italian prog group Panda Fight Club formed in Milan in 2009, with this, their debut album `Ultimo' arriving six years later in 2015, and a confident and boisterous first effort it is - and a concept album at that! While so many Italian groups like to pile on the deadly serious symphonic bluster and swooning theatricality, the Panda's prefer instead to kick listeners in the guts with a tough heavy guitar attack and bold vocals, sharing a similar fortitude to other modern acts like Il Bacio della Medusa and Civico 23, without forgetting plenty of peppy keyboard dalliances in the manner of the youthful sounding La Forza Elettro Motrice/FEM Prog Band.

Performed entirely in Italian and detailing the exploits of the last panda on Earth, the group concoct a vibrant and adventurous soundtrack to their tale, opening with `Heihe 2058', an instrumental introduction of Federico Nespoli's hard- driving Rush-like guitars, Christian Colombo's crashing drums and Lorenzo Nespoli's sleek slithering bass purring amongst Dario Errigo's whirring keyboards. `Fame senza Fine' erupts with throbbing Hammond organ bursts and Simone Pagani's rollicking swagger of a vocal, the darkly chiming guitars and swooning voice of the title track `Ultimo' are quickly swept away by stormy riffing, and the manic pure-RPI blast `Animalisti' throws in some glistening piano and playful bombastic synth twirls around menacing group vocals and relentless hard guitar grooves.

`Caccia Nuova' eventually moves the disc closer to metal with plenty of crushing heavy riffs and up-tempo bursts back and forth, and the energetic `Braccatolla' fuses skittering drums over sparkling Hammond organ and swirling synths all delivered with the same sprightly excitement of FEM's `Sulla Bolla di Sapone' from 2014, just given the addition of a muscular vocal. Lovely pristine piano weaves throughout `Sogno alla Chetamina', only to be quickly obliterated by manic ranting spoken word passages that turn roaring and forceful. It's also a nice slow-burn guitar soloing showcase and carefully builds in grandiosity, perhaps delivering the most symphonic moment of the disc. Finally, `Il Risveglio' wraps the disc with plenty of wounded and weeping vocal heart, as snarling guitar grumbles in unison alongside jazzy bass breakdowns and ghostly piano with skilfully executed dramatic heavy blasts, making it a dangerous and suitably powerful closer.

Panda Fight Club have delivered an addictive gem of a modern styled prog album that doesn't forget to offer nods to the rich history of vintage Italian symphonic music, and it's even better that it runs a welcome vinyl-length 40 minutes as well. The band consider the panda a reflection of progressive rock in general - beautiful, distinctive but now quite rare to encounter. Well, Panda Fight Club will be glad to know that Prog rock is thriving and more vital than ever, so the future looks bright for this talented band that offers a unique and exciting interpretation of the Italian Prog/RPI experience, and their accomplished debut `Ultimo' comes highly recommended.

Four stars - well done, fellas!

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 Darwin! by BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.37 | 952 ratings

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Darwin!
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO's DARWIN! is an amazing concept album & piece of Italian progressive rock. While the homonymous debut by the band has my favorite track (R.I.P.) this one has an overall superior quality, both as a definer of Italian progressiveness (absurd influence of Romantic music) and as its representativeness.

There's just the right amount of jazz, classical and European influences to make this completely unique. FRANCESCO DI GIACOMO's powerful, emotional voice is another factor to make this album even more of an endorser. The Italians truly have a tradition, musically speaking.

8/10, but its importance for Italian progressive rock obliges me to label it as an "essential piece".

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 Gracious! by GRACIOUS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.70 | 134 ratings

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Gracious!
Gracious Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

2 stars Yikes! What have we got here?

Gracious was an early seventies' Mellotron, standard keys and guitar based symphonic prog band whose influences run the gauntlet from the Moody Blues to early Zappa/Mother's of Invention. Near virtuoso players, their scattershot approach works well, on this suite like album, with the more friendly Moody's like fare and the group's near Beach Boy's harmonies, while a pastiche, do shine. Where Gracious go wrong is on extended studio manipulated dissonant sound experiments (like early Mother's of Invention) and the band's fascination with tight repetitive bass, keys and drum rhythms that seem to go on forever and, worse yet, seem to go nowhere.

What does work well for Gracious is that they seemed to have foreshadowed (by 20 years) Robert Fripp's obnoxiously harsh toned math like guitar playing, which would have worked better if it was not surrounded by second rate Zappa like satirical lyrics. I'm not a big fan of Zappa's inane social critiques, but Frank did them first and a thousand times better.

I can't recommend more than two stars for GRACIOUS(!), but perhaps their follow up album issued one year later will be more focused and original. Time will tell, as I'm getting ready to give that a disc a spin in due time.

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 Romantic Warrior by RETURN TO FOREVER album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.26 | 554 ratings

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Romantic Warrior
Return To Forever Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

5 stars When you have some of the biggest names in 70's fusion on your team, how can you lose? When it comes to jazz fusion, there are few superstar lineups more formidable than Latin shredder Al Di Meola, electric jazz pioneer Chick Corea, and the powerhouse rhythm section of Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. Although the talent on display here is a smorgasbord for jazz cats to ogle over, there's certainly more to "Romantic Warrior" than just its name-dropping creds.

What we have here is one of the finest marriages of jazz fusion and progressive rock that's been set to record. While the medieval influences alluded to by other reviewers may be a tad overstated, there's no denying that there's a symphonic flair to this record that you won't find on any of the dime-a-dozen instrumental fusion albums that got popped out like rabbits between 1975 and 1980. "Romantic Warrior" is something of a mixed bag. Pure (and expertly done) fusion numbers like "The Sorceress" and the acoustic title track act as expansive vehicles for passionate and inspired soloing. More rock-oriented tracks like "Majestic Dance" pack in a punch that you just don't find in most jazz, and the complex and spacey "The Magician" is in a league all its own in the Return To Forever canon. In all, there's a great diversity to this record that should appease fans of Miles Davis and Gentle Giant alike.

Of course, what really sells this album for me is the excitement that it conveys. As cliche as the term is in jazz reviews, this whole album is electric, through and through. From the frantic rhythmic workouts of the opening track, you know that the next 45 minutes are going to be a complete thrill ride. The album subdues (but never tires) a little with "The Sorceress" and "The Romantic Warrior", but from there it builds up into a non-stop crescendo of intensity that doesn't back down until the crashing finale of "Duel of the Jester and The Tyrant". If there was any one fusion record that deserved to be considered a "masterpiece of progressive rock music", this would be the one. This is fusion for prog fans, and prog for fusion fans, and an album that excels at both. One of the true jazz rock masterpieces that every fan of 70's fusion needs to check out. 5 stars.

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 Live At The Northern Prog Festival by LEAP DAY album cover Live, 2016
4.14 | 5 ratings

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Live At The Northern Prog Festival
Leap Day Neo-Prog

Review by axolotl

4 stars Very pleasant live album of Dutch proggers Leap Day. It is recorded during the Northern Prog Festival festival in Holland. You can consider this one as some kind of 'the best of...' because they've taken songs from all their albums. It's a pity there's only one song on this live effort from their last album 'From the days of Deucalion, chapter 2', which is imho the best they've come up with this far. The music is very well played. It's always nice to know bands are not only very good in the studio but also on stage. They cover their studio sound very well on stage and I really like all seven tracks on this album. They are brought to you very closely resembling the original album versions. Well done guys! 8/10

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 Mayhem in Blue by HAIL SPIRIT NOIR album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 14 ratings

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Mayhem in Blue
Hail Spirit Noir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Mayhem in Blue" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Greek progressive metal act Hail Spirit Noir. The album was released through Dark Essence Records in October 2016. It´s the successor to "Oi Magoi" from 2014. Hail Spirit Noir was formed in 2010 by three members of Transcending Bizarre?. The band released their debut full-length studio album "Pneuma" in 2012.

Stylistically the music on "Mayhem in Blue" continues the psychadelic/space rock tinged progressive extreme metal style of the first two albums by the band. It´s music which owes as much to artists like early Pink Floyd and Hawkwind as it does to an act like Darkthrone and their ilk. The black metal element is relatively restrained here though, but there are a couple of pretty raw moments featured on the album (including a few blast beats). Mostly though we´re treated to a more mellow, dark, and twisted progressive rock/metal sound. Keyboards and especially organ play an important role in the band´s music, and you can add The Doors to the list of influences as keyboard player Harris often sounds like a bizarre dark carnival version of Ray Manzarek.

"Mayhem in Blue" features 6 tracks and a full playing time of 40:29 minutes, and all tracks featured on the album are high quality compositions. The tracks are adventurous, memorable, and dynamic. The catchiness of the material is one of the great assets of the album, and even the 10:52 minutes long "Lost in Satan's Charms" is instantly catchy. It´s probably because the band don´t go overboard with complex song structures and technical playing, but instead keep it relatively simple and focused on atmosphere. Simple doesn´t mean regular vers/chorus simple though and the band often break away from that tried and true formula to create more adventurous structures, but they still manage to keep things accessible.

