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 The Man With The Child In His Eyes by BUSH, KATE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1978
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The Man With The Child In His Eyes
Kate Bush Prog Related

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars 'The Man With the Child in His Eyes' and 'Moving' are both outtakes from KATE BUSH's debut album The Kick Inside. I don't know in which order the album and its two singles - the other one being naturally the smash hit 'Wuthering Heights' inspired by Emily Bronte's classic novel - were released, but I think I've read somewhere Kate telling how the recording of 'The Man...' was the very first one. She was pretty nervous, and understandably so, with an orchestration backing her ethereal vocal performance. But unlike on some early live broadcast of 'Wuthering Heights' that I've seen on TV, nervousness doesn't show here. This song is among the softest she has ever done. The lyrics are perhaps rather naive, romantic daydreaming of a young introvert girl, but the composition is mature, as well as the arrangement. She was really lucky to work with exactly the right people. And WE the listeners are lucky!

'Moving' has always been among my favourite songs from that debut. She truly sounds like no one else; the dreamy song has a magical, otherworldly atmosphere. Wonderful songs, but five stars are in my principles reserved for singles that contain also a non-album track.

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 We're Only In It For The Money by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.15 | 463 ratings

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We're Only In It For The Money
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Thai Divone

5 stars A full blown attack on our ears and minds. I don't think that there is any other way to describe this work of genius. From the moment it starts, till it's end less than 40 minutes later, this album doesn't slow its pace, downplay its satire or let us stray away from it. It was shocking in the 60s, when it was first released, and it is still shocking today.

Some SFX lead us to the voice of Eric Clapton, asking a girl if she's hung up. Then we hear the technician talking about erasing all the masters, before we get Jimmy Carl Black talking about being the Indian of the group. It's hard to call this track a song, but? It does lay the ground for the things to come.

Who Needs the Peace Corps is where our journey really begins. We follow a hippie, or should we say a generic hippie. He drops out, goes to San Francisco, and buys a wig. The song is quick-paced, and has a great rhythm. The guitar part is great. The style of the song, though, is classic, is normal. But the words are so satirical and brilliant. On third listen and onwards, one starts to identify even more layers in this "simple" song, showing yet again the genius of Zappa. "I will love the police as they kick the [&*!#] out of me on the street".

Then we cut to the Concentration Moon, a slow paced song, lamenting about the freedom lost when one is in the jail. 37 seconds and the pace pick up, and it's a different beast. A hippie dies. The technician and JCB again, and we're back to the slow pace of the beginning. The US is afraid of us, the hippie says before dying.

Then Zappa sings for the parents, who stay for themselves, busy with their jobs, straying away from their children, letting them roam free and kill themselves. Then we get a short phone call, showing us the fear from one's dad, before getting to the next song- Bow Tie Daddy- a happy song about a beating dad.

Then a nice piano leads us to an almost Kinks's like song, or maybe just a Who's song, about the phony-ness of the hippie movement, and then some famous Zappa's SFX, still kept to a minimum.

What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body is another masterpiece, combining three complete songs into a single minute. Some short keyboard riff, then two lines said by Suzy and then Franki Zappa before the song begins, letting us experience the feeling of being on drugs. Or at least, letting us feel like seeing it from the side. It always reminds me a bit of Hendrix combined with the Beatles, but I think that it's just me. The song is yet again a quick travel between so many different musical styles, like a trip around the music industry in 3 minutes and a half.

Anyways, then comes Flower Punk which is a parody of Hendrix's Hey Joe, attacking the music industry and the hippies alike. It's quick and sounds almost like a kid's show taken to the extreme, only with some dirty lyrics and strange musical style. Around the 1:30 mark Zappa breaks loose, and the attack renounces. Screams, voices, SFX, high voices moving way to fast, and Zappa saying completely different things from each side of the sound- system. It's a cacophony, but a way too funny one to be taken seriously, much like the psychedelic music of the time.

Hot Poop is like the opening track, moving in 3 times speed. The second side was opened, and what a side it is. It sounds like all those things that Zappa kept at bay? Well, now they've got their opportunity to go out, enjoy themselves, be free for the first time in forever.

Let's Make the Water Turn Black sounds like a combination of the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, on steroids, with lyrics devoid of any inherent beauty. Zappa screams of their phony-ness. The Idiot Bastard Son continues the line the earlier song started, telling us yet another story before being cut short by the people listening.

Lonely Little Girl is a lament about a deserted girl, for whom her parents don't really care. It goes from being sad to being happy, and then all the way back, traveling through earlier songs, and going KABOOM in the middle. It even gets middle-eastern for a few seconds. And all this attack on the hippies? It all culminates in Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance. Then a reprise for What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body, taken on even greater steroids, before getting to Mother People which is a peculiar and very strange little gem. Here Zappa asks us questions, and throws some nasty words on us, in an almost way too naīve presentation. And after that? We're closing with The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny which sounds something like an avant-garde piece from 1940's Paris, combined with some nasty horror-soundtrack elements and then taken to the extreme. I can't really describe it, but I don't think that I should. It is a track one has to listen to for herself/himself.

And then we're left with a void, alone in the dark, staring at the record, and starting this musical journey all over again. Because the album doesn't end on first listen, nor does it end in the 30th. It just needs more and more time, growing better with each listen, amazing us again and again. So yeah, I don't think that I can give this album any less than 5 stars. It is essential not only for the Prog Fun, or for the historian` it's not essential only for the music lover or for the literature-student. It is one of those records that one just needs to have, to hold dear and true. This record? This one is one of those unique experiences. It just needs a listen. And then a bit more?

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 Suono! by DISTILLERIE DI MALTO album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.33 | 13 ratings

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Suono!
Distillerie di Malto Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

5 stars Formed back in late Eighties in Ortona, in the province of Chieti, yet releasing their debut album in 2001, Italian band Distillerie di Malto return 13 years later in 2013 for the follow-up album `Suono!' The band offer an unpredictable and devil-may-care take on the classic Seventies sound of vintage Italian Prog, especially the schizophrenic quality of the early Banco albums. While all the symphonic prog, psychedelic touches and expected classical theatrical flourishes are accounted for, a welcome wildness and rough-around-the-edges charm runs through the entire disc, a quality that instantly makes it stand apart from many other polished and pristine RPI works of the current era. The band also boasts one of the most charismatic singers of modern RPI in the form of Fabrizio Pelliciaro, whose raspy drawl is incredibly effective and moving. There's plenty of ravishing acoustic/electric interplay throughout the album, the music full of aching beauty with gentle melancholy.

After a magical twinkling of piano and panning dreamy signing harmonies introduction, `Il Guardiano' races back and forth between wild electric sections and thoughtful acoustic passages, often twisting deliciously together. It instantly leaps to life with dazzling piano, sprightly drumming and darting flute, all those usual classic vintage Italian prog trademarks! Singer Fabrizio has a coarse but sympathetic voice that flows between rollicking lively acoustic strums and tasty moments of electric guitar bite, with the band leaping through a rapid-fire range of tempos with a beautiful building drama and sense of urgency. Part one of `Il Suono Seducentre Del Sogno' offers lonely saxophone and synth weirdness with a delicate mysterious shimmering electric piano outro that is simply sublime. `Nemesi' opens playfully with devilish grinding electric guitar twists, loopy synths and puckering bass, but quickly Hammond ripples and heavy grooving riffs give way to a sprinkling of classical piano drama and a wounded croon with moments of Genesis-like regal pomp.

`Rovescia...' is an effortlessly cool instrumental piece, crammed with relentless up-tempo bursts of snarling groovy heavy guitars over forceful synth waves, with a sneaky jazz piano rumination in the middle. `Il Suono...' returns for a second part, with murmuring bass, warm acoustic guitar and a nice serrated quality to the electric guitar throughout. The piano middle is oddly creeping before plenty of back and forth solo duelling between the players. Thirteen minute epic `Lorca E Dali' is the highlight of an already incredible album. The first few minutes drift by in a dreamy haze of delicate piano and floating ethereal synths behind spoken word passages, soothing yet sombre. The piece quickly turns quite deranged and disorientating in the middle, with psychedelic unravelling synth spirals and maddening guitar twists. Peppy colourful bubbling synth runs and scorching triumphant guitar soloing returns the track to uplifting hopefulness to close on. The album then finishes on a brief acoustic guitar/piano ballad `The Sun', strangely sung in English.

Not only does `Suono' offer incredibly strong song-writing and thrilling instrumental arrangements, there's a refreshing leave-it-alone quality to the production that retains many welcome rough edges. While it contains all the theatrical drama and swooning sophistication expected of Italian progressive releases, there are so many moments of dark impossible beauty, a creeping sense of unease lurking throughout the work, giving it some grit and edge. It just may be one of the best modern Italian released of the last few years. Let's hope it doesn't take Distillerie di Malto another thirteen years to deliver their next album, but if the results would be as good as what they've presented on `Suono!', then it would truly be worth the wait!

Five stars for a modern RPI stunner.

Special thanks to Prog Archives member Sagichim who constantly hounded me into getting this title! Better late than never!

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 Bansheeface by PSEUDO/SENTAI album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Bansheeface
Pseudo/Sentai Crossover Prog

Review by Kazza3

3 stars Pseudo/Sentai's latest (and strongest) effort, Bansheeface, continues the band's move towards increasingly captivating and consistent music, and from a homegrown sound to a more professional one. The album is unreleased at the time of writing, but has been made available by the band to reviewers, upon request. The music is modern and schizophrenic at times, and from the point of view of a Mars Volta fan (whose influence on the band is often noted) it seems to marry the heavy guitars/organ/drums dominance of early Volta with smaller amounts of the synths and electronics of late Volta (and late Omar Rodriguez-Lopez solo albums). That's not to say the album sounds overtly like The Mars Volta- the influence is clearly there and the basis behind much of the sound may be similar- but the actual musical content is very different, being usually stranger, more eclectic and wayward, and less epic/anthemic.

The album is divided between major songs and a number of small interludes. The interludes, mostly based on very noisy synths/programmed beats, don't really seem to add a great deal to the album, the most interesting one being the intro track 'Quantum Cardboard'- which, however, doesn't make a great album opener. The synths integrated into the tracks proper are a much more interesting use. There are also ambient/concrete music interludes attached to the end of various tracks (in the style of such interludes on early Volta albums) which feel similarly stuck-on. The real music lies in the full-length songs, from the driving 'Terraformed Transcendence' to the heavy and rhythmic title track and the dark ostinato-based 'Classic Tactics of Xeno'. These are all bombastic, pitting the weight of the rhythm section (drummer Jeff Eber from Dysrhythmia assists a great deal here) against the multiple clever little guitar licks and keyboard flourishes. The frenetic twists and turns of the songs are sometimes too much, with too little to cling onto, leaving tracks feeling inconsistent and uninteresting- on the other hand there are also plenty of great hooks everywhere which really make the album. 'The Holy Metamorphacity' is another top track, and the weird Zeppelinesque ballad 'Black Matter of Machinations', by nature of the style, is one of the most coherent. The closing tracks begin to feel a little overly familiar (even if featuring a great guitar solo). The weakest point is the vocals, which, while mostly very good (and often excellent, especially when sung high and gritty as on 'Terraformed Transcendence' and others), are occasionally weak, unconvincing, or out of tune, a problem not helped by not really being mixed to the foreground, where the music usually demands they be. Additionally the vocals at the beginning of the weakest track 'Immaculation', almost rapped in a comedic style, are an unwelcome addition.

Overall, however, this is a very exciting album, doing a good job of balancing the drive against the flourishes, and of balancing the weirdness against the hooks.

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 III by ANACRUSA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.09 | 4 ratings

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III
Anacrusa Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars For their third album Castineira De Dios and Lagos made a complete lifting to the supporting group of instrumentalists.Only Ruben Izaurralde remained on flute and voices from the previous work and newcomers were Juan Carlos Licari and Ricardo Martinez on percussion, Bruno Pizzamiglio on oboe and Quique Alvarado on bass and synthesizer.They also changed label, releasing the next album on Global Records Argentina in 1975.This has been known as ''Anacrusa III'', although the cover only mention the name of the band.

Anacrusa retain the qualities already presented in their previous albums, the basis of yet another work of the band is a Latin-tinged Folk/Folk Rock and the musicians built around them a slow, gentle and relaxing symphonic approach.It lacks again the edge of an electric content, but the band works as a mini-orchestra with the displayed traditional instruments and the addition of soft drumming, the keyboards and the bass.Chamber Folk would be a good description, the music is centered around the acoustic strings and the omnipersent flute and clarinet, revealing lots of folky tunes, always orchestrated with pastoral, light interplays between the participants.Piano, organ and synths, when added, offer the best moments of the album with extended instrumental parts and good interactions with the flute and clarinet, even delivering an almost jazzy style at specific moments.Vocal tracks are more into traditional Folk Music, more mellow and lyrical, without much of an instrumental excess.But we are talking about pure poetry here and even these piece have plenty of interesting and nostalgic moments to offer.

''III'' is a bit more Folk-oriented compared to ''II'', but still comes as a nice pearl of light Prog Folk.Quite underrated band, featuring great instrumentalists and an extremely gifted female singer.Recommended.

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 Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler by ULVER album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.97 | 100 ratings

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Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler
Ulver Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

5 stars ULVER (Norwegian for 'wolves') has become one of the strangest and most eclectic bands in the universe over their two decade span of releasing albums and that uniqueness begins right here on their debut release BERGTATT - ET EEVENTYR I 5 CAPITLER (Spellbound - A Fairy Tale In 5 Chapters). The first thing you hear is a fast drum roll and then kicks in black metal riffing but what really grabs your attention is the Gregorian chant vocals that accompany it. Eventually the clean vocals give way to the expected raspy shrieks and screams more typical of the second wave but the interplay between the two styles is the basis of this entire album which was inspired by Scandinavian folktales. What's really going on here is two distinct styles of the album taking place. One is in an aggressive black metal style and the other is in an acoustic folk style with the monk-like chanting. These two styles usually trade off with each other but often they coincide with one taking the lead role at any given moment.

