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Cairo Conflict And Dreams album cover
3.53 | 127 ratings | 20 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Angels And Rage (10:23)
2. Corridors (11:56)
3. Western Desert (17:08)
4. Image (1:25)
5. Then You Were Gone (8:25)
6. Valley Of The Shadow (15:52)

Total Time: 64:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Bret Douglas / lead vocals
- Alec Fuhrman / guitars, vocals
- Mark Robertson / synths, Hammond, grand piano, vocals, producer
- - Jamie Browne / bass
- Jeff Brockman / drums

- Luis Maldonado / backing vocals
- Jesse Bradman / backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Jeff Brockman

CD Magna Carta ‎- MA-9012-2 (1998, US)

Digital album

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CAIRO Conflict And Dreams ratings distribution

(127 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

CAIRO Conflict And Dreams reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I don't know exactly for what reason that I spin the CD of this album that I got it 1999 (I used to put date of purchase in my CD jewel). I never pay enough attention for the band as at that time I think I was so amazed with Citizen Cain and Sinkadus that I purchased also around the same period. Having listened to more than 5 times, I think it's fair now for me to review this album. Overall, this album is excellent. The band has a bright future with the kind of music they play. Their music is relatively complex and heavily influenced by GENESIS, MARILLION, IQ and ELP. I would say that this is when GENESIS meets ELP. On top of that, they have great musicianship especially keyboard and guitar, and songwriting.

The opening track "Angels and Rage" surprised me with the kind of keyboard melody and nuance similar to GENESIS's "Cul-De-Sac" of "Duke" album. It appears at intro part. But when the music enters its body, it's totally different kind of composition. This opening track is really uplifting with stunning keyboard and guitar. The kind of vocal voice of the band is similar to CAST. The second track "Corridors" is opened by keyboard style that reminds me to Keith Emerson play in ELP. Again, this is an excellent track. The keyboard style is really stunning. In some parts of the song, guitar fills are sometime similar to S HACKETT style. This is a kind of track that I enjoy very much.

The intro part of "Western Desert" reminds me to IQ "Nomzamo"; not in the melody but in the musical nuances. This track has dynamic drumming and stunning guitar in the style of STEVE HACKETT. If you don't know the band, you may guess that this song is played by STEVE HACKET. This song has a relatively long (approx. 4 minutes) instrumental piece at the beginning of the track with great guitar and keyboard sound. Again, you may find KEITH EMERSON style of keyboard especially in a kind of sound like "boiling water" sound (you know what I mean). The solo keyboard by Mark Robertson in the middle of the track is wonderful. It is accompanied by Alec Fuhrman on guitars. Great composition.

"Image" is a short instrumental track with acoustic guitar and piano played with classical music touch. "Then You Were Gone" is not as complex as previous tracks. It has a nice light guitar riff that accentuates the song. I like the interlude part with great lead guitar and keyboard. The album is concluded excellently with "Valley Of The Shadow", another great track. If you want to identify the heavy influence of ELP, it is in this track. I really enjoy the keyboard / organ / piano style here. If you enjoy ELP or TRIUMVIRAT, you may enjoy this album. Wonderful!

Overall, this is an excellent album with strong songwriting, great and skillful musicians. The only thing that this group should improve is probably on the production quality. If this album was produced with better sonic quality of the CD, I am sure it will be perfect! This album is definitely recommended! Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Review by mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Having heard the MP3 sample of "Corridors" I was interested enough to buy the CD, but i was very disappointed, "Corridors" is the best track but all the others sound the same - fast, cluttered, unstructured, littered with ELP signatures - though i would more readily compare this "clutter" with Asia. This is definitely not Prog rock, merely a poor caricature, it sounds like a dated early 70's pop group, so bad i couldn't stand to listen to it for long. sorry folks, not everything on Progarchives is good, there are a plethora of imposters and pretenders here too, i won't get fooled again.
Review by progrules
5 stars Cairo is known as a band that sounds like EMERSON LAKE & PALMER and YES. I can agree to this in a way but they are certainly no immitation of any band. Cairo has a unique own sound mainly because of the singer. It's a fast operating band and it almost seems as if they improvise especially during their longer tracks . This is probably not the case but it shows that these are great musicians, best example is Mark Robertson with his almost endless organsolos. Best track to me is Western Desert, a fantastic epic. Another fine song is Then you were gone which brings out a great atmosphere. Angels and Rage as well as Valley of the Shadow are somewhat heavier and are fairly accessible songs. Corridors is a slightly less impressive one but still good.