The musicianship is strong on all posts, and the playing tight yet organic. Lead vocalist/guitarist Theoharis has a powerful raspy black metal style vocal delivery, but the pleasant warm clean vocals by guest vocalist Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos are even stronger. The combination of the two vocal styles bring much to Hail Spirit Noir´s music. "Mayhem in Blue" features a raw organic sound production, which brings out the best in the music, and upon conclusion it´s another really strong release by Hail Spirit Noir. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

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 Return To Sky by CAUSA SUI album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.46 | 13 ratings

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Return To Sky
Causa Sui Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Tapfret
Prog Reviewer

3 stars On first impression Return to Sky is one of those albums that I found myself really enjoying, but had a hard time with considering this as a "progressive album of the year" candidate. Primarily because the feeling I got from the album was that of a desert / Stoner Rock album. Particularly with the parallels I found between this album and Kyuss' Welcome to Sky Valley, a name that is strikingly samiliar. And it's not just the name itself that conjures this feeling. The very moment the sludgy, occasionally phasered, Proto-metal guitars start in the image of that early-nineties-retrograde approach sets in. But several listens drove home the expanses of undistorted psychedelic ambiance (quite a bit more reverb use),  use of keys, more non-power chord guitar work and the fact that it's an instrumental album. These originally seemed like minor differences to my ear but ultimately gave the album a more individual texture without disarming that raw intensity that caused me to draw those original comparisons. In fact, Return to Sky comes close at times, but does not fall into the structurally ambiguous "jam band" trap I find detracts me from enjoying many artists in the psychedelic/space rock sub-genre. And whether the aforementioned similarities I hear to Kyuss are homage or just coincidence does not make the album less enjoyable. Much like the similarities to Black Sabbath make Kyuss less enjoyable.

I very much enjoy listening to Return to Sky . Though I would stop short of calling it an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection. I very rarely (almost never) say this, but I believe this is the type of album that would definitely benefit from vocals. Good album, 3 stars.

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 Secret Recipe by BUCKETHEAD album cover DVD/Video, 2006
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Secret Recipe
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by Tapfret
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars Buckethead's Secret Recipe is a 2 DVD grab bag of concert footage, home movies, and general weirdness all strung together with sloppy graphics and incomprehensibly unintuitive menus. You will find a plethora of Buckethead biographical material among these disorganized menus. Not to mention Bootsy Collins narrating the menus. What you will not find is any high quality tranfers of either video or audio.

Disc 1 is the nostalgia disc. A huge collection of primarily low quality home video with a smattering of artsy hi-8 b/w film. Lots of it in what appears to be Buckethead's bedroom and backyard at his parent's house. 1 or 2 of these might be entertaining, but after that they become pretty annoying. Various clips from past shows are an interesting retrospect, if you can accept the shaky hand camera quality (still better than The Blair Witch Project). There are also a few previously unreleased songs that include his runner-up and honorable mention entries to Guitar Player Magazine contests submitted during his teenage years, as well as a fairly large library of images, flyers and set-lists. Not to mention nunchuck fighting instructions.

Among the various unlabeled clickies within another area of clickies is a section of music videos of both Buckethead videos and collaborative works; the highlight of which (and probably the highlight of the entire DVD) is a piece called Spokes for the Wheels of Torment. A hard hitting song with video conisting of animated snippets derived from the "Hell" panel of Hieronymus Bosch's 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'. By far the cleanest transfer of the DVD set's material.

The second disc consists of 2 live recordings: New York in 2000 and Boston 2004. Having seen Buckethead's live one- man show, I found it entertaining in person. But it just does not work as a video worthy method. For some reason the Boston show even included an option for a 5.1 mix. But it really didn't seem to sound any different with no sound emitting from the rear channels. and I went through all the amplifier settings to no avail. The concert recordings are also contained on the DVD in mp3 files when the discs are placed in a computer DVD drive...in case you want to extend your punishment beyond the video watching.

For the Buckethead fan this collection is worth having for the biographical material. And there is certainly entertainment gems to be found. But poor transfer/source quality (and I am by no means a fidelity thug) and aggravating navigation makes Secret Recipe a non-starter for everyone else. 2 stars, definitely for fans only.

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 Snafu by EAST OF EDEN album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.16 | 143 ratings

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Snafu
East Of Eden Eclectic Prog

Review by Zephyr

4 stars Probably the place to begin and end your East of Eden experience. The more psych-rock of their debut has not aged very well. In contrast, Snafu is an engagihg listen every time. I think about how Kansas' song "Leftoverture" was a series of stitched-together musical ideas and favorite warm up jams; maybe because we have become so familiar with that great piece that it all seems to naturally flow together. But, of course, you can certainly hear the not so subtle transitions within the piece that one could argue make it sound exactly the way it was made. With Snafu I get that same feeling, but the changes that occur (the many that don't build on the theme, that just start a new one) seem very exciting. That anticipation of changes of tempo is, dare I say enthralling. This is a real solid album, and any critique I've read about lack of cohesion is exactly what is great about it. Lots of musical ideas to consume....and in the end, just like Leftoverture, it all seems just as it should be. Adding to the many melodies and anti-melodies explored here are an array of fascinating instruments that add a non-western flavor that is quite exotic to these New York ears. I listen to a lot of prog and I keep coming back to this. Other reviewers have done a great job with the song by song rundown. Listen with a nice system for max affect.

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 Book Of Horizons by SECRET CHIEFS 3 album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.01 | 76 ratings

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Book Of Horizons
Secret Chiefs 3 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars When it comes to Avantgarde, I only know three names so far: FRANK ZAPPA, OOIOO and SECRET CHIEFS 3.

FRANK needs no introduction, OOIOO has eloquently mastered the idea of "experimentation" with the great percussion-focused TAIGA madness, and SECRET CHIEFS 3 explores three frontiers on the album BOOK OF HORIZONS: Indian, electronic and technical (AND FURIOUS!) death metal. Be warned, though: this band isn't the type that brings up insanity and calls "music". There is mild experimentation, but nothing too much of a "paradigm shifter".

The electronic part is the most "avant-garde" of the three genres. It features uncommon sonorities and structures, usually you're unsure whether the song has begun or ended, if what you're listening to is a particular section of that track; suddenly the music stops and weird noises come in, and overall is the least interesting piece for people who aren't fan of experimentality (like me). I find it to be the weakest link.

The Indian part is good and the first track with this sonority - THE FOUR (GREAT ISHRAQI SUN) - is perhaps the best of the album (along EXTERMINATION ANGEL). In general, there is a good blending of Western music/metal/rock elements, and while there isn't something great (aside from THE FOUR) it's not nearly as uninteresting as the electronic pieces.

Let's tackle the last piece. With that being said, this is the part they masterfully nailed. The musicianship is amazing, the drums are simply spectacular and the aura of each song is just as horribly heavy as any extreme metal musician would seek to achieve. EXTERMINATION ANGEL, the fourth track and first of the genre, is my favorite by SECRET CHIEFS 3 and a jewelry of the genre. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who HATES usual death metal.

In the end, SECRET CHIEFS 3 does a good job in bringing a good record. The most memorable songs are THE FOUR, EXTERMINATION ANGEL, ANTHROPOMORPHOSIS: BOXLEITNER (an eerie track that features ALL of the three 'frontiers', albeit the death metal parts are much milder and blended with electronic) and BOOK T: EXODUS (in the veins of epic Western movies), while the others... well, I don't really remember them.

BOOK OF HORIZONS is a good album. Not terrific but not bad either. I'd definitively recommend for avantgarde fans, but for those who aren't keen of the genre... not quite.

7/10

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 Crossing The Line by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.53 | 98 ratings

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Crossing The Line
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

Review by ctasan

4 stars The first album of short-lived band Asia Minor, which consists of two Turkish who were studying in France at that time, and two French members.

Album starts with Preface. Firstly, some Turkish percussion, then flute-guitar and keyboard enters. Just from this song, Asia Minor's sound shows up - flute-guitar or keyboard-driven. Later on, modern drums enter and closes in a rush of synth, guitar and drums.

"Mahzun Gozler" (Turkish: Grieved Eyes) includes suprising Turkish words that follows Turkish pop dominant in late 1970s. It's a love song, starts with an empressionist look, after nearly 3 minutes, song speeds up again with the help of flute, resembling Genesis and Camel style. When it gets relaxed, lyrics start, just keys lead here with 1960s psychedelic influences. The song closes with the sound of gong.

"Mystic Dance" is a blend of soft guitar and flute with the help of synth.

"Misfortune" starts with a synth effect, and again speeds up suddenly. After lyrics, song has a changing tempo.

"Landscape" is another song under the effect of synth. Good mystical feeling.

"Visions" differently opens with bass guitar, soon joined with electro. In middle of the song, good melody waiting for you. Overall, instruments are balanced equally. I feel some Van der Graaf Generator here.

"Without Stir" is an excellent show of guitars, nowadays all teens listen this kind of songs, or all intros are like this. Ahead of its time.

"Hayal Dolu Gunler Icin" (Turkish: For Days That Filled Up With Dreams" starts with bass, like Visions. Soon flute joins here, creating good ambiance, with guitar arpeggios. The song is fast in middle, but finishes relatively slow.

"Postface" just repeats the intro of Mahzun Gozler. Okay for exiting.

Conclusion: Quite good, a not widely known gem of symphonic progressive carrying various influences, from both Turkish and French music. 7/10

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 Worlds Apart by OKTOPUS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.85 | 4 ratings

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Worlds Apart
Oktopus Heavy Prog

Review by mossywell

4 stars I have seen countless prog bands and almost as many support bands. One day in early 2016, I went to see IOearth (who need no introduction) in North London, UK and Oktopus walked on stage. I guess over the years, I've become tolerant of some very dubious music with the unfortunate side effect that it takes much more for me to take notice! Within a few bars of these gents playing, I think my jaw must have hit the floor!

In terms of style, I guess Heavy Prog fits the bill, but it's not the shouty meandering aimless cacophony you sometimes hear. This music is far more structured with some welcome variation in dynamics. I'm generally loath to make comparisons with other bands to avoid the "labelled for life" syndrome. However, purely in the interests of giving people an idea, my first thoughts ? due to the way they rhythmically and harmonically modulate, was of the Cardiacs. Musically, however, it has to be said that Rush springs to mind: a three-piece with intelligent lyrics with a bit of fantasy, quite high vocals (but not screechy), virtuoso bass and guitar, and a drummer that has more fills than grooves!

