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NEO-PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Neo-Prog definition

Neo-Progressive rock (more commonly "Neo-Prog") is a subgenre of Progressive Rock that originally was used to describe artists strongly influenced by the classic symphonic prog bands that flourished during the 1970s. At the beginning of the neo-prog movement, the primary influence was early to mid-70's Genesis. Debate over when Neo-Prog actually came into being often takes place, with some asserting it began with Marillion's Script for a Jester's Tear in 1983. Others contend it began with Twelfth Night at the dawn of the 80s, while some even suggest the popular symphonic prog band Genesis gave rise to Neo-Prog with their 1976 album, A Trick of the Tail.

If one analyses the progressive movement just before 1980, then some albums which heavily influenced the Neo-Prog movement easily come to mind: Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings, Genesis - Wind & Wuthering, Genesis - And Then There Were Three, Genesis - Seconds Out, Saga - Saga, all the Camel albums between Breathless and The Single Factor included, and some Eloy's albums, especially Silent Cries And Mighty Echoes.

This new form of progressive rock originated in the UK, and is most strongly associated with bands such as Marillion, Pendragon and IQ; and while theatrical stage antics were a part of the live performances of many artists exploring this subset of the progressive rock genre it's the musical elements that are key to the genre; typified by the use of atmospheric guitar and synth soloing with symphonic leanings, with a tendency towards floating synth layers and dreamy soloing. An additional trait is the use of modern synths rather than vintage analogue synths and keyboards. The main reasons for Neo-Progressive artists to be separated from the ones exploring Symphonic Prog in the first place are the above, as well as a heavier emphasis on song-form and melody than some of their earlier symphonic counterparts.

As time went by other artists appeared that also deviated from the norms created by the classic wave of progressive rock artists in the 70's. The late 70's had given the world punk music; the 80's gave the world new wave; and the 90's grunge. These, as well as other forms, had a tremendous amount of influence outside of the progressive rock realm. The advent of the modern synth also inspired artists like Tomita, Vangelis and Kitaro to explore dreamier musical works.

These and other forms of more or less newly made musical genres influenced artists exploring progressive rock as well. Although many artists did so within the framework of 70's progressive rock, more and more artists developed a sound and style so heavily influenced by these more recent musical developments that categorizing them within the existing subgenres of progressive rock became increasingly difficult.

While the Neo-Progressive genre initially consisted of artists exploring a modernized version of Symphonic Prog, these days artists coined as Neo-Progressive cover a multitude of musical expressions, where the common denominator is the inclusion - within a progressive rock framework - of musical elements developed just prior to and after 1980. The Neo-Progressive genre in it's refined form thus covers a vast musical territory, to some extent covering all existing subsets of progressive rock and also searching out towards genres as different as new age on one side and punk and metal on the other.

Opening paragraphs written by Stonebeard, Cygnus X-2, Greenback

Revised, edited and refined April 2009 by windhawk, The Doctor and E-Dub



Current Neo-Prog Team members
as at 27/8/2014

Apostolis (psarros) ... Team leader
Matti
Tom (Roland113)

Neo-Prog Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Neo-Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.46 | 429 ratings
THE ROAD OF BONES
IQ
4.24 | 1476 ratings
MISPLACED CHILDHOOD
Marillion
4.22 | 1416 ratings
SCRIPT FOR A JESTER'S TEAR
Marillion
4.19 | 459 ratings
CONTAGION
Arena
4.13 | 903 ratings
CLUTCHING AT STRAWS
Marillion
4.12 | 645 ratings
FREQUENCY
IQ
4.11 | 781 ratings
MARBLES
Marillion
4.13 | 349 ratings
POSTHUMOUS SILENCE
Sylvan
4.12 | 378 ratings
A TOWER OF SILENCE
Anubis
4.09 | 331 ratings
EMPIRES NEVER LAST
Galahad
4.08 | 374 ratings
FANFARE & FANTASY
Comedy Of Errors
4.04 | 502 ratings
THE VISITOR
Arena
4.05 | 440 ratings
EVER
IQ
4.02 | 667 ratings
DARK MATTER
IQ
4.03 | 452 ratings
THE SEVENTH HOUSE
IQ
4.08 | 247 ratings
SEVEN
Magenta
4.23 | 99 ratings
IS THIS HUMAN BEHAVIOUR?
Shamall
4.05 | 245 ratings
ACROSS THE RUBICON
Silhouette
3.98 | 723 ratings
BRAVE
Marillion
3.97 | 923 ratings
FUGAZI
Marillion

