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 Abbiamo Tutti un Blues da Piangere by PERIGEO album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.93 | 82 ratings

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Abbiamo Tutti un Blues da Piangere
Perigeo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars Perigeo's sophomore studio album. It's nice to see the band's lineup stay the same from their debut album as I am curious to watch their development both as a band as well as virtuoso musicians.

1. "Non c'é Tempo da Perdere" (8:48) vocal-led up-tempo jazz-rock that starts out with a long intro of instrumental roaming as piano and cymbals feeling around beneath the ethereal male vocals. Reminds me of some of Tony Williams' compositions. I like Franco D'Andrea's Fender Rhodes style, but drummer Bruno Biriaco grabs most of my attention throughout this one. (18/20)

2. "Déjŕ Vu" (4:58) I know that I'm hearing an uncredited violin in the lead during the intro to this song. So who was it? Piano and guitar arpeggi provide the initial support for the sax (and continued violin). I really like the unconventional melody lines throughout this one--more jazz like than rock--like a Coltrane or Magma piece. (9.25/10)

3. "Rituale" (7:31) great jam that just sucks the listener in deeper as it builds and builds. Kind of like a classic Traffic (Stevie Winwood), Allman Brothers or Joe Cocker jam. I just love this! It's so fun--and so funky! (15/15)

4. "Abbiamo Tutti un Blues da Piangere" (6:08) acoustic guitars (two tracks) on display for the first minute before bass takes the lead over some very gently-picked steel-string guitar. Keys first make a mark at the two-minute mark (with cymbals) but only a couple chords for the first 30-seconds, then full complement of toms and Fender Rhodes join in as the full band kicks into sync. Soprano sax takes the lead from the three-minute mark over some awesome bluesy-jazz groovin'. So solid! Too bad I'm not more of a fan of the saxophone family. (8.875/10)

5. "Country" (3:03) more keyboard-centred DEODATO-and DONALD FAGEN-like music. Quite ( (9.25/10)

6. "Nadir" (3:46) gentle Fender Rhodes with equally gentle saxophone over the top. Switch in the second minute to fiery electric guitar teaming up with the sax to carry the melody forward. I really like American-born guitarist Tony Sidney's fire! (9.5/10)

7. "Vento, Pioggia e Sole" (9:40) It feels obvious to me that American-born guitarist Tony Sidney had been hearing either John McLaughlin or Cervello's Corrado Rustici because his guitar playing has progressed in directions reflecting this style of pyrotechnical flourishing. Such solid drum and bass play throughout. Great jazz piano solo in the last quarter of the song. (18/20)

I don't get why some reviewers have rated this album lower than their debut as I see no flaws or weaknesses in this album. Keyboard artist Franco D'Andrea's playing is far more supportive, serving in a mostly accompanying fashion than flashy noodling, which is fine, but, knowing that he develops into such a virtuosic solo jazz piano artist makes one wonder what was going on with him during the composition and recording of this session. Tony Sidney's guitar and Claudio Fasoli's sax seem to take far more of the lead/front stage on this album--which is fine since both are very good and have grown so much since the year before--while the rhythm section has just gotten tighter and more mature.

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of jazz-rock fusion--even better, in my opinion, than its predecessor--the band's highly-regarded debut, Azimut.

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 Versailles 400 by JARRE, JEAN-MICHEL album cover Live, 2024
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Versailles 400
Jean-Michel Jarre Prog Related

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars In 1977 JM Jarre stunned the musical world with his synthesizer oriented hit single Oxygene IV, this inspired so many people to buy a synthesizer and make electronic music, including me, a Roland Juno 106. But not until 2016 I finally witnessed a JM Jarre gig, during the Electronica World tour. It was a mindblowing experience, not only musically (he played most of my favorite tracks and the Edward Snowdon tribute Exit was exciting) but also visually, at the level of Pink Floyd! But I noticed too that JM Jarre his musical taste has switched more towards modern music styles. And that is even more the case on this new JM Jarre 2024 live album, released as a 'hommage' to 400 years Versailles.

Listening to the music on Versailles 400 I get very mixed feelings. On one hand I am impressed by a very inspired, creative and cheerful JM Jarre with his high-tec equipment and sound (including vintage synthesizers and organ, and Mellotron choirs), and the way he delivers inventive re-arranged versions of his best known and most popular compositions. But on the other hand the musical atmosphere is strongly influenced by house, trance and techno, culminating in collaborations with Jeff Mills (pioneer of the Detroit techno scene) on The Architect and with Dutch pride Armin van Buuren (once the #1 DJ in the world playing progressive house and trance music) on Stardust. For me the most interesting collaboration is with Tangerine Dream on the track Zero Gravity, very pleasant electronic music featuring wonderful sequencing and synthesizer flights.

But in general it is Let's Dance with JM Jarre, the king of Versailles, for a moment France is no republic!

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 This Strange Engine by MARILLION album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.46 | 661 ratings

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This Strange Engine
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After two works of deep and dark reflections such as "Brave" and "Afraid of Sunlight", Marillion breathes less choppy and more relaxed with "This Strange Engine", their ninth album.

An irregular proposal, which combines moments of great harmonic freshness as with the opening "A Man of a Thousand Faces" or the expressive "80 Days" showing a decidedly eloquent Steve Hogarth, with others of solemn melancholy as with the peaceful "Memory Of Water", and contrasted with the insipidity of "An Accidental Man" and the inexplicably failed "Hope For The Future" of Caribbean rhythms, a misstep as was "Cannibal Surf Babe" on "Afraid of Sunlight".

But the album's lack of cohesion did not prevent the Englishmen from delivering a couple of sublime pieces: the emotional and breezy "Estonia", referring to the tragedy of the ferry of the same name in the icy Baltic Sea in September 1994 and featuring the interesting string nuance of Tim Perkins' balalaika (a kind of lute of Russian origin) and, above all, Hogarth's extensive and heartfelt tribute to his father in the confessional "This Strange Engine", with Mark Kelly in the leading role and very uninhibited on keyboards (with a circumstantial Wakemanian air), Steve Rothery's sustained guitar solos, Phil Todd's dramatic saxophone and an instrumental development with tension surges and silent pauses in the progressive style that end with an unbridled vocal discharge by Hogarth. Surely the best moment of the album and a more than acceptable closure. The change from the giant multinational record label EMI and its extensive networks to one with more frugal resources such as Castle Communications, added to a proposal whose consistency falters in some passages, prevented "This Strange Engine" from having a great repercussion and recognition at the time.

3 stars

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 Live Tapes by BARCLAY JAMES  HARVEST album cover Live, 1978
3.76 | 90 ratings

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Live Tapes
Barclay James Harvest Crossover Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars TRON-MANIAC'S ALERT!

In the late Seventies I stumbled upon a double live LP entitled Live Tapes, from a band with the weird name Barclay James Harvest (later I read that the members couldn't choose a name and put all 3 proposed names together). I took a look at the double innersleeve and was mesmerized by the wide range of vintage keyboards from the late keyboardplayer Woolly Wolstenholme, including a Hammond C3 organ, the M300 and M400 Mellotron, ARP Pro Solist synthesizer, ARP string ensemble and Minimoog synthesizer, wow, this couldn't go wrong, and indeed, it didn't go wrong, on the contrary!

This double live album was my first musical encounter with BJH, and I was blown away, what a wonderful Mellotron drenched symphonic rock, very melodic and harmonic, topped with emotional vocals and moving guitar work, from sensitive to harder-edged with wah-wah. BJH sounds beyond the complexity and virtuosity of ELP, Yes and Gentle but their music lifts me to 'higher prog states', especially due to the Mellotron soaken tracks, what an unsurpassed musical invention.

The cynical music press once named BJH 'a poor version of the Moody Blues', one of the tracks is BJH their cynical answer to the press, entitled Poor Man's Moody Blues, haha.

My highlights.

Child of the universe : wonderful piano, Mellotron and moving guitar, I love the compelling atmosphere and the melancholical vocals, one of my favorite BJH songs.

Mockingbird : beautiful twanging guitar and then sumptuous Mellotron layers, halfway featuring a strong build-up and climax (intense lalala vocals and howling guitar).

Suicide : the emotional subject has been translated into a very emotional atmosphere with beautiful interplay between the vocals, guitar and keyboards, the sound in the end is stunning.

For No One : a moving blend of fiery, distorted electric guitar, Mellotron (violin and choir section) and dramatic vocals.

I have seen BJH two times live (in 1981 and 2009), I prefer this band on stage, they sound more powerful and the Mellotron is more omnipresent than on the studio albums. My favorite BJH on stage album is Live, an absolute masterpiece for me, I consider Live Tapes as another strong live album but to me some tracks sound a bit polished so 4 well deserved stars for Live Tapes.

John 'Woolly' Wolstenholme (1947-2010) R.I.P., you are still my Mellotron hero.

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 Dark Space - I by DARKSPACE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2002
3.44 | 7 ratings

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Dark Space - I
Darkspace Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The first Darkspace demo - originally released in 2002 as a download, later rereleased in a rerecorded version in 2012 - is an apt manifesto for the band's distinctive style. Atmospheric black metal skirting the borderlands of ambient? Check. A chilly atmosphere that goes beyond the snowy landscapes of Paysage d'Hiver into the vacuum of deep space itself? Check. Ominous samples worked deep into the mix? Check. They'd further polish and refine their style over time, but it's clear that they already had the broad outline of their distinctive, innovative sound well-established straight out of the gate, yielding a compelling prelude to their more polished works.

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 Creatures of the Night, part 2 by PIERETTI, MASSIMO album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2024
2.54 | 3 ratings

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Creatures of the Night, part 2
Massimo Pieretti Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This very good song is the first single of Roman composer and keyboard master Massimo Pieretti's upcoming second album, which will be entitled 'The Next Dream' and will be released in a few months. That record will have a feast of guest musicians, mostly from Italy, but also from around the globe.

In this first approach, Pieretti and guests delight us with a 5-minute track that starts with Claudio Milano's enigmatic voice, opening the gates to a proggy and rocky sound, with guitars that remind me a bit of Pink Floyd's The Division Bell era, and with a potent vocal work from Laura Piazzai, which adds a theatrical sound to the song.

Drums and percussions are provided by Mattias Olsson from legendary Swedish band Anglagard, and his work is remarkable, as usual. The track is colorful, while Pieretti creates different layers with his keys, we can appreciate some classical-like strings such as violin and cello, as well as the rockish base created by bass, drums and guitar.

It is an enjoyable track to my ears, I've liked it and now am curious to know what's next, so I'll be keen on listening to the upcoming album.

Give this single a listen!

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 Billie Bottle's Temple Of Shibboleth: The Mending Tour by BOTTLE, BILLIE album cover Live, 2023
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Billie Bottle's Temple Of Shibboleth: The Mending Tour
Billie Bottle Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars While I am Billie Bottled-out after listening to three of her cds over this past week I have come away a fan much like Robert Wyatt, Richard Sinclair and other Canterbury alumni who praise Billie Bottle. The music for "The Mending Tour" is taken from "Temple Of Shibboleth" album both 2023 releases. In fact they ran 50 copies with both "Temple Of Shibboleth" and "The Mending Tour" in the same package and I own one of those.

The live version is played out like your listening to the studio album from track one to twelve and in the same order. I like the picture near the back of the liner notes of this live event. A small setting with these five ladies doing their thing. It was performed at Wiltshire Music Centre on April 28, 2023. And while they follow the album track by track this is 13 minutes longer as we get some banter and intros along with some extended bits.

I still feel the studio album "Temple Of Shibboleth" is the best of the three I own but this one helped unlock it so this is special and different. I like some aspects of it more but miss the distorted organ not that there was a lot of that anyways. Again such a talented band in so many ways. Bassoon is all over this.

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 Janus by AUNT MARY album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.44 | 87 ratings

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Janus
Aunt Mary Eclectic Prog

Review by AJ Junior

4 stars Norwegian outfit "Aunt Mary" was considered one of Norway's more prominent progressive outfits of the 70's. Their 3rd studio album "Janus" is in my opinion, their definitive record. Released in 1973, it combines Psych, Blues, and Beatle-esque influences to create a unique blend of sounds, The album is a great introduction to the band and shines a light on the talent of these lesser-known Norwegian bands.

The album's first three songs are a large 11-minute suite, inspired by many different genres and influences. The 4-minute "Path of Your Dreams" starts with a rambunctious synth and high-velocity musicianship. Despite their nationality, the band members sing in English (and their accents aren't too unbearable). The movement smoothly transitions into the clear Beatles-inspired "Mr. Kaye," which some think is a Tony Kaye reference? I have no clue why they would be referring to him, but the short 2-minute song is a nice jumpy segway into the longest movement "Nocturnal Voice." It's nothing special musically, but it's a chill song until the extended guitar solo from Bjoern Christiansen. The epic closes with the original motif from "Path of Your Dreams" to finish up.

The following track "For All Eternity," is a very "Yes" inspired piece. While it has its merits, it's pretty much a "Yes" clone song. Although the originality is a bit lacking, I have no complaints because this song rocks. The vocal harmonies in the beginning coupled with the fast-paced organ and guitar passages are always something I can get around. Instrumentally the track is much more lively and doesn't go stale too often. Overall I'd say this is by far a highlight on the album and one of my favorites. After the the 40-second throwaway titled "Hidden Track" Side A is concluded.

Side B opens with the 6-minute bluesy jam "Stumblin' Stone. For the first three minutes of the song, the thumping bass line, and organ undertones just mesh together and create some background music. Eventually, an organ arpeggio pulls the song into formation with the appearance of a song structure and heavily accented vocals. "All We've To Do Is Dream" reminds me of "Across the Universe" by the Beatles. This short acoustic ballad adds some much-needed contrast to the tracklist. The next track "Candles Of Heaven" is my favorite song on this album. After an entire album of impressive keyboard, work Bengt Jensen outdoes himself here on the organ to create an amazing motif that just sounds right to me. It is very reminiscent of Keith Emerson with the use of dissonant chords and staccato interplay. The vocals are accompanied by VERY high-pitched choir interludes. The last minute of the 5:30 song goes into a full-on Emersonian organ jam to close the song and smoothly transitions into the closer: "What A Lovely Day." The song opens acoustically on guitar but evolves into a heavy rocker with some killer guitar and a grandiose choir to close out the album strong.

While I do think that this album is not exactly essential to a prog-rock collection, It is certainly an excellent addition by all means, which leads me to give this record a solid 3.5 stars. I have to round up because I feel that this album is closer to a 4-star rating than a 3-star. The album cover is also really cool for those who appreciate that :). This is a a standout record and a great way to end on a high note for this short-lived Norwegian quartet.

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 Fifty by FRITH, FRED album cover Studio Album, 2024
3.09 | 4 ratings

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Fifty
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

3 stars FRED FRITH's debut solo release "Guitar Solos" was monumental in showcasing the bizarre avant-garde world of experimental free improvisation guitar and has remained an underground classic since its initial release in 1974. In order to give it a proper release in time for its 50th birthday, FRITH gave the entire original release a complete remastering but he didn't stop there. The album needed something special to celebrate its unique status in FRITH's vast discography and so he went all out and recorded a completely new companion album that replicates "Guitar Solos" in its technique and production process.

The result is the album FIFTY which is available as the companion album in a double album with the newly remastered "Guitar Solos" under the title GUITAR SOLOS / FIFTY and even though it doesn't appear to be available for purchase on its own currently, can for all intents and purposes be considered a separate album in its own right as all artists realize that having as many avenues for purchase makes the most sense however purchasing the newly remastered "Guitar Solos" isn't a bad way to go either. This modern representation of the classic album features 12 entirely newly recorded tracks and the second CD features a playing time of just under 36 minutes.

This album is a faithful revisiting of the original album's recording process in a manner that is as close as possible to everything that went into the "Guitar Solos" album even to the point that FRITH utilized the very same 1936 Gibson K-11 with an extra pickup over the strings. All the details were replicated including the positioning of the microphones on the guitar, FRITH's seating and all the attributes of the original studio. Although FRITH realized that the recording process had evolved manyfold in the last fifty years, for the sake of celebrating the uniqueness of his debut album he kept things exactly as they would've been in the 1974 recording process from 1974. The result is basically a faithful time capsule that sounds like a collection of leftover tracks from the original recording sessions.

The idea is quite novel and also celebrates FRITH's relentless pursuit of creativity in music from every possible angle not covered by the mainstream. FIFTY definitely succeeds in replicating the long lost techniques FRITH used on his "Guitar Solos" album however while that album was innovative at the time (despite being compared to Derek Bailey's similarly styled album "Solo Guitar" from 1971), unfortunately FIFTY doesn't sound quite as unique in 2024 since during the ensuring decades untold scores of artists have taken up drone and free improv as their sole methodology of musical expression and add to that the compositions themselves just seem substandard to the ones of the past. Sure FRITH did give it his best and these free improv guitar pieces are interesting and still evokes the sense of wonder of how some of these sounds were teased out of a single guitar but it doesn't really add much to the original album's mystery.

Overall a decent album and kudos for the creative idea that goes above and beyond a mere remastering ceremony to celebrate an album's half century mark. If you think of these as bonus tracks to the "Guitar Solos" original then it's all good but once you start comparing this to the original as an album in its own right then i'm afraid it doesn't quite measure up to the it. After all there's only so much of this the average person can stomach and while the original seemed to muster up a vast diverse array of unknown guitar techniques, this one sort of just regurgitates them. All in all a nice testament to one of the avant-garde musical world's most creative and long lasting talents and a great companion piece to one of the monumental experimental albums of the 20th century.

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 Guitar Solos by FRITH, FRED album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.35 | 25 ratings

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Guitar Solos
Fred Frith RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars Jeremy Webster Frith better known in the world of avant-garde music as FRED FRITH was born into a musical family where he learned all the traditional styles of playing at very young age but somewhere along the line in his formal eduction something went very wrong and his tastes totally derailed into the world of the avant-garde. After meeting a like minded partner in crime in the form of Tim Hodgkinson, together they formed Henry Cow and which introduced to the world a form of avant-garde music called Rock In Opposition. By crafting complex compositions based on 20th century classical, jazz and progressive rock, Henry Cow shocked the world with its style of musical expressions that seemingly came from another universe.

Only one album in with the Henry Cow project, FRITH was already setting out to start his solo career. Lauded as one of the most unusually creative guitarists of all time for his insanely unique contributions to the "Legend" album, FRITH released his very first solo work the following year in 1974. GUITAR SOLOS was a highly experimental album of guitar compositions that featured eight tracks that were unaccompanied without any production tricks like overdubbing. Every track features a unique prepared guitar that offered free improvisational avant-garde techniques that were completely unstructured unlike the works of Henry Cow which were highly structured.

GUITAR SOLOS truly is a very strange album indeed and one of those where you wonder how in the world did he do that without the manipulative assistance of a production process. The album was recorded in July 1974 and played on a modified 1936 Gibson K-11 with an extra pickup over the strings which allowed the amplification process to emerge from both sides of the fretted note. By splitting the fretboard with a capo, FRITH essentially had two guitars in one and given his arsenal of alternative tunings, picking styles and other tricks up his sleeve, he crafted one of the most alien sounded guitar albums of the ages. The results are indeed bizarre with unfamiliarity at every turn yet FRITH tackles totally unique and challenging turf as effortlessly as the Henry Cow band unleashed an equally alienating mix of strange sounds that were taken to their logical conclusion from the very beginning.

