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 Songs From A Solitary Home by MAJOR PARKINSON album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.22 | 60 ratings

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Songs From A Solitary Home
Major Parkinson Eclectic Prog

Review by javajeff

5 stars I just picked up all their music, and I am blown away by everything that I have heard. I am a fan of eclectic stuff, so they fit nicely into my collection. If I had to choose a favorite album, it would have to be this one. I think the pure craziness of Songs From A Solitary Home give it a slight edge, but by all means, get them all. Heart of Hickory is such an amazing song to anchor this album. I consider the musicianship to be excellent, and a higher level of creativity to create something unlike anything else out there. The closest music to this is more likely in the Alternative rock genre with groups like The The, but the progressive elements are infused into this masterpiece. I am enjoying their entire collection, and look forward to each listen with excitement and anticipation. Songs From A Solitary Home is highly recommended.

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 Bonfire Goes Bananas by BONFIRE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.36 | 20 ratings

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Bonfire Goes Bananas
Bonfire Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars BONFIRE were a Dutch band who released this sole album back in 1975. Many compare them to FINCH and FOCUS with their all instrumental high energy sound. It clocks in at around 40 minutes and besides the usual instruments we get some flute, grand piano and vibes. The keyboardist had a hand in all of the compositions. While I mention the energy they do contrast passages a lot.

"Delirium" opens with experimental sounds which is my favourite part of the album. It kicks into gear well before a minute then picks up speed from there as the drums and guitar stand out. Contrasts do continue though in this energetic opening number. "Contrast" is laid back with guitar and a relaxed beat but it kicks into an uptempo groove and these contrasts will continue. The synths sound pretty cool along with the guitar work at times, I'm not into this at the other times though. Now the flute really adds to the sound here after 3 minutes along with the vocal melodies late. Very much hit and miss for me. "Vuurstaal(Part II)" opens with piano as the guitar, bass and drums join in, flute a minute in. The guitar is emotional starting before 2 minutes then the flute returns.

"Chinese In Europe(Part I)" is annoying to start with those people talking as a lame piano melody takes over. The guitar is better but that piano melody keeps coming back(gasp). Female vocal melodies before 1 1/2 minutes and I like them a lot. Lots of intricate sounds a minute later. "Circle" is somewhat dark with sparse piano and some atmosphere. It kicks in around a minute with busy drum work and prominent guitar and piano. The intensity rises a little before 4 minutes.

"The Sage Of The Running Nose" is the almost 19 minute closer. Marching styled drums to start with guitar and bass. It then settles back with piano, vibes and flute 3 minutes in. I like the calm before 5 minutes as the brightness disappears briefly. Then we get a piano/ drum lead section which will be contrasted with the more energetic passages. I'm not big on the section starting around 13 minutes but then it settles back with guitar out front which I appreciate. Lots of piano led melodies follow right to the end.

I have a hard time with some lighter, high energy bands, it's just not my scene including FINCH but if your into this style you need to give this one a shot.

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 A Stone's Throw From the Line by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Live, 2016
5.00 | 1 ratings

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A Stone's Throw From the Line
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by javajeff

— First review of this album —
5 stars More Big Big Train is a good thing! I think this performance is excellent, so any fan of their music should definitely pick it up. The sound quality is solid for a live show, but it is not the same for those that have been enjoying the studio recordings at 24 bit 48khz. Those high resolution studio recordings have punch, but you get the interactive element with a live audience, and some differences in music and vocal performance for this release. I can listen to their music on as many different presentations as they offer. David Longdon took me by surprise on some notes as he showed some versatility in a looser live setting. Nick D'Virgilio sounds great on drums as usual, Greg Spawton is excellent, and the addition of Rikard Sjöblom adds to an already amazing pool of talent. I think this is an excellent addition to any progressive rock fan's collection, and a must for Big Big Train fans. The band that takes me on journeys across the pond through their music has given me a new journey to enjoy. A big kudos to Greg Spawton and crew for amazing musicianship and an excellent live presentation!

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 Eye of the Soundscape by RIVERSIDE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2016
3.93 | 38 ratings

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Eye of the Soundscape
Riverside Progressive Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It was about a year ago that vocalist Mariusz Duda had a meeting with the band and presented the idea of doing an Electronic album. Electronic music is nothing new to the band if you've checked out some of the bonus tracks that RIVERSIDE have used over the years. And even Mariusz's solo project LUNATIC SOUL is heavily Electronic at times. Anyway the band's response was nothing but positive towards this idea and the late guitarist Piotr Grudzinski who passed away from natural causes last February texted Mariusz with these words "I really can't wait for this release, I have always had a dream for RIVERSIDE to release such an album". This of course is dedicated to the late guitarist with these words from the band "This is our last journey together so we dedicate this album to you, Brother. In our hearts you will stay forever." And so we have the last performance from this amazing guitarist as he and the band created several new tracks in studio at the beginning of 2016 while also using many of those bonus tracks that date back to 2007. Duda described the experience of recording and composing this album as "We were working with smiles on our faces, genuinely excited, knowing that this time it wasn't just a bonus disc or an addition to something bigger but a fully fledged, independant release with that kind of music, full of space, trance, melodies and electronics".

I'm not a huge Electronic fan but I have a deep appreciation for this sub-genre and love listening to soundscape music while driving or biking especially. At first I didn't think there was much guitar on here but there's plenty. Duda does sing but often it sounds like he's in the distance, obviously the emphasis is on the instrumental work here and his voice is like another instrument as he also uses vocal melodies to great affect. We get two discs worth just over a hundred minutes of music. While some of these song titles might be familiar they really have changed these songs completely to the point of not even recognizing them.

Our journey begins with "Where The River Flows" and man the atmosphere is incredible early on. Drums just before 2 minutes then the guitar joins in. An electronic beat arrives before 4 minutes and suddenly this is electronic music all the way. Catchy too. It settles right down 7 1/2 minutes in as the guitar is strummed with little else going on. Some distant vocals after 9 minutes, keys too to the end. "Shine" was the first track to get an official video from the band. Electronics to start then some heaviness before a minute, guitar too. So much going on with all these sounds including drums, lots of depth here. "Rapid Eye Movement" features spacey and drifting music with some experimental sounds that come and go. An electronic beat kicks in after 3 minutes then the guitar starts to cry out. So good! It starts to settle back after 7 1/2 minutes and check out the bass 9 minutes in. It starts to pick back up as the drums join in and we get some vocal melodies before 12 minutes.

"Night Session Part One" sounds really good as we get this melancholic vibe and it's very spacey. Lots of atmosphere and it's sparse sounding until an electronic beat joins in at 2 1/2 minutes then eventually guitar as well. I really like this one. It starts to calm right down after 8 1/2 minutes. "Night Sessions Part Two" is interesting as we get sax on this track changing the flavour somewhat. Percussion too as the sax comes and goes then guitar before 3 minutes. Vocal melodies follow as it slowly builds. The sax is back around 5 1/2 minutes then it's sax only before 7 minutes with lots of atmosphere. Spacey winds a minute later. This is quite ambient.

Disc two begins with "Sleepwalkers" which might be my favourite of the bunch. Sounds echo and ping as almost spoken vocals then guitar join in as it builds, an electronic beat as well. "Rainbow Trip" is spacey with a beat, bass, keys and more. It's building and check out the guitar starting before 5 minutes. "Heavenland" is another killer track which is very spacey with vocal melodies that come and go. So much atmosphere around 2 minutes as the soundscape almost vibrates.

"Return" again is filled with atmosphere as experimental sounds come and go. A beat around 2 minutes followed by guitar but man that atmosphere! It turns louder before 5 1/2 minutes. "Aether" is like the previous two tracks with the atmosphere and I like the bass as cymbals join in. A beat then electronics arrive and eventually they will dominate. Cool track. "Machines" opens with keys before these beats take over. "Promise" features some beautiful acoustic guitar, emotional stuff for me(RIP Piotr) with all that atmosphere too. "Eye Of The Soundscape" ends it and this is one sparse and ambient piece. Very spacey with sparse sounds that will come and go over the 11 1/2 minutes.

Duda has had a rough year with the passing of his great friend and band mate Piotr and he also lost his father who passed away late in the spring this year, plus he was dealing with some other personal stuff. I hope for nothing but positive vibes towards this awesome band. They said they will hire a guitarist as they need one, they will not replace what cannot be replaced. Piotr was one of a kind.

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 Cosmic Ground III by COSMIC GROUND album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 4 ratings

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Cosmic Ground III
Cosmic Ground Progressive Electronic

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

4 stars Cosmic Ground is the alias employed by keyboard player Dirk Jan Müller of modern German Krautrockers Electric Orange, a solo project in the progressive-electronic/kozmiche musik style completely composed on the same analogue equipment of the original era. While the vintage Berlin School influences are still present as on the previous two Cosmic Ground releases, Dirk has given his lengthy compositions here a broader approach that allows them more space to breathe and to carefully unfold, making `III' his most natural and subtle artistic expression with this project yet.

Again made up of four vinyl length side-long pieces, opener `Ground Control' might be comprised of slow to reveal longer ambient streams and briefly rising electronic washes, but a constant variety of frequently up-tempo dramatic sequencer trickles quickly gain unceasing momentum throughout with an ever-expanding serene Mellotron pool slowly seeping out. `Crumbling Darkness' is an elegant cinematic drone that holds a tender mystery, with gentle sweeping winds behind ambient landscapes of electric piano ripples, shimmering electronic levitations and hypnotic looping steady sequencer beats that hover in the air.

A ticking bounce quickly overwhelms the monolithic metallic hum of `Keep Us in Space' with an unflinching trance-like rhythm, and `Monochrome Ritual' is a groaning drone expanse, initially not unlike the self-titled opening track off Tangerine Dream's `Green Desert'. It morphs into an ethereal glistening caress lapping around the most submerged rumbling traces of sequencers trying to take flight before a final crystalline deep-space mediation.

Unhurried yet also seductively busy with the most minute of variations and intricate details that assure the airy flowing atmospheres never vanish into still nothingness, `III' is intelligent and restrained with a frequent aching beauty, and is easily the strongest effort from Mr Müller under the Cosmic Ground moniker to date.

Four stars (and Dirk, how about some live recordings soon?!)

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 3 by FOCUS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.76 | 409 ratings

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3
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars Back in 1993 I started buying Focus albums. Moving Waves was the first Focus album I ever heard, I won't forget hearing "Hocus Pocus" in 1989 as a teenager (right smack in the era of New Kids on the Block) and being blown away by this song (to be honest, I remembered hearing this song as a small kid, so it wasn't new, just that in 1989 it really caught my attention). I often wondered why I never heard any other Focus songs on the radio. When I finally heard Moving Waves, that album blew me away, not just "Hocus Pocus", but the side-length "Eruption". OK, so I now understand, it's mostly instrumental, which radio stations tended to stay away, and the best cut, other than "Hocus Pocus" was too long and maybe not the most radio friendly. I then bought Focus 3, the US pressing on Sire with the die-cut cover (but without the rainbow "Focus 3" effect, it's just simply a rainbow "Focus 3" logo) and I didn't quite liked it as much. This album really proved to me why you never heard any other Focus songs on the albums, but through the years, I can see why I was a bit hard on the album. Perhaps a bit excessive at times, but then it dawned on me, Cream likely did similar things live, but they'd do it in a blues-based manner, which Focus would never do. "Round Goes the Gossip" is the only song with singing, in fact the little bit of Latin is the only singing (other than the phrase "Round Goes the Gossip" being repeated over and over). "Love Remembered", Jan Akkerman's piece is a pretty sappy piece, with acoustic guitar and Thijs van Leer's flute, with something like a Theremin or an Ondes Martenot. "Sylvia" was a minor hit in the States, but apparently a major one in Europe, I have absolutely no recollections of this song on the radio, so obviously it didn't have an impact on FM radio the way of "Hocus Pocus" here in the States. Regardless this song is much more typical Focus than "Hocus Pocus", so while you might want to play "Hocus Pocus" to jog people's memories, "Sylvia" is a song to direct the uninitiated (that is if their reaction was "I remembered Hocus Pocus"). "Carnival Fugue" (I now also own a French pressing on the Az label that amusingly titled it "Carnival Fudge" on the label, but still titled "Carnival Fugue on the cover). starts off with classical piano and jazzy guitar, before going into a rhythm that reminds me of the Beatles' "Do You Wanna Know a Secret". "Focus III" also demonstrates all the best quality of Focus, I really love Jan Akkerman's lead guitar playing and the organ playing. I remembered hearing Petula Clark's "Don't Sleep in the Subway", and I noticed that Focus borrowed from this song! "Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!" gets more lengthy, with lots of guitar and organ jams, plus a slow organ-dominated piece. But it was the next song that really stuck a craw with me, and that's "Anonymous II". At times I can easily dismiss it as nothing but a wankfest, demonstrated the '70s at its most excess, other times I considered it a great and ingenious jam where each member gets their chance to solo. I really like the Bert Ruiter bass solo that starts off slowly before eventually the rest of the band starts back in and then the whole band jams. It's the Pierre van der Linden drum solo that can seem a bit excessive, but then I'm sure he's getting ideas from Ginger Baker's Cream drum solo on "Toad". Then it dawned on me: I am certain Cream did similar stuff live. Of course, with them the music would be much more blues-based, Ginger Baker would do a drum solo like on "Toad", playing drums like he rides a bicycle (Baker's drumming was influenced by his biking), and I seriously doubt Jack Bruce would dive into a bass solo (he probably knew better), the closest I can think of is Blind Faith's "Do What You Like" (which was basically Cream minus Jack Bruce, and instead Steve Winwood, and Ric Grech, formerly of Family). Of course, "Anonymous II" was a sequel to the original off In & Out of Focus (Focus Plays Focus), drawn out nearly three times longer. "Elsbeth of Nottingham" is clearly Jan Akkerman's piece, totally medieval influenced, with lute and recorders. Although "House of the King" has been featured on some pressings of In & Out of Focus (and only released as a single in Holland), it makes a reappearance here on album because some countries didn't have that song on In & Out of Focus. When I first bought Focus 3, I often wondered why "House of the King" seemed so out of place on the album. It's an earlier recording, with Hans Cleuver and Martijn Dresden instead of Bert Ruiter and Pierre van der Linden. Regardless, this is truly a classic, in the Jethro Tull vein, and one of the finest songs of Focus, too bad that didn't get picked up for American FM radio airplay.

