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CATHEDRAL

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Cathedral biography
Founded in Long Island, USA in 1975 - Disbanded in 1978 - Regrouped 2003-2007

The roots of CATHEDRAL lie in a psychedelic band called Odyssey. When that band broke up in 1975, bassist Fred Callan, and mellotronist Tom Doncourt ventured on to form CATHEDRAL. The band was filled out by drummer Mercury Caronia IV, guitarist Rudy Perrone, and vocalist Paul Seal. They toured the Long Island club scene, and bravely decided to play original music. Instead of Pschedelic, they were taking more cues from the prog leaders of the time, the likes of King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, and Gentle Giant. What Tom Doncourt refers to as a "majestic" sound.

In 1978 they got together with Delta Records, and recorded "Stained Glass Stories." 10,000 copies were printed and sold. Interestingly, Delta Records was not much more than a studio above the Palace Theater in Times Square. However, Delta did have connections to record chains, and had the likes of Duke Ellington and Allison Steele recording right alongside. It was very much like the independent labels of today. New York City itself was fertile territory for progressive rock at the time. Tom Doncourt tells stories of turning old movie theaters into concert halls for one night stands. They built the stages, put in lighting, and wired the spaces for sound themselves.

All of this led to interest from Atlantic Records. They had some meetings, but this was the end of the '70s. The popularity of prog was rapidly declining. So a second album was not to be (or was it?). This did not diminish the importance of "Stained Glass Stories." It became a highly valued collectible, and the subject of much critical acclaim. Some have even called it the best American prog album ever. Renewed interest in prog led Syn-Phonic to re-release the album on CD in 1990.

As prog began to rise again, so did interest in CATHEDRAL. Finally, in 2003, Fred Callan called on his band mates once again. They brought old and new equipment, and had a mission to create progressive music that was true to its history, but not limited by it. The played together, and experimented for three years. Then they entered the studio. The process proved to be too much for Rudy Perrone, and he left the group. The thought of adding a new guitarist to the mix was a source of great anxiety. The guys were blessed to find David Doig. His sensibilities proved to gel right with the vision of the band. After almost 30 years, they released their second album. 2007's...
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CATHEDRAL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.80 | 199 ratings
Stained Glass Stories
1978
3.34 | 53 ratings
The Bridge
2007
3.93 | 9 ratings
Tom Doncourt & Mattias Olsson's Cathedral
2020

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CATHEDRAL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Tom Doncourt & Mattias Olsson's Cathedral by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.93 | 9 ratings

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Tom Doncourt & Mattias Olsson's Cathedral
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars With the band CATHEDRAL, Tom Doncourt released a single symphonic prog album in the late 1970s that astonishes even to this day. Somehow he and Änglagård founder and candidate for busiest man in Prog, Mattias Olsson, hooked up to try to drag Tom out of retirement and voilà! There is music being produced! And wonderful, boundary-pushing music it is! (Should we expect anything less from M. Olsson?)

Recorded before the March 2019 death of Mr. Doncourt, Mattias & Co. saw this one to completion--and boy are we fortunate he did: it's a monster of surprisingly forward-thinking progressive rock music! One of the best releases of 2020!

1. "Poppy Seeds Intro" (0:59) a cappella voices setting a mood and melody line (4.5/5)

2. "Poppy Seeds" (2:05) picks up the melody and chord progression from the "intro" and translates it into instruments with tuned percussion instruments added to expand and embellish. (4.5/5)

3. "Chamber" (3:36) guitarish and bellish instruments with massive bass drums, Mellotron, and computer scratches morphs into a bass and guitar-heavy KING CRIMSON/TONY LEVIN-sounding piece at 1:30. Alternates with soft "flute", "harp" and electric guitar section two times. (8.75/10)

4. "#1" (10:38) one of the most effective, perfect prog epics of 2020! Quite a heavy, full, almost Viking sound to it from the opening. Very impressive bass and drum playing with astonishing keyboard sound arrangements. (19/20)

5. "Tower Mews" (2:01) treated piano amid multiple 'tron tacks (flutes, strings, voices). I got shivers! Very Ant Phillips-like. (4.5/5)

6. "Today" (1:24) repeated voice saying "Today I'll go crazy" with a full wall of African rhythms & percussives, flutes, "saw" and more. (4.5/5)