Neo-Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Neo-Prog experts team

THE ART OF MADNESS
Psychedelic Ensemble, The
TRAVELLER
Magus (The Winter Tree)
THE SPARROW
Metaphor
ARGOS
Argos

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Latest Neo-Prog Music Reviews


 Hitchhiking to Byzantium by ANUBIS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.86 | 97 ratings

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Hitchhiking to Byzantium
Anubis Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Anubis shocked the progressive community with the acclaim generated by their previous album, the colourful 'A Tower of Silence". Owner of a dazzling cover and artwork as well as a series of riveting prog classics such as "Holly Innocent", "Archway of Tears" , "Passing Bell" , "All That Is" and "As I Wait for my World", one had to be very very optimistic for a follow-up to one of 2011's best albums . Well, the Aussies have decided to keep their talented crew intact, the only change is Robert James Moulding handling the bass guitar with rather pronounced results. With a bar set so high, there would be a natural tendency to compare and then judge accordingly. I generally prefer to stay away from such simple reasoning, as each work is inherently a separate entity, like going to see paintings by your fave Breughel or Monet, and being happy to imbibe yourself with the brush strokes.

Anubis have a style that is uncontroversial, a densely symphonic melange of symphonic keyboards , dual guitars that fill out the sound, a booming bass guitar that is up-front and center and a muscular drum kit that is unafraid to bash. But it's the vocal style of lead lung Moulding that really sets the band apart from its peers, a voice that has its own uniqueness, a hint of hysteria and a slight nasal twang that I find appealing but may grate on some more sensitive nerves.

Upon first glance, it pretty much par for the course, "Fadeout" humorously fading in as an intro, giving "A King With No Crown" its perfect platform and as such, is not far removed from the style espoused on "A Tower of Silence", a hard-edged, nervous and slightly psychotic vocal delivery, with crunchy guitars rambling nastily and the sudden synths pulverizing the airwaves, an aggressive opener that gets the blood flowing right from the start. Moulding howls wide and loud, very convincing but David Eaton's Moog solo is definitely a feature.

"Dead Trees" has a forlorn melancholia that searches out contrasts from serene to passionate, Moulding doing sweet stuff with his voice before exploding the next, he does remind me of Sylvan's Marco Gluhmann (one of the finer voices in prog) , a couple of sizzling guitar solos from both Douglas Skene and Dean Bennison , with Moulding holding down the bass duties. Typical Anubis tune, lush and delightful.

The nearly 10 minute title track wastes no time in presenting the guitar-led melody , a sleepy vocal emerges from deep in the valley, luxuriant washes of ballad-like contemplation, twinkling piano and one-two drumming, nothing complex or overtly aggressive. A dreamy voyage sprinkled with searing guitar themes, perhaps the calm before the proverbial storm, this is like a soothing balm in the pharmacy cabinet. Moulding mumbles like in a soporific cocoon, very convincing indeed.

Bang! Things get almost punky on the tempestuous "Blood is thicker Than Common Sense", a rocking piece that stutters, quakes, explodes and sizzles , Moulding doing a yeoman job with dueling vocals , introducing slight tonal variations to make the illusion complete. David Eaton shuttles a neat organ along, colliding with both guitar slashes in expert unison. Drummer Steve Eaton really shines brightly on the kit.

"Tightening of the Screws" is gentler and more pastoral in essence, yet still imbibed in a great deal of inner conflict , a passionately delivered vocal exalts within the profound symphonics, seared by a fiery guitar solo from Douglas, scorching the celestial skies as Dean scours the riffs below, tossing in some mandolin to boot. This is perhaps my favorite track here, a lovely ride.

The oddly titled "Partitionists" is slightly more nervous, lots of slashing guitars and snarly tone in the vocals, somehow this one does not connect with me. Maybe a need a few more spins but it's just pleasant. On the other hand, Douglas does a wicked axe solo, full of trembling exaltation.

The hulking presence of Pink Floyd stands over the otherwise luscious "Crimson Stained Romance", a clear tribute to the masters of space and time, celestial rolling harmonium waves surmounted by slippery guitar overlays, monotone drum and a sleepy voice that is bathing in psychedelia. The church organ comes bellowing into the congregation only to add some gloom and doom to the cosmic proceedings. Both fret board solos are awe- inspiring explorations as the mood gets more excited and angry.