So I'm still a bit torn over this album, it's agreed perhaps a bit of baggage could have easily been removed, but make no doubt the amount of great brilliant material included.

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 Pike 94 - Magic Lantern by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Pike 94 - Magic Lantern
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars BUCKETHEAD - PIKE 94 - Magic Lantern 53rd album out of 60 in 2014 and 123rd overall All sounds brought to you by Buckethead and all instrumental This one clocks in at 29:24

"Magic Lantern" (6:29) starts with a feisty heavily distorted guitar riff chuggin' along a rushed paced without being frantic. It picks up its alternative metal groove and becomes a little bouncy and then alternates with some distorted arpeggio riffs. The drums and bass are right on the rhythmic bounce with the guitar but they soon relax and let the guitar do some finger exercises that aren't quite solos but more akin to some kind of bluegrass picking. It basically jumps around leading back to bouncy part and finger pickin' with some other alternate performance thrown in while keeping the same melodic skeletal system throughout

"Cheese Roof" (4:05) starts out mid temp with grungy guitar riffs and heavy bass and drums. It alternates heavier and lighter passages but when heavy has a loud abrasive single chord stomp that then turns into one of those finger pickin' extravaganzas for a while. It changes back into the ratchet it up riff with the drums getting faster and faster. The finger pickin' parts have a catchy melody and are played extremely fast and proficiently. Pretty cool track

"First Corridor" (9:59) is another bouncy distorted number with staccato start up and is fairly energetic. While fairly accessible has some little off-kilter time sig changes and then slightly shifts to another mode of operand. This one continues for some time in bouncy mode and even the changes have the same underlying rhythm. As it continues it incorporates cool guitar slides and electronic noises and has somewhat jazzy chord structures and also has a flair of funk in its mix. This one is pretty cool actually. Everything is set up well and flows logically yet surprises are abundant. As it progresses through its near ten minute run it continues to change things up by throwing solos, jazzy guitar breakdowns all the while alternating with the ubiquitous chord stomp and even manages to throw a country twang feel in from time to time. Very cool track that juggles many elements and strings them together quite remarkably

"Wind From Where" (3:44) picks up steam a bit and creates a frantic pace with a similar stomping type chord structure but has a more free flow to it for a while and then kind of derails into strange off-kilter time sigs and then picks itself up and becomes sort of normal. This one is very weird. It's like when you get up from a deep sleep and try to have a conversation. You know you're hearing yourself speak but still halfway in a dream state. This one distorts everything just enough every so often to throw the listener off. Still quite heavy rockin' even at its mellowest. Ends with a funky bass attack

"Land Of The Lanterns" (5:07) is quite the contrast as it begins with slow, dreamy, clean guitar tones. The bass and drum tag along like lazy sleepy-eyed tots arising after a sugar induced slumber. This is slow and breezy. No more in a hurry. Take it easy. The melody never really develops into anything OMG but it's pleasant enough. Nice effects and a little more interesting than the average PIKE that has thirty minutes of this stuff. Tagged onto the end, it's in a tolerable dose but not the most original of tracks.

I love this PIKE except the last track. It is quite the creative expression of experimental, progressive instrumental rock and metal. It is quite unique in BH's canon as well and i'm not sure how to explain it. It's one of those slightly off-kilter releases where everything seems like it was recorded on a different reality plane and doesn't quite resonate the same in this dimension, hence the "Magic Lantern" effect. The first four tracks are keepers

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 Hatfield And The North by HATFIELD AND THE NORTH album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.27 | 641 ratings

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Hatfield And The North
Hatfield And The North Canterbury Scene

Review by Kaelka

5 stars I sat at my keyboard to write a nice review, and then thought : what could I say about this album that hasn't already been said in all the previous reviews?

Nothing really.

So, just a little story then, one that will perhaps appeal to those who are visiting this page only because they wonder who's the band with the funny name.

The year is 1980, the place a middle-sized provincial town near the small provincial town where I was born. In those blessed times, there were still records shop (I don't know about your place, but they vanished from french provincial towns ages ago), and I was coming out of my weekly pilgrimage to the town's biggest records mall when I realized there was a tiny used-records shop next door. I wandered in and spent a few minutes rummaging through the stacks of albums and singles, and I finally extracted two battered-looking LPs and bought them at a ridiculously low price. As I was at a boarding school, I had of course no record-player, and I had to wait until going home the following Saturday to listen to them.

And it was love at first hearing, not with one of them, but with both! They're still around somewhere, probably gathering dust in the attic, but in due time their CD versions have replaced them. They're still in my heart, I listen to them almost every week, and they're still at the very top of my list of favorite albums.

Well you probably guessed that one of them was "Hatfield and the North" (and Jonathan Coe was wrong, it's so much better than "The Rotters' Club"). The other one was Wyatt's "Rock Bottom". Not bad for a few minutes of improvised shopping, eh?

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 Chronometree by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.31 | 134 ratings

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Chronometree
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by nandprogger

4 stars When I hear something of GL, I think: is more a prog tribute to classics of progrock. In this case is the same, but is more fantastic tribute. As a big fan of Elp I love this album, not only for this. A grand advantage of a lot of albuns of Gl is a mix of other elements that make sounds different. The sounds involving psychedelic elements of spacial/alien history. This psychedelic voices in ballads and the bass sounds create a immersion into history. In other had, I think if you are a big fan of ELP albuns but there are albuns that don't like, hear this. The theme "chronommetree" is in a whole of album inspired in the sounds of hammonds. Is right the criticism of variety of sounds of GL sounds only a tribute for 70's prog rock bands, but is don't take away the merit of a lot of GL albuns. For me is more a ELP album don't done for ELP as TRIUMVIRAT. 4 stars for fantastic ELP inspired album and immersion history

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 Metamorphosis by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2016
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Metamorphosis
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Pandora Snail through the electronic glass.

Pandora Snail's "Metamorphosis", 2016, makes some gutsy move by letting some of their 2015 "War & Peace" songs go through the electronic remixing process and if anything this turn of events is daring. This alone is plaussible as it is in proportion quiet experimental and ironically will probably turn off most of those who raved over the original versions, thus in itself, it shows a true commitment to their personal evolution, free of any kind of prior attachments or compromises to external factors.

Opposite to what most non-progressive electronic followers and some other kind of prog listeners would expect or immediately assume as a direct route to young electronic dance floor music audiences, this release keeps on a healthy distance away from becoming a sell out route to success on mainstream's radio waves ( unlike, let me set as an example, Tangerine Dream's 80s, 90s and later works or YES' post "Going for the One" works or Steven Wison's popish Blackfield direction). This accomplished (opposite to those examples) by never allowing contemporary trends, their remixing processes and its fashionable gimmicks to interfere nor distort what they have already proposed, but allowing it to be deconstructed and restructured in a different plane focused on highlighting their flexibility and possibilities and not the other way around.

Now, for those original versions enthusiasts, I will hardly think this is the route Pandora Snail will follow in upcoming releases, so they should not take this EP too seriously, but should encourage this kind of uncompromising freedom in their future works.

As for rating this release, as such, I will not overrate nor underrate, therefore a respectful ***3 stars rating is quiet fair.

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 Act V: Hymns with the Devil in Confessional by DEAR HUNTER, THE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.12 | 93 ratings

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Act V: Hymns with the Devil in Confessional
The Dear Hunter Crossover Prog

Review by Skyperion

5 stars I have been a relative new comer to the world created by Mr Crescenzo, having only started listing with any regularity to his albums since Act iv. However that album was quite a revelation to me and thus when I realised that the next act was out I immediately downloaded it and invested time in coming to know the previous albums as well. The striking thing about acts vi and v is the creative imagination they present and the variety of styles. Within its 73 minutes Hymn stretches from rock, prog to blues (and even big band!) - Casey shows his capability in all those areas. The production and musicianship are also top class.

Some highlight tracks would be Cascade, the Revival and A Beginning (one the best album endings in years!). Mr Usher also stands out from the (rat) pack being a slightly lighter track with a great big band sound, yes really, it also has some excellent vocal arrangements.

I have not been disappointed with Hymns with the Devil and over the last few months it has become my favorite album from Casey, furthermore it is currently my choice album of the year.

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 Coaster Coat by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.95 | 3 ratings

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Coaster Coat
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars BUCKETHEAD - PIKE 93 - Coaster Coat 52nd album out of 60 in 2014 and 122nd overall All sounds brought to you by Buckethead and all instrumental This one clocks in at 32:46 One of two PIKEs that spells BUCKETHEADLAND in Japanese katakana on the cover

"Coaster Coat" (12:43) starts out with a steady beat and beefy bass with a space rock guitar riff in a mid tempo march and develops an easily digestible melody right off the bat. The guitars remain clean with a warm tone and it evolves into a more subdued section before picking up steam again but it never really heats up past simmer. While Pink Floyd is the usually suspect for space rock influence, this one doesn't sound anything like them although it does have the same general feel. Close to the four minute mark the tempo picks up a bit and a guitar solo wails away. It is rather bluesy and gains intensity with the help of some electronic effects but after it runs out of gas it gets calm and placid again. The melody always remains in the same mode and this doesn't jump around randomly like the previous PIKE did. As it continues it basically trades off more rockin' passages with slow breakdowns. The upbeat segments include guitar soloing over the riffs. This one is a fairly decent example of BH creating a highly accessible meandering but melodic track. It goes on a bit too long but has some nice moments, especially some of the guitar work towards the end

"Flying Cat" (9:00) begins totally differently with a funky bass and heavy drumbeat mixing with slap happy guitar funk. After a fairly straight forward intro it does some time sig tricks. It then returns to the funk rock and then has a staccato guitar attack before bringing in da funky part once again. It continues with slight variations of the general theme and alternates the familiar for a few measures with something improvised off it for an undetermined amount of time. A fairly straight forward but fun track

"Coastline" (11:03) is once again different than the others. This one begins with clean dreamy guitar parts without percussion or bass. It develops a very strong and spacey melody and does bring some Pink Floyd to mind and also has some cool slide guitar. In addition to the two guitar parts (one rhythm, one lead) there is plenty of background ambience to give the whole thing a airy ethereal feel. Usually i don't like these tracks because there is cheesy percussion that ruins it but i'm liking this one. The lead guitar parts become more bluesy and Floydian as the track progresses. This one remains in dream state and simply focuses on a recurring melodic loop that slithers along at a snail's pace. It's very soothing

This is a cool PIKE that focuses strictly on melody rather than the bizarre and avant-garde. While i prefer the latter, this one is a very nice accessible slice of BUCKETHEADLAND. Perhaps not the most original release and could use a little more coal in the fire but a very pleasant listen

3.5 rounded down

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 Through The Fire by ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.55 | 9 ratings

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Through The Fire
Illusion Eclectic Prog

Review by SteveG

4 stars A wonderful little known album that should be in the possession of every fan of the Mach 1 Renaissance, and band Illusion, featuring Jane Relf as the female voice. This lineup also featured ex Yardbirds Keith Relf (Jane's brother) on guitar and vocals and Jim McCarty on drums and vocals. Filling out this early Renaissance line up was Louis Cennamo on bass and the great John Hawken on piano and keyboards.

All have returned in 2001, save the departed Keith Relf, to help Jim McCarty flesh out this wonderful material that has a deep Renaissance/Illusion spiritual vibe both musically and lyrically. McCarty is the sole songwriter and chief vocalist, with Jane singing warm emotive backing vocals. The star of this album is once again Hawken, who's seems to channel some of the late John Tout's regal touch and excels on piano on every track that features him. Even the two tracks that don't feature Hawkin showoff McCarty's growing skills as pianist, along with his drumming and percussion work on all but one track on this album. Cemanno demonstrates why the Mach 2 Annie Haslam fronted lineup had to be as good or better than the original. The depth of talent, even minus Keith Relf, is so staggering that it makes me wonder why the Mach 1 line up never hit it big in their short time as classical/symphonic proggers.

Guest players handle the mostly acoustic guitar parts admirably and the stand out songs are "One More Turn Of The Wheel" (which probably could have been the title track if it was not so similar sounding tho the Mach 2 group's album tilted Turn Of The Cards), "Good Heart", "Glorious One", "Mystery Of Being", and the album's title track "Through The Fire."

McCarty was an early songwriter for the Mach 2 Renaissance that followed him with songs like "Kiev", "On The Frontier" and "Bound For Infinity", so have no doubts that this album is a must have for fans of both Renaissance and Illusion, as McCarty has crafted a fine album that elegantly bridges the gap between both of those groups.

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 LMR by LEVIN MINNEMANN RUDESS album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.14 | 91 ratings

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LMR
Levin Minnemann Rudess Heavy Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I'm just going to throw down the gauntlet here: Levin Minnemann Rudess is one of the best instrumental prog experiences you'll ever hear ... and it's a travesty that this album has been kept a secret for years since its release. How am I only the third reviewer!? Well I hope that changes in a hurry, because this is one of the best musical discoveries I've experienced for a long time.

Not that it was much of a gamble, really. Come on, Tony Levin is legendary for a reason. Jordon Rudess is like keyboard wizard (stifled now for years in Dream Theatre), and Minnemann is a drumming journeyman whose probably played with groups or artists currently in your collection. Getting them together is a sure-fire win, but probably not at the level you maybe assume ... it's better.

This record really is one of the best instrumental prog releases I've ever heard. You can compare it to Liquid Tension Experiment, but while that project (also featuring Levin and Rudess) was also heavy on Petrucci guitar and improvisation, Levin Minnemann Rudess is a meticulously crafted technical masterwork. These guys have instrumental chops that are mind-blowing, and are put on display with a very high level of songwriting finesse and ambition. You'll have a lot of fun with these tunes.

It would be difficult to go through individual songs, because they're so twisty-crazy and diverse, but suffice to say this release is modern heavy-prog that features huge riffs, timbre that ranges from manic to mellow, and improvisational highlights throughout. Tony Levin's playing is sharp, creative, and personality-filled. There really is no one that sounds quite like him; bravo Tony for continuing a 30-year streak of excellence. Rudess is like a knight in shining armor for me. I've loved his playing since I first him on 6 Degrees of Inner Turbulence, but his contributions to the mediocrity of Dream Theater had me pretty much writing him off - but holy cow does he cook here. The man carries much of the melodies throughout this album, and brings tremendous energy and charm to the songs. Minnemann also impresses by shifting between the tracks' numerous style and time changes with ease. Very technical; very hip. Exceptional work across the board.

