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4 stars Melodic and sensetive tunes with touches of almost all musical genres, especially jazz/blues, but also some bassanova touches. This all blends beautifully inn to a electronic enviroment with powerfull percussion and rythm driven bases. In some songs you may feel abit "lost", but you are quickly picked up and carried away further into Kvazars melodic scenery. I recomend it to both people who like progrock in it's comon sense, but also to anyone who can apreciate a solid record with solid musical performance.
Report this review (#59008)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The band improves here on their excellent debut album which had a very retro sound. The 70's influences abound here too, but they sound more refined and the art/jazz rock influence tends to dominate the sound on most tracks. A few lineup changes between albums, but the main core of the band is still here, and the melancholic vocals of Deaya are still here and his range has improved since the first album. The moog has disappeared here in favor of mellotron, piano, and synthesizers. All of the compositions contain complex, tasteful, and highly diverse arrangements that are filled with frequent changes of tone and mood, and the solos and passages of the piano, synthesizer, and organ are however, more diverse and virtuosi than solos of electric guitar, which are mostly fluid. On the other hand, the interplay between solos of an electric guitar and various keyboards, all of which are performed in different tempos, create the effective contrasts and make most of the arrangements on the album very intriguing. I can't put my finger on one obvious influence, most likely because the influences of each band member gets to be heard, no one instrument dominates the sound. The addition of sax on several songs reminds me of those danish jazz rock bands like Burnin Red Ivanhoe, and Secret Oyster, being used in both lead and rhythm sections. The highlights here for me are Flight of the Shamash, Choir of life (nice addition of mandolin and some female vocals), Sometimes(jazz rock), and the title track(nice mellotron use here). Both of their albums are growing on me more and more with every listen. This band has a bright future if they choose to stick together.
Report this review (#70803)
Posted Wednesday, March 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars It was a long time coming, this follow-up album (I must say I feared for the group's future at one point), but the wait was certainly worth it: the second Kvazar album gives you want you expect from them, a lush-sounding retro-prog, that can only please a proghead's lower instincts. The group has suffered a few personnel changes - most notably the old bassist and guitarist having left, but not replaced by full-time members and they still present on two tracks - but this has not affected their sound or songwriting skills. A load of guest musicians (including the previously-mentioned ex- members) buff-up the sound and bring some additional twist in the music.

This second album is full of Gregorian choirs-induced by sampling and mellotrons (dare I say that this album is a mellotrons orgy and should bring regular progheads to numerous orgasms ;-) but the palette of influences is also increased to jazz and folk, making it an all-around more successful album (artistically anyway) than the debut. It is safe to say that Kvazar has matured and now started to develop their own sound (everything is relative of course since the dreaded 80's, though), but by no means are they groundbreaking or even novel, but their retro-sounding prog is sure as hell pleasant. Songwriting-wise, they stay roughly on the same canvas, writing lenghty (max 10 min) - but never elongated - tracks interspaced with some short and often untitled short passage (although they are under-titled Black Hole). The second track Choir Of Life does stand out from the rest of the album with its rapid upbeat folky mood, and a female guest vocalist from the forth track onwards regular sax and Fender Rhodes shift the ambiances ever so slightly to a jazzier realm, but the group remain truthful to itself even with the slightly Arabic-sounding Desert Blues and the definitely jazzy Sometimes. The last couple of tracks are a definite return to the more symphonic feel of the start of the album and the debut.

Certainly different than their debut yet a very logical follow-up, Kvazar is bound to become more than just a retro-prog group and I have a hard time waiting for the next album - hopefully it will be quicker than the five years span between the first two.

Report this review (#74268)
Posted Friday, April 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars It lasted four years before Norwegian band Kvazar released a new album after their eponymous debut CD from 2001. Only two members survived these years: keyboardplayer/singer Andre Jensen Deaya and drummer Kim A. Lieberknecht. Kvazar has turned into a five piece band with additional guest musicians, including female singer Trude Bergli.

1. Flight Of Shamash (9:13) : The intro contains the impressive sound of a Gregorian choir, then Kvazar manages to create a great tension beween dreamy (fragile guitar, soaring keyboards and acoustic guitar), fluent and bombastic parts (eruptions with fiery guitar and organ), very compelling and dynamic with echoes from Anekdoten (a bit sultry and a propulsive rhythm-section).

2. Choir Of Life (5:36) : The music alternates between cheerful folky (flute, mandoline and soft way-wah guitar) and bombastic with lush violin waves and spectacular synthesizer flights.

