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ABEL GANZ

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Abel Ganz biography
UK act ABEL GANZ was formed in 1980, with keyboardist Hew Montgomery and multi-instrumentalist Hugh Carter as the founding members. Malky McNiven (guitars) and Ken Weir (drums) fleshed out the initial line-up of the band.

Abel Ganz soon became a regular feature in the Glasgow live scene, and after some time they decided that it was time to add a vocalist to their line-up. Cue Alan Reed, formerly of Trance Macabre. He came aboard in time to partake in the recording of their first album "Gratuitous Flash" which was released in 1983. Regular live shows, airplay and an appearance at the Radio Clyde Kelvingrove festival increased their stature. This didn't always have a positive side to it though. Reed's performances had been noticed by UK act Pallas, who were in need of a new vocalist. He was asked to join them and accepted, and stayed on as the vocalist of Pallas until early 2010.

This was just one of many line-up changes to befall Abel Ganz at that point in time though. McNiven left, to be replaced by Paul Kelly (guitars). He also took over the vacant job as lead vocalist. Carter decided to step down as a band member as well, replaced by Gordon Mackie (bass). The band changed, and so did their level of activity. By the mid 80's Abel ganz was busier than ever before in the live circuit, and a new album saw the light of day in 1985 as well - "Gullibles Travels". They were signed to French label M.S.I. soon after, and with Denis Smith (drums) in as a regular member and guest appearances from former members Reed and Kelly a new album saw the light of day in 1988: "The Dangers of Strangers".

The 90's proved to be a troublesome decade for Abel Ganz. Montgomery left the band, and was replaced by Stuart Clyde (keyboards). This latest line-up started venturing towards more AOR tinged musical waters on the band's fourth effort "The Deafening Silence", and with some less than stellar management at the time as well it was eventually decided that the band was best left in the annals of history.

Cue 2001, and a chance encounter between the founding members Montgomery and Carter. This lead to the resurrection of Abel Ganz, with Denis Smith (drums), Davie Mitchell (guitars) and Steven Donnelly (bass) fleshing out this new version of the band. A vocalist was still missing though, but eventually Mick MacFarlane hooked up with Abel Ganz. This revitalized version of Abel Ganz came up with a new album in 2008, "Shooting Albatross", and are still activ...
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Abel GanzAbel Ganz
Import
Abel Records
Audio CD$21.77
Shooting AlbatrossShooting Albatross
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Abel Ganz 2008
Audio CD$48.28
$40.22 (used)
Dangers of StrangersDangers of Strangers
Ugum Production 2009
Audio CD$24.99
$29.29 (used)
Abel Ganz by Abel Ganz [Music CD]Abel Ganz by Abel Ganz [Music CD]
Abel Records
Audio CD$44.45
Back From The ZoneBack From The Zone
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F2 Music
Audio CD$14.99
Gullibles TravelsGullibles Travels
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UGUM Productions/MSI
Audio CD$25.00
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ABEL GANZ discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ABEL GANZ top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.37 | 48 ratings
Gratuitous Flash
1984
3.22 | 33 ratings
Gullibles Travels
1985
2.97 | 47 ratings
The Dangers Of Strangers
1988
2.50 | 27 ratings
The Deafening Silence
1994
4.11 | 125 ratings
Shooting Albatross
2008
3.74 | 87 ratings
Abel Ganz
2014

ABEL GANZ Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Live in Scotland 6.2.84
1984

ABEL GANZ Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ABEL GANZ Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.72 | 20 ratings
Back From The Zone
2002

ABEL GANZ Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Gratuitous Flash*
1984
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Dangers Of Strangers*
1988

ABEL GANZ Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Deafening Silence by ABEL GANZ album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.50 | 27 ratings

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The Deafening Silence
Abel Ganz Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars With the release of ''The dangers of strangers'' Abel Ganz returned to live performances, having recruited new guitarist Robert Wilson and drummer Colin Johnson, who also happened to be a studio engineer.However the line-up slump still was a major problem for the band.The places of lead singer and keyboardist had to be filled, after Hew Montgomery decided to step down.Christopher Forsyth joined the band as the new singer and Stuart Clyde became the keyboard player, leaving Hugh Carter as the only original Abel Ganz member.This formation recorded the band's fourth studio release ''The deafening silence'', released in 1994 on the French label MSI.