Many however were not impressed citing the 1971 album "Solo Guitar" by Derek Bailey as the main influence behind his avant-garde compositions and that isn't exactly far from the truth because if you listen to that album, it indeed precede this album by three years and set out to showcase the performance techniques of free improvisation guitar by mixing jazz, exploring atonality, noise and whatever fancied Bailey's whim at the moment. Inspired by Bailey's work perhaps but a careful listening experience to both albums back to back reveal that despite both based in the avant-garde world of free improvisation, the two guitarists shared completely different styles and therefore despite not really being the first album to navigate these waters, FRITH's GUITAR SOLOS was very much unique in its own way.

Even 50 years later this album sounds as startlingly fresh as i'm sure it sounded back in those days. Outside of Derek Bailey's 1971 release, there's really not much to compare it with. Each track focuses on different aspects of the guitar whether it be strange scales, unexperienced timbres or freaky contrapuntal elements that emerged from the "two" guitars playing together. The longest track is the closing "No Birds" which at 13 minutes showcases some of the most experimental approaches. This track was played on two prepared guitars simultaneously and simulates the timbre and range of an entire orchestra. Clever placement and the use of stereo guitars resulted in a bizarre outcome. FRITH did utilize electric guitar tools such as volume pedals, feedback and filtered sounds to add to the multi-dimensional nature of the release.

GUITAR SOLOS has remained an enigmatic solo release in FRITH's massive solo canon since its first release in 1974 and now 50 years later in the year 2024 the album has been remastered and re-released with an entirely new album in the same spirit simply titled "Fifty." The album can be purchased separately or as a combo pack with the original GUITAR SOLOS. While FRITH was not your conventional guitar hero, the Virgin Records label tried to make him one but FRITH's outsider persona has served him more good in the longevity department than any mainstream guitarist has sustained. His music is therefore more timeless sounding and the alienating effects of the vast array of experimentation on this release is nothing short of breathtaking. GUITAR SOLOS was a landmark of avant-garde music and remains a popular cult hit due to Henry Cow's increasing popularity over the ensuing decades. The re-release of this album with a brand new companion release is the absolute perfect way to allow newer generations to experience GUITAR SOLOS in all its bizarre experimental grandeur.

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 Bondage Fruit VII by BONDAGE FRUIT album cover Studio Album, 2024
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Bondage Fruit VII
Bondage Fruit Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars The Tokyo based BONDAGE FRUIT has been around since as far back as 1990 and was one of Japan's first foray's into the world of French zeuhl courtesy of the mighty Magma however this band has offered a far more eclectic palette than most bands that fall under the zeuhl banner by offering healthy doses avant-prog, jazz-fusion, standard prog rock and folk in the spirit of not only classic Magma but also that of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Univers Zero and fellow Japanese outfit Happy Family who emerged at about the same timeline only slightly sooner.

Everyone's favorite S&M produce at the supermarket released the self-titled debut in 1994 and was very consistent in releasing a new studio album every two or three years but after the release of "Bondage Fruit VI" in 2005, the band fell silent and has remained incognito for almost two decades. Well that silence has been broken and in 2024, BONDAGE FRUIT finally release its sixth official studio album titled BONDAGE FRUIT VII. After 19 years since the last release and 35 years as a band, it's amazing that the current lineup features five original members which includes Kido Natsuki (guitar), Katsui Yuji (violin), Ohtsubo Hirohiko (bass), Takara Kumiko (vibraphone, percussion) and Okabe Youichi (percussion, trap drum).

This new album features eight tracks and clocks in at a lengthy 61 1/2 minutes. Noticeably de-emphasized are the zeuhl characteristics of the past and instead the band focuses on a stellar mix of avant-prog and jazz-fusion and in that regard it's pretty much a continuation of 2005's "Bondage Fruit VI" which began to move away from the Magma influences and steer into the world of Pierre Moerlen's Gong meets the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The music is mostly improvised and almost exclusively instrumental with only a couple jazz vocalists offering some vocal prowess as extra instrumentation. The jazzy touches are complemented by guitar oriented rock guitar which not only provides select power chords but also some funk heft and a few scale runs here and there.

While sounding somewhat familiar at this point BONDAGE FRUIT is far from its origins and actually sounds to my ears like many of the Kraut-jazz bands from Germany after the initial psychedelic lysergia of the early Krautrock scene had played itself out. Think Embryo, Xhol Caravan, Eiliff and even Out of Focus and it's in the right ballpark. There are also Middle Eastern moments such as on "Caminante" which offers an interesting mix of Agitation Free's "Malesch" meets the Mahavishnus. The vibraphone works overtime on this release which adds an incredible warm fuzzy feel to it. While the album hums along at mid-tempo with attention paid to improv jazz and rock workouts, the near 14-minute "Cypress" is a nice little chill pill with a lengthy mesmerizing vibraphone dominated atmospheric track only punctuated by a feisty guitar towards the end. After the upbeat "Happy Bastard," the lengthy bonus track "Three Voices" also features a nice chill out moment mixed with more upbeat rock.

Personally i prefer the earliest BONDAGE FRUIT albums for their sheer audacity and experimental limitlessness and i doubt the band will ever top the masterpiece "Bondage Fruit II" however this newest style that the band carries on from the 2005 release is quite effective in its own right. The entire album is a pleasant mix of various jazz related and prog related influences and performed quite well. Yet another band to emerge from "what ever happened to" vaults, BONDAGE FRUIT is back for the attack leaving us to wonder if we'll have to wait another decade or two for the next chapter. Whatever the case, BONDAGE FRUIT VII will help fans get their fix for a little while longer. Nice album that delivers a consistent pleasant upbeat mood for the album's entirety.

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 The Taste of Wormwood by LUTTUN, PHILIPPE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.10 | 32 ratings

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The Taste of Wormwood
Philippe Luttun Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars 1. Prelude to a disaster ...its cinematic...ah yes we weren't even talking about it 10 years ago; a sound on a Russian radio, USSR, ah I don't know anymore either we get lost; brief intro full of emotion with this dancer brought back from the bottle of hooch from the time when we could still taste it; ah this passing time, these children who live in a schoolyard, this time! radioactive rain or radiation that emits... sacred intro not too strong otherwise you will exceed the dose 2. The ghosts of Pripyat, yes at first I thought it was a Steve Rothery remix; good, a long ambient title to explain one of the worst global catastrophes, and we still live today how I don't know; guitar arpeggio bringing a solemn grandiloquent air between Olympus and destruction; the heavy metal riff with its layer of keyboards, but how could I have missed this album? there's prog blood swimming in it, it's melodic but nervous; it's airy but vibrant; it's symphonic without falling into repetition, yes you know the prog groups of now who copy their ancestors the Dinos without creation... I'm still going to make enemies writing the truth, in short Pris.K arrives on the -makes and whispers a melody to make you swoon; melodic and symphonic prog metal that I missed, well I'll recite a pater this evening... for the trouble; the guitar solo but this solo is good, I check it's only Philippe on instruments! And yes it is he who orchestrates like a master; 10 minutes and the contemplative break on the catastrophe with a cinematic atmosphere again and the symphonic drift which shows the extent of the damage of the catastrophe in a lyrical way; a slap in the face of this long title 3. Reaktor #4 or how to dive into the heart of the reactor? Muted atmosphere, electro ok for the interlude, nay... a big, greasy riff fills the air suddenly tumbling, bam ALAN PARSONS-style keyboards yes we think of an 'I robot' tune ', but just a line, finally a bolt; in short, a melting pot between electro and heavy to the delight of progressive ears open to change 4. The day after yes we arrive there the day after 2012 with an earthquake and the breakage of the earth's crust, here it is just the folk festival before the great flood; voice-overs, nervous, heady, captivating synths and a hard rock riff to keep you in suspense; vocal duet on this empirical tune with PORCUPINE TREE sounds, but yes; it starts again and the keyboard twirls on a pattern that DREAM THEATER would not deny; final guitar solo which holds up well, Philippe is a gifted genius for releasing such notes; a little electro with the folk of the intro and

5. Red forest arrives on horses; the guy tries to bring out an E5-150 with voice-overs from NASA, in short, superb intro that I immediately like; crystalline piano arpeggio eyeing the Japanese lands, and this unbearable hubbub behind to recall the oppression of radioactivity now in the open sky; a river guitar solo, a Teutonic rhythm ŕ la RAMMSTEIN, ideas in bar - no uranium - on this track; Pris.K launches into an Arabic tirade before being supported by a sax, real or sampled, and an ERA-style piano; bang trumpet before letting sax and guitar fight a duel; symphonic metal prog in a crossover layer very different from what is coming out; much better though, yes how did I miss it? Well the Geiger counter is racing, let's move on to 6. On the roof of hell with a raw acoustic guitar quickly flooded by layers of neo-prog keyboards, and the heavy riff of a SYMPHONY X; electro bass, phrased vocals, it sounds like a very good AYREON. The sequel, a prog metal drift with Olympian choirs, a killer rhythm, a sharing between a latest generation PINK FLOYD, an ELP, DEEP PURPLE for this fusion of riffs; the SUPERTRAMP-style sax too, really enjoyable. Synthetic break halfway through with a cardiac jolt beat, the classical guitar which adds emotion in the bar, again, and the WRIGHT-style keyboard, this musician has potential and good musical readings. A long, intimate tirade on the wandering of our now suffering world; well for once I feel a certain length during this redundant river title at the end 7. The macabre pilgrimage occurs, a macabre minute-long intro with radioactive noise before launching a melancholy melody of great beauty; fairground melody, military anthem, the choice is yours; certainly grandiloquent with these drum rolls on these alkaline piano notes; the meter panics again, the piano too, but gentleness is required; last quarter and we start again with a DREAM THEATER tune composing with the typical Arabic sound of MYRATH; final piano the base of Philippe 8. Heroes ends with the final outro interlude, monolithic piano, Russian voices on the radio and serious, majestic and solemn melancholy.(4.5)

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 Billie Bottle's Temple Of Shibboleth by BOTTLE, BILLIE album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.48 | 4 ratings

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Billie Bottle's Temple Of Shibboleth
Billie Bottle Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Temple Of Shibboleth" is the latest offering from Billie Bottle where she somehow combines the mundane week of being a housewife with song titles like "The Wash", "Ironing Days", "The Mending", "The Brewing" and ending with "Rest" with mythology of all things. The lyrics are top shelf, so impressive and the instrumental work continues to impress as it did on "The Other Side" but even better here. Her previous record "The Other Side" was one I couldn't get into mainly because of the lyrics that dealt with British politics plus this new one just seems so much more mature. I mean there's no f-bombs dropping from the sky like on that previous record along with the sarcasm I rarely got.

Billie Bottle's debut from 2010 included guest appearances from David Sinclair and Jimmy Hasting while here we get Richard Sinclair playing bass on one track. They are an all female five piece this time around. Billie, Viv and Roz are back but we get a new drummer and a bassoon player. What? On a Canterbury album? Yes this album unlike the previous one has that Canterbury sound with distorted organ and keys at times. Billie's vocals seem even better here. Again sophisticated jazzy pop tunes for the most part but man she can develope a song which I noticed on her last album as well. Intelligent music folks in spades both the lyrics and music. Mellotron too!

So I have a top five which includes the opener "In The Temple" opening with flute before vocals and piano take over. Beautiful music really as the tempo picks up with beats and more. Harmonies too and it turns experimental late. "Cantus" is the next song on the album and also a top five. This song sort of encapsulates the whole album especially the lyrics. I like when things open up after 2 minutes as well as the sax and bassoon during that late instrumental section, and how uplifting it is 5 minutes in with the mellotron. "Ironing Days" has Richard Sinclair on it but man Billie sounds amazing vocally on here. Light and jazzy with harmonies early as bass, beats and atmosphere join in. Canterbury organ on this one and I like the sax late followed by atmosphere.

"The Mead" is another top five, just a gorgeous sound to it to start.There's even a seductive "I'm a little teapot" section. Oh check out the bassoon 3 minutes in. Lastly "The Wolf" a song about baking and stuff and yes I'm a baker so I can relate a little. And that distorted organ to start! We got trumpets, bassoon, flute and even an experimental section. I'm not sure how "The Mending" didn't make my top five but it needs a mention for being the longest at almost 10 minutes and some really good arrangements here. So intense before 3 minutes as mending can be. I also have to mention "The Wash" for making doing the laundry sound almost adult rated.

Holding it at 4 stars for now but this really impressed me. Under an hour too. About a dozen guests helping out on this one.

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 Tarantula by TARANTULA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.72 | 46 ratings

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Tarantula
Tarantula Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars When I started to write about prog in the early Nineties I was very lucky that around that time many rare prog LP's were put on CD, like Zarathustra from Museo Rosenbach but also reissues from bands like Spring, Crusis, Los Jaivas, Mezquita and ... Tarantula, from Spain, one of the most overlooked prog countries. The office of my progrock magazine was flooded by these reissues, I was in Prog Heaven! In those days I got their two albums to review, I noticed a huge difference: the first (1976) contains wonderful, vintage keyboard drenched symphonic prog (often reminding me of the Classic Italian Prog) but the second (1978, another line-up) delivers a harder-edged and more direct approach with hints from Heavy Proggers Uriah Heep. This review is about their eponymous debut LP, my favorite one.

Recuerdos (6:00) : The atmosphere in the first and final part alternates between mellow with Mellotron flute and soft Minimoog flights and bombastic with dramatic vocals and majestic Mellotron violins eruptions, very moving! The mid- section features an accellaration with Hammond floods and fiery electric guitar, this sound brings German prog bands like Jane and Ramses on my mind.

La Arańa Y La Mosca (4:20) : First a pleasant harmony of cheerful Mellotron flute drops, fat Minimoog sounds, Emersonian Hammond waves and fiery electric guitar runs. Then the moods shift from dreamy with tender piano and melancholical vocals to slow with sensitive electric guitar work and a catchy rhythm with a lush vintage keyboard sound (Mellotron, Hammond and Moog).

Singladura Final (6:16) : This song starts and ends with a beautiful mellow atmosphere featuring twanging guitar, soft organ waves, a warm string sound and wonderful vocals. The break halfway contains pure rock and roll with heavy guitar and raw vocals, how surprising!

Un Mundo Anterior (5:49) : A slow rhythm contains Mellotron (flute and violin section), followed by a very sensitive electric guitar solo and tender piano runs, goose bumps! The tension between the Grand piano, Mellotron flute and electric guitar is great and carries me away to Prog Heaven.

Imperio Muerto (9:38) : This epic composition opens with a psychedelic atmosphere, due to a haunting organ and ominous fat Moog flights. Then lots of changing climates with sensational Minimoog runs, another rock an roll break and dramatic vocals, excellent!

La Danza Del Diablo (3:02) : A mid-tempo song with strong interplay between organ and electric guitar and a swirling Hammond organ solo.

Lydia (2:06) : A short piece that sounds Bach-inspired with warm classical guitar and powerful organ.

Paisajes Pintorescos (7:00) : This final composition is very alternating with the sound of a harpsichord, fiery electric guitar work and great, very expressive vocals. The final part delivers an up-tempo rhythm with wonderful vocals, lush organ and a harder-edged guitar solo, very dynamic and exciting!

Another strong and captivating example of the interesting but overlooked Spanish prog (from Triana, Alameda, Canarios and Iceberg to The Storm, Bloque, Itoiz, Atila en Ibio). Especially the excellent vocals and the lush vintage keyboard sound are a bonus.

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 The Songs & Tales of Airoea Book 3: Magical Chronicle (Ascension) by CHRONICLES OF FATHER ROBIN, THE album cover Studio Album, 2024
3.13 | 21 ratings

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The Songs & Tales of Airoea Book 3: Magical Chronicle (Ascension)
The Chronicles of Father Robin Symphonic Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

2 stars The Chronicles of Father Robin return with the conclusion of their Airoea trilogy. Book I covered the land of Airoea, and Book II its waterways. You can read about my thoughts on those, as well as some notes on this band's background, in my original reviews. Book III, now, is exploring the skies of Airoea.

With the Airoea trilogy now concluded, I've included my thoughts on the project as a whole at the end of this review.

Book III begins with "Magic Chronicle". Gentle guitar and flute provide a warm backing for the opening verse, but it doesn't take long for momentum to start building. The rhythm guitar is charmingly ragged, and the lead has a refreshing, jazzy nature. TCOFR channel Yes clearly in this opening song, but it's not a rip-off. There's a synthesis of past influences into something original. Much as Book II fostered a vaguely aquatic feel throughout its runtime, this song has a fittingly light and buoyant aura. Even during more urgent passages, this song stays aloft.

"Skyslumber" slowly fades in, eventually emerging into a dreamy, floating verse. The guitars are again light and jazzy, and all the instrumental elements dance around each other delicately. It's a pleasant cut that builds up some good intensity by its end, but both its intro and its ending drag on too long.

This gentle mood continues with "Cloudship". The band's Yes-iness is a bit distracting here, however. In particular, this piece sounds a lot like certain passages on Tales from Topographic Oceans. The bit of narration in the middle also crosses the line from fanciful to corny. This is not the band's most compelling song.

"Empires of the Sun" does its best to make up for the underwhelming end to side one. It's immediately peppy and impactful, with a fun, muscular guitar riff. The blending of folk and harder-rocking elements is a rousing success on this song.

The last proper song in the Airoea trilogy is "Lost in the Palace Gardens". Mandolin and acoustic guitar give this song some slight Celtic or bluegrass flavors. (And bluegrass does descend, at least in part, from Celtic music, so that makes sense.) The chorus is strong and catchy, and the song eventually develops a smooth, rolling pulse. The drama is clear in the singer's tone, but the instrumentation is relatively restrained. The song winds down to a rather mellow conclusion, and this is followed by the minute long track "Epilogue", a collection of wind and water sounds.

Book III was the shortest album of the trilogy, and this was a pretty short review. This album felt like it lacked development, and a lot of the songs come off as samey. Nothing on this record is bad, mind you, but a lot of it just kinda floats along and doesn't really make much of an impact.

With all of Airoea in the rearview mirror now, I can take a look at the trilogy as a whole. Across the span of these three connected records, each successive installment grew shorter and gentler. Shorter is not necessarily a bad thing, but having each album be softer is simply not good structuring. Having a big, impactful, flashy opening, followed by a slow-burn part two, and a folky conclusion strikes me as a puzzling way to plot out the drama. A movie with a comparable structure would not make for the most entertaining watch.

This isn't to say it couldn't have ended on a calm note. There'd be absolutely nothing wrong with that. The problem is ending it on a 34-minute calm note, with only a couple flashes of anything else along the way.