Multiple radio channels get the proverbial second long chance before a piano and a drugged-up voice introduce the epic 16 minute monster and album highpoint "A Room with a View" (perhaps based on a romantic 1908 novel by EM Forster and a 1985 movie adaptation). Obviously lots of shifts, mood changes and changing scenarios but major kudos to drummer Steve Eaton for some amazing rhythmic mania throughout this sizzler. Moulding's voice is modulated higher, as if a cast member of some theatrical play, lots of harmony vocal help from all the other musicians. This is some of his best singing on the record, very demanding and highly expressive in the 'sweeter' moments. Bluesy guitar rips gracefully enhance the melody, painting a clearer musical picture, adding more crystalline soloing as the song progresses forward. Piano and rolling bass take briefly over, as the rustling flute suddenly shuttles this into almost Jethro Tull environments, the Sylvan singer reminder once again quite apparent. The finale gets all frizzled up with some spiraling guitar exercises, a section that will thrill all axe fans, as both Skene and Bennison unleash some magical licks.

"Silent Wandering Ghosts" terminates this fine album, in reverential melancholia, a sad vocal that has strong Steve Wilson-like despondence, roaming bass and insistent piano to keep things simple and in perspective. A truly great vocal line that may shift one's appreciation of Anubis' ultimate prog value, though Robert has a voice that is not unanimous in acceptance. The restraint shown by the shimmering guitar is to be commended, a sizzling fire that glows deep into the night, slowly fading into the mist.

In all fairness, Hitchhiking to Byzantium is an entirely worthy follow-up to admittedly a top- notch jewel of a neo-prog classic, so we will let bygones be bygones and suggest this to all of those who really loved "A Tower of Silence" and just enjoy the ride. It will probably take many more spins to really delve deeper into it inherent pleasures. I am somewhat surprised at the paucity of revues for this much-awaited release.

4 Free rides to Istanbul

 Republikflucht! ...Facing East by PROTEO album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.96 | 8 ratings

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Republikflucht! ...Facing East
Proteo Neo-Prog

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Proteo's second album, "Republikflucht! ?Facing East" was released in 2013 on Ma.Ra.Cash Records and in my opinion is more refined and mature if compared with its predecessor. Here the song-writing is bolder and the music, yet still rooted in eighties pop rock forms, perfectly fits the concept and helps to take you back in time. In fact, according to an interview with the band, this is a concept album inspired by books such as Anna Funder's C'era una volta la Ddr or Ryszard Kapuscinsky's Imperium, it's a reflection about the cold war and a way to look over the ruins of the Berlin Wall, facing East. A fatherland with a hand of fire and another hand of snow that hurts your heart when you try to embrace it, as sings Wolf Biermann in one of his best lieder. Well, here the music is a far cry from Wolf Biermann's but it successfully contributes to set the right atmosphere while the lyrics do not try to tell a story but just draw evocative images focusing on the hopes and feelings of the common people rather than on politics.

The opener "Echoes Mankind (Part II)" is a sequel of the last track on Proteo's debut album and depicts military plants and barbed wire along the border, a barrack-like homeland where people are kept as prisoners without consciousness, where bureaucracy rules but where there's still room for hope and where in spite of everything flowers can still break the ice. Next comes the long, complex "Berlin", a surreal musical painting of a city that could resemble to a museum of modern art and where the free sky is blotted out by disquieting grey clouds. Then the dreamy "Eastern Fields" follows drawing images of a farmland on the edge of time where you risk to get lost in your thoughts, facing east, far away from home...

The lively "Funny Girls Playing Double Dutch" is the shortest track on the album and describes some innocent children merrily playing in a courtyard, unconscious of their destiny and scrutinized by men wearing uniforms. "Four-leaf Clover" is another long track dealing with feelings such as faith, hope and love under the iron curtain. "Republikflucht" concludes the album with a come back from this strange trip through time and space leading to mysterious and shadowy places, over fake theories and disused liturgies, underneath lost memories and black and white pictures.

All in all this is a very good album. Through the distillation of a myriad of influences Proteo have achieved a singular sound and if you like modern progressive rock with a melodic approach, you really have to check this album out.