According to the words of Carter, Abel Ganz were dangerously flirting with becoming an average Rock group around the time and his words are pretty much reflected on the sound of the new album.While the Scottish band still retained much of its Neo Prog qualities, that made them a top entry among 80's British Prog bands, the high-pitched voice of the new singer along with the more pompous keyboards lines of Stuart Clyde had added some sort of AOR flashes in the new work.The eponymous ballad with its soft atmosphere, the following ''Hold the moment'' and certain passages in several tracks are like listening to something composed by FOREIGNER or JOURNEY.But there is also the bright side of the album.Montgomery had participated partly in the album's pieces and the recognizable sound of Abel Ganz is still evident in most tracks.Flashy keyboard themes, short-handed GENESIS prog qualities and the quirky and tricky solos along with the omniprsent sense of melodious themes are still based on the 80's British Prog tradition, offering memorable and raw compositions with plenty of energy and passion.Big symphonic synthesizers and grandiose deliveries of rich musical textures are enough to hold the listener's attention, even if not comparable to the best material written by the band.''Serendipity'' and ''Stranger in your heart'' are definitely among the striking and well-crafted efforts of the band and deserve some praise in Abel Ganz'es long repertoire.

The weakest, or better say most inconsistent, of all Abel Ganz early albums yet not weak enough to avoid a recommendation.A couple of tracks are of limited interest even to Neo Prog lovers, the rest of the album though contains signs of the band's 80's evolution with Clyde prooving to be a great keyboardist and Carter managing to keep the new formation together.Recommended.

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 Abel Ganz by ABEL GANZ album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.74 | 87 ratings

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Abel Ganz
Abel Ganz Neo-Prog

Review by Progulator
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Scottish proggers Abel Ganz have a long history that stretches back into the neo-prog scene of the 80′s. Like many groups of that era, they too had a long period of quiet, with no releases following their The Danger of Strangers album in 86′ until their 94′ album The Deafening Silence, followed by an even more extended break (12 years) prior to the release of their definite return in 2008 with the critically well received Shooting Albatross. With so many years between albums one can expect that things will be a bit different each time around, and such is certainly the case with Abel Ganz, who's latest direction since Shooting Albatross has been increasingly acoustic, folky, and pastoral. Not a bad thing in my estimation.

The opener, "Delusions of Grandeur," ends up being much more than your typical instrumental intro, driving immediate interest into the album with its nostalgic, pastoral opening which soon passes to a menacing theme performed by a classical style ensemble which even manages to surprise us me in the end with the sax being chosen as the lead, giving it a very unique flavor. From here, the five part "Obsolescence" song cycle takes us deep into what the album is all about. From 12 string guitars, folky picking, woodwind interludes, and a strong celtic pop feel, "Obsolescence" takes us on a journey from light to dark and back again. The transition from the light picking of sunrise to the upbeat, even bouncy, rhythms of "Evening" is well executed, with the latter taking many elements of the former and integrating them in new ways, such as the recorders from "Sunrise" becoming integrated as harmonic counterpoint" on "Evening." Following a a pedal steel guitar solo and plenty of conga, the transition from "Evening" to "Close Your Eyes" is actually the most fascinating due to its dramatic mood change. Shifting towards a darker sound that integrates pounding bass/drum interjections under plucky acoustics, harmonized vocals, and some roaring Hammond, "Close Your Eyes" is a track that kicks the album up a few notches with its increased intensity, strong groove, and unexpected keyboard solo before a fantastic synth sequency section followed by intense drumming that reels us back in to the main song. From here the cycle continues to evolve, this time with the advent of "The Dream." Aptly titled, this piece actual does have a vivid dream feel, augmented by its somber mood, uncertain chord patterns, and fluttering flute. THe gorgeous use of vocals harmony over a delicate Mark II Mellotron flute is pure gold, and the theme at the end is a winner with its strong nostalgia inducing factor. The real highlight of the song, and the album for that matter, is the surprising organ solo at the end of the track, which starts off soft and pretty before suddenly becoming triumphant and even gothic, bringing in huge chords and drum accents followed by a Bach-like melody on synth over cathedral-esque atmosphere before returning to a joyful theme. Wrapping up this powerful musical suite is "Dawn," a guitar solo that extends the main organ theme from the previous track over growling Hammond, taking us through several key changes for an uplifting conclusion.