The album is actually considered part of the "Black Metal Trilogy"even though the second album lacks the metal part of the equation. In addition to the fusion of styles, ULVER set themselves apart from other black metal bands of the day by focusing their lyrics around myths and fantastical worlds instead of anti-Christianity, national pride or other hateful themes. The folk sections consist of beautiful classical acoustic guitar, cello and flute. The black metal parts pack in all the aggressive fury one would hope for but what really works is how well it is all mixed together and all the trading off of sounds is perfect. Before you know it the album goes by way too fast. A very unique album that obviously influenced later acts such as Agalloch and Deathspell Omega. Despite being lumped into the black metal universe it is clear from one listen to this beautiful beast that ULVER were on their own trajectory and it's one that i'm glad I have finally latched on to. 4.5 rounded up!

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 De-Loused In The Comatorium by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.22 | 969 ratings

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De-Loused In The Comatorium
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by TCat

5 stars This is probably the best place to enter the realm of The Mars Volta. Yes, it's frantic crazy music, but this album is probably the most accessible to the crazy walls of sound that would come later in the albums "Armputecture" and "Bedlam in Goliath". In The Mars Volta music, there is always so much going on and for some people, it just gets so overwhelming. The music takes some time to get used to because there is so much to hear. Some critics said that this album was "a sprawling mess", and if they were saying that about this album, they probably had no hope of ever getting their minds around the other two I mentioned.

This album is a masterpiece and the sound is nailed on it. I don't know how in the world it got so popular because it goes against everything that people were listening to at the time, but I'm so glad that finally a band got the credit and audience that it was deserving of, and the real fans have stuck with them. If only we could get the other great prog bands that are currently out there into public awareness the way TMV did.

But TMV's sound is dense in this album, but not as dense as it would become. This album has all the genius of the later albums, but it is so much easier to digest then what would come later, especially on the first listen. It is full of sound, but the sound is much more organized than it would be later, so if this album doesn't quite penetrate and you don't love this album after three or four listens, then you had probably stop your TMV research at this album. Because it only gets denser.

This is rock orchestration, classical music in rock form. This is the kind of rock that I believe the classical composers could appreciate. This is not easy music, it is well composed and performed flawlessly. It is very manic, but at least the mania is orderly on this album. Buried in the sound is a lot of ethnic-inspired music and layers of beauty. There is a lot of dissonance especially in the guitar and there is a lot of King Crimson (Fripp) influence throughout. This is especially apparent in "Cicatriz ESP" which is the longest track on the album. I love the way they expand on that sound. Vocals and instrumentals are frantic most of the way through the album. But, in future albums, it does tend to get tiring by the time you get to the end of the album, that is not the case with this album because this album is more concerned with dynamics and they are a lot more obvious, which textures the music here a lot better, making it easier to listen to.

I highly recommend this album for any prog lover who wants to explore new prog. This music would go on to further inspire other bands, so it is very influential and in my opinion, essential for your progressive rock collection. It is mostly beyond description and must be experienced, but all prog lovers should at least give it several listens and consider it an important album for all progressive music. Very influential and essential.....5 strong stars. One of the best new progressive albums and bands in existence. It's amazing how they have become such a popular band and I'm so happy that they are....it just proves that people are craving challenging and amazing music.

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 To Be Kind by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.86 | 85 ratings

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To Be Kind
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'To Be Kind' - Swans (68/100)

Before even getting into To Be Kind as a musical work itself, it's an amazement unto itself that people are getting this worked up and divided over a rock album in 2014. Beyond my reservations for Swans' latest (for which I have many) that keep me far from agreeing with the considerable demographic backing it as the 'Album of the Year', I think that's a pretty awe-inspiring thing to see, particularly when the perceived mainstream has long-since declared that 'guitar music is dead'. Oh well, [%*!#] them; in my books they're proven wrong with every new day.

There's a bit of reservation that comes with the mere act of writing about Swans, a band who've amassed a mythology and fanbase willing to go to the graves with them if the need arose. More than that, as an undoubtedly 'experimental' band, Swans have a style and approach entirely to themselves; an antecedent knowledge of drone, post-rock or avant-garde music would do well to prepare a listener for Swans' sonic barrage, but never enough to the point where they wouldn't sound novel in some way. In other words, the only way to have truly been equipped to comfortably approach a new Swans record, would be to have already listened to Swans in the past. At some point in time, the initial discomfort is unavoidable.

I'd dabbled in parts of 2012's The Seer before approaching To Be Kind, but not nearly as much so to call myself experienced, much less a fan of their work. Much like The Seer, To Be Kind is a mammoth two hour investment, with a coy interest in stringing its listeners along the umpteenth degree of excess. Whether musical excess is appealing to you will largely determine your experience of To Be Kind.

I've listened to the album a few times from start to finish now, and while the familiarity certainly helps in appreciating the finer nuances of this maze, each listen makes Swans' excessive qualities less mystifying and a little more irritating. Regardless whether a song here is five or thirty-five minutes, they're usually given a similar amount of central ideas to draw upon. The album's centrepiece "Bring the Sun" has already nurtured some notoriety in this sense; after repeating a single crushing note ad nauseam (a hundred times, maybe?) there is a transgressively slow build in tempo and intensity. From there, indecipherable noise is contrasted with dark ambient soundscapes and sampling. By that point, twenty minutes have passed. The remaining fourteen minutes in the track ("Toussaint L'Ouverture") is an almost Floydian exploration in the "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" tradition; Michael Gira screams French revolution-era slogans atop this, and eventually it reverts to the ear-splitting noise. This is less a criticism of "Bring the Sun / Toussaint L'Ouverture" than it is a blunt description. Even basic accounts of the music here will have a tendency to come across as hyperbole.

Repetition and patience is arguably stretched to an even greater length with the track "Oxygen", barraging the listener with a few dissonant ideas, repeated and blatantly overused. Experiments in excess like the repetition on To Be Kind give the impression that the repetition is used as an end unto itself; where supposedly cutting-edge artists try to 'one-up' their predecessors by getting more extreme in some sense, Swans have taken otherwise palatable and contemporary motifs and overused them to the point where I wonder if enjoyment hasn't given away completely to superficial irritation by the time Swans finally unveil a new idea.

To To Be Kind's credit, each one of the songs here is distinctive. "Screen Shot" is about as accessible as Swans' monotony gets here. "Just a Little Boy" sounds like David Lynch might have conjured with a more expansive set of sounds. "A Little God In My Hands" is a favourite of mine, where the dissonance and excess gives way partially to a playful (though undeniably tense) atmosphere. While the song is far from the album's strong suit, To Be Kind offers a considerably stronger first half. Even then, there are some highlights; "She Loves Us" is probably my favourite track of the whole two hours; a dark psychedelic reconstruction that doesn't seem to get boring in spite of its repetition. The album's title track- capping off the album- is also memorable and, at least relative to Swans' recent output, surprisingly tender. O'course, on most of the other albums you've likely heard this year, "To Be Kind" would stick out like a necrotic, lovelorn thumb for its ominous atmosphere.

Maybe it's unfashionable to say so, but I don't think Swans' songwriting is so impressive, especially not considering the lavish acclaim that's heaped upon them. Rather, any strained appreciation (most often an odd fascination rather than outright enjoyment) I've had for To Be Kind lies in the balls-out bizarre and nuanced way the music is arranged and recorded. The sampled laughter on "Just a Little Boy" never ceases to feel terrifying on the heels of Gira screeching about his vulnerability and humanity (of lack thereof); it gives the impression that some ungodly force is making a mockery of human suffering. An unhindered enjoyment of "Screen Shot" is made difficult by the band's trademark longwindedness, but the calculated manner Gira steadily builds layers of sound is impressive. Even the most violent, visceral portions of the album have been arranged with a master's attention to detail. The noise comes by as a jagged whoosh, but if you listen hard enough, there are plenty of individually things going on at once; it's like pulling back a strip of bark on a rotting tree and seeing a world of life at work below the surface. It's often disgusting and ugly, but there's a sure beauty in the way it all comes together.

Try as I might, To Be Kind doesn't offer up its secrets easily. Decryption has been one thing, but actively enjoying the album is worlds more difficult. Things like Michael Gira's incessant repetition of the opening note on "Bring the Sun" are fascinating as novel experiments in concept, but actually listening to it, the innovation often feels more annoying than sincere. Still, the fact that a single album could stir so many conflicting views in me says something for Swans' power, both as artists and as enduring provocateurs.

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 Momento by BAKERY album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.41 | 15 ratings

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Momento
Bakery Heavy Prog

Review by Lear'sFool

5 stars Yet another lost psych album, and yet another one of such that stands as a masterpiece. Bakery mixed not just light and heavy guitar psych, but also some soft keyboard psych too. The long opening track shows off their range wonderfully. Going forward, they alternate from beautiful softness and rockin' heaviness, both to great effect. Going on through Side One, for instance, "Pete for Jennie" is a nice little piece, while then "Living With A Memory" opens with soft keys, and then breaks into heavy and dense psych with interludes. The singing is wonderful, the keys strange and well played, the guitar is just nailed. Excellent and highly recommended.

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 Kappa by CURTIS AND SAMURAI, MICKEY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 9 ratings

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Kappa
Mickey Curtis And Samurai Heavy Prog

Review by Lear'sFool

5 stars A trip through both light and heavy prog psych, this is an oft forgotten but excellent lost gem of psychedelia's golden years. Mickey Curtis leads his wonderful band to carve new soundscapes and lay down some kickin' tracks. "Trauma" opens the album with a ten minute long journey through both the light and hard aspects of the band's style, in a great instrumental romp. The rest of Side One is a few cut and dry, though well done, bits of hard psych. Side Two is a psych epic through the realm of King Riff, an ever rockin' and mind blowing country. Keys are the hidden weapon here, for while guitar leads and flutes chime in, the keys add extra texture, and then shine brightly in the lands of King Riff. Another excellent hidden treasure from psych, highly recommended to psych and heavy prog fans.

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 Deliverance by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.76 | 706 ratings

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Deliverance
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by TCat

4 stars Typically, Opeth is a study in contrasts, loud contrasted with soft, dirty vocals contrasted with clean vocals. Their best songs have an excellent balance of both. This album is weighted towards the loud, dirty side, but still has it's quieter and clean moments. The reason why the balance is a little out here is this album concentrates on the hard side while the album "Damnation" which was released 5 months later would be weighted very much towards the softer side. Between the two albums, progressive elements reign supreme. However, having an album leaning to the loud side is a little detrimental to the overall sound of the album. But, not enough of a detriment to still not be considered an excellent album. In contrast, Damnation in my opinion is a 5 star album where this one suffers a little at 4 stars.

It's not that I don't like heavy music, I love it. "Blackwater Park" is the better album out of that one and this one and there is plenty of hard music on that album. The part I don't like as much is the growling vocals. Mikael has a beautiful voice when he sings clean vocals, but I just don't get the harsh growling vocals, to me it distracts from the overall music. But the progressive elements of the metal instrumentals is amazing. The music is ever changing, tricky rhythms, dynamism and challenging at times. That is what makes this album worthwhile. To me, this was the first heavy Opeth album I heard and it was only because it came with the set I got that included "Damnation", which I fell in love with immediately, so naturally I listened to this also, and that opened my mind to other tech metal progressive bands, so this album has it's personal value to me. I actually discovered Anathema, Agollach, Ulver and others through this album.

So, it's not the best of their albums, but is one of the better ones. I give it 4 stars. A good way to introduce yourself to Tech metal along with "Damnation"

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 Slav To The Rhythm by FARMERS MARKET album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.50 | 13 ratings

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Slav To The Rhythm
Farmers Market Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Lear'sFool

5 stars Another great album from Norway's great jazz parodists. The particular satiric edge they are most known for, especially on the truly masterful "Surfin' USSR", is mostly gone, but they still have the energy and the open mindedness that are their other hallmarks. So in some ways not as good, or at least as humourous, as their earlier material, but otherwise still excellent. They here add some particularly Asiatic sounds to their usual mix of fusion and Slavic folk to great effect. Their powerful, flawless playing allows for the sound to make their usual entertaining romp through the varied genres they indulge in. The title track and "Shiny Happy Gizmos" are the best tracks amongst a spectacular bunch. Recommended to fans of their earlier work, and anyone interested in crazed genre mixes.

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 10cc by 10CC album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.51 | 47 ratings

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10cc
10cc Prog Related

Review by TCat

5 stars For years, I had convinced myself that I was a huge 10CC fan based on a few songs that I absolutely adored and from hearing this album and "The Original Soundtrack". After finally having gone through all of their albums now several times, I find that the two full albums that I had originally are their best ones, with an honorable mention to "Bloody Tourists". All of the other albums I have finally given up on since I have only found a hand full of songs on them that I find interesting and the rest are just not living up to the original high bar that I had set with the band from the two previously mentioned albums.

