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ASIA MINOR

Symphonic Prog • France


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Asia Minor biography
Founded in Paris, France in 1973 - Disbanded in 1982 - Reformed in 2014

One of the many fantastic, obscure European progressive bands to be unearthed and made available to the prog-buying public is ASIA MINOR, who only released two very small-time albums in the late '70s. This band took a more unusual twist on the genre popularised by CAMEL, with a mostly instrumental rock (what lyrics there are, are sung in a strangely accented English), with folk and ethnic influences, featuring much flute, guitar and keyboards.

The two albums are "Crossing The Line" and "Between Flesh and Divine", the latter one is absolutely essential. Whereas the similarly dreamy French progressive PULSAR drew on PINK FLOYD and KING CRIMSON influences. Excellent and original, indispensable for all lovers Progressive rock.

See also: HERE

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ASIA MINOR discography


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ASIA MINOR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.58 | 133 ratings
Crossing The Line
1979
4.14 | 348 ratings
Between Flesh And Divine
1980
3.76 | 47 ratings
Points of Libration
2020

ASIA MINOR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ASIA MINOR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

4.00 | 19 ratings
Landscape Pictures In Rock
1988

ASIA MINOR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Points of Libration by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.76 | 47 ratings

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Points of Libration
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Information from the band. "Asia Minor is a Franco-Turkish progressive rock band led by two Turkish musicians who settled in Paris as students back in the '70s: Setrak Bakirel (vocals and guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute and guitar). Their early music revealed influences such as King Crimson's In the Court Of The Crimson King, Jethro Tull's Stand Up, Camel, Focus and Jade Warrior's first albums. Their progressive rock is deeply mixed with rhythms and atmospheres from traditional Turkish music on Crossing the Line (1979) and Between Flesh and Divine (1980). Spurred by the unwavering support from fans around the world, the band decided to reconvene in 2013, giving live concerts and composing new music that would be featured in their forthcoming third album. Keeping the band's distinctive mix between Western and Eastern influences, this new work proves that, even after so many years, Asia Minor remain faithful to their style and nothing of their creativeness, stamina and originality has been lost. In addition to the two original members, the current line-up includes Evelyne Kandel on bass, Micha Rousseau on keyboards and Julien Tekeyan on drums."

On this new album Asia Minor delivers mainly mellow, very melodic and harmonic symphonic rock, blended with some ethnic influences. The music is wonderfully coloured with moving guitar work (in the vein of Hackett and Latimer) and flute play (often with hints from Ian Anderson), and at some moments cheerful Minimoog flights (Deadline Of A Lifetime and Radyo Hatırası), soaring Mellotron strings (Crossing In Between) and Hammond organ (swirling solo in Urban Silk).

The vocals are in the first 7 tracks in English, and in the final song in the native Turkish language, to me it sounds as a world of difference! Because the singing in English is with a strong accent and lacks a bit emotion. But the native vocals (adding an ethnic flavor) in the dynamic highlight Radyo Hatırası sound passionate, in a beautiful way blended with acoustic guitar, and topped with varied play on the flute. This is Asia Minor at its full splendor!

A very nice return for those who are into more mellow symphonic rock, with strong hints from Camel (guitar, dreamy climates) and Jethro Tull (flute traverse).

My rating: 3,5 star.

 Points of Libration by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.76 | 47 ratings

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Points of Libration
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

Review by jude111

4 stars How did I miss this? A new Asia Minor album? Finally, more "moon madness"! And only one review so far? That's crazy! Asia Minor has long been shrouded in mystery to me. They released two excellent albums in 1979 and 1981 (including the great Between Flesh and Divine, in my opinion the best prog album of the 1980s, certainly holds its own with Moving Pictures and Misplaced Childhood). And then they vanished - until now. It's hard to find information about them; apparently two of the members were from Turkey studying at university in France, where they formed a band with two French students (the drummer and bassist). Often compared to Camel, in my mind they're no mere copycats. They have their own authentic style that simply cannot be faked. Yes, Crossing the Line and Between Flesh and Divine are the best albums that Camel never made, especially the Camel of their first 4 albums. But the music is more old world and more mysterious than that, the melodies more haunting. No, they don't 'copy' Camel; it's more like they deliver on its promise.

