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CAIRO

Cairo

Symphonic Prog


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Cairo Cairo album cover
3.39 | 83 ratings | 20 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Conception (2:10)
2. Season Of The Heart (10:13)
3. Silent Winter (8:25)
4. Between The Lines (9:25)
5. World Divided (10:16)
6. Ruins At Avalon's Gate (22:35)

Total Time: 53:39

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Mark Robertson / keyboards, synthesizers, Hammond organ, grand piano
- Jeff Brockman / drums and electric percussion
- Alec Fuhrman / guitars and vocals
- Bret Douglas / lead vocals
- Rob Fordyce / bass and vocals

Releases information

CD Magna Carta MA-1081-2

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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Conflict and DreamsConflict and Dreams
Magna Carta 1998
Audio CD$10.60
$2.67 (used)
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CAIRO Cairo ratings distribution


3.39
(83 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
14%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
31%
Good, but non-essential (41%)
41%
Collectors/fans only (12%)
12%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

CAIRO Cairo reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, February 20, 2005

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 28, 2005

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, February 15, 2008

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, June 11, 2009

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 23, 2012

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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. There´s 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. The rythm 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 rythm guitar suffers the same unfortunate destiny as the drums and the bass, so it´s safe to say the sound production leaves me unimpressed.

...still "Cairo" isn´t a bad release. To my ears it´s just a bit mediocre compared to the vast amount of releases in the same vein available on the market. A 3 star (60%) rating isn´t all wrong.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#888105) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 05, 2013

Latest members reviews

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#477339) | Posted by sussexbowler | Wednesday, July 06, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 E ... (read more)

Report this review (#186670) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, October 22, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#161880) | Posted by infandous | Friday, February 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 so ... (read more)

Report this review (#139427) | Posted by Tarkus31 | Thursday, September 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 C ... (read more)

Report this review (#78259) | Posted by drain-o | Monday, May 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1355) | Posted by | Saturday, April 02, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 compellin ... (read more)

Report this review (#1352) | Posted by Moogtron III | Tuesday, August 03, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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), diz ... (read more)

Report this review (#1351) | Posted by | Thursday, June 17, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Never heard of these guys? Well..they´r 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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1345) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Thursday, November 27, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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