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CAIRO

Cairo

Symphonic Prog


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4 stars Never heard of these guys? Well..theyīr highly professional...great musicisians good songs...superp arrangements...its like Kansas,Starcastle& ELP rolled into one band.Conclusion: not much new here,but plenty of good tunes and great musicianship........go buy!!! Tlarz

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Send comments to Tonny Larz (BETA) | Report this review (#1345)
Posted Thursday, November 27, 2003 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
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Prog Folk
2 stars If it wasn't for the ELP rip-off on the last number this would rate even lower with me. Typical US hard prog from the mid-90's that hold no interest for me . bands such as shadow Gallery and Magellan and this one bore me to death and are so noisy that I can't go to sleep on them . Just annoying

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#1349)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
kirklott@comc
4 stars If you're a fan of progressive rock, chances are you've been lonely at times since the 70s. But the fact is prog is alive and well, and Cairo makes great music for the genre today. Like classic prog, Cairo's debut album is blend of short songs and long (ranging from about 2 to 20 minutes), dizzyingly fast instrumentals and ethereal sound washes, and great musicianship. Indeed listening to keyboardist Mark Robertson, you'll swear it's Keith Emerson himself at ivories; in fact Emerson has listed Cairo as one of his favorite bands. The rest of the band is top notch too, in particular lead singer Bret Douglas, whose voice has hints of Jon Anderson and John Wetton, yet is totally unique. The only disappointment here is that Silent Winter and World Divided are somewhat too commercial, but the remaining tracks are 5-star no-holds-barred prog guaranteed to please most fans. Enjoy!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#1351)
Posted Thursday, June 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Originality? Close to zero point zero. Yes, they have listened to ELP (at least the keyboardplayer) and they seem to be tributary to 90125 - era Yes, like a lot of other US 90's prog, like Magellan and Shadow Gallery. But... it has to be said, the compositions are fine, the music is compelling, the production is splendid. The music is a bit on the commercial side sometimes, in the last track a bit on the freaky side (100% Emerson proof). This is all true, but if you're ever in need of music that makes the sun shine again, uplifting music, than this is a fine album. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Send comments to Moogtron III (BETA) | Report this review (#1352)
Posted Tuesday, August 03, 2004 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Cairo's debut album proved a rather challenging listen for yours truly, as I was often impressed by the band but also had to endure lengthy spells of boredom. Not as heavy as the prog-metal brigade and nowhere near as diverse as the best 90s prog bands (and thus unlikely to appeal to fans of either), Cairo nonetheless did manage to produce some worthy music.

The album opens with a brief and forgettable instrumental Conception that segues into Season Of The Heart, which always reminds me of some of the more pleasant songs on Yes' Union album (The obvious influences of Yes, ELP and, to a lesser extent, Rush throughout the album are pretty hard to ignore). Despite the presence of a quartet of talented musicians (I'm not really fond of lead singer Bret Douglas' vocals which are a poor imitation of Queensryche's Geoff Tate's) the man who gradually emerges to take control of the Cairo sound is keyboardist Mark Robertson and he offers a few hints of his talents in Season Of The Heart.

My favourite Cairo song is Silent Winter, which has that same sort of stuttering keyboard string riff that made Led Zeppelin's Kashmir so distinctive. Despite some overplaying from guitarist Alex Fuhrman (many would argue that his mindless metal shredding sets the group back quite a bit), Robertson rescues the instrumental interlude in the middle of the song with some stunning playing that would not have been out of place on a Yes album of the 70s.

Despite it's awesome Emersonian keyboard passages, Between The Lines is a rather rambling song with a weak chorus, and the damage continues with the bland ballad World Divided, which nonetheless contains some glorious synth leads from Robertson (which you will only hear if you can stay awake through the first 5 minutes of the song).

The album concludes with the 22-minute opus Ruins At Avalon's Gate. The music for this song is written solely by Robertson and sees him throw in everything but the kitchen sink, reaching a level of pomp and bombast that even Keith Emerson would have been proud of. Moving glibly from Hammond organs to pianos to Moog-like synths, Robertson puts on a show that would have had him hailed as a genius if only Emerson hadn't charted similar waters more than two decades earlier. Despite its blatant antecents, it is still a great piece of progressive music that almost keeps this album's head above water. ... 45% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#1353)
Posted Sunday, February 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An Excellent Album that's been underrated so far . Try some more spins! It'll grow significantly .

