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4 stars Okay so before I begin let me just say that in order to really dig this album you are going to have to stop looking for a return to "Tab In The Ocean" or "Remember The Future" otherwise you will miss it. "Evolution" is really IMHO a grand little album full of some great songs, progressive tendencies and excellent musicianship and vocalizations. This version of NEKTAR brings together Roye Albrighton (lead vocals, guitars), Taff Freeman (keys, piano, mellotron) and Ron Howden (drums and percussion) with a new member Randy Dembo (bass, pedals and backing vocals). This is the first time in over twenty years that Roye, Ron and Taff have recorded new material together and the end product is solid. This is really a complete album with symphonic lustre, GILMOUR'esque guitar solos, excellent song writing and a feel not unlike the more recent work of CAMEL. Again with the caveat that this is not 70's NEKTAR I would recommend this album to all lovers of music.
Report this review (#33014)
Posted Monday, December 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars I cannot agree more with James regarding the looking back to old albums as to see how the new one compares. But , however , is it not something we all do and is it not something very natural to do? Sure , how can we give a chance to the new more different albums if we keep looking back? Well some bands (generally in the heydays) managed to surprise us consistently over the years (some from album to album - Floyd naver made two albums similar in sound or inspiration) , most bands have always relied on what I call a formula (or a recipe) and Nektar was no exception to that phenomenum. I am not particularly well documented on Nektar's discography as to comment most album but friends lend me a few of their better known album , but unfortunately I never caught on enough to call myself a fan. As James intent to say is that this album is quite different than their early stuff and have refined their sound to a very modern sound (dare I say almost neo-prog) with a very modern sounding singing not far away from the current wave groups but also Marillion's second singer Hogarth. While I can obviously agree that some bands are doing retro- sounding prog a bit pointlessly (not to say I don't enjoy some of them , though), Nektar seems to be doing modern-sounding prog a bit pointlessly also. This is just one advice though and do not take it for granted and give it a spin. While I never considered a two star rating a bad rating at all (for fans only is anything but disgraceful) I would like to give a third star but the long history of this band stops me to. 2,85 stars then.
Report this review (#33015)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't know about you but I have grown a real fondness for this superb album in only a few listens. I only obtained a copy a few days ago. There is nothing stayed or stuck in time about this band! The tracks vary so much from each other and yet they seem to all fit together under the same theme. I love the subtlety of the beautifully melodic yet extremely rhythm driven tracks that are soft and gentle yet never boring (from a rock ears point of hearing) for example, the harmonized sections in Dancin' into the void and the moving track, Child of Mine. The opening crescendos in Camouflage to White are just tingly on the back of the neck - something I personally don't often find in the sounds of today. I am truly drawn to listening further to this CD and I'm looking forward to it! I personally cant be doing with all this stuff about different types of 'prog', I wouldn't have said anything about this album if I didn't like it. It's lack of boring sections is what keeps me listening, all too often, albums these days seem drawn out and I have to force myself to listen - not so with Evolution
Report this review (#56361)
Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars How can a bunch of oldies make such a good racket as this? Thirty years and more after the band's Prog heyday and Albrighton and his merry boys have turned in such a strong album that if points were awarded for inventiveness this would score very highly indeed. I have seldom heard a modern album from an old band that displays such a willingness to experiment and innovate. Superficially, Evolution is heavy rocking AOR with a great deal of bombast and leaning towards metal in a couple of places, but dig deeper and you will find an almost endless supply of little touches and embellishments that show the band's creative juices are still very much flowing. Albrighton dominates the show - I am no great fan of his singing [its OK], but his guitar work is flawless and exceedingly powerful, utterly dominating most phases of the music.

