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Kompendium biography
One-off (?) release in 2012

KOMPENDIUM is the title of a (probably) one-off project masterminded by Robert REED, the founder and keyboard player of Welsh Neo-Prog band MAGENTA, and whose recent abiding dream has been to release an album on a scale comparable with that of Jeff WAYNE's 1978 Musical¨ Version Of The War Of The Worlds but combined with the intensity of progressive rock in the vein of prolific multi-instrumentalist and contemporary composer Mike OLDFIELD.

Fulfilling the dream, which culminated in the release of an October 2012 concept album called Beneath The Waves, has been a massive undertaking for Rob, who has overseen every aspect of the project's development - from writing and performing right through to the final delivery to its intended audience - a musical journey which has taken nearly four years to complete.

Comparisons with Jeff WAYNE's earlier Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds project begin with the stunning album cover - English fantasy artist Geoff TAYLOR being responsible for creating both original artworks.

The list of musicians contributing to the KOMPENDIUM project includes such Prog legends as Steve HACKETT (GENESIS), Francis DUNNERY (ex IT BITES), John MITCHELL (IT BITES, FROST*), Nick BARRETT (PENDRAGON), Nick BEGGS (STEVE HACKETT BAND, KAJAGOOGOO), Jakko JAKSZYK (20TH CENTURY SCHIZOID BAND), Gavin HARRISON (PORCUPINE TREE), Mel COLLINS (KING CRIMSON, CAMEL), Dave STEWART (HATFIELD AND THE NORTH, NATIONAL HEALTH, BRUFORD) and Troy DONOCKLEY (NIGHTWISH, BAD SHEPHERDS), with vocals provided by Welsh singer and songwriter Steve BALSAMO, famous for his lead role on the London version of Jesus Christ Superstar during the mid 1990s. There are also roles in the project for pedal steel guitarist B.J. COLE (ELTON JOHN, DAVID GILMOUR), opera singers Shan COTHI and Rhys MIERION, the ENGLISH CHAMBER CHOIR and choral group SYNERGY VOCALS.

The storyline is based upon a report from 1902 carried in an Irish newspaper about a man who disappears following the tragic loss of both his wife and infant daughter, and for which he decides to shoulder all the blame. The album is the musical interpretation of the man's quest for eventual redemption, with the sea being the only barrier between himself and those he has lost.

Such a delicate theme of human mental suffering requ...
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KOMPENDIUM discography

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

3.77 | 118 ratings
Beneath The Waves
3.97 | 33 ratings
Beneath The Waves - Elements

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

KOMPENDIUM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Beneath The Waves by KOMPENDIUM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.77 | 118 ratings

Beneath The Waves
Kompendium Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Rob Reed of Magenta draws together a real who's who of the prog scene to perform this special concept album of his, inspired by the sad tale of an Irish man who disappeared in 1902 following the deaths of his wife and daughter. Musically, it combines Reed's usual neo-prog compositional style with influences from Celtic folk, and in particular the sort of folk-New Age mashup often found in much of Mike Oldfield's latter-day work, with a few influences here and there from Kate Bush circa Hounds of Love.

With his bandmates in Magenta joining in as well as the likes of Steve Hackett, Nick Barrett, Mel Collins, and a range of other prog stalwarts from every decade from the 1960s onwards, this excellent album is an interesting listen that is enough of a departure from the tried-and-true Magenta approach to feel like a distinctive project on its own, but meanders a little too much here and there to be a true classic.

 Beneath The Waves by KOMPENDIUM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.77 | 118 ratings