Many have said that CAIRO is heavily influenced by ELP. In a way, this statement is true. But, musically, CAIRO music is influenced heavily by Genesis, Yes, Saga, Marillion and Steve Hackett music. At musician level, the band's keyboardist Mark Robertson has been heavily influenced by Keith Emerson in style. This is where most people claim the ELP influence. Yes, there are some segments that sound ELP vein but it's not that much as compared to Genesis or Marillion influence. The last track may deserve a similarity with ELP music but it's not really - because Cairo music is filled with stunning guitar work; not only keyboard / organ.

The album opens with an overture that comprises an instrumental piece "Conception" for approximately 2 minutes duration. Musically, it's in the vein of Genesis "Wind and Wuthering" album. The lead guitar forms the melody structure of this overture accompanied with a multi-layer keyboard sound. It's an excellent opening and sets an overall tone of the album.

"Season of the Heart" opens with a rhythm section in the vein of Saga with more textures on keyboard sound. When voice line enters the music, its vocal quality reminds me exactly to the lead singer of Mike Rutherford's firs solo album "Small creep's Day" - Noel McCalla or GTR vocalist Max Bacon. It's the vocal quality similar to GTR's "When The Hearts Rule The Mind". Musically, this song has a very strong influence of classical music and the 70s prog rock. Guitar solo by Alec Fuhrman is truly stunning, backed up with an excellent keyboard work. This song has a good song writing and excellent arrangement. Here we have a precious and intimate tune.

When the CD reaches track 3 "Silent Winter" - something struck into my mind. Some chords played by the keyboard remind me to the arrangement performed by other artist. It took me a long time until I found what I mean with this. Yeah . I gotcha! You know what? The chords you hear at approx min [0:45] produced by keyboard - and it's repeated in some segments throughout the song is exactly the same with track 2 of Abbfinoosty "The Storm" called "Interstellar". (Refer to my review of this album in this site). You will definitely agree with what I've found here because the chords are exactly the same. Plagiarism? I don't know. But, who copied who? Well, looking at release date, this debut album of CAIRO was released 2 years before Abbfinoosty. Overall, "Silent Winter" is an excellent track with tight composition and melodic.

"Between The Lines" starts off with an ELP like keyboard sound at the opening part but when the voice line enters the music, the keyboard turns into another style different with what Emerson used to play. Electric guitar plays an important role in providing the textures of this song combined with excellent Emerson like keyboard work. I think, in this track the two instruments: guitar and keyboard play very dominant role in forming the music and all of them are performed in relatively fast tempo. It's truly rocking man! I don't understand if people who claim themselves as proggers do not love this wondefully crafted song.

"World Divided" begins with a bluesy nuance guitar style augmented with piano sound to accompany voice line laid over a nice melody. This song turns symphonic in nature especially during breaks between singing passage. Bret Douglas demonstrates his vocal quality backed with electric guitar fills and melody. The interlude part, i.e. in the middle of the track, guitar and keyboard are given much more alternate roles. The music gradually moves toward an increasing tempo and maintaining the symphonic nature. The composition is really top notch.

The concluding track "Ruins At Avalon's Gate" is an epic that takes 22 minutes to complete. It consumes one side of LP format - like those of Triumvirat's "Illusion on Double Dimple" album. Composition-wise, I fully agree that this track is heavily influenced by ELP especially on the way keyboard is played. Mark does a wonderful job here. Some people may say that this is an ELP rip-off, but for me I really enjoy it very much because there is no such thing similar, melody-wise, with ELP. So, I don's see any issue of plagiarism. Yes, their music is derivative - so what? The keyboard work is truly stunning. Structurally, this song reminds me to ELP's "Fanfare for the Common Man" but melodically is different kind of song. The ending part of this epic is truly a Genesis- like music, there is no ELP element here ...