In retrospect, Book I is my favorite of the bunch, and Book II has grown on me a bit. I'm writing this review about a month before Book III is officially released, so we'll see if my feelings change in the interim. (Edit 2/25/24: Nope, they didn't.) As it stands, this is probably the most disappointing of the bunch. Taken in isolation, Book III is decent; but in the context of a three-part, two-hour conceptual piece, it's a let-down. I respect this band for putting out such a big record of mostly-solid music, and I commend them for following through on a long-dormant dream. In the end, though, it is plagued by pacing issues throughout. The music, while enjoyable at points, is not particularly original. The Chronicles of Father Robin are an unnecessary project. The dozen or so people who are in every Norwegian prog band do much better work elsewhere.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2024/02/26/album-review-the-chronicles-of-father-robin-the-songs-tales-of-airoea-book-iii-airoea-overview/

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 Faust Wakes Nosferatu by FAUST album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.32 | 21 ratings

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Faust Wakes Nosferatu
Faust Krautrock

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Among Faust's 1997 releases we would find ourselves upon one of, if not the best Faust album ever made. After the disappointing song and dance that was You Know FaUSt, the group went into something quite new and certainly more enjoyable, which would spark a new Faust that was away from the olden krautrock of the 70s, and into directions that were certainly a lot more thrilling and experimental.

While technically a live album, I consider Faust Wakes Nosferatu to be so original and obtuse from the Faust lineage that it deserves to be recognized as an official 8th helping of Faust's glorious music. There are two versions of this album, a CD and vinyl version. I will be talking about the CD release that is on most streaming platforms, and the one most people know about.

I know it is quite an unpopular opinion, but I just absolutely love Faust Wakes Nosferatu. It showcases Faust at not only their most vigorous moments recorded, but also a level of delicacy that I savor a ton, crafting this practical suite live, soundtracking a movie that was released 102 years ago. If anyone could do it, it's Faust (and I guess Art Zoyd too but we don't talk about that album).

There are a lot of reasons I love this album, mainly the dynamics shown here. The band really plays into their more droney paces here, having more quieter moments that are very ambient; subdued with something to hide, a mystery within the expansive musical landscape. However, the band also finds time to play these very avant-garde krautrock numbers that are loud, bombastic, and even scary. Both moments I adore, as they just show who Faust really are without sacrificing their experimental ideals in favor of what had already been done. Essentially speaking this is the biggest glow up for Faust, going away from the dry feeling of You Know FaUSt, to something such as Faust Wakes Nosferatu. While it certainly isn't for everyone, you gotta admit this is a breath of fresh air for Faust's music.

I also really dig the production here. In my You Know FaUSt review I mentioned that the album suffered from a very strong loudness. The loudness does show up here too, however it's a lot less overbearing, and it actually works this time in my opinion. The noise this album can bring is a bit sparse and glitchy, but perfectly sets the mood for the creepy rock music the band is playing. You can really feel the krautrock jams here, the more intricate post rock textures, and the droning atmosphere, more so than probably any other album in their discography. For that, I think it all works so very well.

I think the star tracks here are the two big epics of Aufbruch nach Rumänien and Verwirrung. Aufbruch nach Rumänien is a bit less avant-garde, admittedly, but it does a great job at exploring the moods that the band wants to go for here, comprising pieces of steller jamming with intricate drones that I very much love. It ends also very wonderfully, having this beautiful rock outro to cap the song off.

Verwirrung, though, is where the band see themselves going full throttle, putting together pieces of noise, rock, ambience, and even some small doses of silence that all work together to create 18 minutes of pure catharsis. This is where they get their most horror focused as well, even having a bit of a jumpscare near the middle of the track. It all blends into this wall of staticy noise at the end, with light twiddling of rock music faintly playing in the back. It is as beautiful as it is mysterious, and so I believe this to be Faust's best epic.

The only real issue I have with the album is that I know this will not be for everyone, heck maybe not for most Faust fans. If you look at any score this has on music sites like RYM or ProgArchives it is rated quite low. I certainly can acknowledge that this record may not be for everyone around the bends, but I implore you too please check this one out if you are willing to see where Faust at their most daring can take you. I hope someday more people will see this album for its bonafide brilliance, like how I can see it as such. This is the overlooked Faust masterpiece.

Best tracks: Aufbruch nach Rumänien, Verwirrung

Worst tracks: N/A

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 Tarantula by TARANTULA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.72 | 46 ratings

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Tarantula
Tarantula Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nş 749

As I wrote in many other occasions, the progressive rock music made in the 70's was essentially a British phenomenon. However, there were many other great progressive rock bands that appeared in many other parts of the world, mainly in Europe. So, some of the best prog made in those days was also made in many European countries, such as, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and the Nordic countries, mainly Sweden, only to mention probably the most important of all. The same can be applied to the Iberian Peninsula that despite never was a hot bed for the progressive rock music saw the born of some prog acts in Portugal and Spain. So, this is the case of Tarantula, which is the subject of this my review.

Tarantula was formed in Valencia, Spain in 1973. It was part of the first wave of the Spanish progressive bands from the 70's. Tarantula was one of the many progressive rock bands that appeared in Spain in the second half of the 70's. It was one of the formations that were born in Spain, such as Triana and Mezquita. Tarantula has been described as some of the big responsible for the best prog to come out of Spain with Triana, Los Canarios, Gotic, Mezquita and Granada.

Tarantula released their self-titled debut studio album in 1976 on the Zafiro's Chapa label. The line up on the album is Rafael Cabrera (vocals), M. G. Peydro (guitar), Vicente Guillot (Hammond organ, Melotron, Moog and synthesizers), Jose Pereira (bass guitar) and Emilio Santoja (drums). Their second studio album that was named "Tarantula 2" and that was released in 1978 features a different line up and it's essentially a pop album.

On their eponymous debut studio work, Tarantula's musicality is unique and emerges through wonderful keyboards and an extremely melodic guitar. Cabrera's vocals are another highlight of this first album of the band. The sound tends to be keyboarding driven, although not overly complex, and is supported well by the rhythm section and good writing. Their style is fairly original, elements of rock, classical, blues, folk and other forms in various extended arrangements, with changing tempos and rhythmic textures. Some rudimentary comparisons might be made to some of the Italian prog bands of the same period, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso and Le Orme, for example, but an occasional hard-rock outburst lends the band a different character beyond the progressive realm, giving them a truly chameleon feel. The excellent writing, Cabrera's powerful vocals and clever arrangements, give the music the real strength of the album.

"Tarantula" has eight tracks. The album is opened by "Recuerdos", a song with a fresh keyboard touch and Cabrera's powerful Spanish vocals. This is a dramatic composition with vocals, drums, electric guitar and a great keyboard solo. "La Arana Y La Mosca" is an Emerson, Lake & Palmer's style instrumental theme with great performance. The keyboard sound echoing from the left side symbolizes a spider, and the guitar playing on the right side symbolizes a fly being eaten by a tarantula. "Singladura Final" is a Spanish style song with a rather rustic keyboard performance and vocals with a slow tempo, which suddenly changes to a hard rock theme with a slow tempo from the middle of the song. At the end, the previous theme is reintroduced. "Um Mundo Anterior" is a prog rock song where you can enjoy their fantastic performances for a long time. The electric guitar bounces like a mandolin, the mysterious chorus and a magnificent keyboard work completes the beauty of the trinity. "Imperio Muerto" is a great song with an excellent vocal work that is again broken by a frenetic rock & roll in the classic Tarantula's style. In the end the keyboard and the guitar calm down again. "La Danza Del Diablo" is a chilling tale by Cabrera with the keyboards played as a reminiscent of Italian bands with drum rolls and a Spanish voice and were the sophisticated electric guitar and organ are performed sparkly. "Lydia" is a short instrumental with classical guitar and happy keyboards. It's a prop that puts forward the pride of Spain, the original country of the classical guitar. "Paisajes Pintorescos" is a theme that takes up previous passages with the predominance of the Mellotron. As the powerful electric guitar and the organ explode, soft and delicate vocals and a beautiful organ work flows. After that, Cabrera's vocals turned normal, including a chorus part, ending the album nicely.

Conclusion: "Tarantula" is a very decent album with a classic symphonic sound, an interesting sample of the Spanish progressive rock in a year when the progressive rock was just beginning to take its first steps in Spain. The themes are very varied and changeable, ranging from the romanticism that came from Italy and the more aggressive rock and roll. The Spaniards definitely keep the prog standard of the time with this album that apart the vocals of course and some Spanish elements, mainly the short, folky-jazzy "Lydia" dominated by the classic acoustic guitar, is very influenced by the European progressive rock style, mainly the Italian sub-genre, which at times it makes us remember of Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Le Orme and Il Balletto Di Bronzo, for instance. So, despite the album doesn't provide any particularly original moment, the lovers of the melodic gentle variety of the classic symphonic prog should definitely like the album.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Forsaken Innocence by DRIFTING SUN album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.16 | 174 ratings

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Forsaken Innocence
Drifting Sun Neo-Prog

Review by KansasForEver2

5 stars DRIFTING SUN or Pat SANDERS' baby for almost thirty years (1994 exactly). The man from CHESHAM who is no longer in CHESHAM has just moved from an Anglo-French training to a Franco-English training with a Greek touch! This one is none other than John "JARGON" KOSMIDIS best known for being the brilliant frontman of VERBAL DELIRIUM and author of a superb solo album in 2020.

The accomplices present are the two French Mathieu SPAETER, faithful six string players since the excellent "Twilight" in 2017 and Jimmy PALLAGROSI behind the drums, original session man and who has since spread into numerous progressive and non-progressive groups (ZIO by example). The only British member of the group remains, and there is no point in introducing Mister John JOWITT.

Friend Pat spoils his audience by offering us almost seventy minutes of music and what music we are going to see and hear. "King of the Country" opens the hostilities and it is what we call an epic with its eleven and thirty-six minutes, one of the highlights of the album (9/10), magnified by Mathieu's guitar SPAETER and the violin of a distinguished guest in the person of Eric BOUILLETTE (one of the leaders of Nice from NINE SKIES). Same fight, same level and even better for my personal taste with "Insidious" magnificently sung by John KOSMIDIS, vocals alternately powerful or with emotional restraint, a title in the great tradition of the emblematic pieces of DRIFTING SUN, watered down by the sumptuous piano and synthesizer parts by Pat SANDERS, it feels like "Safe Asylum" (10/10).

"Dementium" which follows, seemed to me a tone lower, but given the level of what preceded, this is somewhat normal, a tone lower does not mean bad in my eyes, just less exciting, despite Ben BELL's pioneering solo on the Hammond organ (8/10), perhaps it lacks additional instrumental breathing space? Delicate and old-fashioned ballad "New Dawn" highlights Gareth COLE's six-string, a piece with strong lyrical potential, worthy representative of a classy and classic neo-prog (9/10).

Ladies and gentlemen, now for the London peplum of this "Forsaken Innocence" with the eponymous piece and its more than twenty-five minutes. Maestro Eric BOUILLETTE on the violin to begin the affair, it's chiadé as we say at home, supported by the friend JARGON and his tone of voice skillfully deposited and by turns beguiling or more energetic while the master of the room SANDERS himself sends us heavy with his multiform or protean keyboards if you prefer, it's classier but the meaning is the same!

As I can't write a book for just one title, here's what I found while digging with my skillful little hands apart from what I just wrote above: magnificent violin (fourth then eighth minute, pure KANSAS downright then tenth to close the first part), loose piano (sixth minute), six strings of Mathieu SPAETER telluric worthy of a John MITCHELL therefore ultra melodic despite its power (ninth minute): the second part now....guitars and keyboards in fusion from the start, John JOWITT who concretes like the great bassist that he is (IQ "Ever", "Dark Matter" and "Frequency" I have never appreciated "Subterranea" no one is perfect. ...) and Jimmy who beats like hell on his drums! (10/10)

The piano/vocal of "Time to Go" is too short and the concluding place "Hand on Heart" too basic for your favorite columnist to be judged honestly. A final word on the remarkable and very gleaming production of this "Forsaken Innocence", listen to LOUD on your new speakers, what do you mean you haven't received them yet? DRIFTING SUN, the album of ultimate consecration, will the future tell us? Indispensable to my eyes and ears, as you will have understood. First publishing at : profilprog.com

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 Billie Bottle & The Multiple: The Other Place by BOTTLE, BILLIE album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Billie Bottle & The Multiple: The Other Place
Billie Bottle Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Billie Bottle and Martine Waltier were invited to compete on BBC's The Voice and the question was how much of their art could they fit through a format which mostly resembles a karaoke contest. Well millions saw Billie in her orange tights and fluoro-pink ski jacket as the duo re-worked SNAP's "The Power". Twitter goes wild and by the end of the evening they had acquired a following the size of a main stage festival crowd.

This info was in the liner notes that are very thick, the whole package is so well done. So after the show they proceeded to travel and sing this song "The Power" and then ask the people questions about who and what is the power. So each of the 17 tracks here has a date, time and location at the end of the lyrics. This is a British political album and it's very vocal heavy. I would put this under Crossover as I don't hear Canterbury at all despite Billie being a Canterbury fan.

She did a tribute song on what would have been Phil Miller's 70th birthday and of the very long list of thankyous she mentions The Canterbury Sound along with surprisingly Markus Reuter, maybe not the same guy. This is sophisticated pop with a jazz flavour as we get plenty of sax and really it's the sax that impresses me the most about this album and that would be Roz Harding. MAGIC BUS' Viv Goodwin-Darke adds flute, Matrtine who I have mentioned adds violin and Lee Fletcher adds his talent in the studio plus he is a multi-instrumentalist. Billie is mostly singing and playing keys or acoustic guitar.

I think it's pretty cool that Billie's Mom was a big Kevin Ayers fan along with ELP. Billie mentions Richard Sinclair as her favourite bass player and being a fan of the band SCHNAUSER. So yeah we keep getting this Canterbury/Crossover connection with her music but honestly the Canterbury isn't in distorted organ or those familiar sounds but with whimsical vocals and silly but intelligent lyrics that Robert Wyatt apparently loves.

This is a long one at over 76 minutes and all about British politics. So not my thing and neither are vocal heavy albums which is why the 3 stars. It's like listening to a concept album and while this could be described as brilliant, listening to this over the past week was a chore. Again not my music but I know people who love this charming release.

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 Ikaro by AALTO album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.73 | 12 ratings

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Ikaro
Aalto Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars It's been 10 years now since AALTO has been silent, with "Ikaro" remaining their latest. While similarities to fellow Finns TENHI can be advanced, this is a bit more upbeat, and is also informed by eastern European and MIddle Eastern influences and broad instrumentation. I'm particularly engrossed by the Balkan sounding numbers like "Vapahtaja", since many from that region moved to Finland to escape the war torn Yugoslavia, and AALTO can call to mind SEDMINA and DARNAKES among others. A raga like tendency flourishes on numbers like "Kastepisaroita II", though it withers on the opening track. "Hetsätaloushöömei" is perhaps the most TENHI-like and also my pick, though it came close to being silenced on my first listen. Its didgeridoo, banjo, and raspy male vocals intermingled with more harmonic male and female voices are spellbinding.

This might not quite soar like its namesake Icarus, but AALTO deserved to make more waves than fortune bestowed upon it. Perhaps a Round 2 is in the offing?

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 Marsbéli Krónikák (Martian Chronicles) by SOLARIS album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.25 | 388 ratings

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Marsbéli Krónikák (Martian Chronicles)
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

5 stars After I had discovered the legendary 70s Classic Prog bands from the UK (especially Genesis, Yes, ELP and Pink Floyd are my favorites) since the mid-Seventies I started to discover 'non-UK' prog from Italy (PFM and Banco), Germany (Grobschnitt, Novalis, Eloy, Jane, Hoelderlin and Triumvirat), Spain (Triana) and France (Ange), I could purchase the LP's in Dutch record stores and a friend put the first two Triana albums on cassette for me. In the Nineties I stumbled upon the amazing progrock mailorder-service Syn-Phonic from Greg Walker, the many prog CD's I bought are still the foundation of my prog collection. A band that I discovered at Syn-Phonic is still one of my all-time favorite 'non-UK' prog bands, Solaris, from Hungary. This awesome formation was founded by a bunch of school friends in 1980, the name was derived from the title of book by SF writer Stanislaw Lem. In 1984 Solaris released their debut album entitled The Martian Chronicles, it sold almost 40.000 copies.

If you have your first listening session with this mainly instrumental album I am sure you will be blown away by the skills of the classically trained musicians, not only on the instruments but also as composers. The sound of Solaris is build upon The Holy Musical Trinity of flute, guitar and keyboards, with lots of dynamics, tension and musical ideas. The one moment mellow with tender classical flute, the other moment a sumptuous outburst with spectacular pitchbend driven Moog synthesizer flights. Or an electronic atmosphere with hints from Jean-Michel Jarre, like in the first part of the titletrack.

I highly recommend this masterpiece from Hungary, a bit forgotten during the years.

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 Monkey Jockey Man and the Safari Tick Sugar by PERFECT album cover Studio Album, 2024
4.05 | 3 ratings

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Monkey Jockey Man and the Safari Tick Sugar
Perfect Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars New adventurous Ohio based prog band on the block, PERFECT released one crazy little debut in 2022 which looked homebound for inspiration rather than digging through the vaults across the pond in the prog rich UK and European scenes. Forging a very eclectic style that encompassed some of the best prog bands the USA has had to offer, PERFECT carried the torch of various stellar prog bands like Yezda Urfa, Mirthrandir, Happy The Man, Pentwater, McLuan and pretty much any other unique musical entity that was stomping around the USA in the 1970s.

Pretty much suffering the same fate of being completely ignored by the prog mainstream, the adventurous self-titled debut still hasn't captured a lot of attention but nevertheless the band continues on and two years later in 2024 has released its sophomore followup with a much more memorable title! MONKEY JOCKEY MAN AND THE SAFARI TICK SUGAR is definitely an album title that isn't going to pull up any competing results in a search engine. This second offering features six distinct tracks that exceed the 44-minute mark and continues the wild and unhinged prog parade that the debut delivered in abundance.

The band has been trimmed down a bit. while Sam Hold (guitar), Jake Ross (drums), Sam Colgrove (bass, keys) and Ian Palmerton (vocals, guitar, percussion) are back for the attack, members Michael Weber (keys, percussion) and Eric Perez (alto sax, tenor sax, guitar) seemed to have dropped out. They are replaced by Sean Morton who handles keys only. With no horn section to be heard the sound is also a bit truncated but it's nothing to worry about because these restless proggers are chock filled with manic energy, technical wizardry and a sense of purpose that continues to keep them in a strange little world of their own making. The album should come with a warning: FOR SEASONED PROGGERS ONLY! This is ridiculously complex music with so many thematic changes and time signature workouts that it will make your head spin.

The band doesn't waste any time with its too much of a good thing. The sprawling 16 1/2 opener "Christ Excavations" begins with a series of freaky electronic sounds, back masking record sounds and a whole lotta weirdness before jumping around its usual mix of spastic Yezda Urfa prog pacified with Happy The Man chill out moments, Thank You Scientist swancore influenced math rock and pretty much any unexpected hairpin excursion you can think of. While melodic in nature, this a collection of unreleased melodies that sort of come and go like a rotating exhibit or a parody of a fashion show. This is the kind of music many will say isn't music and it's no wonder that that many do not gravitate to this style of crazy prog because it's just so unpredictable and leaves the listener struggling to follow.

But that's the whole point! Do you go to the amusement park to ride a wild roller coaster only to feel comfort or do you want to be scared [&*!#]less? Well i wouldn't call this music scary but it is most definitely challenging. It seems anything goes although within the perimeters of a nerdy Yezda Urfa prog style with lots of math rock jitteriness. If ever the tag brutal prog applied, then a band like PERFECT fits the bill, perfectly! Despite the lack of a horn section there are still moments of jazz-fusion as are there moments of King Crimson, of Gentle Giant, of Ruins, of well pretty much any band that was just plain nuts. This second album seems to have even less [%*!#]s to give as it just goes for the brutal prog jugular.

