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 Between The Universes by TRITONUS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.20 | 27 ratings

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Between The Universes
Tritonus Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars I've been aware of Tritonus for many years, since 2000 when their albums were reviewed on Tommy's Forest of Progressive Rock (later called Vintage Prog, no longer updated, but the site still exists), at the same time I understand why this band was never a high-priority band for me. This band was lead by Peter K. Seiler, and he's still very much musically active to this day. It's obvious that this band was modeled after the likes of ELP and Triumvirat, but Seiler often has a few tricks up his sleeves that neither Emerson nor Fritz would have never done. But the problem I have is a few parts of this album are unbearable to me. Parts of the title track and the "Suburban Day Suite", but there's some nice moments, but if they got rid of some of those cheesy parts, this could have been one of the great German prog bands. "Mars Detection" might not be to everyone's liking, it might sound like a bunch of synth doodling, but I love that strange synth pattern Seiler comes up with, and while he uses the typical Moog and Solina string synths here, he also uses a PPG module. What I love of this piece is the spaciness, of the kind ELP or Triumvirat would have never thought of. It seems that Geff Harrison of Kin Ping Meh and 2066 & Then sings on some of the music, and since he was British, English would not be a problem for him. Tritonus had troubles with the English language, as did Frank Bornemann of Eloy, a perfect example going for "Sunday Waltz" off their debut where the song goes: "At 8:30 in the evening / while teewee is on" ("teewee" meaning "TV"), which ended up unintentionally hilarious. So at least that was less of a problem on Between the Universes thanks to Geff Harrison.

To me, not a high priority band, if you can get it on the cheap, then do so, but paying full price for an original LP might be a bit much (they don't come cheap). Three stars.

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 Songs For Insects  by THOUGHT INDUSTRY album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.59 | 19 ratings

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Songs For Insects
Thought Industry Progressive Metal

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars Thought Industry-Songs for Insects

'Songs for Insects' is the debut studio album by avant-garde/thrash metal band Thought Industry. This is one weird band and album, and you may wonder how they got signed to a major label so quickly in their career. Well, Metallica's Jason Newsted brought their demo to the ears of Metal Blade Records and they were signed on. Thought Industry would continue to be pretty damn weird until their fourth release in 1997 when they moved in an alternative rock direction.

If you listen to this album once, you most likely won't fully understand it. However, the more you listen, the more the pure strangeness just sinks into your brain. This is no ordinary thrash album as you can most likely tell by the usage of Salvador Dali's 'Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonitions of Civil War)' as an album cover. This is a crazy avant-garde technical thrash metal album with a big smorgasbord of musical styles combined, and probably one of the most unique albums I've ever heard. While this is an album that needs a few listens to fully understand, the opening track 'Third Eye' is an instant gem. I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it, the fast-paced drum beats and the grooving stomp of the guitars opens this song perfectly. Once Brent Oberlin's vocals come in, it fits perfectly with the crunching guitar and just sends chills down my spine. Easily my favorite on the album.

The weirdness comes in with the next song, the title track. This nearly 10-minute song never stays in one place. From thrashing goodness, to menacing passages with meandering guitar, to crazy drumming combined with wacky bass slaps that would later be heard in Mudvayne's 'L.D. 50' album. My second favorite from the album is probably 'Cornerstone' with it's industrial groove. Oberlin gives some strange vocals here, with weird guitar and mechanical drum pounding. The avant-garde strangeness continues with 'Daughter Mobius', which enters in with what sounds like some folk dance before thrashing guitar comes in. Next is the beautiful acoustic track 'Alexander Vs. The Puzzle', before being assaulted with another wacky thrash song in 'Ballerina' with great unique vocals from Oberlin. As you can probably tell, the lyrics are mostly surreal and unconventional, matching the Dali album cover. The song 'Third Eye', however, has awesome political lyrics such as 'Someone lied about God and Country but I have a third eye politically. What will it take to tear it all down? What does it take to see the U.S. draft's a lie.'

Overall, this will most likely be one of the weirdest albums you'll ever hear. It may take a few listens to really enjoy it, but I highly recommend this album to anyone wanting something weird, avant-garde, and unique. If you like thrash metal, groove metal, industrial metal, or anything avant-garde, this has elements of all of those.

(Originally written for www.metalmusicarchives.com)

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 Hail To The Thief by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.43 | 333 ratings

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Hail To The Thief
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Radiohead reviews are always all over the board. You have those who love them and those that hate them and those that are somewhere in between, which I suppose is true for most bands, but if just seems so evenly distributed with listeners when it comes to Radiohead. They are a band that I love to listen to and that I appreciate, but it usually takes me time to get used to some of their albums where others just seem to attract me right off the bat. But, eventually I come to appreciate their innovativeness, their experimentation in different sounds and the genius of their music.

"Hail to the Thief" was one of the ones that took me a little more time to appreciate. Even though I don't consider it their absolute best, it is better than some and it is quite good. When the album was made, the band had decided not to spend so much time in making the songs so "perfect" as they had on the last 2 albums, which were "Kid A" and "Amnesiac" both of which were quite experimental and mostly electronic. This songs were done more spontaneously. In fact, Yorke said that they got to where they were producing and recording a song per day.

This album also sees a return to a more guitar based sound while still maintaining a lot of electronic elements. The songs here are much more varied, some concentrating on the use of electronics and others are more organic using traditional rock instruments. In my opinion, what you get here is a good variety of both styles with quality songs. The music is much more focused and accessible than it was on the previous two albums. Even with it's accessibility, it still has it's share of challenges, and it is a far cry from being traditional pop. There are the more rock oriented songs like "There There", "Punchup at a Wedding", and "Sit Down, Stand Up". And there are the more electronic based songs which are more experimental like the amazingly emotional "We Suck Young Blood", "The Gloaming", "Myxomatosis" and so on. Yet, amongst these tracks there are elements of both styles, and the songs tend to give us the best of both worlds.

I don't think it is necessary to go into a lot of detail about the album beyond this because it has been reviewed a lot on this site and you can read so many different opinions about it here and make your own decisions. There always seems to be a war about whether this band is progressive or not, but I can easily hear the progressive elements because the sound is definitely non- traditional and I can consider it progressive even if the songs are not epics, they don't always have to be, do they? Radiohead always keep their songs around 4-5 minutes or less, but there is always a lot of ingenuity packed into those songs. Even though this is not a masterpiece, it is still an excellent album and I can easily give it 4 stars without hesitation.

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 The Complete Silver Beatles by BEATLES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1982
2.00 | 3 ratings

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The Complete Silver Beatles
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I don`t have this album, but I have listened to all the songs from this album from other sources. in fact, they were broadcasted in a FM radio station in my city in a series of programmes dedicated to the history of the band. It was in late 1982, I think.

This album has 12 of the 15 songs that THE BEATLES (George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and then drummer Pete Best) recorded at the Decaa Studios in London on the first day of January 1962. These recordings are as a whole also known as "The Decca Audition Tape". and as the very known old story says, they were rejected by Decca Records after this audition. But manager Brian Epstein anyway paid for the audition tapes to be owned by them, and he spent some months trying to get a recording contract for the band using these tapes with several record labels, until one day he was lucky and met a person who suggested to him to visit Parlophone Records to meet Producer George Martin, a then small record label which was part of the EMI Records label and that was mostly dedicated to the release of Comedy albums (which were also produced by Martin) . In fact, EMI also have rejected the band before that, but despite this Epstein tried again with Parlophone, and was lucky enough to find that Martin was interested to give the band a chance for an audition in June 1962. The rest is history.

These mono recordings from this "Decca Audition Tape" are well recorded and mixed but they sound really old, still showing the band playing well but not very well. In fact, they travelled from Liverpool to the audition in London with Decca all the night. So, they sound a bit tired and maybe more after the New Year`s party (even the Decca producer and record executives arrived late to the audition). But anyway, the band tried to sound well. It is also known that Epstein selected the songs for the audition to try to show "their musical versatility". So, the songs show a variety of music styles, from ballads ("Till There Was You"), rockers ("Money", "Memphis"), Country and Western music ("Sure To Fall"), music more appropiate for Night Clubs ("Besame Mucho", a song which they also played in Hamburg in places like the "Star Club"), and even some theatre music ("Three Cool Cats", "The Sheik of Araby"). The band also recorded that day three original Lennon-McCartney songs (the unreleased "Love of the Loved", plus "Like Dreamers Do" and "Hello, Little Girl", with both of them being released in their "Anthology 1" two CD set compilation in 1995). It seems that these three Lennon-McCartney songs were not released in albums like this "The Complete Silver Beatles" compilation for some legal considerations. But these three original songs are the best from this "Decca Audition Tape". I think that due to his lack of experience managing bands Brian Epstein did not have the right vision to promote the band in the right way. He did it the best he could then, but obviously most of the material from this "Decca Audition Tape" did not show the real potential of the band as songwriters. Maybe it could have been better to include more songs from Lennon and McCartney as part of the repertoire for the audition. Also the lack of a better drummer showed the band still with some limitations. Pete Best was not the right drummer for the band, but fortunately the band later met Ringo Starr and the band became a much better band with him on the drums.

The title of this album "The Complete Silver Beatles" is not really good. The band at that time did no use that name. They were known then as The Beatles in Liverpool and in Hamburg. I don`t know why the record label used a title like that for this album. Maybe the rights for the use of the recordings were not very clear then, but I really don`t know the whole story behind the release of this album. But I saw it being sold in well established record shops and in supermarkets in my city in the early eighties, being sold with reduced prices.

For collectors and fans of the band.

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 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.29 | 495 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by ergaster

3 stars 3.5/5 ... I rounded down to 3 because I just cannot squeeze a 4 out of it....

Take a cut of the heavier, proggier end of Steven Wilson and season it with a judicious pinch of jazz fusion, simmer with a touch of Blackfield and Grace for Drowning, and serve over a bed of Porcupine Tree. Present on a silver platter of fan-hype and accolades and Voila! Hand. Cannot. Erase., the new Steven Wilson solo album.

I played this album more or less regularly once the iTunes download arrived, and then a bit more after my vinyl version hit the doorstep. After owning it for a few months, I find I do not play it at all any more--probably the fastest ever that any Wilson album has lost its luster. My overall impression is of an album of pleasant tedium interrupted by moments of sheer beauty. And alas I find that there are not nearly enough moments of sheer beauty, or any other sort of exceptional moments. It is all very competently done (as is ever the case with Wilson): well composed, well sung, well played, but overall it tastes rather...not so much bland, as restrained.

On the plus side: HCE is poppier, proggier, and more purely face-melting heavy than anything Steven Wilson has done solo for a long time, and this is not a bad thing. These are skills that are not lacking in the Wilson musical recipe book, and his prog-pop (pop-prog?) work is nicely concise and to the point. The long instrumental passages and jazzy solo stretches of the last two albums are (mostly) gone. There are instrumental breaks, of course, but they move the song along and one doesn't get the feeling they were stuck in there as a showcase for somebody's chops. This is a clear improvement. The introduction and careful use of the female vocalist has worked out better than a lot of people expected: Ninet Tayeb has a wonderful voice and her parts are perfectly placed.

Wilson does have a gift for the beautiful melody, and on an album as pop-flavoured as this one, he really shines. The title track is catchy, infectious, upbeat, and surprisingly heavy at times; I've heard people say that it might be a bit too Blackfield-ish, but you know, he does this sort of thing so well. The man has such a vast repertoire; I see no problem with his pulling influences from wherever he needs to get them. Likewise the intense heavy moments are reminiscent of the metal-ish days of Porcupine Tree--which suits me fine because those were my favourite PT albums. It's nice to hear them again.

I wish there were more tracks as completely immersive as "Hand Cannot Erase" but unfortunately the other stunning moments are kind of scattershot, popping up in the midst of pleasant but otherwise unremarkable tracks: the last third of "Routine", the first bit of "First Regret/3 Years Older" for example.

And on the downside: HCE has more heart and soul than The Raven that Refused to Sing possessed, and much less (thank god) sheer wankery than was on Grace for Drowning, but despite the beautifully heartbreaking moments and joyful metal heaviness, I find it lacks a fundamental sense of adventure or daring. It is just so polite and restrained. The most applicable description is "nice", with all the innate blandness implied in the word, and the great moments are not enough to overcome that final sense of dissatisfaction at the end of the album. It could have been so much more.

I will wind up on a more positive note because the album does end well: "Ancestral" (at least the last two thirds of it) is a mighty, mighty song. It. Kicks. Ass. in the way Deadwing kicked ass, and there are sections that could have come directly from Deadwing. And "Happy Returns/Ascendant Here on..." is my favourite song on the album by far, heartbreaking and transcendently beautiful.

Alas, there just are not enough of these moments on this album. It is a tasty stew, but it is not Cordon Bleu.

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 Patchwork Cacophony by PATCHWORK CACOPHONY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.46 | 8 ratings

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Patchwork Cacophony
Patchwork Cacophony Symphonic Prog

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

3 stars My first acquaintance with Ben Bell's work was back in 2013 with the "debut" album of Fusion Orchestra 2, an excellent example of long heavy progressive rock compositions. Here Ben takes it on his own to create a much more symphonic progressive rock album, keyboard-laden and mostly instrumental.

For a one-man job, Patchwork Cacophony is impressive, full of original ideas, talented keyboard playing and two major moods: the dreamy (even spacey) 70's symphonic rock side (mainly influenced by Genesis) and another, much more jazz/funky one, which counterbalances the melody with more dynamic passages and keyboard lines. Ben experiments with all sorts of keyboard sounds, from moog to organ, piano and so on. See for example the "trouble-free" No U-Turn, a tune to accompany you to your summer drives across the coast. The two moods interchange often and the track lengths as well, offering the right amount of variation.

Dance of the Fleet-Footed Heffalumps does what it says: a folksy/dreamy atmosphere on acoustic guitar and flute driven sounds, perhaps somewhere in the middle of the woods with Gryphon lurking in the background; Nylons for Parot flows in a similar vein, proving a nice interlude before the multi-part Dawn Light. Brinkmanship is perhaps the highlight with a playful main theme which does not tire, no matter how many times it is repeated. It follows a melodic piano intro, similar to how the album opens in Sketch of a Day. In fact the two tracks are very similar in the way they evolve, with the former being the flagship of the funky side of Ben and the latter the more melodic, Genesis-inspired, earning even more points by its grandiose ending.