How this record has gone undiscovered here on the Archives is beyond me, but I hope everyone reading this checks it out and supports this group's collaboration. I'm rounding up to a 5-star because there really hasn't been anything quite like this for a while, and it's just excellent. A first-rate instrumental experience!

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: NA - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

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 Hunky Dory by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.15 | 404 ratings

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Hunky Dory
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This early work by Bowie has irresistible charm and depth, sticking to that sort of energetic mid-tempo pop-rock that appeals to pretty much everyone. Not yet the "glam rocker," Bowie here has crafted some handsomely arranged rock n' roll that wraps up a variety of styles and tones - from the boogie-woogie, to folk, to western, to classical, and back to rock n' roll again. It's a great listen, often lush and always emotive.

A handful of standouts, like the immensely likable "Changes," intricately composed "Life on Mars?", and experimental "Andy Warhol," grab one's attention. The other songs, while offering many points of interest for the careful listener, do drift somewhat into the background of acoustic and string textures. For me, the impression is that Hunky Dory would make excellent dinner-party music; inoffensive in its mild tone but also fun for its genuine charm. There's a timelessness here and in Bowie's performance. Bowie's voice and lyrics are of course excellent, as is the songwriting in general. Instrumental work is fine; not much to laud but effective overall.

Recommended but not essential. Hunky Dory is great if you're interested in Bowie the musician, or for thoughtful pop-rock that proves that the '70's really are the time to go for creative and genuine music.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

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 Of Queues And Cures by NATIONAL HEALTH album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.26 | 333 ratings

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Of Queues And Cures
National Health Canterbury Scene

Review by Kaelka

5 stars Despite some slight personnel changes (Greaves for Murray on bass, and the vanishing of the heavenly Amanda "Northette" Parson), there is such a continuity from "National Health" to "Of Queues and Cures" that they could almost have been released as a double. This review (and the 5 enthusiastic stars that go with it) is therefore meant for both works. So many nice (and true) things have been said here about NH's first two albums that all I can do is add my little voice to the choir of praise. Yes, this music is incredibly brilliant and complex, so full of surprises and time and tone changes, so brimming with ideas at every turn of a bar, that you can never get tired of listening to it. Yes, those guys are so good that they don't need to show off with never-ending solos, the way some jazz musicians do. And yes, this music is funny and joyful (to call it "cold" is deeply absurd) to the point that you could almost call it "feelgood music", to echo the concept of the "feelgood movie". To all intents and purposes, National Health is essentially Hatfield and the North under another name, and without Sinclair's songs (the same way Soft Machine got rid of Wyatt's songwriting and singing in 1972, although with far less interesting results). What you have here is the quintessence of Canterbury sound. Whatever began at the Simon Langton school in 1963 with the Wilde Flowers (although of course none of NH members were there at that time) reached its summit in 1978, at a time when prog was almost beaten senseless by the punks, with those two eternal albums.

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 Pike 92 - The Splatterhorn by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.86 | 2 ratings

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Pike 92 - The Splatterhorn
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars BUCKETHEAD - PIKE 92 - The Splatterhorn 51st album out of 60 in 2014 and 121st overall All sounds brought to you by Buckethead and all instrumental This one clocks in at 30:12

'Horn 1' (2:39) starts out with jittery metal chords that jam on for a bit then a strange little lick and then jumps into an echoey riff and then funk! It goes back into metal and then a break of static and then back into sludge metal and then adds some industrial noises. Drums are lazy

'Horn 2' (3:07) begins with jangly clean guitar chords that carry on for a while and then it gets into weird time sigs as the snail's paced riffs just march along in an aimless matter before finally a steady bass line comes in as training wheels and let's a ripping guitar solo sizzle out of control for a while and then it turns into a staccato chord chugga chug with dissonant guitar jangles accompanying it

'Horn 3' (4:19) starts with clean guitar chords with a whizzing guitar solo in the distant background. It breaks into heavier staccato chord chops and quickly moves on to clean weirdness. This PIKE is creating the most detached and bizarre mood swings. The drums remain lazy as with the previous tracks. Weird honking noises occur in the middle as everything else drops out and then chaotic electronic swirls erupt like fireworks. This one continues to change it up often and ratchets up the intensity and alienating soundscape

'Horn 4' (3:48) starts off with freaky electronic freak outs with a childish playful melody dancing on keys with a steady bass as the ambient background buzzes about. The melody dissipates and a heavy beefy bass ushers in a more industrial sounding groove. Drums are still lazy. It continues in an avant-funk fashion and then changes it up again and again but keeps da funk

'Horn 5' (3:03) begins with a funky guitar lick with highly distorted noise accompanying it in an industrial groove kinda way. It all changes shortly and becomes a heavily chaotic mix of the funk and other violent eddies of sonic weirdness. Several parts are sort of independent of each other but stay together in a recognizable pattern. The funk comes back

'Horn 6' (3:17) begins with a jittery guitar riff and a solo behind it with the industrial noise chords remaining from the last track. They trade off quickly and evolve into a complex tapestry of all three elements but becomes funky metal again. Ends as electronic noise

'Horn 7' (4:02) begins as deformed funk with spidery guitar antics. It twists and turns into irregular musical shapes. The lazy drums keep a steady beat but the bizarrely tuned guitars and off-kilter time sigs keep a freaky tension going. In the middle it turns into a weird avant-garde jazz guitar type of thing but then picks up steam and rock out more with sizzling solos and electronica freak outs

'Horn 8' (3:05) begins with a wildly weird electronic buzz and then starts to sound like a Soundgarden ballad ('Black Hole Sun') with a clean guitar chord sequence that sounds a little Floydian as well. The most melodic thing on the PIKE until it abruptly bursts into cyber-funk again with industrial noises and beefy bass, frenetic layers of time sig overlaps and the same lazy drumming. It ratchets up the weirdness and intensity until you're head wants to explode and ends as some kind of industrial disco weirdness with a guitar lick

'Horn 9' (2:52) begins as a weird dissonant jazz guitar type of track with strange squeals and then picks up a drumbeat and becomes more funky. It suddenly simulates a haunted house with jittery guitar licks and frenetic spastic bass and drum interaction. It goes back into 'regular' funk metal and dances around progressive twists and turns and ends the PIKE as bizarre and angst fueled as it began

Whew! This one was a majorly wild ride. Frenetic, twisted and perfectly simulates some freaky scary attraction at BUCKETHEADLAND. Very creative and unlike any other PIKE. This is one for the most adventurous freaks out there. If you like em wild, weird and unpredictable then this one will NOT disappoint

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 Fire Garden by VAI, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.88 | 88 ratings

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Fire Garden
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If you're a fan or electric guitar, it's hard to do better than Steve Vai's signature sound of artsy and playful hard-rock. If you're already a fan of Vai, it's hard to do better than Fire Garden. This record is a total package: it's got memorable songs filled with slinky cool jams and savage riffing, guitar virtuosity that's unabashedly complex and weird and energetic, and an overall style that just plain cooks.

Vai opens the album with three fantastic hard-rock songs. The rip-roaring "There's a Fire in the House," solo-heavy "Crying Machine," and many-textured "Dyin' Day." Great stuff, busy and personality-filled, with a crisp production. A few heavy, experimental, and romantic moments follow this completely instrumental first half, culminating in the massive "Fire Garden Suite." It's the album's showcase, and may be the most 'prog' sound that Vai has yet produced. It sprawls across sounds and influences rapidly and with gusto, cramming tons of wonderful moments into its 10-minute running time. One of the best song's that Vai has recorded, which is saying something.

The second half is slightly more "normal," with Vai handling vocal duties, quite well, with the ballads "All about Eve" and "Brother" standing out. Instrumentally this album is pretty much flawless. Vai's supporting band is great, but stick to the background, while the songwriting varies. This is especially apparent in the second-half, which strikes me as being the left-over ideas. However, even the more conventional songs are completely energized by Vai's guitar playing and the band's overall feel.

By the end of Fire Garden you'll be a believer. A great starting place to discover this exceptional musician.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

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 Vision And Ageless Light by EYE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.95 | 3 ratings

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Vision And Ageless Light
Eye Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars This Ohio band was founded by drummer Brandon Smith and keyboardist Lisa Bella Donna. They have two new members : Michael Sliclen and guitarist Jon Finley. The music is deeply rooted into vintage prog with mellotron, organ and the all the keyboards sound of the 70's. The intro "Book of Dead" make me think of "Watcher of The Skies", switching into some pure electronic music. All the instruments are back with "Kill The Slavemaster" with a jazzy passage and a couple of guitar solo before a huge keyboard sound. We are not too far from the music of Hawkwind here. We can hear some Space/psychedelic vibe throughout this album. "Dweller of the Twilight Void" brings some original interplay with the spacey keyboards and the acoustic guitar. The 27 minutes epic "As Sure As The Sun" is a real treat with his journey to some Pink Floyd Space/Psychedelic era, the mellotron sound and some impressive overall keyboard lines that goes into some electronic soundscapes moments. You get the feel that the band is playing an homage to their multiple influences from different bands of the past even if it only for a short 30 seconds span. If you enjoy the vintage prog, you will not want to miss this album with songs that are well crafted where the atmosphere is more important than technique.

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 Hair In A G-String (Unfinished But Sweet) by TENCH PROJECT, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.45 | 93 ratings

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Hair In A G-String (Unfinished But Sweet)
Colin Tench Project Crossover Prog

Review by Mitzieboo

5 stars Wow,The Colin Tench Project Hair in a G String ( unfinished but sweet) is my absolute favourite album of 2016. The musicality of the whole album, every track different yet the genius that is so obviously Colin Tench shines through every guitar chord. Can't see it any other way i think is very much influenced by the beatles ballads, then Part 4B has hints of the Beatles once again but in a completely different way, i hear i am a walrus in parts, the vocals by Peter Jones and Phil Naro are great. Lisa's entrance unplugged is a fantastic instrumental it makes me think of Robin Hood and Maid Marion. There's also a Spanish flavour to Dnieper Summer Day, another excellent piece. There is something on this Album for everyone. It's been so cleverly put together by someone who loves what he's doing and it comes through in his music. And so, Today and A Beautiful Feeling are truly beautiful songs, wonderful lyrics accompanied by an amazing musical arrangement. Anyone who listens to this album will be blown away, the name Colin Tench should be up there with the best, his music will put a smile on anyone's face, for many different very clever reasons. ...

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 On Air by QUEEN album cover Live, 2016
5.00 | 1 ratings

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On Air
Queen Prog Related

Review by Kingsnake

— First review of this album —
5 stars This is a treat for Queen fans big and small, young and old.

We already had Queen at the Beeb for a few decades, wich combined two shows, the band recorded for BBC. Now finally Queen Productions collected and remastered all the songs they did for BBC (sans Mach of the Black Queen).

It's a wonderful collection of songs, where there are a few songs very rare (We Will Rock You (fast) and What a Fool I've Been). Mostly the band plays over the same backing tracks used for the studio-albums. So in fact some songs sound more like a different studio-version, than an actual live version.

The latter songs from (Queen II up to News at the World) sound more live, and have alternate versions of well known songs. All in all, this is a must-have. The 2cd and 3lp version contain all the BBC-recordings, whereas the boxset contains radio-interviews and some live-shows.

Thanks fo releasing this, and a must have for any Queen fan and a musthave for any serious rockfan.

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 Scarabus by GILLAN BAND, IAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.88 | 31 ratings

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Scarabus
Ian Gillan Band Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The third, and last, Ian Gillan band album comes with some changes. According to guitarist Ray Fenwick Gillan was interested in getting back to a more "basic" sound, trying to skip the more jazzy and experimental elements. In other words, to give what the Deep Purple fans were expecting from him since the beginning: hard rock, shorter songs and a more melodic approach. And Scarabus is quite a big step towards that. Of course the Jazz-rock/fusion is still very well present, but the tunes are indeed much shorter, so the room for experimentation is also cut short. In the end the result is an interesting hard rock/fusion/funk hybrid. Quite good, I must say, but it would be better if the Ian Gillan band had given a little more space for soloing in a couple of tunes at least.

Listening to the album today it is clear that this kind of arrangement would not work for the period: with the rising of The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and the success of other Deep Purple off-shots who jumped into the bandwagon like Rainbow and Whitesnake, Gillan was playing something that the new audience would not relate to. Either he would assume the cult following direction of previous Clear Air Turbulence showed or he should get another band together and play the kind fo music he was famous for. He obviously chose the latter and The Ian Gillan Band was no more.

Scarabus is an interesting album, quite transitional, with several good songs and, although ramped by the shorter running time of the songs, impeccable performances by all involved, specially the brilliant keyboardist Colin Towns. More rocking than their previous efforts, this CD has many memorable moments that should not be overlooked. It was a nice surprise, although one can only imagine how far they would have gone had they followed the paths Clear Air Turbulence opened.

Rating: 3,5 stars.

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 Total Absence by FATAL FUSION album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.06 | 13 ratings

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Total Absence
Fatal Fusion Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Finally it has happened, happened again actually! True prog fans are 'look out' people, constantly scouring the globe for something exciting or even mind blowing to surface, out of the blue. True devotees research, cross reference or analyze the credits for a familiar musician or just go with their gut feeling. This knowledge has served us well, I can acknowledge that music has given my life purpose, enjoyment, escape and panacea. We all know life is not easy, getting even more dangerous than ever before (and I am from 'the Cold War generation', I am proud to say), so you cannot fathom the sheer salvation that music was, is and always will be. Its medication, vision, courage and unending faith, all combined as a musical vehicle to dream and emote without fear or judgement. Prog certainly covers the entire spectrum of human emotions and proud to do so. While the golden years of the 70s were remarkable and highly inspired, I must say , having lived it then and today, the quality of 21st Century prog has been the best period ever, so many talented and adventurous bands out there, who make music they enjoy, not for groupies, not for fortune or not for fame. That is the true measure of how prog is evolving, spewing out jewels one after the other.

This is another one, the brand spanking new Fatal Fusion album, a Norwegian group I only recently hooked up with, after a lot of glances but no bite. Well, their sophomore album "The Ancient Tale" really blew me away, though it did take some concentration and effort, as there were many familiar things mixed in with some unexpected ones to keep one on the edge. What threw me off was trying to compare the band to anyone else out there, which was a huge mistake on my part, as I tried to take the easy road. But once I took on that album for what it was, it started hitting hard. The first three tracks certainly do smash rigid, then the set list suddenly evolves into much mellower realms that will catch any listener unaware.