Not all in the garden smells of roses though. This music exists in either of two states: loud and bombastic, or gentle and moody. There is virtually no inbetween, and often the transition between them can be quite abrupt, instead of using dynamics to build crescendos. Old Mother Earth is a good example that starts off as a soppy ballad accompanied by piano for a couple of verses, then suddenly the band burst in and turn in into a hard rock number. Later, an atmospheric instrumental suddenly ends in the same way. Similarly, the excellent Always is sung to acoustic guitar before a drum roll brings the band in for a guitar solo, while After The Fall sets up a mellow moody ambience and then ruins it with sudden bomb-bursts of high volume stadium rock.

Another serious flaw concerns songwriting, specifically an ability to construct a memorable melody - several excellent tracks are marred by poor melody lines, and in a couple of cases lyrics that are unnaturally shoe-horned into an unsuitable setting. Take away some of the instrumental gloss and you are left with a bunch of very ordinary songs. Camouflage To White and Child Of Mine both suffer from this syndrome. One further gripe is the over-repetition of vocal lines at the end of songs like Phazed By The Storm and Dancin' Into The Void.

Despite some yukky lyrics, Child Of Mine is an early stand-out, piano and string-pads setting a spacey mood that is under-stated and very effective. Phazed By The Storm is a progressive track containing some superb guitar work, but Always is even better with more invention in a slightly more conventional setting - the guitar solo is again very good, and there is an odd little acoustic guitar motif near the end that catches the attention. Dancin' In The Void features a Moody Blues style recited poem and a brilliant breakdown section with some inventive percussive acoustic guitar but the effect is spoiled - instead of letting the mood build, they go crash bang wallop back to the main theme which is then repeated several times.

The album tends to tail off a little at the end as the final two tracks are less satisfactory [The Debate is ruined by an insistant clattering snare], but overall Evolution is a surprisingly strong album, powerful and aggressive yet also subtle and moody. It is a typically modern album, with up-to-date production techniques and values but the musicianship still shines through. I have lived with it for half a year now and still find it refreshing and exciting, despite its many faults, so at present would offer a guarded recommendation to fans of artists like Pendragon or Marillion.

Report this review (#98984)
Posted Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Written for LP, arranged for CD

Having long since given up Nektar for dead in terms of new studio albums, it was with some considerable pleasure that I learned that Albrighton, Freeman and later Howden had regenerated the band. This is the second release by the reformed band, who are now joined by bassist Randy Dembo.

While the music is by no means a continuation of where they left off in the 1970's, there is still a real sense of quality here. The truly progressive sounds of their early albums are used as the basis for some more direct, but still finely constructed pieces. The first couple of tracks suggest that absolute priority has been given to a harder (but not metallic) edge. It is "Child of mine" though which re-assures us that the band's passion for a good melody is alive and well. To some this will be nothing more than a mush, MOODY BLUES like ballad. Lyrically there is undeniably a case to be made for that. This is though, a song a great beauty and finesse which stand alongside anything they recorded previously.

The following "Phazed by the Storm" continues the more subdued atmosphere, the understated, almost funky rhythm leaving plenty of room for fine vocal and instrumental performances. After a striking synth intro "Always" sets out as a dreamy acoustic ballad, before developing into a repetitive, harmonic piece with pop overtones. The vocal performances here, and indeed throughout the album are the high point of some excellent contributions by all the band members. "Dancin´ into the Void" harks back more to the band's older material, but with a much greater density of vocals.

Only "The debate" drags the quality index down, the highly unsubtle rock and roll drum beat spoiling what might have been an adequate (but no more) song. While Albrighton adds a fine extended guitar solo, the track fails to justify the 9˝ minutes it is afforded. The closing "After the fall" is a supremely emotional ballad along the lines of "Friday's dream" by ARENA. The song mixes delicate acoustic guitar and piano with climactic choruses and wailing lead guitar. A stunning conclusion to the album.

The track lengths on the album are slightly deceptive, as virtually all are over 7 minutes. This is to some extent though through the extension what are in reality straightforward songs. This is a common phenomenon in albums recorded by long established bands, used to recording LPs. They feel obliged to endeavour to fill the additional space offered by CDs, but are reluctant to write additional material, so that which they have is elongated. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not, but in this case the extended tracks are worthy of their length.