7. "Poppies in a Field" (12:34) keyboard dominated slow rock opening is quickly established to support the poppy vocals of Akaba. (No pun intended.) With the third minute the music detours down a dark alley--VDGG-like. Then Mellotron and waves of bells/percussion give an introspective interlude for the fourth minute. Return to the heavy prog theme from the opening for the fifth and sixth minutes before another cycle through a gentle dream-scene in the seventh. At 8:32 begins a very cool, almost YES-like sophisticated section that is my favorite. The final scale down at 10:45 leads into a section of a bizarre, almost "alien," soundscape, which, strangely, takes us to the song's end. Otherwise, there are some very cool experimental sounds woven through both the heavy and pastoral parts of the song, but ultimately, as a whole, it fails to achieve anything cohesive, much less great. (21.5/25)

8. "The Last Bridge Organ" (2:36) interesting sci-fi/Blade Runner-like outro. (4.25/5)

Total Time 35:53

I don't know who Hampus Nordgren-Hemlin is or where he came from, but the dude plays a mean bass! And I really respect the sound experimenting that Mattias is so into. No wonder he and Ketil Vestrum Einarsen make such a good team!

B+/4.5 stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection and a real tribute to a long-time master of our beloved genre of music. (Mr. Doncourt passed in 2019.) On the down side, the album is a bit short (35+ minutes) with only two proper prog songs and six rather brief "vignettes." BUT, if you like this, check out the other Tom Doncourt stuff Mattias is releasing on behalf of his dearly departed collaborator.

 Tom Doncourt & Mattias Olsson's Cathedral by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.93 | 9 ratings

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Tom Doncourt & Mattias Olsson's Cathedral
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by Thierry

4 stars You certainly remember the legendary American band Cathedral founded in Long Island in 1975. This combo released a fabulous album called "Stained Glass Stories" in 1978 in the Yes vein then, after a reunion, the great (more personal?) "The Bridge" (2007). Tom Doncourt and Mattias Olsson's Cathedral feature the last material the late Tom Doncourt created with his friend Mattias Olsson, and according to the name of this album, you easily guess that they wanted to create a music honouring the legacy of that band. Tom Doncourt sadly passed away in 2019 but a year later the album they had crafted together was released through Olsson's own label Roth Händle Recordings. After Cathedral's split, Tom released several albums of experimental music in the ambient and electronic style with some guest musicians including the Swedish drummer Mattias Olsson. If I say Olsson was former Änglagård's drummer, your eyes will twinkle. And you're right! Actually this collaboration release is in the symphonic and dark prog style close to King Crimson (the first and "Red" period): a lot of mellotrons, a melancholy and introspective atmosphere... This album was finished by Mattias after Tom's passing away. «Before Tom passed away last Spring we had been working on an album together on and off for a year?Whenever I was touring or recording in the US I would stop by his studio on Long Island on my way back to Sweden and we would write and record together?The process was incredibly relaxed, open and fun with a lot of story sharing, joking and discussions about unusual instruments, music and art. Already from the start we had decided that this album was going to be Progressive rock in the vein of our old bands Cathedral and Änglagård. (...) Finishing the album has been a strange and eerie process as the music was created by the two of us during a long, intuitive and wild conversation. And now that dialogue has gone silent?but whenever I have felt lost or needed help or guidance I have always turned to the music we created together. (...) You will probably listen to this album as a bunch of progressive rock songs but I hear it more as a sonic Polaroid of the friendship we shared and the love and respect we had for each other which made us feel free and safe to create, explore and have fun". Mattias says in the booklet. The result is a fabulous record featuring vintage keyboards, a brilliant syncopated rhythm section (you often think of Bill Bruford), a rich instrumentation (a lot of guests), beautiful arrangements and a delicate mix. A vibrating tribute. The epic 'Poppies in a Field' (12'34) is a must, really! By the end, the simple melody of 'The Last Bridge Organ' and its evocative crescendo of guitars and keyboards, quietly evaporating into the mist is a poignant and hopeful (?) conclusion to that record. In a nutshell, this disc with its 8 tracks and 36 minutes (only!) is a pure bliss! Highly recommended.
 Tom Doncourt & Mattias Olsson's Cathedral by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.93 | 9 ratings