Recommended! Cairo's music has a very tight composition - excellent songwriting and arrangements; excellent musicianship especially keyboard and guitar and flawless delivery. This album is really enjoyable prog album that has been "underrated". This must be corrected. We should not judge the band based on couple spins only - it should be spun minimum of 8 times to get the true meaning of their wonderful music. Forget about the rip-off things. Put in your mind that there has never been a band called ELP. Then you will definitely enjoy their music. I assure you that there is no cloning in terms of melody from previous bands. Keep on proggin'!

Yours progressively,

GW - Indonesia

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#1354)
Posted Monday, February 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
frebre@web.de
5 stars 1. Outrages good playing, they are master of their instruments.

2. Very good production.

3. Very complex compositions.

4. Influences from ELP, Yes, King Crimson, Steve Hackett.

CAIRO takes prog to to new heights, this is progressiv-rock in overkill. Absolutely stunning. One of the best progrock albums ever recorded.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#1355)
Posted Saturday, April 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I remember to obtain this when I saw the parts and the songs on the back of an album of homage for the side in black of the moon was which about what Magna Carta was all. I cannot remember if I like which Cairo made, but I guess that I must have liked it because then I went to buy this album of Cairo which they called after themselves. They are not Egypt or Sudan, but I think that they are the United States.

They begin the album with far with the design which gives me average Eastern feelings and the guitar is large like the top of the funds of a pyramid and adhesive of circus. It is a short supposed piece to depict the beginning of the album of box. After the this simple ends, it is time for the season of the heart. It has a beginning awkward for me, deliberated among bottles on soda and green cords on latitude with crescents. But then energy begins again and I judge where they are matched with this one, not only on comets, but around my hairs of nose. Tinkling makes almost me want to shout and the ants in my chimneys. Probably a certain season ago which had a heart, but I think that it differs from the people to the person and them on the left he open probably given for this.

The instrumentation is delightly like the predecessors of the gold era. The quiet winter is always in the topic of season and has a more modern approach with him. I like susceptibilities of the keyboard of Robertson in that and the preceding box. I am completely with this. The drums begin again and are more interesting then before and I think historically behind in time. It is a superb nice song.

Between the lines is also an energy of the batteries waiting to drop itself above the wall to be delivered trousers is with until this encourages me to want to think. It evaluates the health of spirit to be in your preferred food chain of fast preparation. The work of guitar of Fuhrman is delicious amusement present and still I am with the mood of Robertson. Bret Douglas has an interesting voice well that sometimes it encourages me to think of the tin and the aluminium with best of them.

Still, we continue this retrogressive exposure of the noises as one lost moment where the melons reigned the ground. The power and energy vibrate all my bodies in crescendo of the soft activities and yellow-striped papers. The divided world has to me to wonder whether it obtained cut of pieces of circular graph, but I think that it is something more abstract that a meat pie and the meat pies are not like balls.

The ruins with the door of Avalon seems to be the homage or the sign of approval of Cairo of the hands and the arms with ELP. I am magic to see hands and arms and when they are agitated in the breeze. It is a long song and I am dubious as for the section of Avalon. On this date, I appreciate in the model of keyboard of Emersonian that Robertson chose to use with the rather good effect. It is like seeking neutrons the morning but like not finding any ventilator. It is a splendid end at an excellent beginning of these Americans.

In the turbines, I must give these four holds the first role. I thought that approximately three holds the first role with the beginning, but the musical direction is up to now removed average, I leaned in the direction of four holds the first role. I think which necessary Cairo was a little of variation of model while I detected a sameness above the whole length of their work. Moreover, one certain improvement of the production or mixture would be useful because I felt and detected some muddy noises. Always, the music is far higher than other bands in 1994. Thus, in the trousers of yesterday, I incline the head my hands and the arms to give four hold the first role. --JB

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Send comments to drain-o (BETA) | Report this review (#78259)
Posted Monday, May 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars First album from this little known band. With the noticeable exception of the opening track, quite lenghty numbers are sitting on this album (from 8 to 22 minutes).

"Conception" is short, very melodic with good keyboards work : a solid track indeed. Although several reviews refer to ELP & Genesis, when I listen to "Season Of The Heart", the reference that comes immediately and undoubtfully to my mind is "Yes". Vocals are very Anderson oriented, while guitar sounds not far from Steve Howe. Good track for sure.