So what makes this album one of the two favorites from this band? I love the variety here in the same manner that I love the variety in the best Queen albums. I love all the tweaks that they put in the simple melodies that elevate their pop music to a higher level, that actually begin to give pop music a progressive edge. On this album, most of the music is "sort-of" 50s and 60s style doo-wop and rock n roll, especially in the first 5 tracks, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But, like I said before, they add little bits of ingenuity throughout that keep things interesting. The remainder of the tracks are more 70s pop oriented and all throughout the album, satire and sarcasm abound making it all a big poke of fun at the radio-friendly sounds that were around at the time. The humor is in the words as in "The Hospital Song" and "Sand in My Face". The humor is in the music too as in "Fresh Air for My Mama" which is as sarcastic of a ballad as you can get, so much so that if you are not careful, you might find your eyes welling up until you realize it's just making fun. Same applies to the song "Donna" which is a well sung poke at the simplistic lyrics of old 50s music and the utter silliness of it all, yet it is done so well that you can easily miss the humor of it all and think that it's in all seriousness. Subtle humor exists throughout and so does the subtleness of the progressiveness of the music, careful or you might miss it, which makes it even more enjoyable when you do get it.

Anyway, I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong initially by trying to base my love of this band on only hearing 2 great albums. I should have been more familiar with their discography, but at least I can say that they had 2 masterpieces when it comes to pop-progressive music because if anyone knew how to do it well, it was these guys at least twice, which is more than most pop groups who can't even get close to a 2-star album throughout their entire career. 5 stars. A progressive-pop masterpiece if there ever was one.

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 Discipline by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.10 | 1335 ratings

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Discipline
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by HoldsworthIsGod

5 stars King Crimson, never a band to be predictable, after a six-year hiatus releases a New Wave album? And with the seven billionth lineup? Could this possibly work in their favor? Well, much like Rush's Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures, yes. A resounding yes. With new guitarist/singer Adrian Belew (Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, David Bowie) and bassist/Chapman Stick extraordinaire Tony Levin (later to join up with future Dream Theater members in Liquid Tension Experiment) and longtime members Bill Bruford and Robert Fripp, their sound veers towards a more mainstream, Talking Heads-esque style, with influences from Javanese Gamelan music showing. The opener, "Elephant Talk", fuses go-go finger-tapped basslines with animal noises and alphabetical synonyms for the word "talk". Adrian Belew (one of my favorite guitar players) makes the song entertaining, and sort of comical (working with Frank Zappa will do that to you). "Frame By Frame" follows, with rapid Fripp guitar leads and syncopated rhythms, leading up to a really nice slower section in 7/8. "Matte Kudasai" (Japanese for "please wait") opens with seagull imitations from Belew, which is the vehicle to a ballad. The side ends with "Indiscipline", a heavier song that recalls KC lineups of yore. Side 2 opens with "Thela Hun Ginjeet", a paranoid funk track rivaling anything David Byrne ever wrote. The side concludes with two instrumentals, "The Sheltering Sky" (a reference to the Beat poets that would influence the next album, Beat) and "Discipline" (which is Danny Carey from Tool's favorite track). The album is a relatively easy listen, without many offensive tracks.

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 In The Wake Of Poseidon by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.79 | 1472 ratings

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In The Wake Of Poseidon
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by HoldsworthIsGod

4 stars This album, even though it sounds like a carbon copy of In The Court..., is still a great piece of Prog's more experimental side. The first track, "Peace-A Beginning" opens with a Greg Lake A cappella, portraying himself as wind, and other natural beings. Then, the similarities start: "Pictures Of A City" sounds extremely similar to "21st Century Schizoid Man", right down to the heavy riff and lightning-fast unison playing. "Cadence And Cascade", the only song on the album sung by Gordon Haskell, the vocalist on the next album, Lizard, sounds like another version of "I Talk To The Wind", with its pastoral mellotrons and whatnot. The side-closing title track is a ripoff of "Epitaph", yet with slightly less pretentious lyrics. Then we get another reprise of "Peace", which ends the side for good. Side 2 opens with "Cat Food", a jazz fusion piece in the vein of Frank Zappa's Hot Rats album. I highly recommend listening to the Pressurehed version for a more modern take on the track. Then, "The Devil's Triangle", a rewrite of Gustav Holst's "Mars" from the Planets Suite, does what King Crimson does best: shatters the conventions of songwriting. A sample from "In The Court Of The Crimson King" is inserted over top of the track about 3/4ths of the way into the song, which confused me at first, but then learned was part of a technique called "xenochrony", which Zappa used to effect on songs like "Inca Roads". And to close the album is yet another reprise of "Peace". All in all, it's a great album. If you like to be shocked and surprised by music, this album is for you.

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 Deep by NIACIN album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.51 | 23 ratings

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Deep
Niacin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat

4 stars Niacin is a trio of first rate musicians made up of a keyboardist (organ and piano), bassist and percussionist. Almost every song is instrumental, but there is one exception on this album - track 12 has guest vocalist Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple and guest guitarist Steve Lukather from Toto. The rest of the album is made up of amazing playing and all 3 band regulars are hugely talented. The bass runs rival Geddy Lee, the keyboard solos are right up there with Keith Emerson and the percussion rivals any drummer you can come with including Bill Buford and Carl Palmer. The music can leave your heart pounding when you listen to the technicality going on here. The album is brimming with outstanding solos throughout. There is a lot of jamming going on around the melodies that are apparent on each track. This is amazing listening, for sure and it is definitely progressive jazz/rock fusion, probably relying on the rock side more than the jazz side, but don't worry if you love improvisation because it is all throughout this album.

The main issue I have with it, is that there is not a lot of variety. This would have easily been a 5 star album if there was more variety throughout the album, but as it is, most of the tracks are at the same whirlwind tempo and if you are not paying attention, the tracks seem to meld together. There is an early variation early on the album at the beginning of track 2 with an amazing slow tempo piano solo, but it gets interrupted about halfway through by a return to the same sound evident throughout the album. Another standout here is "Panic Button" which has a bass run that sounds like someone did hit the panic button and the bass is in full-fledged panic mode. With many listens, the melodies start to stand out more, but people looking for variety won't find much of that here. You will find a lot of jamming and top notch musicianship however. But, knowing what the instrumental lineup is, I think you can pretty much imagine how this is going to sound. Organ, bass, drums....quite basic lineup, but every player here is amazing.

This album is probably better in smaller doses because the formulaic playing starts to wear out after about 4 tracks, so 4 tracks at a time is about the recommended dosage for your daily intake of Niacin. So, 4 stars which are awarded because of the musicianship, but know that too much of a good thing can be "too much of a good thing".

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 The Saga by ICE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.24 | 17 ratings

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The Saga
Ice Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars This Dutch band from Monster arose from the ashes of Maryson, when Wim Stolk, who passed away at the age of 60 in 2011, dissolved the project around 2000.Hein van den Brock, Chris van Hoogdalem, Henny van Mourik and Rob Boshuijzen, who were all involved in Maryson. decided to move on under the name of Ice, recruiting Ardie Westdijk on keyboards, formerly of Differences.The band lauched its debut ''The saga'' in 2005, after being signed by Musea Records.

This list of Dutch Neo Prog band seems neverending and Ice is yet another group to labeled as such, they have a clean and often grandiose sound, filled with keyboards and melodic guitars and, like many other Dutch acts of the style, they even throw in some organ lines to offer a kind of old-styled flavor.A bit similar to TIMELOCK, CLIFFHANGER and EGDON HEATH, the long experience of the members in the scene is reflected on a set of well-crafted compositions, based on atmospheric parts, crystalline vocals and odd synth flashing.At moments they even appear to explore a more AOR-spiced sound with striking rhythms and choruses, but for the most of its part ''The saga'' has this bombastic and epic style of modern Symphonic/Neo Prog with the dramatic turns, lyrical demonstration and emphatic musicianship.Speaking of lyrics, these were all written by a sixth hidden member, Rene Sterk.Ice prooved to be masters on creating strong emotional contents with this work, there are lots of changing moods throughout, ranging from melodramatic textures to more optimistic tunes, apparently the music goes the same way, passing from full-blown Neo Prog with symphonic keyboards and blistering guitars to more accesible and easily digested performances.Echoes of MARILLION and PENDRAGON dominate the album, which comes as another fine addition in the catalogue of Dutch Neo Prog.

The band kept it going with live performances over the years and in 2013 Sterk took over the bass duties for good, replacing the departing Henny van Mourik.

Solid Neo Prog with rockin' edges, epic deliveries and dramatic atmospheres.Did not expect anything else by a bunch of Dutch Prog veterans, an easy recommendation to all fans of the style.

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 La pulce d'acqua by BRANDUARDI, ANGELO album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.84 | 18 ratings

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La pulce d'acqua
Angelo Branduardi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars A year passes and a new album comes for Angelo Branduardi, this time it will be 1977 and the title would be ''La pulce d'acqua'' (again on Polydor).The line-up of the album has strong connections to Italian Prog: Maurizio Fabrizio on piano and guitar, ex-Il Paese dei balocchi and Il Rovescio della Medaglia Franco di Sabbatino on keyboards, Roberto Puleo, who plays the bouzouki, was a later member of Murple, drummer Andy Surdi had previously played with Salis.The album was recorded at the studios of Fonit-Cetra in Milano.

Long tracks are pretty rare in Branduardi's discography, so the 7-min. ''Ballo in fa diesis minore'' needs a honorable mention, being a nice collection of modern Classical Music and Mediterrenean Folk sounds, showered by poetic Italian vocals by Branduardi and highlighted by an excellent Bruno De Filippi on ocarina, definitely a good turn by Branduardi regarding his conventional material.The rest of the album is typical of Branduardi's repertoire.Mostly sweet Chamber Folk songs with the standard aura of the Mediterrenean tradition, featuring lots of wind and string sections and the gentle, pastoral acoustics of Branduardi's guitar.The nice opener and the prog-inclined line-up may give hopes for some sort of a different style compared to the previous releases, but I guess 1977 was a hard year to start any musical experiments.The man still keeps a high quality on composition and orchestrations, maybe too many tracks sound like Orchestral Pop ballads in here, but the harmonies are lovely and the execution is flawless.Not much of a progressive content though I am afraid, ''La pulce d'acqua'' is closer to the Italian Singer/Songwriter stylings with elaborate melodies and a heavy acoustic sound leading the way.

I could actually write many lines for Branduardi.He released a ton of albums over the years with a Pop flair, always flavored by his love for Folk and Orchestral Music and adding experimental touches, while participating in many other albums be several artists.One of the charismatic figures of contemporary Italian Music without question.

''La pulce d'acqua'' follows the trends of his 70's steps.Acoustic, semi-orchestrated Folk with imaginative soundscapes and romantic singing.Recommended.

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 Turn It Over by WILLIAMS LIFETIME, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.86 | 12 ratings

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Turn It Over
Tony Williams Lifetime Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Lear'sFool

5 stars Miles wasn't the only cat pioneering fusion. Most notably was the late great jazz drummer Tony Williams, whose Lifetime band formed around him, organist Larry Young, and the up and coming John McLaughlin on guitar, cut two fantastic albums that helped pave the way. This is their masterwork, with Jack Bruce and his bass joining up, fresh out of Cream, to help them unleash an earthquake upon jazz and prog alike. This album just barnstorms, interconnecting tracks into a sonic force that never lets up. Everyone plays their respective instrument hard, fast, and excellently. It's hard to give special kudos to McLaughlin as usual, since Young and Williams play their hearts out, too. The whole first side stands as the better piece, but there's nary anything wrong with this LP. Highly recommended.

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 Surfin' USSR by FARMERS MARKET album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.88 | 7 ratings

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Surfin' USSR
Farmers Market Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Lear'sFool

5 stars One of the greatest discoveries I've made on these Archives. Farmers Market loves mixing all sorts of genres in a fusion framework to hilarious and excellent results, and this is shown here to maximum effect. Here they mix jazz, surf rock, Slavic folk music, and all sorts of other tidbits into a side splitting piece of strange, parodic, and wonderful music. They build off of parodies of the classics of surf rock and Bond themes - notably, of course, the two title tracks, and "Lodtschitze Mini Maritza", which has strings that clearly take off from "You Only Live Twice". The track titles often belie the funny nature of the music, with gems such as "One Day, Son, All I Own Will Still Belong To The State" and "Anyone Who Remembers Vladiwoodstock Wasn't There". The sound revolves from folky to jazzy to rocking all in a single track. Very energetic, too. And all brilliantly played. Just one of the greatest albums of all time, this is a spectacular and humourous romp I recommend to everyone. Serf's up!

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 Good God by GOOD GOD album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.43 | 7 ratings

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Good God
Good God Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Lear'sFool

5 stars Wonderful lost gem of fusion. There's Zeuhl that leans towards fusion, and here is the ever rare fusion that leans towards Zeuhl. This rocks hard, is often very funky, and yet is clearly jazz infused. And our vocalists sing like they're from Kobaia, a very interesting twist to this record. Just listening to the first two tracks gives you a road map for how the album will play out, with "A Murder of Crows" jazz rocking to the fullest, and then "Galorna Gavorna" lays on the funk. Both feature the unique singing style. The whole thing drips of the intersecting of soul, jazz, funk, rock, and disco in the band's native Philadelphia throughout the '70's - another way to describe it, then, is a proggy, rocking take on the whole realm of Sweet Philly. This is just an enjoyable listening experience, bringing all sorts of happy and energetic genres together in a euphoric mix played perfectly. Highly, highly recommended to all fusion and funk fans, and really anyone reading this should try this album out.

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 Between Flesh And Divine  by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.23 | 220 ratings

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Between Flesh And Divine
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

Review by Thai Divone

4 stars Asia Minor is a unique band. It is a small one, not widely known, and this one feels so? I would have said mine, but it is not right. And yet, there is something in their music that is closer to me that many other bands. Perhaps it is the middle-eastern sound, or perhaps it's the way I found them, going through long lists in dark hours, when I had the time, when I was younger than today. But this band, and especially this album, is one of those that shaped me, that made me what and who I am.

If I had to describe their music, it will be a combination of Genesis, Camel and early King Crimson, with the addition of some middle-eastern influences and a great rhythm section. The music is complex, but not too much, feeling a little bit like the connection, the missing link, between Mirage and Moonmadness to Marillion's Jester.