The Dawn Light suite starts off with an Eloy-inspired theme but continues with two parts accompanied by Ben's vocals, in a mid-tempo rocking background, the more impressive of the two being No Time. The jumps between reprises and rock tunes continues throughout the duration of the suite, with Scorched Earth taking me by surprise by its dynamic, swinging keyboard riff. The underlying Deep Purple influence is confirmed in the melodic hard rock tune Final Sunset; I would expect you be up and dancing by now, while the Purple/Heep organ solos rage on. Not a very coherent suite all in all, but certainly with enjoyable moments.

Apart from the excellent keyboard work and surprisingly good performance on vocals, the rest of the instrumentation/arrangements are fairly basic and are there to support, rather than create, with the drum arrangements perhaps in need of the most improvement. However, this does not affect the professional work produced in this album. This is the second album I get to listen to this year that has such a high level of keyboard talent and ideas, the other being Unreal City's sophomore release.

Is it the era of keyboards? We shall see - this is certainly a great way to start a solo career.

3.5 stars. Highlights: Brinkmanship, No Time, Scorched Earth, Final Sunset

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 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.29 | 495 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by DBJ2020

5 stars The fourth Steven Wilson album has been out for around three months now, yet has not attracted as much feedback from Prog Archives readers as previous albums. Ratings are almost identical to the previously lauded "The Raven That Refused To Sing", but significantly lower in volume - 485 ratings at the time of this review. Which begs the question why?

Is the album too polarising? Some of the negative criticism suggests that it is too "pop" sounding in early stages, particularly the catchy title song. The criticisms remain until the latter part of the album. Other critics like the first half of the album finding it so very different to the previous albums. Some Porcupine Tree fans have noted that the title track is a return to some of the catchy singles of the Halo, Lightbulb Sun, Even Less and Stranger by the Minute era.

Too electro-pop? Perfect Life is a heavily electronic-influenced song that sounds like it has a drum-machine accompaniment, yet credited on the album to Marco Minneman. Just because something sounds like it was manufactured by a machine does not always mean there wasn't a human element.

Too different from the previous 70's style that drew so much acclaim for TRTRTS? Wilson himself has said he was very happy that they were able to emulate that era and used analogue recording techniques under the skilful engineering of Alan Parsons. HCE is totally different and firmly recorded in the 21st Century using plenty of digital techniques, as anyone who has seen the documentary on the Blu-ray (or on the three smaller teasers on Steven Wilson's website) would testify.

Or is it that people are now so comfortable that Wilson is going to produce a skillful, well-engineered, balanced and thought-provoking, boundary-pushing album that they are almost too bored to comment?

It's taken me a few months to rate this album, and it is not because of tedium, more so keenness to see what others think. In short the album is an essential collector ? for all of the reasons above. After listening to the deluxe edition 5.1 Blu-ray, the conceptual flow, musical clarity and sheer dynamism of the album is amazing. Fans have rated Ancestral as a classic, while others have appreciated the 70's style 3 Years Older combination of swirling keyboards and electric/acoustic guitars so reminiscent of The Who, Yes, Crimson and so many others. Yet is sounds so fresh and alive.

Regret #9 has enough keyboard sounds to satisfy Symphonic Prog lovers with a blistering guitar Solo from Guthrie Govan using a noiseless pickup Fender he had borrowed.

As other reviewers have noted all of the previous album's band members contribute, along with surprises like Nina Tayeb's amazing vocals showcased brilliantly on Routine and Katherine Jenkins' spoken part on Perfect Life. Guest appearances by other musicians (checkout the album liner), including a boy choir and soloist add to a richly diverse album. Many musicians would struggle to make such an amalgam of the above as well as mellotrons, banjos, moogs, electronica sound like music, yet the end result is an album that is cohesive, tight and very memorable.

An excellent album that deserves to be called a Masterpiece as much as TRTRTS has.

And a challenge to those that marveled at TRTRTS and felt compelled to review it and have not done so for this one - What do you think?

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 TIME MACHINES by COIL album cover Studio Album, 1998
2.06 | 7 ratings

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TIME MACHINES
Coil Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch

2 stars This sounds like a U.S. experimental weapons Lab in the 1950's where unfortunate victims were forced to listen to mind-crushingly extreme tones in an attempt to make them confess to Communist plots and schemes.

Despite its nice digipack presentation along with a bunch of chemical synthesis square stickers, this is a tedious album.

For a start - what on earth are you supposed to do with these individual and separate self adhesive things? They're pointless - just an add on absurdity. It's not as if they even have any artistic value.

I don't know about you but a small blue circle in a yellow square does not make me jump up and down with glee. This particular sticker with its 'Telepathine' worded message around the border means to 'aid and facilitate telepathic communication among tribal members'.

Each of the four drones represents a certain hallucinogenic chemical which, believe it or not, should induce 'Time Travel'. Main man John Balance said that this album was tested over and over again in an attempt to dissolve time. What on earth can you make of such strange statements? God knows... I'm stumped. It wouldn't be so bad if there was some semblance of tune. Unfortunately there's none. Just constant groaning and moaning- the kind of noises you hear in your head when full of the flu and lying sick in bed. Maybe I need to pump myself full of hallucinogenic chemicals in order to understand their way of thinking.

I'm told this sounds fantastic if listened to on headphones. Right now I don't have the will to even lift my glass of gin and orange to my mouth, never mind scrambling about for a set of bloody headphones.

This is a very dark and sombre album. Extremely minimalist, with the intention of altering the human perception of reality. If you play one track in a loop, you'll either time travel, as Coil intended or go completely mental - like me. Aarrgh!

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 The Grand Guignol by SCHLOSS TEGAL album cover Studio Album, 1993
1.79 | 5 ratings

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The Grand Guignol
Schloss Tegal Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch

2 stars Despite being their most reviewed and analysed recording, I find this first 'Schloss Tegal' recording something of a dirge. The internal sleeve photos show victims of Jack The Ripper and pics of Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and possibly Henry Lee Lucas. And yes, it does sound how it looks... Ugly.

This is a tuneless scourge of noise. A drone-fest of mechanical grinding whines that is far less inspired than later recordings, which are far more appealing to the misanthropist within me. I bought this in '94 and have rarely listened to it since.

Scraping the layers of dust off the outer casing and listening to it anew has done little to help me see it in a new light. 'The Grand Guignol' resembles sounds that belong in a Pittsburgh Steelworks. Normally I'd love that kind of stuff in it's 'SPK', 'Throbbing Gristle' style of approach, but there's very little to grab hold of here. It's grey, dull and bleak, and has a constant use of original human torture shrieks.

Slurpy, wet background noises have looped murderer vocals laid on top uttering such phrases as ' Hunting for Humans'. over and over again.

More screeching painful sounds follow as droning keyboards wail and throb with 'Certificate of the Wound', where bloody goings on are thrown in your face with male and female groans and whines. It reminds me of 'Mark of the Devil' - that video nasty that was so grim it didn't see a full release until this year.

Spooky and grim - yeah. but on the listenability scale this scores zero. This is the sound of Zombie's biting into your arms translated into entertainment.

"Look at the World' has a hideous looped vocal 'I could kill someone' played over a flat tuneless chord which leaves me wishing I'd left this disc well alone in it's dust covered mummified state. Far better was to follow when they left all this 'murder' filth and depravity behind.

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 Guitar by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Live, 1988
3.35 | 100 ratings

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Guitar
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This album is simply a collection of guitar solos taken out of the context of the concert and the main song and renamed and pasted together so that you get over 2 hours of FZ jamming on the guitar. Each track is melded together and starts when the solo starts and ends before the band returns to the main melody again. The way these solos are presented makes for a somewhat painful listening experience if you are not a lover of FZ's solos. If that is all you want to hear without any context to the song they are being performed in, then you are in luck because this is wall to wall guitar. Or if you are a guitar student and want to hear what amazing things FZ can do on the guitar, then this is for you. Or if you are a completionist, then you must have it I suppose. However, if you want something entertaining or enjoyable to listen to, then there are many other FZ collections and recordings that are much better. To the layman, this will sound like a continuous guitar jam, which is basically what it is, but taken out of context like it is and pasted together as one jam after another, it takes all of the character out of the solo and sounds too much the same all the way through. So, in other words, for me at least, this is very hard to listen to in a single sitting. Little bits at a time, it isn't quite so bad.

The linear notes on this collection tell you the concert venues and dates (but they are not always correct) and it also tells you what performance (or the name of the song) the solo was taken from. If you are familiar with FZ's jamming songs, then these notes will be of some value and will help return some of the character of the jam as long as you can imagine the context that it was taken from. Many of the tracks are taken from performances of "Ride My Face to Chicago", "Black Napkins", "Let's Move to Cleveland", "Black Page", "Zoot Allures", "City of Tiny Lights" and so on. There are a few of the tracks that do stand out a bit, like "Ina-Gadda-Stravinsky" which takes the hook from the Iron Butterfly song as the base for the jam and includes the opening notes from the bassoon line of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and if you listen close you'll hear "Taps" played by the bass further into the song. This is one of the highlights of the album. There is a great solo taken from a performance of Gregg Allman's "Whipping Post" called "For Duane" in remembrance of Duane Allman who originally played the guitar solo for that song. There are other great solos that stand out in this mish-mash of solos, but you will only catch them if you are a careful listener and most of these get lost as it is hard to make a point of reference unless you are following closely along.

Zappa hardcore fans will be interested to note that the track entitled "Outside Now" is named after the track on Joe's Garage of the same name. However, the jam is not taken from a live performance of that song, the jam comes from a performance of "City of Tiny Lights" which was the original song where the "Outside Now" track was based on in Joe's Garage. There are little secrets like that here that wouldn't mean much to a regular listener. This album just does not hold a lot of appeal for the person that wants to explore FZ's discography, even if they are only interested in his guitar work. You are better off getting "Zappa Plays Zappa" or listening to some of his better albums like "Zoot Allures" or any number of live albums where he was likely to play extended jams.

Personally, I can only recommend this to hardcore fans, especially fans of FZ's guitar work who are more familiar with his repertoire. As such, I can only rate this with 2 stars. It's just not a collection that's easy to sit through, even for a Zappa fan like myself.

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 Endless Forms Most Beautiful by NIGHTWISH album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.86 | 56 ratings

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Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Nightwish Progressive Metal

Review by M27Barney

5 stars Just Like "Room V" by Shadow Gallery and "Scenes from a Memory" by Dream Theater this CD has introduced me to a new progressive metal band. And just like those two CD's I mentioned ? it has had a massive impact on me. I haven't heard any of the back catalogue ? so it should be fun sampling some of those in the next 12 months. Anyway, this CD ? almost certainly a must get CD because it is a lengthy concept, a full 78 minutes and I feel that it keeps its focus all the way through. I must admit to being pleased ? that finally a band has had the guts to base their concept on the theory of evolution! The epic is named after Richard Dawkins (Evolutionary Professor, who graduated from and lectured at Oxford University) book "The Greatest Show on Earth" ? and they even have Mr Dawkins Narrating on the CD (excellent touch I feel). I really like the vocals by Floor Jansen, the compositions are tight and the musicianship is good also.

This band sound like a cross between Shadow Gallery and Ayreon to me!

I love the mellotron, and general keyboards and the ambience at the end is Awesome!

I have to give this five stars for its audacity and great delivery, it might even get some faith-heads delving into some of mankind's better books (Like the "Extended Phenotype" by Mr Dawkins or "On the Origin of Species" ? one of the most important books ever written) ? forget the bible ? it's utter nonsense ? and get into Finnish Prog-Metal. PEACE.

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 A Furrow Cut Short by DRUDKH album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.35 | 8 ratings

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A Furrow Cut Short
Drudkh Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by CassandraLeo

5 stars Drudkh's finest release in years, A Furrow Cut Short is a throwback to the band's Forgotten Legends/Autumn Aurora style, but with the added maturity that an additional 12 years' worth of musicianship brings. The album is Drudkh's longest release to date, and the songs are of suitable scale to match; only one track is shorter than seven minutes in length, and only two are below eight. The songwriting is some of Drudkh's strongest in years, possibly since Estrangement or Blood in Our Wells, and the performances are consistently compelling throughout.

The uninitiated should be warned that this is unapologetically a black metal release, so people who aren't fond of blast beats, tremolo picking, harsh vocals, and other hallmarks of the genre won't find a lot to like here. But for those who are fond of the style, this is a superb black metal release with some progressive hallmarks that offers a lot of rewards for listeners.

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 The Congregation by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.43 | 5 ratings

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The Congregation
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Daggor

5 stars Review Except from Black Wind Metal Full review posted at blackwindmetal.com/leprous-the-congregation/

Coal's introspective, dark aesthetic was controversial, and I recall a lot of disappointment from critics two years ago. I do not expect there to be nearly as much dissent this time around, however. The usual Leprous quirks are present: heavily syncopated riffs, repetitive passages with slight melodic and harmonic alterations, and Einar Solberg's vocal dynamics. On top of that, there is the album's particular sound, which incorporates attempts at a more emotional impact, post-metal tonality and tremolo picking, and a rising and falling of intensity throughout. New drummer Baard Kolstad puts on an absolutely phenomenal performance, similar to and rivaling John Douglas' performances on Anathema's Weather Systems and Distant Satellites.

Opening track and first single "The Price" hints at the band taking a more a djent-inspired direction, and the first minute of "Third Law" doesn't do much to dispel that notion. The band is playing more and more with 7 and 8 string guitars and extremely heavy syncopation at times. It continues in what I can best describe as "Josh Homme singing over Tesseract riffs being played at double speed". This somehow leads into the chorus, which is among the album's most memorable (but of course, like every great album, it is but one of many outstanding choruses). The chorus dominates much of the rest of the song. It also dominates my dreams, my nightmares, and battles for my very soul.

There's going to be a lot of talk about "The Flood", and rightly so. I believe both reviews I've seen thus far have mentioned it as a standout. There are portions that strike a similar vein as Coal's "The Valley" but this song is shorter and more direct. There is a combination of synth effects and an incredibly deep guitar, possibly a down-tuned 7 or 8 string, playing a heartbeat throughout most of the song. The chorus is every bit as massive as anything the band has written yet, and the heartbeat has a tremendously dramatic impact. The bridge is reminiscent of the second half of "Foe", again from Coal, before giving way to the, and I repeat for emphasis: Absolutely. Massive. Chorus. I don't want to give away all the secrets in store, but this song is incredible. All the superlatives you're seeing heaped on it are true. That being said, if anyone has said anything bad about this song, I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do about the haters. We've all got to suffer them together.