"Silent Winter" is heavier, but vocal arrangements are quite good. Interesting middle section fully inspired by ELP.

"Between the Lines" : the very aggresive keyboard oriented intro sounds like Emerson or Jon Lord (Mark I era). This very dynamic song has a lot of good breaks : again keys and guitar work are very efficient.

The album reaches its bottom with "World Divided" : an uninspired and quite boring song. The epic "Ruins At Avalon's Gate" closes the album and right from the start the listener is transported into an authentic ELP sound at its best. Impressive intro (Tarkus ?), mellow voice (hi, Greg !) and good guitar work. Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#104696)
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I only recently found out about this album, I had Conflict and Dreams in my posession for a long time before I discovered this one. In my opinion C & D is better but this one is quite good for a debut. The build-up is well done because each song is better than the previous as the album goes on although the middle four are more or less equal in quality. I like the way Cairo handles their compositions. A great mix of instrumental and vocal parts where the instrumental solos are long and melodic. To me that's even the most important reason I love progressive music so much.

Their highlight in my opinion is not by coincidence Ruins at Avalon's Gate, the longest and last song of the album.

Another one where I have to choose between 4 and 5 stars, but it's not entirely perfect so I have to go for the 4.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#139141)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars The debut album of a US prog band from the 90's.

While the overall album isnt bad, its not exactly terribly exciting either. Its a hard rocking band that is very talented, but not focusing their efforts. To describe the album, its alot of instrumentals with a heavy guitar, an increadibly ELP sounding keyboard and bass and drums all putting out a semi-solid effort. While the music is pretty good, there are parts that do get boring and there are parts where you say 'wow.' Now, the album isnt the greatest, and it certainly sounds alot like ELP with a guitar, I'm not saying its bad. I'm a huge ELP fan and I enjoyed this album, and the rest of the bands efforts.

So, album gets three stars for a decent album that has some things going for it.

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Send comments to Tarkus31 (BETA) | Report this review (#139427)
Posted Thursday, September 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
4 stars Another powerful progressive rock trio,CAIRO came from San Fransisco and were signed by Magna Carta around early/mid-90's.This fact was followed by the release of their first eponymous work.From the first notes the style of the band was easy to be described.Powerful and energetic progressive rock with fascinating bombastic keyboards,aggresive guitars,superb solos and dynamic vocals.The main figure,keyboardist Mark Robertson,must be a great KEITH EMERSON-fan,as he plays with tremendous energy and fills every empty hole with heavy keyboard passages,complex solos and unbelievable acrobatics,strongly accompanied by the great virtuosic guitar riffs. Additionally,the interplays between guitars and keyboards are numerous and very well-arranged.An absolutely satisfying work for anyone who wants to clear out what exactly powerful/complex/symphonic progressive rock means!

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#146755)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I first heard of Cairo on some of the early Magna Carta tribute compilations. They performed Speak to Me/Breathe on The Moon Revisited (a tribute to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album), Squonk on Supper's Ready (a tribute to Genesis), and South Side of the Sky on Tales from Yesterday (a tribute to Yes). They didn't really add anything to these tracks. They were straight-ahead, note-for-note performances, but nicely done. Magna Carta of course included inserts in all their CDs and I noticed that Cairo had made its very own album. So I took a chance and discovered a very talented band.

Cairo's self-titled debut album is one of the better debuts I've heard in the last 30 years or so. Other than a short two-minute instrumental intro, the songs on this album range from 8 1/2 to 22 1/2 minutes long. Plenty of room for instrumental escapades, and Cairo surely delivers in that respect. Although I'm not bothered by this much, for some of you it will be a downer to know that they wear their influences on their sleeves. Many reviewers over the years attribute Cairo as an ELP clone. Yes, the influences are strong there, but they're only from the keyboard playing of Mark Robertson who is clearly from the Emerson school of pounding on the ivories. The rest of the band sounds nothing like ELP as far as I can tell. There are times when they synch-in to the keyboard lines, but for the most part, they sound like a mix of the more accessible sides of Genesis and Yes. Guitarist Alec Fuhrman occasionally soars in with Howe-like precision and at times shows Hackett-like influences, but pretty much has his own thing going. For me, Cairo sounds sort of like what Asia might have sounded like if they had made 10-minute long prog songs in the early 1980s. Maybe in a parallel universe this really happened?