Doing a detailed musical analysis isn't my thing, so I'll be brief. There are 8 "tracks".

Discord (Approach): A short track of some heavy breathing with atmospheric guitar chords over the top which acts as an opening scene. The track's name is a hint of what's to come?

Eyes Open: From the first chord, we're immediately into the fast Heavy Prog sounds. But within a minute we are introduced to a more melodic section and chorus. Just when you thought you're on safe heavy prog ground, up pops an almost jazzy instrumental that segues back into the chorus.

Worlds Apart: Another "odd" time signature feel track in the verse (and if you watch them practicing it on Youtube, it makes you wonder how they stay so relaxed ? my brow would be furrowed in concentration trying to avoid going off the beat!). This is a less-heavy track than Eyes Open with a more foot-tappable chorus. I've read elsewhere that this is considered their best track by some. For me, it's up there, but the best is yet to come. The Adventures of Jerry Troutmonto ? Part 1: [instrumental] After a drum flourish it heads down the more traditional heavy prog route with a heavy dose of prog noodling. This track more than (structurally) reminds me of the Cardiacs. It's an opportunity to show off (rightly) their musicianship. Of note is a melody used in a later track. Maybe that's why it is called "Part 1" (there's no "Part 2"!).

Haru: [instrumental]: This really feels like an old film interlude where a kitten would bash a ball of wool between two halves of a very long film. In this case, it's a short ethereal piece on wood blocks / pipes or similar. (Haru: Japanese for Spring, apparently.) I guess the idea is that we relax after spending the previous 17 minutes desperately trying to tap out a beat that keeps changing direction just when we get it!

The Hand on Your Shoulder: We're back on solid ground again. It opens up with some cross-sticking and mellow guitar riffs and the vocal is almost whispered. It has a very jazzy feel at the start. But, as the chorus approaches, we know that things will hot-up. However, it's much more restrained than the frantic Eyes Open. As is typical of Oktopus (if I can say that after one album!) you're never quite sure where it is heading. However, this is probably the tracks you'd most want to play to your mum! (I don't suggest that, by the way.) We're even treated to some vocal harmonics towards the end. My goodness, it's almost at risk of being called "normal". But it does show that these guys don't just have to do the super-avant-garde stuff.

Discord (Descent): [instrumental] A short musical piece that really could be the sound of a lift descending into the underworld?

Minotaur: OK ? a confession: I have listened to this track dozens and dozens of times and I never tire of it. It is a masterpiece. Superficially, a song about the man character facing a Minotaur and escaping. (I say "superficially" as I'm awful as dissecting lyrics. And routinely see meaning where there is none, and fail to see meaning when it slaps me in the face!) Musically, it has everything: it has great melody but isn't constrained by straightforward time or key signatures and there's modulation- aplenty. The vocal are spot on, belted out without wavering. There are great guitar riffs and solo which demonstrate the ability to add both rhythm and virtuosity. The bass playing I absolutely love as it acts as the glue or the canvas. (I don't ever recall seeing someone play something so complex and yet look so relaxed.) The drumming is as frantic as ever ? it's a lesson in how to percuss as many different things on one bar as humanly possible. Why groove when you can fill? (That's a slight exaggeration.) It ends with a belted out "Feel the best wail inside ? Minotaur!" and then a relatively mild coda to wrap the track up ? something that for the first time you can actually tap your foot to!

Overall, it's so close to a 5-star. Why not the 5 stars? 2 reasons: 1. It's so good, I want more. Yes, I know that it's ironic to say "it's so good, I'm marking it down for not being longer" but at just over 30 minutes, it's almost like a long EP. 2. At times, it feels like they're almost trying too hard to impress ? they're good enough that they don't need to impress. It's like ten thousand creative ideas all jammed into a small space that is left bursting at the seams. It's musically very "dense". Personally, it probably could have been mixed with an extra 10 minutes without diluting the impact. Also, I do wonder how they'd do a second album whilst keeping the cornucopia of ideas flowing. (That said, I very much look forward to the second album.) I just know I'm gonna regret only giving it a 4. Can I do 4.5 please? :)

Finally, if you're wondering if this is studio trickery, it's not ? watch them live ? you'll see what I mean.

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 Winter by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2017
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Winter
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
5 stars Formed in early 2006 with the goal of producing Atmospheric Black Metal that incorporates elements of post-rock, Fen have, since then, found themselves at the vanguard of a resurgent UK Black Metal scene. With an EP, four full length albums, several splits and compilations to their name so far, this their latest full-length album (released March 2017) is their most ambitious to date, as they have combined Black metal with many other styles to create something that is very special indeed. Conceptually, they have returned to the roots of their ideology, seeking to embrace and distil all that inspired them when they first set out on this path over a decade ago ? that is, to invoke the ambience of bleak reflection and ancient sorrow that permeates the mysterious landscapes of the fens of Eastern England.

According to singer/guitarist The Watcher this album "very much describes a journey towards sanctity and redemption across a landscape steeped in mystery, hints of forgotten darkness and sorrows long since drowned in the distant past." There are six songs, but the only real way to play this album is to put it on at the beginning and be prepared for seventy-five minutes of music that will take you well away from the comfortable world you reside in, to a place that is far more barren and bleak, filled with foggy atmosphere and danger. How just three guys (The Watcher is joined by Havenless on drums and Grungyn on bass and vocals) can produce something as majestic and over the top of as this is just beyond me. It shows that although the Scandinavian countries seemed to have very much a stranglehold on this type of music for a long time, that is no longer the case. Fen have been going for ten years now, and they are just maturing and getting even better with age. The record label describes this as "atmospheric Black Metal and delicate, spacious cleans, married with aspects of 70s progressive rock, shoegaze and doom metal". I can make it much simpler than that. This is genius, nothing less.

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 Masquerade by EYESBERG album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.75 | 20 ratings

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Masquerade
Eyesberg Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Towards the end of 2016 Eyesberg came back with their second album, this time comprising all new songs. There was no use of a drum machine this time, as they managed to secure the talents of Spock's Beard drummer Jimmy Keegan, and this has had a major impact on the music. No longer are the drums just there to keep the beat and provide backbone, this time they have become very much an essential part of the overall sound as Jimmy drives the guys along ? he never has been one to be content with just playing the beat, he knows when not to play, and when to force proceedings. No longer are the band performing as if they were around more than thirty- five years ago (although they were), now it is more of that time being an influence on what they are doing, which is far harder and heavier than last time around.

The debut album would probably be best described as retro prog, but this one is much further into neo prog territory, with a far more abrasive edge, as if they have lost the innocence of the debut and are far angrier. The two albums are quite different in some respects, and very similar in others, with Malcolm's vocals playing a key part in bringing them together, along with Hackett Genesis influences still obvious in this one, although more diluted than in the debut. Of the two I think I prefer the debut, just, but they are both worthy of discovery to any prog lover,

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 Blue by EYESBERG album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.84 | 42 ratings

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Blue
Eyesberg Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars It must be said that Eyesberg are a band with something of a back story. They came together in Frankfurt around 1980, with a line-up Georg Alfter, Michael Buchner, Norbert Podien, Thomas Klarmann and Malcolm Shuttleworth. Although they wrote several songs, they never released an album, and they all went on to other things. Thomas later enjoyed success as a member of Argos and Superdrama, and this spurred some of the others to revisit the old Eyesberg songs and see what they could do with them now. Malcolm Shuttleworth (vocals), Norbert Podien (keyboards, drum programming, backing vocals) and Georg Alfter (guitar, bass), were joined by Klarmann's Argos bandmate Ulf Jacobs on drums, but neither Thomas nor other original member Michael Buchner were involved this time around.

Given that these songs were written more than thirty-five years ago, as opposed to 2014 when they were released, it isn't surprising at all that they have far less in common with modern prog, and the album has quite a retro feel. This is enhanced by the quite large use of flute sounds from the keyboards, and it certainly makes me think of the type of music that Steve Hackett was producing at the time, as well as last Seventies Genesis. It is an incredibly enjoyable piece of work throughout, and the very English vocals of Malcolm come across as a mix of Gabriel and Roger Chapman, with hints of Peter Nicholls. Overall this is a very enjoyable album and I was keen to see if they would stick around to release another.

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 Music For A Family Picnic by KUUSIJÄRVI KOUTUS, HARRI album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Music For A Family Picnic
Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus RIO/Avant-Prog

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

4 stars A mosaic of sound, let me say.

A promising Finnish rock combo founded by an accordionist Harri KUUSIJÄRVI have launched the second album titled "Music For A Family Picnic" in February 2017. Harri says he (maybe) always changes the combo formation for creating soundscape different from previous ones ... his musical collective would be amorphous for realization of music-spherical diversity.

Kinda indescribable chamber soundscape filled with mysterious accordion-based cotton candy is flowing over the audience. Their (his) sound texture and melody lines are walking around between realism and ambience like a creature of fancy. On another side we can hear monotonous, inorganic cold grey turf. Quite interesting, impressive is such an excessive sound contrast and complete coexistence.

The titled track is a colourful one ... drenched in cynical identity against pop but simple melody threads wound upon a song spool, no difficulty, no shoulder pain. And as for progressive rock-oriented atmosphere, a track with a meaningful (and looong) appearance "I Was Driving 160 Miles Per Hour From Turku In The Midnight When I Felt The Time Was Slowing Down" has definitely heavy / metallic elements of King Crimson or psychic ones of Pink Floyd.