Sure not everyone's bailiwick but if you like prog as adventurous as it gets and complex for complexity's sake then you can't go wrong with PERFECT and on MONKEY JOCKEY MAN AND THE SAFARI TICK SUGAR you can expect a musical experience as bizarre and demanding and freaked out as the album title insinuates. This release even features bizarre industrial noise sections such as on "Tick Sugar." Harsh, brutal and not even remotely user friendly, this one is for the hardcores who love the heck outa strange, alienating musical processions that give a middle finger to any conventionalities. I love it!

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 La Fine Non Esiste by SEMIRAMIS album cover Studio Album, 2024
3.90 | 12 ratings

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La Fine Non Esiste
Semiramis Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars Even in the modern era where we can expect to see artists who have been long considered down and out to make a comeback some decades after their initial run in all honesty, the Rome based SEMIRAMIS which was a crucial part of the initial progressive rock scene in Italy wasn't exactly a band that i ever expected to hear from again. After all, the five members were all teenagers when they unleashed their classic prog rock masterpiece "Dedicato a Frazz" in 1973 and like many other now classic albums was a complete flop at the time of release. Add to that, none of the members really continued on in the music world and seemed to just disappear into the ethers as quickly as they emerged. 
But the 2020s is all about curveballs and proves that even an act like SEMIRAMIS can be resurrected from the dead but is it really SEMIRAMIS? We all know that one member often held legal rights to the moniker and often continues the band with a completely new cast of characters animated their vision. Well just as i suspected, this is not the classic lineup of FRAZZ (the word referred to band members' surnames: Faenza, Raddavide, Artegiani, Zarrillo, Zarillo and if we were to extract which letters remain from the classic lineup then i'm afraid to tell you that it would only be the F for Faenza. Yes, it's drummer / vibraphonist Paolo Faenza who has resurrected the SEMIRAMIS band name and assembled a completely new younger team of eager beavers to unleash his retro sounds of the 70s.

Coming a staggering 51 years after the band's one and only album, "Dedicato a Frazz," the sophomore unit LA FINE NON ESISTE (The End Doesn't Exist) perfectly symbolizes a band once considered a mere anomaly in history to a brand new resurrected musical entity. Truth is stranger than fiction, that's for damn sure. The new band consists of Giovanni Barco as the new vocalist, Emanuele Barco on electric guitars, Marco Palma on acoustic guitars, Ivo Mileto on bass and Daniele Sorrenti on keys, organs, synth and flute. Paolo Faenza is back on percussive duties and LA FINE NON ESISTE comes across as a 70s album revisited with six tracks at about 38 minutes of playing time. Needless to say, this sounds nothing like the first SEMIRAMIS album but what i wasn't expecting is that it's actually pretty good!

There actually are some similarities to the classic SEMIRAMIS sound. This is after all classic RPI from the early 70s timeline in style and it wouldn't even surprise me if many if not all of theses tracks were originally designated for a sophomore album that was to emerge after the debut but for commercial reasons was completely scrapped. The music is a bit heavier than the average RPI album with feisty guitars but still rocks all those classical piano runs and of course features the romantic operatic vocal style however this is no group of teenagers and all the excesses that made the debut so phenomenally good are nowhere to be heard. This sounds like a seasoned RPI band that has grown comfortable in its skin and simply set to autopilot. The tracks are all melodic and memorable and the musicians are quite competent in tackling this classic style of 70s RPI. Of course lyrics are in Italian and the tracks all stand on their own because this is not a concept album the way "Dedicato a Frazz" was. Chock filled with lots of rhythmic shifts and dramatic deliveries, LA FINE NON ESISTE is a classic progressive rock in every aspect and focuses more on faster tempos and heavier guitar heft than many Italian proggers did in the past or implement in the present. The guitar often takes the lead with heavy power chords, feisty licks and the occasional solo. Of course the keys and organ give it that period piece retro sound.

"Dedicato a Frazz" is one of my absolute favorite releases of the original Italian prog scene and even when i got wind of this second album emerging in 2024 i had no expectations that it would even come close to the sheer magnum opus nature that the album has exuded over the ensuing decades. These half century later comebacks rarely amount to anything other than a good publicity stunt but in this case i'm surprised that i like this album as much as i do. The compositions are well thought out, extremely beautiful in their performances and Giovanni Barco has the perfect classic RPI vocal style! Yes this is retro but this is retro done right and while these types of bands are a dime a dozen in the modern world, there's something about the quality of this album that actually makes it feel like a legit 70s album in the modern day. This is actually more than a novelty, this is music i actually enjoy! Those feisty guitar parts really put it over the top so all i can say is bring it on Paolo!

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 Dark Space -II by DARKSPACE album cover Studio Album, 2024
3.05 | 3 ratings

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Dark Space -II
Darkspace Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

3 stars DARKSPACE has been something akin to the Star Trek Enterprise in metal boldly going where no man has gone before and was rightfully one of the pioneers in the cosmic and psychedelic realms of ambient black metal. Led by Tobias Möckl, this Bern, Switzerland crew has been around for a quarter century now having formed in 1999 with an amazingly stable lineup of Tobias Möckl aka Wroth (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, synths, drum programming), Zhaaral (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Zorgh (bass, backing vocals). Well that amazing stability has finally been shaken up and Zorgh has jumped ship and replaced by Yhs.

Never the most prolific band in the world of black metal and certainly not the most creative in keeping track of album titles, the band began simply with "Dark Space I" then "II" until it reached the clumsy looking "III I." Ironically DARKSPACE released an EP in 2012 titled "Dark Space -I" which actually came out before Dark Space III I." Oh i'm getting a headache now! Not heard from in an entire decade it's like the band was in the cryogenic chamber awaiting a landing on another undiscovered celestial body in a galaxy not near you and in 2024 surprisingly returns with the fifth studio album DARK SPACE -II. This one is also the first to be released without the consistent black background with the group logo.

Forged with lengthy sprawling tracks that frigidly craft the perfect cosmic soundtrack of a black metal journey into the gravitation-free zone of outer space, DARKSPACE has always delivered a series of sprawlers on their albums and on DARK SPACE -II simply eliminates any pretense of having to name titles at all. This album is simply a single track titled "Dark -2.-2" and at 47 minutes plus is actually a short album considering most of the band's album are well over an hour's playing time or at least close to it. Also all of the previous DARKSPACE releases have been re-released on the Seasons of the Mist label and DARK SPACE -II marks the debut for the label as a first timer.

A decade may seem like a long time to us Earthlings but in space time breaks down and to those familiar with the 25 year trajectory of DARKSPACE, this band has had a very consistent sound and only changes things up enough to keep each album from sounding too similar. Referred to by some as "gravity metal" which means space themed metal which is like a the fluidity of a lucid dream, DARKSPACE continues its hypnotizing stylistic approach which delivers both black metal and black ambient in equal doses with various mixes in between. -II continues the business of long sprawling post-rock styled cyclical loops that repeat to infinity with slowly building dynamics and a never-ending incremental change of both the ambient and metal aspects.

Icy cold atmospheres allow long metal guitar fuzz to linger on while raspy vocals gasp for air from the unknown. Droning and glacial pacing allows the lengthy journey to slowly drip drop across the soundscape one measure at a time. Noticeably less metal oriented than previous releases DARKSPACE seems to have mellowed a bit with a stronger emphasis on the dark ambient synthesized sounds often leaving the black metal to sound like a couple of receptive chords simply adding buzzsaw guitar feedback light as if the crew was running out of oxygen and the vitality has been compromised on the lengthy space journey. Whatever the case there is no ferocity like we last encountered on "Dark Space iII I," just faint guitar and suffocated vocals from the void.

Given the emphasis on the black ambient the album sounds more orchestrated which isn't necessary a bad thing but the tamping down of the metal elements also makes the drums sound very ineffective as the percussion has become nothing but a metronometer and gone are the blastbeats and variation. Gone too are the guitar solos and various stylistic shifts that offer some relief from the monotony. On the contrary, this one track sounds like it's stuck in a groove and never really deviates from it. Some of the guitar chugging becomes more activated towards the end but it's not nearly as vibrant as the DARKSPACE we've all come and known to love.

Well it seems like Tobias Möckl might be burning out as both his DARKSPACE project as well as his other flagship ambient black metal baby, Paysage D'Hiver has also been sputtering on fumes in recent years. Perhaps the creativity well has run dry and he has milked this space metal shtick as far as it can go. Don't get me wrong, DARK SPACE -II is not a bad release at all but in comparison to the releases that ended a decade ago, this one is more like a house cat compared to the wild savage tigers that came before. It's a devolution of intensity, creativity and ingenuity. Interestingly databases will say there's only one long track but on the band's Bandcamp site there are three shorter excerpts but don't really offer anything new. A tad disappointed in this one. Definitely my least favorite DARKSPACE release so far. Once again i don't dislike it but it sort of settles on mediocrity.

3.5 rounded down

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 Afraid Of Sunlight by MARILLION album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.82 | 809 ratings

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Afraid Of Sunlight
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "Afraid of Sunlight", Marillion's eighth album, continues the path traced by "Brave", but taking their proposal to an even more introspective level. Without being a full-fledged concept album, the subject matter reflects in several passages on how difficult it is to deal with the demands and challenges that come with fame, accompanying the stories with an instrumentation that favours dark and suffocating atmospheres, something that generated friction and the subsequent break-up with their record label at the time (EMI), who were expecting a more agile and less bitter work.

Beyond the opening "Gazpacho" referring to the controversial case of O.J. Simpson case, and the satirical "Cannibal Surf Babe", an unfortunate piece in Beach Boys mode that deals with eternal youthful souls, the album dives into the depths of the psyche without haste and with few individual displays in favour of a group instrumental solidity, guided by Steve Hogarth's apt verses, as in the peaceful and inspiring "Beautiful", one of the band's most heartfelt ballads, or in the fearful "Afraid of Sunlight" and the desolate "Out of this World", both impregnated with an overwhelming melancholy. A depth that at times can also border on exasperation due to the excessively weary tone of the aching "Afraid of Sunrise" and "Beyond You".

The album concludes with its most outstanding piece, "King", which deals with the tragic end of Kurt Cobain with a dramatism that grows until it reaches the instrumental climax with Steve Rothery's powerful solo, one of the guitarist's rare licences, accompanied by Ian Mosley's very good percussion and with the band in full swing. A closing song where the Englishmen show all the intensity they are capable of transmitting when they set their minds to it.

"Afraid of Sunlight" is serious and complex in its subject matter, careful and neat in its production, and perhaps lacking a little more energetic forcefulness in its musical development to consider it an excellent work, a point that I don't think it reached.

3/3.5 stars.

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 New Leaf by EAST OF EDEN album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.66 | 33 ratings

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New Leaf
East Of Eden Eclectic Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "New Leaf" is the fourth full-length studio album by UK, Bristol based jazz/rock/progressive rock act East of Eden. The album was released through Harvest Records in November 1971. It´s the successor to the band´s eponymously titled third full-length studio album from June 1971. One lineup change has taken place since the last album but this time around no one has left but instead Dave Weller (saxophone) has been added to the lineup, making East of Eden a quintet on "New Leaf". "New Leaf" would be the last East of Eden album to feature Dave Arbus (violin, winds), who at this point was the last original member of the band. East of Eden weren´t completely done though and they continued to tour without any original members in the lineup and even recorded three more albums in the years 1975-1978 after which they disbanded.

The June 1971 "East of Eden" album was quite the departure from the jazz/rock and avant-garde leanings of the February 1970 "Snafu" album, with its folky rock sound and only the occasional nod towards the jazz/rock and psychedelic rock of the first two albums by the band, and although "New Leaf´s" opening track "Bradshaw the Bison Hunter" may initally promise a return to the jazz/rock of "Snafu", that promise soon fizzles out when the folk rock of "Ain't Gonna Do You No Harm" kicks in. "New Leaf" soon turns out to be an even more stripped down, laid back, and folk/blues oriented vers/chorus structured rock album than the predecessor. It´s all well performed and enjoyable enough while it plays, but it´s hard not to miss the experimental songwriting of the early releases and not find this just a tad generic.

"New Leaf" is a well produced release, featuring a powerful, organic, and detailed sound production, which suits the material well, so on most parameters it´s a good quality release. So it´s probably comes down to the expectations you have before listening to the album. It´s not a surprise that this is the musical direction if you have listened to the album which came before this one, but if you come to this having only listened to the first two albums, you´ll probably come away disappointed. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

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 East of Eden by EAST OF EDEN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.34 | 60 ratings

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East of Eden
East Of Eden Eclectic Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "East of Eden" is the eponymously titled third full-length studio album by UK, Bristol based rock act East of Eden. The album was released through Harvest Records in June 1971. It´s the successor to "Snafu" from February 1970, although the two full-length studio albums are bridged by the band´s most successful release, which was the 1970 Jig-A-Jig single (a non-album single track). Major lineup changes had again taken place between album releases (which happened throughout the career of East of Eden) and only Dave Arbus (violin, saxophone, flute) remains from the lineup who recorded "Snafu". New in the lineup are Jim Roche (guitar), David Jack (bass, vocals, acoustic guitar), and Jeff Allen (drums, percussion).

Stylistically "East of Eden" is also a completely different beast to the first two albums by the band (which were also both pretty different from each other). If "Snafu" saw East of Eden experiment to the fullest of their potential creating a hybrid jazz/rock, psychedelic rock, avant-garde rock release, this third album sees the band scaling back on the experimental ideas, stripping down their sound to a vers/chorus based vocal dominated rock style with folk/blues rock leanings. If you didn´t know it you would never have guessed it´s the same band playing here, but then again...with all the lineup changes it can be argued that it really isn´t. The occasional flute, violin, or saxophone part pops up and that´s when you recognise that it´s East of Eden playing, but other than that this is so different from what came before, that this could just as easily have been a completely different band playing.

When the band finally lets rip and leave the vers/chorus vocal comfort zone of their music it´s still audible that they are great musicians and there are some pretty great instrumental parts featured on this album. The vocal sections of the music aren´t band either, but if you come to this album expecting anything like the first two albums you´ll come away disappointed. "East of Eden" is a well produced album featuring a powerful, organic, and detailed sound production, which suits the material well, so upon conclusion this is a good quality rock release out of context. But put into the context that it´s a follow-up release to "Snafu" it´s a bit of an oddity. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

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 Jig-a-Jig / Marcus Junior by EAST OF EDEN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1970
3.26 | 8 ratings

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Jig-a-Jig / Marcus Junior
East Of Eden Eclectic Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Jig-a-Jig / Marcus Junior" is a single release by UK, Bristol based rock act East of Eden. The single was released through Deram Records in 1970 and features the A-side track "Jig-a-Jig", which is a non-album single track and the B-side track "Marcus Junior", which is an edited (shortened) version of the "Leaping Beauties for Rudy / Marcus Junior" track from the February 1970 "Snafu" album.

"Jig-a-Jig" is a completely out of character track for East of Eden who had up until then experimented with jazz/rock, psychedelic rock, and proto-progressive rock, but "Jig-a-Jig" is at its core a traditional Irish folk jig where Dave Arbus violin dominates the soundscape. It´s a fast-paced, busy, and hard rocking version of a jig though and the way it´s building steam and layers of instruments all the way through the song is pretty effectful.

"Marcus Junior" is a jazz/rock big band type track which shows the new direction that East of Eden pursued on the "Snafu" album. It´s a good quality track with some nice wind arrangements and solos and a hard rocking rhythm section driving the track forward. Both tracks on the single are instrumentals. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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 Snafu by EAST OF EDEN album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.17 | 203 ratings

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Snafu
East Of Eden Eclectic Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Snafu" is the second full-length studio album by UK, Bristol based psychedelic rock/progressive rock act East of Eden. The album was released through Deram Records in February 1970. It´s the successor to "Mercator Projected" from April 1969 (which was also released through Deram Records). Even before the release of "Mercator Projected" drummer Dave Dufont and bassist Steve York (who both play on the album) had left East of Eden and they were quickly replaced by Brian Appleyard and Andy Sneddon. Appleyard didn´t last long though and was replaced by Geoff Britton in July 1969. So the lineup on "Snafu" is: Geoff Nicholson (guitar, piano, harmonica, vocals), Dave Arbus (electric violin, flute, bagpipes, saxophones, trumpet, Indian bells), Ron Caines (soprano & alto saxophones, piano/organ, stylophone, vocals), Andy Sneddon (bass, strings), and Geoff Britton (drums/percussion).

Stylistically East of Eden have developed their style and although there are still traces of their psychedelic rock roots heard on the album (this is at times pretty laid back and spaced out, although that´s not the dominant atmosphere of the album) and they can still occasionally rock pretty hard, "Snafu" is a more jazz/rock oriented release than its predecessor spiced up with a lot of other influences from for example middle eastern/indian music traditions and because of the complexity and eclectic way the music is presented you can add an avant garde influence here too. Sometimes even venturing into big band type parts, but also keeping things organic and rocking (think the busy big band part of "21st Century Schizoid Man" by King Crimson). It´s one of East of Eden´s greatest strengths...that they can both deliver some really sophisticated and relatively complex jazz/rock while still playing organic rock´n´roll. The vocals are relatively sparse and "Snafu" is mostly focused on instrumental sections, so the vocals are arguably the least interesting feature of the album, although they certainly aren´t badly performed.

Upon conclusion this is a highly experimental rock album which should appeal to the more open-minded late 60s/early 70s music listener. It´s a well produced release too and paired with the high level musicianship and the adventuorus songwriting approach "Snafu" is a high quality release from East of Eden. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

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 A Temporary State of Bliss by RESIDUOS MENTALES album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.37 | 16 ratings

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A Temporary State of Bliss
Residuos Mentales Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Residuos Mentales is a studio project from Athens, Greece, formed by Stratos Morianos (keyboards, synthesisers) and Alexandros Mantas (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, flute, bass) in 2012. It took until 2018 for their debut album to make an appearance, 'Introspection', and now a further five years for the next one. There are a lot of guests on this which turn it into a full band with Dimitris Radis (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass), Yiannis Iliakis (drums, percussion), Leonidas Sarantopoulos (saxophone, flute), George Karayiannis (guitar), Vaggelis Katsarelis (trumpet), and Maria Tseva (wordless vocals). Yes, this is an instrumental prog album (way too few of these around), and in true old school fashion it opens with a dynamic track which is more than 17 minutes in length. Actually, there are only four songs on this 44-minute-long release which gives plenty of time for the band to move and shift.

Here we have instrumental music with real purpose and drive, taking the listener on a journey which has many twists along the way, so much so that one never knows what is going to come next. There is no doubt that the final sections of the lengthy "The Stuff of Dreams" are heavily influenced by Andy Latimer in the guitars, while the introduction sounds much more like Galahad as the music is built on layers of keyboards towards the climax which is surely to come, but no, we move into picked acoustic which feels far more like Anthony Phillips. To my ears this is a very English sounding release, much more than other bands from Greece I have reviewed in the past, with plenty of takes from the golden age through to the current day, always polished and with a true sense of direction. We get symphonic combined with neo, with crossover tendencies here and there as they follow the muse where it takes them as opposed to keeping it tightly constrained.