In all, "Evolution" is superb album. It will not necessarily appeal to those who were entranced by the band's early albums, but for those who enjoy a strong melody supported by a highly accomplished performance, this is a recommended album.

Report this review (#114364)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Like lots of classic bands, they good lots of consideration for some of their earlier releases and then the interest dropped down considerably in the course of their career. Only five reviews with a comment before this one is truely not enough. But let's listen why.

"Nektar" did their come back three years before this release with "The Prodigal Son". IMO, it was not really successful. So, what about "Evolution" ?

I have to admit that when I listened to "Camouflage to White" I was impressed. A short and spacey intro, followed by a very hard but melodic part. A very good and powerful rock song. Great rhythm and nice melody. Must have been ages that I hadn't heard such good material form the band. It is of course on the harder edge but wow !

And the pleasure goes on with another beautiful composition. More on the softer edge, almost spacey. "Old Mother Earth" is such a nice piece of music. Some Spanish style acoustic guitar, great background keys, tranquil music for most of it. The closing part, on the other hand is again rocking alright and features good vocal harmonies.

I can't say that these compositions sound very modern. It is almost as if we get some early "Nektar" material refreshed with a new sound. Very pleasant.

Serenity is what you will feel while listening to "Child Of Mine". A wonderful and soft ballad; but far from being boring. Mellowish ? Yes, probably. But so delicate (especially the piano). A bit too long maybe. Even if the content of this album is rather different if compared with their early work, in terms of quality it surely holds the comparison.

Just listen to the wonderful "Phazed By The Storm". Almost hard-rock attack to start, great guitar and then such a nice melody. Strong but sweet (?) vocals backed up with a very powerful band. It also features some specific prog-metal riffs (but on the "soft" side whatever this might mean). Roye will also deliver a wonderful guitar moment. I like this track very much even if at time it will even sound disco-ish (but not too much, don't worry).

When I listened to the first notes of "Always", I was really charmed. Another fabulous and melodic moment. Fully symphonic keyboards, smooth vocals, nice acoustic guitar during the first part of the song. But boy ! What a superb electric guitar work later on. Reminds some "Mostly Autumn" great ones (thus, Floyd of course).

So far, this album is a very good surprise. It confirms that it is at time valuable to listen to the whole band discography (even if it timight be painful as well) to discover a hidden gem in the later days of a band's carreer (Ange, Camel and Kansas to name of few). Not the whole album will be great of couse. "Dancin' Into The VOid" for example is the weakest track of the album (but I guess that one weak song is not too bad).

The longest song (almost ten minutes) is a sort of a mini-"opera". Holding several themes, pop-rocking quite well. Almost an epic. The long closing guitar solo deserves some attention. Another very good track IMO. Like the very much symphonic and melodic again "After The Fall" which closes the album in such a beautiful manner.

This album is rather a good surprise. I have never been a "Nektar" minded fan. I considered their first two albums as their best ones (four stars), but this album is a definite winner as well. Lots of variety, great melodies, with a harder edge. I can only recommend you to listen to this good album. Should you be an old "Nektar" fan or someone who desires to discover a good prog album.

I just hope that "Nektar" will solve the problems related to the release of their next album "Book Of Days". If that one would only be of the caliber of "Evolution" ! It is worth a good seven out of ten. What a great "true" come back. I'll even upgrade it to the four star level. Emotionally.

Report this review (#142318)
Posted Friday, October 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Nektar revert back to `70s progrock formulas (sort of) and although they rekindle some of their psychedelic fire from that period they just can`t stay focused long enough to cling on to any cool grooves that they do hit. There`s some glorious starts and nice instrumental layering augmented with some effective use rhythm acoustic guitars but they are still suffering from `80s AOR elevator funky funky syndrome which they just can`t seem to shake off which surfaces throughout the album. Muddlled themes already covered by the band on previous work get lost amidst lack of continuity and once again the band loses any notions of any sort identity for the 21st Centuryand periodically sound like various incarnations of Genesis, The Strawbs, Hawkwind and Rush. A pity because at the time the band was making a comeback on the live circut with stage shows which recalled the glory days of the seventies.