Overall a fantastic effort from these American proggers that can only be rewarded with 5 stars

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
4 stars Cairo's sophomore release, Conflict and Dreams, came out four years after their promising debut. The time between albums certainly showed a difference with the band starting to show its own identity, yet retaining the influences that attracted many to their first album. Again, Cairo gives itself much room for instrumental development as the song lengths range from 8 1/2 to 17 minutes (with the exception of a 1 1/2 minute interlude), with four of the six tracks timing in at over 10 minutes.

Like on their debut, the instrumentation strongly leans towards Mark Robertson's bombastic keyboard playing. Robertson is clearly a serious study in Keith Emerson's style of playing. This was extremely evident on Cairo's debut, but on Conflict and Dreams, Robertson has eased up and begins to have his own personality shine through the swaths of keyboard soundscapes. The rest of the band seems a little tighter, a lot more original, and a bit more advanced in their instrumental prowess. Yet, the one problem that bothered me with their debut, bothers me on this album too: that of muddy-like production. Again, an album from 1998 should not necessarily sound like it was recorded in 1974, unless that was done by intention. I can't see that this was intended to be like this. It kind of gives Cairo a bit of a garage band essence.

Still, I enjoyed the performance and the amazing energy of this band. Some of the songs are longer than they probably should be, but for some reason that doesn't bother me here. And like their debut, lead singer Bret Douglas is an acquired taste. I think his voice suits this band nicely, but many of you are likely to disagree with me and this may present a stumbling block for you.

An excellent symphonic prog release with influences from ELP, Yes, Genesis, and perhaps a little Asia. One of the better ones from the 1990s. Four stars. It could have been a masterpiece with better production and recording facilities.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Cairo is a symphonic prog band from USA who combines very well their music with progressive metal in places. Also their music is highly influenced by ELP, and here and there by bands like Asia specialy on vocal parts and UK. Anyway Cairo plays an extremly well crafted music, the musicianship is top notch, the songwriting is excellent, what elese, a great album. Almost all the pieces are above 8 minutes, 4 of them above 10 - enough time for the musicians to express themself in symphonic prog field, with plenty of good ideas. The music is very uptempo with a great energy of musicians who did an excelent job here. First time I've listned to this band i've noticed how easy this guys plays, very enjoyble moments through the album with catcy choruses and strong musicianship. Every single musician from here is realy good at his instrument, delivering some very inventiv and in the same time very effcient and strong interplays between guitar of Alec Fuhrman with the keys of Mark Robertson. The voice is very high with a lots of twists, sometimes he reminds me of Asia or John Wetton in places, but Bret Douglas has his own range and quality of interpretation. So the best pieces are all, not a weak moment here, every single one is top notch from A to Z, a real winner. Why they never make big with such clever music I don't understand, maybe because of the weak promotion, maybe because they disbanded after next album from 2001, who knows. Anyway it's a shame that bands like Cairo don't get so much attention these days, because their prog is among the best available on market, easely this album Conflict and dreams from 1998 is one of the top albums of the '90's and not only. I will give 4 stars without hesitation, very solid album with tight musicianship. Excellent and recommended.
Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars The second album from Cairo continues the path begun on the first album. The sound to mix is as if you combined ELP with Utopia. The Addition of Jamie Browne on bass is a plus. His comlex fills add to the already densely packed music, although he's mixed a bit down for my taste as a bassist.

The songs, except for a brief keyboard interlude are all epics, the shortest being almost eight and a half minutes, and the rest all over ten minutes. And while the entire band is exceptionally talented, the highlight here again is keyboardist Mark Robertson, whose admiration of the great Keith Emerson is absolutely evident. In fact, to my ears, this is better than any ELP album since "Welcome Back My Friends..."

So if you like your prog loud and bombastic (I do), like to hear a talented keyboardist impersonating Keith Emerson (I do), this is a good choice.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Just as their debut album, this one is only interesting while the band performs their derivative ELP sounding music. As such, "Corridors" is by far my favourite. The addition of fine guitar work only adds to the feel. Unfortunately, there aren't many of this kind on this album.

The long "Western Desert" is another of the same vein: a fantastic introduction with a dramatic wild guitar and an orgy of keyboards. The beat is quite sustained during this wonderful intro. The cake is unfortunately falling down as soon as the vocals enter the scene (somewhat before the four minutes barrier).

Fortunately, these vocals don't last for long, and the instrumental maestria is shining brightly again after this useless interlude. Of course, don't expect any novelty since these moments are totally borrowed to ELP but still: it remains another very good moment of this album.

Surprisingly enough, during "Then You Were Gone", vocals are pretty good: high pitched and convincing. Actually, it is probably the best part of this song which, again, severely leans towards the glorious band of the seventies which I have named already quite a few times.