But that was then. What will they sound like now, 40 years later? The first track puts that question to rest immediately. This is the same band, they've picked right up where they left off: the dynamic percussion, the ubiquitous and adventurous flute, the haunting melodies, and restlessly shifting structures. The first track, "Deadline of a Lifetime," is an instant classic. "I'm a builder by trade." Have they been listening to Big Big Train? At one point, an instrumental passage reminds one of Rush, a subtle nod to "Tom Sawyer" perhaps? "In the Mist," the second track, continues in this vein. The flute is quite prominent, the tune hits a groove and you almost want to clap along. It ends rather abruptly; it might only be 3 minutes long, but it's still quite proggy. The third track, "Crossing In Between," features an acoustic guitar and what sounds like a mellotron; an electric guitar enters, and then a flute, but it remains beatless. More Camel-like magic. I wasn't sure about "The Twister," but it's starting to grow on me the more I listen to it. It becomes clear that their sonic palette has increased, but tastefully so: found sounds, acoustic guitar, female background vocals, more varied tonal colors from the keyboards. "Melancholia's Kingdom," the sixth track, is quite symphonic, and another highlight. So is "Urban Silk." Perhaps it's the music, perhaps the lyrics, but I immediately think of lovely Istanbul nights and crowded outdoor hookah bars. The album ends on a high note with Radyo Hatirasi, I think the only non-English tune. It's quite Asian sounding, with shimmering synths. It just might be the best track on the album.

I don't want to over-hype it because I know that can be a turn-off; people end up feeling let down. If you're familiar with Asia Minor's previous efforts, you know that they're a low-key band, and their charms are subtle. But the music casts a spell, and rewards multiple listening. This album continues in that vein. Fans of Asia Minor's classic Between Flesh and Divine, as well as Camel's Mirage, Moonmadness, and Rajaz, will definitely want to get a hold of this. I mean, who else is making music like this anymore?

 Points of Libration by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.76 | 47 ratings

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Points of Libration
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars By the late 1970s and early 1980s, even prog groups that had attained some level of success - ie made a living from their releases and live performances - were leaving the industry, dispatched in a fit of expletives by the arena rock, punk and new wave movements while reflexive critics hailed the long overdue demise of the genre. Well, history has been lenient in the intervening decades and many of those artists have reformed for at least an album or two if not a more extended run. Even more miraculous is the return of groups who, by combination of poor timing and lack of promotion, never even managed cult status at the time. Such is the case with ASIA MINOR, a France based Turkish act, who issued two albums around the turn of the 1980s, and sadly had to leave this dream behind in favor of a proper career.

Their 1981 production, "Between Flesh and Divine", has gained well deserved minor classic status with its artful blend of CAMEL, JADE WARRIOR, KING CRIMSON and middle eastern influences, and probably sold far more as a CD reissue than it ever did in its initial run. Still, after nearly 40 years of recorded silence, reformation in 2014 notwithstanding, only the most optimistic could have even uttered hope of anything new, but love of music is still love, and this devotion has gifted us "Points of Libration" in 2021. Setrak Bakirel and Eril Tekeli are back, with their distinctive voices, guitars and flute still defining the ASIA MINOR sound and yet updating it in meaningful ways. This is apparent from the opening segment of the thoughtful "Deadline of a Lifetime" with its heavenly fretless bass and only gathers pace from there.