Due to the way they keep shifting, and also having some guests only on certain tracks, one never knows what is going to happen yet, but there is always a real clarity and is an album where any proghead can just sit back and let the music wash over them. Released through Dutch label OOB Records one can only hope it is going to get the recognition it so richly deserves as this is a delight.

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 Quiet Euphoria by AMOEBA SPLIT album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.17 | 105 ratings

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Quiet Euphoria
Amoeba Split Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. This is studio album number three for these Spaniards as they continue with their jazzy styled all instrumental music. A big band consisting of 8 musicians including two keyboardists, three horn players, a drummer and vibes player and finally multi-instrumentalist Alberto Lopez playing guitar, bass and keyboards as well as being the composer.

I must admit I was going to pass on this one but like others the high ratings changed my mind. I did enjoy the first two records but not enough to continue with them. I do feel this is a step down from those. The opener and closer which I place a lot of value on are disappointing, especially the 11 minute closer that sounds like an improv that didn't go well. The opener and title track is pretty good but I'm surprised at the vibes leading for most of it. Piano early and late and it's fairly catchy.

My favourite track by far is "Thrown To The Lions" a tale that Daniel lived to tell. This has a SOFT MACHINE vibe to it and really that is the only band that came to mind during my time spent with this record. I just like the feel of this one, good vibes for sure and the horns have a lot to do with that. Oh electric piano too? And with electric bass, yes this is the song folks. A spacey calm ends it for reflection. Daniel's space. How about the 80's sounding synths on "Divide And Conquer" I like them they're so melancholic.

I have to mention the album art that had me squinting to see what the girl was holding. Well check out the back cover of an evening view of that telescope without the girl. Then inside we get numerous pictures from different angles and it's all so cool. Well done. Good album but not on the level most feel it is.

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 Medina Azahara [Aka: Paseando Por La Mezquita] by MEDINA AZAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.73 | 49 ratings

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Medina Azahara [Aka: Paseando Por La Mezquita]
Medina Azahara Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars In the second half of the Sixties an increasing amount of young musicians in the southern Spanish province Andalusia started to incorporate the traditional flamenco of their region in a wide range of musical styles, from rock, psychedelia, and jazz to jazzrock, blues and symphonic rock. Interesting proto-Rock Andaluz are Sabicas with Joe Beck (also featuring Tony Levin) and Smash. This culminated in the mid-Seventies into the socalled Rock Andaluz movement, speerheaded by the legendary and highly acclaimed trio Triana. Other fascinating Rock Andaluz bands/artists: Cai, Alameda, Quadalquivir, Mezquita, Iman, Azahar, Montoro, Mantra, Diego de Moron, Vega, Tarantos, Gualberto and Juan Martin (Picasso Portraits, with Tony Hymas, John Gustafson, Simon Phillips and Ian Mosley ). The main features of all these bands are the use of typical flamenco elements, from the art of the flamenco guitar and distinctive intense vocals to a strong Arabesca undertone in the keyboard - and guitar sound. Anno 2024 Rock Andaluz is still a vivid musical movement, with lots of interesting new bands, like Alhandal, Taifa, Alpesa, Qamar, Anairt, Sherish, Arabiga, Randy Lopez, Varekai, Vandalus, Zaguan, Saraqusta, Juan Antonio Vergara (Periplo project), Canastereo, Cangrejos, Sacristia and Sevilla Distorsion.

A special mention goes to Medina Azahara from Cordoba, rooted in the late Seventies but last year this very popular Rock Andaluz formation released their 21st studio-album, incredible. This review is a musical time travel, to their eponymous debut album (aka Paseando Por La Mezquita), from 1979, a Rock Andaluz classic. It gained a double- platinum status, which means sales over 200.000!

On their very first album Medina Azahara sounds like a harder-edged version of Triana, but with less obvious flamenco hints. The most important Rock Andaluz element is singer Manuel Martinez with his flamenco inspired vocals, on stage the huge and blond Manuel looks like a mix of David Byron and a Viking, very passionate. The most exciting composition is the first track entitled Paseando Por La Mezquita (a wonderful Morish building in their hometown Cordoba where the original band members met for the first time), the climate is very Morish influenced and the sensational catchy guitar riff turned into the Rock Andaluz anthem, it sounds like "the Smoke On The Water of the Rock Andaluz!". The beautiful songs En La Manana and Busco deliver captivating parts with flamenco guitar by guest musician Paco Cepero. The other tracks are a blend of Rock Andaluz (mainly due to the vocals), melodic rock and Neo-Prog (Mark Kelly inspired synthesizer flights), topped with excellent guitar work, from sensitive and howling to electric rhythm guitar that creates a flamenco atmosphere. This matches perfectly with Manuel his emotional vocals, and fuelled by a powerful rhythm-section.

A very interesting album for those progheads who are up to discover the fascinating world of the Rock Andaluz.

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 Undestroyed by FREE SALAMANDER EXHIBIT album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.10 | 72 ratings

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Undestroyed
Free Salamander Exhibit RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars The first splinter group to form after the grand closing of the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, FREE SALAMANDER EXIT formed in 2012 the year after the last SGM album and pretty much served as the next step following the Nils Frykdahl and Dan Rathbun list of challenging musical bands that began in the 80s with Acid Rain, came to fruition in the 90s with Idiot Flesh and then taken to world class sophistication in the 2000s with the Sleepytimes when they took the world's stage to woo avant-gardists with some of the most bizarre twisted metal meets prog ever.

Basically the Sleepytimes with a different lineup, FREE SALAMANDER EXIT which takes its name from the same mythology of the Sleepytime Gorilla Press, features Museum curators Nils Frykdahl (vocals, guitar, flute), Dan Rathbun (bass, various homemade instruments) and Michael Mellender (guitar, trumpet, percussion). Also rejoining the merry band of mischief makers is percussionist David Shamrock who had quit the Museum after the debut "Grand Opening and Grand Closing."

While musically extremely similar to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, FREE SALAMANDER EXIT is noticeably different with the absence of violinist of Carka Kihlstedt, a role that is mostly filled by Frykdahl's flute antics. New to the troupe is guitarist and rocker of theremins Drew Wheeler. So far FREE SALAMANDER EXIT has only released this one exotic specimen of avant-prog metal madness titled UNDESTROYED. It was released in 2016 to great fanfare and provided the perfect hit for those still undergoing withdrawal symptoms after their favorite psycho-prog metal band went by the wayside.

Most similar to the Sleepytime's final offering, the banteringly prog fueled avant-metal madness known as "In Glorious Times," UNDESTROYED navigates the same choppy musical turf with an extra dose of avant-prog angularities for your listening pleasure. Chock filled with time signature workouts from another dimension, the musical delivery is more on the metal side of things with heavy distorted guitars along with bass and drum bombast and of course Frykdahl's best demented metal vocal performances. Unlike SGM that features all kinds of strange atmospheric detours and non-metal mind [%*!#]s, FREE SALAMANDER EXIT is actually a lot more focused on a basic heavy metal prog type of sound influenced by "Red" era King Crimson and more modern bands like Sweden's Anekdoten.

UNDESTROYED features seven strong tracks at over 50 minutes of playing time. The tracks are often heavy and distorted and the band doesn't shy away from some of the most complex time signature craziness bringing the wild world of Henry Cow, Art Bears and other classic Rock In Opposition masters to the forefront as far as the primary influences are concerned. Of course these musicians are so comfortable working together at this point that past endeavors shine through whether ranging from the zaniness of Idiot Flesh or the serious angular nature of the Sleepytimes.

Laced with extreme syncopation effects, avant-funk fueled guitar workouts, more avant-prog time signature weirdness than should be allowed by law and a propensity for catchy yet unthinkably weird musical compositions, FREE SALAMANDER EXIT proves to be a worthy successor of the SGM heritage with just enough familiarities to attract the old fan club but just enough different sounding aspects to keep it separated from the main mothership by several degrees. An excellent and wildly bizarre supplemental project by members of the now legendary Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. It's unclear if this project was a one time event or will actually continue on especially now that SGM has been resurrected. Whatever the case, UNDESTROYED is a keeper. Perhaps not as epic sounding as the SGM itself but not a bad runner up.

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 Old Waves New Seas by AQUAPLAN album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.25 | 7 ratings

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Old Waves New Seas
Aquaplan Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars This now defunct Finnish folk jazz group released 3 albums in the 2000s, "Aquaplan" being the last. It's a shame because the level of maturity here is evident in the manner in which the band prioritizes a laid back yet upbeat clean "sound", unlike most Finnish prog. They do rock out but it's never overwrought or for too long. The two most defining aspects of their style are conveyed by vocalist Maarit Saarenkunnas and bassist Ville Veijalainen, though all members contribute to advantage.

Maarit's voice reminds me of a blend of Cat Ellen (FOREVER TWELVE), Stephanie Adlington and Jane Relf (RENAISSANCE), Joanna Hogg (IONA), and Moya Brennan (CLANNAD). Ville's bass takes over several tracks and, along with the piano and electric guitar to lesser degrees, impart a crisp jazzy sheen. While this is all enjoyable, the apex is represented by the sequence from "Lucky Me: through "Ordinary Life".

While "Old Waves New Seas" might sound vaguely familiar, it's a fresh take on Finnish prog folk could launch or cap off an evening of musical surfing. Not quite 4 stars.

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 of the Last Human Being by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2024
4.71 | 12 ratings

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of the Last Human Being
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

5 stars Of all the artists to rise from the dead like Lazarus of Bethany in the calendar year 2024, the Oakland based freak show known as SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM was not exactly on my radar. After all, these curators of one of the most surreal Dadaist performance art niches in the entire world of experimental rock and avant-garde metal had a full life with it's "Grand Opening And Closing" ceremonies in 2001 followed by its most creative and insanely disturbing pinnacle with its following "Of Natural History." With its third installment "In Glorious Times" the band shifted gears a bit with seemingly nothing left to prove and then closed up shop and presumably down for the count. While rumors persisted it seemed that the creation of the band Free Salamander Exit formed shortly after with album emerging in 2016 announced that the SGM was as history as the fire ravaged fictitious museum of its namesake. But this is SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM and the only thing that can safely be expected is indeed the unexpected.

Seventeen years is a long time for such a creatively insane band to drop off the scene entirely and suddenly reemerge but that is exactly what has occurred in the earliest moments of 2024 when the majestic madness of the SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM has announced its reopening with an invitation to experience its latest exhibit - OF THE LAST HUMAN BEING. Yes, it's all back and so too are the main curators and partners in crime which has included the mischievous gypsy geniuses Nils Frykdahl, Dan Rathbun, Carla Kihlstedt, Michael Mellender and Matthias Bossi and of course they resurrect their entire arsenal of sound making devices for your listening pleasure. The "Rock Against Rock" troupe has reactivated all the musical mojo that made the first run so magical and once investigated a bit further, it turns out that SGM actually began to write for a fourth album as soon as the third one was complete therefore much of the material presented on OF THE LAST HUMAN BEING actually feels like a natural continuation of where the band left off in 2011. But of course it wouldn't be SGM without throwing a few curveballs and for that we will always love them.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated returns to the world of avant-prog metal, the new album was made possible by fans crowdfunding the financial creation of it. Perhaps all of those who missed their favorite musical mystics needed to relish in the unsavory thematic events that emerge from the age of the Anthropocene Extinction just needed their fix once again. Well look no further. The band sent out some teaser's with early video releases for the tracks "Burn Into Light" and "Hush Hush" and proved that they still have that eerie avant-garde connection to the wellspring of ethereal creative conductivity that has once again manifested itself in this larger than life lumpen musicalis from which there is apparently no cure. OF THE LAST HUMAN BEING exemplifies the typical format of the SGM with 13 diverse tracks that take you through the roller coaster ride love affair of avant-prog, freakish metal, psycho-folk, screwball cabaret all the while narrating the musical maelstrom with some of the most head-scratching themes and lyrical content in the world of art rock. The wait is over and the feast is ready for serving. The album is just under 66 minutes long.

Fears of a botched comeback gone wrong are extinguished very quickly as the opening "Salamander In Two Worlds" evokes the same lullaby pacification that "Of Natural History" exhibited throughout its labyrinthine callithump. The tintinnabulation of xylophones and glockenspiels with Nils Frykdahl's familiar vocal tones feel like a long lost friend. The track exhibits all those bittersweet contradictory musical factors: avant-prog time signature workouts and insane instrumental interplay that these gifted musicians are now famous for. The title makes you wonder if it refers in code to the announcement that SGM and Free Salamander Exit will exist simultaneously although literally the track actually refers to Theodora Kroeber's biography "Ishi In Two World" which narrated the last known member of the Native American tribe, the Yahis. Ishi became a living museum exhibit and apparently now an exhibit at everyone's favorite Dadaist institution.

While the opening track exhibits the SGM's propensity for cleverly crafting intricately delicate melodic developments fortified with all kinds of complexities and dynamic shifts, the following "Fanfare For The Last Human Being" seems to extend back to Rathbun and Frykdahl's Idiot Flesh days with a marching band type musical procession only embellished by violin-fueled folk and a Stravinksy classical flavor however it is a short instrumental and the third track "El Evil" jumps into the more familiar straight on metallic rockers of "In Glorious Times" only showcasing Carla Kihlstedt's amazing violin shredding capacity. Strange tribal rhythms, erratic industrial guitar freneticism in avant-funk mode accompanied by Frykdahl's best possessed by sheer evil vocal performances ensure that this album has lost none of the creative fortitude of its predecessors. All fears of an botched project have officially dissipated at this stage! Woohoo!!! And damn how do these MUSEUM curators make evil so [%*!#]ing addictive!

The band has also lost none of its propensity for keeping the album flowing in different directions with the chimes of "El Evil" ceding perfectly into the chime-rich short instrumental "Bells For Kith And Kin" which makes you feel like you've been teleported to some Tibetan monastery! Next up "Silverfish" which allows Karla Kihlstedt to pacify the soul with her Bjork-ish vocal delivery. Dark and brooding the track begins as a Chelsea Wolfe type of dark ambient pop sound only with a melancholic jig styled violin accompaniment which offers a strange bedfellow with the witchy spell casting lyrical delivery. The following "S.P.Q.R." actually dates back to 2004 and features one of the most frenetically demented bass runs of the band's entire output. As the group sings along in unison it almost sounds like some bizarre ritual as the bass and violin shred like Pagini with eerie brooding atmospheres oozing in from the ethers.

"We Must Know More" is another throwback to the marching band rich Idiot Flesh days. Completely devoid of bass and guitar, the track features a tuba, trombone and Frykdahl delivering a sermon of surreality. The catchy melody is almost of commercial jingle value. Perhaps the catchiest track the band has ever released, at least the most accessible. Think of a barber quartet gone psycho-marching band and you'll get the gist. "The Gift" jumps back into the brooding darkness and the jarring avant-prog musical processions that hop, skip and jump between slow passages and then erupt to fully ignited avant-metal rampage. In other words, it's SGM caliber weird! "Hush Hush" comes next. One of the videos that served as a sneak peak is actually not indicative of the album as a whole. A tender ballad SGM style narrated by a fragile Carla Kihlstedt, the is brooding and stays in an eerie downtempo sort of speed with Kihlstedt's vocals soft and contemplative however even this track breaks into a metal sequence in the middle before Kihlstedt regaining control

"Save It!" is one of the most spastic tracks and sounds like some sort of industrial avant-funk, something like you would expect if Primus and Einstürzende Neubauten were collaborating forces with Univers Zero. "Burn Into Light," also released as a video, visually showcased a bizarre collision of a crow-human alchemist and humans seeking magical knowledge beyond their ability to control. The video was captivating and creepy as hell and what the musical score offers is no less so. An industrial metal rocker with the expected avant-prog workouts, this track fires on all pistons including Kihlstedt's controlled violin contributions. "Old Grey Heron" is actually the longest track at 7 1/2 minutes. A tale of a heron who only wants humanity to get it together before the extinction event occurs, this post-rocker resembles the track "The Creature" from "Of Natural History" at least in Frykdahl's lyrical delivery. The music is less punctuated by avant-prog stabs and rather remains calm and calculated and perhaps the most free-flowing track the band has thus penned. The time signature workouts are kept to a minimum and the minimalist approach (by SGM standards) ensures the message is uninterrupted. Even the metallic heaviness is more like a "normal" alternative rock / metal band than anything remotely SGM. The trumpet adds a nice mariachi band touch.

You have to put your rose-colored glasses on for the album's grand finale, "Rose-Colored Song" which bookends the album much like it began with a tinkling of a glockenspiel that resembles a music box and a fairy tale soundtrack quality with psycho-cabaret overtones. As the Disneyland-esque theme park ride giddiness cedes to bizarre industrial sound effects, the sputters on aimlessly allowing a dark brooding atmosphere to slowly bid you farewell from the latest MUSEUM exhibit. Once against the light and the dark wrestle for world domination and once again a truce of the forces keeps the cliffhanger in perpetual motion. And then it's done leaving you to wonder how this album stacks up against its predecessors. Well after a few spins already, i have to say REMARKABLY WELL! With nothing left to prove it seems that SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM was content to simply mine its entire history in order to retain a sense of familiarity yet allowing new ideas to organically coalesce into the greater mix. In other words this album exceeded all expectations and proves to me that this band of musical troupes really is one of the most creative forces on the planet par none.

OF THE LAST HUMAN BEING really does feel like a continuation of the band's earlier trilogy and although i have heard no announcements of the band's future, we can only hope that at least another trilogy is on the drawing board. While my expectations were set low as to avoid any disappointment whatsoever, it comes as one of the most pleasant surprises of 2024 that a band so talented could pull off a proper comeback nearly two decades down the pike. A brilliant and instantly palatable set of tracks will allow any fans to instantly regale in past endeavors only set to the immediacy of the 2020s. Perhaps a bit more accessible than the albums that preceded but only in a way that is logical and allows the continuity of the album's entire run to play out. It's true that the metal aspects of "In Glorious Times" have been tamped down quite a bit but on the bright side the playful and often giddy larger playground of instrumentation that was so missed on the previous album has returned to generate one of the most ingenious album experiences of the 2020s. SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM is not only back with a new exhibit but one has produced yet another masterpiece of magnetic music magic unlike any other. Oh rejoice for the pleasures of life are too fleeting and too few.

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 In Glorious Times by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.93 | 135 ratings

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In Glorious Times
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars The final chapter of the original three albums from Oakland, California's SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM before they took an extended hiatus. Pretending they were Spinal Tap and losing a drummer every album, so too does the third album IN GLORIOUS TIMES find the arrival of drummer Mathias Bossi who replaced Frank Gau. Bossi, a seasoned drummer played in a series of challenging bands including The Book of Knots, Skeleton Key and Vic Thrill. Bossi also would marry Carla Kihlstedt, SGM's amazing violinist / vocalist who returns for another stunning performance. Once again, the band delivered another hour plus worth of complex experimental avant-prog metal with a totally new direction.

While the band's first two album's were very theatrical in a demented Vaudville fashion with the music matching the wild performance art routines, on IN GLORIOUS TIMES the band streamlined its sound into a heavier avant-garde metal juggernaut with more inspiration from "Red" era King Crimson or the Swedish prog revival bands like Anekdoten, Sinkadus or Landberk only with a razor-sharp metal edge. If "Of Natural History" was SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM's magnum opus to prove they were the worthy successors of the mighty Mr Bungle, then IN GLORIOUS TIMES was the answer to Mike Patton's Fantômos, only SGM had a knack of keeping everything distinct and original no matter how many nods they dished out to past masters. In that regard album #3 delivers with abundance.