Nightwind opens with a great bass-drums line, accompanied a little bit later by a very nice guitar and keyboards duet. 44 seconds and it starts to change, adding some great solos by the guitars, keyboards and an amazing flute. 1:48 and we're changing again, and around the 2 minutes mark words enter. The song becomes much slower, much calmer. The bridges between the verses are made by some amazing flute lines. 3:40 and we're changing again, getting into shape, moving rhythmically forward. Very Camelish transitions. 4:46 and we're changing again, getting back to a slower pace, moving towards the ending section. It feels grandiose, but so right. The guitars take the lead in this section, and it is just amazing.

Northern Lights opens with some ethereal keyboards, a little bit pastoral, a little bit spacey. Flute enters at 39 seconds. A soft fingerstyle guitar accompanies it all. 2:08 and all is changing, a new musical world enters. Electric Guitars take us through a new journey. And yet, I always feel during those moments the real star is the drummer, who is just mind-blowingly amazing. 3:43 and we're changing to a lot softer section, with vocals entering around the 4:35 mark. 5:14 a guitar-based bridge, and then the vocals return 20 seconds later. A nice guitar solo takes us to the end, playing over a little fingerstyle riff.

Boundless then starts, a short ballad. A little bit simple, yet so very beautiful. Unlike the rest of the songs in here, this one is very classic-rock in terms of structure, with a verse-chorus thing, and a long middle 8 as an outro.

Dedicace, on the other hand, reminds me a little bit of Ashes are Burning in terms of the bass line, but just a little. The flute, though, is unique and amazing. It goes all rock-y at around 1:15, with the drums yet again amazing. 1:54 and we're changing again, transitioning towards a different rock-ish sound. And at 2:48 vocals enter, and they're sung like their on fire. It reminds a little bit of Lady Fantasy. 3:22 and we're changing again, going to a more gentle sound, before picking a different pace at around 3:52. The guitar riff beneath the vocals is no less than brilliant. 5:03 and we're picking the pace again, back to the rock-ish sound, back to the Lady Fantasy like sound. Then it almost too abruptly ends, at around 5:58, leaving us with a lone Hammond note.

Lost in a Dream Yell is so ethereal, starting with some stormy SFX and then going slowly towards strong (but not heavy) notes by the bass accompanied by a great electric guitar lead and a nice keyboards arpeggio. The drums are just precise, making the sounds just when needed, with no beat to waste. 2:20 gives us a new spacey line, before going almost silence for a few seconds. The stage is cleared for the SFX and fingerstyle guitar, only to serve as a background to an amazing flute solo. The drums are soft, and a little bit march-ial. Different instruments share the stage with the flute, each time a different one taking the stage for a few phrases.

Dreadful Memories opens a little bit like the soundtrack for a James Bond movie (or at least, that's what it reminds to me), picking a nice pace before keyboards join around the 49 seconds mark. It's a little bit repetitive, a little bit "not-going-to- anywhere", but after all those great composing achievements, it's nice to get something simple for a change. It is not a great track by itself, but it is the perfect fit for this album.

And so the album ends- perfectly, but way too short. So, is this album an essential addition? I don't think so, but one can't wrong go wrong with this album though. So? 4 stars and a half, rounded down for being non-essential.

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 If 2 by IF album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.79 | 32 ratings

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If 2
If Jazz Rock/Fusion

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

5 stars Released in the same year as their first album in 1970, `If 2' saw English jazz/fusion/rock band If deliver a follow-up album that was just as good, if just a little more instantly approachable than the debut. One of the things that makes this album such a winner is that, in addition to the obviously top-notch musical displays and improvisational skills of the musicians, the band have crafted those elements to a selection of accessible and melodic tunes, without really being any more overly commercial. Soul, psych, funk, jazz and heavy R&B styles are all blended seamlessly with a hard rocking sound, with thrilling instrumental runs carefully executed between strong vocal passages. Oh, and it also happens to groove like a mutha-effer the whole time!!

`Your City is Falling' opens the album in gutsy and up-tempo fashion. A catchy tune sung with bellowing conviction by lead singer J.W Hodgkinson is powered by Dennis Elliott's snappy drumming, John Mealing's nimble Hammond organ ripples and relentless dual saxophone attacks from Dave Quincy and Dick Morrissey. The scathing lyric seem to be condemning watching the city you love change around you, the line "Half religious mockeries that robbed the man who died" is especially vivid, and the repeated exasperated mention of "All the restaurants?" just drives the message home perfectly. The gently melancholic `Sunday Sad' is psychedelic and drowsy, with lovely dreamy flute giving way to Terry Smith's Spanish-style slow-burn guitar solo in the middle that bubbles under and eventually erupts with lusty splintering fire, Jim Richardson's chasing bass stalking the whole time. `Tarmac T. Pirate' (check out the full nonsense title!) is a compact shorter vocal rocker dominated by Hodkinson, but the whole band offering quick little instrumental fills around him throughout.

`I couldn't Write and Tell You' opens the second side, with relentless bass, confident sax blaring and nimble jazzy guitar licks that turn into a psychedelic storm, but a sympathetic heartfelt restrained vocal in the middle over wistful flute is a nice break. `Shadows and Echoes' is a smooth soul ballad, showing that the band was equally convincing on slower, thoughtful numbers as the high energy ones. Reflective flute, lovely harmonies, a warm croon from Hodgkinson and Terry's unexpected nimble-fingered fretboard run in the center is the highlight. `I believe this girl's about to fly...' declares J.W on closer `A Song For Elsa', and fly it damn well does! It's a honking R&B stomper with a roaring vocal, furious propulsive instrumental jamming that alternates with smoky bluesy sax ruminations.

Especially worthwhile is the recent Repertoire Records CD/DVD reissue. Not only is the main album sounding absolutely wonderful, but a short bonus DVD of live vintage footage from 1971 is included. While visually it's fairly average quality, the energy of the live performance from the band is intoxicating, and, not surprising to discover, singer J.W Hodgkinson is a stocky mountain of a man, performing with power and finesse. Several of the tracks from `If 2' are performed, and it's interesting to note just how tightly written they are, as they're not all that different from the studio versions, just with a little added urgency the live environment brings.

Running just over 35 minutes, there's not enough time for any filler material to emerge, as `If 2' races through a range of fusion styles and sounds, expertly played by a bunch of top- notch musicians. It's one of the damn coolest albums in my collection, and just as special to me as If-offshoot Zzebra's second album `Panic', and it never fails to lift my mood. It's been in my collection for some years now, and after dozens upon dozens of listens, it still sounds like sheer musical perfection to my ears!

Five stars.

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 Exlex Beats by KING OF AGOGIK album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Exlex Beats
King of Agogik Neo-Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars KING OF AGOGIK is a project led by Hans Jörg Schmitz, who's primarily a drummer but plays also guitar, bass and keyboards. On this fifth album he's accompanied by guitarist Dago Wilms, bassist Gary Farmer, Erik Vaxjö on Mellotron, Steve Unruh on flute & violin and several other skillful musicians. The whole 77-minute album is instrumental, and exhaustingly full of ideas in a not-too- serious manner. One comparison is the multinational collective CORVUS STONE.

The opener 'Bronto's Navel' is muscular power rock. The first musical citation that I recognize comes at the seam of this track and the next one (a riff from 'Owner of a Lonely Heart'), and the 12- minute rollercoaster ride '11th Sense' is basically a potpourri of (mostly prog / hard rock related?) little allusions. Or so I presume, for I don't recognize all themes. The leaflet's page for the track says "for amusement only", and amusing it is. Schizoid perhaps, but so well done that it works. 'Nomouglea' is sheer beauty of both acoustically oriented, art music flavoured delicacy and more powerful melodic rock.

'The Chasteness', subtitled "Damsel's Love and King's Wrath", keeps shifting quite restlessly between romantic, adventurous and other moods. One thing is becoming clear by now: you don't get bored or sleepy with this album! Also for the sound it's very eclectic, there are polished Neo Prog, retro-sounding Symphonic, biting Hard Rock, gliding Fusion and delicate Art Music elements on this full buffet table. Andrew Marshall (WILLOWGLASS) guests on wonderful 'Sheol'. 'Lick Me' is an aggressive and slightly metallic rock piece, my least fave. The next track is an intelligent bass & drums study featuring Schmitz and Pantelis Petrakakis.

The nearly 23-minute 'Thin As a Skin' would almost on its own compete victoriously against an average prog release. This is full-blooded, complex prog rock to blow your mind. When Steve Unruh's flute joins in, a certain classic group may enter the listener's mind, but hold on... many other colourful sections to make MIKE OLDFIELD jealous follow each other, before quite exactly in the halfway it's revealed why it has such title: here and there come direct citations from JETHRO TULL's Thick As a Brick. Is this parody? I'd rather see it as an hommage, in addition of being totally impressive monumental prog epic.

On the brief closing track H. J. Schmitz plays all the instruments. Oh my, what an album. There are many moments that whisper "five stars" into my ears, but as it's likely that the WOW! factor wears thinner with repeated listenings, four stars will do. Listen to this and be amused & amazed!

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 XXV by PALLAS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.30 | 115 ratings

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XXV
Pallas Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Reduced is the Pink Floydian spaceousness, upped the hard rock guitar. But the end result is not as heavy, pounding bombast in the vein of the recent neo-prog trend (Arena, Pendragon) as you'd expect from some of the reviews. Rather, the tone of the album is dark and bitter. This is still recognizably Pallas, dramatic and slow (for the most part, with perhaps the exception of the end of Crash and Burn where they just grind it away on guitars and synths). My problem with this album is not that's a departure from the Pallas we know and love, and songs are simpler. It's that in half the songs there is little going on. It seems as if music is sacrificed to the story concept here. Sometimes it works, such as on Somewhere in the deep, with its lone slow synths and a mourning vocal, but other times it doesn't. The second part of the album in particular.

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 Lullabies in a car crash by RIIS,BJORN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.05 | 3 ratings

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Lullabies in a car crash
Bjorn Riis Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Bjorn Riis is the lead guitarist for Norwegian prog group Airbag, a band that has definite Pink Floyd tendencies that have been enhanced with a few more current alternative twists. The band has released 3 glorious albums, all having met a respectful audience and some fine overall ratings, certainly spearheaded by Riis and his magical guitar, very much in the same style as legend Dave Gilmour. But being familiar with the group, I can state that Airbag does offer a more contemporary sound, mostly due to Asle Torstrup's vocal tone that finds itself more in league with current sounds than the classic Waters/Gilmour hush. This solo album is an all Riis affair as he handles the guitars, keyboards, bass and vocals, leaving the drums to his Airbag colleague Henrik Fossum. Riis has crafted an album that has similarities to the group sound but is a much mellower affair, more densely atmospheric and personal, with loads of wispy keyboards and more understated guitar soloing.

After a trendsetting and moody intro intuitively titled "A New Day", the album's first cornerstone piece and an absolute highlight is the 10 minute long "Stay Calm", which is perhaps the closest thing to the Airbag style. Entering from the mist are a strummed acoustic guitar and breezy vocals that recall the great Floyd, aided by some floating synths and that classic monotone beat we all know well and love. Lyrically the story is intense and reflective, with echoing voices and fueled by those large guitar slashes that Gilmour is famous for but still done with a great amount of class and reverence. A choir mellotron makes an entrance and decides to stay awhile as Riis unleashes a series of powerful and heartfelt solos. This track has all the makings of a classic piece that should please many a fan.

"Disappear" initiates a more introspective style that verges on the ambient style made famous by Lunatic Soul , though this is more guitar-centric, with various layers of rhythmic arpeggios crisscrossing with tactile magic, using a wide variety of effects and reverb, the sweet voice closer to a gentler version of Steve Wilson (who remains a reference throughout). The details are wondrous, never dull or repetitive and most definitely spiced with some wicked electric runs that scour the skies.

Back to another 10 minute affair with the equally furtive "Out of Reach", a leisurely building epic that has the crystalline axe playing tribute to a brittle voice that is deeply despondent and achingly melancholic. Very gentle, very sentimental as the mellotron buzzes in the background, as he pleads 'still waiting for you to call, out of reach'. Bjorn then looks down at his guitar and then at the "aaaah" mellotron and kicks into gear a mammoth solo, full of pent-up feeling and lots of wah-wah pedal, I mean WOW! The explosive climax is reached and then begins the sweet afterglow, sensations frayed and sensitive, deliberate caresses and feathery touches.

"The Chase" would perhaps indicate a more violent expression of speed and lack of control but this is a suave artist at work, incorporating instead some much needed bombast, a thrilling guitar-driven ride that buzzes and swoons. The mid-section gets very silent and tingling, as if in some hallucinatory trance, not really surprising as Riis likes to infuse some psychedelia into the mix, which means that , of course, the mood reverts to the initial intensity, howling synths blowing in the background and the guitars daring to riff and riff hard. What a surprise as the piece ends in serene tranquility. Brilliant!

So as to illustrate the constant sense of creativity, a synthesized electric piano colors the opening moments of the title track, the longest one here clocking in over 13 minutes. "Breathe slowly now and don't be afraid, lay down and rest your head, it's over now". Yup, that about sums it up, a kaleidoscope of emotions wrapped in a soporific glaze, enhanced by a moving chorus full of emotion and wanting. And then, you guessed it, the delicious guitar moves in for the kill, a bluesy scrambling of notes that intends only to instill goose bumps. Again the massive mellotron and the whooshing synths wail in the background giving Bjorn all the impetus to rage on his instrument. Halfway through, barely audible police sirens announce some unforeseen tragedy, you suddenly realize that the subject matters is pretty gruesome, that out of body experience one can experience in a car accident , when there is that brief moment when you ask yourself, Am I still alive? Am I still breathing? The lullaby carries you to the answer that fate has decided. After all, the line between life and death is a thin and precious one.