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Tom Doncourt & Mattias Olsson's Cathedral
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

4 stars Tom Doncourt is known for his work with Cathedral the symphonic band that released the excellent album ''Stained Glass Theories'' in 1978. He has released some albums of experimental music in an ambient and electronic style with some guest musicians including Mattias Olsson's ex-drummer of Anglagard. This collaboration release is more in the symphonic prog style than his previous releases. Together and with other musicians they have recorded their parts in their respective studios. This album was finished after Tom's passing by Mattias. The result is a stunning 35 minutes of music with those vintage sounds of strong keyboard melodies with a brilliant rhythm section. The music is dark, melancholic, and introspective with some beautiful arrangements and rich instrumentation. The album is 2 long songs separated by some little pieces. You can hear some influence of King Crimson and the unique Swedish prog style. The highlight song is the 12 minutes ''Poppies in a Field'' with his haunting melodies, sumptuous keyboard melodies, and that modern Kink Crimson's style of drumming. My only complaint is that this album is too short.
 Tom Doncourt & Mattias Olsson's Cathedral by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.93 | 9 ratings

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Tom Doncourt & Mattias Olsson's Cathedral
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Tom Doncourt and Mattias Olsson's Cathedral feature the last material the late Tom Doncourt created alongside long time collaborator Mattias Olsson, and given the name of this album it is obvious to assume that this was their joint effort to create material honoring the legacy of Doncourt's old band Cathedral. Doncourt passed away in 2019, and a year or so later the album he and Olsson had crafted together was released through Olsson's label Roth Händle Recordings.

Those who are fond of contemporary, creative and expressive progressive rock made with an eclectic orientation that includes cinematic sections, classic era symphonic progressive rock and post-rock among several styles used or with elements featured throughout should enjoy this album by Doncourt and Olsson immensely. A strong, solid and perhaps somewhat dark creation. A suitably haunting finale for Doncourt as a creator of music it is too of course, but first and foremost a high quality example of what I'd describe as contemporary, eclectic progressive rock.

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.80 | 199 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars With so many bands replicating the classic prog sounds of the 70s in the 21st century it's easy to forget that the prog revival scene actually started right when prog was declining after its initial golden era boom. As classic bands jettisoned their prog approach for more mainstream crossover success with some bands even abandoning prog altogether in favor of slick radio friendly pop hits, there were a number of newbie bands eager to keep those classic early 70s prog sounds alive. Unfortunately many such bands pretty much formed, dropped an album or two and then called it a day but not without leaving some interesting gems that adopted the techniques and sounds of prog's bigwigs of the early 70s and spun it into something that sounds utterly unique.

CATHEDRAL was one such band that formed in 1975 right at the time when classic prog was simmering down and new musical expressions were taking hold. This band had its roots in the psychedelic band Odyssey but once that band ended, bassist Fred Callan and mellotron player Tom Doncourt decided to create an adventurous prog band that revived the lost sounds of "Close To The Edge" era Yes, early Genesis, the harder rock leanings of King Crimson and other prog band influences sprinkled in between the tracks. You could even think of CATHEDRAL as the first Wobbler since it's one and only album STAINED GLASS STORIES which emerged in 1978 sounds a lot like that Norwegian band's hybridizing effect of classic prog.

The band was formed in 1975 in Islip Terrace on New York's Long Island with the lineup of Rudy Perrone (guitar, vocals, 1975-79), Mac Caronia (drums, percussion), Paul Seal (lead vocals, percussion), Tom Doncourt (Mellotron, keyboards, glockenspiel, percussion) and Fred Callan (bass, vocals). During the first prog gold rush, the US was notable absent from the sensation. Sure the USA had generated Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Prevention and later Kansas but for the most part the first era of prog was a European party with few foreigners crashing the gates. However once the US began catching up which picked up around 1975 when the genre was starting to decline in popularity bands like Pavlov's Dog, Chango, Happy The Man and CATHEDRAL created a small but vibrant prog scene in the States. CATHEDRAL was known to play many live shows all around Long Island.