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 Il Viaggio by MURPLE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.98 | 8 ratings

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Il Viaggio
Murple Rock Progressivo Italiano

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

4 stars The chances of a `comeback' album of sorts from a vintage Seventies RPI band delivering hugely unexpected music was very unlikely - safe and predictable symphonic prog perhaps, but not much more. So what a delightful surprise it is to discover that `Il Viaggio', released in September 2014 and being only the third album in forty years for Roman band Murple, also holds some very unique and unexpected sounds! The group released an album back in 1974 that in some ways became a bit of a minor gem, `Io Sono Murple' due to its lengthy and colourful instrumental passages, and they returned in 2008 with the pleasant if unspectacular `Quadri di un Esposizione', but this new album sees a slightly altered line-up exploring new styles and directions, delivering their best work since their Seventies debut. While there's still an emphasis on vintage keyboard-dominated symphonic instrumental elements (of course!), this brisk 35 minute album also races through a mix of strong folk song-writing with an interesting approach to vocals, often giving the band a new identity altogether, allowing then to offer something more fresh and vital. Murple reborn if you will!

Rumbling dusty country acoustic guitar strains announce the title-track opener - not the sounds one would normally expect to hear on an RPI album! Don't worry, Italian prog devotees, before long a skittering relentless beat and the more typical shimmering organ and fizzy synths enter `Il Viaggio', but you're in for another surprise - a fascinating combination of both a male and female vocal singing in unison! Original Seventies member/keyboard/piano player Pier Carlo Zanco is joined by newcomer lady Claudia D'Ottavi, and the pair have such contrasting yet equally fascinating voices that unexpectedly come together perfectly. Overall it's quite an accessible piece, a pleasing tune made more interesting by some tasteful instrumental elements.

However, it's `Alejandra' that moves a little closer to the sounds of Murple's little 1974 jewel `Io Sono Murple'. A pleasing mellow instrumental, Duilio Sorrenti's punchy drums snap over droning organ, Mario Garbarino's murmuring bass slinks behind Mauro Arno's bluesy guitar wailing and the whirring Moog in the victorious finale lifts the piece high into clouds of symphonic heaven. A sprinkling of fancy piano to introduce `Nani e Clown' suggests a more romantic mood, but the almost eight minute piece darts through everything from galloping P.F.M-like prances with regal majesty, rambunctious drum outbursts and sweetly chiming guitars with dreamy bubbling Moogs. A drowsy vocal from Pier Carlo is eventually joined by Claudia's spirited proclamations. Next instrumental `Angelika' presents a beautiful mix of sadness and love, with mysterious and gently melancholic verses rescued by a warmer, almost fanfare-like repeated chorus and some lustful electric guitar soloing in the finale.

`Per Una Volta' is a straight-forward but tastefully stirring male/female vocal piece with warm acoustic guitar and sparkling piano, plus a lively instrumental run in the closing minute (shame about that fade-out though!). Instrumental `La Battagglia' is a medieval call- to-arms soundtrack full of regal pomp, driven by thick chunky bass, snarling guitars and imposing organ with wavering synth trills that effortlessly move between heroic and whimsical. Then, despite some darker lyrics (check out fellow reviewer Andrea's translation!), album closer `Sirene' is a pleasing and breezily melodic folk tune, acoustic guitar mixing with pan-pipes and sweetly murmuring bass, with brief moments of classical prettiness throughout as well. Perhaps a strange piece to close the album on, but a charming song all the same.

While plenty of the usual RPI sounds emerge throughout, this is not some lazy clone of past sounds, nor a band simply repeating the kind of music they used to deliver. Murple sound full of creativity and originality here, embracing new styles with enough of the symphonic synth-driven flavours of their older work, but reaching in refreshing new directions with great confidence and, perhaps for the first time, really giving themselves a truly distinctive identity. It means `Il Viaggio' is a beautiful little album that many Italian progressive listeners will likely end up falling in love with very easily!

Four stars.

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 Käytävä / Kaupungin naiset by NOVA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1975
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Käytävä / Kaupungin naiset
Nova Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars This particular NOVA - there are two others in ProgArcives alone! - was a Finnish short-lived band that made one album called Atlantis (1976), with a Supertramp-like cover art of a grand piano floating in space. But their first release was this single released by the legendary Love Records. On ground of these two songs, one hardly would be expecting a prog album with epic compositions from this group.

'Käytävä' (= Corridor, aisle) is a very short and basically sincere & simple love song, and yet it manages to sound quite many-sided. At first it's mellow, slightly sentimental, vocals backed only by acoustic guitar and piano. At 0:43 the rhythm section arrives and gives the song some rock spine, and half a minute later comes a joyful harmonica solo, revealing the blues flavour. The organ a bit later makes me think of PROCOL HARUM. The sound and production are pleasant, beautifully aged. A fine little song written by singer-keyboardist Antti Ortamo. His vocals are, how to say it, just common - like some average folk troubadour - , but capable of emotionally strong impression.

The B-side song 'Kaupungin naiset' (= The women of the city) also by Ortamo is a plain blues number in slow tempo, complete with wailing vocals and a delicious electric guitar solo. From prog artists the references could be Peter Gabriel's 'Waiting for the Big One' and The Strawbs' 'Absent Friend', but with more of the authentic blues feel.

The single's drawn cover is nice but why the band name is missing? Quite surprisingly it's the latter song that was included newly mixed on the Atlantis album. Both songs are included also in the Various Artists compilation "Love Proge 2".

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 Cocoon by TIGER MOTH TALES album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 13 ratings

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Cocoon
Tiger Moth Tales Neo-Prog

Review by Angelo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin... This is a cautionary tale, and it concerns a man, a gifted man, living on an island made out of musical instruments...."

That could be the beginning of an album review for Tiger Moth Tales' album Cocoon, crafter by multi-instrumentalist Peter Jones. To be honest, it is the beginning of such a review now. As I write this review, I have heard the album quite a few times, but during the final listen before writing this, the hairs on my arms still stood upright during the closing track. That must mean something, so let's have a look at what Cocoon is, and what it has to offer...

As said, this is an album by the English multi-instrumentalist Peter Jones. A blind musician at that, one who has to rely fully on his ears, and what that means clearly shows on this album, on which he sings, and plays keyboards, talkbox, guitar, saxophone, whistles, sarod, zither, melodica, bells and percussion. The drums are programmed and Mark Wardle plays flugelhorn, but everything else is done by this one man, who als wrote all music and lyrics. I mentioned before that one man bands are quite common these days (in my review for Steam Theory), and here's another one that proves that this can actually work well when focus is on releasing an album.

So... Cocoon, I reckon the best way to describe this album is by calling it a trip into the world of Peter Jones, fan of Steve Hackett, Genesis, Big Big Train, Frost*, Haken and many more. A fan of the kind that writes and plays his own music almost in tribute to his favourites - his own Four Seasons if you will (short tracks named after the seasons interleave the songs on this album).

That shows in many ways on this very versatile album, that echoes both the sounds of the 70s and modern rock. The opening Overture is not so much an overture of the music on the album, as an overture of the instruments the man can play and who his inspirations are. There is a dark keyboard melody in there, followed by a saxophone solo and then wild keyboard work that (on slightly less modern instruments) might not have been out of place in the heyday of Yes and ELP.

The follow up The Isle of Witches, on which the intro to this review is based, starts with a narrative and is the followed by dark music - telling the tale of a war between witches and wizards over an island. A song that has organ pieces, vocal effects, and even a metallic mid section (somehow reminded me of something on the very first Ayreon album). A track that requires listening - not suited as background music nor as a lullaby - unless you want to provoke nightmares.

Tigers in the Butter is a 14 minute track that has every aspect of a 1970s epic in it - it consists of different musical movements, one rocky another based on a piano melody and yet another having an eastern feel to it. The lyrics are slightly absurd, but at the same time thought provoking (we live our live in fantasy), and sung in a style that has aspects of what Peter Gabriel and John Wetton did in their younger years. Another listener, that is followed by a great instrumental, The First Lament. Great for those who love guitar, and especially guitar in (at least to my ears) the style of Gary Moore's Parisienne Walkways or The Messiah Will Come Again. Peter has a knack for keyboards, but the guitar is a very close second, if not equal. The additional touch of the flute in the beginning makes it into a Tiger Moth Tale yet again.

And then... the fun really kicks in with The Merry Vicar, a happy track with folk and musical influences in the versus, but with a fitting, more rock oriented keyboard and piano mid section. The lyrics about a vicar using music and absurdism to spread the word of God are brought in an equally absurd way as the vicar would himself. To me, this clearly gets the message across that it's only too human to take everything so serious.

With the vicar gone, A visit to Chigwick is our next stop, and it's all about childhood memories. Chigwick doesn't exist - except in the singer's head, as he sings (even though the name resembles that of Chiswick in London ). In reality, the town is based on English children's TV shows Trumpton, Camberwick Green and Chigley - the name being a combination of the latter two [Added this explanation after Peter explained it]. The song starts out folky. It even reminds me briefly of Dirty Old Town, if it weren't a folk traditional song but a modern composition. The keyboard, guitar and bass work on this track are brilliant, and the build up from folk to full instrumental rock is absolutely wonderful (and yes, there is a melodica on this one..., and it fits too). It's almost a pity it only lasts for just under 9 minutes. Almost, not quite though, because there is that one closing track remaining that made the hair on my arms stand up, some 800 words ago, remember? That track is called Don't let go, Feels alright. If we talk about emotion and build up in a song, this one has it all. Starting with a musical box, it quickly moves to a piano piece on which Peter sings in a wonderful emotional voice, accompanied by strings where needed. Later on drums and more layered, choral vocals are added, but only after two superb instrumental sections, with saxophone, guitar and keyboard solos that make you wonder whether this is really a single man playing...

Looking at Peter Jones' bio on his web site, he is no stranger to the music business - having been appeared on a BBC program at age 8, and being a performing artist in the duo 2 to Go (playing clubs and corporate events). However, what he does on this album is in a completely different league, and it is a shame this album is drowning in the attention paid to the new works of old names. Tiger Moth Tales should be, has to become, a known name at some point, but for the time being this album has every aspect in place of a cult classic.

Tiger Moth Tales and Peter Jones, two names to keep in mind.

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 Gradually Going Tornado by BRUFORD, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.43 | 73 ratings

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Gradually Going Tornado
Bill Bruford Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Bruford's end

This album appeared just one year after the well-regarded One Of A Kind, but it is nonetheless quite different in style compared to that album. While One Of A Kind was an all-instrumental album (with the exception of the annoying spoken word passage on Fainting In Coils), Gradually Going Tornado features lead vocals by bassist Jeff Berlin on several tracks. Berlin also wrote one of the album's tracks on his own and co-wrote another. The style of many songs could perhaps be called progressive Jazz-Pop and several tracks remind me of Gentle Giant circa The Missing Piece to Civilian. Another comparison could perhaps be Steve Hackett solo around Cured and Highly Strung.

Guitarist Allan Holdsworth is no longer involved here, but he has been replaced by a student of his called John Clark apparantly on Holdsworth's recommendation. Clark has learned well from the master as he does indeed sound just like Holdsworth. Dave Stewart remains behind the keyboards and the most noteworthy thing about this album for me is the ten minute plus closing track Land's End penned by Stewart. This is an altogether more symphonic piece which makes it stand out from the other tracks.

Overall, I enjoy this album less than One Of A Kind but more than the debut Feels Good To Me. This was to be the end of Bruford as a band as Bill went on to other projects after this recording including further work with King Crimson and Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (in which he brought Jeff Berlin with him) and Yes' Union.

Gradually Going Tornado is worth having but hardly an essential album.

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 Alpha Ralpha by ALPHA RALPHA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.73 | 17 ratings

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Alpha Ralpha
Alpha Ralpha Eclectic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I am always happy to find obscure prog where, while never been reissued, at least prices hasn't gone so sky high it'll break your bank account. Case in point, Alpha Ralpha, a French band that released their only album in 1977 on Warner Bros. So given its on a major label, enough copies were pressed not to make it a mega-rarity. Sadly it's never been reissued in any format, but this is the kind of prog that would be right at home on Musea, but I guess they couldn't wrestle the hands of this album out of Warner (who probably will never reissue it). Prog like this means you'll need a turntable. Great instrumental prog that really doesn't remind me of any particular prog. So many French bands get you thinking of Pulsar, Shylock, Ange, or Arachnoid, and Alpha Ralpha does not. Although members of Tai Phong and Malicorne are on the album, they leave their sounds at home. Don't let that scare you off if Tai Phong isn't your thing, although Jean-Jacques Goldman does appear, this is nothing like Tai Phong. This is largely instrumental prog, dominated by guitar and synths, with some violin, with that nice '70s vibe I like so much about this kind of music. Some jazz and world music influences (particularly from the marimba) show up. Also I noticed François Bréant (of Cruciferius, and later releasing a couple of solo albums for EGG in the late '70s) is on this album.

This is truly a great album I can highly recommend!

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 Motorpsycho + Jaga Jazzist Horns: In The Fishtank 10 by MOTORPSYCHO album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.21 | 52 ratings

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Motorpsycho + Jaga Jazzist Horns: In The Fishtank 10
Motorpsycho Eclectic Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars Oh Internet where would I be without you. Where would I do research for the shamelessly downloaded music. Now I know that the In the Fishtank is a series of projects that have one band or pair record for only two days and what the end result might be - so professional and clean this sounds. Anyway, this is a collaboration between the heavy rockers of Motorpsycho and experimental jazz outfit Jaga Jazzist. Motorpsychoes are not strangers to pop or jazz, for that matter, but this leans heavily into fusion. The album actually starts with three relaxed compositions, almost (good) elevator music (number two is a jazzed-up version of Motorpsycho's old ballad Pill, Powders + Passion Plays). On the last two track is where this starts to be adventurous. Theme de Yoyo is an aggressive piece, with mean guitar and sax runs. Tristano is a 20-minute acid jazz improv with Latin flavors, gradually building in intensity and culminating in a complete frenzy in the end.