On first glance, this is perfect late night music, ideal atmosphere for just relaxing and getting ready for some eventual dreaming. But do not be alarmed, it's very intense, fiery and quite volcanic stuff. It also delves into much stronger emotions than one would expect. That is the mark of a creative mind. Bravo Bjorn!

4.5 automotive serenades

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 Bilateral by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.93 | 315 ratings

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Bilateral
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by aglasshouse

5 stars "Bilateral" is the second studio album by the Norwegian metal act Leprous.

I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of the progressive metal genre. There is just something about it that I can't really explain, it just prevents me from really getting into it.

However, I love everything about this band.

Unlike other bands (which I can express some sort of distaste for), this band has done nothing that I really dislike. In fact, most of their releases are perfect, especially this and their most recent album, "Coal". I know a ton of people really like "Tall Poppy Syndrome", but honestly the album didn't really affect me as much as "Bilateral". It could be from the fact that the track 'Acquired Taste' was the first piece of music I heard from the band. I instantly fell in love with it and it's parent album.

One of the things I love about Leprous is the way they can shift and change their music in such a creative way, that their more unique than most bands I can name. This album really expresses that.

While most Leprous tracks are seven to eight minutes, the tracks on "Bilateral" range from three minutes to six minutes. I feel that instead of having an entire album dedicated to long epics, short(er) songs give way for more creative input. Each track has more time put into it and less filler to take up space on it. Even when they do have a longer track on this album, it is done well. The longest track, 'Forced Entry', is pretty great in the way of vocals and instrumental value. Two great songs that are favorites of mine are the previously mentioned 'Acquired Taste', and the titled track 'Bilateral'. Both are great songs and I highly recommend them for anyone wanting to get into Leprous.

One thing I'm totally thankful for is the removal of the constant screaming that was highly present in "Tall Poppy Syndrome", along with now absent organ. Now it's in the right place and actually sounds good.

Anyways, I totally recommend either this for anyone who wants to listen to a great progressive metal band like Leprous.

Go give it a listen.

(Originally written for the Metal Music Archives on 2014-10-22)

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 Stadaconé by SLOCHE album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.33 | 92 ratings

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Stadaconé
Sloche Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by HoldsworthIsGod

5 stars In general, this album is like a more listenable Mr Bungle album that was released 15 years too early, and by Canadians, no less. Sloche leaves the Yes-influenced tracks from the previous album by the wayside, in favor for what I would call bipolar Dadaist jazz funk. On tracks like "Il Faut Sauver Barbara", the band coasts effortlessly from every idiom of Prog possible: an intro that has the harmonic sensibilities of a Canterbury scene artist like Gilgamesh, Pink Floyd-esque phase-shifted and Leslie guitars, and sonic hijacking a la Frank Zappa or King Crimson. Songs like the title track or "Ad Hoc" show that the band can groove like there's no tomorrow. All in all, I can't really find a weak track, except for "Le Cosmophile" possibly. There aren't many bad things I can say about this album at all. A band with TWO keyboardist deserves a five-star rating

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 A Tower Of Silence by ANUBIS album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.17 | 363 ratings

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A Tower Of Silence
Anubis Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Sydney, Australia neo-proggers ANUBIS were formed with only the intention to fulfil the desire to construct a tribute album for the memory of a lost friend killed in an untimely accident. The result of this grief channeled into creativity yielded their debut album "230503." The album was a success in the niche world of progressive rock but after making such a beautiful album just so rich with magnificent melodies and creative constructs just dripping with originality what do you do when the music is still oozing out of every pore of your body? Well, make an another album of course! And that's exactly what ANUBIS did. A TOWER OF SILENCE is their second album released in 2011 and as it turns out a very good move for this album is every bit as engaging and brilliant as the debut proving that this band was more than a mere one shot.

Apparently obsessed with death and the afterlife the theme of this album is about literal and symbolic limbo, about being trapped between dimensions in the spirit world and in the physical realm. This is a story of a girl who died in the 19th century and is summoned by a group of teens who perform a séance in one of the rooms of an abandoned workhouse where she lived. A mega-concept that truly tackles many a social woe such as social division, alienation and most importantly the mighty unknown. As with the debut album the story is just icing on the cake since the musical compositions are outstanding enough in their own right to keep the listener engaged for the 72:16 playing time developing long drawn out meandering melodies that manage to wrest all the corresponding emotional reactions from the listener.

Although this album could be accused being more of the same started on the debut, I have to say YAY! Such a good album it was that another of the same is just what the doctor ordered :) ANUBIS managed to steer the Genesis inspired neo-prog sound into fresh and fertile pastures incorporating everything from Pink Floyd like space rock to hard metallic rockers with crazy proggy time signatures. While generically being lumped into the neo-prog world this band takes the category and really stretches to the point where it is really hard to classify it as being in any particular subgenre by including a gazillion different sounds including sax solos, flutes and clarinets resulting in an eclectic mix that has a knack for throwing in everything but the kitchen sink and succeeds to smoothly mix and mingle opposing forces without anything feeling unnatural. Although I like the debut just a smidge better because I feel the ending on this one drags just a wee bit I cannot deny the overall awesomeness of this second creation and ranks so close that i'll just call it a tie.

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 Fantasizer! by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.99 | 27 ratings

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Fantasizer!
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Raff
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars In the almost ten years I have spent reviewing progressive rock albums of every subgenre, I have come across my share of "solo pilot" albums: that is, projects written and performed by an artist without any outside help. Modern technology has made it increasingly easy for anyone with the know-how to record and release their own music, or even to collaborate with other musicians at a distance without ever meeting each other face to face. Unfortunately, the result of such endeavours is often unsatisfactory for a number of reasons.

However, in spite of the hundreds of technically impeccable but ultimately soulless one-man projects released every year under the expansive "prog" umbrella, there are some refreshing exceptions to be found, and one of them is Toronto multi-instrumentalist Dean Watson. I first met him here on ProgArchives, back in 2010, when he had just released his debut album, "Unsettled". Since I had more time on my hands than I have now, I offered to review it, and found a lot to like in the album, in spite of some flaws, such as the recourse to programmed drums. On the other hand, Watson's sophomore effort, 2012's "Imposing Elements", marked an impressive step forward for the Canadian artist: firmly rooted in the progressive jazz-rock tradition inaugurated by seminal albums such as Jeff Beck's "Blow by Blow" or Billy Cobham's "Spectrum" (not to mention the work of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever), it displayed an effortlessly natural flow that belied its "solo pilot" origins. Many of these features can also be found on Watson's third album, "Fantasizer!", released in May 2014.

Slightly longer than either of its predecessors at about 58 minutes, "Fantasizer!" continues the tradition of Watson's collaboration with Toronto visual artist Ron Eady, which this time focuses on a faintly disquieting, yet oddly riveting human face rather than the Gothic-tinged industrial landscapes that graced the covers of his first two albums. The compositions have also become more ambitious, with one track (the intriguingly named "Caged Creator") clocking in at over 11 minutes. Like Watson's debut, Fantasizer! occasionally treads paths familiar to fans of Liquid Tension Experiment and Derek Sherinian's Planet X - influences that are especially evident in the title-track's high-energy moments. The clear, crisp sound quality brings out each instrument in detail, making the most of the rich keyboard layers that form the foundation of Watson's music, and their exhilarating duels with an electric guitar in full flight.

The presence of the piano (a notable addition to the already lush instrumentation) adds a note of stately elegance to those compositions that privilege mood-building rather than adrenalin, such as the mesmerizingly intricate "Freak". Heady mellotron washes mesh with electric piano and synth in the sparse, atmospheric first half of "Nomad" before bass and synth take the lead in coolly sauntering fashion. "Linear Tendency" throws jaunty marimba into the mix, with a bright, sunny feel that introduces one of Watson's finest turns on the six strings. Conversely, "Caged Creator" starts out in a gentle, almost unassuming way, before developing into a vibrant, yet highly cohesive jazz-rock epic that juxtaposes liquid piano and marimba with emotional lead guitar, a sprinkling of heavier-edged riffs, and majestic keyboard soundscapes. Then, at the album's very end, the subdued piano piece "Solemn" shows Watson's skill in creating a wide range of moods.

Dean Watson is a very gifted, very talented musician whose work deserves as much exposure as it can get. Therefore, I cannot but wholeheartedly recommend "Fantasizer!" - easily the most mature of an excellent trio of albums - to all fans of instrumental progressive rock, especially of the jazz-rock persuasion. It is a pity that we will very probably never get to see any of those compositions performed on stage, where I am sure they would sound even more impressive than they do on CD.

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 Showbiz by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.16 | 191 ratings

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Showbiz
Muse Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars SHOWBIZ is the debut album by indie / alternative rockers MUSE who managed to learn their craft of multi-genre fusion right on their first album. Actually these songs go back a few years and many of them appear on the first two EP s, but here they find a home on a full length album delivering an astounding array of influences and vocalist / guitarist / songwriter mainman Matt Bellamy pulling off his best Radiohead meets U2 vocal performances. Right on the very first track we hear some classical piano snippets that make up little rhythmic packets signifying a long lasting relationship with artists like Chopin in their mostly indie rock structured songs with a highly developed melodic catchiness absent from many acts in that particular branch of rock. Although MUSE is accused of ripping off Radiohead in many ways but especially in the vocal department I would have to slightly agree but really MUSE incorporate a million more influences than Radiohead's non-chalant space folk rock ever did. Matt Bellamy to me sounds like he took the Thom Yorke approach and infused it with a more passionate Bono style that can leave you instantly loving or hating this band. The comparison with Radiohead wasn't helped by the fact the producer of SHOWBIZ also worked on "The Bends."

MUSE is simply willing to try out anything and no influence is too strange or eclectic to throw in when it works. On the title track for example it sounds like Native American drumming that ushers in one of their punky alternative noise rockers as well as ending it, "Uno" starts off with some electronic noise followed by a tango bass line that is the backbone of the track creating a super catchy lead single that was well received in the UK. Although the influences aren't always as well woven together as they would be on the next few albums, this debut album is a lot better than I initially thought it would be coming to it after the following ones. The passionate delivery both vocally and instrumentally is in full force and so are the well written pop sensibilities incorporated into every track. I can easily listen to this entire album time and time again without skipping a single track. MUSE are masters of variety and that is not absent here. There are rockers and ballads. Angry outbursts, tender passages and lots of noise and myriad influences lurking beneath the surface. Overall a great start for this band who may shamelessly plunder the vaults of the sonic temples but at least they achieve interesting results in the end. 3.5 stars rounded up

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 Disobbedisco! by IANVA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.25 | 5 ratings

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Disobbedisco!
Ianva Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars ''La ballata dell'ardito'' served more or less as a small taste of Ianva's full-lenght debut ''Disobbedisco!'', which was released in early 2006.It was a concept work, based on the romantic story between Cesare Renzi and Elettra Stavros.A book by Gabriele D'Annunzio is said to be the source of inspiration and the original flame, that has given birth to this album.

This is some very interesting Art Rock/Folk effort, trying to travel the listener to the 1920's-30's era with the use of cinematic echoes, traditional tunes and acoustic images, the concept is quite strong and the dominant use of the Italian language is a helping factor without question.Ianva's music is based on monster brass sections, lots of acoustic piano and constant use of accordion next to the usual suspects, drums, electric guitar and bass.I guess that a hell of Italian singer/songwriters like LUCIANO BATTISTI or ANGELO BRANDUARDI have influenced the group, while there are also elements from pastoral and lyrical Italian Prog present in the album.Alternation between operatic, clean or poetic male and female vocals secure the nostalgic additude of the band and the sound finds them walking through the first half of 1900 with Cabaret Music and Folk being two of the more obvious aspects of their music, which has a strong sense of harmonic parts and vintage Film Score-like vibes.A couple of tracks remind me a bit of Psych/Prog bands like FORMULA 3 or FABIO CELI E GLI INFERMIERI with Ianva displaying a mood for orchestral arrangements over a solid rhythm section and the always emphatic Italian lyricism.

A genuine mix of Neofolk, lyrical Italian Prog and Pop.Pushing the ''cinematic'' definition of music to the edges and highlighted by intelligent arrangements and romantic Italian poetry.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Parts by BRAINBOX album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.16 | 6 ratings

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Parts
Brainbox Proto-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars Late-60's Dutch band, the history of which is more interesting than its links to Prog Rock.Polish singer/guitarist Kazimierz Lux, winner of a talent scouting competition, asked guitarist Jan Akkerman and drummer Pierre van der Linden to form a group, after playing together in a studio, gathered by the Bovema label for the sessions of an upcoming Lux demo.They were joined by bassist Andre Reynen and released a nice little Heavy/Blues Rock album in 1969.Soon Akkerman was forced to leave the band, after jamming with one Thijs van Leer.The two formed Focus and Akkerman brought van der Linden along.Conflicts with the manager and several line-up changes led to a complete lifting around 1971, when Lux and Reynen left Brainbox, dissapointed by the situation.The new formation now was Robert Verwey on bass, organ, piano, ex-Ekseption Michel Van Dijk on vocals, flute, Ron Meyjes on guitar, harmonica and Frans Smit on drums.Second Brainbox album comes in 1972 on Harvest under the name ''Parts''.