 Under A Polar Red Light by PROTEO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.32 | 6 ratings

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Under A Polar Red Light
Proteo Neo-Prog

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Proteo were formed in Trieste in 1996 by Marco Paulica (rhythm guitars, vocals), Matteo Copetti (lead guitar, sax), Alessandro Surian (bass) and Fabio Gorza (drums, percussion) and along the years the line up has always remained the same. The name of the band refers to a small animal called olm or proteus (proteus anguinus) that lives in the caves of the Karst plateau and that is best known for its adaptations to a life of complete darkness in its underground habitat. In some way it reflects the style of the band, a curious mix of pop rock and progressive rock influences.

After some demos and a good live activity on the local scene, in 2009 Proteo released a debut album on the independent label Ma.Ra.Cash Records, Under A Red Polar Light, featuring eight well crafted original tracks where dreamy melodies and bright touches of musical colours unfurl avoiding banality. Although the overall sound every now and again draws on eighties atmospheres and could recall bands such as The Police, U2 or Talk Talk, the band successfully managed to blend these influences with a prog attitude and personal touch.

The opener "Colors To Give" is a kaleidoscope of images and emotions that flashes out eighties atmospheres and walks on the moon while the following "Eternity" takes you up and down through time and space, between heart and mind, where the streets have no name and eternity fades away dancing on Latin rock rhythms. Then comes the dreamy "Australia", that reminds me slightly of Men At Work or Crowded House and conjures up images from the Lucky Country. The title of the following "Tales From The Ocean" could recall Yes but here the tales from the ocean are not topographic at all and the waves move gently in a controlled flow while the music and lyrics evoke nights on a beach blessed by the moonlight.

"Van Gogh" is another dreamy track that tries to take you a million miles away, under deep blue skies. As you can guess, it was inspired by the work of the famous post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh and leads to the spacey "Robota", featuring short lyrics inspired by the work of Isaac Asimov. Then it's the turn of "I Wish I Could Fly", a piece full of positive energy. The last track "Echoes Mankind (Part I)" is more complex and describes in music and words silent weapons in a time where war and peace seemed to play to hide and seek. Well, all in all this is a good album if you like AOR but the progressive influences here are mild and prog fans risk to be a bit disappointed...

 The Road Of Bones by IQ album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.46 | 429 ratings

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The Road Of Bones
IQ Neo-Prog

Review by WatcherOfThePortal

5 stars OK you listen to Prog. Have you heard the newest IQ Album "the Road of Bones"? If not go get it right now. Both CD's are worth it. This is the best new album I have heard in quiet a while. Passages that meld from one to another. Old Genesis but Better! New sounds with synth excellence. I have listened to a lot of Prog starting around '73...but this has the marks of a classic. I like PT. Genesis, Camel, RPFL,BBTrain and many other types of Prog. Each song is built to listen again and to gain more depth each time. Ocean is a favorite but the whole CD1 is great. CD2 is worth every minute spent as well esp "Constellation". When was the last time you sat and listened through a whole album stunned? This is your journey now. Start soon.
 Somersault  by JADIS album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.93 | 42 ratings

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Somersault
Jadis Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars ''Across the water'' was definitely among the succesful albums of Jadis, selling 3,000 copies within days of its release.After participating in Geoff Mann's tribute album ''Mannerisms'', Jadis entered a period of changes with John Jowitt and later Martin Orford quiting to focus on their work with IQ.Gone with them was the collaboration with the Giant Electric Pea label.The separation was friendly and their replacements were Steve Hunt and Mike Torr respectively.The new line-up made a brief introduction in the 96' EP ''Once or twice'', containing one live track and three reworkings of old songs, before a new album was launched in 1997 under the title ''Somersault''.It was released on Steve Rothery's short-lived Dorian label.

Stylistically not much has changed for Jadis, the style remains a melodic Neo Prog with focus on catchy songs, lyrical passages and atmospheric textures, highlighted by the guitar work and vocals of Gary Chandler.The new members were talented enough to provide solid bass work and some fine keyboard backgrounds in a few pieces.What this album lacks though are some of the striking melodies and memorable parts of the previous works, although ''Somersault'' is yet another album performed with energy and passion.Additionally the sound of the band appears to become less progressive with each release, even if some nice guitar breaks and tricky keyboards are thrown in this release as well.With such a guitar-based style, everything seems to start and finish around Chandler's mood, but this time his performance and compositions are less efficient compared to the nice past pearls of Jadis.Not a bad album by any means, the production is absolutely great, some melodic parts and rhythmic guitars are nice and even Torr appears to be a very good replacement over the talents of Ordford.But it's not all about offering a clean sound and atmospheric pieces in Prog Rock, Jadis' effort in here is less inspired and somewhat saturated with absence of fresh ideas.