Harri's accordion play sometimes stands up at the very front and sometimes sits down behind the all instruments. He can be mentioned as the forward and as the goalkeeper ... namely the key player. Awesome really.

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 Prof. Wolfff by PROF. WOLFFF album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.87 | 24 ratings

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Prof. Wolfff
Prof. Wolfff Krautrock

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

5 stars A fairly unknown German band from the early Seventies, Prof. Wolfff released a single self-titled work in 1972 that seems to completely fly under the Prog radar, and it's an album badly in need of rediscovery - perhaps for many listeners for the first time! The group played a mix of blues, psychedelic rock and acid-folk peppered with a tough Krautrock hardness, coarse vocals and light jazzy qualities, utterly dominated by the tastiest of heavy Hammond organ liberally slathered over the disc beginning to end! Bands like Deep Purple, Birth Control, Frumpy, Bodkin and even some of the Italian groups who favoured the instrument played in supremely dirty style in their sound such as Il Biglietto per L'Inferno and Il Balletto di Bronzo are easy comparisons, but although hardly commercial or even remotely radio friendly, the band grafted melodic tunes to their workouts, even if the vocals themselves were hardly easy to love.

The ten minute opener `Hetzjagd' is the longest and best track here, a powerful and dramatically unfolding rocker that explodes with a battery of 'Romi' Schickle's Hammand organ plied over almost every second of it. Several short but memorable themes are constantly reprised back and forth throughout, with plenty of energetic bursts and even a frantic up-tempo run in the middle all given life by the instrumental skill of the musicians and taken even further by Klaus-Peter Schweitzer's firm and coarsely charismatic vocals. After such a great opening that sets a very high standard, thankfully the rest of the album still manages to deliver a constant run of equally impressive shorter pieces. Although hardly a pop song, `Hans Im Glück' holds a frequently repeating punchier group-vocal chorus popping up between alternating slowly moody and rapid-fire snappy verses driven by 'Mondo' Zech's pumping bass and Michael Sametinger's nimble drumming, and `Missverständnis' is a bit too tough to be a true full-blown folk piece, acoustic guitars chiming over exotic percussion and a variety of persistent group vocals carrying a pleasing melodic tune.

The opening and close of side B's `Das Zimmer' reminds a little of Novalis with its hazy vocal and mellow acoustic guitars, but it picks up a spring in its step for an infectious and lightly jazzy break in the middle. Almost ten-minute closer `Weh Uns' is full of momentum, being all rumbling drumming, twin wailing guitars, bouncing bass, urgent group vocals and endless scorching brimstone-fuelled Hammond organ fire that culminates in a Floh de Cologne-like spoken word climax.

`Prof. Wolfff' will likely appeal to those who love the tougher vintage German bands but want something a little more structured that avoids the aimless drawn-out explorations that frequently came from so many of the Krautrock groups. Admittedly those who speak German will get much more out of the frequently darker political-flavoured lyrics here, but it still holds up as a forcibly melodic and rugged rocker with that relentlessly addictive Hammond organ sound. It truly is a rarely spoken-of dirty gem of early German progressive rock badly in need of reappraisal now that deserves to be placed alongside the higher regarded and more well-known classics of the Krautrock subgenre.

Five stars. (and a long-held personal favourite!)

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 Au Nord de Notre Vie by CANO album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.85 | 21 ratings

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Au Nord de Notre Vie
CANO Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

3 stars This is another Franco-Ontarian progressive folk collective, releasing albums around the same time in the late 1970s as Lougarou/Garolou. Cano was based in Sudbury, and is much larger, with a more fluid line-up. Their songs are quieter and longer with more of a distinct folk edge. This is their second album, and largely considered their best. Other than two longer songs (the 'A la Poursuite du Nord' suite, and 'Mon Pays') the songs are regular-length. Rachel Paiement's vocals stand out as a defining feature (good) of their sound, as well as Wasyl Kohut's violins (acoustic and electric), while the vocals by the male singers generally do not make much of impression. Acoustic guitar and piano are the main other instruments, with a few synthesizers and electric guitars occasionally present. The last song, 'Spirit of the North' (written by Kohut) was one of their concert show-stoppers. On the whole this is a very listenable and enjoyable album. However, it does not quite (in my opinion) live up to their first album. The compositions on this one are mixed, and some of the tunes (now that I have listened to this for over 20 years) I just have to skip over (such as 'Automne' and 'La Premiere Fois'). The best tunes are the two long ones, but even those have mixed musicality. Even 'Spirit of the North' I find has worn on me after multiple listens - while it checks all the boxes for what one might expect from progressive folk, somehow there is not enough weight to it - it is more like an extended solo than a composition with real staying power. On balance, I give this 7.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which corresponds to 3 PA stars.

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 Lougarou by GAROLOU album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.33 | 10 ratings

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Lougarou
Garolou Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

4 stars This is an important band in the history of Canadian music. With Franco-Ontarian roots, the band combined an appreciation for French Canadian folk music with (then-) contemporary art-rock forms of composition. It took a little while longer for the disco and punk scenes transform the record industry in Canada, thankfully, allowing bands like Garolou and Rush (and the record companies there were signed to) to put out high-quality music for a couple of years longer in the late 1970s than in the US or UK where from 1976 onwards bands were being pressured to change their style. This band released their debut album under the name Lougarou, and only subsequently changed it to Garolou on their second album. While not quite as developed as their second album (Garolou), this is high quality music, and an excellent debut album. While some of the tracks remain pretty folky (including the opening track, Dis-Moi Charles, which is not to say they are in any way inferior), other tracks became staples of French-Canadian progressive rock (La Belle Francoise, A la Claire Fontaine, etc). The music is highly memorable after a couple of plays (a number of the songs stick in your head), and although firmly rooted in the 1970s has aged gracefully and so does not sound (too) dated these days. The soloists are not virtuosos by any means, but the playing is highly evocative and musical (more like Gilmour's guitar solos). This album remains on our family playlist (it still gets requests when we drive up to camping in the summer!), which (anecdotally I realize) speaks to its longevity. Although not essential, this is lasting quality music. I give it 8.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which puts it at 4 PA stars.

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 Days Of Future Passed by MOODY BLUES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.17 | 691 ratings

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Days Of Future Passed
The Moody Blues Crossover Prog

Review by Tapfret
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The lore surrounding the genesis of this concept album and foundation piece for progressive music has several different versions. The version I always heard was the record company approached The Moody Blues to record a rock n roll side of an album while an orchestra would record the other as a demonstration of a fancy new recording system. There is also the more common, and now seemingly refuted version, that the record company intended the album to be an adaptation of a Dvorak symphony....as a demonstration of a fancy new recording system. Whichever it was, it wasn't. Except for the fancy new recording system. The quality of the recording is absurdly clean for 1967. And before anyone asks, yes, I am familiar with the original pressings that occurred prior to the 1978 restoration. The transitions between The Moody's and the London Festival Orchestra appear seamless.

The concept, lifetime in the stages of a day. Perhaps not original, even in 1967. But conveyed with undeniable sound and lyric allusory precision. Even the poetic intro and closing are strong elements to the story. I am not aware of the level of cooperation between the orchestra and band as far as the arrangements go, but the orchestral parts serve almost exclusively as transitional elements. The music is not flawless. In particular Peak Hour, the lunch time theme, which feels completely out of place. Capturing that frantic midday pace with something as groundbreaking as the remainder of the album is somewhat of a metaphor for the frantic pace at which music itself was changing in 1967. As the only real stinker of the album closes side A (for those of you following along on vinyl), the true beauty of the album unfolds on side B as the afternoon-night sections. Tuesday Afternoon, the second most popular single for the album, is permeated with Mike Pinder's mellotron. This fades to the haunting verses of the evening and Twilight Time. This section provides what is certainly the most fluid orchestral to rock transitions. The Sun Set in particular incorporates slow bongo and flute for a safari-like feel, conveying the daily vacation as the work day ends. Then we get to the most identifiable single in the Moody Blue's entire discography, Knights in White Satin. The beautiful lamentation that moves even the most stagnant soul. One could, and I'm guessing some have, write a philosophy dissertation on the meaning and gravity of the few short verses.

I've gone through different stages of finding more or less importance of this album personally, but its place in the history of progressive music is undeniable. It is not perfect, but it is amazing and borders on essential.

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 Music For A Family Picnic by KUUSIJÄRVI KOUTUS, HARRI album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Music For A Family Picnic
Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Here's the latest Finnish artist addition. The eponymous 2014 release was a trio effort in which the accordeon player and composer Harri Kuusijärvi (b. 1986) was accompanied by electric guitarist Veikki Virkajärvi and drummer Tatu Rönkkö. That album featured rather steep dichotomy between avant-oriented angularity -- to some degree comparable to the music of the other Finnish alternative accordeon artist Kimmo Pohjonen -- and mellower pieces, and it was inspired by wild Lappish landscapes. I wasn't notably impressed by it, and although this second release will hardly become my favourite listening either, I do find this one more mature... and above all, warmer and less bipolarized in style, and thus more accessible to also those jazz/fusion-minded listeners who aren't much into avant prog.

The line-up is a little bigger this time, featuring the same guitarist and a new rhythm section plus Teho Majamäki on vibes and effects, on most tracks anyway. I only wish the vibes were more heard on the album, but already the addition of bass means an important improvement in the sound. The opener 'Naltio' (don't ask me what it means) centres on a hypnotic, circulating accordeon riff and slightly industrial or Post-Rock sounding playing from the others. The title track is a slow and relaxed jazz piece in which accordeon is used very melodically. 'La Route de Pokka' is an excellent, crisp and guitar-oriented fusion piece, a little marred by (most likely an artificial) bird-whistle. The vibes are more central on slow and moody 'UFO Bar'.