While the rest of the album offers many elements presented in "Obsolescence," there are a variety of tricks that Abel Ganz pulls out along the way to keep it fresh. "End of Rain" and "Heartland" were completely unexpected for me. Between their mystical atmosphere fluxes between cinematic and new age soundscapes, proving a bit of trance inducing music for your pleasure. "Unconditional," a powerhouse song oriented piece, delivers wise use of constantly changing measures that don't distract but add a strong sense of groove to this catchy piece featuring great motifs, nice jazzy sections, a blazing guitar solo, and loads of vocal hooks. The biggest surprise, however, was the use of brass on several of these tracks. It makes a brief appearance in "Unconditional" on the jazz section, but it especially caught my attention on "Recuerdos" and "The Drowning." The slow, marching quality of the brass on "Recuerdos" adds an unexpected old-school vibe to this highly folky piece, while the horn section in "The Drowning" floored me with its evocative melodies. Banking on a strong, even mesmerizing sense of melancholy, "The Drowning" is about as brilliant of an album closer as you'll come by. The lamentful brass section carefully undulates in dynamics under introspective vocals in a low register for maximum effect. Additionally, the powerful lyrics, augmented by a heart wrenching trumpet solo will just about bring tears to your eyes. Bravo.

All in all, Abel Ganz's latest shows a keen sense for songwriting that focuses on strong melodic ideas within a consistent framework of sound. That said, there's enough strategic deviation from the expected to really make focus key sections impactful. Add in the benefit of crystal clear production values and Abel Ganz shows themselves to be progressing quite nicely in 2014 with an album that is certainly worthy of being self-titled.

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 Abel Ganz by ABEL GANZ album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.74 | 87 ratings

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Abel Ganz
Abel Ganz Neo-Prog

Review by pharcanal

4 stars I kind of drift around prog finding, listening to, loving and enjoying a lot of great stuff, but now and again an album catches my ears and this is one of them. I'm getting old in my brain cells, but from time to time an album just seems to "fit", I know I like it, it's just ..............good. This is my latest one, I'm still listening, still hearing, still wondering, but totally enjoying every moment of it, almost lie a rebirth of Abel Ganz? Sorry if that's way out of order, it could be my limited listening / knowledge.

Examples - Lightbulb Sun, Seasons End, Foxtrot, Fragile, ......

What I'm saying is, I really like this, but i'm still listening, nice one guys.

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 Abel Ganz by ABEL GANZ album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.74 | 87 ratings

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Abel Ganz
Abel Ganz Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Abel Ganz previously unleashed one of the finest prog albums in recent memory with the divine 2008 "Shooting the Albatross", a release that caught more than one pundit with its prog pants near their ankles. Critically acclaimed and considered by many as a one-shot surprise never to be repeated, the Scottish band went through another round of musical chairs, losing original co-founders Hew Montgomery and Hugh Carter, and looked sadly like they were done. The bass and drums have remained intact as both Stevie Donnelly and Denis Smith are back, always good to have such a solid spine in place. Guitarist Davie Mitchell is back as well. New recruit Steve Lightbody on keys does a fabulous job while long-time vocalist Stuart "Mick" MacFarlane is now standing in the front spotlight. I was overjoyed about the prospect of another exciting Abel Ganz ride. It will nevertheless be a different kettle of fish. The sound has changed into a another subtle variation of neo-prog, this time with a more wholesome attitude, perhaps nearer to what I would call "hard neo- folk", like Big Big Train, Red Jasper The Gift or even Guy Manning.