Incorporating aspects of both of their prior productions, "Points of Libration" is shaded towards ASIA MINOR's mellower side, conveying a dreamy ambiance to many of the pieces, directed by melodic lead guitar and flute soloing but filled out with keys including mellotron strings, at their best on the self referential "Crossing in Between". Tunes like "Urban Silk" and "Oriental Game" are bathed in a jazzy arrangement, while others like "Twister" and "Melancholia's Kingdom" manage to generate a suave swing which drives the diversity, fully compensating for the complete lack of hard rock interludes. The vocals may not be in perfectly accented English or supporting a wide technical range but they do consummate the arrangements and vice versa. The final number is the breathlessly accomplished "Radio Hatirasi", which is the only one sung in Turkish and accentuates the group's roots musically as well.

I cannot over emphasize how impossibly good this sounds, as triumphant a reunion as can be hoped for let alone imagined, and proof of the irrepressible spirit of prog. Take that, critics.

 Crossing The Line by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.58 | 133 ratings

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Crossing The Line
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars An album of twisting and turning motifs and styles that can often be compared to the work of CAMEL while also containing many displays of jazz-fusion and prog folk over which band leader Setrak Bakirel lends his pleasant and often stylized vocals in both English and his native Turkish language. The influences of this multi-cultural band can often be felt in both melody and structure yet the music always feels fully Western prog.

1. Preface (4:18) flute accompanied by exotic percussion sounds for the first minute before MAHAVISHNU-like bass, drums, and arpeggiated electric guitar establishes the form of the body of this slow but aggressively jazzy song. A shift into a smoother sound base at 2:25 allows the introduction of English the plaintive yet pleasant singing voice of Setrak Bakirel. After his verse, the band revs up into a more aggressive sound for some soloing--of which the electric guitar is especially noteworthy. (9/10)

2. "Mahzun Gözler" (8:13) lush, emotional prog with Arabian percussives! The weave is slowly established, layered, added to, and developed, while flute joins in as the lead melody maker. At 2:45 there is a sudden shift in pace, more aggressive and fast, though this is supplanted less than 30 seconds later by a flute and electric guitar dual of more Middle Eastern feeling melodies. A downshift a minute later before moving into a GENESIS-like section for the rest of the fifth minute over which Setrak sings for the first time. Another musical shift--even beneath the singing! Interesting and gutsy! Overall, a kind of CAMEL feel to this intricate and serpentine song. (13.75/15)

3. "Mystic Dance" (1:45) beautiful electric guitar play while flute flies recklessly above. Gorgeous. (5/5)

4. "Misfortune" (4:30) opens with vibrating hum of factory machinery before very aggressive flute-led jazz rock music enters and runs. Great melodies from all the instruments, especially the flute and bass! Slows down at 1:40 to support vocal section. Interesting effect on the electric guitar here. Return to aggression after the (only) singing verse--cool chord progression by rhythm section. (8.75/10)

5. "Landscape" (3:50) arpeggiated electric guitar opens this before drums, bass, and electric guitars jump in with some rapid and syncopated hits. Voice enters around the one minute mark, shushing and calming the instrumentalists back into opening form. Not a great vocal. At 2:35 electric piano leads into a uptempo instrumental section over which fuzzed lead guitar solos melodically to the end. (8/10)

6. "Visions" (5:35) bass and cymbols open this one before another JEAN-LUC PONTY-like jazz tapestry is established. Despite impressive drumming, this all goes horribly wrong even as the electric guitar tries to stop the hemhorraging with some flashy guitar solo. At 1:20 the band slows down and pushes reset, establishing a very nice OMD-like fabric over which Setrak sings one of his better lyrics with rather impressive emotion. Things strip down even further in the fourth minute as Setrak lowers his register an octave. Nice. A more steadily-paced BABYLON-like GENESIS section launches around the 3:50 mark, and plays out to the end with Setrak finishing his story. (9.25/10)

7. "Without Stir" (1:50) nice little exercise of guitar harmonics while second 12-string strums. Setrak sings over the middle. (4.5/5)

8. "Hayal Dolu Günler İçin" (4:38) return to heavier sound, though this time of the JETHRO TULL type. At the end of the first minute the music calms as Setrak enters singing in an Arabian language. Drummer's tom work helps to muffle the preponderant Mellotron strains before there is a return to the opening motif. AT 2:40 there is a shift and we're speeding along in a more jazzy before severall other shifts into previously explored motifs. Setrak's second round of singing begins in the second half of the fourth minute as the previous motifs and riffs continue to shift beneath (as if in disregard of each other). (8.5/10)