Beneath The Waves
Kompendium Crossover Prog

Review by Ovidiu

5 stars KOMPENDIUM-BENEATH THE WAVES might be one of the milestone albums in the history of modern,contemporary prog-old school style!Why?The answer is so simple and direct-becase this album has something that lacks in the making of many other prog rock albums-concept style albums!BENEATH THE WAVES has SOUL,EMOTION and BEAUTY!Whan you make an audition of this album,you have the feeling to be overwhelmed by the beauty of the music itself! You are mesmerized by the strong emotion of the story,the deep and so human feeling of suffering a terrible tregedy of life-the loss of a child-and then,the terrible struggle to survive with this pain in your soul for the rest of your life!The impressive list of the people involved in the making of this superbe piece of work is trully spectacular!I won't mention it again,you can read it above-but the strong cohesion and musical alchemy between all the heavenly gifted muscians give the impression that for many of them,this is the fruit of a lifetime musical achievement!Everything is touching perfection here-starting with the marvelous artwork of the cover and the cd look (the wide booklet presentation-DVD included-please!)-continuing with the perfect production and mastering-and in the end,the sensational musical performances of all the musicians,the great playing and the strength of the compositions-ALL IS PERFECT! What makes the serious difference to other prog releases of this genre is the strong emotion and sensitivity of the interpretation,the wonderful atmosphere of sobriety,inner torment and pathos of the performances!Robert Reed is the magnificent mastermind behind this unforgetable musical release,and he manages to tell the listeners a great musical story,dressed in spectacular musical clothes-and delivering such a great wave of emotion and musical thrill-in the most positive way!More then 60 minutes of a great epic musical story,a labyrinth of emotions and musical life twists ,put on notes-a great prog rock music-old school- very British and universal,in the same time!Even the most pretentious prog rock lovers will be plenty satisfied with this album,they have strong symphonic interventions,a magnificent guitar sound provided by the great maestro Steve Hackett-among other brilliant,high caliber musicians-superbe keyboard sounds-very expressive and perfectly well placed in the musical story-and great vocalists too!I didn't had such a strong musical emotion while listening an album from long,long time-KOMPENDIUM is the strongest prove that prog music still has many things to tell and shiny days ahead!Wonderful,maginificent,timeless-a pure milestone album!5 stars!
 Beneath The Waves by KOMPENDIUM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.77 | 118 ratings

Beneath The Waves
Kompendium Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Occasional moments of clarity beneath waves of bombast

Rob Reed of Magenta and Cyan fame is the leader of Kompendium, a project somewhat similar to Mandalaband. Reed has enlisted a large cast of more or less well known musicians from various genres including several generations of Prog bands. Steve Hackett and Mel Collins (King Crimson, Camel) are the "dinosaurs" involved. From the Neo-Prog world comes, amongst others, Nick Barrett of Pendragon, John Mitchell of Arena, and Christina Booth of Magenta. The album is of a conceptual nature and tells a story through music. The story is far from original or interesting. Thankfully, the focus is on the music and not on the story. The music itself is a very eclectic mix of Pop Rock, traditional Celtic music, Folk Rock, Jazz Rock, World Music, Opera, Classical (Symphonic) music, and Prog. Personally I find it just too eclectic, spanning over too many different styles, and often jumping from one style to another instead of fusing them together into something new and interesting.

This album is a frustrating listen for me. There are several very good passages, but also several weak and even some truly cringe worthy moments. The presence of a symphony orchestra and a chamber choir makes several passages too orchestral and bombastic for my tastes. But the worst aspects of the album lie in the vocals. Especially the Opera singers whose contributions here mix with the rest like oil mix with water and make some moments simply unbearable for me. But also the Pop voice of Steve Balsamo does not work for me. I have a high respect for Rob Reed and many of the others involved here, but this time he bit off more than he could chew.

Beneath The Waves is a partly enjoyable recording with some strong moments. But it is ultimately too disjointed and on the whole a disappointment. Approach with care!

 Beneath The Waves by KOMPENDIUM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.77 | 118 ratings

Beneath The Waves
Kompendium Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Many years ago I was sent an album by Cyan, 'For King In Country' (can that really be 20 years ago?), and I was so impressed that it made it to the cover of Feedback #18. A short while later I was at a Steve Hackett gig that was taking place in a village hall (a warm up for his UK tour that year, it was stunning) and ended up chatting to Robert Reed who had arrived with some Welsh reprobates (good old Ezra, another great band). I am sure that neither of us ever expected for him to be masterminding an album on which Steve would make a contribution. Over the years Robert worked next with The Fyreworks and then of course with Magenta, but he always had a desire to release a concept album that he felt could be talked about in the same breath as 'War Of The Worlds' and while I don't think he has made it quite to those heights, he has indeed released an album of incredible beauty, majesty and breadth.