Some sort of early Renaissance case with no original members found in the line-up, the new-born Brainbox recorded the most progressive of the two Brainbox releases, not because of its complexity or groundbreaking sound, but mainly due to the mass of diverse paths explored by the new musicians.But here come also the first clouds with the sound leading actually to nowhere despite the decent compositions, too many flexible twists are present here and the several line-up shakes led eventually to a confusing sound.The opening side sounds a bit more consistent, having always a Psychedelic Rock basis and breaking occasionally into the territories of Blues, Folk and Pop, reminding a bit of premature YES with all these electroacoustic lines, light organ and multiple vocal moments, the songwriting is cool, but the material is far from compelling.Then comes the chaos of the flipside, which is a bit more intricate progressively speaking, but fails to deliver a trully adventurous sound.Opening with Verwey's interesting piano work with jazzy and Classical leanings, passing through a monstrous Heavy/Psych Rock style with Proto-Metal touches and a combination of furious guitars with harmonica and then giving space to an organ-driven Psych Rock, fading in the sake of Frans Smit's long and needless drum solo.''When I was poor'' is a lovely closing effort with again some early YES vibes in the guitar parts and excellent, melodic vocals and solos, fine piece, but not great enough to save the day.

Brainbox disbanded not long enough after the album was released with Michel van Dijk joining Alquin.Lux followed a personal career from 1971 and on and teamed up again with Akkerman for a couple of albums from mid- to late-70's.Brainbox reunited in early-80s with Lux, Reynen and van der Linden all on board for some lives and folded again in 1984.Another attempt was launched in 2003 by Lux and van Der Linden, releasing a live work, and this formation lasted for a couple of years as well.

''Parts'' should be seen as a document of a historical band, which comprised of some of the best Dutch Prog Rock musicians at its early days, but fails to be awarded as a serious attempt on Prog Rock.This is flat, melodic Psych Rock with proggy and heavy springles, well-played, but far from extraordinary...2.5 stars.

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 Preternaturals by GRUMBLING FUR album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Preternaturals
Grumbling Fur Krautrock

Review by Lear'sFool

4 stars Another indietronic band hearkening back to krautrock and the Berlin School, Grumbling Fur have here a very good set of tracks. Their style is firmly rooted in modern indietronic mores, but they pull various tricks and ideas, mainly and especially complexity, from the early German pioneers. The result is The Postal Service meets Klaus Schulze. We are left with a few tracks of ambient leaning electronica done in a rather proggy and indiecentric fashion, and it sounds great. For instance "Secrets of The Earth" is your usual indietronic track, but now with the spirit of Tangerine Dream on the mind. This is more an indietronic fan's dream, but prog electronic fans could find something to really love here too.

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 One Day A New Horizon by PROTOS album cover Studio Album, 1982
4.00 | 5 ratings

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One Day A New Horizon
Protos Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars 1982, two years before the 'Armageddon' that never happened! Lost amid the putrid dysfunction and social apathy where 3 million are unemployed in the UK, conveniently camouflaged by the Falklands war, the Red Brigades kidnapping of American general, the birth of the very first computer virus (The Elk Cloner) , the Unabomber strikes , racer Gilles Villeneuve dies, 'ET' comes to town and then goes home, Sabra/Shatila and many more events, Time's Man of the Year was the computer! And in the midst of another wide turn in modern evolution, the world of music relied on Jackson's Thriller, Madonna's first single and Abba was at its zenith. Prog relied on the ultra-commercial debut of Asia, but Marillion and IQ would only show up the next year, signalling the rebirth of prog. Things were very bleak and yet, we discover this hidden masterpiece, almost 32 years later! Treasure hunting indeed, as this is not only good, it's phenomenal! As far as instrumental albums with exemplary playing, I have rarely heard anything as shimmering as this jewel: everything is first rate class, from Rory Ridley-Duff majestic keyboards that span the entire analog spectrum, to guitarist Steve Anscombe's slippery guitar style, a delicious mix of Steve Hillage and Bacamarte's Mario Neto and finally some real tight bass and drum combinations , this is a finely chiseled gem , a particular focus is on writing blooming melodies, groups of notes that have a meaning and a purpose, in an overtly symphonic configuration.

"The Fugitive" instantly reminds of some soundtrack movie, with the obligatory chase scene, full of ebbs and flows, pastoral landscapes that glow with sonic maturity, a vibrant 9 minute canvas of picturesque horizons and fragrant details, a lush opener to a masterful opus. Guitarist Anscombe often parallels the synth lines as well as exploding into liquid lead forays that exude both charm and elegance. He has a soft spot for the volume pedal which can evoke the '3 Steves' (Hackett, Howe, Hillage). Yes, the keyboards have that 80s synthetic sound, as if wrapped in some delicate veneer, not cheesy at all but instantly recognizable as a period sound. The playing is truly superb, jubilantly romantic one second and pastoral refreshing the next.

Never before has a title been as accurate as this, "Thing of Beauty" is precisely that! A resounding synth melody that will sear into your brain permanently, I have been humming this uncontrollably lately, as well as pressing the replay button like some test monkey! Crystalline and heavenly, the only negative is that it's too short, could have gone on for another 7 minutes but, hey, no worries, the follow up tracks are all sheer delights!

"The Maiden" shows her age, a typical 80s melody, a jangly theme that weaves, wanders and wastes little time in impressing, Neil Goldsmith's drumming being hyperactive and resolute. The instrumental technique displayed is both complex and ear friendly, sounding like a variation of Genesis' Wind and Wuthering album, especially the non-vocal tracks.

Sleek and immediate, "Panamor" has a bass keyboard melody that gives it a modern sheen, with Anscombe entwining some nice string patterns a la Ant Phillips , providing the ideal setting for Ridley-Duff to caress his synthesizer with loving tenderness. Another fascinating piece that is compelling listening.

The brief "Hunting Extremely Large Animals" suggests another glittering Tony Banks-like keyboard piece, the synths blazing brightly as the drums keep the mood tight and athletic. This serves as a perfect intro for the irresistible epic, the near 10 minute long "New Horizons/Protos" suite, a celestial platform for Ridley-Duff to show all his skills, merging a whole series of melodies and intertwining them skillfully. His piano work in particular has that Wakemanesque quality of speed, elegance and a classical touch that is hard to challenge. Guitarist Anscombe definitely recalls the great Anthony Phillips in combining both acoustic and electric into the mix, flashing a few glittering solos in the process and always at the service of the glorious keyboard onslaught. Dynamic and cinematographic, the arrangement is never dull or directionless, quite the opposite effect is expressed, again with great style and 'delicatesse'. Truly grandiose stuff that needs an appreciative audience.

This 2006 rerelease offers two bonus tracks, with a different crew in Nigel Rippon on guitars, keys and Ian Carnagie on keys, bass. The brief "The Flea" and the slightly longer and more classically constructed "Variations on a Theme?" really does not alter the sound, still clearly in the Oldfield/ The Enid school of Brit sympho-prog.

The shocker is the fact that this delightful album has gone unnoticed and unloved for so long, as it represents the archetypical treasure that fans constantly seek to search out, far beyond all the big prog classics. A major discovery that is thanks to our own Apostolis, whose vivid descriptions brought this to my attention.

4.5 fresh skylines

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 Castaways and Cutouts by DECEMBERISTS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.59 | 40 ratings

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Castaways and Cutouts
The Decemberists Prog Folk

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The darlings of the West Coast coffeehouse crowd were already stretching their boundaries on the band's debut album, adding a measure of faux-English eccentricity and mock-antique charm to their otherwise undemanding Indie Rock sound.

Head Decemberist Colin Meloy would still occasionally gravitate toward that lucrative hit single, in lightweight pop songs like "July, July". But those natural commercial instincts were matched against some equally inborn quasi-Prog ambitions, best heard in the shifting moods and unexpected tempos of "Odalisque", and throughout the too-relaxed, ten-minute mini- epic "California One / Youth and Beauty Brigade", both songs enriched by the vintage '70s echo of Jenny Conlee's Hammond organ.

And the band's fixation with dire Victorian tragedy was given a trial airing in the (literally) haunted "Leslie Anne Levine", sung by the restless shade of a young girl "...born at nine and dead at noon". Even more instructive, and likewise resembling an Edward Gorey illustration brought to musical life, is the tongue-in-cheek moral of "A Cautionary Song", about a destitute London mother selling her body at night to feed her children by day...not your typical FM radio fodder, in other words.

Meloy enjoys a reputation as one of the more literate songsmiths ever to stroke an acoustic guitar, ready at the drop of a stove-pipe hat to assemble yet another motley cast of playful historical archetypes: countesses, courtesans, and crooked French Canadians gut-shot while running gin. His narrative whimsy extends here from Beacon Street to Birkenau to "Grace Cathedral Hill" in San Francisco (that's actually Nob Hill, Mr. "I'm from Montana" Meloy...), all more or less typical destinations along the author's usual 18th century musical Grand Tour. Name another lyricist able to put himself into the threadbare shoes of a soldier in desert French Algeria, allowing for the serendipitous rhyming of Legionnaire with dreams of a Frigidaire?

Meloy is of course the band's principal singer and sole composer. But it's the accordion work of Jenny Conlee, combined with Nate Query's acoustic upright bass, that gives the music its character. Better efforts would be forthcoming, but this initial album was a remarkably fresh and assured first outing.

Hipster postscript: the album's credits list a "sound clip from Archangel', a film by Guy Maddin" (you'll hear it, barely, in the song "California One"). Anyone familiar with the cult Winnipeg director will understand the attraction of his movies to a melodramatic fabulist like Meloy. The 1990 feature borrows is peculiar aesthetic from the primitive histrionics of the late silent / early sound era, in a convoluted tale of amnesia, lost love, and the Russian Revolution. At one point a dying character uses his own intestines to strangle the Bolshevik barbarian who just disemboweled him: a scene that must have left a deep impression on young Colin...

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 Puzzle by MANDRAKE MEMORIAL, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.49 | 10 ratings

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Puzzle
The Mandrake Memorial Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Musicislove

4 stars I discovered this album completely by accident. I heard their version of "Something in the Air" by Thunderclap Newman and fell in love with it, and THEN I downloaded the entire album. This album sneaks up on you. It may not be immediate gratification. It was while listening one day with the music in the background, that the melody and words of "Tadpole" caused me to listen closer. The orchestration and production is second to none, but one must be relaxed while listening, not even focusing on the music in order to truly enjoy it, that is when the mystery reveals itself. It is not active listening, but passive, that is when the magic comes out. My only question was "How come I didn't know about them sooner?" This album is one that needs to be listened in it's entirety from beginning to end. A remarkable work equal to other well known artists at the same time. What makes it so great is that they are relatively unknown. I didn't learn about them until I was in my 40's. It is an album that be included in any Progressive rock archive, right next to King Crimson, Caravan, and Amon Duul II.

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 Landmass by ROACH, STEVE album cover Live, 2008
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Landmass
Steve Roach Progressive Electronic

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

— First review of this album —
4 stars A pioneering 80's electronic artist of subtle depth and great variety, Steve Roach has released a steady stream of albums in various ambient styles for almost forty years now. Recorded live in April 2007 on the Star's End radio station in the WXPN Studios in Philadelphia, 2008's `Landmass' encompasses many facets of his instantly recognizable sounds and signature electronic styles, moving through a wide range of emotions and moods. The music is a continuous, constantly evolving sonic landscape, where the past and future come together, nature and the Earth weaving with futuristic electronics, and it makes for a hypnotic and immersive experience, a near 70 minute journey through an ever- changing ambient expanse.

Starting gently, carefully progressing synth washes trickle like a calm running stream, water moving all around you, feeling the cool lap at your fingertips. Crystalline loops glisten away, moving in unison with the faintest of bass beats gently murmuring along the background to lull you into a state of serenity. Clouds form overhead with the arrival of droning almost cinematic synths, taking on a panning overhead presence throughout `Cerulean Blue Sky...'. Unobtrusive loops beat like a secret dance, taking on a near manic quality yet never becoming overwhelming. Sudden sweeping dramatic surges strike and retreat like black shadowy tendrils snaking across the earth, until a soothing electronic pool washes them away over chirping sounds of nature, returning a sense of peace. Beats vanish as near silence takes you from all your stress, fear and unhappiness throughout `Monuments of Memory', as placid waves unwind forwards offer comforting reassurance, and a sense of being reborn in body and mind.

Groaning formless pitch-black drones threaten to shatter that sense of tranquillity during `Alluvial Plain', a sensation of suffocating unease permeating all around. It's like being locked in a cave with only the tiniest pinprick of light to offer hope, that one glimmer like a little teasing betrayal as it's consumed by the dark. `Trancemigration' quickly rolls away the stone to flood the shadows with salvation light, unfurling synths revealing a new world full of promise. Lively beats return and thrum with life, pattering like trickling little raindrops. The album closes on `Stars Begin', the most abstract and minimalist piece here, much more of a sound collage where long stretches of near-silence are still full of purpose. It's like hearing the dawn of creation, where the tiniest moments are ready to explode with potential.

It pays to listen to this album with headphones to ensure you hear all the subtle pulses, tiny percussive beats and careful consideration Mr Roach has woven throughout the music. Those who find some forms of electronic music too uneventful may respond to this one more favourably, as there's plenty of movement, diversity and greater use of sequencer elements, something the artist moved away from as his work developed and matured long ago. Steve Roach is the master of these sort of releases, and listeners who want an electronic/ambient release that is immersive and highly emotional with plenty of variety should investigate `Landmass' right away.

Four stars.

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 Canti d'innocenza, Canti d'esperienza... by IBIS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.28 | 29 ratings

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Canti d'innocenza, Canti d'esperienza...
Ibis Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Some time had passed since I last listened to this album. I had nearly forgotten how great it is. I suppose most people look to the second album, Sun supreme, if one one is to go by yhe number of ratings, but I think this one is as equally (or more) interesting. Like their fellow countrymen New Trolls Ibis performs a jazzy, classically infused hard prog that to me is very urgent and potent.