On the surly opener instrumental opener "The Gates of Ishtar", Fatal Fusion are slanted more towards the masculine, testosterone-laced prog bravado, the sonic palette pumping audacious yet heavily symphonic, very obviously led by Erlend Engebretsen who shines on a wide variety of keyboards. Guitars are honed and masterly wielded, gritty when rhyming and soaring when leading. Stig Selnes is quite the craftsman, both rash and fluid at a moment's notice, pushing the murky theme to glorious heights, with just a hint of Middle Eastern aroma. It serves as the ideal introduction for "the Shadow of the King", energized by a husky-voice singer that takes some getting used to, allied to a brooding scimitar of heavy riffs that hammer home, unrelenting. There is an undeniable Zeppelin shuffle that recalls "Kashmir" for a while until Selnes shoots off a dizzying axe solo that bounces off sand dunes, whirls beyond the oasis and spirals into the broiling sky. "Forgotten One" possesses a well-balanced arrangement that stings one moment with metallic fury , organ ablaze and drums pumping wildly only to veer into a gentler lullaby where the piano leads the march. The gargling lead vocals from Knut Grontvedt certainly are different, to say the least. And then quite unexpectedly, the material just gets flung into another dimension altogether.

On the stunning "Astral Flight", the spirit and the dexterity combine for some savagely brilliant instrumental episodes, but when the extended e-piano solo enters, I am slain! As if the early Santana guitar cavalcade was not enough, the entire mood is memorable, bright, smoothly jazzy and impassioned. The rocket-fueled rhythm section is propulsive, serpentine and utterly focused on the appointed flight path, no auto-pilot programming on this one! This is a killer track of the highest order and a harbinger of things to come.

The next three pieces are all epic in scope and running time, heavily dominated by massive mellotron winds that will take you back to the Court of the Crimson King, beginning with the reverential "the Emperor's Letter" , a colossal symphonic ballad that groans and moans with bittersweet content. The overall feel is stately and imperial, the beastly legendary keyboard doing its celebrated magic, the ideal stage for Knut to howl to the moon, the electric guitars snarling and the keys impetuous. Stig emotes on acoustic before unleashing a gorgeous electric solo, flush with pressing despair. Totally beautiful, morose and forbidding, this is primo prog that make you kneel at the shrine.

Yet the biggest surprise is without any doubt, "Endless Ocean Blue" with its disarming pastoral intro of clanging bucolic strings and weaving synths, becoming a melancholic 11 minute voyage on a sea of serenity, a sense of floating that owes more to classic Pink Floyd than anything else. The plaintive vocals in particular are hushed, elbowed by Lasse Lie's low bass rumble and concussed by a resilient binary beat. Within the mid-section, the expectant storm intensifies into gale wind organ flurries, Erlend rifling along his board with dedicated precision and urgent mania. Stig's turn to show his restraint and command of the e-guitar, carving a superlative arch of slow- burning notes, a kaleidoscope of emotions painting the air. Knut roars out his pain, in that raspy shriek that is both manly and desperate.

The title track finishes off this monster, a quarter of an hour of musical bliss that kicks off with urban sound effects, cars honking and a forlorn piano tinkling morosely. Voice, acoustic guitar and an orchestral background sets the stage for the pleasures to come, searching the road to some salvation. The buildup gradually goes tornado (as Bill Bruford once stated), as the sonic heat is ratcheted up considerably, the rhythms concussive and the guitars persuasive. The mighty Mellotron returns again to prove the point, shoving the steam roller of sound forward and beyond. Stig agrees to fiddle with his axe once again, with tremendous efficiency and taste.

Heavy prog is perhaps the best way to describe the style here, but it's somehow different from other players within the genre. Loads of paradoxes abound, its heavy and yet isn't, its brooding yet also very inspired. It's typical but also original. A wild and savage mix of entertaining progressive rock music that might not be everyone's cup of tea but highly enjoyable under the right circumstances.

4.5 complete nonattendances

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 The Selected Of Enigmarden by ROZ VITALIS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
2.13 | 4 ratings

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The Selected Of Enigmarden
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Like the title says, this release is a selection from the album Enigmarden (2005). That one has got relatively reserved criticism here, and for a good reason, I can tell you, especially if this 7-track selection -- made for what purpose exactly? -- from the original 14 is supposed to be any better. I haven't listened to that album, nor any other-than-new music of this band from St. Petersburg (but I just received five discs in mail). It's evident that Roz Vitalis has matured a lot in the last ten years.

What we have here is instrumental and rather experimental music firmly centered around the keyboards of the frontman Ivan Rozmainsky. The keyboard sound is sharp and intense, backed by programmed drums plus some wind Instruments here and there -- and I'm sad to say, that's about all. Most of the time tempo is rather fast, and together with this hollowness of soundscape it is only underlining the unpleasant sense of music made out of mere will of experimenting with instruments. On the other hand, there's hilarious energy and a touch of humour, and despite the melodic / rhythmic complexity the tracks do maintain some intelligence and coherence instead of being plain silly.

The extra ingredients on top of organ-oriented keys and programming increase the surprise factor. These include the female voice (can't tell if she's singing some lyrics with a meaning, or is the voice only used as another instrument) on 'Stress of Tenderness' and a decent variety of wind instruments during the album: recorder, clarinet, harmonica and even a Peruvian native flute (on 'Be Aware of Strangers'). But in the end, the musical style remains rather pointless, lacking deeper emotions, and the soundscape too hollow to avoid headache on the long run. This definitely isn't music I'd like to listen to again and again; my low rating is more subjective than objective. Of course I may also point out that RIO/Avant-Prog has never been among my favourites. If you enjoy the genre and can stand both the crazy side of Keith Emerson and the lack of a real rhythm section, you may find some unique pleasure from this music.

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 Pudding En Gisteren [Aka: Pudding & Yesterday] by SUPERSISTER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.95 | 101 ratings

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Pudding En Gisteren [Aka: Pudding & Yesterday]
Supersister Canterbury Scene

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars This is the third album from Supersister and they continued to be on a roll, although the album is a bit uneven. "Radio" starts off really deceptively in early '70s easy listening territory, but then there's a totally unexpected twist where they go all wild on us, sounding nothing like the first have. The lyrics seem to be an attack on mainstream radio (in America mainstream radio was AM, FM was still underground, but won't be by 1975 when it went commercial, and going the AOR route since then). "Psychopath" has a bit of a Caravan feel going on, complete with Richard Sinclair-like vocals, with Robert Jan Stips providing harpsichord, as well as Mellotron (an M300 that happened to belong to Phonogram Studios in Hilversum, Holland, which the album was recorded in, and was the same Mellotron heard on Earth & Fire and Ekseption albums until 1973). "Psychopath" isn't a favorite, but not bad. "Judy Goes On Holiday" is a great instrumental jazzy piece, which ends with the silly doo-wop of "Love Me in the Morning" (I own the original Dutch pressing on Polydor, there's a one minute silent gap between "Judy Goes on Holiday" and "Love Me in the Morning", which leads me to believe the latter was an afterthought and the band didn't intend that to be there, or perhaps the gap was there so people can switch to side two if they felt it was lame). The title track is also instrumental, and takes up all of side two, proves that Supersister can pull it off. It's just another album I can highly recommend.

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 Noi al dir di Noi by PROMENADE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.78 | 8 ratings

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Noi al dir di Noi
Promenade Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

5 stars There's obviously something in the water over in Italy, all these young bands, in their short time together making music, offering instrumentally skilled fresh albums well beyond their years with an enviable understanding and knowledge of so many of the defining Seventies symphonic groups from their country, but given a modern youthful approach as well! Alongside Ingranaggi della Valle, F.E.M and Il Paradiso degli Orchi (in addition to many others), we now have a fledgling band from Genoa called Promenade, formed in 2014, and their debut album, `Noi al dir di Noi', offers plenty of complex and romantic RPI-flavoured symphonic arrangements and light jazz-fusion diversions performed with honed precision, with a charismatic spirited vocalist, that fuses the fanciful majesty of a group like Premiata Forneria Marconi with an enthusiastic energy.

Right from the start, `Athletics (which might as well have been titled `Prog-Rock Gymnastics!') is one of the most attention- getting openers to appear on an Italian prog album throughout 2016, an almost eleven-minute schizophrenic instrumental that powers through an exhausting range of frantic themes, usually delivered with whirling sax, nimble jazz-fusion-flecked guitar races and dizzying keyboard runs! It sets a very high standard early on, but fortunately the vocal-driven pieces that follow are all equally superb, with the dreamy `Il Secondo Passo' given flight by keyboardist Matteo Barisone's breathy and swooning vocals, the warm romantic purr of `L'albero Magico' given a shimmering 80's King Crimson-era guitar sheen, and prancing violin themes, flute, sax and harpsichord-like effects dance through the sweet melody of `Roccoco'.

`Kernel' effortlessly jumps back and forth in tempo, loaded with jazz-fusion-styled trickling electric piano, Stefano Scarella's murmuring bass, Gianluca Barisone's electric guitar bite and Simone Scala's wild thrashing drum bursts. The final two pieces of the album are the longest since the opener, `Pantera' (again, offering that 80's Crimson chiming maddening guitar slickness) is gently grooving with ambitious multi-part vocal arrangements, especially impressing with emotional extended guitar and nimble synth solos in the finale, and the completely exquisite `Crisantemo' slows down for a more thoughtful closer, a softly melancholic near-orchestral reflection of aching violin and gloomier piano carefully revealing a lurking late-night jazzy playfulness.

Refreshingly vinyl length and also presented with superb covert art, `Noi al dir di Noi' not only showcases a young group offering a music debut of supreme maturity and great taste well beyond their years, but it's amongst the most endlessly melodic, unashamedly romantic, vocally rich and instrumentally sophisticated Italian/pure RPI discs of 2016.

Five stars for an essential modern release of Italian progressive music, well done Promenade!

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 Pike 239 - The Mermaid Stairwell by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2016
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Pike 239 - The Mermaid Stairwell
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars B U C K E T H E A D PIKE 239 - T H E M E R M A I D S T A I R W E L L 20th album by BUCKETHEAD in 2016 (released on Nov 25) Clocks in at 28:23 ALL instrumental

"The Mermaid Stairwell" (12:04) welcomes you to dreamland where soft plushy ambient effects caress your soul as a tinny guitar lick lollygags into melodic form. Yep, it's one of those soft, slow and soothing PIKEs where nothing is in a hurry and floats buy like a tropical island breeze. While this is very much like similar PIKEs of the past, the new production process that BH has been utilizing as of late is of superior technological value, either that or the missing gap of PIKE releases in 2016 has been all about mastering advanced techniques and it has certainly paid off. No more are the canned drums that usually accompany this type of track. The atmospheric accoutrements are crisp and clear and the tones and timbres are about as sharp as anyone could hope for. However this is still one of those long meandering tracks that continues a melodic loop with a few melodic twists and turns and never really develops into anything different. Of course these make a good contrast for the super frantic PIKE that preceded but these just happen not to be my favorite types. Not because they are slow and breezy but because they sound too much like the other similar PIKEs of this sort that have already come out. Point blank, nothing original here and as usually with these types when they are of such time length, outstay their welcome. Meh

"Dancing Sparkles" (6:02) sounds like sparkles dancing of course! Much more upbeat and bouncy. Sounds like rather jazz funky like something Herbie Hancock would have come up with in the late 70s. Much better than the snoozer that preceded. This is a rather catchy straight forward electro funk type number with some sizzling guitar contributions. Rather repetitive but decent

"Fairy Boat" (6:57) starts out completely different with slow grungy guitar chords and then turns into an alternative rock type of track with a steady drum and bass that play with a the guitar lick creating the melody which is much like the first track except this one rocks but not crazily so. This one is also repetitive and not very exciting. Meh

"Silver Upon The Ocean" (3:20) picks up the speed with a funk rock guitar riff and heavy bass and drums to back it up. This one keeps the repetitive funky beat going and also delivers a trade of some guitar and bass improv. Almost sounds like a more rockin' version of something George Clinton would conjure up. Definitely better than last track

I like the two funk tracks and couldn't care less about the longer ones. The two tracks i do like are nothing out of this world and don't save this PIKE from being decent but forgettable. I've heard worse but this one will not be near the top of my list for sure

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 Electric Tepee by HAWKWIND album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.76 | 100 ratings

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Electric Tepee
Hawkwind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Hawkwind - Electric Tepee (1992)

The first halve of the seventies gave birth to the most famous albums of Hawkwind. One could easily be forgiven for believing the rest of their career is dispensable when looking at the mediocre scores of most of their eighties and nineties albums. I myself found some great studio albums and live albums in their later career. Most notably Levitation (1980), Electric Tepee (1992) and the fine Alien 4 (1996) are more then worthwhile. Live records like Live Chronicles (1986), Palace Springs (1991), The Business Trip (1994), Love in Space (1996) stand out and I expect to find some more.

Electric Tepee stands out as a milestone in their career for forming the perfect bland between the spacey punk rock and their modern electronic explorations. Well produced for a change. With extended simple and effective songs as vehicles for sonic exploration the band creates a great train of though that seems to progressive without stopping at any stations. The continuity of the music makes this a particularly interesting experience in the progressive rock world, which can be quite fragmentary. In the mean while the Hawkwind beat is pumping and electric guitars thrive in the abstract environments. The electronic moments without drums, bas en guitars are like mediations between the songs. It is natural to drift away with your attention when you listen to music and Hawkwind seems to anticipate. Just when you forgot you were listening music ? which can be pleasant ? they fire up the space rock engine and lift of with a catchy tune. The last ten minutes of the record sees the band slowly drifting away from the listener with the electronic Going to Hawaii and Electric Teep (the title track), an interesting ending.

For me this is a perfect studio album, especially for when traveling. Time just flows by - as does the music. On their next album 'It is the Business of the Future being Dangerous' the band would change the formula in favor of much more electronic exploration and little rock galore, but still an interesting mix. Some songs of Electric Tepee can also be found on The Business Trip live album, but for me the essence of this record isn't covered anywhere else then on this studio album. In contrast, the core material of Alien 4 was indeed played on the Love in Space recording - and some would argue improved upon.