9. "Postface" (2:00) organ. And then flute with organ. A kind of bookend to the opener. (4/5)

Total time 36:39

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music and another instance where the Neo Prog umbrella feels a little far-fetched. To my ears, the music of this album as well as this band's approach stand well enough on their own. Yes, they borrow from those that had gone before but there is no blatant imitation of any one band, style, or sound.

 Between Flesh And Divine by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.14 | 348 ratings

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Between Flesh And Divine
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

4 stars Like a better Neo-prog: 8/10

Emotive, atmospheric, melancholic, delicate, but also technical and well performed, ASIA MINOR's 1980 release plays a mellow homage to the 70s prog rock with their lush symphonic style. The band is heavily influenced by CAMEL, as observable by the long instrumental passages heavily reliant on the flutes and powerful Moog drone-esque moments; and even by YES' CLOSE TO THE EDGE, as Northern Lights' intro, or better, post-intro, feels like an 80s re-read of A Solid Time of Change. Lionel Beltrami's drumming is akin to Bill Bruford's and Robert Kempler profound and melodic keyboards manage to border Pete Bardens' magic; two things which depict ASIA MINOR's competence. BETWEEN FLESH AND DIVINE don't sound like a 70s symphonic prog proper neither as 80s Neo-prog; it's an intermediary with elements from both (although the first is more prominent). Perhaps one of the last roars of the prog rock mammoth before it entered its slumber.

 Between Flesh And Divine by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.14 | 348 ratings

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Between Flesh And Divine
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

Review by ctasan

5 stars Second album from Asia Minor, released in 1980, more known than 1979's Crossing The Line, and more advanced. Released in such a time that prog was in descent, it's quite brave and quickly gets high titles. Unfortunately, few people know this, even fewer in Turkey. Fortunately, it was reissued in 2016.

"Nightwind" opens with bass and as expected; guitar, synth and flute joins with a relatively fast rhythm. Good opening, then song relaxes with synchronized guitar and piano. Soon, flute and some guitar takes you away towards ending.

"Northern Lights" is only song that has different note scale than others. Opening with keyboard, then suddenly entering guitars, then again relaxing. Good usage of synth and flute.

"Boundless" is just 3 minutes, guitars dominate this with emotional lyrics.

"Dedicace" upstands with breathtaking flute, and helper guitars. Later on, keyboard starts to dominate.

"Lost in a Dream Yell" starts with rain effect. Strange, effect continues for 2-3 minutes with playing music. Then song closes with a flute solo.

"Dreadful Memories" is the end of album, fast, and a show of bass and keyboards. A fade-out effect is present at the ending.

Conclusion: Excellent melodies everywhere, with carefully processed (sometimes two instruments together) solos and good lyrics (no Turkish here). Organ-effect keyboard is another bonus for me. Highly recommended masterpiece even for non prog listeners. 8.7/10

 Crossing The Line by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.58 | 133 ratings

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Crossing The Line
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

Review by ctasan

4 stars The first album of short-lived band Asia Minor, which consists of two Turkish who were studying in France at that time, and two French members.

Album starts with Preface. Firstly, some Turkish percussion, then flute-guitar and keyboard enters. Just from this song, Asia Minor's sound shows up - flute-guitar or keyboard-driven. Later on, modern drums enter and closes in a rush of synth, guitar and drums.

"Mahzun Gozler" (Turkish: Grieved Eyes) includes suprising Turkish words that follows Turkish pop dominant in late 1970s. It's a love song, starts with an empressionist look, after nearly 3 minutes, song speeds up again with the help of flute, resembling Genesis and Camel style. When it gets relaxed, lyrics start, just keys lead here with 1960s psychedelic influences. The song closes with the sound of gong.