Bret Douglas is the vocalist and I don't know who to compare him with. He is more high-pitched (not as high as Jon Anderson) and tends to use the soaring effect often. I could see his voice getting on some listener's nerves, but I found it to grow on me and Cairo wouldn't be the same without him. Every song on here is great to my ears, even though at times some of them are more accessible. The strongest Emerson influences in Robertson's keyboard work is on the 22 1/2 minute long Ruins at Avalon's Gate. Of all the songs, this one may have gone on for too long. His keyboard performance is admirable though.

The one downside I have for this album is the production. It really feels like it could have been recorded and mixed better. The sound is more muddier than crisp and gives it that dated feel. It sounds like it was recorded in the mid-1970s instead of 1994. Maybe that's what they wanted? Still, the music is great.

An excellent debut and one of the better symphonic prog bands from the 1990s. Definitely a nice gem from a mostly unheard of band, but not anywhere near being a masterpiece. Four stars feels like a nice fit for this.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#161874)
Posted Friday, February 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars I wasn't sure I should even review this album, as I tend to avoid reviewing albums I dislike. But, what the heck, gotta have some less than 3 star reviews in my list :-)

So, first off, the singer just gets on my nerves. He reminds me of everything I hated about 80's hair band type singers. I always think of the guy that sang for GTR, Max Bacon, when I hear this guys singing. Only Bacon was a lot better. But still, that cheesy 80's type of caturwalling that just gets worse with every listen.

The music, is somewhat better. The keyboardist is probably the star of the whole album, doing a passable imitation of Emerson, but using horrible 80's style keyboard sounds which generally ruin my attempts to appreciate his playing. Which, as I said, is pretty good, if not really original at all. The rhythm section is decent, but the drums, once again, have that big booming 80's sound, much like the drums on 90125 from Yes's Yes West period that I despise. The guitarist is hopelessly slick, yet still manages to not impress me in any fashion. The songs have no memorable melodies, though are certainly very bombastic. I suppose the final track is tolerable, because of it's heavy ELP derivativeness, but aside from that I can't find anything here to enjoy really (though again, mostly it's because of that completely annoying vocalist).

I really want to give this a single star, but these guys are not hacks and obviously are pretty genuine in their desire to make music. Despite me complete dislike of how they choose to make it, they certain show themselves to be competent musicians, especially the keyboardist. I'm sure they were/are proud of their album and that a lot of work when into it (though the horribly dated computer graphics of the cover could have been replaced with something a bit more meaningful). So I will be overly generous and round this 1.5 star clunker up to a 2.

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Send comments to infandous (BETA) | Report this review (#161880)
Posted Friday, February 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An excellent album that deserves, in my opinion, more praise than it receives.

The obvious influences are ELP, KANSAS, and other prog giants like YES. There's also a little bit of AOR in their sound, and prog-related bands like ASIA or SAGA. In addition to the clear symphonic sound, CAIRO's music has some hints of metal in it, mostly in the type of riffs.

The music is very melodic and full of solos and instrumental sections. At times there's a little overdoing of solos which makes the album a less than perfect experience, mostly in the last song which could've been trimmed and by a good 5 minutes.

Is the band derivative? A little bit. Is the music extremely innovative? Probably not. Is it good? Most certainly it is. With songs like the excellent "Seasons of the Heart" or the album's best, the dark, atmospheric, romantic, nostalgic "Silent Winter", the album goes by very quickly (expect for the last minutes) and leaves this listener very satisfied. Sadly, the band hasn't released any more music since their third album (this was their debut), but there's no question that few bands have had more promising first albums than CAIRO.

Recommended for fans of Symphonic Rock and even for prog-metal fans open to the lighter side of things.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#168706)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars The opening track on this, the debut album from this American band, gives some associations to Arabic folk music. Then the western sound come through. The sound is a mix of Genesis, ELP and Yes. I would also include Saga here. The final 22 minutes long Ruins At Avalon's Gate opus is a definate ELP rip-off. Somehow, I quite like this album. I loved it when it was first released, but it has faded in my estimation. The album has too much commercial AOR leanings in my view. My musical preferences has moved in a different direction, ie symphonic prog. This album is not enough true symphonic prog in my view. When that is said, this is not a bad album. It has some great pieces of music and comes across as a good album. The musicianship is also great. I still listen a lot to this album and I would recommend it to everyone.