All nine tracks are enjoyable, not very avantish really, but nor without brave dynamics and sonic variety. As with Sanni Eskelinen & Stringpurée Band (Finnish kantele-led band, also to be found in PA), all in all this music would more naturally be categorized under jazz instead of rock. A librarian's point of view, you see. Warmly recommended to anyone appreciating the sound of accordeon.

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 Zentuary by BUDJANA, DEWA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.44 | 26 ratings

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Zentuary
Dewa Budjana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars For his tenth solo album Dewa signed with Steve Vai's label, and brought together a stellar group of musicians to realise his vision. Although this album was only a year after 'Hasta Karma' he has again completely switched things around, and none of those who were involved in the last album are involved with this one. His core band this time was Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel Stick Men), Gary Husband (John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Jack Bruce and others) and the incomparable Jack DeJonette (Keith Jarrett, Miles Davis). If that wasn't enough he then added some further guests in Guthrie Govan (The Aristocrats, Steve Wilson, GPS), Tim Garland (Chick Corea, Bill Bruford), Danny Markovich (Marbin) as well as some cameos from the Czech Symphony Orchestra as well as Indonesian musicians Saat Syah, Ubiet and Risa Saraswati. Given that amount of talent is it any surprise that they have combined to produce yet another stunning piece of work?

Dewa has a wonderfully fluid style that always reminds me of John McLaughlin, and although there are huge amounts of fusion within this album, it is also quite experimental, bringing in progressive sounds that wouldn't be out of place with keyboard pioneers like Vangelis as well as also bringing in local sounds and styles from Indonesia: it is fusion and progressive music in its truest sense. Some numbers, such as "Lake Tangengon" wear me out just by listening to them ? there is an amazing amount of work and styles being displayed in the melody lines, and then at the back of them all Jack is killing the kit. How he keeps it up throughout the whole song is beyond me. Just twelve songs on this double CD set, but the 100 minutes' pass by so quickly, and one must jerk oneself back into the real world at the end of it.

This is music that covers a great deal of musical areas, with multiple layers and threads, but it all combines into an incredible majestic whole. Yet again he has produced an album that is totally indispensable, essential, complex and challenging yet easy to listen to, and a sheer delight from the first note to the very last.

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 Hasta Karma by BUDJANA, DEWA album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.16 | 35 ratings

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Hasta Karma
Dewa Budjana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars One of the real joys of following the Moonjune career of Indonesian guitarist Dewa Budjana, is that one is never sure quite what to expect with each release, as he often changes the musicians he is playing with which has a direct impact on each album. This time he has brought in NYC vibraphonist, Joe Locke, and Pat Metheny Unity Group's bassist, Ben Williams, with drummer, Antonio Sanchez, and Indonesian keyboardist, Indra Lesmana. There are so many wonders and delights contained within this 2014 album that it is hard to know where to begin. In many ways Dewa has taken something of a back seat with this release, and it has a much stronger band feel than the others, as he shares the melody lead with Joe. I used to regularly see Poli Palmer (ex Family) play with Steve Waller (Manfred Mann's Earth Band) and his touch on vibraphones was great, but he never sounded anything like this! Gentle touches, or blistering speed, Joe can do it all and consequently is incredibly relaxed as there is nothing left for him to prove. This has allowed Dewa also to relax and just go with the flow, not always having to be the centre of attention. With Ben and Antonio playing their part to perfection, the result is a fusion album that is mind-blowing in just so many ways.

From the cover artwork of the digipak, through the sleeve notes of John Kelman, and then into the fifty-two minutes of the album itself, this is the complete package. If I had to pick one track to showcase the beauty of this majestic album, then it would have to be "Desember" where Dewa provides some stunningly quick runs, and then leaves the song for bars at a time to allow the rest of the guys to build new rhythms and melodies, returning when the moment is right. When it comes to modern instrumental jazz fusion then it simply doesn't get any better than this. Faultless.

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 Odd Senses by PSYOPUS album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.06 | 10 ratings

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Odd Senses
Psyopus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars PSYOPUS only took a mere two years to follow up their melody mutilating sonic assault "Our Puzzling Encounters Considered." And although ODD SENSES pretty much picks up where that album left off with their insane mathcore metal that is turned up past 11 and is guaranteed to frighten small animals and parents, there has been drastic changes in instrumental duties! In fact only mainman Christopher Arp is back with his insane guitar antics and all other musicians are making their debut in the strange musical butchery of PSYOPUS. Firstly, Adam Frappolli has been replaced by Brain Woodruff on vocals. Secondly Fred Decoste has been replaced by Michael Horn on bass and finally Jason Bauers has usurped the percussive throne of Jon Cole and also contributes some marimba to the mix. Surprisingly, the band sounds relatively similar to the past in the shredding core elements that would strike fear into any sensitive ears but there are also plenty of fresh new elements on board to make this a worthy continuation of the sonic melody mutilations heard on the first two albums.

While the intro "44" is a short ambient slice of doom and despair, quickly the true opener "Medusa," a track that describes the difficulty of getting over someone when you have to see them all the time, ushers in both the core elements of PSYOPUS but also finds Woodruff adding some death metal growls to the mix. Arp is on fire as he not only displays his hammer-ons from hell but manages to induce a trance-like experience from super-slides as well with as much intensity as you could expect. Despite all the usual mathcore elements on board with the PSYOPUS stamp of approval they add all kinds of new touches to create a more dynamic ear canal assault for the listener to engage in. Tracks 1-5 are pretty much heaviness of the usual PSYOPUS plan with creative new ways to destroy melodic developments and seduce sinister spirits into creating anti-earworms but there are plenty of surprises on ODD SENSES.

"Boogeyman" is quirky crazy as it begins with several members including the girl who left the telephone message on the previous album's bonus track all taking turns reading poetry and each member reciting random words with a music box in the background but alternates with the brutal mathcore assault that we know so well. A tried and true tradition continues with a third installment of "Imogen's Puzzle Pt 3' only this time is recorded with a back backmasking technique without any obvious Satanic messages to be found. Paul McCartney is still alive and only Jay Chou can hear it "只有你能聽得到!" "Choker Chain" is the typical mathcore as usual but also continues the theme of the extended theme of troubles with women as it incorporates the echo effect of the hidden track on "Our Puzzling Encounters." On that hidden track a girl leaves a telephone message and when she says the word ANNOYING it last for 23 minutes. On "Choker Chain" this effect is used repeatedly with irritating cliche clingy girlfriend quotes mixed which finds its way tucked in between the metal outbursts.

"Ms Shyflower" begins with Gregorian chants of some kind and then becomes more of a heavy progressive metal type of music heard from Enslaved but ultimately picks up with the zany aggro vocals however the guitars stay fairly reserved for Arp as it's not about craziness and more about mood setting. Perhaps the most alternative track that utilizes dissonant chords rather than frenetic hammer-ons and finger tapping but still heavy as friggin' hell. "A Murder To A Child" proves to be the most UN-PSYOPUS track of all and all about Arp's delving into avant-garde classical music with dissonant guitar chords and bizarrely structured progressive compositional styles. It's totally a classical acoustic piece with Matt Colbert helping out with classical guitar, Owen Tomaszewski on cello and Adam McOwen on violin. As usual Arp adds on an overly long hidden track that takes up over 20 minutes of real estate, however this one is actually pretty interesting when they shut the bleep up. The music is basically a continuity of different jam sessions that cover the gamut of different types of metal to simply hard rock. Unfortunately it also includes pathetic attempts to be funny with ridiculously stupid skits that are stupid as bleep. This is a good case of why musicians need to stray far from the comedy world and vice verse (hear that Eddie Murphy?) Nevertheless despite this final faux pas of stupidity, i really love this album. Very cool for anyone who delves into the extremities of metal.

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 Credit Where Credit is Due by PAULY, HENNING album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Credit Where Credit is Due
Henning Pauly Progressive Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars Henning Pauly is a German multi-instrumentalist and producer living in USA, and after he by chance got a record contract in 2003, he's been involved in numerous different projects. This release is the second album released under his own name.

Describing the music on offer here is a tad difficult. Although the album in the press blurb is described as a metal album, the tag metal doesn't even begin to describe the music being served here. True enough, most songs feature hard rock and metal guitar riffing, creating a dark and aggressive backdrop in most of the songs on the album. But there's other aspects of this release that's more noticeable.

The most noticeable element, used mostly to a large extent on this album, are the beeps, blips and beats you'll usually find in industrial rock and metal, as well as in the musical output of groups like Prodigy.

These sounds and rhythms tie this album together, creating moods, atmospheres and a drive that is recognizable on all the songs on the album, and although these sounds are subdued on some of the tracks they are still present.

Apart from the industrial rhythms and a crunchy metal guitar, Henning seems to have fun putting in more or less strange elements in the songs in some cases; the main sonic experiment on this album is the inclusion of the banjo on a couple of tracks. Which works perfectly, in case you may wonder. Henning plays with the nu-metal genre on a couple of tracks as well, which also works out quite nicely.

All in all, I find this to be a very good release. No fillers, a lot of good tracks, and three outstanding tracks: "Six" - where the crunchy metal guitar and the banjo creates a truly original soundscape, "Seven" - a ballad filled out with a plethora of industrial sounds and ending with a big dramatic finale followed by some mellow ambient sounds while fading out, and lastly "Radio Sucks" were Henning have fun playing in several styles similar to radio friendly rock and metal while spicing them up sonically and saying his 10 cents worth of the state of radio today in the lyrics.