The most painful section on the album occurs on the second to last track entitled The Debate. They start to burn into a groovin` instrumental jam which would not have sounded out of place on earlier albums such as A Tab In The Ocean or Journey To The Centre Of The Eye which reaches a point of almost magical intensity and then it just fizzles into a meaninglessness fade out like the interuption of an orgasm just before it`s climax. The preceding tracks Always/Dancin Into the Void, which are linked musically and thematically, are by far the catchiest and most lyrically powerful tracks on the album but also meet the same fate as The Debate with with a pointless fade out. The dreamy neo-folky Child Of Mine is perhaps one of the prettiest ballads ever recorded by the band which spirals and hyptontizes with it`s theme of rebirth. Albrighton`s vocals are right on here and it`s the only track which is not flawed in some essential way. A great track to throw on the good ole ipod.

Evolution is a roller coaster ride with a thrill here and there containing a couple of decent compositions with unquestionably superb production but just leaves one scratching one`s head over all the AOR shlock which invades the album at regular intervals. While not a full blown monumental catastrophe Evolution is as close as Nektar has come to recreating the energy and ambience they possessed during their heyday on Bacillus Records and will no doubt satisfy hard core fans of the band.

Report this review (#161169)
Posted Thursday, February 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Evolution indeed!

Now this was a surprise! The style of music involved here is not quite what I would have expected from this band (but then again I have not heard their previous two albums). I think I expected something a bit more electronic and 'spacy', but this is not. On the contrary, the material here is very melodic and rocks quite hard at times. But it can also be very mellow and reflective. Perhaps the most surprising element is that there is an acoustic nature to several parts with grand piano and acoustic guitars having a central place in the sound. This is more Symphonic Prog than it is Psychedelic/Space Rock. The band has indeed evolved a lot since their early days but you clearly recognize them still - this feels like classic Nektar while at the same time as being something new. I certainly prefer this over the earliest Nektar albums!

Songs like Camouflage To White and The Debate has a slight funky groove that sometimes remind of Remember The Future in style. The harmony vocals are lovely and the electric guitars are very well played and have a powerful sound. The album is also very well produced and the sound is crystal clear.

The lyrics are mostly good and reflective, but some blatant environmentalist save-the-earth-themes does tend to become a bit silly at times. But that is also part of the charm in a way.

The balance between the up-tempo, heavy songs and the softer ballad-type songs is very well struck, creating a varied yet coherent set. This is excellent music and one of Nektar's best albums ever.

Highly recommended!

Report this review (#212030)
Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Of course the music here sounds nothing like the music the band produced over 30 years prior with "Journey To The Center Of The Eye" and "A Tab In The Ocean", but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this. A lot of these songs would have really fit well on seventies FM radio. They're accessible and somewhat commercial. Too much so for my tastes as the two albums I mentioned earlier are my favourites from them, and they're quite experimental and adventerous.

"Camouflage To White" opens with some atmosphere before it kicks in pretty hard before a minute. A change before 3 minutes as we get a catchy melody with vocals. Some backing vocals 5 1/2 minutes in which I don't like. "Old Mother Earth" opens with piano and reserved vocals. Yikes I don't like this. It kicks in fortunately around a minute with vocals. It settles back before kicking in again at 5 1/2 minutes. It's an ok tune. "Child Of Mine" is led by synths, piano and acoustic guitar early. Vocals 2 minutes in in this laid back song. It's rather pretty. "Phazed By A Storm" is led by guitar and drums as vocals arrive a minute in. A calm after 2 1/2 minutes followed by a catchy beat with vocals. Contrasts continue.