So, when the time had passed and many moons gone by I reconnected with this album, one morning on my way to work through a snowy Stockholm. It hadn't gone more than a few notes into the first track before I came to realize just how good this album really is. The blend of jazz, classical and furious hard rock is really a treat. The hard rock of the album is more prominent but the inclusion of said genres makes it an interesting listen. I sometimes think there are similarities to Rovescio Della Medaglia's Contaminazione, only more leaning towards hard rock and less of the classical bits.

The opening track "Innocenza esperienza" is classic hard rock/prog with a great drive, riff and lots of energy. The vocals are soaring and sort of takes my breath away. Very classy!

"Signorina Carolina" has a calm opening leading into a classical piece played on the piano in the middle. A very impressive piece at that. It all ends wiith a hard rock section. Then there's the respite, "Simona" which is a short ballad. Quite nice.

"L'amico della porta accanto" is again very hard rock in it's approch. This track holds a magnificent organ and intense guitar solo. Really good stuff.

"Vecchia amica" is yet again a hard rock/prog track with great variation and depth. It has everything. A great and simple riff, calm middle section, scorching organ and a jazzy ending, like icing on the cake. Terrific and one of my favorites. "Angelo invecchiato" ends it all on a mellow, spacey and dreamy note.

This album, sporting this great question-mark, is an extremely well crafted piece of art. So many things goes on and yet it never loses sight or focus. Apart from all the great musicianship, which is flawless, this album holds, which I really adore, a very raw and dirty sound. It never gets slick. The hard rock tendencies are allowed to fly the flag without restraint while the jazzy bits brings some peace to the ears. That to me is impressive and makes this album a real gem within the RPI genre.

Though time passes and other albums take the frontseat, I seem to come back to this album and it has become one of my favorite works of prog. I do not mean that only in the sense of RPI but rather in sense of prog by large. So, do take a listen. At least you won't have wasted your time entirely.

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 Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome by YES album cover Live, 2014
3.08 | 6 ratings

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Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

3 stars A band that didn't make a great album in decades is still popular around the world. So they can't stop touring even if their lead singer Jon Anderson is not there anymore. Jon Davidson has replaced Benoit David and Geoff Downes replaced Rick Wakeman on keyboards. So the machine is still rolling at the same level. The songs are played faithfully with the unique style of playing of Steve Howe on guitar and Chris Squire on bass. Alan White looking much older got enough juice to sustain the rhythm section.This show shot in high definition is only available in stereo, believe it or not. And the make things worst, they decided for whatever reason to exclude the album "Close To The Edge" in this live release. So we have a short hour and thirty minutes of the albums "Going for the One" and "The Yes album" and no extras at all. Also the visuals are inexistent with a amateur light show. It could have been much better for this legendary band.

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 Sommerabend by NOVALIS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.75 | 142 ratings

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Sommerabend
Novalis Symphonic Prog

Review by Thai Divone

4 stars Novalis are a magnificent band. Some even call this band legendary. So when I first came to this album, the one regarded as their best, I came to it with high anticipations. I hoped for something unique, revolutionizing. As it turns out, they're not revolutionary, but rather very much symphonic, especially Romantic-period style symphonic.

But it doesn't mean that I was disappointed, as this album is another one of my favorites. It combines much emotion with much elegance, and just like the poetry of Novalis himself, or the poetry of Coleridge and Byron, beauty and virtuosi join forces to create something that is so old and primitive, yet so fresh and new.

The album opens with the magnificent Aufbruch. Some watery sound effects lead to an amazing keyboards riff, with added sparkles of an amazing yet simple electric guitar. Drums and bass join around the 35 seconds mark. Hammond joins not much later, and it all centers around the keyboards' riff, that still grows and changes, even though it does that a little bit slowly.1:48 and we're presented with our guitar motive, an amazing, elegant and beautiful line, and then the piece's pace grows, all to lead to a certain spacey feel. Neo-Prog and Kraut-Rock join forces with some Beethoven? Perhaps. The motive comes back, leading this time to a different segment, at around 4:00. Slow, with much use of drums and bass.at around 4:26 it changes yet again, going the keyboards-rock route. Quick and precise, virtuosic and suspenseful. Then it changes again, around 5:15. Then layers are taken off, leaving us with only bass, Hammond and drums, only to inject them again. Then we're presented with the keyboards riff from the beginning, this time on a different instrument and with a much rock-ish feel. 6:53 and the motive is presented again, feeling much fuller and much more worthwhile and hard-won.7:32 leads to a beautiful guitar solo, simple yet beautiful. Two guitars harmonize each other, solo on each other's backs. Then a rock-ish bridge to bring us near the ending segment, or should I say to another keyboards riff? And then the closing segment, which is a little bit just like the way we begun, with the same "keyboards-with-some-electric-guitar-sparkles", and then another SFX as an ending. What a great way to open the album.

Wunderschätze opens much more quickly, and around the 34 seconds mark stops a little to let the fingerstyle guitar-riff take its place. Vocals join around 1:10. I wished that I knew some German, to understand them, but they do sound beautiful, and so full of sorrow. It does feel, though, like a verse-chorus-verse-chorus kind of song during those early minutes. Before the harmonies of 3:12, but the pace is built during those moments, all to lead to a certain come-back to the early riff-like beginning. The bass here is no less than amazing. 4:08 is where the song starts to really shine with some amazing instrumentals building on each other. Keyboards solo, then electric guitar, then an almost drum-solo and back to the guitars. And around 5:24 we're back to the beginning riff-like motive. 5:48 and we're back to the fingerstyle guitar. This time it is different, and it is allowed to linger a little bit, before coming back to the vocals and to the earlier sound of it. 8:06 and we're back to the instrumentals, more suspenseful and a little bit less melodic. And it all feels like building to a certain crescendo, with layers added and pace rising slowly but surely. And when it comes? It doesn't disappoint.

Sommerabend is the side-long track, and it opens slowly, taking the time to build itself. It sounds spacy, known but unknown, English yet so-not-English. Drums and keyboards on them, doing no less than magic. The bass is slow and simple, yet adds so much. Then a keyboards motive enters around 2:10, giving us an ethereal feel. Nylon-string guitars enter around 3:10. 3:51 and a fingerstyle guitar riff is presented to us. 4:30 and some lone and long keyboard's notes are added, and sometimes it is just Hammond chords. It takes its time, giving us the atmosphere it deserves, building it for us. 6:19 and vocals join in. they feel like the words of a man who saw too much for his own good. 8:14 and we're back to instrumentals, changing the song completely but not too much, guitars giving us a beautiful harmony around 9:03, and then we're back to vocals around 9:20. It feels a bit conservative, during those moments, like they hold themselves in purpose. 10:00 and we get the vocalic melody, on Moog. 10:40 and we're back to vocals. 11:24 and we're back to keyboards' melody. And then it builds to? 12:06 is a mark than one just has to listen to for himself/herself. There's no way to describe the change of pace, the genius of this transition. It is just mind-blowingly brilliant. The change backwards, at 14:28 is no less amazing. 15:07 and the vocals come back again, a little bit happier, and the voices are harmonizing each other. 16:32 and we're back to the sound of the piece's beginning, even though it is a bit more spacy, more ethereal, more airy. This circular ending, though, feels so right for this piece, so part of its genius.

And so the album ends. Which brings me to its rating question, because as much as I like it, essential? I don't think so. So 4 stars: excellent (and even more than just excellent) addition to any Prog-Rock collection, but not essential.

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 The Hound of the Baskervilles by LOOKING-GLASS LANTERN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.57 | 5 ratings

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The Hound of the Baskervilles
Looking-Glass Lantern Neo-Prog

Review by PH

5 stars LOOKING-GLASS LANTERN is the alter ego of Graham Dunnington. This Englishman shares a passion for classic progressive rock, while also being avid lover of literary characters that came from the pen of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Both influences are reflected over the musical project LGL. The majestic debut CD 'A Tapestry of Tales' from 2013 was a very solid offering, but there were few hints that the follow-up can be even more refined and more diverse. Now we have 'The Hound of the Baskervilles', a collection of nine compositions for intriguing and dramatic venture. The main line that passes through the 60 minutes of its length is a hypnotic tension which finds a vent in the penult song (a title track, btw). Thereafter gentle instrumental 'Retrospection' helps you to come back home from the exciting travel... Once again Graham Dunnington has created a symphonic prog album to guide listeners across the interesting adaptation of mysterious crime and subsequent unraveling. Overall the sound is orchestral with rich arrangements. Musical entourage led by huge keyboards and soaring guitars prevail throughout. Tight drums establish tempos, bass lines produce a strong foundation. The nice vocals fit perfectly with mysterious atmosphere and peculiar landscape. Each track interprets the basic concept in a highly theatrical style. All the necessary components that should characterize this ambitious work like a musical gem are here. Hats off...

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 Pure by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.89 | 534 ratings

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Pure
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Pendragon always was a rather typical neo-prog band, with an epic fantasy sound, distinguished perhaps by gratuitous amounts of solo guitar in the bluesy Pink Floyd/Camel singing guitar style, courtesy of band mastermind Nick Barrett. Well, it was bound to happen eventually. Pendragon turns to heavy and singing about disgruntled teenagers.

Indigo, Eraserhead, and the Freak Show are examples of Pendragon's new heavy riffs/melodic guitars alternating style, usually beginning up-tempo and finishing with a melodic tension release. It's only me is a lo-oong ballad. Comatose, in three parts, is supposed to be something of a master stroke. It moves rather briskly between wildly alternating styles, all quite catchy and interesting, I might add, before settling down for the last 6 minutes for a drawn-out spacey section, which, while logical by the song's development, seems overlong and kind of mars the overall impression.

Overall, it's a testament to Pendragon's talents that for their 30-year old existence they still show no weak side. Rare band can boast of the same.

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 Vikingligr Veldi by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.53 | 45 ratings

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Vikingligr Veldi
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars ENSLAVED set themselves apart from the rest of the black metal pack right from the getgo and continued to do so with their debut full-length release VIKINGLIGR VELDI. As the title suggests this is Viking metal in lyrical content while existing in the black metal realm musically. The lyrics are mostly in Icelandic (very closely related to Old Norse) and the lyrics of "Heimdalir" are actually in ancient Norwegian, however this IS black metal and even if you speak the languages I would be surprised if you could discern any intelligible meaning from the shrieks and grunts and tortured utterings if you spent the rest of your life trying to do so.

As with their EP "Hordanes Land" the album kicks off with a catchy little keyboard riff that remains the backbone of a massive fury of black metal madness. Although this debut is not totally in the progressive black metal realms that would fully unfold on "Monumension" it is clear by the track times here that the band were carving out a path where they could follow allowing them to unfold their ideas into a more progressive atmosphere. The first track clocks in at 11:31 and despite the band's progressive desires failing to fully measure up to the potential of the time-lengths, there is something of a satisfying result in that despite the ideas becoming repetitive, the keyboards are somewhat hypnotic and lull you into the groove which I find is good enough to keep me entertained. After becoming fully engrossed in it after a while, they suddenly change it up a bit and take you for another hypnotic spin. There are changes but they are subtle despite the aggressive fury occupying every measure and note.

With only five tracks that add up to almost 51 minutes of music, it is clear that ENSLAVED were interested in more sophisticated music than many of the second wave black metal artists. There is however much in common with those acts. The keyboard tracks remind me a lot of Emperor (in fact Tym Torson who plays drums here was in both bands), while the most aggressive ones of Darkthrone. Their sound, although somewhat unique, still sounds very much rooted in the black metal of the early 90s. It would take a few albums for them to really blossom into the totally unique act that they would become. I actually didn't like this album a whole lot upon first listen but after many listens it grew on me and it allowed me to pick up on the subtleties that don't really slap you in the face at first. The music satisfies all those primeval black metal needs but also has a bit more to it. I have grown to like this album more than I thought I ever would and there is a true feel of potential present here even though it hasn't been fully unleashed at this point.

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 Gazeuse by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.92 | 277 ratings

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Gazeuse
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by steelyhead

5 stars Why to give 5 stars to this album? Because It is the perfect Jazz/Rock Fusion album. So far It is my favourite CD from this group.

It is a brand new group, different Gong, no Daevid Allen, no Steve Hillage but Holdsworth is different in a good way.

Sorry, this is not Canterbury, this is a group on fire with a fenomenal drummer at the helm (just listen to the first song It gives me chills everytime I listen to It).

A solid record from a group who has a lot to offer yet. No silly lyrics, in fact there is no lyrics at all but You will not need them. This is just perfect.

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 The Void by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.87 | 318 ratings

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The Void
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by Moneypulated

4 stars The new Beardfish album could easily be divided in two different parts : the first one, which I had considered to be "the toughest one", It features those Heavy-Rock/Sludge-Metal trend we had previously found on"Mammoth.

The first track "Volontary Slavery", with its cryptic sound, it is probably the heaviest song the band has ever conceived so far but it does not necessary means this is a bad thing because it has enough details to make the whole thing still sound interesting enough and, luckily, there is anything going wrong here, nor even predictable!

"Turn To Gravel" is a perfect crossover of style between Tool, Black Sabbath or even Mastodon with its continuous changes in rhythm, it has mantric, dark and heavy guitar riffs characterizing the gloomy atmosphere which pervades the whole song.

"They Whisper" turns out to be much more on a canonical prog-oriented style but still has some heavy but interesting vocal contributions from Sjöblom, he really proves once again, as if it were needed, his huge talent!

"This Matter of Time", pays tribute once again to Mastodon. It has alternated moments between irrepressible energy and others of apparent tranquility that end up to confuse listeners quite enough, even the more attentive ones! This song virtually closes the first part of the album.

The second one starts with a more convincing instrumental track: "Seventeen Again" and suddenly the band here finds herself walking back on a more safe path, doing anything sound as If Gentle Giant were playing an unreleased Jam together with ELP, anything goes so nicely inspired! One of my favoirites.