3. Untitled (1:30) : A very beautiful track delivering warm Spanish guitar and soaring

4. Dreams Of Butterflies (8:30) : Here is my highlight on this CD, it contains lots of shifting moods and many surprising musical ideas: jazzy with violin-Mellotron drops, bombastic eruptions with majestic choir-Mellotron and sensitive guitar runs, an accellaration with a fluent synthesizer solo in a jazzy climate and dreamy with warm vocals and thin saxophone, unique!

5. Untitled (1:49) : A strang track with lots of weird sounds.

6. Spirit Of Time (8:42) : This long composition reminds me of Pink Floyd because of the spacey keyboards, the slow rhythm and the sensitive guitar work. Halfway a great break with sensational keyboards and dramatic female vocals. The Mellotron waves evoke early King Crimson.

7. Desert Blues (6:13) : A splendid translation by the band from the title into the music: a sultry atmosphere that make you feel alienated, we also hear strange sounds and a fiery saxophone.

8. Sometimes (5:09) : Here we can enjoy the distinctive Rhodes eletric piano sound in a jazzy climate with subdued guitar play and dreamy saxophone work.

9. A Giant's Lullaby (9:42) : This titletrack delivers many shifting moods, from a slow rhythm with mellow saxophone and dreamy with choir-Mellotron to a mid-tempo with swinging piano, everything is possible with Kvazar in this captivating composition!

10. Dark Horizons (8:03) : The final song is dreamy with twanging guitar, gradually the music becomes more bombastic but to me it fails to keep my attention, a bit disappointing end.

The words 'progression' and 'progressive' should be put on the banner of this interesting Norwegian band, they have made a strong, very varied album, ranging from classic symphonic rock to jazz, if you are up to this variation the new Kvazar will delight you!

Report this review (#86156)
Posted Tuesday, August 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Finally, complete agreement with our beloved Sean Trane, (I was wondering...) but we sure picked an exquisite band to trumpet, because Kvazar (Quasar in Norwegian) already had a stupendous birth with their first album , an original mix of deft, quirky and intelligent compositions supported by skilled musicians, in particular a brilliant drummer in Kim Lieberknecht, an obvious student of Bill Bruford, Mattias Olsson (Anglagard) and a few others . This highly anticipated sophomore release took a long time but was well worth the effort. Allegedly, the band suffered through crisis upon crisis, erasing all and beginning anew, personnel changes on guitar and bass but all for a very good cause. This album is great, perhaps even a classic prog monument: gorgeous artwork (what a great pic!) , a clean, straight production so typical of the Scandinavian School of Prog, shimmering orchestrations, again featuring savvy usage of the ubiquitous Mellotron , the incorporation of various jazzy tonalities by giving the piano a pool of light , inventive guitar contributions dueling with lots of hot sax (I almost wrote sex!!!) but all kept together by the stupendous percussives of Mr. Lieberknecht. He really deserves a studious ear as another new original phenomenon. Each piece is intrinsically different from the next, a multi-ethnic menu with Gregorian choirs, Arabian motifs, Spanish guitars, medieval mandolins, gritty brass and Scandinavian folk tinges . Never boring or dull, A Giant's Lullaby keeps you constantly on the alert, playing with aural emotions, never quite knowing what will come next. "Sing along Neo prog" this is not. Damn good symph-prog it is. Certainly among my top albums of the last 2 years. I cannot even try to figure out what their next move will be and er... when? This is as close to a unanimous review yet in Progarchives, must be a strong hint to recommend , no? Pentastar rating, hands down. 5 quasars
Report this review (#90845)
Posted Thursday, September 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars It's like this band has done a complete 180 degree turn away from the style of their debut album. I was actually shocked at the difference.The debut was sort of melancholic and at times trippy and dreamy bringing to mind WOBBLER, ANEKDOTEN and LANDBERK at times.This is nothing like the debut at all. I'm really impressed with this record though, but i'm just surprised at how much World Music and Jazz is in it. Lots of mellotron though.These guys truly have progressed and have "found their sound ?". Lots of guests helping out as well.

"Flight Of Shamash" builds with acoustic guitar, light drums and synths. Gregorian chants come in after a minute. I really like the guitar after 2 minutes in. A change before 4 minutes as guitar leads the way. Samples too. Great sound as it picks up. Vocal melodies as it settles before 6 minutes. Guitar is back a minute later. "Choir Of Life" has a Celtic feel to it and I like the mandolin and synths. The female vocal melodies are a nice touch as well, then she starts to sing. We get mellotron floods as well. Nice. So powerful 3 minutes in. Just a pleasure. Song 3 is an untitled instrumental. It's only 1 1/2 minutes long but it's so well done. Acoustic guitar, bass and drums as we get lots of background synths. "Dreams Of Butterflies" features some good bass early but check out the mellotron! There's a Swedish vibe as the vocals come in. Kind of jazzy too. Back to the original melody as contrasts continue. We're drowning in mellotron here. When the vocal return we get some sax. A heavier sound 3 1/2 minutes in with electric guitar and huge bass lines. Incredible tune. Song 5 is another short instrumental. Jazzy with samples.