A bristling symphonic overture sets the stage for the 5 part "Obsolescence" suite, a 23 minute revelation that hits you upon first earful, chock full of twists and turns with silky flute, colossal church organ, country-style guitar pickin', slippery synths and of course, a fascinating story delivered by the more than credible "Mick". Bassist Donnelly does wonders on the low-end while his partner Smith propels with subtle delicacy. The suite has a distinct "I want to hear this again and again" feel, a trait that certainly bodes well for future returns. It certainly fits very nicely with previous accomplishments like "Sheepish", "So Far" and "Ventura".

What really caught me off guard was the delightful acoustic guitar performance on "Spring", a breathless moment where I was expecting vocals that never came, a lovely piece that has an Anthony Phillips pastoral sheen. Drop dead gorgeous. Memories in Spanish are "Recuerdos", a vivid cut of nostalgia, fervently expressed by a stunning trumpet-like theme, escorted by an elusive guitar and a fully emotional voice that will tug at the heartstrings, crickets providing the slick backing vocals. Fragile and beautiful, once again.

Finally, we reach epiphany with the deliriously stunning "Heartland", a modern, electronic symphony of intense pleasure that has children playing, screaming and innocence at rest. A female voice that winks at Hungarian folk sensation Marta Sebestyen, a world music interpretation that only proves the level of wanton progression expressed by the musicians. The Gaelic vocals are supplied by Joy Dunlop. It segues nicely into "End of Rain", a sleek, acoustic guitar-fueled track that seeks out incredible images in the listener's mind, as if trekking through the rolling hills and dense forests, fresh and brisk air massaging the skin. Donnelly caresses his bass frets in bewilderment, a sonic utopia that exudes endless reverie. The final moments are exuberant, the bass and drums doing a tight waltz. This is beyond bliss, simple atmospheric music can be so perfect.

Malcolm Jones of Scottish legends Runrig makes an appearance on "Thank You", a typical Scot country tune, closer to Runrig with blessed accordion and a Mark Knopfler-styled guitar solo that twangs and slides with pedal steel-feel. A vibrant tune that will certainly stay the course, though totally devoid of any prog references, just a nice song!

"A Portion of Noodles" is another brief folk ditty, MacFarlane once again shining on the acoustic guitar, displaying sterling technique and a mesmerizing sense of feeling. This again serves as an appropriate introduction to the upcoming massive epic, the 14 minute "Unconditional", a harrowing pot-pourri of various styles, an American Indian beat that winks at the Eagles, a tortured guitar that veers into a jazz mode and then later into hard metal territory, Mick crooning with total conviction. Trumpets indicate New Orleans rather than Glasgow but the mood is delightful, electric piano gleaming brightly, shifting drums and very cool bass undertow. Lightbody does a masterful piano solo that is straight out of the jazz universe. The arrangement acquires more raw power as the surly organ decides to rage brightly, Mick starting to howl in earnest, Gentle Giant-like dissonance taking a brief bow as the guitars start to ratchet up their rage, Mitchell unleashing a mother guitar solo, very electric, very Vai/Satriani , highly intense. Toss in some choir harmony voices, stop on a dime movements, dazzle and shine. Totally unexpected and totally brilliant!

"The Drowning" sets this one to the cradle, pulling a comfortable duvet over the tired and weary soul, a goodnight kiss that will help dream sweet dreams. MacFarlane croons, flugelhorn in tow, brassy knobs on a wooden bed. Drenched in deep melancholia, the ebb and flow of the album comes to a serene conclusion. A gloriously tired trumpet eases onto the pillow.