STAINED GLASS STORIES is a truly epic sounding prog release that captured all the dynamism of symphonic prog at its absolute best. Clearly primarily inspired by early 70s Yes, the album is stuffed to the gill with Chris Squire inspired bass antics, Steve Howe guitar antics and grandiose compositions including the the opening "Introspect" and closing "The Search" which navigate the prog universe through all its early arrangements and wends and winds their way past the eleven minute mark. Add to that the epic symphonic arrangements of early Genesis and a touch of avant-garde with Gentle Giant jitteriness and you have one of the best prog albums to emerge out of the USA from the 70s, well one of the best albums that WASN'T Frank Zappa that is! The complex commissions offered dynamic arrangements that transversed many soundscapes ranging from mellotron rich psychedelia to guitar driven heavier rock passages. The addition of exotic sounds from the glockenspiel and various percussion instruments crafted an irresistible synergy of tones and timbres.

The album has five tracks with the opener and closer creating the most epic soundscapes but the middle tracks are just as beautifully designed whether it be the all instrumental "Gong" and the otherworldly exotic flair of "Days & Changes" to the choral fueled "The Crossing" which exempted Paul Seal's sometimes silly vocal style that attempted to pass as British but often came off as more of a tribute to his favorite prog heroes. Overall while not perfect, the vocals don't detract from the overall enjoyment level of this one and at times even add an element of originality that keeps STAINED GLASS STORIES from sounding like too much of a clone band unlike say bands like Starcastle who went for the copycat jugular with their take on Yes sounds that were abandoned. For anyone who thinks bands like Wobbler were the first to successfully create a beautiful retro fusion album of classic prog sounds, then you should go back in time to 1978 when CATHEDRAL dropped this gem on the world. Doubtful many were listening at the time but it holds up well after many decades and highly recommended. While CATHEDRAL initially disbanded in 1979, it reformed in 2007 and even released a new album called "The Bridge."

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.80 | 199 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by Squire Jaco

4 stars This sole release from the U.S. prog band Cathedral got swallowed up in the sea of disinterest that started brewing against prog in general in the late 1970's. Recorded in 1978, and re-released on the Syn-Phonic label around 1990, this hard-to-find cd has frequently been mentioned in the same breath as cd's from other similarly obscure American bands such as Yezda Urfa, Mirthrandir, Hands, and I might add Arabesque. This 45-minute gem is comprised of 5 songs in the 6-12 minute range, mostly driven along by aggressive Chris Squire-like bass lines, and complex polyrhythmic drums and percussion. The music is frequently in the Yes "Relayer" style, with great Howe-like guitar lines, and decent keyboards that focus more on mellotron and string synths than virtuoso soloing. You'll also hear some Gentle Giant and Genesis influences (but you'll also hear here what Anglagard must have been spending a lot of THEIR time listening to before they recorded their early 1990's albums!).

I'm delighted that I was able to hook up with a copy of this cd a few years back, but it does not come without its share of shortcomings. The vocals are the weakest feature of the group, though I find the singer tolerable (and almost pleasant) when he sings within his range; in a few spots he sounds as if he's straining, and the dissonance of the vocal line can make the listening that much more uneasy in those places. Not a big problem, and certainly not atypical of some of the other groups mentioned above. Not surprisingly though, most reviewers (including myself) tend to enjoy the all-instrumental 7-minute "Gong" more than the other songs here. Also, I have to say that the production is not the greatest. This was probably not recorded in a top-notch studio; the overall sound contains some occasional "murkiness", and suffers from a lack of dynamics and crispness. This is ripe for a nice re-master re-issue.

Still, I believe this is an important - if not essential - album for its influence on U.S. (and Swedish!) prog, and I think it's a worthy endeavor for us prog lovers to recall and honor some of these obscure bands that had great musicians with the guts to attempt complex prog in a world that was quickly sinking into disco and punk. Get this if you can find it. 3-1/2 stars

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.80 | 199 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is one of those "great lost albums" that get hyped a lot because of their scarcity, but whilst I don't think it's an outright classic (in particular, Paul Seal's faux-British vocals are just plain bad) it's a really enjoyable example of the wave of mid-to-late 1970s prog that emerged showing the influence of the British pioneers of the genre. Think a combination of the bombast of Yes, King Crimson, or ELP with the jazzy whimsy of Caravan (come to think of it, the cover art feels like a more colour-varied take on that from In the Land of Grey and Pink) and you might get something close to the sound the group attain here. Tom Doncourt, in particular, adds a little Hatfield and the North touch to his keyboard playing that I rather like.
 The Bridge by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.34 | 53 ratings