Of course, if you are going to set your aim that high you need a strong group of musicians to assist in achieving that and Rob has pulled together an incredible bunch of people. Rob of course provides all of the songs and plays keyboards, but he is joined by Steve Hackett, Francis Dunnery (It Bites), John Mitchell (Arena, It Bites), Nick Barrett (Pendragon), Nick Beggs (Steve Hackett Band, Iona, Kajagoogoo), Jakko Jakszyk (20th Century Schizoid Band), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), Mel Collins (King Crimson, Camel), Dave Stewart (Hatfield and the North, National Health, Bruford, Troy Donockley (who I always think of as Iona but I saw him play with Nightwish at the beginning of the year in Auckland). For vocals he has Steve Balsamo (Jesus Christs Superstar stage production), opera singers Shan Cothi and Rhys Mierion, plus assorted choirs and orchestration.

Musically this is symphonic, orchestral and celtic all rolled up together with wonderful production and great performances throughout. At times I am reminded of Mostly Autumn, at others Kansas, then off into Magenta. I have a real regret that this was provided to me as a download to review, as this has been released with a 20 page book with the feeling that this is all about the complete experience, as it used to be when I was younger. Back in the Seventies the only way to listen to music was by putting the record on the player and studying the artwork/lyrics while the sounds took over the world: listening to music was an end to itself, something that was tactile and real as opposed to just a click of a mouse. There is a real feeling here of something special that has been accomplished, and I am sure that repeated plays will find this move from 4 *'s to 5. This really is an outstanding achievement and something that all progheads should investigate. For more details visit

 Beneath The Waves by KOMPENDIUM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.77 | 118 ratings

Beneath The Waves
Kompendium Crossover Prog

Review by sussexbowler

3 stars To suggest that 'Beneath the waves' resembles 'War of the Worlds', is surely far from the truth, and will disappoint those who expect so.

After all, the only narrative is provided at the beginning, and at the end of the album. If it's about one person's 'journey', then, musically at least, it certainly doesn't feel like it is.

My first thought was that it sounded like a 'Stage musical'. Not really a Prog. album at all. It's never musically 'emotional' enough.

Think of an album like 'The Lamb lies down on Broadway', and it is a musical journey. Each part of the story is reflected in the mood of the music. You 'feel' the places that Rael visits.

Quite frankly, there are no such moments in 'Beneath the sea'. No, this is more like dipping your toes in the water, rather than having to swim. We are entertained, rather than immersed.

Slightly-flavoured Celtic music, Big-hair ballads, Opera, and even the sound of Enigma. They're all here! It's all probably slightly pretentious, in all honesty.

But there's a lovely flow to the album, and I don't think that there's a weak track on it. It's entertained me for a month now, and I'm still not bored.

The title track is probably the best song, but it takes time to finally stand out, such is the quality. The sound quality is great too.

In the context of 'Prog.', it's a very, very good 3 stars, but I don't think that it challenges musically enough to reach 4 stars. It doesn't reach anywhere near the heights of 'the Ninth wave' (the second half of Kate Bush's 'The Hounds of love' album), for example.

Push through the facade, and you will find a pleasing journey. But I imagine that our lead character consumed a soft drink rather than something a bit stronger...

 Beneath The Waves by KOMPENDIUM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.77 | 118 ratings

Beneath The Waves
Kompendium Crossover Prog

Review by Argonaught

3 stars Even though Kompendium and their Beneath the Waves has been around for a couple of weeks only, it has already been up and down on my own popularity chart.

The first listen was strongly positive (after a drawn-out waiting for the pre-ordered album to come), the main scoring points being as follows:

1, Outstanding instrumentals and singing. Matter of fact, overall the vocals are maybe a little too operatic. Where they allow him to, Mr. Beggs is making a really good use of the stick.

2. The eternally relevant narrative of live, love, loss, loneliness and the final ascension on a higher plane - what could possibly go wrong? The plot may be fictional, but it's easy to relate to the story.

3. Celtic melodies, rhythms and instruments - everyone in the world likes Celtic music; I mean, everyone. I am not sure if there is a logical explanation to this, but this is the fact of life.

4. The album art is exceedingly tasteful, and the whole item has a "treasure" feel to it. A great item to own, esp. in the 2LP configuration.