This album is quite different, not as linear as the thrilling "Shooting the Albatross", content to explore new sounds and new dimensions, searching out distant horizons but making them fit into a catalog of sounds that unendingly excite and enthrall. Is that not the ultimate purpose of a progressive album?

I beg to differ on the cover artwork, it is one of the most poignant ones in recent memory and perhaps I can relate better living in Alberta, where such bleak winter vistas are commonplace. The lilac sheen is inspiring. Love this precious album.

5 Clever Artilleries

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 Abel Ganz by ABEL GANZ album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.74 | 87 ratings

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Abel Ganz
Abel Ganz Neo-Prog

Review by mbzr48

3 stars I don't write negative reviews or for that matter many reviews but I had to write one here! It took "Abel Ganz" 6 years to come-up with an album that has a boring uninvented name and a cover that looks like a 5 year old kid painted that is boring too and uninvented! I was hoping the music would be the opposite but unfortunately I was wrong, I know that when people listen to an album when it just realest they look for the positive immediately, this is why you can see on many albums at the beginning the rates are high and then after few month from being around 4-5 stars they sink to less then 4 stars or maybe less then 3 stars on PA, I believe this will be the case here too, unless you are an "Abel Ganz" fanatic! I don't think it's a disaster but for me only 3 stars is more then fair! when I'm listening to an album I rate each song from 1 to 5 and here all the songs are 3 stars other then "Heartland" that is amazing 5 stars and "Unconditional" that is a 4 stars, I was hoping for more but this is Good but not essential! 3 stars

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 Abel Ganz by ABEL GANZ album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.74 | 87 ratings

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Abel Ganz
Abel Ganz Neo-Prog

Review by lagos

5 stars last opus after too much time is here ; and really fantastic album delivered ( for me the best ). very different of first albums with a new sound in the vein of big big train , genesis , the creativity is evident ( fabulous guitars ) & instrumentals fusion at the top , some tracks are more longer ( the last ) & what can i say : a divine pleasure for my ears . it's amazing to see that abel ganz must asking help to fans to finish this album ( pure nonsense for real musicians !!! );when you can hear so much bull[&*!#]s who have success with the crowd , i'm say to myself :oh god thanks to make me enjoy this real music created by great & real artists !! for all fans of prog & simply great feelings with music , this album is a MUST !! so enjoy listenning it !!! 5 stars of course ( may be the best release this year with roy strattman album ),,,,,like say steel pulse : life without music i cant live !!!!!

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 The Dangers Of Strangers by ABEL GANZ album cover Studio Album, 1988
2.97 | 47 ratings

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The Dangers Of Strangers
Abel Ganz Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars After an 85' tour throughout Scotland Abel Ganz would again face the cruel reality of line-up changes.They hired a new vocalist, Martin Haggerty, who only played two gigs with the band, and in 1986 Weir left to be replaced by Alan Quinn.The track ''The dangers of strangers'' was recorded for the ''Double exposure'' compilation album, but soon the band fell apart.Hew Montgomery made an attempt to revive Abel Ganz in 1987 and former members Hugh Carter and Malky McGiven joined him, however they went on basically as a studio project, lacking the additional crew to perform live.A new cassette-album was released by the trio in 1988, ''The dangers of strangers''.They were joined by ex-bandmates Paul Kelly and Alan Reed in a couple of tracks, while session drummer Denis Smith took over the drum duties.The album was re-released in CD on Ugum, as all of the early Abel Ganz works.