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The Bridge
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

2 stars Review nº 231

Cathedral - The Bridge

They're back after some 30 years. Although, they didn't hit me with the same power. It's the same, exactly the same band. There are some moments when the members could show themselves and their mental waves of creational feeling and they're awesome, you recognize them. But the suites and tracks in itself aren't catchy as a whole. There's something lacking. It doesn't seems to me as a forced re-encounter. The songs are well worked. It is a nice album. But doesn't worth your cash, in my honest point of view. It almost went down to a total neo-prog path. Better stay with your old Stained Glass Stories copy.

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.80 | 199 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars Review nº 230

Cathedral - Stained Glass Stories

I will have to agree with Ivan Melgar M review, this is probably the best 70s symphonic album from USA. But I would call it Eclectic Prog. No, this is not the doom/death metal Cathedral. And you must admit they're far better. Oh, how overlooked it is.

Do you feel bored? Did you heard all of the top prog archives album list and think you can't find anything really "new" interesting from the prog golden age? Then it's time for Stained Glass Stories! The stunning multi-layered capacity of this recording makes my nose bleed as an afraid puppy pissing. Every track here is lenghty, electric but trippy, full of creative unique, authentic songwriting. There were the Yes vibe, and Gentle Giant vibe, and Genesis, and King Crimson. They were different to each other. Cathedral has another different atmosphere. And this album is... flawless. The bass riffs plus the guitar licks are what I love the most. Even symphonic, they're not afraid of dissonance and breaking rules. I believe Stained Glass Stories could please every kind of prog fan, and it reaches that kind of PA top album from the 70s, but unfortunatelly they're another lost gem in the holy archives.

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.80 | 199 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It is 1978 and the influence of Yes has reached every corner of the U.S. Five musicians longing to compose music like their famous British mentors enter a dark and cramped experimental laboratory where they volunteer to be the guinea pigs for a Matrix-like type of brain programming. One by one, each has a rod inserted into his cerebral cortex as they receive all the skill and knowledge they need to be able to compose an album just like "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and "The Gates of Delirium". Their vocalist, Paul Seal is a bit out of place. His voice sounds like Peter Gabriel trying to sing like Jon Anderson and in the end sounds like neither. Somehow, Cathedral will have to write their first album without a real Jon Anderson sound-alike.

All the musicians are talented enough to write their own original songs and music but not without first making sure that the bass sounds like Chris Squire's, the guitar sounds like Steve Howe's, and the keyboards and drums can at least pull off a reasonable facsimile of Rick Wakeman and Alan White. Just to be sure that they add their own unique touch to this reworking of Yes, keyboardist Tom Doncourt adds some horrible chorus synthesizer, which Wakeman would wisely have never done on a Yes album.

Friends, have you ever listened with spasms of joy to "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and "The Gates of Delirium" from "Relayer" and wished that Yes had recorded just one more album in that vein? And friends, knowing that they hadn't, did you ever secretly wish, feeling guilty and maybe even a little blasphemous, that another band with skill nearly matching that of Yes hadn't just come along and recorded just such an album since Yes hadn't done so? Well, friends, if you haven't heard, Cathedral did just that. In fact, they followed the Yes mould so closely that as you listen to "Stained Glass Stories" you can almost name which Yes songs certain parts were, um, influenced by. Why, just listen from the 6:10 mark of "Days and Changes" for just one of numerous examples. Sounds like Yes, no?

So, do I dislike the album? No, not really. As a Yes tribute band going off and trying their hand at composing Yes music, I think they did a great job for the most part. The vocals leave a fair bit to be desired but as they don't figure in too prominently overall it is forgivable, except for the vocal intro to "Days & Changes", which reminds me a bit of a hobbit singing to a king. "Gong" is likely my favourite track. But, yeah, there's little else to say other than "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and "The Gates of Delirium" fans rejoice as much as you will allow yourself to, knowing that if not Yes, then at least a group who really worked hard to sound like them have given us this album. I'd give them four and a half stars for the music but I think they needed to work on originality and their own sound much more. So, only three stars for being copycats. Perhaps if they'd released a second album they'd have come into their own more. Too bad they never got there.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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