A noticeable more brash and metal oriented album from the very start, "The Companions" insinuates the band is back with fairy-tale dreams in avant-folk forests but in reality only stirs up brooding atmospheres that erupt into chaotic discord. Once again graced by Nils Frykdahl's poetic prose set to a demented Gothic crooning persona, the opening track allows a bit of creepy melancholy to sink in but for the most part the album just let's loose with more focus on the heavily distorted dissident guitar workouts than the myriad detours into a labyrinth of musical genres that the first two albums dished out unapologetically. "Helpless Corpses Enactment" jumps right to it with crazed chord progressions laced with brutal prog time signatures and a demented vocal tirade of Frykdahl proving his metal game is on par with any of the scariest screamers, growlers and rage against the machiners out there.

Carefully constructing the right gloom and doom is the name of the game before the volcanic eruption of metal mania detonates its might. "Puppet Show" almost begins as an avant-prog tribute to Magma with the entire band engaging in a vocal sing along but cedes to a demented dissonant piano that seduces the violin into a game of contrapuntal warfare. The strategy of IN GLORIOUS TIMES is to simplify the musical approach and let the creative music mojo manifest in other ways, in this case in contrapuntal instrumentation that weaves massive webs of avant-prog counterpoints and unusual syncopative approaches. While the guitar, bass, violin and drums almost completely dominate this album with an almost total abandonment of all those clever self-made tricks and trinkets that Dan Rathbun decorated the first two albums with, softer passages do allow some intricate percussion and lullaby effect sounds to be heard.

Unlike the previous two albums, IN GLORIOUS TIMES doesn't flow perfectly with a few tracks like "Formicary" not jiving as it feels like a forced display of avant-prog technicalities without the melodic build up to justify it. The following "Angel Of Repose" finds Carla Kihlstedt in the vocalist's seat and on this one she channels her inner Bjork and sounds like the Icelandic diva only set to an oddball mix of psycho-jig fiddle playing and avant-metal extremism. It's a bizarre track but it only sets the stage for the most crazed and unhinged track of all, the heavyweight "Ossuary" which gives a glimpse as to what King Crimson's "Red" might've sounded like if Gentle Giant was invited to join in. The track single-handedly conjures up the most haunting soundscapes of the entire release with jittery avant-prog guitar workouts working in opposition to equally nerve-wracking bass lines, brutal proggy percussion and Kihlstedt's violin shredding.

The album is on a more even keel than the previous two with the same basic build ups and climaxes with the usual SGM trademarks thrown in for good reason therefore the rest of the album pretty much follows in the footsteps of what has already been established in the first half of the album. Frykdahl trades in his Vaudville persona for some sort of demented psychotic philosopher who tortures himself over some mighty peculiar subject matter. The album is overall more rhythmic although unabashed avant-prog workouts do take things into the wild west for moments of brutal prog orgasmia, the album more or less follows a more controlled musical flow which i find to remind me most of Anekdoten's earliest albums. IN GLORIOUS TIMES also delivers an abundance of abrasive and grating sound effects like the grittiest industrial harsh noise album there are to be found. Unlike the previous albums that offered a bit of respite on the closing track, "The Putrid Refrain" ushers the album out with shrill sound effects.

SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM fans fall into two basic camps: those who love the diverse kaleidoscope effect of the Vaudville meets avant-prog metal of the first two releases and those who love this more streamlined heavy prog meets extreme metal approach of this one. Personally i fall into the first camp but i have to commend SGM for not just copying and pasting its excellence par none of the first two releases. This was a bold and daring experiment that although to my ears not quite as pleasing from beginning to end, nevertheless showcased the darker and more abrasive side of the band where every member was allowed to showcases their stunning virtuosity. This album is more equivalent to sonic terror as opposed to the Disneyland meets Devil Doll style of the early albums. This is one that never really stuck with me but as i've revisited it for the sake of this review, i've found i've been missing out on a very unique and intricately designed album that is quite fascinating in its own right. The more uniform approach allows the band to gel in a way that is absent on the earlier albums. It also allows the vocalists to excel in ways not possible before. An excellent album even if not quite as perfect.

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 Of Natural History by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.13 | 251 ratings

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Of Natural History
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

5 stars Like a traveling circus pulling into town and upsetting the normalcy of a small community accustomed to traditions and customs, SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM entered the scene of the world of progressive experimental rock and avant-garde metal in late 2001 and like a band of freaks who misbehave in the midst of the law abiding citizens of anywhere small town USA, upset the apple cart like a John Waters film suddenly finding itself being played on the Christian TV network. This band of outsider weirdos which evolved from the antics of Idiot Flesh gathered a new set of talent to unleash an ever evolving musical commitment that mixed performance art with musical expressions that unapologetically defied all categorization and intelligently designed to induce serious head scratching disbelief.

Part avant-prog, part extreme metal and laced with folk, funk, industrial and being 100% demented, SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM forever changed the landscape of experimental rock and metal with its debut "Grand Opening And Closing" with its Dadaist musical madness and surrealist visions that incorporated every possible genre into the overall scheme of things. The band regrouped to start album #2 although percussionist David Shamrock who dated back to the Acid Rain days jumped ship and was replaced by newbie Frank Grau. The result was the band's sophomore effort OF NATURAL HISTORY which found SGM progressing in many ways from its debut release. While the diverse nature of the music continued in the footsteps of its processor, the band became emboldened to tackle even more elements and throw them in the sonic cauldron and boil them all down into a tantalizing concoction of avant-metal splendor.

OF NATURAL HISTORY took on the continuity of a concept album where narrative poetic prose about 20th century anti-humanism found philosophical existentialisms thematically posing the apocalyptic implications of humanity's existence on planet Earth. With a distinct merging of tracks that seamlessly cede from one distinct mood to another and graced with infallible musical logic, this sophomore album featured an unthinkable roster of 12 tracks that despite extending to nearly 72 minutes of playing time, instantly demanded full attention with authority and once pulled into their gravitational forces upon the listener, refused to release its iron grip until the very finishing touches. While the usual SGM characteristics of yore punctuated every aspect of album #2's rich palette of ingredients, the band simply refused to stand on its laurels and outdid itself once again. With the addition of many field sample recordings, even more spices were added to the overall recipe.

This time around the band included even more stylistic additions to its already burgeoning musical edifice which in the hands of an ordinary band would crumble like sandcastles in a storm however the musical prowess exhibited by the likes of Nils Frykdahl (guitar, flute, vocals), Carla Kihlstedt (violins, organ, zither, vocals) and Dan Rathbun (bass, lute, trombone, vocals) were of a caliber rarely encountered in the world of experimental music. With the skills of the top classical composers and the creative fortitude of Salvador Dalí, SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM was a serious force to be reckoned with. In addition to the band's eclectic arsenal of traditional instrumentation was the huge array of self-made instruments courtesy of Dan Rathbun, add to that additional session guests who added the touches of xylophone, glockenspiel and a choir's worth of backing vocalists. If that wasn't enough the band's cohesion reached its pinnacle with tight-knit compositions chock filled with complexities reaching stunning perfection.

Starting with a drone that leaves you in suspense for several seconds, the opening "A Hymn To The Morning Star" enters a strange dark Disney-esque type Vaudeville show from another dimension. With Frykdahl offering his best Gothic baritone deliveries, the track evolves through strange complexities that ends in a second droning session that leaves nothing but darkness suspended in your very soul. Ceding as though a single track, the following "The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion" builds up a dissonant jangly guitar racket before avant-prog scales start whizzing up and down with industrial sounds and a seeming demonic possession taking hold of Frykdahl's vocal deliveries. With various cadences of bizarre instrumentation and brutal prog workouts, the track exceeds the already complex nature of the first album and setting the tone for an album equally as dense and filled with strangeness.

"Phthisis" follows with Carla Kihlstedt taking over the vocal duties. The track perfectly demonstrates the stunning contrast the SGM takes on. Sensual angel vocals and a soft pacifying violin groove relentlessly backed up by abrasive metal guitar chugging and the usual time signature brutality. The art of emphasizing sheer beauty and ugly aggression simultaneously is brought to full light on this one although that is the general recipe in the SGM playbook. "Bring Back The Apocalypse" comes off as an industrial horror movie with gurgling sounds emerging from some unknown source and unrecognizable instruments chaotically churning along like popcorn popping. Demonic group singing ensues along with a haunting violin. It sounds like indeed a party for the damned just before judgment day rears its ugly head and wipes humanity out. This track employs Squarepusher inspired IDM (Intelligent dance music) to offer yet another unexpected twist in the continuing saga of SGM.

"FC: The Freedom Club" dials things back a bit by offering a more "normal" respite into the world of progressive rock with xylophone dreams and glockenspiel grandeur paving the way for a heavier rock based anthemic celebration of the demise of humanity through its own technological additions. The track also features one of the most manic aggressive outbursts on the entire album. The form of the track is in a whole other league of composition and beyond brilliant. "Gunday's Child" offers an even deeper dip into the avant-garde with some sort of bass stringed instrument that falls in and out of tune and torturous avant-prog time signature workouts with so many instruments whizzing around on their own trajectory that only the vocal harmonies tie everything together. The fairy tale singing sessions sound like a demented counterpart to some Disney classic gone totally wrong.

"The 17-Year Cicada" provides a bizarre avant-folk instrumental interlude with lots of creepy insect noises, totally unhinged flute lines and some sort of tribal steel drumming. Essentially a nearly 4-minute canvass to punctuate with unexpected percussion sounds and virtuosic flute wizardry. Next up - "The Creature" which is the most profound track on the entire album. Immediately ushering in an avant-prog time signature workout, the complexities cede to an atmospheric narration about a creature that must consume everything until it finally has to feed upon itself and how the pacifist population does nothing to stop it. Presumably a critique on the nature of corporations and the desire to commoditize every living resource until nothing remains. The track is chock filled with extreme avant-prog workouts all laid out in dynamic logical processions. "What Shall We Do Without Us?" provides another short avant-folk interlude with a brief explosive segment into chaos.

"Babydoctor" is the longest track just barely under 14 minutes and introduces the band to the soundscapes of post-rock and post-metal which keeps all the excesses somewhat tamped down. Perhaps the most easily digestible track although the band still offers lots of variations within a more limited constraint. The album closes with the rather strange love / hate ode to the "Cockroach" which seems to revel in its ability to overcome any obstacle and its survival beyond humanity eminent. Presented in the same Gothic crooner style as the album started it evokes the same Disney gone Vaudville effect and offers the strongest sense of irony on the entire album. The album ends with the 6-minute track "Untitled" which really isn't a track at all but rather just the sounds of swamp noises and a conversation between what sounds like hillbillies of the Ozarks. While this track is utterly unnecessary it's not really a part of the album and should be considered a skippable "extra."


One of the true masterworks of 21st century experimental progressive rock and avant-garde metal, OF NATURAL HISTORY is really an album that it's almost impossible to comprehend upon the first few listening experiences. While the melodies and grooves are just accessible enough to get your attention, the details and the complexities continue to impress as you navigate through the layers of musical sophistication. On this sophomore release SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM proved itself to be one of the most original and creative bands that world of progressive rock and experimental metal had ever encountered. The journey through this album is so rich and packed with ideas that it's really hard to believe it's just one release. By fusing so many styles and genres of music and blending it all so proficiently, the band literally ventured into a world of its own making and while experimental avant-garde music is hardly anything new, to create a completely new musical paradigm and master it to a level of proficiency and virtuosity is another matter altogether. This is one of my all time favorite albums and one that really just gets better with time. A true masterpiece in every conceivable way.

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 Grand Opening and Closing by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.73 | 126 ratings

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Grand Opening and Closing
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

5 stars One of the most ambitious and interesting progressive acts of recent decades, the Oakland, CA based SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM emerged as the next logical procession in the ever increasing complexities that started all the way back in the 1980s from a band called Acid Rain turned Idiot Flesh. Originally the fertile ground for the demented musical minds of Nils Frykdahl, Dan Rathburn, Gene Jun and David Shamrock, the original Acid Rain evolved into the fully developed performance art troupe Idiot Flesh which found Shamrock stepping out but Frykdahl, Rathburn and Jun taking their crazy roller coaster ride of musical ideas to the next level.

As Idiot Flesh these experimentalists took on the idea of Dadaism and surrealism as the basis for their musical expressions and incorporated everything but the kitchen sink (and then that too!) to their bizarre musical concoctions. To say that IDIOT FLESH wasn't obsessed with unbridled creativity would be a gross understatement but the band went from a rather loosely based level of freakery on the 1992 debut "Tales of Instant Knowledge and Sure Death" to stunning precision and avant-prog technical proficiency by the time it reached its third and final album "Fancy" in 1997. The stage was set for whatever was to come next and what came next emerged two years later with the creation of SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM.

Taking the essence of Idiot Flesh and elevating it to even further sophistication, Frykdahl, Rathbun and Shamrock reunited and invited some other stellar talents to the freak party. Violinist Carla Kihlstedt of Charming Hostess, another project of Frykdahl joined forces along with Vacuum Tree Head members percussionist Moel Staiano and multi-instrumentalist Michael Mellender aka The Lower Animals. The band developed a strange mythology around a fictitious museum created by Dadaists and Futurists that was named the Sleeptime Gorilla Press. Deemed the museum of the future it was to exhibit anti-artifacts, non-history and surrealist's visionary exhibits. The museum supposedly opened on June 22, 1916 but a certain exhibit which consisted of fire caused chaos and destruction on the day the museum opened thus the source of the title for the band's debut release GRAND OPENING AND GRAND CLOSING.

This mythology encompasses both the band's musical ethos and Dadaist approach. The band's first concert was also on June 22 only 83 years later and thus the band's debut release GRAND OPENING AND GRAND CLOSING was born and released in 2001 after two years of meticulous creativity being infused into its wild and adventurous set of 9 tracks that encompasses 58 1/2 minutes of playing time. Of course the album doesn't represent their theatrical live shows that evolved from the Idiot Flesh years. SGM continued the elaborate routines ranging from erudite fictitious readings from Dada artists and mathematicians to all sorts of bizarre unexpected surprises. Nevertheless, the band proved a musical competence almost unmatched in the world of unusually experimental music.

While SGM is a direct descendent of Idiot Flesh, there are a few distinctions that elevated SGM into the next arena. First of all the violin techniques of Carla Kihlstedt added an entirely missing dimension. Secondly the inclusion of extreme metal to the mix added an entire world of contrast that added yet another missing aspect. Thirdly the band's unique chemistry allowed everything to gel into an extremely cohesive manner where exquisitely demanding compositional fortitude merged perfectly into the world of virtuosic technicalities which all fit in perfectly with alternative tunings, demented musical scales and of course all those brilliant self-made instruments crafted by Rathbun that added even more diversity to the Idiot Flesh paradigm. Needless to say, SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM took the world of avant-garde metal by complete surprise in 2001 and through the course of three albums set the bar so high that few have even dared to attempt to recreate anything resembling this demanding and divinely inspired music magic.

"Rock Against Rock" was the band's motto and indeed GRAND OPENING AND GRAND CLOSING fits the bill with its unique infusion of avant-prog, experimental metal, industrial, avant-folk and freakazoid madness. Rock In Opposition of the highest magnitude, SGM cites such disparate forces as King Crimson, Swans, Stravinsky, Thinking Plague, Univers Zero, Henry Cow, Einstürzende Neubauten, Art Bears and even metal acts such as Mayhem not to mention funk rock acts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers as inspiration for its strange amalgamation of weirdness. It's doesn't take long to hear how original the SGM really is with the opening "Sleep Is Wrong" which immediately unleashes a plethora of time signature workouts, vocal harmony tradeoffs, contrasts in folky passages and industrial metal heft. Passive violins cede to dissonant metal chord bombast and moments of self-made percussive interludes nurture group harmony workouts in the spirit of classic Gentle Giant only in a style that is SGM through and through.

As the album continues it only gets more ambitious with the following track "Ambugaton" indulging in a prog metal workout. One of the secrets of the SGM is that all the members were active in the songwriting process as well as being performing artists and multi-instrumentalists making the music some of the most diverse far-reaching soundscapes progressive music has to offer. "Ablutions" written by Carla Kihlstedt takes on a totally different demeanor than the previous tracks with an Art Bears type vocal style augmented by a moody dulcimer and a dark atmospheric backdrop. Despite all the unhinged complexities the band wasn't adverse to more straightforward rockers which comes in the form of "1997 (Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's...)" which is about as "normal" as the band gets but even this track couldn't resist breaking into oddball time signature workouts and avant-metal savagery.

The secret to the album's freshness is how each track offers a completely different glimpse into the strange musical universe of the SGM's own making. While the succinct instrumental "The Miniature" provides the perfect minute-long interlude in avant-folk spender, the Frykdahl penned "Powerless" provides a canvass for his all-encompassing talent for crafting exquisitely designed compositions. He has mastered the art of subtle build-ups, dramatic dynamic shifts and thundering crescendoes that all fit within an avant-framing of a classical composed oeuvre. He demonstrates clearly that he has indeed created a completely new musical paradigm that remains utterly unclassifiable except for the usual "experimental" or "avant" tagging.

The album's complexities just seem to ratchet up into unthinkable proportions culminating in the avant-angularity metal magnum opus "The Strain" but the album offers a bit of relief with the last two tracks which chill out a bit. The track ""Sleepytime (Spirit Is a Bone)" takes its sweet time in its 10-minute plus running time to get started but offers a nice little lullaby effect before unleashing the album's last hoorah of SGM wizardry. The only track that falters on the entire album is the closing "Sunflower" which is more of soul pacifying mechanism rather than a proper track. It is basically an 8-minute meditative chiming of a dulcimer that simply resonates in various ways without ever developing. Given that it's the final track it's easily skippable and personally i find it to be an acceptable palette cleanser after the density and darkness of the album's maniacal meandering through the extremes of time signature workouts, metal bombast and avant-garde Dadaism, it isn't a big deal.

What an amazing achievement GRAND OPENING AND GRAND CLOSING was in 2001 and remains so to this very day. This and the following album are two of my favorite albums of all time and needless to say SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM is a top 10 band. These creative geniuses somehow coalesced their talents with all egos in check for the greater good of making music so magical that i still can't believe it exists. This is the type of music that you can instantly love due to the accessible hooks but can delve deeper and further into all the complexities that allow you to interpret the album in completely new ways. It's the onion peel effect and each layer contributes to an overall aspect that creates a much larger than life musical experience. The original album featured 9 tracks but releases on The End label featured two bonus studio tracks and a live rendition of "Powerless" and they are all decent and worthy but not as essential. This is a bonafide masterpiece with the sole exception of the final track "Sunflower." But even that track works in the album's context so doesn't bother me one teeny bit.

4.5 rounded UP!