But although I rave quite a lot about this release, I also have to say that quite a few people probably won't like this album. Because this is an adventurous album, were ideas are tested out, genre barriers are ignored - and to some extent made fun of. But the adventurous prog metal or metal fan should check this one out; especially if you're the kind that likes to sit down and really -listen- to music.

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 Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.13 | 475 ratings

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Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Walkscore

5 stars This, for me, is GYBE's masterpiece, and one of my favourite albums. The band is quite unique in incorporating a very critical punk ethos into otherwise very beautiful, slow building instrumental music. The band, and this album, is as other reviewers here note, non-conformist and, I would add, totally uncompromising (indeed, one of the reasons I love this band so much is that they very clearly never compromise their music, you either like or not. And they keep pushing the boundaries of music. They are, for me, a band of the highest musical integrity). And unlike most instrumental music, this album conveys a powerful political and emotional message. As noted by others, this is music somehow predicting, and written for, a post-apocalyptic world. And it unusual in being instrumental music that makes you think. I think it sets a certain archetypical standard against which any other post-rock (and other so-called post-apocalyptic music) might be compared.

I am writing this review more than ten years after picking up this album and listening to it a gazillion times, and unlike other albums which eventually lose their shine after multiple listens, this one keeps growing on me, drawing me in. It all fits together very well, and even when one has to listen through white noise or other harsh sounds, those work well in pulling you through the transitions between pieces. While there is no normal singing, there are occasional other recorded vocal noises (including interviews with people recorded on busy city streets, recordings of school children, etc), and other low-fi sound bites (there is one recording of a band member singing 'baby-o' but that is one of these low-fi snippets). These help glue the music together and bolster its critical ethos. But it is really the music that stands out. The title track ("Lift yer Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven") is one of the band's most beautiful and majestic pieces of music, and one that also works very well live. Gathering Storm is actually their version of Amazing Grace, but with a twist, lending some reflexive emotional weight to the whole album. World Police and Friendly Fire is perhaps a definitive GYBE composition, and also works very well live.

On the whole, the album stands the test of time. It is highly original, powerful, and musically maintains its emotional weight even after multiple years of listening. I would highly recommend giving this album multiple listens before coming to any conclusions. The first times I listened to it, I had a hard time cognitively mapping it, but over time its structure and heft became evident. This is, in my opinion, in a select list of the top 50 albums every made. This one is worth it.

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 Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.66 | 132 ratings

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Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! represents GYBE's return to the fold. Fans of GYBE had waited a long time for this album. Efrim, Sophie, Thierry had put their energies into the Silver Mt Zion collective, and many thought there might not be any new GYBE albums forthcoming. However, as with much great non-mainstream music, it took a while for people to hear the original albums, and by the late naughties (2000s) the band's reputation had solidified, not only among music lovers but journalists and various social movements. Many were clamoring for the opportunity to see the band, so meeting the demand, GYBE began touring again, mostly with the same core musicians (Efrim Menuck, David Bryant, Michael Moya, Thierry Amar, Mauro Pezzente, Sophie Trudeau), but a few others to replace other former members. The tours did very well (and are excellent - highly recommended in my opinion!), creating demand for a new album. Indeed, this album won the 2013 Polaris Music Prize for best album, which is a Canadian indie music award decided collectively by the music press, an alternative to Canada's mainstream Juno awards. It is highly respected among Canadian musicians, and if one is wanting to hear something new and different, one will never be amiss going for one of the Polaris albums of the year. Even more fascinating is GYBE's response to winning the award. Instead of just happily accepting, they sent a very critical message, criticizing the awards gala and the whole concept of music awards, and announced they were donating the cash awarded them to a Quebec organization that provides musical instruments for jailed prisoners. This only solidified GYBE's radical reputation and cult following, and it does not appear to have been a publicity stunt. GYBE are the real deal, with something important to say, and deserve to be listened to.

Saying this, I actually think this is their weakest of their albums. The first tune (the 20-minute-long "Mladic") is excellent, and a highlight of their post-GFC tours. The album is worth purchasing just for this piece of music. However, the other three compositions are not up to the usual GYBE standards. There is another long song ("We Drift Like Worried Fire", also 20 minutes), but although it contains some great musical moments (particularly in the middle through the end), it does not hold together well as a single composition, and parts of it are not so musical and can drag. In between these longer compositions are two shorter "drones", and while are not off-putting they don't add much musicality to the album. I would have preferred if they could have been incorporated into the other long pieces, or otherwise further developed in some way - as it is, they are just 'there'. Saying this, one thing I like about GYBE is that they continue to push the boundaries of music, and to use the slow build-up as a compositional tool. I guess this includes having no qualms about releasing 12 minutes of, essentially, the same note! That they could do this and still win the Polaris Prize is really fascinating, and to my mind speaks well of the open-mindedness of today's music press. Nonetheless, when scored on musicality, this album is much less impressive than their other albums. For me it just fails to make it to four stars, and so get's a PA score of 3. (I give it 7.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is below my threshold (7.9) required for a four-star rating).

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 Yojo by YOJO album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.71 | 8 ratings

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Yojo
Yojo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Post-rock wearing the clothes of Jazz

A pterodactyl flying over a cloudy megalopolis... This surrealistic black and white cover picture suits the music very well: light and floating, classy and sober. YOJO's promising eponymous debut offers a fluent and clever mixture of post-rock atmospheres with cool jazz, plus a touch of heavy prog for the depressive mood. Instrumental, driven by the trumpet and supported by guitars, this hazy soundtrack well depicts impressions of loneliness and melancholy, the elegant way. Furthermore, the compositions are quite accessible and of constant quality.

The suave jazzy "Sundiver" is dark and enigmatic, like if you were wandering through a rainy city, looking at unknown faces. Then the track turns more dynamic. Beautiful! The mournful trumpet describes a desolated landscape all over the slow and changing "VHS", while the ethereal "Pterodactyl" is rather mystical with its raging and floating guitar. Magic! You'll be immersed into an ocean of despair hearing "Captain Kirk Had a Bad Day", and intrigued by a mysterious light through the smoky "Waltz"

Longest title of the album, "Alien" is also the strangest. From a spacey free-jazzy background, the music glows in the dark using changing rhythms and cool bass lines, reminding John Surman at times. Featuring a dialog from David Lynch's "Eraserhead", the gloomy "Aftermath" is quite pleasant, while the heavy progressive "Double Henry" is the rockiest passage of the disc. The ender, "Rough Sleeper", is divided in two sections. The first half is an atmospheric hazy ballad including samples from the monologue "How Should I Live, Angels?", written and narrated by Russian writer Mikhail Zhvanetsky. The second half turns more towards free jazz and contains this time a speech by Barack Obama. Enjoyable but too long and a little dissonant for my tastes.

YOJO's first effort is very convincing and promising. This elegant and clever arrangement of post-rock and heavy prog with jazz is really original and inventive. The perfect soundtrack for a lonely rainy day, looking down at the city and its swarming interlaced lives through the window, wondering, observing, feeling like a stranger who doesn't fit in... Finally, like the pterodactyl on the cover art...

A band to keep an eye on, very recommended to modern jazzscapes fans!

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 De Fluff by BOOTCUT album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.08 | 11 ratings

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De Fluff
Bootcut Eclectic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars really

This band from Sweden named Bootcut formed by Beardfish keybordist and singer Rikard Sjöblom helped by a bunch of musicians with quite high skills. Bootcut released so far two albums, the latest being their best so far. De Fluff is the name of the release issued in 2006. This is keyboard orientated prog, with a slightly jazzy feel. The entire album is quite accesible in sound, but has plenty of tricks in instrumental sections, the hammond is present and in combination with the drums and guitar in places and even sax are quite enjoyble most of the time. The music is groovy and has that jazzy atmosphere, the pieces are kinda short all are under 6 min, but all are energic and well played. All in all a decent album towards great in places, I do prefer this band Bootcut more then anything Beardfish released over the years. Very fine booklet and all package. A little known band who gone under the radar of prog collectors.

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 Self-Loathing Joe by BOB LAZAR STORY, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Self-Loathing Joe
The Bob Lazar Story Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars Released in 2015, Matt said this EP "sounds like two small bands having a fight on some stairs.". I guess one of those bands plays acoustic guitars, while the other is into harder rock, and somehow they have to share a drummer. And they all like Zappa, and Fripp, and jazz, and being able to make musical sense out of intricate melodies where nothing should gel, but does. Somewhere along the line Chris and Matt managed to misplace Mike, so they were down to a duo. There are even quite a few "vocals" here, but they are mostly spoken word so it doesn't detract too much from the instrumental insanity that is going on for the rest of the piece. One of the songs is nearly nine minutes long, but another is only sixteen seconds, with the seven songs getting just past the twenty-minute mark.

All their albums/EPs stretch musical boundaries without ever seeming to do so, as this music is just so easy to listen to, yet shouldn't be. I was playing this at work the other day, and I was asked what on earth it was as it was so compelling. When I told him that they were a local band (I now work in the city these guys are from) he was amazed and immediately went off to find out more. Which is exactly what you should be doing right now. Music as adventurous and wonderful as this needs full support. They have signed to Bad Elephant for their next album, which should be out in a few months' time. Until then get over to Bandcamp and listen to some music that will blow your mind.

