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The Psychedelic Ensemble


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The Psychedelic Ensemble The Sunstone album cover
3.78 | 174 ratings | 3 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2015

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Prologue-The Voyage (2:14)
2. The Sunstone (5:31)
3. The Siren's Spell (4:17)
4. The Storm (4:50)
5. A Hundred Years On (8:04)
6. Sun Mad (6:58)
7. Digging Up The Past (5:45)
8. The Quake (5:42)
9. Gaze (7:42)
10. Endgame (4:07)
11. Back To The Sea (7:18)

Total time 62:28

Line-up / Musicians

- anonymous / electric & acoustic guitars, cigar box guitar, bass, mandolin, keyboards, piano, drums, percussion, lead & backing vocals, composer & producer

- Ann Caren / lead & backing vocals
- C. Francis / lead (7), falsetto & backing vocals
- Michael Wilk / Hammond B3 solo (7)
- Davis Brooks / electric violin solo (4), violin & viola (5,6)
- Kurt Fowler / cello (5,6)
- The Psychedelic Ensemble Orchestra / cello, contrabass, flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet & trombone
- Jonathan Roberts / conductor
- Amanda Roberts / concertmaster

Releases information

Artwork: Sam Del Russi

CD Glowing Sky Records ‎- ?? (2015, US)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE The Sunstone ratings distribution

(174 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

The mysteriously anonymous artist who chooses to let his projects attract their own merit without name associations under the title The Psychedelic Ensemble has released his fifth concept album in six years under the title, The Sunstone. Based upon legends and mythologies that have emerged from sea-faring cultures (mostly Viking) revolving around the mysterious navigational aid known as "the sunstone," the gifted and eminently skilled composer/performer behind The Psychedelic Ensemble once again draws from universal archetypes to offer entertainment and meaningful lessons to we, the people. Three things are particularly noticeable upon listening to this new TPE album that make it stand out as a bit different from previous releases. First is the way in which the presence of the orchestral and chamber instrumentations and arrangements are much more foundational and integral to the overall sound of The Sunstone's music--on virtually every song. This artist is above all quite accomplished as a composer and arranger of symphonic sounds and structures; TPE's song tapestries are always interesting and complex in a multi-layered way that is strikingly similar to symphonic structures from 'classical' music. The second thing that is noticeably evolved from previous TPE recordings (at least the previous two albums) is that the soloing weaves of multiple instruments that we've come to know and be awed by are somewhat tempered and not always delivered at such breakneck speed. It's as if TPE has let go of a desire to impress in lieu of allowing more emotional content to be delivered. I am still amazed by how he can create and perform these three-, four-, and sometimes five-instrument "duels." The third thing that I've found so noticeable is the way TPE has committed to sharing the lead vocal duties with his relatively new and quite talented female vocalist, Ann Caren. She is given lead opportunities in no less than three songs. And I hear more of Ann's own imprint on her vocal delivery than on her performances on The Tale of The Golden King. The fourth change--and, to these ears, the most significant improvement to the TPE sound--is the more 'real' or 'drum-like' sounds of the toms and snares used in the drum recording. I have always felt that the previous settings/tunings of these 'skins' were too tight, too plastic sounding.

1. "Prologue - The Voyage" (2:14) opens with a wonderful display of the potential of full orchestra to set a mood. By the time TPE's electric guitars and synthesizers join the party there is a wonderful feeling of excitement--and perhaps a little bit of Blade Runner or Harry Potter-ish foreboding. (10/10)

2. "The Sunstone" (5:32) Moving straight from the Prologue, "The Sunstone" enters familiar TPE territory in that the drums and magical weave of multiple stringed and keyed instruments present themselves with the immediate joinder of the soothing voice (multiply layered) of TPE. The vocals are nicely harmonized and kind held back within the instrumental mi--which sounds really fresh and demonstrates that restraint I mentioned above. Great TPE song! (9/10)

3. "The Siren's Spell" (4:17) opens with organ, synth and dirty distorted guitar setting the stage for Ann Caren's first vocal performance. Again, restraint rather than flamboyance seems to be the modus operandi here as Ann's vocal is never 'in your face' strong. The mid-section of soli is also much less flashy and feverous/high-pitched than we've come to respect--again to great effect. The song's acoustic guitar coaxed outro is very nice--and a perfect segue into the next song. (8/10)

4. "The Storm" (4:50) is an instrumental in which we see a return to a weave of more rapid-fire instrumental solo melody lines--though this time in the form of but two instruments--at least for the first 2:15. Then the Hammond organ gets a turn. Back to original two 'dirty' instruments, then electric violin to make it a threesome. Nice but could've used something . . . more. (8/10)

5. "A Hundred Years On" (8:04) opens with some gorgeous orchestral play--like watching a sunrise through music! After two minutes the song shifts into medieval acoustic folk with some acoustic guitars, harpsichord, double bass and drums while TPE sings. The fourth minute opens with a new feel--some great vocals and Hammond organ with full band and some chamber support. Really beautifully constructed song--with great effect! The final minute sees an awesome atmospheric section in support of Ann Caren's lovely voice. I love this one! One of my favorite TPE songs ever! I wish every band could afford the support of such a wide range of instrumentalists--and compose with the maturity and sophistication that TPE does! (10/10)