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 Pursuits in 2ife: Vortex Fragoris by IAKO BEI album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.95 | 2 ratings

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Pursuits in 2ife: Vortex Fragoris
Iako Bei Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars It took until last year for the second album to be released by Slovakian outfit Iako Bei, which may have something to do with the fact that only Roman Jakobej (lead vocals, bass, synths) is still there from the debut, and he has now been joined by Luká? Magoč (alto saxophone), ?imon Majerník (keyboards) and Viliam Stanek (drums), with three guest backing singers in Vanessa Laliková, Marko Hund?a, and Jakub Ferenc. Mind you, if one did not look at the release one would probably not realise that, as this is very much a band based around Roman's vocals, bass, and vision and this is an obvious follow-up to the original with a very similar thought process behind it.

Yes, again there are no guitars, just because there is no room for them in an outfit where the songs have been written using a vibrant and melodic bass. Such is its importance to the overall sound that there are times when bass, keyboards and saxophone are all playing the same melody so there is quite a hole in the music until one gets to the drums. This provides Iako Bei with a very distinct sound, and they take this to its limits in opener "Vortex Fragoris" where they throw all their influences into a 25-minute long classic where there is even a section of multi-tracks vocals where everyone involved appears to have somewhat lost their mind. There is no doubt that Roman has a very powerful vision of what he wants to achieve with his music and while it can be argued that their influences are as diverse as Seventies space prog, 80's pop/art rock, 90's alternative rock through to 2010's prog metal there is no doubt in my mind that System of a Down have had an important part to play, even though in reality they sound nothing like them at all.

Somehow this complex yet highly accessible, with lots of space within the music and the feeling that all the notes are there for a reason as opposed to just caressing egos, and oen can get inside this the first time it is played although it definitely rewards have proper attention to it and being played on headphones. Roman described their music as "a challenging but enjoyable sonic cocktail for either open-minded people tired of gazillion copy and paste artists or simply those who have heard way too much music in their lives and are looking for something fresh and exciting," and that is a great way of looking at it. I certainly hope we do not have to wait five years for the next one.

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 Pursuits in 1ife: Cortex Labyrinthus by IAKO BEI album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Pursuits in 1ife: Cortex Labyrinthus
Iako Bei Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars One of the benefits of reviewing music for so long is that there are times when I am contacted by a band wondering if I might possibly be interested in writing about their music. Such is the case with Slovakian band Iako Bei, where bassist/singer Roman Jakobej got in touch. I was immediately intrigued to find out more as here we have a progressive rock band where one of the key instruments of the genre, the guitar, is totally absent. Also, the main melodies are often carried by a saxophone with keyboards providing more of a backdrop and the bass being far more dynamic and in your face that usual, something which immediately took me back 30 years to Mr. So & So and the playing of Shaun McGowan. As well as Roman, the line-up on their 2018 debut is Stevie Heart (keyboards), Nikola Bankov (alto saxophone), Tibor Rusnk (drums) and Karmen Pál-Baláz (backing vocals), and there is no doubt that here is something fresh and interesting, yet somehow not too far from other crossover progressive rock acts - I can almost guarantee that if this is listened to without knowing there is no guitar, one will not even notice its absence.

As I alluded to, the bass is incredibly important here, and although it is normally played without too many effects, there are times when we get a fretless and some effects. The bass is the centre of the arrangements, much more than just holding down a bottom end, although there are times when it does just that, as it is obviously where the songs start their life. Roman also has a nice vocal range, moving seamlessly into falsetto, and there are times when he is somewhat reminiscent of Serj Tankian. From the core the rest of the band find their place, with Tibor (who is now a member of famous Slovakian outfit Sexit - interestingly their singer and bassist Stefan Hundza was at the release of their second album) keeping it together with some nice fills but never over playing. Stevie moves between piano and keyboards, sometimes taking on more of a lead role but often letting Nikola ride over the top, showing yet again that a saxophone very much has a role in progressive rock.

Listening to the album I found myself thinking of a quote from Joe Elliot after the return of Rick Allen, who said people would firstly stare at Rick thinking how strange it was to have a one-armed drummer and soon forget that as he was such a great player. That is somewhat the same here, as one starts listening to this album realising there is no guitar and wondering why they would make that decision, before soon getting to the realisation that the reason there is no guitar is there is no place for it whatsoever, and it is not missed. Without that sound, the arrangements also have a great deal of space, and with Roman singing in English the result is a highly accessible and totally enjoyable release which seems to have passed many of us by.

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 Agathorn by AGATHORN album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.52 | 14 ratings

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Agathorn
Agathorn Crossover Prog

Review by regularbassist15

5 stars Wow! This album truly surprised me. The album definitely isn't perfect but it's close. The sound here is pretty unique, I would say they sound like a mix of Discipline (from USA), and Genesis. The album opens with what I consider the worst track in it "Suffragette-set". This song isn't that great and should honestly be skipped. But maybe some other people would like it more than me. "Mr Suicide" is the next song on the album and this song impresses. One of the best tracks I've heard in a long time. Vocals are great here. Its amazing that they all could sing so well. "Impression" sounds a bit generic to me. it's a jazzy tune that isn't bad. just nothing special. I consider this to be the last average track on the album. things get better from here. The next song "'85" is a true gem. Reminds me of Drama era Yes and Discipline. The vocal melodies here and throughout the album are just magic. Lyrics are great here too. "Good Days" is a fun song. I feel "Harold the barrel" similarities here. I liked the instrumentals on this track too. Good song. Next is "Day-Mare" and wow how unique. This track is so playful. Reminds me of Syd Barrett. Utterly fantastic! The final track "Reflections" blew me away from start to finish. The intro is beautiful. Some parts sound like they are coming straight out of Dream Theater it's insane. Boy does this song rock as well. The vocalist "Henrik Dall" really can sing. I feel like this album is mixed pretty well for it being so obscure. I can't believe this band isn't loved more? maybe because the first song turns people away? In reality I should give this album a 4.5/5 but due to me having to choose between a 4 and a 5 I am giving it a 5/5. The album might have 1 or 2 songs that aren't that great but the tracks that do shine really do shine! This is a must listen.

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 For You the Old Women by MIRTHRANDIR album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.91 | 123 ratings

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For You the Old Women
Mirthrandir Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nş 748

Mirthrandir was an obscure American progressive rock band from New Jersey. Mirthrandir's roots go back to 1973 when New Jersey's based drummer Robert Arace, keyboardist Simon Gannett, bassist James Miller, and lead guitarist Alexander Romanelli started jamming. Over the next couple of years the group when through a series of personnel changes, which was expanded to a six piece with guitarist Richard Excellente and singer/horn player John Vislocky.

As we know, USA has a wide array of progressive rock artists, nowadays, especially in the prog metal scene. However, it wasn't always like that. The American Progressive Rock scene back in the 70's was never particularly noteworthy in the eyes of most music seekers. It was more convenient to worship Kansas and slap the label of prog on any band that could get something on radio that was longer than four minutes. The best examples of that are probably, Pavlov's Dog, Styx, Starcastle and Blue Oyster Cult. But, even so, there aren't terribly many that stay strictly within the European symphonic progressive style and fewer still that do so on the same level as the original classics of that 70's prog scene.

Checking the Tolkien box with their name, Mirthrandir only released this single album in their lifetime, but it's just about everything you'd want from the style. While many of their contemporaries' bands were starting to mix up the influences with arena rock, Mirthrandir didn't do that, really. But they did everything right with effective and memorable melodies, lots of dramatic shifts in tone, pace, meter, and keys, a heavy dose of Yes, particularly the Steve Howe inspired guitar playing. And added to that, just the right amount of naiveté to keep the band just a little rough and tumble with their ambitions stretched to the limits. There's also a bit of trumpet work that gives the music a taste of something different.

The music produced by Mirthrandir was exceptional in its context. It's even more exceptional right now, in an entirely different world. Considering the company of many legendary prog bands who shared that time and space, Mirthrandir did a commendable job of filtering the influences that surrounded them, and bringing their own considerable talents into the fray as well. We can say the main influences are Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant and King Crimson but with an own style. However, Mirthrandir wasn't as shrill or outright experimental as King Crimson or the Yes' family of pretense.

Their music is complex and well played. The arrangements are pure perfection, and include flute, organ and also some trumpet, as I mentioned before. The sound is "modern". You would never guess this was recorded during the mid 70's. These guys were excellent instrumentalists with Excellente and Romanelli providing considerable octane with their twin lead guitars. In the role of lead singer Vislocky had one of those high pitched pseudo Geddy Lee's styled voices that you either loved or hated, though his performances tended to grow on you. Surely, some tracks were complicated and certainly wouldn't do much for garage rock fans, but by the same token these guys understood the concept of melody.

The album kicks off with the title track. It starts very energetic, almost chaotic, with some fiery jazzy guitar/keyboard interplay before bringing in some horns and drum emphasis, which gives to the music a structure. The track slows down after a few minutes and becomes very melodic and pleasant with great atmosphere finishing strong at the end. "Conversation With Personality Giver" has a very lush keyboard and quick drumming that takes prominence over guitar, breaking down into slower tempos with piano and horns that for a nice sheen. "Light Of The Candle" has a more conventional structure than the last two tracks and less atmospheric, while being harder on guitar and more straightforward on the keyboards. Vocals are also quite nice here, making this track particularly good and a highlight of this album. "Number Six" is an instrumental track, which builds itself up ever so quietly with flute and sax before the drums come in, followed by some searing guitar and keyboard work spaced over the rest of the time. It's very pleasant to hear. "For Four" has nearly fifteen minutes of awesome music, taking elements of everything you've heard thusfar while throwing some organ and Mellotron into the mix to build foundation around the keyboard driven parts. And, of course, there's lots of great guitar work here. It's a nice way to end the album. This is my favorite piece on the album.

Conclusion: This is a quality work with impressive and memorable music. Few bands, even in the progressive realm, featured both trumpet and flute in their repertoire, but Mirthrandir pulled it off with amazing dexterity. Unfortunately, like so many other underappreciated prog rock bands, they produced only one album. I heartily recommend this album to anyone who wants to get a better idea of some of the music that was being done on the America's progressive front besides Kansas back in the mid of late 70's. The production is stellar, and unlike a lot of music from that period, I would say Mirthrandir's "For You The Old Women" has aged well. It sound isn't dated in any way, shape or form, and deserves a place in everyone's musical collection. This is, for me, one of the best American progressive rock albums of the 70's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Creatures of the Night, part 2 by PIERETTI, MASSIMO album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2024
2.54 | 3 ratings

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Creatures of the Night, part 2
Massimo Pieretti Crossover Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Two years after the release of his debut album, Italian pianist/keyboardist Massimo Pieretti offers his new work. This time it's just a single, and it is recorded with significantly smaller team of musicians, comparing with Pieretti debut.

Main attraction point of the only song of the release is Italian-born Sweden-raised vocalist Laura Piazzai (who collaborated with Pendragon/Arena keyboardist Clive Nolan among others). Her vocal is powerful, colored with classic soprano background.

Song's music is Massimo Pieretti's keyboards-based power metal, recalling some popular genre acts from 80s, as Swedish band Europe. Unfortunately, recorded sound is flat, only of demo-quality. Because of quite lifeless sound I expect the recording has been down on-line and mixed in studio. Vocals in moments doesn't fit precisely with instruments recording as well.

Song itself is straight-forward piece with some standard for the genre guitars/drums lines and the melody isn't memorable. There are not much prog elements as well (to be precise - not at all). Massimo's conceptual debut album showed some possible capacities, recent single doesn't fulfill the expectations. Hope his next work will offer more.

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 Fancy by IDIOT FLESH album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.28 | 27 ratings

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Fancy
Idiot Flesh RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

5 stars The bizarre and experimental performance group known as IDIOT FLESH began in 1987 as ACID RAIN but after a significant lineup and name change started releasing albums beyond the demo stage with the 1992 release "Tales of Instant Knowledge and Sure Death" which found the like of Pin (Nils Frykdahl) and The Improver (Dan Rathbun) discovering a new partner in crime, namely Captain Dragon aka Gene Jun. The trio along with an army of others joining the party as well as an arsenal of instrumentation including many self-made oddities took their stage show to even greater heights. The world would never be the same.

While often considered Mr Bungle copycats, it should be inculcated into all that these guys started in the mid-80s, a few years before Mike Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn had even started their primeval sounding death metal demos. Although now considered a three album lead up to the other trilogy of albums that would be released by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, this band was in a whole other league in regards to how much effort they put into their albums and live performances. On the performance art side of things, the live settings featured puppet shows, fire eaters, dance troupes and even marching bands.

After all that it seems the studio albums were just the excuse to get the party started but even these albums were just crazy to the hilt with every idea including the kitchen sink thrown into the mix. Hell, there may have even been a kitchen sink turned instrument in this wild bunch! FANCY was the third and arguable most developed of the three IDIOT FLESH releases and came out in 1997, two years before the first Sleepytime Gorilla Museum would emerge and really catch the world's attention. More then just a prequel to the next incarnation of Frykdahl and Rathbun's crazed whims turned into art, FANCY featured 13 crazed tracks that defied all logic, all sensibilities and even to this day will only appeal to the most adventurous and open-minded music addicts of the lot, of which i am one!

This album often gets tagged as disjointed and there's great reason for that. Every track is like a hairpin turn on a musical rollercoaster ride taking you somewhere completely unexpected. Think of this as a musical funhouse at an amusement park for musicians and you will have an inkling what to expect. Far less focused and more scattered than anything the Sleepytimes conjured up, this truly is some of the most demanding musical expression laid down to tape but oh my gawd! it's just soooooo damn clever! The album starts with the beginning of a party coalescing in the form of "Dead Like Us" which quickly is joined by a marching band and is pretty much a loose scattering of participants randomly making noise and chatting up a storm. The music sort of unifies everyone but it's a party after all and sorta like herding cats.

The seriousness of the album starts with "Idiot Song" which presents a more familiar trademark of Frykdahl, the catchy melodic tune accompanied by extremely complex and oft dissonant guitar work. Going for the avant-prog jugular the music is cacophonous roar of staccato instrumentation with cartoonish instruments punctuating the off-kilter time signatures and then everyone breaks out into a sing-along chorus that sounds like one of those rides at Disneyland only with mad music makers deviating from the scripts! "Teenage Devil Worshipper" offers a post-punk-ish sorta energy but fortified with a bouncy beat where the guitar is basically part of the percussion. It's a group effort and has a bit of a Tim Burton Halloween-ish strangeness to it.

And things just get weirder! "Chicken Little" begins like a 20th century modern classical piece with an abstract flute slowly coalescing a melody from the ethers while unidentifiable percussive instruments join in. This track prognosticates the direction Frykdahl and Rathbun would take with the Sleepytime project just a couple years down the line. In fact it very well could be an early working of one of those later tracks as it features bizarre Iannis Xenakis stochastic leaning and those classic SGM time signature breakdowns. This particular track takes the avant-prog angularities to outstanding creative peaks and showcases these guys as ready to take the act to the next level. They even manage to take it into a country hoedown and and avant-Irish jig :D

"Twitch" takes the time signature workouts to a new level with crazy guitar, bass and drum parts battling it out in bizarre ways. One of the more aggressive tunes on board and another that points to the SGM future. "Drowning" might be the most "normal" track on board with an easily absorbed melody in the form of arpeggiated guitars like an 80s metal ballad but given the IDIOT FLESH circus touch and features one of the only guitar solos on the record and it's a doozy! Virtuosity and freakery all rolled into one tasty enchilada! "Mother[%*!#]er" unleashes another torrent of bizarre shapeshifting motifs ranging from crazy avant-prog to crazed chamber rock to funk rock and an ever morphing musical parade that doesn't stop there. One of the weirdest and diverse tracks on the album, that's for sure ; )

And what better way to follow super weird than by a Residents cover song? Now who the hell does that? "Bach Is Dead" appeared on the 1978 "Duck Stab / Buster & Glen" album and IDIOT FLESH nails it remaining extremely faithful to the original. "Diggity Cow And The Dandy Mr. Clyde" as you may have predicted takes you somewhere totally new. Now Frykdahl is singing to a piano run with audience sounds in the background so i guess he's performing at a FANCY restaurant? The piano is out of tune and the audience isn't paying attention so i guess this is some kind of statement about how this avant-garde weirdness mostly falls on deaf ears.

Next up "The Straw" jumps back to flute dominated avant-prog but then gestates into a style that sounds the most like what Sleepytime Gorilla Museum would dish out on their three albums, namely cleverly arranged compositions that cover all grounds: melody, rhythm, avant-garde strangeness and the ability to surprise without losing the gist. All it's missing is Carla Kihlstedt's distinct violin contributions and the metal guitar heft otherwise SGM material. It's also the longest track at just under 11 minutes. By now it's obvious that only the unexpected should be expected on FANCY and the IDIOT FLESH guys throw us yet another curveball with "Cheesus (Dance Mix)" which is a mock radio commercial. This hilarious track is more like something you'd find on a National Lampoon's Radio Hour scenario.

"People In Your Neighborhood" is a mock song of the classic Sesame Street song only this one celebrates the world of pimps and crack addicts! The track takes some liberties by not only using the actually melody but breaks into a Parliament style P-Funk sound. The album ends with a reprise of "Dead Like Us" which brings the album full circle. A very demented circle that is. This album is just plain nuts as well as the end of the road for IDIOT FLESH. While not quite as world class material as what would emerge in the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum albums, IDIOT FLESH really went for the experimental freak show jugular with this one. So many styles and ideas are tackled on this album that it's impossible to convey them all in writing. Just the list of instrumentation and actors on this stage will blow you mind.

While Gene Jun would jump ship, Dan Rathbun and Nils Frykdahl would soon join forces with Acid Rain member David Shamrock, violinist Carla Kihlstedt from Frykdahl's other project Charming Hostess as well as Miatthias Bossi and Michael Mellender. Together they would take many of the sounds heard on this album and make it all more cohesive. Sure this album is extremely disjointed but that's exactly the point! This is the musical equivalent of riding a wild fast-paced roller coaster throughout a colorful amusement park with a soundtrack for every hairpin turn. This is the best of the IDIOT FLESH releases and for those who can handle the most extremes music has to offer, they will looooooove this one to death. I only wish i could've seen this performed in a live setting because all of this music magic is just half of the equation.

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 Nothing Show by IDIOT FLESH album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.63 | 21 ratings

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Nothing Show
Idiot Flesh RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars For its second act as IDIOT FLESH, Nils Frykdahl, Dan Rathbun, Gene Jun and their crazed lunacy brigade took everything from the Acid Rain demos and debut "Tales of Instant Knowledge and Sure Death" and simply made it all weirder, wilder and avant-garde. The result was the second IDIOT FLESH album THE NOTHING SHOW which came out in 1994. This is when the band embarked on an extensive tour with the Czech avant-punk band U? Jsme Doma. The band not only upped their weirdness factor on their albums but the already crazed live shows followed suit. The band dressed in cartoonish costumes with exaggerated heads and hands, would interrupt the music in order to host an impromptu game show which featured the prize of a frozen eel that was handed to members of the audience or whatever suited them for the time and place they were performing.

Yeah, the crazed antics excelled big time and it's not hard to imagine why once you experience the leap in ingenuity crafted on the band's second album THE NOTHING SHOW. While the funk rock is still a key ingredient in crafting the basis of many of the 13 tracks, the band feels less compelled to stick to any particular anchoring protocol and pretty much cut their ties to reality and like a helium balloon drifted into a world of its own making. Clearly inspired by the freedom seeking artists ranging from Frank Zappa to Primus, IDIOT FLESH was more akin to the zany antics of Mr Bungle however this band preceded them by several years but due to the greater success of the Bunglers often gets accused of ripping them off. But the music of IDIOT FLESH is nothing like Mr Bungle save the use of funk rock as heard on the Bungler's first album.