"Always" opens with vocal melodies before it kicks in quickly. It settles with vocals 2 minutes in then kicks back in after 4 minutes. "Dancin' Into The Void" is uptempo to open before settling with vocals. Contrasts continue. Spoken words and a spacey sound 3 minutes in. "The Debate" is bombastic to open as the tempo picks up. Nice bass here. Vocals follow.A good powerful sound 7 minutes in. "After The Fall" opens with acoustic guitar as fragile vocals join in. Piano and synths too. The sound gets fuller then settles again. It's spacey late.

So a good album to be sure. I guess you could say the band has matured. I'll stick with their early stuff.

Report this review (#256523)
Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Nektar is one of my fav bands from old school, listning regulary to their '70's albums, for some month I've listen the most newer releases, like for ex Evolution from 2004. Well at first spin might think is almost linear rock without many hooks, but after 3-4 rounds I begun to appreciate at the full capacity this album where progressive elements are evrywhere but hidden very well in the context. Maybe is more relaxed album then their older stuff, but is very ok. Roy Albrighton is in good form at is easy to see on opening track Camouflage to White , and aswell on Child of Mine and Old Mother Earth, very good pieces that shows Nekat is still in bussines. The album is gentle, with some smooth arrangements, where the great voice of Albrighton interluded very well with the instruments. A mature work I might say, well performed, but with all that I prefer the older stuff ike Recycled their best album , to me at least. Anyway a return to for album with plenty of good moments. 3 stars, good one but not realy something realy special.
Report this review (#510209)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Roye Albrighton's return to the NEKTAR helm after years of contentious absence (with management and record companies) and after a religious awakening notes a clear attempt to put his considerable talents toward the praise of God and extolling his religious beliefs. While Roye is not the first to go through such a conversion and to then use his artistic name to convey his religious message, he is one of the few that has "come back" after such a long layoff with such high quality music. Don't get me wrong: the Nektar albums of the Naughties are NOT the Nektar of old, but what we see here is how talented of a composer/songwriter AND guitarist Mr. Albrighton was. He was not a bad singer, either. If only to listen to the masterful rhythm guitar work, these albums are worth your time. Start with "Terminus / Oh My" on 2001's The Prodigal Son and then go to the amazing "Always" from this album and then "Over Krakatoa" from 2008's Book of Days. An under-appreciated prog treasure, RIP.
Report this review (#626888)
Posted Sunday, February 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars What an inspired album! A major upgrade from the previous "Prodigal Son", with all the elements that make quality prog rock: nice melodies, reasonably lengthy songs, trippy lyrics, concept structure.

A very joyful work that flows very well and it's pretty listenable. If I was to choose one song as the stand-out one, that has to be "Old Mother Earth", but there is no weakness at all on this album.

The mostly acoustic nature of the album makes it even more trippy, with the piano playing a major role supporting the whole concept. This is maybe the last great album by Nektar; I guess we have seen it all from them and they will be officially disbanded soon, since Roye Albrighton died.

Report this review (#1601493)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Sounds like a bunch of us found this English "Kraut" band back in our college days of yore. What a spectacular treat to be swept away again by new music from this fine band decades later!

On "Evolution", Nektar has truly rediscovered the magic of their unique progressive rock music. Some really tasty guitar licks/riffs on many songs - kind of belies the age of Mr. Albrighton (and his woes with liver disease at the time). His voice sounds great too.

The album starts with "Camouflage to White", which is a good song, but probably my least favorite on the album. The rest of the album varies between acoustic and standard rock (hard, but not heavy) and progressive, with typically thoughtful lyrics and inspiring, original melodies. No weak songs, and really very exciting to listen to.

Highly recommended for prog rock fans, and certainly for fans of Nektar - they were a special "discovery" for us 40 or so years ago, and they can still unearth new gems for us to delight in today!

Great prog compositions, exceptionally well-played, with crystal clear production. Sweet as....what's the word I'm looking for?...

Report this review (#2441165)
Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2020 | Review Permalink

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