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 Mental Notes by SPLIT ENZ album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.08 | 36 ratings

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Mental Notes
Split Enz Crossover Prog

Review by A_Flower

4 stars Mental Notes is probably one of the most underrated records of all time. It is truly beutiful and underrated. Most people know the Split Enz from their pop music though the start of there discography is an amazing prog album fronted by Phil Judd and Tim Finn

By the start of the album, you can tell this is prog. This is "Walking Down a Road." A sound fades in that almost sounds it is underwater and climbs up to drums and bass with a beutiful meldody following brought by gutair and keyboards. The beginning of this song is amazing and is good and steady, however, around the two minute mark, it sort of looses it's tempo and the rest of the song seems a little scattered. The begaining is sort of reprised done well but the second part of this song kind of looses itself. Although it does get scattered it's still quite nice

The second song on the album starts with creepy keyboard and a dark sounding intro. This is "Under the Wheel." It is seven minutes being the longest track on Mental Notes. The lyrics of this song were written by Phil Judd, and they are dark about his struggle with drug abuse and other depression problems. The melodies are dark and creepy after the first stanza and at one point through, it get's bizarre for a quick 9 seconds, they get wild and crazy and sort of insane, and in a split second go back as before. After a few moments we get Phil Judd screaming "IT'S NOT FAIR!!!!!" After this comes poetry about death. The album ends with piano and some melodies and slowing ends with the sound of a river. This song isn't the scariest ever, but quite strange and definitely a masterpiece.

The third track cheers us up more as a love song. This is called "Amy (Darling)." It is a personal favorite of mine, with an amazing melody around the minute and a half mark. At one point the song stops and you just hear crickets. The song ends with some satisfying touches. One of my favorite parts of this album.

The albums next track is "So Long For Now." This is not as good as Amy or many other tracks on the album, though it has some nice moment. Though there isn't much memorable in it.

The next track is probably the best on the album. "Stranger Than Fiction." It starts with a melody on the synthesizers and goes right into a spacy feel after this. It's like this until the minute and a half mark. When the drums take you down to a frightening part with poetry that sounds like Edgar Alan Poe and laughing babies. In the background, you here strange mechanical sounds and piano. Then you hear, Tim Finn sing-speak "It's a story, of my LIFE!" And it all explodes into it's earlier spacy feel. After a few minutes of this part, you hear children playing and Finn singing with some scatting too. This continues by a part mostly heard by the gutair and drums and a strange whistling. This is followed by the songs spacy meldies and another lyric break with more scat. The song ends with it's starting synthosizer meldody. Astonishing.

Stranger Than Fiction leads into the next song, "Time For a Change." This is slow, brought by piano. It soon erupts into more mellotron. This song ends very well, though i often listen to it right after Stranger Than Fiction, for it doesn't sound as different.

After our 9 minutes of slow and beautiful bitter sweetness, we get a very happy fun tune. "Maybe." I really LOVE this one. It's an overall guilty pleasure tune with much fun and love seen in it. Sung by both Judd and Finn, with piano leading it all. It ends with a reprising scat melody.

The next track on the album is called "Titus". They use a ukulele through this. This song is okay, but not as good as Maybe. I do love the near end of it though near 2 and a half minutes though.

And here is the grand finally, "Spellbound." Started by what sounds line a gong. Then comes a small build up over an accusitc gutair including the same whistling from stranger than fiction and piano with a few small guitar licks, it then gives us a melody and Judd sings. The song is very positive in lyrics, "The way things are, we'll get there in the end, the way things are, we won't have to pretend, that were all spellbound."

Suddenly, Spellbound comes to an end and we get the 35 second title track, ending us at a weird place.

If you're looking for an underrated prog rock album, i highly recommend this debut that was introduced to me by my aunt. And that's why I give it four stars.

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 A Deeper Silence by ROACH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.65 | 3 ratings

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A Deeper Silence
Steve Roach Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch

4 stars Sounding like the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust 'A Deeper Silence' displays all the qualities of Steve Roache's ability. Bleakness and beauty. Just the one long 74 minute track makes up this floating drone album. Beat-less, and with only the sound of keyboards you'd imagine you'd be in for a turgid forgettable experience.

You'd be wrong. 'A Deeper Silence' is one of the best electronic drone albums you'll hear. It's simplistic in approach and in execution. It's the manner in which it's done that raises one eyebrow like Roger Moore in James bond. Slow minimalistic, hazy waves at low volume permeate in the vein that you wish Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream would have done if they hadn't gone so awful after the 70's.

'A Deeper Silence' resembles the sounds of the outer edges of the solar system - where you look back at earth and see it as a tiny pin prick of light. Carl Sagan would have loved this. No beats, no rhythms where everything rises and fades into a billowing fog of darkness. It's a warm ethereal blackness that is at once disconcerting but at the same time relaxing.

''A Deeper Silence' seems to have no beginning or end. It all just merges into one huge atonal but beautiful structure that is so completely dark and quiet that you begin hearing waves as though lying on a beach. It's probably the most 'isolationist' of his recordings and may sound like a one man trip to the Sirius system in a spacecraft to some listeners.

Music without meaning. Just pure texture and sound, without anything to grab onto. Perfect in its genre and very difficult to review.

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 Santa Barbara Honeymoon by JANSCH, BERT album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.00 | 2 ratings

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Santa Barbara Honeymoon
Bert Jansch Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

2 stars Sometimes change is good. Sometimes change is bad. And sometimes change is just strange, as is the case of Bert Jansch's 1975 album Santa Barbara Honeymoon.

Recorded after Jansch's excellent first album for the British Charisma label, LA Turnaround from 1974, Santa Barbara Honeymoon sounds more like a wrong turn at times. In an effort, I would guess, to modernize his sound, Jansch utilized an obscure record producer who was a studio musician and a cast of thousands in the form of studio support players to produce an album that sounds quite polished but gives one the "who are you trying to kid?" feeling as Jansch tackles songs with male and female backing vocals that come off like a Nashville studio choir (Love Anew, When The Teardrops Fell) and horns and female backing in a swampy New Orleans jazz styled song that sounds like it was pirated from Dr.John The Night Tripper (Dance lady Dance).

This fascinating mix of styles even includes steel drums (!) on the songs Baby Blue and Build Another Band.

Like a hideous highway accident, it's hard to look away from this auto wreck, as it's just unbelievable that someone like Jansch could make an album so far out of his acoustic folk rock comfort zone.

I guess that's why I've played Santa Barbara Honeymoon about five times before writing this review. It's just too strange an album from Jansch to be ignored. But still, I cannot recommend it. If LA Turnaround puts one in a California state of mind, Santa Barbara Honeymoon will send you straight back to New York, both mentally and physically. 2 stars.

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 Kew Rhone by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.14 | 36 ratings

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Kew Rhone
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Dobermensch

2 stars I always look forward to hearing 'Kew Rhone' and am continually underwhelmed by the time I'm half way though it. With a line up of clearly talented eleven musicians you'd think you'd be in for something special. Such a pity then that they seem to continually overlap each other in the most annoying of manners. They create a messy, sprawling sound that is at once academic, clearly being a scored soundtrack, but it is difficult to listen to. It brings very little enjoyment to my decades old poor bludgeoned ears.

Apparently this album is full of anagrams and palindromes. I've certainly not heard any. Maybe it's because my mind keeps wandering to more important things like 'what time do I have to get up for work tomorrow'. I try so hard to like this but always find it ultimately boring and directionless. 'Allmusic' call this a masterpiece of 70's electronic rock. God knows why. I must have listened to this around 15 times and all I can think on is of a wizard throwing a bag full of musical notes down a flight of stairs.

Lisa Herman's vocals irritate throughout the duration with her tuneless leaping from one octave to another. I can't make head nor tail of her intentions. I can't even say she has a good set of vocals. They're all too random and willy-nilly, almost an afterthought as if she's just heard the backing track for the first time and has decided to give it a go despite the consequences.

It's all too clever for its own good. Listening to 'Kew Rhone' is like tying to decipher an algebra equation. No fun at all in other words. The separation of isotopes by gaseous diffusion is easier to understand than this.

I will admit though - it does have a great sleeve by Charles Peale called 'Exhuming the First American Mastodon'. That's as high praise as you'll get from me I'm afraid.

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 Waves by RYPDAL, TERJE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.74 | 16 ratings

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Waves
Terje Rypdal Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Dobermensch

4 stars This is one of old 'Terje's' jazzier releases. I still find it one of his best, if not 'the' best in the 6 albums I've heard by this talented Norwegian guitarist. It's all quite 'Weather Report' with that fret-less bass sound, but has a more European feel throughout.

The opener 'Per Ulv' has a great sense of production, where all instruments are heard very clearly. This is more than likely because he was on the classy 'ECM' label who barely put a foot wrong in engineering and recording techniques. Moments of amusement follow with a British 1970's quiz show theme with hilarious trumpets, it somehow remains cool, even in 2015. Still - it reminds me of 'Sale of the Century' and the early 'Blankety Blank' TV shows.

There's a nice feeling of relaxation which runs through this whole album. It's all very laid back and easy to take in one listen. Pleasant stuff indeed. Throughout 'Waves' Rypdal slowly plucks at electric guitar strings that are hugely reverbed and drawn out and sound far more modern than the year 1978 would suggest. 'Waves' makes good late night listening with lots of floating synths and sprinklings of soft percussion.

I'm sure I can subconsciously hear some good old ring modulators at play on some tracks which is always a good thing, especially on an unobtrusive jazz album.

Like all the recordings I've heard by Rypdal, this also is entirely instrumental and is no worse off for it. Vocals would only detract from the prettiness at play on this more than worthy album of Jazz Fusion. A sleepy drowse-fest.

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 Guerrilla by SUPER FURRY ANIMALS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.33 | 10 ratings

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Guerrilla
Super Furry Animals Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is SFA's 3rd full LP and it is quite the interesting conglomeration of styles and sounds with enough variety to make anyone happy at least for the duration of one track, but in most cases I think anyone would find themselves enjoying several tracks here. What the band was aiming for here was a pop oriented album. They wanted to explore many different styles and that is what happened. For me, this makes this album very enjoyable and fun, but most people might consider it a bit inconsistent because of the variety evident on the album. The one thread that holds most of the songs together on the album is that there is a strong reliance on electronic music and sounds and it is the first time the band had used a sampler (and they use it to add some original and interesting effects). The guitar is not relied upon as much on this album as it has been on other albums.

In the making of the album, the band planned on using the same producer as they had used previously, but he wanted the band to put off the album for a while so that he could rest up from being so busy producing other band's albums. SFA was way too eager to wait, so they ended up producing this album on their own. Since they were sharing the responsibilities of production, they all decided that they would have to reach a consensus as far as which of the 25 tracks that were recorded would be included on the album. They chose the tracks that were more electronic/keyboard oriented and that were more upbeat and "pop-ish" sounding. However, while the band insists on this being "a disposable pop album that you won't want to throw away" many critics insist that it is an excellent foray into psychedilia and dubbed the music "nu-psychedelic". Ghrys explains that psychedelic music should consist of more improvised material and says that all of the music here was pre-planned and has structure. So he insists that it is pop oriented.

Since the tracks are quite brief, that pop idea might hold out. However, even though the album did exceedingly well in Britain, the sounds on the album are very new and interesting, far above the typical pop sound. There are some very infectious tracks on here and there are some very experimental sounding tracks here too. Like I said, this album sports a wide variety of music, and a lot of it is very innovative. Just like most of SFA's other albums, I find this a very enjoyable album which breaks out of the mold of regular run of the mill pop more than it follows the typical pop formulas. Is it progressive though? Well probably not as much as most prog lovers would like, but I will definitely tell you it is much better than a lot of the usual sounding rock and pop music out there. I find it adventurous and interesting.

Most people seem to miss the fact that there are 2 hidden tracks on this album. The hidden track at the end is pretty much expected because it comes after several minutes of silence at the end of the last track. However, the other hidden track is in the pre-gap of the CD. If you start the CD and then hit rewind back to the first of the song and the CD will flip to the hidden beginning track, which is actually a full song and not the typical hidden track filler, so if you like the rest of the album, then you should take the time to find this track. Samples were used in unconventional ways. For example, the "Where Ever I Lay My Phone" is based on a repetitive conventional ring tone, while "The Door of This House Remains Open" is based on a processed recording of the band performing Rod Stewart's "Do You Think I'm Sexy". A lot of the music was also recorded as different situations dictated. The track "Northern Lights" is based on island rhythms that utilizes steel drums that were added at the last minute and played by the keyboardist who didn't know how to play steel drums.

I suppose the thing that would make this album lean towards the progressive genre is in the interesting methods of recording and the experiments in making popular music more interesting. While the album didn't do exceptional in the states, it was quite highly regarded and popular in Britain where it hit number 10 on the British Albums Chart. The music is definitely pop-prog in the same vein as 10CC, David Bowie or Roxy Music with sounds of glam-rock echoing throughout. I love the variety and the originality of the album, but I can't quite consider it a masterpiece. But it is better than a lot of other material out there and definitely far above they typical pop record. I see this as a strong 4 star album just as good as most 10CC albums if not better and more modern sounding and innovative. However, the band was a little put off over bad experiences from their foray into pop territory, that the next album "Mwing" would be almost a complete opposite to this being a lo-fi recording with most lyrics performed in somewhat non-existent language.

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 Milky Way Moses by TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.29 | 31 ratings

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Milky Way Moses
Tasavallan Presidentti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars In 1973 hardly anyone would guess that TP would be history within one year (for two decades). The previous year saw the departure of the original bassist Måns Groundstroem and the arrival of Heikki Virtanen, who happened to be Jukka Tolonen's cousin. The band continued as an internationally respected live act. The fourth album was recorded in London, August-September 1973, and produced by the established Peter Eden. This time the lyrics came from the pen of Jim Pembroke (WIGWAM), and the reeds player Pekka Pöyry - a notable figure in the Finnish jazz scene - stepped more into the light as a composer alongside Jukka Tolonen.

The 8-minute title track is instrumentally oriented, typical slice of TP's jazz-rock, more ballsy than focused or melodic. It seems Eero Raittinen as a vocalist is not at his best on this album. 'Caught in the Air' originates from EERO KOIVISTOINEN's groundbreaking avant/proto-prog album Valtakunta (1968), in which the fancy lyrics of the poet Jarkko Laine were sung by Eero Raittinen. The track is stretched up to 11:37 with wandering instrumental sections; I'd say there's not enough proggy innovations to justify the length of this version that clearly loses to the fantastic, psychedelically coloured original.

'Jelly' is an instrumental group effort, not much more than a jam. Pöyry's two compositions are placed in the end. 'How to Start a Day' is quite interesting especially for the paranoid vocals that approach whispering and muttering. But again, 13:47 is way too long for the thin musical contents. The most economic song 'Piece of Mind' is rather calm; nice, but unspectacular. The album came out in April 1974 when the spark had begun to die out. Tasavallan Presidentti collapsed after the summer's tours, and JUKKA TOLONEN continued his solo career with excellent Fusion albums.