"Mystic Dance" is a blend of soft guitar and flute with the help of synth.

"Misfortune" starts with a synth effect, and again speeds up suddenly. After lyrics, song has a changing tempo.

"Landscape" is another song under the effect of synth. Good mystical feeling.

"Visions" differently opens with bass guitar, soon joined with electro. In middle of the song, good melody waiting for you. Overall, instruments are balanced equally. I feel some Van der Graaf Generator here.

"Without Stir" is an excellent show of guitars, nowadays all teens listen this kind of songs, or all intros are like this. Ahead of its time.

"Hayal Dolu Gunler Icin" (Turkish: For Days That Filled Up With Dreams" starts with bass, like Visions. Soon flute joins here, creating good ambiance, with guitar arpeggios. The song is fast in middle, but finishes relatively slow.

"Postface" just repeats the intro of Mahzun Gozler. Okay for exiting.

Conclusion: Quite good, a not widely known gem of symphonic progressive carrying various influences, from both Turkish and French music. 7/10

 Between Flesh And Divine by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.14 | 348 ratings

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Between Flesh And Divine
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Between Flesh And Divine" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Turkish/French progressive rock act Asia Minor. The album was released through W.A.M. (the band's own label) in 1980, but it has since seen a couple of reissues, among others through Musea Records. Asia Minor was a relatively short lived act who only released two full- length studio albums before calling it quits (this album and "Crossing The Line" from 1979).

Stylistically the music on "Between Flesh And Divine" is predominantly instrumental progressive rock with the occasional vocal part. They often sound very similar to early- to mid 70s Camel. Sedated dreamy vocals, light fusion oriented drumming, flute, guitars, bass, and keyboards. Asia Minor are generally very well playing, and it's one of their greatest strengths when their music occasionally enters a territory tread by others before them. In other words they are not the most original sounding act out there, but they compensate well by delivering their music with great skill and passion. The material is well composed too, and Asia Minor are clearly very skilled musicians and composers.

"Between Flesh And Divine" features a very well sounding production, which reeks organic warmth. Asia Minor definitely still lived in the 70s on this release without a thought or a care of the digital sounds of the 80s.

Upon conclusion "Between Flesh And Divine" is on most parameters a high quality progressive rock release featuring high level musicianship, a great organic sounding production, and well composed material. Asia Minor's downfall was most likely releasing progressive rock albums in the late 70s/early 80s, and the fact that they don't sound particularly original. The latter affects my rating slightly, but especially fans of Camel's early- to mid 70s releases are recommended to give "Between Flesh And Divine" a listen. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

 Crossing The Line by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.58 | 133 ratings

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Crossing The Line
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

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

3 stars ASIA MINOR is a symphonic prog band that began as a bunch of college kids who met in Turkey but ended up in France and were there several years before recording and releasing their only two albums in the late 70s / early 80s divide. CROSSING THE LINE is the debut album that kicks in with a gong followed by some serious flute workouts. This band was serious about including Middle Eastern influence in the then traditional symphonic prog lite that may bring Camel or other breezy bands of the era to mind. Although the Oriental influences are there they are very subtle and ASIA MINOR sounds more like a Western prog band unlike say bands like Gunesh who really were full-blown Middle Eastern prog.

This first album simmers but nobody every bothers to turn the flames up any higher. I have come to this after the much better second album "Between Flesh And Divine" and am always left a little cold after hearing this one. They seem to get into some good grooves on here and then never really take off into more ambitious waters. This is a nice pleasant album and if you want a nice symphonic prog album that serves as background music then this one is perfect because it is very pleasant, it's just that it doesn't have enough to keep the active listener engaged, at least not this one. I'm also just not in love with the vocals on this one. Setrak Bakirel just doesn't deliver a very strong and passionate performance. This debut album simply lacks the diverse elements that make the second one work so well. A good album for its unique approach but in the end fails to pack a sufficient punch for my tastes.