The next song is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the entire work: "Ludvig & Sverker" begins with a very effective call and response between bass and drums and a very nice sounding guitar arpeggio which briefly introduces the chorus theme, while the verses are characterized by delicate sounds of arpeggio guitars and dreamy vocal poetry. The deluxe version of the disc also contains the alternative piano version of the song that is perhaps even better than the electric one!

"He Already Lives In You" is another excellent song where the heavy guitar riffs and vocal parts sound both equally effective without never being constrained. I find quite some classical references to those seminal bands like Sabbath or even Deep Purple.

"Note" is the longest piece of music here and, obviously, the more articulated one which, though long-term, still managed to keep alive the interest of the most attentive listeners who will be surprised by countless special melodic and harmonic interesting details which will eventually enrich an authentic musical pinnacle.

"Where The Lights Are Low" is a kind of slow blues with echoes from the sixties to close this album, It is not bad at all but essentially it sounds a bit as a filler track!

In my humble opinion "The Void" appears to be a bit fragmented almost as if Beardfish have been afraid to dare too much this time, perhaps fearing the possibility of losing most of their Fans who are aways been loyal to their most genuine Prog-Rock oriented music inspired by the seventies. Perhaps this is the reason that prompted them to not go beyond a possible, dangerous point of no return. However it is up to them revealing us their future aims on the next record that certainly will clarify the thousand doubts that this work has definitely aroused in many of us, and a little in me too!

4 stars for the quality of music! 3 stars for the inconsistency of certain stylistic choices!

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 Modular Living by EAT LIGHTS BECOME LIGHTS album cover Studio Album, 2013
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Modular Living
Eat Lights Become Lights Krautrock

Review by Lear'sFool

— First review of this album —
5 stars This album of Eat Lights' leans particularly heavily on electronics, and with this being their style of electronica being done best this is a masterwork. Their electronic half blends Berlin School styles and mores with modern styles and mores, here mainly indietronic, and makes sure to send it through the prog wringer. Results are spectacular when they are in form. The title track is a wonderful piece of progified indietronic, and "Rowley Way Outlook" is a very atmospheric and dynamite track. Those and the also ethereal "Habitat '67" are the best tracks. In general, the band proved they could set aside their krautrock tendencies and still come out with a great record. All electronica fans, especially prog electronic and indietronic fans, will love this work.

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 Into Forever by EAT LIGHTS BECOME LIGHTS album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Into Forever
Eat Lights Become Lights Krautrock

Review by Lear'sFool

— First review of this album —
4 stars Eat Lights Become Lights is at once a band of krautrock revivalists, of Berlin School revivalists, and of modern electronic artists. They play a motley mix of krautrock and various electronic sounds in a generally trance style. They do pretty good work, but it isn't too much to write home about. "Velocet Vir Nesat" is the best track, opening this album with a krautrock leaning heavy trance guitar, backed by bass, drums, and an electronic atmosphere. Beyond, there are some great krautrock pieces, and decent electronic pieces - they've done great electronics in the past, but that side of their style has lost some of its edge here. This of course sinks the record to a degree. Still, a nice, enjoyable selection of tracks. Recommended, and I would hope the band get back to top form for their next release.

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 10 To The Power Of 9 by LEGENDARY PINK DOTS album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.33 | 2 ratings

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10 To The Power Of 9
Legendary Pink Dots Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Core members Edward Ka-Spel und Phil Knight are representing the LEGENDARY PINK DOTS first and foremost. They are from the United Kingdom, originally constituted the band, or project if you will, over there - however meanwhile having settled down in the Netherlands. Their musical legacy, since the early 1980's up to now, is comprised of a huge amount of albums, which in general deliver experimental, avantgarde oriented psychedelic/space/kraut stuff. Now it was about time, '10 To The Power Of 9' - released on Italian label Rustblade Records - is my first attempt to review one of their recordings.

This album appears in three incarnations so to say. There's a standard compact disc and vinyl release given with differing tracks, and additionally a CD deluxe version which includes another second disc. Who might expect rock music as such should be on the watch here, as the tracks are featuring more dark ambient and trancendental soundscapes all the way through. Well, what is required to get in touch? An open-minded approach as it is not easy getting access to. The tracks definitely need time and concentration, you should be in a good mood also, preferably have your headphones at hand ...

... and then the PINK DOTS - who are truly legendary in the meanwhile - will send you on a gripping trip which is spiritual, weird, beautiful ... eh, different at all events. Synths, minimalistic halting beats, guitars and Kaspels characteristic voice, that is needed to produce such a cinematic exploration when it comes to the ingredients. Just in order to name some extraordinary examples, the short new wave infected Your Humble Servant is nested by two amazing spacey trips named Primordial Soup and Freak Flag featuring synth loops, soaring guitars managed by Erik Drost. This is effectively designed overall, here and there reminds me of David Sylvian.

While taking more than 17 minutes the broadly conceived The Elevator is finally closing this new LPD chapter. When listening to this I felt like being on sight and insight, relaxed without having fear at all, buried in a capsule spinning around traversing outer space with ease, offering a fantastic view on spiral galaxies aso, plus extraterrestrial voices repectively sounds coming from the aether. Wow, they obviously know how to give us space cadets a treat. So here we have an album with easy-going chill though not simple-minded approach at all, assuming a lot of experience to make it in this successful way.

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 Rise by SCHOOLTREE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Rise
Schooltree Crossover Prog

Review by Raff
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars In the early months of this year, while browsing through the albums on the excellent Progstreaming website, looking from some yet undiscovered gems, I had my first taste of Boston quartet Schooltree ? one year after the release of "Rise", their debut album. Among the glut of frankly unexciting releases that seem to have become the norm on the increasingly overcrowded prog scene, "Rise" was a true find, a refreshing example of pure art rock focused on tightly written songs, interesting musical textures, and ? last but not least ? mainwoman Lainey Schooltree's impressive pipes.

Fast forward to mid-October 2014, when I was able to experience the band in its live dimension, on the small but colourful stage of Roxy and Dukes Roadhouse in Dunellen (NJ), as part of the second edition of the NJ Proghouse Homecoming Weekend. Lainey and her bandmates' cheerful stage presence and obvious love for their craft won them a lot of new fans, and the announcement that their new album would be a "rock opera" came as a tantalizing bit of information.

The names of Tori Amos and Kate Bush have often been mentioned in conjunction with Schooltree's music, and even a cursory spin of "Rise" will reveal those influences. However, it would be very unfair to Lainey and the rest of the band to peg them as derivative, because their music has got more than enough individuality to please even demanding listeners such as myself.

Though female-fronted progressive rock bands are anything but exceptional these days, not all of them are equally impressive. By virtue of the above-mentioned influences ? as well as that of Queen, which comes to the fore in the instrumental arrangements ? Schooltree steer well clear of any suspicion of cutesiness, and even the operatic component of the vocals owes more to Freddie Mercury than Annie Haslam and her slew of imitators. Lainey's long experience as a vaudeville performer in the Boston underground arts scene is also brought to bear to create a scintillating, thoroughly enjoyable concoction that feels comfortingly familiar, yet also modern and original. In just over 6 minute, opener "Six Feet Up" sums up what "Rise" is about, its many tempo and mood changes making it a shining example of art rock mini-epic without any of the pretensions too often inherent to the format.

Lainey's primary instrument, the keyboards, provide a solid framework for her bandmates ? the consistently excellent Brendan Burns (guitar), Derk Van Wormer (bass) and Jordan Ross (drums) ? to deploy their dexterity. Elegant, whimsical piano flurries embellish the album's nine songs, complementing Lainey's assertive yet emotional singing, and contrasting with the bite of the guitar riffs, while a judicious use of the harmonizer adds layers of airy vocal harmonies that fit the music to a T. In fact, the title-track fully exploits the expressive potential of the instrument, with Lainey's voice emoting a cappella in haunting fashion. With a very restrained running time of about 42 minutes, Rise contains no filler, and each song is equally relevant to the overall result ? both buoyant numbers such as the infectious "Today", and more low-key ones such as "Heavenside" or the waltzy "Let's Dance". "Reprise", with Lainey's exquisite vocalizations accompanied by rippling piano and dramatic guitar slashes in the style of Brian May, wraps up the album by putting authoritatively forward the band's prog credentials

Those who do not necessarily equate progressive rock with lengthy epics and instrumental pyrotechnics will find a lot to love in "Rise", one of the best debut albums to come out of the prolific US scene in the past few years, featuring strong performances from all band members, great singing and intriguing lyrics. Highly recommended to fans of modern female-fronted bands such as MoeTar and Half Past Four, this is an album everyone can enjoy - all the while waiting for their sophomore "rock opera" to surface some time in 2015.

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100 MOST PROLIFIC REVIEWERS

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ratings only excluded in count
  1. Mellotron Storm (3659)
  2. Sean Trane (3159)
  3. ZowieZiggy (2917)
  4. apps79 (2394)
  5. Warthur (2192)
  6. Easy Livin (1925)
  7. UMUR (1848)
  8. b_olariu (1836)
  9. Gatot (1811)
  10. Conor Fynes (1525)
  11. SouthSideoftheSky (1445)
  12. Evolver (1376)
  13. Bonnek (1359)
  14. AtomicCrimsonRush (1253)
  15. Tarcisio Moura (1240)
  16. snobb (1210)
  17. erik neuteboom (1201)
  18. Windhawk (1118)
  19. Finnforest (1099)
  20. ClemofNazareth (1009)
  21. kenethlevine (1003)
  22. Cesar Inca (926)
  23. loserboy (895)
  24. Rune2000 (855)
  25. kev rowland (842)
  26. Marty McFly (833)
  27. octopus-4 (819)
  28. tszirmay (796)
  29. memowakeman (756)
  30. Chris S (753)
  31. Matti (749)
  32. Eetu Pellonpää (719)
  33. greenback (685)
  34. progrules (666)
  35. Guillermo (659)
  36. Seyo (638)
  37. Rivertree (634)
  38. Prog-jester (623)
  39. Epignosis (621)
  40. lor68 (601)
  41. Neu!mann (573)
  42. Ivan_Melgar_M (542)
  43. philippe (538)
  44. hdfisch (492)
  45. Chicapah (478)
  46. stefro (467)
  47. friso (464)
  48. colorofmoney91 (459)
  49. J-Man (449)
  50. russellk (435)
  51. zravkapt (431)
  52. Prog Leviathan (426)
  53. Menswear (413)
  54. Sinusoid (402)
  55. Atavachron (396)
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  58. DamoXt7942 (380)
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  60. Zitro (359)
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  95. Raff (213)
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Remaining cache time: 636 min.

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TOP PROG ALBUMS
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    Yes
  2. Thick As A Brick
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  3. Selling England By The Pound
    Genesis
  4. Wish You Were Here
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  5. Foxtrot
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  6. In The Court Of The Crimson King
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  7. Dark Side Of The Moon
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  8. Red
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  9. Animals
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  18. Io Sono Nato Libero
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  26. A Farewell To Kings
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  27. In A Glass House
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  28. Birds Of Fire
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  29. Kind Of Blue
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  30. The Road Of Bones
    IQ
  31. Ommadawn
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  32. Crime Of The Century
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  33. In a Silent Way
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  34. Aqualung
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  35. Hot Rats
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  36. Still Life
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  37. The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
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  38. Depois Do Fim
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  39. Meddle
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  40. Permanent Waves
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  41. H To He, Who Am The Only One
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  42. Images And Words
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  43. The Yes Album
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  44. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
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  46. Scheherazade And Other Stories
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  47. Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory
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  48. One Size Fits All
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  49. The Grand Wazoo
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  50. Still Life
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  51. A Trick of the Tail
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  52. The Snow Goose
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  53. Rock Bottom
    Robert Wyatt
  54. In The Land Of Grey And Pink
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  55. Time Control
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  56. Second Life Syndrome
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  57. Zarathustra
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  58. The Power And The Glory
    Gentle Giant
  59. Octopus
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  60. Arbeit Macht Frei
    Area
  61. Free Hand
    Gentle Giant
  62. Hatfield And The North
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  63. Viljans Öga
    Änglagård
  64. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
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  65. Blackwater Park
    Opeth
  66. Mëkanīk Dëstruktīẁ Kömmandöh
    Magma
  67. Misplaced Childhood
    Marillion
  68. Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
    Gong
  69. The Inner Mounting Flame
    Mahavishnu Orchestra
  70. K.A
    Magma
  71. The Perfect Element Part 1
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  72. Rubycon
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  73. Space Shanty
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  74. Spectrum
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  75. L'isola di niente
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  76. Elegant Gypsy
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  77. In Absentia
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  78. Acquiring the Taste
    Gentle Giant
  79. Ghost Reveries
    Opeth
  80. Felona E Sorona
    Le Orme
  81. Emerson Lake & Palmer
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  82. Fear Of A Blank Planet
    Porcupine Tree
  83. Doomsday Afternoon
    Phideaux
  84. Hamburger Concerto
    Focus
  85. Script For A Jester's Tear
    Marillion
  86. Lateralus
    Tool
  87. We'll Talk About It Later
    Nucleus
  88. If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You
    Caravan
  89. Bitches Brew
    Miles Davis
  90. ~
    iamthemorning
  91. Crimson
    Edge of Sanity
  92. De-Loused In The Comatorium
    The Mars Volta
  93. Pale Communion
    Opeth
  94. Operation: Mindcrime
    Queensr˙che
  95. Anabelas
    Bubu
  96. Ocean
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  97. Caravanserai
    Santana
  98. Voyage Of The Acolyte
    Steve Hackett
  99. Part the Second
    Maudlin Of The Well
  100. Anno Domini High Definition
    Riverside

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