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 Lambertland  by TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.16 | 66 ratings

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Lambertland
Tasavallan Presidentti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI's third album was recorded in April-May 1972. Each album saw one member being replaced; first the original saxophonist-flautist Juhani Aaltonen gave way to Pekka Pöyry, and this time the vocalist changed from British Frank Robson to Eero Raittinen, an established singer in the 60's/70's pop culture. The band's fame rose rapidly both in Finland and in England, where they toured twice. Lambertland is almost entirely composed by the guitar master Jukka Tolonen, lyrics are written by Mats Huldén (the original WIGWAM bassist). Gone is the patchwork-like nature of the previous albums, now the album is completely coherent - supposedly also conceptual, though I can't quite figure out the story - and shows the group stronger than ever with a unique personality.

The fast-tempo opener 'Lounge' is a heady cocktail of riffy and bluesy rock, improvisational jazz virtuosity, prog complexity and tight funk. Pöyry's alto sax is all over the place. For me, and many, the album's shiny highlight is the title track that starts slowly in a mystic, nocturnal way. Raittinen's powerful vocals sound truly fantastic on those looooong notes. The delicate instrumental moment that builds up from solitary hi-hat and soft guitar chords into more intense jazz-rock is amazing too. The track changes seamlessly into Pekka Pöyry's instrumental composition 'Celebration of the Saved Nine'.

'The Bargain' has a very reserved basic rhythm on top of which the semi-shamanistic, Jim Morrison reminding vocals and the light jazz doodling of the group make me think of THE DOORS of the 70's, songs such as 'L. A. Woman' and 'Riders on the Storm'. 'Dance', the other instrumental, is fine due to the flute and the occasional Medieval influences, though it has a bit too much of self-indulgent jazz- rock boasting by Tolonen. 'Last Quarters' features a charming bass line, a lot of flute, and some JETHRO TULL-ish nuances. Yeah, a nice track, even if I at first thought it to be directionless.

Without a doubt Lambertland is among the biggest prog classics of Finland, but it's not a 5-star masterpiece to me.

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 Conspiracy by CONSPIRACY album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.13 | 26 ratings

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Conspiracy
Conspiracy Crossover Prog

Review by tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I really wanted to like this album more than I do. From the moment that Open Your Eyes was released, one of the most common points of criticism regarding it was that some of the album's material, due to the tight time constraints in recording, had come from a Squire/Sherwood side-project called Conspiracy. Of course, the reliance of OYE on Conspiracy material was overstated (Yes did raid an unfinished Conspiracy album, tentatively called Chemistry, for material, but only on two tracks, "Open Your Eyes" and "Man in the Moon"), but Sherwood had definitely had definitely taken on a prominent songwriting role during those sessions, and as somebody who had always liked Open Your Eyes (maybe my enthusiasm for it eventually fell to 85% of its original level, but it never went away), I found myself intrigued at the idea of hearing more of his material. When I eventually bought Conspiracy, which collected much of the material Squire and Sherwood had worked on together during the previous decade (in addition to the OYE tracks, the album also includes "The More We Live - Let Go" from Union and "Love Conquers All," which had made it onto YesYears, as well as nine additional tracks), I figured that, at worst, I would be getting a decent collection of pop-prog/prog-pop, and that I'd like it a little more than most Yes fans did. On my first couple of listens, I didn't think the album was that great, but it didn't seem especially offensive either, and while the various songs weren't really grabbing me, it seemed to me that they at least had the potential to do so with a handful of additional listens.

Well, a handful of additional listens later, most of this material has still refused to grab me, and there came a point where I just had to accept that this is a thoroughly mediocre album, and nearly a bad one. I really like the alternate versions of "The More We Live - Let Go" and "Open Your Eyes" (here called "Wish I Knew"); the problem is that, aside from the mildly nice feelings I have towards the opening "Days of Wonder" (where Chris' vocals in the climactic line of "These are the days / the days of wonder" are a highlight), and the nice feelings I have towards "Lonesome Trail" (which does a better job than many other tracks in weaving a decent synth part in with the guitars) these are the only tracks on the album I like. It definitely doesn't help that, while two of the old Yes tracks are great inclusions, the other two were among the worst songs ever released under the Yes moniker, and they definitely don't improve here ("Man in the Moon" is still based around a cheesy descending synth riff and with the least-deserved strutting swagger a song could have, while the arena-rock ballad "Love Conquers All" still sounds like a reject from Can't Look Away). The remaining tracks, for whatever slight variations there might be in tempo or mood, are all taken from a single mold, and that mold does not make me happy in the least. The band is trying its best to have feet in both the prog world and in the pop world, but the pop aspects are undermined by a continual disregard for memorable choruses or interesting riffs (there's nothing as remotely crisp or driving as some of the better OYE moments; "Wonderlove," for instance, would be the best of the remaining tracks BY A MILE), and the prog aspects are undermined by the general lack of interesting instrumental parts (Sherwood is a decent enough guitarist but he doesn't demonstrate enough personality here to merit lead status). Plus, well, Squire and Sherwood are pretty dull as primary vocalists; I'm not sure if these songs would be much better with Anderson on lead, but having those two relegated to supporting status would be of great benefit in and of itself.

In retrospect, I suppose it's my own fault for coming into this album with any kind of expectations of decent quality, but I really thought that there was a chance that Sherwood hadn't been given a fair shake and that this side project might be secretly ok at worst. Alas, it wasn't to be, and it's the rare case of an album that just kept getting worse the more I listened to it. Now that Sherwood's more-or-less become a footnote in Yes' history, I honestly don't know the target audience for this, and I don't see why anybody other than an obsessive like myself would want to spend time listening to this.

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 Genesis Revisited : Live at The Royal Albert Hall by HACKETT, STEVE album cover Live, 2014
4.02 | 40 ratings

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Genesis Revisited : Live at The Royal Albert Hall
Steve Hackett Eclectic Prog

Review by tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The Genesis Revisited tour was nice and all, but this live album, the second one from the GR tour, is unnecessary overkill. The sound is great (a little bass-heavier than the last one, which is neither good nor bad, just interesting), and all of the performances are just fine, but there's an odd going-through-the-motions vibe to the show, as if the novelty of performing all of these old classics had given way to "Ugh, this tour's just gonna keep going forever isn't it." There are five tracks here that weren't on Hammersmith: "The Carpet Crawlers" (with vocals from Ray Wilson, who doesn't sound horrible here), "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" (basically done the same as on GR II, except with Nad Sylvan singing instead of Neal Morse), "Horizons" (the same as ever and introduced as "agnostic guitar"), "The Fountain of Salmacis" (which sounds nice but doesn't really feel like it matches any of the Genesis studio or live renditions) and "Ripples" (done in a stripped-down version with the classic solo replaced with a brief classical guitar flourish, and with great Amanda Lehmann vocals that make this version a necessity). The concert also makes one significant downgrade from its predecessor: the rendition of "Afterglow," after "Unquiet Slumbers" and "In That Quiet Earth," is done by Sylvan instead of John Wetton, and he sounds pretty wimpy in comparison (what's really strange is that Wetton was around, and he actually sang on "Firth of Fifth" immediately afterwards).

The other performances are great, of course, even if I find myself missing a bunch of the stuff from Hammersmith that was dropped to make room for the "new" stuff here (it's weird to imagine a world in which "Blood on the Rooftops" somehow became overplayed, but I guess it finally happened to Hackett and O'Toole). Every official recording of "Supper's Ready," especially at this late of a date, is a treasure in its own way (Hackett's ending solo goes a little over the top of a little over the top, but I don't mind), and everything here is worth coming back to once in a while even if somebody already has a copy of Hammersmith. And yet, the slight inescapable sense that Hackett had overplayed his hand with the GR tour occupies the album nearly from start to finish, and while that's not a crippling blow, it's enough to make me like this one a smidge less than Hammersmith (which caught this tour in ascent as opposed to its inevitable plateau and decline). If you liked Hammersmith, you may as well get this one too, but you'll probably give it a listen or two and then forget about it.

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 The Confessional Tapes by BAKER, AIDAN album cover Studio Album, 2015
5.00 | 1 ratings

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The Confessional Tapes
Aidan Baker Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

— First review of this album —
5 stars Experiments through darkness and beauty.

Aidan Baker's 2015 release "The Confessional Tapes" turns out to be both an unexpected "small wonder" and an extraordinary display of Mr. Baker's best attributes both as performer and as songwriter, compressed into ten all perfectly matched songs, which travel trough, I'm quoting Bandcamp's taggins: Ambient, Drone, Electronica, Experimental Jazz, Post-Rock, Shoegaze, Slowcore and Triphop. I, of course, will bring it closer to the Prog-World by adding Prog/Electronics , Prog´s Post/Math rock and some slight brushes with the Canterbury Scene and the Prog/Folk one.

Yes! This project leans on all kind of directions, it is as sophisticated as it is raw. Mr.Baker himself sings on some of its pieces yet every composition focuses or develops towards unexpected highlights of pure musical beauty, no matter how roughly constructed or performed or which kind of scratch (or glitch) it uses.

Ok but what makes it tick so loud? For starters, composition wise, it is flawless as it is unique. Why? Due to the fact that all those "taggins" or styles actually happen simultaneously in small fragments in each song and are transfigured into Mr. Baker´s self aquired musical ways of expression in the same proportion. And each song, although apparently uncrafted or rough, is meticulous constructed or deconstructed by these blending of crossroads with enough space to dwell freely knowing beforehand, that as in life itself, music coexists among noise and silence.

*****5 PA stars.

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 Danger World by ANYONE'S DAUGHTER album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.43 | 16 ratings

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Danger World
Anyone's Daughter Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars Even the replacement of Harald Bareth as lead singer with Andre Carswell could not by itself explain the dramatic shift in the sound of ANYONE'S DAUGHTER as they "reformed" around the year 2000 and released "Danger World". Rather, the material itself betrays a self conscious shift, to a more robust, modern rock more suited to the albeit far greater dynamics of Carswell's voice, with which I find little fault. Matthias Ulmer's keyboards, as in the original lineup, remain dominant and at times recall the original band's complexities, other than the two obvious cases when the band revisits classic songs.

While a few fine tracks emerge, specifically the enthusiastic ballads "Nina" and "I'll Never Walk that Road Again", the proggy "Helios" and the techno pop "No Return", we are also subject to some truly unredeemable material like "Good Gone Bad", "The Glory" and "Wheel of Fortune", which sound like anonymous modern rock with an above average keyboard player. The rest of the original material is mediocre, its lack of conviction magnified by the searing technique and soaring emotion of "Moria" and "Sundance of the Haute Provence", both originally appearing on their self titled second album from 1980. As a side note, I love to hear "sunbathing" correctly pronounced this time around.

From a prog perspective, there really is little to recommend here, and even from a pop or rock perspective, I'm not sold. If you must enter the dangerous world of 21st century ANYONE's DAUGHTER, I suggest doing so via the "Trio Tour" live CD, which includes the best material from this and the follow up disk "Wrong". That's assuming you have already caught up on their classics from the original incarnation.

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 Spoke of Shadows by SPOKE OF SHADOWS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.96 | 8 ratings

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Spoke of Shadows
Spoke of Shadows Heavy Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Ghostly cyclists or a storyteller relating shade, who really knows what Spoke of Shadows really means other than another sizzling experimental-prog trinket that I felt compelled to purchase in lieu of raving critiques from my three friends (yeah, Michael, John and Raffaella!) and an already strong affinity for 'sister' band Herd of Instinct. Hey, I love the bass guitar in all its forms, 4, 5, 6, 8 or Stick or Warr, fretless or not, I just adore the lower end basso profundo! Mark Cook, as his name might imply, is a master bass chef and a terrific multi- instrumentalist, also crafting intense chords from his mellotron, guitar and assorted keyboards, and he joins polyrhythmic monster drummer Bill Bachman on an inspirational musical voyage that defies pigeon-holing and easy listening tendencies. Nice mixture of silk and steel, luminosity and obscurity, cadence and cascade, if one was to ever wink at Poseidon! Yes, fans, there is a clear and present King Crimson vibe, that dark, portentous rumble many prog fans adore.

Tracks like the howling opener 'Dominion' waver between gale force riffs, Frippoid bicycle picking, daubs of mellotronic angst and complex percussive calisthenics. There is also a calculated agenda of constant change, from mood alterations and vector corrections to sudden silence and almost jazz piano musings, firmly upheld by the combination fluid bass and shimmering mellotron played here by Gayle Ellett of Djam Karet fame. Other highlights include a flickering flute from guest Bob Fisher and a delicious piano solo from a totally unexpected source (Shannon Wickline of the'gulp' Charlie Daniels Band). By the fourth track 'Harbinger', the sonic gymnastics become overpowering, defining musicians who are from another level altogether, hopping from wild to pastoral on a flick of the wrist.

The spirit of the regretted bass visionary Mick Karn is evident on the sinuous 'Pain Map', an oily roller coaster reverberation that hyperventilates the fawning fan into submission. There is a turbulent dialog between the various bass machinations and the raw guitar exhortations from guest Tony Rohrbough (Byzantine) which then bloom sideways into something the eccentric Penguin Caf' Orchestra would dream up. This is a demanding listen that will provide countless hours of repeated delight, just follow the bass man! This segues very nicely into the pastoral revelry of 'Persona', a tight little ditty that weaves complexly amid flute serenades and a 'Ya see what I mean?' bass, crowned by a Frippoid outburst, all sustain and flicker. The idea is to venture from the velvet and arrive at the sizzle. The same formula is repeated on the delectable 'Splendid Sisters', a filigreed bass repetitiously interweaving with placid mellotron carpet. Just gloriously beautiful.

Things shudder back into the 'Red' zone, with the longer 'Tilting at Windmills', a definitely more PTree like atmosphere, bouncing between lenient and inflexible without any forewarning. Bachman in particular showing percussive skills that are way beyond the norm, very close to the Bruford/Harrison/Minnerman mode. Shadowy, ominous and frightening like some distant twister, the imagery is kaleidoscopic.

A trio of shorter 3 minute pieces complete this intense offering, the solemn 'Accord' first off the blocks is heavily strapped by a humble mellotron that suggests more reflective dedication, while the more physical 'Dichotomy', machine-gun drum aiming at twisted synth loopings and a guitar assault that enjoys to forage amid the foliage . I have listened to this in the morning, mid-afternoon and late at night, each scenario fitting well into the mood generated by the rambunctious sonic onslaught.

This is silly good, at times frighteningly so, not for the faint of heart or the pop fluff aficionado. The next one is on auto-buy, another instrumental masterpiece with heavy concentration on the fetish bass, as tasty if not more so than that Herd of Instinct duo of albums. Wow!