Another long song is following: "Valley Of The Shadow": it holds all the excesses that could lead to a love/hate affair in the ELP repertoire. This one is no other and exploits every facet of their prestigious predecessors. A bit too much if you want to know my opinion. Too much is too much, right?

Any way, this is a good album. Full of nostalgia for old freaks who are willing to listen to some ELP derivative extravaganza. Three stars.

Review by J-Man
4 stars Although largely unknown by the progressive rock community, Conflict and Dreams is certainly one of the better prog albums from the second half of the nineties'. Cairo was an impressive American band who took the very best of classic progressive rock, neo-prog, and even generous helpings of progressive metal; the end result being, of course, the magnificent Conflict and Dreams. This is their second full-length album, despite being my introduction to their music. After many thorough listens, I can only claim that this is a magnificent album that every fan of the genre should take a listen to; this is a truly underrated gem.

Cairo has been criticized for sounding too much like ELP by some reviewers, but I only hear occasional ELP references here - a few Hammond organ sections and synth passages undoubtedly bring Keith Emerson to mind, yet I tend to the think that Conflict and Dreams sounds much more modern, AOR-influenced, and heavy than these seventies' pioneers. In addition to the occasional ELP tendencies, I also hear traces of UK, Marillion, and IQ, and even some leanings towards Dream Theater and Rush. Cairo, while not a completely revolutionary band, did have a pretty original sound and their convincing style of epic-based songwriting really made Conflict and Dreams an excellent album. Five of the songs here exceed the eight minute mark, two of which reach above fifteen minutes. The album tends to feel a bit too long in some spots, and a bit of trimming around the edges could've made it even stronger; still, Cairo manages to make their music pretty accessible by including fantastic choruses in each of the tracks as well as some unforgettable instrumental portions. My favorite track here is probably the opening cut, "Angels and Rage" - a pretty accurate title for this song, indeed. This ten-minute track is filled with blistering instrumental portions, an unforgettable chorus, and plenty of key changes and fluid transitions. All of the other tracks are also pretty excellent, and I especially must give a nod to the seventeen-minute "Western Desert"; the keyboard playing in this track is jaw dropping, to say the least.

One of the best aspects of Conflict and Dreams is simply listening to how well these guys are capable of playing. These are absolute top-of-the-line musicians, and it's hard to not be amazed by the sheer complexity of many solos and riff patterns throughout the album. Keyboard player Mark Robertson often steals the show here, with his lush palette of sounds usually playing a dominant role in the music. Alec Fuhrman delivers quite a few excellent solos here, and he often reminds me of guitarists like Steve Rothery - definitely not a bad thing when it's coming from me! The Greg Lake-styled vocals of Bret Douglas are also pretty great, and I think his powerful and commanding singing style suits the music perfectly. The production leaves a bit to be desired, and it sounds a little dated by today's standards, but it's far from a major hindrance.

All in all, Conflict and Dreams is a very successful effort from Cairo that comes strongly recommended to all fans of classic progressive rock with a heavy dosing of neo-prog and progressive metal. It's a shame that this album is so unrecognized by the prog community; this really is one of the genre's more impressive albums from the late nineties'. 4 stars and a strong recommendation are warranted without hesitation.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Angels and rage

Out of the classic Symphonic Prog bands of the 1970's, Genesis seems to be the one that has attracted the highest number of followers (most notably in the British Neo- Prog movement). King Crimson and Yes have their fair share of followers too, though there seems to be a lot less of them in comparison. Emerson Lake & Palmer have even fewer followers. Cairo has elements of several of these and other bands, but the influence of the latter band on the sound of Conflict And Dreams is undeniable. Mark Robertson's keyboard playing is very much in the style of Keith Emerson, both in playing style and in the actual keyboard sounds he uses. This is especially true of the Hammond organ, but the synthesizers and the classical piano too readily bring Emerson to mind. The drumming of Jeff Brockman and the bass playing of Jamie Browne is also rather similar to that of Carl Palmer and Greg Lake respectively. But there the similarities with Emerson Lake & Palmer stop. The sound of Conflict And Dreams is indeed keyboard-dominated, but they also rely heavily on the (mostly electric) guitars of Alec Fuhrman, and the lead vocals of Bret Douglas are more Journey/Boston-like (but the backing vocals are more towards Yes). Cairo is thus more Rock than Emerson Lake & Palmer ever was. Traces of Kansas can also be heard.