The music of IDIOT FLESH is more akin to a schizoid Vaudville show gone very, very wrong. In fact the music itself sounds like an exaggerated form of the most crazed moments of Tom Waits than anything Mike Patton and company pulled out of their hats. While the album may sound a bit unfocused and rampantly meandering from one corner of the music world to the next, that is both its boon and its bane. This is psycho music and it may require some reorienting your expectations and comfort zone to really let it sink in. In fact the first couple of times i've experienced THE NOTHING SHOW i didn't really like it at all. It's all so convoluted with Broadway-like tunes one moment, funk metal the next and then off to some bizarre musical expressions that defy all classification. It's a lot to take in which was indeed the point of these musical maestros. They simply wanted to bombard you with so many unexpected stimuli that you could not help but react.

The album does come off as some kind of stage musical with an army of musicians to indulge every whimsy that fancied the creative fertile minds involved. Everything about THE NOTHING SHOW is absolutely nuts. Absolutely nothing is even remotely commercial or digestible for that matter. This album was designed to be abrasive and alienating however if you crave some the most daring and outlandish musical expressions to be heard, then this is definitely your ticket to insane asylum music! Not quite to the level of refinement of the future Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, THE NOTHING SHOW is several steps up from its predecessor. Here at least ideas are organized into recognizable patterns even if improv liberties are strewn about willy nilly. The avant-funk-punk with elements of circus music and marching band antics showcase an entirely new style of taking the funk rock / metal craze of the 1980s and torpedoing it into the world of unhinged avant-garde.

The tracks are just tighter and the confidence level is so high that everyone involved poured their heart and soul into the freakfest that was THE NOTHING SHOW. In addition to the now familiar guitar, bass, drums and occasional saxophone sounds, IDIOT FLESH had uncovered an arsenal of alternative instruments in the form of not only a slew of percussion but by adding yellow, trombone, flute and other sounds such as the saw blade. The progressive time signature weirdness was had also become more demented with brutal prog outbursts carpet bombing the soundscape. As far as the psycho troupe's motto "Rock Against Rock" in that aspect they're totally killing it here almost single handedly crafting a new branch of avant-garde extremism with this single album.

Probably way too weird for many and also most likely more effective with the live props however THE NOTHING SHOW is more like "Everything And The Kitchen Sink" which in that regard was a very Bungle-esque thing to entertain however IDIOT FLESH was its own artistic entity having a history of excess to draw upon. This Oakland based outfit had a history of California craziness to draw upon whether it be the crazed live shows of The Tubes and early Oingo Boingo, the avant-funk rule breakers Primus or the unclassifiable Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention. Part funk rock, part math rock, part psycho punk, part circus barker and 100% nuts, IDIOT FLESH certainly delivered an album nobody was expecting. Overall a really good if difficult listening experience however one of my major gripes about some of these psycho albums of the 90s was that they liked to insert long pauses and silence between tracks and i absolutely hate that! Otherwise, a triumph of freedom at all expenses avant-garde madness here.

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 Tales Of Instant Knowledge And Sure Death by IDIOT FLESH album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.76 | 21 ratings

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Tales Of Instant Knowledge And Sure Death
Idiot Flesh RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars After releasing highly eclectic weirdo cassette-only demos as Acid Rain, the freak show that consisted of Nils Frykdahl and Dan Rathbun with David Shamrock changed its name to IDIOT FLESH before releasing its first official vinyl LP titled TALES OF INSTANT KNOWLEDGE AND SURE DEATH. While Frykdahl and Rathbun would stay together for three albums as IDIOT FLESH and then form Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Shamrock opted out of the IDIOT FLESH party and hooked up with other equally strange bands like Hieronymous Firebrain.

IDIOT FLESH took everything laid out in the Acid Rain demos and made it even more whacky. First of all Frykdahl and Rathbun joined forces with Gene Jun (guitar, vocals), Daniel Roth (piano, tax, drums, metal percussion) and Chuck Squier (drums) to create a larger than life band sound rather than a trio of crazy musicians going absolutely nuts. This official debut was also the turning point where the band became more theatrical and began implementing everything from marching band routines, puppet shows and the playing of household items as instruments.

The band adopted the slogan "rock against rock" which was aimed at the commercial nature of where most rock music had gone. TALES was a clear middle finger to the music industry with an avant-discordant blend of funk rock, avant-prog, Eastern European folk music, opera and even a touch of metal at times. Sounding something in the line of fellow Bay Area band Nuclear Rabbit or the debut album from Mr Bungle who they often get accused of sounding like, it should be remembered that as Acid Rain, Frykdahl and Rathbun were already conjuring up strange funk rock based avant-prog as far back as 1985 before Mr Bungle and similarly minded bands even existed.

While not as sophisticated as the following two IDIOT FLESH releases, TALES more than makes up for any fine-tuning of compositional fortitude with spontaneous eruptions of passionate punkish creativity. The main style in play is funk rock which acts as the canvass upon which to pain a colorful surrealist portrait of various moods and styles. While the avant-prog wizardry isn't as prevalent as it is on future releases or as heard in the perfection of the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum releases, on TALES the oddball time signature deviations often occur as unexpected hairpin turns into the very weird much in the vein of classic Zappa at his most wild and unruly.

The band was eccentric in every way in how it dressed, in how it performed and of course in its musical maelstrom potpourri of strange twisted ideas run amok. In addition the band adopted crazy pseudonyms such as Captain Dragon (Gene Jun), The Improver (Dan Rathbun), Pin (Nils Frykdahl), a trait that would remain with all future members of the band. A wild and unhinged album, TALES OF INSTANT KNOWLEDGE AND SURE DEATH showcases the unbridled passion of all the musicians on board with no time to employ the brakes for any reason. This is a let it all out sorta release with one bizarre twist and turn after another. You really can't predict anything that happens on this one. It even ends with a weird noise segment that leaves your nerves more tattered than before. This is for the hardcore crowds only.

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 Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny: Beyond The Missouri Sky (Short Stories) by METHENY , PAT album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.86 | 46 ratings

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Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny: Beyond The Missouri Sky (Short Stories)
Pat Metheny Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by genbanks

4 stars I must say that this álbum blew my mind since the first listening. Here, two legendary jazz heros (and friends) joined forces to this masterpiece, a sort of pseudo acoustic, blending the wonderful guitar of Pat Methen with the majestic bass of Charlie Haden (RIP). In my case, I knew Pat Metheny thanks to my best friend (RIP), long time ago, but I was not aware of Charlie Haden since I discovered this álbum several years ago. Pat and Charlie had their first met in 1973 but became friends when Haden worked in Metheny's álbum 80/81 in 1980. Well known in the jazz universe, Haden had worked with big names as Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarret, and of course developed his own musical career. He had already played with Metheny in the albums Rejoicing and Song X, in addition to the forementioned 80/81. Both friends was talking along the years about to make a duet álbum and that idea was realized finally in 1997. Haden grew up in Forsyth, Misssouri, and Metheny born 20 years later in Lee's Summit, Missouri too. So this "Short stories" surely try to recreate their place but expanding the feelings beyond it. The álbum is a collection of 13 pieces, some covers (arranged and expanded by improvisation) and some pieces written by Haden and Metheny. Haden suggested four initial pieces to Metheny, which were The Precious Jewel, The moon is a harsh mistress, He's gone and Morricone's Cinema Paradiso main theme. Metheny loved the selection and the job began. In addition Haden had two of his compositions, Our spanish love and First song. Pat Metheny also suggested two pieces to cover wich was Mancini's Two for the road and Morricone's daughter Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso. Also Metheny contributed with his song Message for a friend. The álbum was completed with two brand new compositions, Waltz for Ruth from Haiden and Tears of rain from Metheny, and finally with a piece loved by both, composed for Haiden son Josh and called Spiritual (originally edited by Josh Haiden group Spain). The music is mainly pacefull and absolutely beautiful in most of the album, with the acoustic guitar and the double bass supported by some orchestration overdubbed by Metheny with a Synclavier. For my tastes, the most moving pieces are Two for the road, The moon is a harsh mistress (developed from a piece of Jim Webb), He's gone away (based on a traditional piece) and Spiritual. All of them peacefull and delicate pieces with a wonderful interaction between guitar and bass. Near them and maybe a stair below, but very beautiful too, I can rank Message to a friend, First song, The moon song, and both Cinema Pardiso's covers. Tears of rain stands a bit different in the way that it combines soft guitar lines with another more dynamic and almost virtuous ones. The Precious jewel is a good dynamic cover, as the openings Waltz for Ruth is not bad, but not much on my tastes. Our spanish love is the weak one in my opinión, being a bit out of place in the álbum. Highly recommended.

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 Archive 1967-1975 by GENESIS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
4.28 | 301 ratings

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Archive 1967-1975
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Archive albums often have a difficult position of balancing music quality with historical relevance. Fortunately, on this one, it's the first that wins. We have a rich 4-CD collection which goes rather backwards, starting with a 1975 full Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and finishing with 1967's demos on disc 4.

Genesis' excellent era started with 1970's Trespass and to the most paranoid fans, lasted till Gabriel departed. at minimum. So we have many prerequisites for this to rate this archive 5 stars. However. 1.) Listening to the highly satisfying first two live CDs is not fully authentic due to Gabriel's added vocals and Hackett's added guitar. 0.5 star down. 2.) The fourth disc is historically important, no doubt about it. Nevertheless, it's music quality and importance is mediocre. Genesis, till 1970, were lightning miles away from being a major and potential rock band. Another 0.5 star down. We're down to the solid 4 stars.

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 The Rite of Spring (as Acid Rain) by IDIOT FLESH album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.05 | 2 ratings

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The Rite of Spring (as Acid Rain)
Idiot Flesh RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars ACID RAIN was the original band that existed before Idiot Flesh and was formed as far back as 1985. Although Idiot Flesh often gets accused of ripping off Mr Bungle, it should be remembered that these guys actually came first and developed quite a different approach despite sharing the same genre skipping techniques that the Bunglers are famous for. As ACID RAIN, Nils Frykdahl, Gene Jun, Dan Rathbun and David Shamrock collaborated for two eclectic demos before Shamrock jumped ship not to rejoin until the project evolved into the more famous Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.

There were two releases under the ACID RAIN moniker but given the rarity of their cassette-only status, this one usually gets left out of the mix. The promotional demo "We Were All Very Worried" was the first offering which featured a very primitive SGM sound with experimental guitar riffs and avant-prog workouts with fast tempos but overall a more straight forward rock sound than anything that followed. The cassette maxed out the running time of cassettes when released in 1987 with 14 tracks that swallowed up almost 76 minutes of playing time but overall was still very far from what Idiot Flesh and SGM would progress to.

This second release THE RITE OF SPRING came out three years later, also as a cassette-only release but upped the ante in just about every way making it a very obvious early offering of the Idiot Flesh club which ceded into SGM. Yes, the title refers to Igor Stravinsky's classical hit "The Rite Of Spring" and is a bizarre and twisted avant-prog interpretation done to perfection! While the band's first offering was a guitar-driven experimental rock album with scatterings of time signature freak outs and weirdness, THE RITE OF SPRING takes rock the classics to avant-prog paradise! This is the most jittery spastic interpretation of a classical piece i've ever heard and it's a wild ride that takes you where the original composer never imagined! It's utterly brilliant. Imagine the most avant-prog laced passages of SGM and you'll get the picture.

The title track swallows up 18 minutes of this 24 minute release with the second track "Gelatinous Love of Goats" providing somewhat of a come down from rising from the altitude sickness experienced from the title track taking you so far out of the realms of 80s rock music. This second track is much more "normal" and sounds like a Jimi Hendrix inspired post-punk track with some funk that reminds me a bit of 80s Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's obvious that this was probably one of the very first tracks the band ever recorded and probably predated the debut demo release "We Were All Very Worried" which it sounds more like. It is the most primitive sounding track of any of the three bands that Frydahl and Rathbun piloted.

This is amongst the rarest of the rare and it's doubtful few if any heard this before the age of YouTube however this is a must for hardcore fans interested in the earliest offerings of one of avant-prog metal's strangest and most ingenious teams of freak-a-zoids. Somebody really needs to remaster these already and put it all out on CD. I really want to have a physical copy of both ACID RAIN releases. This particular release is proof that Sleepytime Gorilla Museum really existed in the 1980s and that this duo just hadn't quite realized it yet. Sure the arsenal of self-made instrumentation is nowhere to be heard but the creativity was already firing on all pistons this far back. This is difficult listening music so those who are addicted to safe cuddly melodies best stay clear!

4.5 rounded down

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 We Were All Very Worried (as Acid Rain) by IDIOT FLESH album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.11 | 8 ratings

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We Were All Very Worried (as Acid Rain)
Idiot Flesh RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars Before there was Sleepytime Gorilla Museum there was Idiot Flesh but before Idiot Flesh there was ACID RAIN, the first collaborative effort of Nils Frydahl (vocals, guitar, tin whistle) and Dan Rathbun (bass, vocals, acoustic piccolo bass) who spanned all three band incarnations to woo and bedazzle cult audiences around the world with some of the most bizarre experimental weirdness that the world of rock music had to offer. This first rendition of the classic SGM style was already underway as early as 1985 in Oakland, CA where these guys along with David Shamrock (drums) who would skip the Idiot Flesh party and rejoin as one of the curators of the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.

WE WERE ALL VERY WORRIED was the very first official release of the ACID RAIN / Idiot Flesh / Sleepytime Gorilla Museum continuum although in demo form. The band started out as the mere trio of Frydahl, Rathbun and Shamrock and this first offering was nothing more than a rare cassette-only promotional demo that sounded more like the post-death metal offerings of Mr Bungle than anything that would emerge in the very near future. Supposedly a prior demo called "Drip" was unleashed but it seems nobody has heard it therefore we'll count this one as the official debut of the ingenious collaborative efforts of Frydahl and Rathbun.

At this point ACID RAIN was going for broke and getting the total playing time that a cassette release had to offer at the time. Featuring 14 tracks, WE WERE ALL VERY WORRIED will swallow up nearly 76 minutes of your precious life span but guess what. It's all so very worth it! Yeah early demos by artists can vary in terms of quality with the vast majority sucking big time but in the case of ACID RAIN, this is simply amazing! It was clear from the getgo that the experimental antics of Frydahl and Rathbun were like an alchemic reaction that turned lead into gold. The chemistry these partners in crime have maintained for nearly 40 years is nothing less than miraculous.

While nowhere as developed as the future releases, WE WERE ALL VERY WORRIED was as close to a "normal" release that ACID RAIN / Idiot Flesh / SGM continuum would release with the second "The Rite of Spring" demo quickly advancing. Sounding somewhat like an experimental avant-garde version of 80s Red Hot Chili Peppers, these early recordings range from somewhat standard funk rock and metal to full on avant-prog attacks. Many of the tracks simply start out as an 80s funk rock standard and then morph bizarrely into avant-prog juggernauts. There are many hairpin turns and occasional unexpected references to pop songs from the past. There are even a few moments of the avant-prog splendor that would fully gel on the trilogy of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum albums that would haunt the early 2000s. Add some folk, jig music and whatever and the party's one!

This demo is kinda all over the place with even a live track called "Stinking Hippie" inserted in the middle sounding a bit like a funky Grateful Dead and then the track "Acid Rain" sounding like a future SGM styled composition. Some of these were most likely reworked big time for the future projects. There are also moments where a violin appears from nowhere as well as other small inklings of where ACID RAIN would end up 15 years down the road. This is really a potpourri of experimental rock and avant-prog that will please any fans of Idiot Flesh and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. While not as polished or dramatic as the future incarnations, this debut ACID RAIN makes up for it in sheer audacity and youthful exploration. This is so much better than i ever couldn't imagined. It's as fun as the most zany Frank Zappa album and as musically competent as anything Gentle Giant cranked out albeit in scattered doses.

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  33. The Yes Album
    Yes
  34. H To He, Who Am The Only One
    Van Der Graaf Generator
  35. Birds of Fire
    Mahavishnu Orchestra
  36. In the Land of Grey and Pink
    Caravan
  37. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
    Genesis
  38. Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes from a Memory
    Dream Theater
  39. Octopus
    Gentle Giant
  40. Zarathustra
    Museo Rosenbach
  41. Scheherazade and Other Stories
    Renaissance
  42. The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories)
    Steven Wilson
  43. The Power and the Glory
    Gentle Giant
  44. Images and Words
    Dream Theater
  45. The Snow Goose
    Camel
  46. Meddle
    Pink Floyd
  47. The Grand Wazoo
    Frank Zappa
  48. Still Life
    Van Der Graaf Generator
  49. The Mothers of Invention: One Size Fits All
    Frank Zappa
  50. The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
    Peter Hammill
  51. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
  52. Still Life
    Opeth
  53. Free Hand
    Gentle Giant
  54. Hand. Cannot. Erase.
    Steven Wilson
  55. Ommadawn
    Mike Oldfield
  56. Dwellers of the Deep
    Wobbler
  57. Fear of a Blank Planet
    Porcupine Tree
  58. A Trick of the Tail
    Genesis
  59. Blackwater Park
    Opeth
  60. The Inner Mounting Flame
    Mahavishnu Orchestra
  61. Obscura
    Gorguts
  62. Ghost Reveries
    Opeth
  63. Mekanďk Destruktďw Kommandöh
    Magma
  64. Misplaced Childhood
    Marillion
  65. Acquiring the Taste
    Gentle Giant
  66. Romantic Warrior
    Return To Forever
  67. Permanent Waves
    Rush
  68. Rock Bottom
    Robert Wyatt
  69. Space Shanty
    Khan
  70. Depois do Fim
    Bacamarte
  71. In Absentia
    Porcupine Tree
  72. In A Silent Way
    Miles Davis
  73. A Drop of Light
    All Traps On Earth
  74. Script for a Jester's Tear
    Marillion
  75. Hatfield and the North
    Hatfield And The North
  76. Second Life Syndrome
    Riverside
  77. 4 visions
    Eskaton
  78. Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
    Gong
  79. Symbolic
    Death
  80. Viljans Öga
    Änglagĺrd
  81. On Land And In The Sea
    Cardiacs
  82. Felona E Sorona
    Le Orme
  83. Voyage of the Acolyte
    Steve Hackett
  84. Bitches Brew
    Miles Davis
  85. Arbeit Macht Frei
    Area
  86. Hamburger Concerto
    Focus
  87. The Road of Bones
    IQ
  88. Ashes Are Burning
    Renaissance
  89. Of Queues and Cures
    National Health
  90. Elegant Gypsy
    Al Di Meola
  91. Spectrum
    Billy Cobham
  92. If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You
    Caravan
  93. Emerson Lake & Palmer
    Emerson Lake & Palmer
  94. Operation: Mindcrime
    Queensr˙che
  95. Crimson
    Edge Of Sanity
  96. Remedy Lane
    Pain Of Salvation
  97. Häxan
    Art Zoyd
  98. Maxophone
    Maxophone
  99. Ys
    Il Balletto Di Bronzo
  100. Anabelas
    Bubu

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