4.5 rib of shades

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 Let's Eat (Real Soon) by HATFIELD AND THE NORTH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1974
3.96 | 5 ratings

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Let's Eat (Real Soon)
Hatfield And The North Canterbury Scene

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars I like this too forgotten band a lot, as I like the Canterbury scene in general. Their music is witty, charming, happy and humorous. Or is 'humorous' an appropriate word? The so called humour music has never much appealed to me; for example the humorous side of Frank Zappa - even as he's roughly on the same musical map, ie. jazz-rock - tends to irritate me, and Spike Jones and such sonic slapstick is just awful. Actually melancholic music has averagely a bigger chance to move me than cheerful and happy. But in Canterbury I have the best exception to that rule.

This single was released the same year as the eponymous first album; the CD edition features both tracks as bonuses. 'Let's Eat (Real Soon)' is a happy, slightly naive song in the unmistakable Hatfield style. Richard Sinclair's vocals are light and elegant as always, there's the fuzzy organ of Dave Stewart, the easily identifiable guitar tone of Phil Miller and the relaxed, jazzy rhythm. The lyrics could be frankly any nonsense and still I'd like the song, but they're very nice too.

'Fitter Stoke Has a Bath' is composed by drummer Pip Pyle (who co-wrote 'Let's Eat' with Richard Sinclair). Though he's not as prolific composer in the Canterbury scene as e.g. Sinclair and Stewart, not to mention solo artists such as ROBERT WYATT and STEVE HILLAGE, he has done some very fine songs for the two bands that in my opinion are the best examples of what Canterbury is all about. NATIONAL HEALTH's 'Binoculars' may be the best Pyle song I know, but this one's also a pleasant slice of the style, featuring Sinclair's vocals.

A proper sleeve with a cover art would be nice, but this pair of (originally non-album) songs is worth four stars to me.

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 Ballad Collection Special Edition by LANE, LANA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2000
3.95 | 3 ratings

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Ballad Collection Special Edition
Lana Lane Prog Related

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The two volumes of Lana Lane´s Ballad Collection were never released in Brazil. However, the double special edition reuniting both were. And for a reasonable low price. Lucky me! But don´t be fooled by the album´s title. Although Lana Lane always recorded ballads on her albums, this is not a collection of them. In fact, most of the tracks here could hardly be ever labeled as "ballads". Collection of slow songs? Whatever! Even the collection word may be misleading, since more than half of the entire double album´s repertoire consists of songs that are not available in any of Lane´s official studio output. Even the ones that are, are re-recordings or have alternative mixes. So Ballad Collection stands very well as an album (or albums, if you have them both separately) of its own.

As usual, what you get here is Lana Lane´s gorgeous vocal interpretations and Erik Norlander´s tasteful arrangements and crystal clear production. Ok, some progheads will balk at the too "perfect" performances and lack of long instrumental passages, but, hey!, this is a singer´s album! And fortunately Lana Lane is much more a team´s player than a diva. The musicians have lots of room to express. And what fantastic musicians they are! As is his wont, Norlander is a very 70´s influenced musician, he provides the recording with many vintage keyboards and a very organic production. He is a master player and mellotron fanatics will find lots of it over the tracks (albeit in a little more subtle and less dramatic way). Also of notice are the fine guitar lines and solos of axemen Neil Citron and Mark MacCrite. Bassist Tony Franklin also brings his fretless bass to several tunes.

I guess that Disc 2 is more progressive and interesting than disc 1 for this site, but both have many highlights and actually almost any lows.The double CD´s best track is also the only song that was recorded exclusively for this Special Edition: a poignant and minimalistic version of Marillion´s Seasons End. Lane and Norlander´s arrangement and delivering is much better than the original and thsi is easily their best ever cover of all times. But there are lots of other good moments, both original and other people´s songs. Among the latter I can point out the powerful delivering of Crosby and Nashs´s To The Last Whale.... (impressive a Capella vocal on the first segment), the beautiful When Time Stood Still (ELO) and Supertramp´s If Everyone Was Listening. On the former the superior version of Norlander´s Avalon (recorded by his band The rocket Scientists), the haunting Ghost Beside My Bed and the excellent acoustic studio rendition of Through The Fire.

Conclusion: a very fine double album that is far more than just a compilation of slow songs. Although not all the tracks will please everybody (the palette is quite wide), there are no fillers and the delivering is superb on every one of them. If melodic songs with terrific interpretations is your thing, you cannot miss this Special Edition.

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 Garden Shed by ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.85 | 141 ratings

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Garden Shed
England Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars This is another one that I missed out on when it originally came out in 1977, though I can only be partly reassured that it went unnoticed by many more fans, being that 1977 was the universally agreed death year for prog. Punks with bad teeth and worse manners entered the mainstream and kicked serious musicians in the behind and right off the main stage! In retrospect that may have been a good thing as the dinosaur mentality had crept in by then (Hello Tony Emerson and Keith Banks). England released this puppy to little fanfare, even though it is regarded in hindsight as a quirky little masterpiece, featuring a gifted talent in keyboardist Robert Webb. The cover is perhaps one of the most fascinating in prog, very English style like Robertson and Sons' Marmalade or Twining's Tea. The music is quite reminiscent of The Enid in that classic symphonics are blended with orchestral arrangements, sugared by some blatant rock multi-tracked vocalizations that can run the span between Gentle Giant, Yes, Supertramp, Genesis, Druid, Greenslade etc?

"Midnight Madness" provides exactly that kind of premise, the high pitched vocals meandering down a symphonic river, with clever little e-piano motifs that wink at Supertramp, vibraphones wrestling with slippery synths, slamming organ ushering the crew along. Of course, harmony vocals add a great amount of choral depth to the arrangements, which is easily admirable to any prog fan. High-pitched vocals almost have a Russell Mael feel (he of Sparks fame) or even Freddie of Queen. In fact, I would not be surprised if Webb and company had been influenced by the Champions. England, Queen, yeah! All in all, a thrilling introduction.

A mini-piano etude "All Alone" simply sets the table for the first section of the main opus here the "Three Pieces" suite, as such I cannot help but feel a reminder of an artist such as Anthony Phillips , meaning it's all very British, wot? "Introducing Three Pieces" is definitely symphonic in style that at times sounds a lot like Yes, what with the grandiose orchestrations and the ruthlessly trebled bass guitar, veering close to the edge in more ways than one. Drummer Jode Leigh has his Bruford tapes working nicely for him, Martin Henderson must have heard of Chris Squire, while only the guitarist Franc Holland differs a tad, being more Hacketty than Howey. Robert Webb can compete with the Wakemans, Emersons and the Greenslades of the world, a clever utilizer of all forms of ivories. The result is a brisk-paced, densely choired as all four musicians sing, reverential homage to "Close to the Edge" in a multi-hued, uncanny reworking that is ultimately enjoyable. The electric guitar has a muffled 'in a tube' sound that actually fits the mood quite well, followed by a thunderously harmonious bass solo from Mr. Henderson, Webb shuffling in his cozy mellotron to great effect, even discreet winks at snippets of la Marseillaise. The Queen/the Korgis/Sparks high pitched voice is actually cool and well performed.

"Paraffinalea" is a jaunty little affair, heavily vocalized, and doused in waves of glorious mellotron splashes as well as some coily synth loops. I actually liked the next piece a great deal, "Yellow" wallows in pastoral noodling, handled by some quality orchestrations and a Beatles-like vocal presence, a reminder of a psychedelic past that once ruled over the first prog wave. The Anthony Phillips hints are again quite clear and determined. There is even room for some brief soloing to make matters more interesting.

The tectonic plate on which this album revolves is the epic 18 minute + monster "Poisoned Youth", a scintillating composition that wastes little breath in getting the troops moving forward. The bass is up-front and brash as it leads the crew into some multifaceted territories where all is molded into a whole musical experience, tight drum attack, spooky vocalisms and the obvious colossal keyboard colorations. Paced in such a manner as to provide a slew of unpredictable peaks and valleys, wrapped in various layers of mood and contrast, this is a perfect example of a typical progressive rock epic.

Nice music ! Great cover , really!

4 Lawn barns

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 Time and a Word by YES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.27 | 1011 ratings

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Time and a Word
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars This is an album I had never heard before, losing it in the shuffle I guess, until I unconsciously thought about what Squire and Bruford were doing before 'The Yes Album', which was my Yes initiation upon its release. This oft reviewed recording needs no added comment from me, certainly undeserving after 44 year absence, other than it did provide me a huge glimpse into the burgeoning talent of the dynamic rhythmic duo. Peter Banks was certainly a gifted guitarist, rockier than Steve Howe, which can also be applied to Tony Kaye and his raunchy organ. Seeing composing credits such as Stephen Stills, Richie Havens and David Foster are certainly unsettling but so what? The songs are decent enough, certainly taking the still pubescent 1970 sound to increasingly technical heights which would blossom with the impending arrival of technology (synthesizers, multi-tracking, mellotron and classical acoustic instruments).

The Rickenbacker playing is up-front and brutal, Squire could never be accused of shyness and modesty, so I thoroughly enjoyed following his devastating runs on each and every track. Bruford was already experimenting with his simple drum kit and keeping the time like only he can. The seeds of looming genius are obvious to behold. There are sections that are deliriously entertaining, like the biting guitar, choppy organ, booming bass and frantic drum interaction followed by lots of bluesy inflections, some jazzy feel (at times it was like listening to Sade) on 'Everydays'. The opener is also a rousing affair, an orchestral megalith that blasts ahead unrepentant, directed by that nasty bass that veers the whole piece into a more-Deep Purple/Uriah Heep direction. My only negative feeling is the rather ineffectual use of orchestra, it's obvious that other producers/arrangers mastered this union of rock and orchestra much better than Misters Cox and Colton. Perhaps with Moody Blues maestro Tony Clarke, the results may have been more symphonic as opposed to the feeling of Scotch tape that hovers over the pieces. There are also moments of amateurish simplicity where things just do not mix well, such as on 'Astral Traveller', which could have been so much better.

While it would be unnecessary to further elevate the upcoming series of albums which catapulted Yes to the highest office in Progland (and basically sucked for the next 20 years!), this remains an interesting educational recording, another clear example of how quickly the scene evolved in those 'glory days' of exalted perpetual change.

3 clock lyrics

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 Echo In Light by LAMP OF THE UNIVERSE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.79 | 5 ratings

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Echo In Light
Lamp Of The Universe Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars This is one of those impulse buys about a band i knew nothing about and only took the plunge because i was hypnotized by the artwork on the album cover. I have found many a great album this way and i am happy to report that this one delivered exactly what the artwork suggests!

LAMP OF THE UNIVERSE is the solo project of Craig Williamson which was founded in 1999. He is also bassist and vocalist in the psychedelic rock band Datura. The music on this second album ECHO IN LIGHT from this solo project is a combo of freak folk, a cosmic raga rock hippy feeling like a long lost artifact from the 60s only with much cleaner production and a Floydian space rock but manages to sound different enough as to never bring the Pinksters to mind too often.

At first i thought this was a band which included a female vocalist but i was surprised to find out that this is truly a solo album where every instrument, vocal performance and production technique was by Williamson alone. Not bad! This is basically long drawn out mid-tempo acoustic guitar with tribal drumming, occasional droning of sitar sounds and spacey 60s vocals. Tracks like "Love" bring fellow Oceanic trippers Dead Can Dance to mind. The album flows well from track to track and i really only find the final track "Dream Sequence" to be longer than necessary.

For being recorded on a simple 8 track this sounds pretty damn good. This album was put out by Cranium Music which went belly up shortly after but would find a new home with Clostridium Records. This scratches the right psychedelic itch. It is highly melodic and has lots of variation to it. This is a perfect mix of spacey and triply otherworldliness mixed with nice and accessible melodic developments. Sign me up for another album. LAMP OF THE UNIVERSE did not disappoint.

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 Water Bearer by OLDFIELD, SALLY album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.82 | 21 ratings

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Water Bearer
Sally Oldfield Crossover Prog

Review by dsbenson

4 stars Water Bearer is Sally Oldfield's first album. It's a very nice listen, and fits well into the woodsy style of the vocal work she was doing in the same era with her brother Mike and with Steve Hackett.

The songs are very lyrical and not very complex. I'd actually put this in the "New Age" category with a subcategory of Crossover Prog: I think of this album in the same way that I think of Enya's music. Ethereal, very pretty. Not a lot of "prog" substance here, but it's quite nice.

A while back, I though I'd revisit Sally Oldfield and listen to the rest of her catalog. Unfortunately, my experience seems to mirror that of others' on this site, judging by the quick falloff in the number of ratings after Water Bearer. Her voice, which sounds light and ethereal on this recording, gets old very quickly on every subsequent release, especially when she lowers her register and starts to imitate Kate Bush?unsuccessfully.

However, on Water Bearer she's singing much higher in her range, which works for her well. It's too bad Sally Oldfield started relying on so much fast vibrato on later recordings, as if she and her brother were imitating each other's style: her with vocal vibrato, and Mike Oldfield with lead guitar vibrato. In Mike's playing, it works for me. In Sally Oldfield's singing, it does not.

However, here on Water Bearer she's allowing herself to sing a lot of clear notes in a high register, which gives her a very pure and listenable tone.

Musically she seems to be influenced a lot here by her brother's ostinato repeating patterns as well, which gives the music a very familiar quality that helps. I think that's why this album is the one people gravitate to. On later albums, the songwriting seems a lot weaker and closer to pop. Unfortunately, Sally Oldfield didn't have the songwriting, singing or musical style to fit into a pop idiom.

Bottom line: stick with Water Bearer, and enjoy. But beware: some recent remastered releases chopped the album down from around 45 minutes to well under 40, for some reason I cannot fathom. Avoid those like the plague. The sonic improvements from the remastering (which are present, but aren't huge) are not worth sacrificing half or more of several of the songs.

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 King For A Day by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 5 ratings

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King For A Day
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by progpositivity
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since these proggers from Norway released their promising debut "Motions of Desire". At that time, their music struck me as an enthusiastic combination of classic prog and classic hard rock. (Think Deep Purple for the hard rock side of that equation.) At their best, they offered memorable passages and pieces that sounded like they very well could have been long lost recordings from many years ago. At their worst, they sometimes fell short of filling the big shoes of the legendary bands whose music they strove to emulate. That's actually not bad for a debut album from a new prog band. I found much to like and looked forward to hearing from them again in the future.