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 Ghost of Foodstool by BOB LAZAR STORY, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Ghost of Foodstool
The Bob Lazar Story Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars Looking at their Bandcamp page, I can see that Matt Deacon describes his band as "Purveyor of tritonal wankery, The Bob Lazar Story hail from Christchurch, NZ and offer you an oasis of ProgMathsyFusion to soothe your weary earholes". I've been lucky enough to hear both their albums, and their first EP, with this one following in 2014. Seven songs, with a total playing length of fourteen minutes, this is even more eclectic and brilliant than normal! One could argue that this is a close relative to Zappa, while I have also seen someone describe their music as "a tasty cake of dribbly madness". Chris Jago has an incredibly important part to play behind the drums, making them much more of an in your face instrument, very much in keeping with jazz, than one may expect from a rock act. Mike Fudakowski has a similar role with the bass, and they both try to keep up with the manic Matt on guitar.

They are all obviously off their rockers, as this music is hard to describe, yet also always makes total perfect sense. It is melodic, controlled, easy to listen to, yet takes King Crimson to whole new level. Why these guys aren't huge I will never understand, but until the world sits up and takes notice, us in the minority will smile and nod knowingly that these guys are musical geniuses

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 Kaleidoscalp by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.69 | 7 ratings

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Kaleidoscalp
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by Tapfret
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Back in the early two-thousand and zeroes before Buckethead wrote albums more frequently than he changed his socks, what I call "Lazy Bucket" only produced 2-3 albums per year. Now, while apparently he didn't give much of a crap about his fans who sometimes had to wait for an entire season change for a new album, he managed to produce some rather healthy work. And really, who didn't take a little hiatus to mourn the duration of a Kardashian marriage whence they fell off the market? I shall forgive Mr. Head in that regard, but I digress.

In this case, Kaleidoscalp, his second of three releases in 2005, has become my second favorite of his releases (to this point), coming in runner-up only to Monsters and Robots. This album excites from the intro which loops in a sequence from, György Ligeti's Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano (the monolith scene choral sound from 2001: A Space Odyssey). The overall feel of the album is instrumental prog metal with a major avantgarde slant. A slant that takes an increasingly precipitous angle as the album gets into its latter stages. The rhythm guitar sounds can frequently be characterized as complex sludge. And while it has never been in question that Buckethead's soloing style is a predominately metal style, the prevailing rhythm sections have seemed to hit more of a funk angle on previous releases. Kaleidoscalp hits the metal mark in the rhythm department much of the time, at times even introducing djentish polymetrics. And in fact, the solos do not appear nearly as frequently as say Giant Robot or Monsters and Robots. The electronics that permeate so previous albums are there, but do not dominate. The gentlest moment of the album occurs on the finale, She Sells Sea Shells By The Slaughterhouse, which is a sweet instrumental ballad that uses undistorted electric guitars. Well, it is an 11 minute piece and the nice nice part only lasts about 4 minutes of that. After that, a bashing session begins.

To summarize: up to this point in his discography (which as it turns out is about the 4% mark) Kaleidoscalp is by far the heaviest hitter, and as near as I can tell, the most complex. This will be one that won't collect much dust. 4 stars.

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 Pike 250 - 250 by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Pike 250 - 250
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars BUCKETHEAD (as Bucketheadland)

Pike 250 (affectionately called "250" or "Two Hundred And Fifty" Unaffectionately called "bitch crap from stool samples")

7th release of 2017 One quadrillionth or so release from all time

All instrumental Except for when it's not playing

Contains 4 tracks Except on other worlds where the treaties forbid albums with 4 tracks

Clocks in at 30minutes 27seconds Unless the clock is broken then WTF? Get a new clock. I mean, really?

Everything and i mean EHvRR -eeTHING is played by Buck-buck-buckethead (land)

TWO // - echoey guitars then drums while all spacey and ambience swirling then the metal dam bursts and heavy distorted chords and guitar solo and then no guitar solo and just grungy guitar chords and then back to clean clucking echoey guitars and then bursting into metal heaviness and then back to slow while the melody continues while dynamics change and then more heaviness and then more spaciness and then more heaviness in a heavier way and then soft and then heavy and soft and heavy softheavyrfdkjafkjreqir7t40ujdiajfioeaiodsur803478r1uiofduand thefactthat itgoeson for 17plusminutesIS unnecessarybutnot totally[%*!#]ingoutathequestinbutwhy?why?why?why? oh and around 14 minutes it gets funky but then changes to heavy metal and continues to change things up 0 p 0 p 0 p but wait there's moRE! nice track but nothing that hasn't been done before by BEE AYTCH but still an interMOLESTING experience that leaves me exhilarated and ready to meet Lola at that bar where SpongeBob used to go

HUNDRED C - is pretty free kin cool mon as it begins all funky and becomes all weird with like OMG!!!! guitar solos to the max. I do declare that this is a very superbly original track on the BH line of PIKE-wear where everything sounds like it was totally inspired by brothel talk and a healthy supply of pop tarts purchased in Moldova during certain sunspot activities that lived on the edge while licking flies on sundays as sex toys danced around christmas trees that worshipped lucifer and legos simultaneously while licking themselves like only lucky puppies can

AND & - and what? you expect a BLEEPIN' review of this track? Where's your sense of mystery? Do you really have to know everything? You are a filthy slutty knowledge whore. I know one when i see one because i am one so there. i'm going to blather on about nothing now just so i can make the next track go down a few spaces on my spread sheet. Did you know that the Albanian word for YES is pronounced like the English word TAPE? Yeah i had tape worms once and it kinda gives me pleasure rubbing my butt on the new carpet however it's starting to stink

FIFTY L - is a gift from SATAN. It's about sacrificing goats to Lucifer. Ok, i lied. It's about sacrificing coats to Lucy of Charlie Brown fame. She deserved it because of the football incidents. This track is like the best track ever. It so makes me wanna fly a prog flag. Has anyone made one yet? Why the bleep not? OK, who wants to be Betsy Ross? OK, focus. This is a review, maybe from hell but a review. This is the best track on the album. It is proggy without being froggy. It is clever without being forever. It has time sigs that eschews all the excess figs. It has guitar yumminess that makes me feel oh so good. This is a top notch BH track that is jazzy, metal and prog simultaneously. A brief visit to paradise after OKness turned to well, only OKness

BUCKETHEAD reaches his sestercentennial or semiquincentennial or bicenquinquagenary milestone of 250 PIKEs. Whoah! Like were this many needed? NO!@ Of course NOT. But many were good but WTF? The last two years have been few and far between for inspiration but 250 is a bit different but not a bit great but not a bit bad either so a bit 3.5 stars in ishi mode and may many more PIKES be hatched under inspired chicken vibes and lots

I'm freaking out. TOTALLY! Thanks BUCKETHEAD for a menagerie of everything from the super lame to the super innovative! Please make more crazy weird proggy metal experimental nightmares for nuns! That would make my tail wag like i drank sake (the Japanese drink!) from the doggie pool pool pool pool pool pool poo (stop it, Divine is no longer of this earthly plane, bus or segway)

3

point

5

rounded

DOWN

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 Battle Lines [Aka: Voice Mail] by WETTON, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.56 | 46 ratings

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Battle Lines [Aka: Voice Mail]
John Wetton Prog Related

Review by tvtennis

4 stars The passing of John W. has affected me deeply, so I went back and gave a spin to some of his work, that may have not been on the top of my list over the years. "Battle Lines" turned out to be an unexpected pleasant surprise. Initially released under the name of "Voice Mail" in 1994 in Japan only, it was re-released internationally as Battle Lines with the same musical content but different artwork, and again in 1996 with the additional bonus track: "Battle Lines" (acoustic version). I read an interview w/Ron Nevison in 2015, a famous producer, he was the producer and engineer on this release. Here's a short quote from that interview, on how he felt about the record:

"There were two albums I did in the early '90s that got swallowed up because of Kurt Cobain. One of them was an album with John Wetton that didn't do well. John has a sound. We did a wonderful record, I still believe it is a great album. Those albums never saw the light of day because everybody ran to Seattle. So, there are things that don't work out. I was very disappointed in how those were received. That's what happens in the music business."

Initially I just about dismissed it as a too mainstream effort, especially if you are fan of the famous KC trilogy of albums he was a part of. After a more concentrated effort to actually "listen" to each track, I came to a conclusion that it is not such a bad effort after all. I happen to agree w/the producer on the statement that; John has a sound. Now whether you like it or not, it IS his sound, and as much as we all want him to replicate some of the KC or U.K. that we like soooooo much, we need to accept the fact that it was a certain period coupled w/the input from the rest of the musicians at THAT time.

The musicianship is top notch, given John's standard throughout his career it is hardly a surprise. The personnel on the recordings is quite impressive; Steve Lukather / guitar; Robert Fripp / guitar & devices; Simon Phillips / drums ... just a mention a few.

If you have access to it, give it another chance, you might like it a little more than the first time around.

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 Out Of The Box by MARILLION album cover DVD/Video, 2016
4.04 | 7 ratings

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Out Of The Box
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars I don't know any Progressive Rock bands that have produced about 100th releases in their career. Marillion has done it with all their live releases but excluding the ep, singles, compilations. In this weekend shows, they played the complete "Anoraknophobia" in the disk 1 with some classics. It's a bit of a surprise to choose this one because it is not a "classic" album. There are some excellent songs like "Quartz", "This is the 21st Century" and "If My Heart were a Ball it Would roll..." But there is no better song than one of their most progressive rock and titled-track "This Strange Engine". The music of Marillion became more accessible with the departure of Fish and the songs have often the same progressions starting as a ballad to switch into a full rock mode in the second part, with a beautiful guitar solo from Steve Rothery. The songs in the Hogarth era will never have the same impact as the ones of the first periods, but the band still manage to put some quality music. The second disk is the main event not only because they played the complete and stronger album "Marbles", but because of the stunning visuals with projections, lasers, and light show. We have some great songs here like "Invisible Man", and "Oceans Cloud". The third disk is a set-list of many singles including 40 minutes of the Fish period. So, no surprise and no epics songs. Those songs were played in chronological order and it's a couple of songs from the "Brave" album that sound to me as good as the singles from the Fish era. So this is another triple set of good quality from the band, and if some of past Marillion videos requires only limited viewing, I will put this one a lot more in my player.