It would be a surprise if all the aforementioned issues had no effect on Abel Ganz'es inspiration.''The dangers of strangers'' is another good album by the Scottish veterans, but it certainly lacks some of the incredible pieces of the past two albums.Even so, this is pretty tight and uncommercial Neo Prog with full respect to the band's early roots and plenty of enjoyable moments.The songwriting appears to be more laid-back and emotional with less angular keyboard acrobatics and a tendency towards more conventional structures with focus on lyrical passages, PINK FLOYD-like atmospheric textures, stll having this mid-70's GENESIS vibe.The two-part, 12-min. title-track is a very strong piece with thematic changes and tempo shifts, built around Kelly's very good vocals, melodic guitars and Montgomery's solid keyboard work, but the three-part, 9-min. ''Rain again'' is some sort of a dissapointment, sounding very accesible, only saved by Reed's excellent vocal parts.Old-days Abel Ganz will return with the fully convincing ''Hustler II'': Emphatic Neo Prog with instant melodies, bombastic keyboards, ppompous instrumental material and sensitive singing lines.The 8-min. ''Dreamtime'' reminds me of early PALLAS, balancing between a lyrical atmosphere and excellent, CAMEL-esque guitar soundscapes, while the closing ''Pick a widow'' is a decent instrumental piece, based on groovy beats, flashy synthesizers and solid guitar work.

''The dangers of strangers'' prooved that Abel Ganz were alive and well back in 1988.Not the best album by the band, but certainly a very good Neo Prog release with a balanced sound and consistent vocal/instrumental executions.Recommended.

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 Shooting Albatross by ABEL GANZ album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.11 | 125 ratings

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Shooting Albatross
Abel Ganz Neo-Prog

Review by sinslice

4 stars Rock neo symphonic progressive with a good dose of acoustic guitar and flute.

Neo progressive has been one of the most controversial movements within the genre. It was originated in the eighties fateful, fateful for symphonic rock. However, looking into the distance the early works of Marillion, IQ, Twelfth Night, Pendragon, among others, can not understand the resistance to it. Justified only musical prejudice, without giving attention to the product. Of course, a matter of taste. In addition, there were several projects that progressive ear disappointed by the low quality, but would not it also happened in the seventies?

Abel Ganz was one of those groups that did not get round good albums at the time. Too commercial, surrendering to the demands of the time, hard to dodge. Considering this, I was very pleasantly surprised this musical artistic jewel.

The four tracks are very good, well polished, with color and variety, So Far being a pure delight. Pastoral moments and more powerful. Electric guitars are tight and lively, the production is perfect. It conveys anguish, excitement, joy, hope, anxiety. The band sounds fully and well oiled. 4+ stars

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 Shooting Albatross by ABEL GANZ album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.11 | 125 ratings

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Shooting Albatross
Abel Ganz Neo-Prog

Review by pfdfcc

4 stars OK, having been a fan of epic length, symphonic recordings in my formative prog years (the 70's), and having fallen in love with such iconic bands as Genesis and Yes, I can appreciate the work it must have taken to create these 4 tracks. Although expansive, they manage to hold the listeners attention with beautiful synthesizer breaks and some nice acoustic guitar and keys. The mammoth centerpiece, So Far, tends to get a little meandering at times, and probably could have been pared down just a bit, but the real gems here more than make up for that. The final two tracks, Sheepish & Ventura, are truly masterpieces of progressive songwriting. They definitely bear that European prog footprint and that's a good thing! When these guys take it down into the softer symphonic passages, the music just washes over you and kinda takes you to those times back in the day when listening to a track let you float off to a more peaceful place. Old school prog that pays tribute to its influences in the most complimentary way.

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 Shooting Albatross by ABEL GANZ album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.11 | 125 ratings

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Shooting Albatross
Abel Ganz Neo-Prog

Review by rickdeckard

5 stars This is a far, FAR departure from their 80's output and while it retains a lot of melody and hook characteristic of the neo-prog stable, it's way more symphonic now. I'm definitely not saying their early output is bad, in fact I think Gullibles Travels is a fantastic album and well represents the era, this is just far close to what say, Phideaux is doing now rather than a rehash of the classic 80's bombastic sound. These 4 lengthy compositions are just filled with wonderful auditory snacks that beg for repeated munching and for me this is the key to ANY prog rock, otherwise what's the point, just listen to the radio for the forgettable stuff. This is food for the pure prog lovers as it's all here, tasty moog, varied tempos, smooth guitar leads and just overall incredibly competent musicianship from a group of people who have clearly matured musically over the years like a fine wine.

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