But then the initial excitement somehow morphed into a disappointment, and here is how :

1. The album is somewhat excessively pompous, melodramatic and syrupy in general, and it's soundtrack-like in places. And too operatic. But really: a child drowns by accident, his mother commits suicide by drowning, his father "disappears" (also drowns, presumably). Then they all re-unite in the afterlife, presumably. Takes a lot of drownings to re-unite the family in a better place.

2. The above-mentioned Celtic music is highly predictable (I am trying to avoid the expression " generic").

3. Beggs doesn't get to play as much as I would have liked him to. Harrison gets heard a lot more, but nothing remarkable there other than the high quality drumming: any decent drummer could have played his part - I mean, any. There is nothing specifically Harrison-y there. Which is a huge loss, because I really think Gavin is the drummer #1 in "prog".

4. About 1/3 of the album is blatantly boring. These days, it seems to me, the music makers just can't do the stand-alone 45 minute concepts any more. They just HAVE to pack a CD near full with the "material". I would venture to say that the albums are still 40-45 minutes long, only stuffed and padded with extra 15-30 minutes of fillers. In Beneath the Waves, the fillers are almost as distracting as commercials during a movie. With these in mind, I'd assign it exactly 5 stars out of 10, if there were such a thing. But since there isn't, I will have to go with 3 stars because of too much filling material, not enough Harrison/Beggs, not terribly innovative composition and excessive sentimental stuff.

 Beneath The Waves by KOMPENDIUM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.77 | 118 ratings

Beneath The Waves
Kompendium Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Waiting to the penultimate day of 2012 to discover a glowing masterpiece is just another typical irony of being a dedicated prog hunter. I am generally not a big fan of epic superstar projects, the disparate talents having often difficulty in synergizing into a valid whole. So I approached this Kompendium venture with slight skepticism, only anesthetized by the presence of Robert Reed as mastermind as well as the inclusion of such massive talents as Steve Balsamo (a voice I first discovered on IO Earth's debut album), the legendary Steve Hackett, the incredible stickman Nick Beggs, the incomparable Gavin Harrison (is there a more accomplished drummer in prog today?), the mercurial Mel Collins and the colossal Celtic musicianship of Troy Donockley . Then add to that mix Francis Dunnery (It Bites), John Mitchell (Arena), Nick Barrett (Pendragon), Jakko Jakszyk, BJ Cole, Neil Taylor (Tears for Fears) and Dave Stewart (Egg, Hatfield and National Health) handling the orchestrations. My existential fears were totally unnecessary as this is an unquestionable opus of the highest magnificence.

First of all, a glorious CD packaging just like the old vinyl gatefold LPs of the 70s but smaller (the vinyl option also exists!) with superb artwork and heavily detailed credits, lyrics, bios and photos. The most spectacular is the inclusion of a DVD with 3 kinds of audio variants (24/96 5.1 surround mix, DTS 5.1 surround mix and a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix) and a series of music videos. The paintings by Geoff Taylor shine brightly.

The vocal work is utterly stupendous, the foundation for all the music to be built upon as Balsamo can sing like the wind, though some prog purists may find him a bit too feminine and passionately colorful, whilst the invited ladies also do very well (Angharad Brinn, Christina Booth) and the choir work by the Synergy Vocals group is exemplary but kudos must be leveled at mastermind/composer/multi-instrumentalist Robert Reed, who shines at writing memorable tracks, skillfully introducing brilliant bass, keys, recorders and guitar work to the heady mix. The material fits clearly in the Celtic vein with comparisons to classic Iona, Mike Oldfield and IO Earth, with operatic inclusions (the amazing "Il Tempo E Giunto") and heroic compositions.

Narration always befits an epic prog album and the classic premise sparks this one to delectable heights, melancholic flute and gentle melody combine to enchant the expectant listener and dive deep into the waves ."Exordium" boldly states the grandiose theme that will stamp this material with glorious reverie, full of lush orchestrations (the phenomenal Dave Stewart!). Propelled by Gavin and adorned by Troy's lavish Uilleann pipes, the goose bumps make their entrance from the get-go, especially when the soprano voice of Shan Cothi kicks in, setting the table for the first Balsamo lead vocal , a trembling duet with Angharad Brinn. Hints of Enya, Oldfield and Beautiful World abound, an organic yet pulsating new age feel that rocks and breathes full-lunged, with a slithering Nick Barrett solo. Mastermind Rob Reed does a devilish job on bass, piano and guitar giving this opening salvo a direct hit on the brain. Wow! "Lost" evolves forward nicely with delightful choir vocals, augmenting the powerful Balsamo vocals, laced by an electric guitar duet from Neil Taylor (Tears for Fears, Robbie Williams) and session axeman Hywel Maggs. This is a saccharine ballad that has a poppier feel with a huge wail from the male lead lung. Very enjoyable, indeed!