"Spirit Of Time" is a dreamy song with a PINK FLOYD vibe that gets a little intense then ends dreamily again. Mellotron and sax help out once again. Great song ! I would describe "Desert Blues" as having an Arabic sound with chanting although it's mostly instrumental with some nice sax. Some good dark atmosphere as well. Man this guy can drum ! It gets pretty intense before a barking dog ends it. "Sometimes" is another favourite that is Jazz influenced with keys, vocals, light drums and sax standing out. Then the guitar comes in. Mellotron is impressive to end it. "A Giant's Lullaby" opens with lots of sax. It picks up 1 1/2 minutes in. Contrasts continue. Lots of vocals and mellotron too. "Dark Horizons" is an excellent song with the guitar getting some of the spotlight. Love when the vocals come in, its so uplifting. One of my favourites.

I really applaud KVAZAR and hope we don't have to wait another 5 years to see what's up their sleeves. As much as I like their debut this is just more powerful and they really did pull out all the stops. A very ambitous release that succeeds at every level.

Report this review (#92774)
Posted Sunday, October 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This review is after the following CD release: Musea FGBG 4476.AR

What do you think it is on the cover of this Norwegian album? Solaris (everybody remembers his Stanislaw Lem?)! Very probable, isn't it? Especially given the band's name and the cosmic themes inside the booklet (stars, nebulae, galaxies). I got this album solely on the basis of the reviews here and I am not disappointed. Lush keyboards, complex, very tasty instrumental parts: just what I expected from a modern Scandinavian band which tries to sound "retro" (the Scandinavians know how to do it, don't they?) The first instrumental track, "Flight of Shamash" immediately sets the mood, being an ambitious great opener. "Choir of life" which follows features an unusual rhythm, female vocals, mandolin and flute further confirms that KVAZAR is not a light "recreational" band. These guys are pretty serious and certainly aiming high. The rest of the tracks are very exciting too. For example, I'd easily point out "Desert blues" as a fine specimen of modern jazz (you can feel an ingenious mix of symphonic and jazz prog throughout the album). The music on this album deserves solid four stars, but for some annoying details (which I will discuss below) I wanted to give this album three. Then perceiving that non-musical factors, albeit vexing, hardly make an album descend from the "excellent addition ..." to the "non-essential".

Bands whose mother tongue is not English, don't try to sing in English! Are you concerned about sales, thinking of the popularity of English? The history has witnessed what happens to music when the musicians start thinking about reaching wider audiences at an expense of their music. "A Giant's Lullaby" is a good example when the band should have stuck to its native Norwegian. The singing in English is not only unimpressive (although there's nothing wrong with the vocals themselves) but also embarrassing at times. How do you like the ending of a song whose final words are the distinct "But it gonna [sic] die"? The verb "is" is also absent from the lyrics in the booklet. And what about such slips as "gitar [sic]", "Soon I gonna [sic] leave this world" (another song-ending phrase), "Sometimes you won't understand what happends [sic]", and "Sometimes you really tries [sic]" (one more last phrase in a song)? All these linguistic errors make the album look slightly unprofessional. But this hardly damages the music which remains an excellent addition to any prog collection.

Report this review (#132844)
Posted Sunday, August 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Wow, this is what I call improvement! Kvazarīs second album took quite some time to come out, but, boy, was it worth it! While their first album was tentative, this one shows a band much more confident, mature and willing to experiment. Their songwriting skills and playing grew a lot in those four years between releases. Some line up changes also occured, with guitar and bass players being substituted. A host of guest musicians is also featured here, including some vocal interventions of female singer Trude Bergl (very good ones, by the way).

Their musical direction also changed: instead of the melancholic retro prog, lots of variety and new elements, like traditional jazz, jazz rock/fusion (the most proeminent influence here), eastern rhythms, gregorian chants, nothern folk and so on. Incredibly, all those elements work very well together giving the band a very distinctive sound where it could be just a big mess in less capable hands. And every track is quite a journey on itself, showing some great instrumental prowness (often in the King Crimsonīs vein). The excellent, crystal clear production also helped to enhance all their incredible musicanchip and the strong arrangements. Once again drummer Kim A. Lieberknecht shines with his fine technique and inventiveness.

Conclusion: well worth the wait. The band evolved a lot and I hope they keep on this path. If you like eclectic and varied prog, with the influences I mentioned before, donīt miss A Giantīs Lullaby. An excellent adddition to any prog lover collection: 4 strong stars.

Report this review (#244228)
Posted Sunday, October 11, 2009 | Review Permalink

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