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 Persona by MATOS, ALEJANDRO album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.22 | 18 ratings

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Persona
Alejandro Matos Crossover Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Heavy gothic prog

Third studio album by multi-instrumentalist Alejandro Matos, "Persona" is quite daring in the progressive rock landscape, as well as in the artist's discography. The record consists in various heavy, depressive, tortured prog songs, including a few instrumentals, but wearing the clothes of 80's gothic rock / cold-wave. Kind of KING CRIMSON and ANEKDOTEN meet THE CURE and CLAN OF XYMOX. In 2006.

Pretty original and uncommon, the result works very well, creating a special melancholic, somber and claustrophobic atmosphere. Furthermore, the quality of the compositions is homogeneous and the music remains accessible.

This particular ambiance can be perceived from the very beginning of the disc. "Dos mil años de tierra" is a gloomy gothic lament, powerful and touching. The slow "El camino de la mala suerte" and its sinister bass seems like suspended in time, while "La plaza equivocada" is a paranoid and melancholic heavy prog title. The atmosphere is slightly but constantly shifting: mystical cold wave with "La justificación de los nuevos dientes", supported by its saturated guitar and organ, and depression with the piano rock "Pecado de pecar" and its Spanish tone. Longest track of the album, the dark heavy progressive "Guerra de silencios" alternates tortured and calmer passages. Beautiful, but a bit lengthy. The scission between the two halves is made via the spacey ambient interlude "Fracasos bajo fianza", well suited for an horror movie.

The somber eerie "Estatuas de agua" is a nice cold wave ballad turning surprisingly raging. Great! Darkness stays again with the lament "Teléfonos de negro" and its crying guitars, whereas the little jazzy "Gritos de mañana" possesses strange flangered sonorities. Back now to THE CURE's "Pornography" days with the icy gothic "Dormir", one of the best songs of the disc, prolonged by the cold wave and depressive tortured rock of "Las buenas razones del error" and "Maldita persona". Pleasant but a bit repetitive. "Dos mil años menos" concludes the record with a nice 80's-esque heavy prog note and a touching guitar solo.

Despite a few lengthy moments, "Persona" offers a very convincing and uncommon mixture of genres, yet accessible, proving that the "progressive" adjective can be applied to styles of music other than those usually referred to, even if the guitar dominates. The inspiration is present, the atmosphere is unique and the interest remains constant after several listens. Therefore this third opus deserves more attention.

Don't miss it if you enjoy 80's gothic rock, cold wave, as well as dark, melancholic and depressive heavy prog!

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 Return To Ommadawn by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.37 | 115 ratings

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Return To Ommadawn
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by The Jester

4 stars Mike Oldfield is back! You know, the extremely talented musician who recorded some real masterpieces in the past, like Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn, etc. So, after a series of rather unsuccessful albums, (that had nothing to offer really), he decided to surprise us with this new brilliant album! Return to Ommadawn includes two long suites, which brings to memory the vinyl days. One song for each side of the vinyl edition of the album. (Those who grew up with vinyl albums know perfectly well what I'm talking about). So, what we have here, are the two parts of the same suite, both instrumental and beautiful. Mike Oldfield is playing a big variety of instruments, including guitars, piano, bouzouki, banjo, accordion, mandolin, glockenspiel and percussions, among others. There is a strong "essence" of traditional English and Celtic music spread throughout the album, and that is something I think is wonderful, and improves the listening enjoyment. (Well, mine at least). The structure and the changing tunes and motives of these two songs give the impression of different songs, but the truth is that it is always the same song; which keeps coming back to the repeatable main theme every now and then. I don't know about you, but personally speaking I was kind of impressed. And although it is too early, I have the feeling that Return to Ommadawn is going to be one of the albums that will make the difference this year! To those that can appreciate this kind of music at least. If you want my advice, find/buy the album, put it on your device, (PC, CD, vinyl player, or whatever device you use), pour a glass of wine, sit comfortable, and get ready for a beautiful "travel", having Mike Olfield's music as the soundtrack. You will definitely enjoy it! 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.

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 Embalment by WOODEN BABY album cover Studio Album, 1990
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Embalment
Wooden Baby Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars A complete space ritual

Sometimes appearances are misleading. Released one year earlier, "Forbidden Pastures", WOODEN BABY's previous tape, exhibited clear OZRIC TENTACLES influences. Furthermore, for this new cassette, Merv Pepler and Charlie invited two members of the well-known space rock group, the guitarist and leader Ed Wynne and the keyboardist Joie Hinten. So is the side-project turning into a pale copy of its elder brother? Not at all.

"Embalment" is the most personal and varied cassette by WOODEN BABY, as well as one of the strangest and eclectic space rock patchwork ever recorded. In between two decades, still mixing psychedelic / space rock with 80's cold wave and gothic ambiances, the compositions incorporates this time a few pre-techno sonorities that will further developed in the 90's. Therefore, this third opus is the duo's most electronic... but also its rockiest! The track-list consists in an important collection of short and medium-length tracks, including rearranged versions of titles from the previous cassettes, plus two 10 minutes long compositions. As a result, the atmosphere is constantly changing, the listener travels from a space-time location to another. Now open your mind and let the trip begin...

Side 1 is maybe the most eclectic. From the beginning, you know you're in for something special. "Birth" is short introduction to the spacey ethereal "Parallel Vortex", the entrance to a strange unknown quantum universe. Mysterious eerie xylophone bells, esoterism, and then robotic retro-futuristic ambiance... A very fine opening for such cassette! On the opposite, "Impossible Maze" is a HAWKWIND-like song with raging riffs and screaming vocals, however even more aggressive than the space warriors. This is nearly space punk! Nice and punchy, although a little repetitive. Then comes the house / early techno ramshackle "Bath - Scum", which foreshadows what Merv Pepler will be offering with his future band EAT STATIC. Again, cool but too monotonous. "Tammiz I" is a more concise version of the GONG-esque track "The Eyes of Tammuz" from "Forbidden Pastures", whereas "Weeping" is a short enchanting interlude and "Sherbert Lemons", a soothing electronic title in the style of 90's OZRIC TENTACLES. No time to rest, the growing Middle-Eastern-ish saturated pysch jam "It's Only Paranoia" reminds HAWKWIND's "You Shouldn't Do That" at times with its various percussions and sound effects. Truly one of the best tracks of the cassette, "False World" begins with a terrific trippy gothic opening and a catchy futuristic galaxy conquering melody. Mindblowing! This can easily compete with Captain Brock and co.'s best 80's material! More modern, "Flabby Abo" and its digeridoo immerses us in some strange mystical ethnic temple. "Immortal Souls" consists in a dark psyched-out electronic loop, a bit too lengthy, while "Light From A Nebula II" is a rearranged and better balanced version of the cosmic adventure "Light From A Nebula" from WOODEN BABY's first tape, "Stuck In The Mind-Cage".

Side 2 still holds several surprises. The atmospheric "Astral Highways" interlaces a saturated floydian guitar with floating synthesizer patterns. Cool. The Indian female vocalizations samples of "Darjeeling" reminds me ASHRA's minimalistic exercise "Twelve Samples" from "Walkin' the Desert", released one year earlier. However, the rest of the track differs, as it possesses gorgeous bass lines and alternates with cold wave-ish sections. Back to meditation with the slow "Bali Sun", a mysterious ritual mixing Indonesian and Japanese sonorities, and to retro science-fiction with the sequenced "Amniote Egg". Weirdness and fuzzy logic return with the experimental "Hiccup" and its discrete Egyptian theme. Fun but does not justify its 3 minutes duration. "City Of 1000 Suns II" is short piano revisit of "City Of 1000 Suns" from the first tape, whereas "Exorcism I" is a more concise and dynamic rearrangement of the spacey new-wave song "Exorcism of Anu" from "Forbidden Pastures". "Ominous Omness" concludes the short and medium-length tracks collection, its electric violin will let you lost in the depths of the cosmos. Now we can accost the two long ending titles. Fasten your seat belt. "Friday The 13th (Full Moon Fever)" is a rapid space synth metal instrumental jam, displaying an atmosphere à la John Carpenter. Pulsating, frightening, raw, this is like escaping in the dark from an invisible threat. The perfect soundtrack to a 80's horror movie! The cassette finishes with the great energizing "Cocoon (Excerpt)", an incantatory futuristico-mystical theme, deep and mesmerizing. Violin, guitars, keyboards, ethnic instruments, everything is here. A powerful trance and a freaking good conclusion, well suited to end such a stellar patchwork, and completely in opposition with the ethereal ambient opening!

Wow! Despite some lengthy passages, "Embalment" is part of the most original and eclectic psychedelic / space rock releases that offers such a wide and uncommon variety of styles, even more than on "Stuck in the Mind-Cage"! Songs, instrumentals, short, medium, long tracks, space rock/metal/punk, retro-electronic sequences, ambient house, ethnic percussions, violin... A genuine trip into unknown galaxies. The surprise effect remains, while the approached music styles both cover the eighties and unveils future things to come in the nineties.

With its third and unfortunately last tape, WOODEN BABY just gave birth to undoubtedly one of the best space rock recording of the beginning of the 90's, released in a transitional time period when the very genre was about to renew itself with the second psychedelic and electronic revolutions.

Not the one to begin with, nonetheless essential for 80's HAWKWIND and OZRIC TENTACLES lovers!

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