 Between Flesh And Divine by ASIA MINOR album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.14 | 348 ratings

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Between Flesh And Divine
Asia Minor Symphonic Prog

Review by Thai Divone

4 stars Asia Minor is a unique band. It is a small one, not widely known, and this one feels so? I would have said mine, but it is not right. And yet, there is something in their music that is closer to me that many other bands. Perhaps it is the middle-eastern sound, or perhaps it's the way I found them, going through long lists in dark hours, when I had the time, when I was younger than today. But this band, and especially this album, is one of those that shaped me, that made me what and who I am.

If I had to describe their music, it will be a combination of Genesis, Camel and early King Crimson, with the addition of some middle-eastern influences and a great rhythm section. The music is complex, but not too much, feeling a little bit like the connection, the missing link, between Mirage and Moonmadness to Marillion's Jester.

Nightwind opens with a great bass-drums line, accompanied a little bit later by a very nice guitar and keyboards duet. 44 seconds and it starts to change, adding some great solos by the guitars, keyboards and an amazing flute. 1:48 and we're changing again, and around the 2 minutes mark words enter. The song becomes much slower, much calmer. The bridges between the verses are made by some amazing flute lines. 3:40 and we're changing again, getting into shape, moving rhythmically forward. Very Camelish transitions. 4:46 and we're changing again, getting back to a slower pace, moving towards the ending section. It feels grandiose, but so right. The guitars take the lead in this section, and it is just amazing.

Northern Lights opens with some ethereal keyboards, a little bit pastoral, a little bit spacey. Flute enters at 39 seconds. A soft fingerstyle guitar accompanies it all. 2:08 and all is changing, a new musical world enters. Electric Guitars take us through a new journey. And yet, I always feel during those moments the real star is the drummer, who is just mind-blowingly amazing. 3:43 and we're changing to a lot softer section, with vocals entering around the 4:35 mark. 5:14 a guitar-based bridge, and then the vocals return 20 seconds later. A nice guitar solo takes us to the end, playing over a little fingerstyle riff.

Boundless then starts, a short ballad. A little bit simple, yet so very beautiful. Unlike the rest of the songs in here, this one is very classic-rock in terms of structure, with a verse-chorus thing, and a long middle 8 as an outro.

Dedicace, on the other hand, reminds me a little bit of Ashes are Burning in terms of the bass line, but just a little. The flute, though, is unique and amazing. It goes all rock-y at around 1:15, with the drums yet again amazing. 1:54 and we're changing again, transitioning towards a different rock-ish sound. And at 2:48 vocals enter, and they're sung like their on fire. It reminds a little bit of Lady Fantasy. 3:22 and we're changing again, going to a more gentle sound, before picking a different pace at around 3:52. The guitar riff beneath the vocals is no less than brilliant. 5:03 and we're picking the pace again, back to the rock-ish sound, back to the Lady Fantasy like sound. Then it almost too abruptly ends, at around 5:58, leaving us with a lone Hammond note.

Lost in a Dream Yell is so ethereal, starting with some stormy SFX and then going slowly towards strong (but not heavy) notes by the bass accompanied by a great electric guitar lead and a nice keyboards arpeggio. The drums are just precise, making the sounds just when needed, with no beat to waste. 2:20 gives us a new spacey line, before going almost silence for a few seconds. The stage is cleared for the SFX and fingerstyle guitar, only to serve as a background to an amazing flute solo. The drums are soft, and a little bit march-ial. Different instruments share the stage with the flute, each time a different one taking the stage for a few phrases.

Dreadful Memories opens a little bit like the soundtrack for a James Bond movie (or at least, that's what it reminds to me), picking a nice pace before keyboards join around the 49 seconds mark. It's a little bit repetitive, a little bit "not-going-to- anywhere", but after all those great composing achievements, it's nice to get something simple for a change. It is not a great track by itself, but it is the perfect fit for this album.

And so the album ends- perfectly, but way too short. So, is this album an essential addition? I don't think so, but one can't wrong go wrong with this album though. So? 4 stars and a half, rounded down for being non-essential.

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

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