"Lilly" is a spectacular highlight piece featuring Steve Hackett's celebrated nylon guitar , some stunning cello work and an immaculate vocal from Angharad Brinn (check out the video on the DVD!) . Fragile, spectral, haunting and completely magical, the quasi-medieval arrangement is further adorned by mandolin, electric synth, piano and bass , all handled by Reed.

"Mercy of the Sea" has a distinct Irish/Gaelic atmosphere, Donockley, Reed and Harrison building up the sonic platform for Steve Balsamo to simply kill the vocal (what range, my goodness!) sending shivers of delight as he hits the highest notes possible. Once again, the stylish video does this piece even more justice, in its entire black and white splendor. This time Francis Dunnery (It Bites) reels off a glittering solo that hits the mark before the rhythm section booms forward led by the magic Donockley pipes .

The proggiest track by far is the cinematic "The Storm" an 11 minute + expedition into the swirling symphonic seas, pummeled by a quartet of electric guitarists (Mitchell, Fry, Jakczyk, Maggs) , a double Wishbone Ash attack of stimulating bombast , infused by cascading rhythms, luxuriant choir orchestrations and Troy Uilleann pipes leading the tempestuous way . Reed's bass and Harrison's drums pump hard blood into Balsamo's expressive lower keyed vocals, combined with Brinn's evocative howl, giving this epic piece a lot of meandering room. The symphonic orchestra does wonders with the main melody, elevating the progressive quotient to the highest standards, confirmed by the tremendous Latin chant courtesy of Synergy Vocals group and a swirly violin.

The title track is another Gaelic ditty of the grandest proportions but with plenty of meat thanks to Nick Beggs' stick and Harrison's muscular drumming. The iconic Mel Collins makes his cameo spot worthwhile with a scintillating sax display that only extols the virtues of an incredible Balsamo vocal (he can hold a note, I assure you). Neil Taylor shudders the mood with a stinging guitar solo, biting, nibbling and chomping through the frets with gusto. This is again evidenced on the accompanying video to great effect.

The brief "Sole Survivor" brings the cello to the forefront once again, also featuring Chris Fry's nylon guitar allied with Barrett's electric lead amid the recurring choir theme that permeates the entire recording (it's a prog record after all!), a companion track to the glorious opener.

"Alone" is a firmly melancholic track that suits Balsamo's shuddering expression, sweeping and stately, loaded with sad desperation. The soprano aria (Shan Cothi) adds even more depth and pain, as a foil to the male despondence. This operatic addition does wonders for the flow of the recording as witnessed by the enigmatic segue "Il Tempo E Giunto", a highlight piece straight from the opera world. Welsh tenor Rhys Meirion gives this a Pavarotti workout, amid Reed's piano and massive backing voice work from the English Chamber Choir and Synergy Vocals group.

"Moment of Clarity" is a return to more conventional sympho-prog rock, with a memorable verse and chorus (the exuberant Balsamo again, yeah), with Taylor and Mitchell providing the electric angst, some smart gospel vocals and Collins killing it on the saxophone. Quite cleverly, 'One last chance'is repeated so as to prepare for the next track "One Small Step", a delightful composition led by Jakko Jakczyk's tornado axe and Steve's wanting and fraught vocal, exhorting forever higher and further.

"Reunion" puts this amazing release to rest, a combination of all the preceding elements, reuniting all the delicate male and female voices, the Irish pipes and whistles , the violins, the nylon guitar, some pedal steel from BJ Cole and of course, the main choir theme one more time. Gavin pulses through to the end, orchestra in tow.

Without any doubt, a magnificent opus from magician Robert Reed, the super-classy Kompendium project outshines anything he has done in the past with Magenta, Cyan and the Fyreworks. A mystical package that will delight the incredulous prog fan constantly on the lookout for some miraculous treasure. .

5 deep beckonings

Thanks to marty mcfly for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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