Non essential, but still a good prog album.

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#186670)
Posted Wednesday, October 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars This is an impressive debut from Cairo. From the outset, you know you are in for an interesting ride. The opening track, "Conception", is almost a fanfare, with a bit of Middle East flavor. Then the first full song, "Season Of The Heart" begins. This song reminds me a bit of Utopia, after they became a quartet, but before they went pop. The singer, Bret Douglas actually sounds somewhat like Kasim Sultan. The bass (Rob Fordyce) and drums (Jeff Brockman) are great, and the guitar (Alec Fuhrman) is everything you want in symphonic prog. But the real star here is keyboardist Mark Robertson. If ever there was a reincarnation of Keith Emerson, this is it. His synthesizer tones and phrasing are positively Emersonian, and when he starts on the Hammond organ, look out!

The vocal sections of the songs border on arena rock, but Robertsons fills, for the most part, keep the music firmly on the prog side. And the last track, "Ruins At Avalon's Gate" is a 22 minute epic that often sound like it belongs on a classic ELP album.

A worthy listen. 4.5 stars.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#220658)
Posted Thursday, June 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars If you fancy something which is a cross between eighties-style Yes, traditional ELP, with a bit of UK thrown in too, then this'll be your cup of tea.

Probably in the AOR segment of Prog, it has a tinny brilliance defining it. Probably not moody enough for my ears, as I prefer older Yes (Tales from Topographical is probably my favourite), and find ELP to be a bit too technical, though I like Brain Salad surgery.

The concept is probably let down by the vocalist, as I would imagine a John Anderson soundalike would have been preferable to see where the music truly stands in the scheme of things. The singing is okay, just a bit flat.

I can't quite understand why an extra bit of music needed to be ended to the end of 'Rufus at Avalon's gate', as it was going to end quite moodily with some church bells. Alas, not enough of an AOR-style ending perhaps. Pity.

Fast-paced, happy and very musically proficient throughout, if the aim of Cairo was to sound not dissimilar from the aforementioned bands, then the objective was very certainly achieved.

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Send comments to sussexbowler (BETA) | Report this review (#477339)
Posted Wednesday, July 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
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Symphonic Team
3 stars Conception

Cairo's self-titled album was a slightly immature but very promising debut. In my opinion, the promise was not fully realized until their second album, the excellent Conflict And Dreams. But the present album is a very good debut album in its own right. Most of the ingredients of their sound were already here and the band clearly had talent. This makes for a wholly enjoyable album.

The first three tracks of this album are the best ones, but even these are not even close to the Conflict And Dreams material. The rest of this album is good too, but not quite up to par in my opinion. The 22 minute plus album closer Ruins At Avalon's Gate in particular is somewhat rambling and could have been shortened somewhat for greater effect. The main influence on this epic track is clearly Emerson Lake & Palmer, but the rest of the album is much less obviously inspired by that group. Yes and Kansas are closer.

Out of the three albums by Cairo, I would place this one in the middle. I can recommend it to all who liked Conflict And Dreams, but please make sure you get the latter album first.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#616029)
Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
UMUR
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Cairo" is the self-titled debut full-length studio album by US, San Francisco based progressive rock act Cairo. The album was released through Magna Carta Records in 1994.

The music on the 6 track, 53:39 minutes long album is progressive rock in the keyboard/synth heavy neo progressive vein. The neo element is mostly due to the choice of "artificial" synth sounds and the sometimes AOR influenced vocals/vocal lines. Thereīs also an obvious Yes influence in the way the band use harmony vocals and also a few nods toward Emerson, Lake & Palmer in the keyboard playing (a semi-classical element). The tracks are generally quite long (except for "Conception", which is an intro type track). The longest being "Ruins At Avalon's Gate", which clocks in at 22:35 minutes.