Mediocre work by a band, which could do much better.Less proggy than any of Jadis' previous albums, heavily relying on atmospheric and melodic moments, which are not fully convincing.Recommended mainly to Neo Prog followers...2.5 stars.

 The Circle by FIVE-O-ONE AM album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1994
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Circle
FIVE-O-ONE AM Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars In the bottom of the list of 90's Neo Prog acts in terms of popularity, but this Dutch band had something interesting to offer.They started as 5:01 AM with Edu Arde on vocals/saxophone, Jan Pezie on keyboards/backing vocals, Rich Reinders on guitars, Bas de Vries on drums and Robert Dupre on bass and in 1994 they released the 5-track EP ''The circle'', recorded at the Poort Van Kleef Studios in February/March of the same year.Arde appears to be the lyricist of the band and Pezie the main composer.

Give some credit to this 5-piece for adding some cool sax lines among the typical characteristics of a Neo Prog band, which were the refined melodies, the Classical-influenced piano lines, the dreamy keyboard parts and the smooth electric guitars.Musically they sound somewhere between EGDON HEATH, PTS and CLIFFHANGER, passing through dramatic textures, atmospheric soundscapes and uptempo passages, having overall a pretty balanced sound, which includes some fine vocal performances.They could produce some very good lyrical parts, complementing the well-crafted musicianship, featuring dual executions on keyboards and piano, adding some symphonic elements, but keeping in general a pompous style similar to the Neo Prog bands of the period.Not very risky material to say the truth, but all tracks are at least decent with some nice instrumental tricks.The opening ''Journey'', which is the only instrumental track of the album, is representative of the 5:01 AM's talent, very diverse, with great guitar and keyboard parts and a beautiful sax solo by Arde.

Unknown and underground Neo Prog EP.Hard to find, but if you do, this is rewarding for its deep sense of melody and elaborate arrangements.Recommended.

 Epsilon 1 by MAJESTIC album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.46 | 30 ratings

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Epsilon 1
Majestic Neo-Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

3 stars Something new majestic is turning out, yeah! The band name perfectly matches due to a bombast approach coming up, equipped with symphonic keyboard patterns. As for that Jeff Hamel consequently continues his - definitely successful - concept with 'Epsilon 1', while merging neo and heavy prog as well as some metal and spheric psychedelic moments. As I was really amazed by the forerunner 'V-O.Z' I came to this with much curiosity, that was to be expected.- hence probably associated with defined standards which are relatively high.

Jeff routinely handles nearly all the instruments, except the percussion work which is Mike Kosacek's business once again. Even the vocal line-up is quite similiar to the prior album, though only quite, as - really noticable - Marc Atkinson is appearing for the song Starlight. Not wanting to bash the other vocalists in any case, but Marc and Jeff are very compatible I want to accentuate, as they both have the ability to represent a special melancholic sentiment. A very nice song, however this partially sounds only a few stones close to 'A Secret' somehow, which we already had on 'One Eye On The Sunrise' in 2012.

As a designated psychedlic/space rock fan, of course I have to notice Event Horizon - this comes like they (Jeff and Mike) are jamming a lot here, until vocalist David Cagle interfers into this affair sooner or later. 'Epsilon 1' establishs its real strengths especially when reaching for the second partition, the Epsilon suite as such. Musicianship is great without question, consequently this one is a solid prog album, again featuring a crossover of styles, nice vocals and harmonies, thus a recommendable offer to purchase without a doubt - 3.5 stars.

 Disguise Serenades by ARLEKIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.81 | 17 ratings

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Disguise Serenades
Arlekin Neo-Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars So we finally have Ukrainan Igor Sidorenko's (a.k.a. Prog-Jester) recording project ARLEKIN in our database, deservedly. This recently released album was very long in the making. There was no shadow of a doubt that the artist belongs to the Neo Prog category; the album screams Neo Prog right from the MARILLION-inspired artwork. That band, its earliest era to be more precise, has been Igor's strongest musical influence. He sings and plays all the instruments himself, but don't be alarmed by that. The musical performance and the production are of professional level. Only the vocals I find a bit unsatisfactory.