Some say they can detect traces Dream Theater, but even though the success and fame of Dream Theater most probably helped a lot to pave the way for bands like Cairo, the Metal influences in Cairo's music are superficial at best. It is perhaps true that Cairo wear their influences on their sleeves, but it is unfair to dismiss them as an Emerson Lake & Palmer-clone or a "retro-Prog" act. Cairo utilizes a modern production and injects some modern influences into their brand of Symphonic Prog.

All members are clearly very talented and the actual material is strong and melodic. The albums consists of six tracks, four of which are over ten minutes in running length which creates lots of opportunities for great instrumental workouts without becoming directionless. All the songs are good, but Angels And Rage and Corridors are the absolute highlights for me. The album is very good as a whole, but I feel that the first half of the album is somewhat stronger than the second half. It was wise of them to put a short and relaxing instrumental after the 17 minute plus mastodon of Western Desert which helps tp keep the album varied. But despite this, with a total running time of over an hour, I must admit that the excitement tends to wear off a little bit towards the end of the final track. But once it is over, I desire to hear the album again which is the mark of a great album.

Highly recommended!

Review by FragileKings
3 stars As a new-comer to the progressive rock world two years ago, the nineties intrigued me as it was a time when prog began to experience a rebirth, and somehow Cairo was presented to me, most likely on Amazon or iTunes. After a sampling of their three albums, I knew it was the first or second I should get because they were harder rocking and closer to my metal roots.

"Conflict and Dreams" is the second album by Cairo, said to be slightly more together than the first and showing the band's development of an individual sound. Based on hard rocking electric guitar, a wild organ, and a fast-paced rhythm section, Cairo's music is a bit like Uriah Heep with more speed and prog than what Heep was actually recording in the nineties. In some ways Cairo could sound a bit like Steve Morse when he rocks out but with a guitar playing style more like a generic metal band than Morse the Great.

By every account, this rock out melange of lengthy songs featuring a healthy dose of tempo shifts, time signature changes, flashing fingers across the keyboard, vocal harmonies (at times), and strong melodies played over hard and heavy guitar and punctuated by brief atmospheric intervals of synthesizer now and again should be an absolute delight to my ears. It's almost like Yes on speed!

However, my lingering impression of this album after two years is that it is lacking something. The first two tracks come off pretty strong. "Angels of Rage" show the band playing as well as any prog metal band, and "Corridors" has a strong melody and catchy intro, plus more synthesizer to offer a soft contrast to the metal guitar. "Western Desert" shows the band at full tilt, going like a metal version of Glass Hammer almost. Rhythm changes come continuously as the guitar solos dive and slice along with the steady drum beat.

But by the time the vocals come in, my first dissatisfaction with the album becomes clear to me: I don't really care for the vocals. Now it's not that he can't sing. Bret Douglas has a strong and powerful voice that well suits the music. It's perhaps the timbre of his voice that doesn't grab me. Realizing this makes it difficult for me to enjoy the sung parts of the songs. Others may not think so.

As "Western Desert" moves into a lengthy instrumental section, I also find my mind can't remain focused on the music. A shame really as there are some very nice moments and some great playing. But one thing that tires my patience is really long solo sections. I enjoy prog because epic tracks don't tend to rely on extended jams but instead feature complex and varied music. After the ten-minute mark, I'm looking forward to hearing something new but the theme melody returns and then for a minute or two it sounds like something is up. But then there's just some repetition until nearly the final minute when at last the awaited change occurs, interesting, refreshing, and over way too soon.

The only real contrast to show up on the album is the short acoustic instrumental, "Image". It's a pleasant break after 40 minutes of mostly driving hard rock, organ and guitar solos, and appreciable rhythm and melody changes that by now are starting to sound formulated.

The last two songs, "Then You Were Gone" and "Valley of the Shadow" continue on in the same vein as most of the album. There are plenty of highlights, like the guitar melody at around 2:30 on "Then You Were Gone" and the almost Deep Purple-esque organ solos or ELP-ish fiery keyboard solo of "Valley". This final song in particular seems intended to be a masochistic finger exercise on organ, piano, and synthesizer.

Certainly any one song added to a mixed playlist is likely to impress anyone with a taste for heavy prog or progressive metal. The album is chock full of searing instrumentation, prog rock at its most intense and frenetic at times. But overall the album feels too "samey" to me. Perhaps if I liked the vocals more I might regard the album more highly. I'm not surprised to see that some have awarded "Conflict and Dreams" with four stars. It's worthy of it. For me, however, three stars is the maximum as I still can't really warm up to it enough..

Review by patrickq
2 stars Cairo released three neo-prog/symphonic albums from 1994 to 2001. Each seems to have been a rough draft of the next -- and I would argue that this is equally true of their 2001 album Time of Legends, even though there never was a next album; Time of Legends had several strong pieces alongside some in-process songs.