I tried to explain away nineties Hawkwind in this review and I hope I can excite some more listeners in this great Hawkwind line-up of Brock, Chadwick and Davey. For this release I will give the full score because of its enjoyability, interesting vision and production.

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 Universi Paralleli by ARTI E MESTIERI album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.56 | 15 ratings

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Universi Paralleli
Arti e Mestieri Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Universi Paralleli is the last, long awaited, studio album by Arti e Mestieri, a band from Turin that have been active, one way or another, for more than forty years. It was released in 2015 on the Cramps - Sony label with a renewed line up featuring, along with founder members Gigi Venegoni (acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards) and Furio Chirico (drums, percussion), also Iano Nicolò (vocals), Piero Mortara (accordion, piano, keyboards), Lautaro Acosta (violin, electric violin), Roberto Puggioni (bass, fretless bass) and Marco Roagna (acoustic and electric guitars) plus some prestigious guests such as Arturo Vitale (sax), Mel Collins (sax, flute) and Lino Vairetti (vocals). The creative vein of the band has not run out along the years and the songwriting is still brilliant, blending jazz rock, melody and Mediterranean colours with excellent results. On the album cover there's the picture of a sculpture by Lugi Farina that in some way recalls their debut album Tilt - Immagini per un orecchio, but with a touch of modernity that could give you an idea of the musical content. According to the liner notes, the music and lyrics of this work deal with the subject of parallel universes, emotional contrasts that are mirrored, for instance, in double lives or double personalities...

The opener "Alter Ego" is a great instrumental track where acoustic and electric instruments draw new images for you ears with soaring melodic lines defying the gravity force flying high over jazzy patterns... I think that it's a very introduction for a wonderful album!

"Dune" is a beautiful instrumental with Oriental flavours that leads to "Pacha Mama" where we can hear for the first time on this work Iano Nicolò's vocals. The lyrics deal with environmental issues. In fact, the title refers to the goddess of fertility revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. Mother Earth here is depicted as a dying entity, poisoned by the greediness of humankind. Men driven by gold are sucking the divine maternal sap like vampires while deserts of sand are rapidly replacing lakes and rivers...

A strong, melancholic wind of nostalgia blows through the notes of the following "L'ultimo imperatore" (The last emperor). The title seems to refer to the film of the same name directed in 1987 by Bernardo Bertolucci about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. The lyrics do not try to tell a story but draw evocative images about parallel universes and fading memories where distorted and manipulated revolutions are celebrated by godless priests in doomy cathedrals that can't hide the pervasive sense of loss and emptiness of a faithless ritual performed by rote...

"Finisterre" and "Johann" are two charming instrumental pieces drenched in a kind of dreamy romanticism that lead to the heartfelt "Restare immobile" (Remaining motionless) where the music and lyrics depict the eternal contrast between reality and dreams. You can pin down a fragment of reality on a blank page and anaesthetize your memories. Poetry and dreams can set you free and when your mind begins to fly you're able to take off on a journey across far, extraordinary worlds, even without moving your body!

The melancholic instrumental "Borea" (Boreas) is full of delicate autumnal colours and soaring folksy melodies with accordion and violin in the forefront. The music draws evocative northern landscapes while the title refers to the god of the north wind, one of the four seasonal Anemoi in ancient Greek mythology... It leads to the joyful "Pandora" where the music and lyrics conjure up strange images and cheerful dances. Here the wind takes you onwards and you set off on a magical journey to discover new moons and better days...

The following "Linea d'ombra" (Shadow line) is darker and tense. It's another beautiful instrumental that leads to the pyrotechnic drum solo "Comunicazione primordiale" (Primordial communication), full of savage energy and exotic flavours. Next comes the instrumental "La luce in fondo al tunnel" (The light at the end of the tunnel) that is more relaxed and shines for his perfect mix of jazz and classical influences.

The last track "Nato" (Born) is credited as a "bonus track" and features the special guest Lino Vairetti from Osanna on vocals. It's a wonderful piece that deals with a strong sense of nostalgia for a lost emotion that was born from a thought or maybe from a kiss, or a lie, a tune, a sound, a poem, a sin, a shout or just from a moment of madness that now your are trying to find again between a smile and a tear, between the clouds and the stars, in an image or in a deep, cold abyss inside you soul or... wherever you want! It's just a magic moment that fled away and you're still desperately running after it...

On the whole, I think that this is wonderful album and a real must for every Italianprog lover!

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 Back To Front by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.42 | 100 ratings

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Back To Front
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by Borik

4 stars I read a lot of negative reviews on this recording, but I dare to disagree with them.

No, this isn't the big prog reunion some Caravan fans might have hoped for. But... yes, this is the classic line-up and yes, they sound like classic Caravan! I admit this album is very poppy, but I can remember the highly acclaimed 'For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night' is very poppy as well.

Personally I prefer this album above the stylish-similar 'Blind Dog' from '77, although this material sounds a bit more fresh and transparant.

For the famous David Sinclair keyboard solo you must wait until the epic last song, which is wonderful, but on 'Videos of Hollywood' he plays a very nice synth solo as well. Another pleasant component of the album is the wonderful sound of Richard Sinclair's bass, which is very clear present in all the songs. On top of the cake we hear a few very nice sax solos from the one and only Mel Collins.

To everyone that likes the classic 70's Caravan and both 'Blind Dog' and won't set epic prog expectations too high, this is a very enjoyable album, worth quite a few spins. It's Caravan in what they do best: writing catchy poppy songs with a blend of colourful instrumentation.

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 Tubular Bells by OLDFIELD, MIKE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.08 | 955 ratings

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Tubular Bells
Mike Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by Kaelka

5 stars Some love it and some don't, some find it overrated and others couldn't live without it, but an essential point is often missed : "Tubular Bells" is a monument, a genuine turning point in the history of music. Where would Richard Branson and the whole Virgin empire, including the space travel projects, be now if, on a fine morning of 1972, Oldfield hadn't seen studio workers move out the rented instruments used by John Cale, and among them the most improbable and rarely seen of all symphonic ones? Yes, Oldfield was a genius then, the first one to make a full use of the 16-track recording technology, or rather the first one to realize that it meant he could dispense with tiresome bandmates and do it all by himself. "Tubular Bells" is essentially the result of days and days of musical onanism, fuelled by LSD and Oldfield's almost permanent state of mental depression. Fiddling with tape speed, hiring the studio staff (including the cook!) when he suddenly needed a male choir, grabbing a passing Viv Stanshall to have him voicing the megalomaniac "hey guys, listen how I can play all those instruments" Part 1 ending piece, all of this is the stuff of legend. Of course Mike Oldfield was a genius, and "Tubular Bells" his monument, his Leonardo's "Mona Lisa", his Rodin's "The Thinker". You don't wonder if "Mona Lisa" is a good or beautiful work of art, you just go to the Louvre and stare at it. All the same, don't wonder if "Tubular Bells" is a good album, just go get a copy and listen to it. Everyone should do it, because it's history.

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 Sunbirds by SUNBIRDS album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.01 | 24 ratings

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Sunbirds
Sunbirds Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DePloy

4 stars A song and a half in I'm sure this is a lost Herbie Mann album, and pow! In comes distorted electric piano with Philip Catherine's guitar mid second song.

Sunbirds is a very pleasant album that features bright, ornate rhythms that are given the happy treatment with loads of flute and a heavy dose of electric piano. This is one of the great early progfusion albums, and it finds a way to delicately balance the jazz and rock aspects effectively. Highlights include the extended "Spanish Sun" and the sublime "Sunshine". Unfortunately, " Blues for DS" sounds too much like a seventies soundtrack to an American TV sitcom for this album to be a masterpiece. This sterile piece brings the second side down a notch. Still a classic album for me that exemplifies the potential of the burgeoning worldwide jazzrock style.

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 Famous Last Words by SUPERTRAMP album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.13 | 274 ratings

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Famous Last Words
Supertramp Crossover Prog

Review by VianaProghead

4 stars Review Nº 98

"Famous Last Words" is the seventh studio album of Supertramp and was released in 1982. This was the last album with the presence of their guitarist, vocalist, keyboardist, composer and founder member Roger Hodgson, who left the group to pursue a solo musical career.

"Famous Last Words" has nine tracks. All songs were written by Hodgson and Rick Davies. The first track "Crazy" is a very good song to opens the album. It's a typical Supertramp's song and represents perfectly well their unique and unmistakable sound. It's a song very well written and based on the piano that sounds so typical of the band. It's very well accompanied by John Helliwell's saxophone and by Hodgson's voice. The second track "Put On Your Old Brown Shoes" is a typical Davies' song. It's clearly a song influenced by jazz and blues with reminiscences from many other songs composed by him. Despite being a very nice and fun song, I think it doesn't work so well on this album. So, this is my less favourite song on the album. The third track "It's Raining Again" is a typical pop song and represents on the album the most commercial track and a typical song made to be released as a single. This is a typical song of the band, that we love or we hate since the first listening, such as "The Logical Song" and especially "Dreamer". Sincerely, I must confess that I like very much the song and I think that it's a perfect example how to make a good pop commercial song with really good quality. The fourth track "Bonnie" is another kind of thing, because it's, in my humble opinion, one of the best songs on the album and represents one of its highlights. This is a love song that describes the obsession of a fan who wants to be closer to a movie star. However, some think that the lyrics are only symbolic and describes the intensely and difficult personal relationship between Davies and Hodgson. Anyway, we are in presence of a great song, one of the best composed by Davies, and curiously, it's a song with no wind instruments and where Helliwell plays keyboards, which I think was the only time that happened on the entire Supertramp's musical career. The fifth track "Know Who You Are" is another great song and represents also one of the highlights of the album. It's a perfect song, at the same time sad and beautifu, made by the hand of Hodgson, and sincerely, only he can write songs like this. It's a song with great melody performed by a great sensitive singer alone with his acoustic guitar. Here we have Hodgson and Supertramp at their best. The sixth track "My Kind Of Lady" was the second single taken from the album, after their first single "It's Raining Again". It's a Davies' love ballad very well sung by him, who harmonizes his natural voice with a falsetto vocal. It's a good song, a tribute to the 50's, magnificently arranged and performed and with a nice saxophone work by Helliwell, as usual. I think we can consider that we aren't in presence of one of the best musical moments of Davies, but like "Put On Your Old Brown Shoes", we are in presence of two typical and decent Davies' songs. The seventh track "C'Est Le Bon" is a great song and unfortunately is an underrated song of Hodgson. It's a classic Hodgson's song that stood perfectly well the test of time. It's a song very well arranged with a catchy melody and good lyrics and where once more, and like "Know Who You Are", we have a great sensitive singer performing with his acoustic guitar. The eight track "Waiting So Long" represents one of the highest moments on the album, if not the better. This is in reality a great song, extremely well arranged, very progressive and with fantastic individual musical performances by all band's members. The epic development of the song can be connected with the great classics made by them all over the years. This is a genuine progressive song and here we have Davies and Supertramp at their best. The ninth and last track "Don't Leave Me Now" is another pearl of the album and closes it in a great style. This is, in my humble opinion, the best Hodgson's song on the album. Despite being a sad song with pessimistic lyrics about solitude and fear of loneliness, it's a very powerful song that closes the album magnificently.

Conclusion: "Famous Last Words" is an underrated album. So, I can't agree with those who consider this album a minor work of the group. It has all the ingredients that made of Supertramp a great band. It has one of the most creative, one of the most respected and one of the most successful duo of composers in the progressive rock music. It's true that it isn't as good as "Crime Of The Century" and "Even In The Quietest Moments", but it's almost at the same level of "Crisis? What Crisis?" and "Breakfast In America". But unfortunately, "Famous Last Words" puts an end in this great duo of composers. The future has shown that the whole is better than the sum of the parts. Hodgson and Davies can't really be replaced and they worked better together than apart. So, "Famous Last Words" represents the Hodgson's last contribution to the band. But we may say that, with this album, he leaves Supertramp by the front door.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Pike 238 - Attic Garden by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Pike 238 - Attic Garden
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars B U C K E T H E A D PIKE 238 - A T T I C G A R D E N 19th album by BUCKETHEAD in 2016 (released on Nov 21) Clocks in at 30:14 ALL instrumental

"Drawer 1" (2:26) starts with a bouncy little guitar groove and then turns into a dark ominous echoey chord sequence and then jumps into heavy metal riffing with little guitar squeals and then starts to change the time sigs up a bit as the fast tempo slowly slows down. The lead guitar creates a thick atmospheric lead as does the ambient background. It changes around again and becomes cleaner and quieter echoey guitars with string scrapes and then just goes full on new age for a while and then ends

"Drawer 2" (3:15) abruptly begins as a heavily distorted grungy sludge metal type guitar riff style with an accompanying guitar solo lick. The general riff melodic development continues but like the first track sort of drifts in and out of "character" only referring to the shadow of what came before. The thick ambient atmospheric backdrop keeps it shrouded in a thick sonic fog as the metal chugs away but also ends in a totally subdued slow and ethereal vibe

"Drawer 3" (4:28) breaks in energetically to announce a new track and is both weird and heavy. The metal is quite the power chug with guitar licks filling crevices in between and sometimes superimposing upon. The harshness abruptly ends and a clean guitar fluffy arpeggio with ambience ambles on for a while before slowing building back up an intense metal experience. It then jumps into sizzling solo virtuosity with some of the most intense guitar workouts BH is capable of. The proggy time sigs become more angular and oblique and heavy but then also fades out in dreamland. This one is really friggin' cool

"Drawer 4" (2:49) also erupts into a metal fury but the progressive touches get more complex at the beginning of every track as the time sigs get more frenzied, the tempos shift unexpectedly as do riffs and guitar solos. And like the rest, ends peacefully in a chilled out echo chamber

"Drawer 5" (3:33) demands instant respect as a circus type rhythm with an insane guitar riff dance together like possessed clowns on the runway. Everything changes as it becomes a chugga thrash metal attack and a bluesy lead guitar sizzles into the stratosphere, until of course it's time to chill for a few seconds in ambience and then jump into angular riffs that quickly alternate with who knows what! It keeps changing it up often and unexpectedly and then just as expected ends in an abrupt drifting into lush clean guitar passages in fluffy cloud skies

"Drawer 6" (2:05) begins less intense as still sort of in dream land but a chugga subdued guitar riff is chomping at the bit to be unleashed and then voila! It severs its tethers and jumps into brutal thrash metal. It gets proggier as it shifts, wends and winds in myriad directions creating a major dystopia before finally fading out in a more nightmarish dream state

"Drawer 7" (4:38) jumps right into oddly timed heavy metal guitar riffs and freaky higher register runs. The chaotic din has amplified and gained self-awareness. Like a little misbehaving moppet it runs around like a Twinkie-fueled tike. It also doesn't know how to stay put and takes the progginess and chaotic elements to higher and higher levels. The music is frenetic and will cause the faint of heart to pass out from exhaustion at this point. Intensity unleashes itself at ever angular ratcheting effects but just when i can't take anymore it ends in a horrendous slow note of dark arpeggios on a haunted guitar sequence that becomes a full-fledged counterpart to one of those countdown to Halloween PIKEs from yesteryear. It drags on in a nail biting sequence for the rest of the track

"Drawer 8" (7:00) jumps into a strangely processed heavy metal type guitar and bass riff sequence with jazzy drum patterned and then a humungous guitar solo. It abruptly becomes some sort of trippy space rock and then back to the carnival music type weirdness and then slow ambient guitar and background rumblings. Whew! This one has basically just left this world and gone on to another dimension where genre styles square dance together and do-si-do around each other. In the middle it turns back into an ominous ambient segment that makes me think early Klaus Schulze has made a cameo and goes on for quite some time and drifts on to the end of the album and then just fizzles out in utter formlessness

This is one that will bedazzle progheads for its untethered adventurousness and genre agglutinating prowess. This one is by far my favorite PIKE of 2016 and highly recommended for anyone who loves the wild and unpredictable. This one has it all. Ample amounts of accessible melodies as well as heavy doses of dissonance, dystopia and the need for dramamine! Bravo, BUCKETHEAD!