Checking back in on them a decade later, I must say that I am very impressed with how they have developed and matured. No longer do I get the feeling that certain sections of songs are direct homages to any particular band from any one particular decade of prog's illustrious history. Their influences, while still very present and valid, are now more varied, including a greater percentage of modern reference points. More importantly, their influences are just that--merely influences rather than templates or even primary reference points.

The sound quality on "King for a Day" is superb thanks in large part to the enlistment of sonic genius Rich Mouser (whose resume includes similar work for prominent contemporaries like Spock's Beard, Transatlantic and Dream Theater).

Keyboardist Erling Hananger is an excellent addition to Magic Pie's recipe. His keyboard parts are expressive, dynamic and integral to the music. When appropriate, his leads seamlessly blend, harmonize, and work synergistically with electric guitar.

The lyrics have a melodramatic and somewhat tragic flair this time around, but this is prog so you should be accustomed to the musical ride including a few tragic tales from time to time by now, right?

OK ' so it's time for the "magic" question... A decade after their debut album, how has my impression of Magic Pie changed?

On "King for a Day", I now hear a band which has found "its own voice", one that resonates confidently in the space somewhere between classic arena rock of yesteryear (on prog-steroids of course) and modern melodic prog of the 21st Century (like Spock's Beard and The Flower Kings). Add a few dashes of modern prog-metal to taste and you, my friend, have baked up a very nice confection indeed... MAGIC PIE!

If you love modern prog anthems with big harmonies and 'sing along' choruses, give "King for a Day" a listen! I'm glad I did!

(On a side-note, it appears I now have some important 'catching up' to do. I look forward to checking out Magic Pie's 2011's release "The Suffering Joy" in the very near future!)

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 III by DEEP SPACE DESTRUCTORS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.60 | 12 ratings

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III
Deep Space Destructors Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars The third album by the Northern Finnish space rock trio features also Olli Niemitalo on black deck (I presume it means electronics). If the second album's Art Nouveau styled cover art wasn't exactly suitable to the music, as good-looking as it is, the wild, literally head-exploding, rainbow coloured, nightmarish front picture of III is doubtlessly closer to the essence of this Psychedelic Space Rock that can be referred as heavy stoner rock too.

The opening track 'Beyond the Black Star' (the shortest of the five) is really pure and satisfying Space Rock: it has a sharp edge and rock power, but the hardness doesn't take over the spaceyness. The vocals, which to me are the weak link of this band, appear only slightly in the background and without lyrics. The next 9-minute song has a lot of those blurry, angry vocals I'm not fond of at all. Luckily the instrumentally oriented slower section starting in the middle improves the track notably.

'Cosmic Burial' has a deeply psychedelic instrumental intro, reminding me of Saucerful of Secrets era PINK FLOYD, until the heavier sound and the vocals enter. I guess one has to enjoy Heavy Rock not to be disappointed with these elements on DSD's music. 'An Ode to Indifferent Universe' is the longest track (15:12) and also the most progressive. The vocals are not so blurry, and the less-heavy playing has a spacey atmosphere. The rhythm patterns are quite variable too.

The final, Finnish-language track 'Ikuinen alku' (= Eternal Beginning) starts with a brief, preaching speech about our planet's doom. The song itself is not among the highlights. Well, I guess as a whole this one isn't clearly better than the second, even if there are stronger moments. Surely this can be recommended for friends of hard-rocking Psych/Space that don't mind unsophisticated vocals.

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 Contraction by FATHER YOD AND THE SPIRIT OF '76 album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Contraction
Father Yod And The Spirit Of '76 Krautrock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars 1974 was a busy year for FATHER YOD and his little sunshine Aquarian cult commune. Not only did they perform their all their proper Utopian hippie duties but they had their own recording studio and churned out seven albums. Four under name Ya Ho Wa 13 and three under the first rendition of the band FATHER YOD AND THE SPIRIT OF 76. This album CONTRACTION is the second release of the year and the third overall after their 73 debut.

This is very much a product of its time when communes and religious cults were sprouting up like daisies in a horse pasture. FATHER YOD was the charismatic leader who kept his following up in the Hollywood Hills but while most cult activities are fairly obscure and well, occult, this group was happy to record this music and release it to the public albeit in small numbers at the time. CONTRACTION is really nothing more than a 26 minute religious sermon with FATHER YOD ranting, raving and pontificating about his message of visualizing about "Pulling In The Energy" that the girl singers in the background belt out in unison.

The music itself reminds me of the freak folk of early Comus especially in the flute department with the tribal drums, however the guitars provide kind of a funkiness to the sound at least for the first three quarters of the sermon before the final freakout. Despite the Comus similarities this is nowhere even close to the inventiveness and utter brilliance that that band delivered on "First Utterance." Musically this is pretty weak for the most part with only the freakout at the end being of interest. During that part the guitars and bass get spastic and create a pure psychedelic sound that proves the band can play and if it weren't for FATHER YOD's horrible vocals marring the band's progress perhaps this could truly be the Utopia they envisioned.

While this is mostly weak musically, i find this fascinating from a sociologist's point of view. Cults are strange little microcosms of consciousness that create some bizarre dynamics and while it could be argued that all religions are cults, these small communes of the 70s are just plain weird, but weird in a cute fuzzy way (beard joke intended!) FATHER YOD is utterly hilarious in an unintentional way when he shouts out phrases like "keep it shakin," "groove on" and "reach out and git it, man!" After the freakout at the end he also draws parallels with St. Nick with all the goodies on his back referring to the energy that is supposed to liberate you from this planet by delivering the ultimate consciousness to escape the limitations of this world. After all this fun stuff we end with a gospel service with more ranting about Jesus with the accompanying female backers following suit by shouting a litany of "oooo oooo's and Jesus."

The music of FATHER YOD is generally listed under Krautrock or psychedelic rock and this is to a certain degree but the later albums by Ya Ho Wa 13 are much trippier and closer to what you would expect from these labels. This, like i have already stated, is pretty much a mildly trippy religious sermon designed to inspire the tribe. I also find it hilarious that every member has adopted the last name Aquarian with the funniest names being Aquariana Aquarian and Sunflower Aquarian. It doesn't get any hippier or dippier than this and although everyone here is dead serious it just seems to me more like a spoof from National Lampoon or Monty Python! Unintentionally hilarious and woefully unessential but surprisingly entertaining upon first listen :) 2.5 rounded down

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 Covers Collection by LANE, LANA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
3.07 | 6 ratings

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Covers Collection
Lana Lane Prog Related

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Anyone who is familiar with the work of Lana Lane knows that she and her band, lead by her husband, keyboardist extraordinaire Erick Norlander, always recorded one or two covers on each of her albums. Most of the time those covers were so good it was only a matter of time before they decided to record a whole CD of them. And why not? They are one of few artists who seem to tackle any song, even overplayed classic stuff, and do a respectful, almost note by note version and still give it a fresh and exciting extra,something really hard to find.

So expectations were quite high when this CD was finally released in 2003. And did it live up to those expectations? The answer is both yes and no. The problem here seems to be the fact that those guys are maybe too talented for their own good. And as much gifted and sharp as they are, not everything they touch becomes gold. Cover Collection´s main fault is the choice of material: while covers of such classics like Led Zeppelin´s Kashnir, Kansas The Wall and Rainbow´s Stargazer seem pretentious, they are actually the best cuts, proving once and for all that these musicians may aim very high and get away with it. On the other side, Lana Lane and company also chose some obscure, lesser known songs from bands like Enuff Znuff, Aviary, Giant and TNT, plus some not very good stuff from Queen, Scorpions and Uriah Heep.

It is clear that no song here is bad. Norlander´s tasteful arrangements and Lane´s incredible voice give at least a "good" rating for every single track, even the weakest ones (Argent´s Hold Your Head Up is definitely not a good song for her voice) . However, there are too many ballads and too few rockers, something that spoils the balance of the tracklist. In all, the album starts great and ends great, but the middle section is definitely below par, something that even the crystal clear production and engineering (again done by Norlander himself) could not help.

In the end I must say I like this album. After all, it´s all very well done and clearly they love and respect everything they recorded. What is a letdown is realizing the fact that, with a little more care for the best tunes to cover, they could have come up with an excellent CD.They can handle even the most intricate challenges and should have been bolder. As it is, however, Cover Collection turned out to be "only" very good.

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 Trio Tour by ANYONE'S DAUGHTER album cover Live, 2006
3.09 | 3 ratings

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Trio Tour
Anyone's Daughter Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars The version of German act ANYONE'S DAUGHTER that was reformed around the beginning of the millenium seems stalled at two studio releases, perhaps because it was able to convince neither old fans nor a younger audience of its viability. Nonetheless, their more straight forward rock approach with concessions to pop and electronica, and nods to a full on proggy past deserves better than a dishonorable discharge from whatever implements are now being used to connect ear and artist. But what of a quasi acoustic version with the singer, guitarist and keyboard player alone? Lore has it that the band was merely compiling a video to promote a tour in this configuration when they sensed that the medium might indeed be the message, and "Trio Tour" was born.

While the DVD portion consists of a mere 4 tracks identical in sound to those on the CD, it also serves to confirm the intimacy that one feels when surrounded by these three gentlemen, two of whom I should note are original members of the band that sold 120,000 records in their heyday of 1979-1983. No bass or drums are present but the sound remains textured, at times even dense. Apart from the voice of André Carswell and the largely acoustic guitars of Uwe Karpa, it's really Matthias Ulmer's arsenal of keys that steals the show for better or worse. Usually his considerable chops win the day but occasionally they are like a tugboat trying to lift the titanic, especially on endemically weak numbers like "The Wrong", "Without You", "Miscellaneous" (based unsuccessfully on a riff in "La La", off the 1982 album "In Blaue"), or the Celtic misfit "Porth Mhuirghesa".

The best tracks here bust right out of their studio conventionality: "Far Away" and "Nina" benefit most from the sparkling acoustic backing, while "I'll Never Walk that Road Again" strikes a mood more appropriate to its surroundings than in its original incarnation. Both "Helios" offerings are at least the equal of their studio versions, but it's the rendition of "Adonis II - The Disguise" that tips the scales. At a mere 2:52, it simultaneously reaffirms the compositional and technical mastery of the group's early years while affirming that they "still got it". What's shocking is that the audience doesn't seem to recognize it until the vocals kick in over halfway through, because the progression is faithful even if the instrumentation is dramatically altered. The final encore is a pleasant piano dominated version of their classic prog-pop anthem "Der Plan".

If you have not caught up with ANYONE's DAUGHTER since their reformation in 2000, I recommend this live offering over either of the studio releases, but don't expect another "Adonis" or even a "Neu Sterne". Sadly, it seems that it's just not in der plan.

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 D by DEUTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.83 | 29 ratings

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D
Deuter Krautrock

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

5 stars Georg Deuter is a German born New Age instrumentalist who has released more than 60 albums to date since beginning his musical journey back at the start of the early Seventies. However, his debut album `D' in 1971 was a far cry from the placid and pleasing synth soundtracks he would later adopt, instead it's a pure daring Krautrock classic that sounds like no other album. Deuter's debut is comprised of a series of schizophrenic and psychedelic sound collages, mixing everything from electronic organ drones, acoustic and ethnic instrumentation with inventive production techniques for the time and avant-garde experimentations that are initially bewildering and disorientating, yet utterly fascinating and captivating, truly the result of an inspired artist with a reaching vision.

The surreal four part fifteen-minute `Babylon' is a fragmented and psychedelic work of beauty, a frequently ambient but often jarring and unpredictable soundscape. Pink Floyd- like brooding spacey guitars chime over a gentle cacophony of church bells, babies crying, machine-gun fire and soaring jets. Murmuring bass lurks behind distorting repetitive mantra-like guitar stabs, ethereal glistening organs rise and fall around backwards effect slivers and warping swallowing voices that float amongst cocooning deep space loneliness. This piece shares a similar defiant edge of anything goes that the early Vangelis albums had and the cosmic yet earthy ambience of Popul Vuh.

The rest of the first side contains the plodding `Der Turm/Fluchtpunkt', a compact but heady concoction of tabla beats, panning effects and wailing wordless siren calls, with eerie straining Gong-like glissando wisps and fuzzy guitar-fuelled chugging grooves to bring a Can-esque dirty stomp.

Frantic, heavy grinding sitar drones race through the ten minute opener of the second side `Krishna Eating Fish and Chips', gradually speeding up to become overwhelming, hypnotic and almost maddening. Around the bubbling atmospherics of `Atlantis', a mix of snaking hissing electronic drones, a drumming pattering of tabla-like beats, shimmering unearthly sighs and backwards effects truly sound like a duelling storm between Heaven and Hell. The opening passages of `Gammastrahlen-Lamm' emerge like a bad nightmarish trip, but piercing droning slices, chittering whispers and reverberating machine hum quickly gives way to a thoughtful and melancholic pulsing organ drift that ends up almost meditative and enveloping.

Take your pick - Is this Krautrock, avant-garde, progressive-electronic, world/ethnic music, psychedelic? The answer is purely none of the above and yet all these things at once and more. Despite its many freeform elements, `D' never collapses into manic, splintering and tuneless chaos, instead retaining a trace of subtle melodicism within its explorations, and despite a few moments that take on a `hippie' vibe, there's a constant restlessness, an intensity bubbling under throughout even the most mellow moments. Although the artist would later take his music in a very different, more sedate New-Age direction (which has endeared him to a great many fans around to the world to this very day, to which he should still receive respect for), this evocative, fragile little jewel is easily the equal of the early Seventies Krautrock-electronic hybrid albums such as `Atem', `Alpha Centauri' and `Irrlicht' from fellow German artists like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, and is just as ground- breaking and influential in its own little way.

An essential Krautrock release worthy of five stars.

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 Suiciety by METHEXIS album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.01 | 18 ratings

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Suiciety
Methexis Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Nikitas Kissonas is back! This talented Greek blessed us back in 2011 with his debut "The Fall Of Bliss" which really impressed me, it was really a one man show with Nikitas taking care of almost everything but the drumming where thankfully he didn't use a drum machine but brought in a real drummer. This time it's much different with many musicians helping out including a brass quintet, a string quintet and guests from bands such as THE ENID, ANGLAGARD, AGENTS OF MERCY, BIRDS & BUILDINGS and more. I will say I actually enjoy Nikitas' voice more than Joe Payne's but that's just me. This is a concept album, sort of a commentary on today's society with the clever title of "Suiciety".