The band are really well playing and the vocals are convincing too. Unfortunately the songwriting and the sound production drag the quality of the album slightly down. The songwriting is decent enough, but the material on the album are for the most part not that memorable or original for that matter. Regarding the latter mentioned issue, the sound production is a bit weak sounding. The rhythm section is way too low in the mix and are at times almost drowned in synths, vocals and lead guitars. The lead guitars are as mentioned high enough in the mix but the rhythm guitar suffers the same unfortunate destiny as the drums and the bass, so itīs safe to say the sound production leaves me unsatisfied.

...still "Cairo" isnīt a bad release and for a debut album it does show some promise. To my ears itīs just a bit mediocre compared to the vast amount of releases in the same vein available on the market. A 3 star (60%) rating isnīt all wrong.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#888105)
Posted Saturday, January 05, 2013 | Review Permalink
Aussie-Byrd-Brother
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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Formed back in the early 90's, San Francisco five man band Cairo delivered an easy to enjoy, well played and occasionally dynamic release on their self titled debut album from 1994. At first, a combination of `Union'-era Yes, `Falling Into Infinity'-era Dream Theater and a proggier take on Asia are obvious influences, but a surprising mid-album turn into supreme Emerson, Lake and Palmer-level technicality and showboating takes the album to another level altogether!

After a brief announcing wailing electric guitar introduction that wouldn't sound out of place on any Dream Theater album, lengthy AOR rocker `Season of the Heart' properly opens the album. Despite a ten minute running time, it's a fairly straight-forward track with a main focus on melodic vocal passages and a catchy chorus with numerous little instrumental fills. Clean cascading electric guitar runs, quick little synth dashes and a soaring confident lead vocal from Bret Douglas, it's a somewhat cold, but certainly punchy opener, but not nearly the strongest piece on the album. `Silent Winter' sounds like a gutsy cross between Asia and U.K, another strong chorus with a romantic lyric and a nicely contained instrumental soloing spot in the middle.

Those listening and not being too impressed at this point should persist, as the album all of a sudden bursts to life with an unexpected urgency and determination. `Between The Lines' blasts the listener right away, all Mark Robertson's delirious E.L.P keyboard bombast and Jeff Brockman's thrashing smashing drumming. A variety of synths, Moog and Hammond feature, with thick upfront bass and a bellowing unhinged vocal tear through this powerful piece. A softer 90's Dream Theater-styled number, `World Divided' is a quick return to a more AOR style, offering a `world gone wrong' lyric with a more restrained vocal and plentiful opportunity for lead guitarist Alec Fuhrman to offer emotional soloing.

If the earlier E.L.P flavoured piece `Between the Lines' offered just a glimpse of what the band could really do, the 22 minute epic `Ruins at Avalon's Gate' shows them firing on all possible levels. It's as if the band were thinking `Well, if we only get this one shot to make a great album, let's do everything!' With only a brief vocal passage a few minutes in and a quick reprise at the end, this extended piece is mostly a grand instrumental showcase for the band, a dazzling array of tempos seamlessly shifting back and forth, heavier passages, pompous fanfares and dizzying drama. Rob Fordyce's chunky galloping bass workout is a standout, as is the total dominating slaughtering (but in a good way!) complete keyboard overload from Robertson, his Triumvirat-like piano even reminds me of their `Illusions on a Double Dimple' album. Exhausting and thrilling in equal measures, but thankfully despite the band darting through so many ideas, the piece never sounds directionless. Album closers really don't come much more satisfying than this one, possibly one of the finest vintage/retro styled keyboard dominated epics since the Seventies, and fans of those above mentioned bands should adore it.

Occasionally the 90's sheen gives the album a slightly flat and lifeless sound (most noticeable on the first proper track `Season of the Heart'), but eventually the sheer melodic compositional skills of the band and their talented instrumental displays more than grab hold of the attention. Have a bit of patience and take the time to listen to the whole of the album instead of making a rash judgement on the opening few tracks, and chances are you'll end up very impressed and surprised! `Cairo' is an album well worth snapping up if you happen to come across it, and the band deserve a bit more attention and praise for their efforts here.

Three and a half stars.

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Send comments to Aussie-Byrd-Brother (BETA) | Report this review (#1274205)
Posted Wednesday, September 10, 2014 | Review Permalink

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