6. "Sun Mad" (6:59) is kind of a continuation of the previous song's storyline but it brings the pace and tone down a bit--allowing piano, jazzy lead guitar, emotional vocal, and orchestral support to come shining through. Such a brilliant weave of melody lines, start to finish! Awesome chord progressions and key changes. Great choice of instrument sounds. Quite a beautiful song. Definitely a favorite of mine. (10/10)

7. "Digging Up the Past" (5:45) At the 1:30 mark the song is established. I love the three or four bass melody lines interweaving at the bottom of the song with drums and Hammond organ. Hypnotic in a kind of TANGERINE DREAM way but amazingly mixed into a 60s blues- rock song. Awesome song! (9/10)

8. "The Quake" (5:42) opens with a kind of jazz fusion soup with some wonderful vocal inputs trying to steer the song onto its proper course. Once established, it becomes a very solid instrumental display of jazz fusion. The sound and instrument choices are definitely meant to capture the sounds and stylings of 1970s fusion. Like something from JAN HAMMER or electro-funkified STANLEY CLARKE, even a bit of WEATHER REPORT. Incredible song! (10/10)

9. "Gaze" (7:43) is a sensitive, emotional song constructed mostly of orchestral instruments in support of a wonderful vocal of Ann Caren. Synths and electric guitar enter in the third minute; drums, fretless bass, and Hammond organ in the fourth. I love the JEAN-LUC PONTY-like electric guitar arpeggios providing the glue to the song throughout the second half. Awesome bass play (including a brief solo) in the sixth minute traded with synths and guitars. My only criticism is of the fact that Ms. Caren's voice gets a little buried in the mix of the instrumental weave going on throughout the last two minutes. (9/10)

10. "Endgame" (4:07) features Ann Caren and TPE trading vocal duties in a conversant kind of way over an often rhythmic KIG CRIMSON like weave of arpeggios coming from multiple instruments. A very familiar sound from previous TPE releases. (8/10)

11. "Back to the Sea" (7:19) opens with ocean waves and a bit of a folk sound with acoustic guitar, mandolin, recorder weaving behind TPE's light IAN ANDERSON-like vocal. In the second minute Ann Caren takes over the lead vocal--this time with additional support of folk electric guitar and slide synth sounds giving it more of a Nashville sound. Light and upbeat though--kind of like a 60s Flower Child song of total optimism. The church organ opening the fourth minute, coupled with the chunky bass notes, gives the song more of a YES "Your Move" feel to it. Then the fifth minute sees a shift into more of an ominous tone with horn-synth taking lead over some minor key chords. At 6:00 we re-enter the sunlight and hope with the church organ--which then gives way to the original light folk feel and its instrumental support. The final minute sees the return to ominous and heavy as the soloists vie for supremacy and dominance. The song finishes with the dominant church organ and folk voice harmonies claiming the title. Definitely the most mood-complex and song on the album. Nice to end the album on a bit of a quieter if still dramatic note. (9/10)

TPE believes that this is his best release yet and I agree. The variation and maturity of presentation on The Sundstone coupled with the slight evolution of soundscapes and slight pullback from the previous tendency to be a bit over-dramatic puts this one ahead of his previous masterpieces, 2013's The Tale of the Golden King and even my previous personal favorite of his, 2011's The Dream of the Magic Jongleur.

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars What a appropriate name for this band, because they play music like a small ensemble that mixed things up with a rock attitude, a retro sound and classical embellishment. Also, a part from their symphonic approach, the band make some intrusion into the world of fusion, especially in the songs "The Storm" and "The Quake". We can hear female and male vocals throughout the album that is dominated by beautiful keyboards and piano textures that has some Wakeman and Emerson sound. The guitars still show some sparks with sharp accents. The vocals sometimes are reminiscent of Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, but the music is more in the style of the band Yes. The music has a lot of classical structures and also the songs are developed with sometimes some beautiful soloing from the keyboards and the guitar, but those solos doesn't take the lead over the full orchestra ensemble. "Prologue" is a nice intro with his soundtrack movie feel. The next track "The Sunstone" put you right away in the heart of the music with some busy keyboards. "The Siren's Spell" has some unique guitar sound and the presence for the first time of the female vocals of Ann Caren. "The Storm" has some fast pace fusion music with violin not too far from a band like KBB. "Gaze" is my favorite track with some incredible musicianship with the Hammond and the bass. If the last albums of the band was a nice discovery for me, this one seems to be for now more satisfying. Highly recommended!
Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US project THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE first appeared back in 2009, the creative vehicle of a composer and musician who stays anonymous from the very beginning of his activity in this field of art. He does, however, state on his website that he has more than 30 years of experience in music and has numerous awards to his name, including more than 20 Ascap awards! "The Sunstone" is the fifth studio album by the project, and was released through 'its' own label Glowing Sky Records.

High quality symphonic progressive rock with a quality inclusion of orchestral classical music is what The Psychedelic Ensemble provides us with on "The Sunstone". That this is a conceptual creation can perhaps be regarded as a bonus feature. Those who love and cherish this style of music, executed in high quality on all levels, can safely regard this album as one to place on the list of CDs that merit a check, to say the least.

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