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 Live - Bursting Out by JETHRO TULL album cover Live, 1978
4.16 | 356 ratings

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Live - Bursting Out
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars As much success as JETHRO TULL had releasing one huge successful album after another throughout the 1970s, it wasn't until 1978 that they put out their first official live release in the form of the double album BURSTING OUT which would only come out after the release and tour of their eleventh studio album "Heavy Horses". As a result of waiting so long the playlist is quite the sampling of the band's entire canon up to the point that this particular live release only contains two tracks from that album. The performances are from the European segment of their tour although the individual tracks remain uncredited for any specific venues so it's likely that instead of an accurate representation of any given night, this is sort of a compilation of the best tracks of the lot and then were compiled and tidied up for this special 93 minute and 31 second celebration of their energetic live performances as an offering to those who were unable to attend their fantastic fun filled folk rock parties in the flesh. As with many albums of the period, this one happens to be one of those that was released differently across the pond having one double album release in the UK originally and once released on CD in the US omitted three tracks ("Quatrain," "Sweet Dream," "Conundrum.") in order to be cheap and throw it all on one disc. This has since been corrected with newer double CD versions retaining the original song listing.

BURSTING OUT begins the festivities with a welcoming introduction in a few European languages before the band members jump right into action on the hard rockin' "No Lullaby" which serves as a sort of warm up practice where they improv around the basic melody on their instruments before Ian Anderson finally kicks in his poetic singing bearded bard persona with his unmistakable vocal signature and then never lets up for the entirety of the double album. BURSTING OUT jumps all over the place as far as representation of their career is concerned. While it does begin with a "Heavy Horses" track, it jumps into the past with the non-album single "Sweet Dream" all the way back from the "Stand Up" days and then into the unavailable anywhere else track "Jack In The Green." The album continues cranking a track or two from almost every album except for "This Was" and "A Passion Play." There is even an outstanding performance of "Thick As A Brick" although it is wisely edited it down to a manageable 12 and a half minutes but nonetheless a power display of their majesty and their ability to pull off all their studio antics in a live setting.

While the band pretty much play together in cooperative and intricate symbiosis there are moments where the occasion allows the performers strut their stuff as when Anderson dishes out a beautifully compelling flute solo on the "Bourée" Medley and Barriemore Barlow is allowed to demonstrate his drums and glockenspiel talents that wouldn't be appropriate on the studio recordings. The band generally play together quite organically and sound on top of their game which at this time they were. This album could also be considered the last of the good old days since shortly after this release, bassist John Glascock would quickly deteriorate from a congenital heart defect, leave the band and pass away only a year later. The band's popularity would begin to wane after BURSTING OUT although they would continue on in new uncharted folk rock directions and never really wash out. Despite the release of BURSTING OUT, JT would not overindulge in the release in a flood of live albums and it wouldn't be until 1990 that they released another live offering in the form of "LIve At Hammersmith '84." Luckily there have been quite a few stellar JT live offerings since then but this is the best of the lot and one of the most important live recordings of their 70s appearances.

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 The Inconsolable Secret by GLASS HAMMER album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.40 | 175 ratings

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The Inconsolable Secret
Glass Hammer Symphonic Prog

Review by csglinux

5 stars I left a pretty scathing review of Valkyrie on progarchives a few weeks ago, which prompted a response questioning where my positive reviews of my favorite Glass Hammer albums were. Whoops. My bad. I do seem to have more of a tendency to complain than praise and I realized I don't have any positive reviews of GH on this site. So let me try and make amends, starting with my favorite GH album, The Inconsolable Secret.

The Inconsolable Secret doesn't seem to be well-known enough to garner the reputation it deserves. Curiously, it's not had much attention on Progarchives, but it's currently rated 4.5 stars on Amazon. I consider this a masterpiece and one of my all-time favorite albums. The effort that went into producing TIS is evident from the Tolkien-like backstory by Babb (available as a separate CD/book - 'The Lay of Lirazel'), Roger Dean album artwork, packaging - and then re- packaging with updated re-recordings featuring Davison/Shikoh. The original version of TIS comes as a double album (13 tracks) and runs over 95 minutes of music. I'm usually wary of double albums, as they tend to get diluted or stretched a bit thin (The Wall?, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway? Tales from Topographic Oceans?). That's not the case here. Almost every track is a classic - and each forms part of the story, which is quite epic in its own right. (I've always felt TIS would make a great movie!) One small point of confusion for me is that the tracks appear to be, chronologically, slightly out of order. For example, the album opens with "A Maker of Crowns", but it's really "Long and Long Ago" that sets the scene. I presume tracks were re-ordered to fit more easily on the LPs/CDs? In any case, the structure is that disc 1 contains the two longest tracks, "A Maker of Crowns" and "The Knight of the North". These are both prog masterpieces. A Maker of Crowns starts out with piano, but Fred switches up his keyboard sounds throughout, so they never sound dull or repetitive. I love the tone of the synth keyboard solo at 10:00. Schendel's keyboards are second to none. He has the technical virtuosity of the likes of Rick Wakeman or Lyle Mays, but is also able to play in a way that touches your soul. There's an emotion in his playing that I've never heard that consistently in any other keyboard player. Next up, "The Knight of the North" starts with perhaps a slightly unconventional sound of bass playing over a string section. This is one of the finest moments of symphonic rock I've ever heard. It's not terribly complex musically, but it just works. The same track also finishes with a pretty loop of all instruments covered by choral vocals - one of the most epic-sounding pieces since Yes' Awaken.

"Long and Long Ago" introduces the main theme which eventually gets reprised at the end of the album. One of the best tracks on the album with great instrumental solos and outstanding vocals, particularly from Flo Paris. (BTW, try to name the Yes track at 7:00!) "The Morning She Woke" is a shorter track that picks up the narrative of the story, with Susie taking the role of the King's daughter. "Lirazel" is another shorter track that expands on that main keyboard theme, before Susie picks up more of the narrative. "The High Place" has some of the most beautiful, gentle instrumentation and choral work. Very atmospheric. "Morrigan's Song" has a slightly Celtic sound. I think Fred would call this an interstitial piece, but it's very cute in its own right. "Walking Towards Doom" is an atmospheric instrumental with some spooky choral work which sets a scene of foreboding. You know something bad is going to happen... Mog Ruith picks up the tempo with some up-beat keyboards, which is a bit ironic, because from my recollection of the story, Mog Ruith is where our heroine meets her nemesis. "Through a Glass Darkly" seems to be a fan favorite, and rightly so. It's one of the prettiest pieces on the album with gorgeous harp, strings and vocals from Susie. (Without ruining the story for you, things aren't going too well for the heroine at this point.) "The Lady Waits" is a tasteful string piece that continues the slightly sombre mood, but with some really pretty classical music in the middle. This leads to "The Mirror Cracks" - a brass/harp/string choral lead in to some very tense, doom-laden, dramatic-sounding music which is basically a prelude to the (eventual) happier ending of "Having Caught a Glimpse". This final track is the highlight of the album for me. The build-up and vocals are stunning and the keyboard re-cap of the melody from "Long and Long Ago" with the added choral vocals is just stunning. One of the best endings to one of the best albums I've ever heard. An easy 5 stars.

--

P.S. TIS is now available in a deluxe version which has re-recordings of Long and Long Ago, The Morning She Woke, A Maker of Crowns, The Knight of the North and Having Caught a Glimpse. These are all great new recordings with additions from Kamran Alan Shikoh and Jon Davison - totally worth having, but I still prefer the originals. As good as JD is, Walter Moore's and particularly Flo Paris' original vocals are some of the most haunting I've ever heard. Thankfully, with the deluxe version, you get both versions :-)

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 Bee As Such [Aka: Düülirium] by AMON DÜÜL II album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.76 | 10 ratings

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Bee As Such [Aka: Düülirium]
Amon Düül II Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It's pretty awesome that this band is still making music after all of these years. And the fact that that Krautrock spirit is still alive and well in their music only adds to my admiration for this legendary band. They released this as a digital download only back in 2009 and called "Bee As Such" then it got a physical release in 2014 and they called it "Duulirium" after the title of a bonus track on a "Wolf City" re-issue. Renate and Chris share the vocal duties often on the same track while I would also mention the many intricate sounds found on this recording.

"On The Highway(Mambo Le Liberta)" features sparse sounds throughout and I really like the tone of the guitar. Vocals join in sounding rough like Captain Beefheart. Renate joins in vocally around 2 1/2 minutes. There's a little more intensity after 6 1/2 minutes with the guitar and vocals in particular but the song never does really breakout. "Du Kommst Ins Heim" opens with Renate's vocal melodies along with a beat, violin and some experimental sounds. Lots of intricate and sparse sounds then we get some silly and strange vocals before 5 1/2 minutes. "Standing In The Shadow" starts out with percussion, bass and odd sounds before the male vocals arrive a minute in. Renate starts singing after 2 minutes as the song becomes catchy. Male vocals too as they trade off and also sing together.

"Back To The Rules/ Walk To The Park" is the 26 minute closer and the only reason I'm not giving this a higher rating. For such a long song this does little for me. This is very sparse with percussion to start as faint vocal melodies arrive around 2 minutes in. Renate starts to sing in a relaxed manner. The song seems to come to life 7 minutes in and violin joins in around 9 minutes. More vocals join in at 10 1/2 minutes then there is silence before those sparse sounds return. A catchy beat with guitar and vocals arrives after 12 minutes. Vocal melodies and guitar 17 1/2 minutes in as it continues to be sparse sounding until around the 20 minute mark when fast paced spoken male vocals kick in with guitar, bass and drums. Some nice guitar late.

While this was better than I thought it would be I can't rate this higher than 3 stars.

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 Your Wilderness by PINEAPPLE THIEF album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.93 | 84 ratings

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Your Wilderness
Pineapple Thief Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I've felt for sometime that Bruce Soord's lyrics were very personal and the perfect example is the "Little Man" album where you can read my feelings on the lyrics in my review and they don't get much more personal than that unless you count this one perhaps. Here we have a theme about lost love and how he has been driven to the wilderness of life, in exile, in no man's land, yes the song titles alone reveal much. It's the lyrics though that talk about a breakup and I can only assume it's about Bruce and his wife. It could be about me and my wife which of course makes this album about as personal to me as it possibly could be. There's been plenty of tears while listening to this album, it couldn't possibly be more meaningful to me or come at a better time as for the first time in my life feeling like I'm living alone in exile, in no man's land or in my wilderness. Even the cover art with the wife and daughter looking towards the wilderness is meaningful, are they looking for someone who has been sent away?

Bruce had said in an interview I read last summer that he had gotten away from his Prog roots on the last few PINEAPPLE THIEF albums and this is the recording where he has embraced his love for Prog that he's had since he was a kid. Bringing in drummer Gavin Harrison(PORCUPINE TREE) to replace recently departed drummer Dan Osborne doesn't hurt of course, in fact it's huge. Geoffrey Richardson(CARAVAN) adds strings, John Helliwell(SUPERTRAMP) adds clarinet and Darran Charles(GODSTICKS) was brought in to play the more complex guitar parts, and I noticed he was in the video for the opening track "In Exile". The results are far better than I imagined. Yes the emotional element is huge for me with the lyrics but the atmosphere is at times massive. Lots of reverb and depth to the sound. Also Bruce's vocals are different this time around as he sings in a higher register most of the time and his vocals come across as fragile much of the time, plus the vocal melodies and harmonies really add a different flavour to their sound.

"In Exile" opens with drums as the vocals and mellotron join in quickly. Nice prominent bass a minute in, harmonies too as this is quite catchy. The guitar solo before 3 minutes brings PORCUPINE TREE to mind as random drum patterns help out, then it all kicks back in. Nice. The final one plus minute is all instrumental and really enjoyable. "No Man's Land" is a top three but each tune is special in my opinion. Acoustic guitar and fragile vocals to start along with relaxed harmonies as the keys join in. Just before 2 1/2 minutes we get silence then vocal melodies and some power arrive quickly. They sort of start and stop until it kicks in hard at 3 1/2 minutes to the end. This one is so emotional for me.

"Tear You Up" is another top three. Intricate guitar work to start but it's blown away by some strong drum work and more. It then settles back with vocals. Such a moving chorus(gulp). "And now I'm drifting on the open sea, what's left of me." Checkout the heaviness 3 minutes in, so unusual for a PINEAPPLE THIEF album. So good! And it lasts for about a minute. "I can't tear you up, I cannot tear you up, all those currents run to you, back to you." "That Shore" opens with some beautiful atmosphere as drums and deep sounds join in followed by fragile vocals. Man the soundscape vibrates from the thick atmosphere. This one's all about the mood and those heart breaking lyrics.