"Ruins" opens with 2 minutes of atmosphere with spacey sounds before the music turns even more spacey with whispered words. Spoken words follow then he's almost singing. What a great way to start. "Remember Fear's A Relic" opens with strummed guitar before bass and a full sound take over. The organ really stands out and we get horns as well. Passionate vocals join in and they become high pitched before 3 minutes reminding me of 3RD DEGREE. Catchy stuff. It turns surprisingly jazzy before 5 minutes followed by some killer organ. It sounds like they are having a party on this one. "The Windows' Cracking Sound" is a short piece with almost spoken vocals and sparse sounds before the drums kick in late and dominate. It ends as it began. "Who Can It Be?" starts with horns sounding medieval as almost spoken vocals arrive around a minute. The horns take over once again as these two themes are contrasted. A jazzy vibe before 4 minutes then drums and horns lead 5 minutes in before it turns surprisingly heavy. Nice. "The Origin Of Blame" opens with pulsating piano and vocals before the organ arrives 1 1/2 minutes in with a fuller sound. Back to the piano and vocals quickly though. Some theatrical vocals here then it kicks back into gear before 3 minutes and they seem to be having lots of fun.

"Prey's Prayer" is a PINK FLOYD-like tune with those lazy guitar melodies. Horns arrive around 5 minutes to the end replacing the guitar. "Sunlight" opens with guitar expressions then strummed guitar after a minute as reserved vocals join in as well. Strings 2 1/2 minutes in then it turns fuller 4 minutes in followed by a heavier sound. The song ends in such a good way as an earlier theme with vocals is repeated. "The Relic" starts with acoustic guitar as vocals and strings join in. This is beautiful and when the vocals stop briefly and the bass and piano come in it continues to be gorgeous and really emotional for me. A heavier instrumental section kicks in with electric guitar before 3 1/2 minutes before stopping suddenly before 5 minutes and you here someone exhale. The opening theme is back to end it. What a song! "Suiciety" has lots of beats to start and it turns fuller just before we get a calm. Heavy percussion, strings and more kick in then another calm before 4 minutes then it builds to a powerful soundscape. Vocal melodies come in over the final minute.

I listened to the debut today just for a fresh comparison and to my ears these two albums are very comparable with this new one being slightly better. Both are well worth tracking down, thanks Nikitas!

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 How Strange, Innocence by EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY album cover Studio Album, 2000
2.82 | 44 ratings

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How Strange, Innocence
Explosions In The Sky Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

2 stars EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY started out under the name Breaker Morant in Austin, TX in 1999 but soon changed their name and wasted no time in releasing their first album HOW STRANGE, INNOCENCE in 2000. Originally only with 300 copies released in the form of CD-Rs, the album has since been remastered and released as a full-fledged album. I have this newer version and it even dons a much prettier album cover of a nice blue landscape with a little edifice and strange looking clouds hovering above.

While i love post-rock, i am quite underwhelmed by this debut. EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY implies some kind of explosive excitement in its band name but there seems to lack any such thing on this debut. In fact this is pretty much post-rock by the numbers and to me sounds like Mogwai light. The album incorporates a lot of the post but seems to leave out the rock on this one unlike their future releases. What we get are some nice and pleasant guitar riffs that play on and on and reach a climax but nothing on this one really satisfies.

This album was released in 2000 well after other post-rock greats like Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Tortoise were doing much more interesting things. If you are a fan of minimalism then you may like this one but i just find it a tad underwhelming. The variety is almost nil and the mood building episodes notorious of post-rock doesn't build many mountains, but considering this music comes from the moderately hilly landscape of central Texas, then i guess it perfectly suits the band's surroundings. A pretty average album in my book. 2.5 rounded down

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 The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe - A syNphonic Collection by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.57 | 34 ratings

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The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe - A syNphonic Collection
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars Having discovered the Colossus Project's put out by Musea Records with the excellent 'The Stories Of H.P. Lovecraft: A SyNphonic Collection' i decided to dive in once again randomly and check out another compilation that came out two years early. Part of the same exact theme of taking a literary figure and setting them to his life's work, i decided to try the similarly laid out THE TALES OF EDGAR ALLEN POE: A SYNPHONIC COLLECTION. Unlike the Lovecraft set which contains a whopping three discs of music, this one has only two but two filled to the brim ones they are. Not exactly familiar with POE's tales of mystery and the macabre i wasn't exactly sure what to expect except some serious prog that is symphonic in nature. Well, that's what we get alright, but unlike the Lovecraft set that blew me away on first listen and continued to retain its strong character, i can't say the same for this one.

Right from the start we get a lengthy 'Intro' by Marco Lo Muscio, which sounds like a Bach inspired church organ that sets the mysterious vibe that is supposed to be the theme here i guess. Not a bad 'Intro' at all and ushers in the next strong track 'The Black Cat' by Senogul that takes the baton and continues the mysterious mood building and progifies it. This is a really cool track by a band i never knew and am eager to check out more of their output. The track is the epitome of symphonic prog and has satisfying time sig changes, keyboard outbursts and creative changes. At this point i'm very pleased i bought this!

This attitude changes with the next track though. 'A Descent Into The Maelstrom' by La Th'orie des Cordes is a decent track but lacks the interesting touches and seems more like a symphonic prog by the numbers piece. The next track is one of my favorites. The Canadian prog metal band Oracle delivers the most energetic and satisfying track on the album IMHO in the form of 'Tall Tale Heart.' Unfortunately after investigating, this band has not released any album and only three tracks that appear on three separate compilations this being one of them. Well, unfortunately the tide turns here and the rest of disc one devolves into decently done but hardly outstanding tracks that tend to wear out their welcome. Disc one ends with a particularly limp track by Jinetes Negros.

Disc two begins a lot like disc one with some Baroque sounding organ by Jukka Kulju which quickly turns into a decent mid-70s Genesis feel track but never really goes anywhere truly interesting and meanders on and on way too long. The next track by Anima Morte is ok but not outstanding but followed by the jazzy 'The Gold Bag' by Blank Manuscript which is a much better track and another of my faves. It is short but sweet and although not significantly different than much of this album it just has a slight edge over the rest in keeping things more interesting. The rest of disc two treads the waters of mediocrity much in the same way that disc one does with the exception of the excellent finale by Daal 'The Fall Of The House Of Usher' which at 16:18 is the longest track on the entire compilation but this track is available on their 'Echoes Of Falling Stars' album so nothing new for me.

Overall i am disappointed with this one. It is worth owning for the few strong tracks and really the rest of the tracks are mostly decent with only a few that are irritating but i have read that this is one of the weakest offerings in the Colossus Projects and i have to agree so i will sally forth into the great unknown and when i pick up the next one and hope it is indeed better than this one.

In case you're wondering here is the whole list of Colossus Project released so far:

Tuonen Tytar: A Tribute To Finnish Progressive (2000)

Kalevala - Finnish Progressive Rock Epic (2003)

The Spaghetti Epic - Six Modern Prog Bands For Six Seventies Prog Suites (2004)

Odyssey - The Greatest Tale (2005)

The Colossus of Rhodes (2006)

The 7 Samurai - The Ultimate Epic (2006)

The Spaghetti Epic 2 - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly (2007)

Treasure Island (2007)

Giallo! One Suite for the Murderer (2008)

The Empire and The Rebellion (2008)

Dante's Divine Comedy Part I - Dante's Inferno (2009)

Dante's Divine Comedy Part II ? Purgatorio (2009)

Rökstenen - a Tribute to Swedish Progressive Rock of the 70's (2009)

The Spaghetti Epic 3 - The Great Silence (2009)

Tuonen Tytar-A Tribute To Finnish Progressive Rock Of The Seventies - Volume Two (2009)

Iliad: A Grand Piano Extravaganza (2010)

THE TALES OF EDGAR ALLEN POE: A SYNPHONIC COLLECTION (2010)

Decameron-Ten Days In 100 Novellas - Part I (2011)

The Stories Of H.P. Lovecraft: A SyNphonic Collection (2012)

Decameron - Ten days in 100 novellas - Part II (2014)

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 The Black Swan by JANSCH, BERT album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.00 | 3 ratings

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The Black Swan
Bert Jansch Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars What a difference a decade makes.

In what I believe is the late Bert Jansch's last recorded album, Black Swan, is as good as anything he has produced in the sixties and seventies, and is light years above his highly vaunted "return to form" album, 1995's When The Circus Comes To Town. The Black Swan is everything that When The Circus Comes To Town was not . Whatever it is that inspires gifted artists to raise their game was definitely evident on this album as Jansch's songwriting is once again stellar and his guitar playing, though still a bit restrained, is as impressive as ever with Jansch occasionally but briefly taking off in flights of fancy that come to close to Flamenco styles runs along with his ever present percussive string pops and his basic ability to sound like a guitarist born with an extra hand.

Jansch's voice shows only a sliver of hoarseness, which is amazing considering the abuse he had put it through. Indeed, it makes songs like the title track even more heartfelt with his world weary delivery

The title track is also the album's lead off song and it's one of Jansch's best. Just Bert and his guitar explaining about the hopelessness of space travelers searching for a new home. The Black Swan is their vehicle, and the planet they have escaped is no logner habitable. (Earth in the future?). A beautifully mournful cello accompanies this song along with ominous percussion that sounds off in the song's coda.

High Days is a Jansch remembrance song of a long ago love that brilliantly features just Bert and his guitar.

When The Sun Comes Up is a Jansch original song by guest vocalist Beth Orten, who has a beautiful voice with a slight hoarseness similar to Janschs' and it complements his own very well, especially on the traditional song Watch The Stars, which is song as a duet and is an old Pentangle standard that was originally sung by Pentangle member and past Jansch solo collaborator, the late great John Renbourn.

Jansch also resurrects his signature Pentangle song A Woman Like You which is infinitely more soulful and heartfelt this time around, and is given a country lilt thanks to a change in the song's arrangement by Jansch.

Bring Your Religion and Texas Cowboy Blues give Jansch a chance to rock out with a full rhythm section and deft slide guitar work from guest player Richard Wood. Both songs also give Jansch a chance to be topical, especially on Texas Cowboy Blues, which is an unabashed swipe at the then presiding Bush policies regarding the Iraq invasion.

Madellina's Dance is a banjo duet with Jansch and guest player Paul Wasif that also features flute from guest Maggie Boyle. It's not the best instrumental that I've ever heard forn Jansch but it's a good set up for closing track Hey Pretty Girl. Another quality Jansch original featuring just Bert and guitar performing the the guitar wizardry stated in my opening. Great stuff and a wonderful return to form from one the greatest, and deeply missed, acoustic guitar masters. 4 stars.

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 The Grey by AGALLOCH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2004
2.05 | 26 ratings

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The Grey
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I definitely wouldn't call this Agalloch's worst album or E.P. simply because it doesn't really represent their sound. This is a band that has always been open to experimentation and not to remain locked into a certain particular sound like Doom Metal. They are definitely inventive and explorers of their genre and that is what elevates them above the norm. That is also part of what makes them progressive.

The tracks on this E.P. are both long and are both instrumental reinterpretations, or breakdowns if you will, of 2 tracks from The Mantle LP. "The Lodge (Dismantled)" is an excellent rehash of the original that starts out exploring the main riffs and feeling of the track. This is a more straightforward track that starts out sort of repetitious but soon develops into quite a moody dark piece that echoes the color of the title of the EP. This is a heavier piece than the 2nd, but it is still quite light compared to some of their other music and is still an experimentation of an already established piece. The heaviness is still quite blissful and strangely relaxing in a way. There are touches of dronework here, but not quite, more in the feeling of the piece then the actual performance.

The 2nd track is completely experimental. It is "Odal (Nothing Mix)" which is an appropriate name for this version. The sounds are electronic and ambient, quite a change from the previous track here, but it is still dark and brooding, a lot like a Bass Communion track but not as minimalistic. There is some structure to the track, but not much. It is still a great track for listening to on a stormy afternoon as it matches the mood.

This is not a very representative recording of the band as it is too experimental. But that is what keeps things interesting for me. Not my favorite exploration either, but still good enough when the mood is right. The music is dark and matches the title of the album. Not for everyone, but still interesting enough, I would have to rate this at 3 stars, but I love the fact that the band keeps things interesting. If this is your first Agalloch album, don't base your opinions about them solely on this album. Just be ready for experimentation and ambience here.

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 Green Naugahyde by PRIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.79 | 47 ratings

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Green Naugahyde
Primus Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Les and Larry from Primus returned after a leave of absence and was joined by Jay Lane as new drummer. Jay had worked with Les before with other bands and also as a session musician. His drumming style fits right with the quirkiness of Primus' sound and works very well. The sound of the album is reminiscent of the better Primus albums, which is a great thing. The only thing really lacking here is that the vocals are kind of pushed back into the mix and not so upfront as they were before. This can at times give Les' vocals a softer sound. Other than this, it's still the same great Primus sound as before, heavy on the bass, crazy on the guitar and drums, off the wall on the lyrics. That's what we all love about Primus.

We start off with a short introduction and immediately are whisked into the zaniness of the band with the rousing opener "Hennepin Crawler". Immediately we see that Primus has returned, but it's obvious that the vocals are not as up front as before. "Last Salmon Man" is part of the Fisherman's Chronicles and is more of a blues done Primus style song, a lot like the Fisherman's Chronicle song on "Sailing the Seas of Cheese", at least in style, but otherwise it is a song of it's own and one of the standouts on here. "Eternal Consumption Engine" is a cool and whacky sounding song, "Tragedy's a Comin'" is a funky-upbeat extravaganza. Up to this point, the songs don't fail to disappoint.

Next you have "Eyes of the Squirrel" which is a funny way to think of big brother, and the most of the last half of this song moves into space rock territory with it's shift to psycehdelia Primus style. This sound continues and opens up the next track with a different psychedelic sound before the lyrics finally start well into the song. "Extinction Burst" is another great standout track, heavy on the bass, funk, crazy guitar with some whacked out reggae back beat among the chaos, and a cool start-stop instrumental break at the end which develops into a great guitar solo and Primus style jam. The rest of the album follows suit with both great music and a few not so great ones, but overall, it is better than "Antipop" which wasn't bad, just not as good as before.

There isn't a lot of progression in the sound here other than just returning to the quirkiness of before, no real change. As much as I love Primus, it would be nice to have something new and exciting and not always the same sound. Yes they still go off on their usual zany songs and have cool surprises, but overall, it's the same sound as before. I love the sound, yes, but a little more exploration and inventiveness would have made this a 5 star album. Yes it's got the usual progressive sound as before, it just doesn't progress beyond the typical Primus sound. It's still an excellent album though, so 4 stars is what it gets.

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

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

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