Maybe it's me seeing a trend where none exists, but Conflict and Dreams seems to fit this pattern. In the album-opener "Angels and Rage" we can see the members of Cairo acknowledging their debt to Genesis -- the intro to "Angels" is right out of Wind & Wuthering -- but also relinquishing it. By the time "Angels" is halfway through, the listener has been introduced to the essential elements of the band's unique sound.

Throughout Conflict and Dreams the band continues to experiment with lengthy instrumental introductions; only on "Then You Were Gone" (at 8:25, the second-shortest song on the album) do the vocals start during the first minute of the track. But in this respect "Then You Were Gone" begins a trend which will be continued on the next album.

There also are signs that the band's unity had been waning from one album to the next. Cairo has been compared to Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and this seems accurate on many fronts, including the members' level of self-regard. On all three releases, much ink was spent identifying drummer Jeff Brockman and keyboardist Mark Robertson (and originally, guitarist Alec Furman) as the (co-)Producer, Engineer, Arranger, and Mixer. We're even told, with an abundance of Uppercase Letters, "Computer Artwork Designed And Produced By Jeff Brockman." Nonetheless, on their first album, all six songs were co-written by at least two of the key members of the band. On Conflict and Dreams, this was true of five of the six (one song was written and performed by Robertson alone). And on their final album, three of the seven songs were written by one member alone, with Robertson and Brockman each getting a solo turn.

But accompanying this apparent increase in disjunction was an increase in quality. Cairo had its charms, but Conflict and Dreams is an improvement. Nonetheless, Conflict and Dreams still suffers from a lack of compositional quality, something Cairo would go a long way toward remedying with Time of Legends.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Oh What a great album we have here, to every progressive rock fan in general and keyboard driven prog in particular! Some of the most exciting elements from Emerson Lake & Palmer sound are presented here, although with a more modern and agressive edge with the inclusion of electric guitar, som ... (read more)

Report this review (#281212) | Posted by keyboardproger | Monday, May 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is the type of album that will blow you away the firt tiem you listing to it, and will keep blowing you away every time you listen to it. the complexity of their work is just owesomely great, this one is just one step higher that their debut "Cairo" you can find Cairos roots coming all th ... (read more)

Report this review (#88297) | Posted by Mickolay | Monday, August 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album is my first experience with CAIRO. I did hear a better than average rendition of "Squonk" on a tribute to GENESIS CD put out by their label, MAGNA CARTA. I'd heard they were supposed to be some kind of ELP clone and while there are some moments where they sound incredibly like the f ... (read more)

Report this review (#35931) | Posted by Trafficdogg | Thursday, June 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Stunning, outstanding, mind-blowing, complex, masterful playing & good production.... I never would have believed that a non-british progrock band could deliver such an outstnading album. You hear influences from: ELP, YES, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, UK and others. This band is the best progrock b ... (read more)

Report this review (#1369) | Posted by | Saturday, April 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If you can imagine what Yes would have sounded like if they had replaced Rick Wakeman with Keith Emerson (instead of Patrick Moraz) you get the general gist of Cairo. A lot of people have written them off as ELP clones, but listen closely and you'll hear a lot more going on (especially the gui ... (read more)

Report this review (#1367) | Posted by | Wednesday, March 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This would be Cairo's 2nd, and its not much of a departure from the 1st CD. except on the whole I personally like the songs a bit better on this one. Keyboardist Mark Robertson's solo's have calmed down a bit on the Keith Emersonism's.. Cairo have been criticized for being blatant rip-offs on ... (read more)

Report this review (#1366) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars About two years ago I was a huge progressive metal fan. So I potentially praised every release by Inside Out or Magna Carta. And so when I saw a Magna Carta label on Cairo's "Conflict And Dreams" I immediately bought it. That was the time when the legend didn't meet my expectations. Two years ... (read more)

Report this review (#1365) | Posted by | Saturday, July 24, 2004 | Review Permanlink

2 stars When coming up with ideas for a focus for this 'review', I came up with such one-liners as: My coat's on the floor...where's the hook?! or ...too white What I mean to say is; although these guys can play their balls off; I've yet to hunger, anticipate, revel in the joy that Prog Rock c ... (read more)

Report this review (#1364) | Posted by | Sunday, July 18, 2004 | Review Permanlink

3 stars better record than it's predecessor, tighter but with "inner troubles", in here we are facing the struggle they have to compose their songs and sometimes they KNOW they're evoking groups of the past, however, the record has a solid foundation. The keys got more pressence here than before, and the co ... (read more)

Report this review (#1361) | Posted by | Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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