"Take Your Shot" kicks in well before a minute but check out the bass and other sounds that it starts with. I do like the harmonies and vocal melodies on this one. It's so catchy as well. It picks up after 2 minutes, man this is good! "You held me down and took the fight to the heart of my life, you set me up all of this time, yeah you did this". "Fend For Yourself" opens with strummed guitar and reserved vocals. "Go fend for yourself, you will find me frozen in stone, with a whisper you had flown and never looked back". A melancholic clarinet solo before 2 minutes is perfect here. Vocal melodies follow as the song and lady fade away.

"The Final Thing On My Mind" is my final top three. Wow this one clocks in at almost 10 minutes. Picked guitar as drums join in then vocals before a minute. I have to say the vocal arrangements are so well done on this album. There's so much depth of sound here and those vocal melodies add so much to my enjoyment. The intensity is building before 3 1/2 minutes as the strings join in. This is insane! Then a calm with picked guitar only takes over. The vocals are back a minute later. The lyrics here break my heart all over again. "Every waking dawn it's you I see, coming back to me. Everything you did is a part of me, ripped apart from me". It kicks in after 8 1/2 minutes including some scorching guitar. "Where We Stood" ends the album in an emotional and sad way as we get strummed guitar and reserved vocals standing out. Some soaring guitar too. Again check out the lyrics.

Without question this will be near the top or right at the top of my "best of" list for 2016. Whenever music touches me like this it's almost like having a moment with God.

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 Can [Aka: Inner Space] by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.64 | 71 ratings

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Can [Aka: Inner Space]
Can Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The penultimate album by the late, great Krautrockers of CAN (before their final mid- 1980s reunion) originally appeared twice (actually two-and-a-half times) on their page here at Prog Archives. My copy is the cheesy 1985 Thunder Records re-package of the untitled 1979 original, one of the first compact discs I ever bought, which is only fitting, since the LP marked my initial exposure to arguably the best musical group of the late 20th Century.

In retrospect it wasn't an ideal introduction, and I wouldn't recommend it as such to anyone else. Can had been treading water for several years at that point, drifting a little too far from their more exploratory Krautrock roots after signing to Virgin Records in 1975. But this self-titled album (only later re-christened "Inner Space", the name of their home studio) at least marked a rehabilitation of sorts, sounding like a breath of fresh air compared to the uninspired doodling of their previous "Out of Reach" (the two albums were subsequently combined and sold on a single CD, a decent bargain for Can completists with money to burn).

First the good news: Holger Czukay, the band's irrepressible radio wave surfer and occasional bass guitarist, was back in the fold, although he doesn't actually touch a musical instrument here (this throwaway CD re-issue doesn't even mention it, but on the original vinyl he was listed as an "editor"). You can still detect his presence, however, not least on the oddball interlude "Ping Pong", believe it or not one of the highlights of the album.

This is pure Czukay: a 20-second (or so) audio-verité documentary of, you guessed it, a game of ping-pong, rather sloppily played while someone thumbs a kalimba in the background. Czukay's deadpan sense of humor also animates the faux-punk demolition of Offenbach's "Can-Can", an obvious choice for the band's periodic "Ethnological Forgery Series" of cultural facsimiles, and the best musical joke of its kind since Thijs Van Leer yodeled his way through "Hocus Pocus".

It was probably this track, and its ragged epilogue "Can Be", that sold my unrefined ears on the album in the first place, in much the same way that ELP's energetic update of Aaron Copeland's "Hoedown" jump-started my earliest interest in Prog Rock years before. "Can-Can", by the way, is listed as EFS #99, one of only a handful in the ongoing series to appear throughout the band's history. So where are all the rest?

The balance of the album is built on impeccably played but undemanding dance music for people (like me) with two left feet. "All Gates Open" is the best of the lot, with a sinuous subterranean groove, some funky chunky guitar, and a shifting wall of keyboard noise, always a Can specialty. But the other tracks tend to follow the example set by "Sunday Jam", a pleasant enough diversion with an all-too literal title, and like a lot of later Can music notably a jam, unlike the more challenging "instant composition" improvs of their earlier years.

In all, not the best swan song for such a groundbreaking and influential band (and a premature ending anyway: see 1989's more improved "Rite Time"), but in the context of their late '70s downward career arc a much better effort than could have been expected.

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 Serious Young Insects (as On The Virg) by DONATI, VIRGIL album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.65 | 6 ratings

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Serious Young Insects (as On The Virg)
Virgil Donati Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Ovidiu

5 stars Absolutelly phenomenal album!Super jazz metal fusion made by true pros plus killer drumwork on this album,absolutelly mindblowing!Donati is a master of polyrhythms,his versatility is unbelieveble and this modern type of fusion can please even the most pretentious fusion lover!The sound is killer too,wonderful indeed!The diversity of the compositions is well balanced,each musician is an ace in hos work,but overall is this "not of this earth" drumming from Virgil Donati,absolutelly fantastic!Sometimes we have the impressions that the unbelieveble technical skills provided by Donati ,are here only to prove his fantastic talent and this music is made only for musicians!That's not true,but to fully understand this album,there are many auditions necessary!For me ,this is an essential album,a masterpiece in jazz metal fusion and deserves 5 stars!

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 Hair In A G-String (Unfinished But Sweet) by TENCH PROJECT, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.45 | 93 ratings

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Hair In A G-String (Unfinished But Sweet)
Colin Tench Project Crossover Prog

Review by cajapandora3

5 stars Colin Tench, that progressive rock artisan who has sufficient strength to season it with sounds distant to the genre, releases a forceful and elaborate work baptized from the beginning as a progressive music album. And it is not entirely false, but not true either. It is true that the structure presents itself to us as a concept of elaborate music, which is not missing, nor lacking, the progressive foundations that the British musician residing in a world of Vikings dominates in such a particular way; but it is also true that, despite being structured as a concept album, Colin's emotional and intimate element has slipped through at breakneck speed for a rich record of nuances that plummets, with that retro sound that only Colin seems to dominate, into an end product that not only pays homage to Pink Floyd or Genesis, but also to the Beatles or ELO, and to a large extent Santana, to name a few of the influences that feed Tench's musical soul. And it's that the exquisite set of progressive music of this incomplete but sweet 'Hair in a G-String' (note the irony referred to Bach), feeds itself, as interludes, on compositions as personal as the mastery of its composer. In this album, I repeat, we can attend a stage filled with an imagery of elaborate music, reminiscent of his other personal project, Corvus Stone, but we can also place ourselves before the naked soul of the artist full of references to the classics, to television tunes, to the Beatles, to Chicano sounds, to orchestral movements, to the intimacy of his life and his personal experience, definitely. A father and his son, neither more nor less. An excellent Music exercise, with capital letters, that wraps the listener from beginning to end and that has nothing to do with the cited project, in group format, which is Corvus Stone. We are facing the compositional crowning moment of an artisan whose craft is imagination and melody. We are facing the personal revelation of a musician who lives by and for the music and who does not care, at all, to undress metaphorically before a listener who will appreciate the enormous effort of a work born from the heart. A work cared for with great care and executed, apart from the huge cast of musicians whose talent is dispersed throughout this great album, with the delicacy, professionalism and energy of someone who knows what he wants. We are presencing, in a rationed but firm way, the consolidation of one of the musical and progressive pillars of the 21st century. Colin Tench is that friendly and effective mainstay of a genre that cries out for a regeneration that isn't lacking details and essences that enrich it once and for all. Colin Tench in the seventies would be a consecrated musician today, but the best of all is that we can be witnesses of this confirmation in these dangerous times for a progressive genre that, more and more, shows lack of emotion, technique and feeling. From the darkness of self-production and the underground emerges an increasingly powerful light that announces, like this 'Hair in a G-String', a new future full of hope, a horizon of events that will drag us towards the primitive and true condition of the progressive genre. Colin Tench is one of those flag bearers. The reason is simple: he is a musician with soul.

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 Watercourse Way by SHADOWFAX album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.84 | 47 ratings

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Watercourse Way
Shadowfax Crossover Prog

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

4 stars More recognized for their lighter New Age early Eighties work, American group Shadowfax, taking their name from Gandalf's horse in J.R.R Tolkien's `The Lord of the Rings' books (it doesn't get more `proggy' than that!), initially began life in the early Seventies as more of an exotic jazz-fusion group with plenty of fire in their playing. For their debut album in 1976, `Watercourse Way', the highly-skilled five member band offered predominantly instrumental, frantic and busy fusion workouts that were interspersed with meditative acoustic/ethnic/raga pieces, symphonic grandiosity and a dash of chamber prog, making it a truly eclectic work that reminds of everyone from multi-instrumentalists Oregon, Jade Warrior, Kraan, Deuter, Gryphon, Dzyan, Mahavishnu Orchestra and even Yes - phew, got that?!

Don't let that beautiful and pastoral cover fool you - the breathless opener `The Shape of a Word' is overloaded with the most frantic delirious spasms of Mahavishnu Orchestra-like spiralling electric guitar splinters of G.E. Stinson (with a little bit of Yes/Steve Howe rapid fire runs and droning strains thrown in), keyboardist Doug Maluchnik's glistening piano trickles, Phil Maggini's swallowing bass gargles and Stuart Nevitt's snapping drum eruptions, with a few dreamier flashes and grooving spurts here and there, plus some Mellotron flecks providing a brief symphonic lift near the climax! `Linear Dance' oddly reminds of the early Kraan albums with its slurred vocals and constantly wailing guitars, which also gives it a rough-as-guts Krautrock vibe, but `Petite Audabe' is the first (very welcome!) relaxing break, a gentler acoustic guitar, flute, recorder and piano rumination with traces of whimsy and light chamber-prog elements that wouldn't have sounded out of place on an above-mentioned Oregon album or even the earlier Deuter works, as well as offering the first hints of where the band would head later on in the next decade.

The second side's `Book of Hours' adds in permeating hazy meditative atmospheres, the twisting-turning up-tempo fusion busyness this time laced with histrionic guitars bringing dirty grooves and groaning sitar experimentation that calls to mind German band Dzyan's albums. The title track `Watercourse Way' returns again to gentler folky acoustic sounds and light raga Deuter-like qualities mixed in with oboe, clarinet, flute and chimes. Reflective epic symphonic closer `Song from my Brother' is plied with plenty of regal Mellotron and Andy Latimar-flavoured majestic electric guitar rises, building slowly in victorious and dignified power with commanding drumming behind contemplative and ultimately uplifting jazzy piano passages.

There is tons going on in this album, all of it in its own way completely thrilling, and this diverse collection of sounds and styles impresses more and more on multiple listens. `Watercourse Way' proves to be a completely addictive and constantly surprising album, and considering the gentler direction the band later headed in, this energetic debut is a real one-off deserving of plenty more attention.

Four stars.

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 1000 by CHROMB! album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 3 ratings

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1000
CHROMB! RIO/Avant-Prog

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

4 stars Oh such a delightful touch reminds me of French avantgarde progressive communes. This album "1000" released in 2016 by a promising and expressing French killers CHROMB! (thanks to Clement in Dur Et Doux label for a brilliant suggestion) has crazy excessive appearances here and there.

In the beginning of the first strike "Des Francis En Quinconce" an eccentric electronic explosion like a childish quarrel absorbs the audience definitely. Pretty comfortable is a combination of jazz rock coolness and mysterious electronica. Quirky percussive voices reminds me of a French obscurity Super Freego. Such a magnificence cannot help giving us a big surprise and massive impression.

Contrary to the first one, we should get relaxed in mystic chorus and danceable groove in "Bobby" with some dissected sound texture out of prediction. "Favrice" has quite innovative anti-majority-like soundscape seasoned with slight tragic spice. We can find Krautrock- ish distorted psychedelia (like Siinai) mixed with warped anti-pop and avantgarde jazz Fantasia in "Le Tombeau Est Vide". Cannot estimate what they would launch as the next melodic strategy.

Obvious pleasant moments can usually be heard in complicated vibes and movements ... e.g. in a perfect greeting "Bonjoure". Constructive, contractive phrase variations to shoot addictive heartache to the audience can be found in"La Nuit Des Madames" ... mystic rhythmic / melodic lines really. A confusing ambient collection "Die Krabben Leben Noch" is another fave of mine, filled with drastically psychic sound material. This colourful exaggerated stream takes us the final stage "Il En Fallait" drenched in almost all of their musical essences.

Apparent comfort full of impression should be kept in our ears, beyond explanation. Kinda sarcastic and stimulative creation must be fine for every progressive rock freak yuppie ... addiction, it's real addiction.

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 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.29 | 837 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by ProgMirage1974

5 stars REVIEW #11 - "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath (1970)

After achieving success with their debut album, Black Sabbath immediately got back to producing a new album. With very little material at their expense, the songs on their second album were either quickly written, or built off of improvisation. Still as ambitious as the first album, and more cohesive as a whole, the band would ultimately release what has come to be known as the greatest heavy metal album of all time - instrumental in inspiring subsequent acts. The lyrics on this album are far more serious than those on their debut, with topics ranging from the ongoing Vietnam War to drug addiction, and a change in vocalist Ozzy Osbourne's voice brings an edgier sound to the album , as opposed to the more bluesy-orientated vocals from before.

The iconic intro of the opener "War Pigs" (5/5) greets the listener. A slow bluesy opening with sirens gives way to the lyrics - a protest of the authoritarian figures who dictate war; politicians and generals, who send off innocent people to die doing their bidding. Inspired by the highly unpopular war in Vietnam, this song is one of the most famous protest songs ever created, and one of the most well-known Black Sabbath songs. The song features a slow groovy vocal section, then an extended instrumental section titled "Luke's Wall" that ends the album with a great Iommi guitar solo. The eight-minute song is followed by the shorter and more commercially-viable "Paranoid" (5/5), recorded very quickly as it was intended to be a filler track. Considered to be one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time, it charted as high as #61 on the Billboard Hot 100. A very fast song and with a distinct, catchy riff, this song still receives extremely heavy radio airplay and is generally the song used to introduce people to the band. Next, in the spirit of the track "Sleeping Village" from their first album, is the calm, psychedelic "Planet Caravan" (5/5). The most "proggy" song on the album due to its unique sound and distortion - it is simply a love song about a couple floating through space. A captivating song, it also adds a science fiction touch to the generally dry concept of love songs - which in turn makes it unique. The album returns to heavy metal with the closing track of side one, the iconic "Iron Man" (5/5). With one of the most recognizable riffs in rock, this song would ultimately be Sabbath's most commercially successful song, peaking at #52 on the Billboard Hot 100 despite receiving almost no radio airplay. A story about a time traveler who tries to warn Earth of an incoming apocalypse, but is ignored and ultimately brings forth the destruction that he saw in the future, it is one of the seminal pieces of rock history which cannot be understated in terms of musical genius and relevancy. Through and through so far, a great album - no flaws and impressive musicianship/subject matter.

In side two, you are greeted by the grimy riff of "Electric Funeral" (5/5), a song about the doom brought forth by nuclear war. With a heavier guitar tone, this is a great example of an inspiration to the doom and stoner metal genres. With ominous lyrics of destruction, this song goes well with videos of the Bikini Atoll Nuclear tests, or any other nuclear event. The dark lyrics continue with the following song "Hand of Doom" (5/5), this time about heroin-addicted returning Vietnam War veterans in England. With a quiet bass intro, this song shifts tempos very well. Considered by many to be the best and heaviest song on the album, and an underrated masterpiece, it is a favorite among fans of the band. Next up is the short instrumental piece "Rat Salad" (3/5), a drum showcase for Bill Ward and the precursor to a drum solo at live shows. The only real blemish on the album, it simply does not strike me as an interesting track, although there is nothing wrong with this drum-oriented track. The album finishes off with the solid "Fairies Wear Boots" (5/5), with its solid instrumental intro titled "Jack the Stripper". A song believed to be critical of the skinhead subculture, it has a great chorus and Iommi's guitar is on point as usual. A solid finisher to a great album.

There is no understating the importance of this album to heavy metal. It is an amazing album nonetheless - nearly perfect. Despite not being a true prog rock album, it has its moments (like the debut album) of progginess, and the themes of this album can certainly be described as "progressive" for the time. With multiple famous songs, this album is considered to be the band's best, and launched Black Sabbath into the mainstream. Ranked #131 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, it has garnered critical acclaim, save for the outlying critic or two. It would ultimately become the band's highest-selling album of all time. Black Sabbath would go in an even heavier direction following this album's release - and continue on their journey towards rock and roll immortality. A must-listen album for any rock fan, for it appeals to both the casual and the seasoned rock fan.

OVERALL: 4.75/5 (A+)

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 Imaginal Symmetry by ALIO DIE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Imaginal Symmetry
Alio Die Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars Alio Die's shimmering, zyther driven "Imaginal Symmetry", 2016, travels flawlessly and creatively through the brighter environments he sometimes or rarely constructs. This turn of events is enhanced alongside fellow old time collaborators Lingua Fungi and Aglaia, taking an otherwise unusual turn themselves, into this adventure. (Parallel to this project Alio Die also releases "An Unfathomable Convergence", featuring the same ensemble, (which still waits patiently in my recently acquired collection).

So to describe it in sonic/imagery let me say his last 2 (solo) works "Standing in a place" & "Seamlessly bliss" resembled respectively the forest and its shadows. This "Imaginal Symmetry" resembles the skies' colors transitions, its clouds and its cosmic connection.

****4.5 PA stars.

A good referential for the connoisseurs will turn out to be Laraaji's slow paced zyther compositions.

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 Exterminating Angel by CLOUDLAND CANYON/LICHENS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
3.98 | 3 ratings

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Exterminating Angel
Cloudland Canyon/Lichens Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I suppose this Cloudland Canyon/Lichens "Exterminating Angel", 2007 release striked it big in the PA's P/E curators minds as to open a whole Cloudland Canyon/Lichens archive for this EP collaboration. (Lichens, by the way has his own solo discography). I myself would have set it alongside the other already archived collaborator "Cloudland Canyon", but this is just a suggestion.

Anyway to where it matters the music! This project blends the Cloudland's 60's hippie touch/Bay area school's electro/acoustics with Lichens unconventional and darker electronic ones, adding up for an almost perfect blend between both idioms.

A one track EP, which could actually be divided into 4 detectable compositions which account for their own structure and instrumentation, thus making for a quiet surprising ride. This collaboration is balanced yet both musical worlds are detected as single entities or as two, nice!

Haunting, surprising and exciting. As it runs each section seems to outdo the previous one. Kind of raw here and there but the music composition, different sections and its inherent EP's briefness (31:48) saves the day entirely.

****4 PA stars.

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 As Above So Below by BODDY, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.00 | 1 ratings

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As Above So Below
Ian Boddy Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Ian Boddy's "As Above So Below"(2016), witholds a true to life symphonic like nature, blended with quiet well balanced Berlin/Bay area school's electronics. An otherwise unexpected route even in his own discography and a great challenge considering the field he has decided on playing on yet focused on his own electronic musical language.

Probably one of his few highly friendly works up to date. This of course does not mean one for the masses, but a very good treat for those late bloomer Berlin/Bay area and progressive electronics enthusiasts who are used to the sound of electronic and acoustic instruments sharing the same space.

A quiet passionate, romantic and dramatic/nostalgic air surrounds the atmospheres along the way his usual Berlin/Bay area school's oriented compositions.

Now as for the always abstract task of rating, I myself found some close encounters with some foreign sounds, yet not to the point of falling into the trap of piracy.

The kind of album which deserves the attention of young prog-electronic or to be followers (for them 4 stars), unfortunately I am way off that crowd.

***3.5 PA stars.

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 The Fall of Hearts by KATATONIA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.05 | 94 ratings

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The Fall of Hearts
Katatonia Progressive Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Well this is the album that got KATATONIA on the site here. The songs are longer and more complex allowing the band to be designated Prog-Metal. Anders the lead guitarist and co-founder with Jonas Renkse said in a interview that "We've had this urge to go as progressive as this in the past but things have held us back. Technically now we've been able to go into territories we haven't been able to explore before." Anders is talking about the two lineup changes for this album in drummer Daniel Moilanen and guitarist Roger Ojersson who allow the band to go into more challenging areas. Daniel even helped with the compositions and arrangements, while Roger takes the lead guitar duties and solos on "Takeover", "Serac" and "Passer". In the same interview Anders talked about Jonas' dad who has been a huge Prog fan his whole life and how he tried to convince Jonas and his friends to give JETHRO TULL a chance. Anders said "We could tell that it(JETHRO TULL album) wasn't just some boring record that a mum or dad would put on, it was intriguing, but we were so into extreme music that it just wasn't enough at the time. If JETHRO TULL's singer growled maybe we would have loved it!" Yeah the boys were into BATHORY back then.

The music seems more stripped down overall despite being more progressive. There also seems to be more depth and atmosphere than ever before. TOOL and OPETH are the two bands that would come to mind while listening to this album. Once again Travis Smith nails the cover art and pictures in the liner notes, he's so talented. This is the longest album as well by these gloomy Swedes as it clocks in at over 67 minutes.

"Takeover" is a top five song for me but I have to say the songs here are very consistent making it difficult picking just five and then which five? They are all so good. This one really moves me early on, that sound and those vocals(gulp). It's just so uplifting and beautiful. It turns heavier after a minute. So good! Love the vocals before 2 1/2 minutes as Jonas sings with passion. That earlier transcendent section is back at 3 1/2 minutes. No words. Piano before 4 1/2 minutes but it's crushed rather quickly. The guitar tone is perfect here and check out the drumming 5 1/2 minutes in. I'm thinking OPETH after 6 minutes with the guitar and heaviness. "Serein" features atmosphere and a fairly urgent rhythm section with vocals. It kicks in quickly though sounding amazing. I like the energy here as Jonas sings with heart. Man I love his voice. A calm before 3 minutes then these distant sounding vocals join in but soon he's singing like he usually does. A moving kick-ass tune.

"Old Heart Fails" opens with a lone guitar melody as reserved vocals and atmosphere take over. This is slow to mid-paced yet full of depth with those rich sounds. A calm 1 1/2 minutes in with vocals and little else. Strings after 2 1/2 minutes the this heavy undercurrent arrives just before 3 minutes as Jonas continues to sing. It's fuller again a minute later. "Decima" is a top five. Picked guitar with mellotron-like sounds as Jonas comes in almost speaking the lyrics. It's fuller as mellotron-like sounds sweep across the soundscape and Jonas sings with emotion. We get "Damnation" like guitar that I so enjoy before 2 1/2 minutes. It settles again, man such attention to detail on this album. "Sanction" destroys us with power and depth as we get hit hard right from the start. A calm when the vocals arrive and it feels like it's about to break out but never does until after 1 1/2 minutes. There's more of that "Damnation" like guitar 2 1/2 minutes in as it settles. It turns fuller but then settles with keys before exploding 4 1/2 minutes in.

"Residual" is a top five tune. Deep sounds and plenty of dark atmosphere as reserved vocals join in. It's building after 1 1/2 minutes but it will settle back as contrasts continue. Here we go 4 1/2 minutes in as they amp it up! I'm so blown away by this, it's moving and uplifting. "Serac" is another top five. Again deep and powerful sounds with an interesting guitar melody then it kicks in hard. Those off-kilter guitar expressions are cool. This is crushing as Jonas sings with passion. A calm before 2 minutes with intricate sounds and atmosphere then the vocals return as it builds until they are kicking ass. Love the "Damnation" like calm that follows. It kicks in again around 4 minutes and check out the Steven Wilson-like vocals after 5 minutes. Nice. "Last Song Before The Fade" opens with piano but it's destroyed quickly, vocals too. Check out the atmospheric calm with vocals before 1 1/2 minutes. It kicks back in at 2 minutes. The heavier sections remind me of OPETH. More atmosphere as the guitar solos tastefully. Jonas is back singing and it's intense and the bass is killer. More piano then it kicks in again.

"Shifts" opens with sirens in fact they will come and go throughout. A beat and piano lead early along with vocals. Synths add depth in this the most laid back tune of the lot. "The Night Subscriber" is my final top five. Lots of depth here with piano over top. Check out the strings sweeping across the soundscape. Vocals just before a minute. Cascading guitars before 2 minutes as the sound then turns heavy. Nice. The vocals continue as the drums pound. It's so majestic sounding with those strings 2 1/2 minutes in. It's heavy duty again 4 1/2 minutes in and the onslaught continues after 5 minutes. Oh my! "Pale Flag" is a relaxed tune with picked guitar and some atmosphere as the vocals join in. I really like the depth of sound before 3 minutes. An interesting track. "Passer" hits us right away with a wall of sound before a calm with almost spoken words and mellotron takes over. A cascade of guitar notes after 1 1/2 minutes as it turns more powerful including the vocals. It settles back again as themes are repeated. The bonus track I have is called "Vakaren" and what make sit so unique is that Jonas is singing in Swedish which I've never heard him do before. The results are fantastic to say the least.

Right now I'd rate this as my third favourite KATATONIA album after "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" and my favourite "The Great Cold Distance". This one is a grower but if your like me once you start to connect to it you'll be hooked.

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 Bee As Such [Aka: Düülirium] by AMON DÜÜL II album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.76 | 10 ratings

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Bee As Such [Aka: Düülirium]
Amon Düül II Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Comeback albums aren't normally as haphazard as this belated effort by one of Krautrock's essential forefathers: recorded in 2009; offered as a digital download under the name "Bee as Such" in 2010; and four years later finally given a legitimate CD release, with a better title and actual sleeve art...everything except a credible performance, sadly.

In truth the music by itself is fine, and doesn't show a trace of anachronism. All of it was clearly improvised in the studio, but in a more groovy modern fashion than the embryonic freakouts of "Phallus Dei" et al. A cheap comparison could be made to the valedictory CAN album "Rite Time" (1989), a likewise late-in-the-day reunion with a similar (but more successful) vibe, also curiously delayed in post-production.

Maybe the new Düül album should have been considered as a strictly instrumental project. The musical rapport was still there, and surprisingly vital after so many years away. But the vocals by old comrades Renate Knaup and Chris Karrer are - to put it delicately - a calamity: hoarse, abrasive, and fatally off-key.

Krautrock has always been full of eccentric singers able to exploit their amateur lack of training (think of Can's Malcolm Mooney, or Damo Suzuki). But there's a big difference between non-professional and plain bad, and that line was emphatically crossed here. I'm reminded of Timothy Leary's cringe-worthy performance on the notorious ASH RA TEMPEL train wreck "Seven Up", something no sane listener ever needs to be reminded of.

The fingernails-on-chalkboard effect reaches its nadir throughout the 26-minute "Back to the Rules/Walking in the Park" (aka "Psychedelic Suite", on the "Bee as Such" version). Here, the attempts at improvising a freeform vocal accompaniment to an already exploratory jam stand out like a mangled (i.e. more than simply sore) thumb.

Needless to say, the new album is no "Yeti"...despite some abominable moments. It's reassuring to know the old-timers still have a pulse, but this session wasn't worth the long wait. Better late than never? Don't be too sure...

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 Live At Rockefeller Music Hall by LEPROUS album cover DVD/Video, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Live At Rockefeller Music Hall
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by javajeff

— First review of this album —
4 stars This live album is a great place to start for anyone looking to get into Leprous since it is an excellent collection of songs. This Live At Rockefeller Music Hall is an excellent performance, with amazing sound quality. Do not let the Tech/Extreme label scare you off from Leprous since they are very similar to Haken in sound and heaviness. They are a progressive metal group in my book, with a very unique approach to song writing. Expect amazing musicianship, stellar vocals, and the most unique delivery of music in the progressive metal genre. There is absolutely nothing cookie-cutter about them, so they are perfect if you are looking for something new and fresh. Like Haken, they have stunning studio albums in what is still their infancy as a band. I consider them to be a top tier progressive metal group, so you may want to eventually get them all. My review is for the music only since I do not have the video, but the performance is so good that it is likely worth having. This is an excellent addition to any progressive metal music collection.

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Oxygène 3 by Jarre, Jean-Michel album rcover
Oxygène 3

Jean-Michel Jarre

Weekly Mansions by Rodriguez-Lopez, Omar album rcover
Weekly Mansions

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

Infinity Drips by Rodriguez-Lopez, Omar album rcover
Infinity Drips

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

Cell Phone Bikini by Rodriguez-Lopez, Omar album rcover
Cell Phone Bikini

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

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