'The Lost Path' starts gloomly with depressed vocals backed by synths only. "They say come join us - no, I won't." It's a rather long intro before the proper music enters, but the PINK FLOYD -like long instrumental section with soaring electric guitar soli is very enjoyable. 'Dance of the Jester', that contains several changes in tempo and dynamics, shows very clear Script-era Marillion influence. The vocals work better than in the opening track. They resemble not only Fish but also Dave Cousins (STRAWBS), even more than Fish does. But I wouldn't say Igor has the same expressionistic power as those two artists.

'Romance' follows in the similar dark mood. It's a fairly good, economic, 5-minute Neo Prog song, but at this point the album starts to feel a bit single-minded. Just think of Script For a Jester's Tear without the hilarious 'Garden Party' and you know what I mean. The 15-minute epic 'In This Puzzled Roundabout' makes me think of the Marillion song 'Fugazi' (actually I had an idea for a review headliner: "The world is still totally Fugazi"), not that it would musically much resemble it. There's a nice balance between vocals and instrumentalism. The composition, maybe the best of the album, could be compared to some IQ epics too. In my country Finland it's the band AGENESS that most shares the Genesis-originating Neo Prog style of Arlekin. 'Old Father East' is a good instrumental - and I'm really glad that there was one.

Especially for fans of early Marillion this is surely worth checking out. I'm hesitating between three and four stars. The vocals are not quite as good as I would wish, and despite many strong moments the album doesn't quite reach the majestic heights it seems to run after desperately. The air is a bit stuffy, so to speak. As I listened to the CD for the first time there was a silly surprise in the end: after six minutes of silence there comes another 'Dance of the Jester' as a hidden track. Gosh, I don't like hidden tracks that start after minutes of silence in general, and whatever differences those versions have, to me it's just useless repetition. 3½ stars rounded down!

 Looking For John Maddock by FLAMBOROUGH HEAD album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.81 | 74 ratings

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Looking For John Maddock
Flamborough Head Neo-Prog

Review by progpig66 (arnold)

4 stars Last week I bought an album by a Dutch band called Flamborough Head, a very nice album. I decided to write a review and what do I see? They are already visited by this poorish proggophobic bunch of daemacho, waeguk, pangrangja, marfish etc. Guess what? All gave two stars at about the same time. All give thousands of ratings in a couple of days' time. Isn't that remarkable? I have about 800 progrock albums and I have trouble keeping them all apart. I prefer listening and enjoying the albums I really love.

Anyway, I was agreeably surprised by the music on "Looking For John Maddock". You get a very pleasant Camelesque melodic symphonic rock, full of beautiful flute and recorder parts, a beautiful languish lead guitar and some nice mellow keyboard playing. The rhythm section seems a bit uneven in the first two tracks, but from there on, the problem is solved.

Flute player Margriet Boomsma has a pleasant clear voice and I also appreciated some nice a cappella passages. The larger part of the album is instrumental. My favourite tracks on the album are the instrumental "Spring" and the fantastic title track "Looking For John Maddock", the conclusion of a very fine album!

progpig66.

 Abel Ganz by ABEL GANZ album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.92 | 56 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

Data cached

Neo-Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
25 YARD SCREAMER United Kingdom
ABACAB France
ABEL GANZ United Kingdom
ABRAXAS Poland
ACCEPT Japan
AD INFINITUM United States
ADN France
AELIAN Italy
AETHELLIS United States
AFTERGLOW France
AGENESS Finland
AGENTS OF MERCY Sweden
AHMSHERE Netherlands
AIRBAG Norway
AIRBRIDGE United Kingdom
AISLES Chile
ALBION Poland
ALKOZAUR France
ALMA SIDERIS Italy
ALSO EDEN United Kingdom
ALTAVIA Italy
AMANDA Belgium
AMON RA Germany
ANAMOR Poland
ANANKE Poland
ANDROID Hungary
ANIMATOR United States
ANNALIST Poland
ANUBIS Australia
APPLE PIE Russia
ARAGON Australia
ARCANSIEL Italy
ARCHANGEL Italy
ARENA United Kingdom
ARENAL Chile
ARGOS Germany
FINN ARILD Norway
ARK United Kingdom
ARKUS Netherlands
ARLEKIN Ukraine
ARLON Poland
ARRAKEEN France
ASGARD Italy
ASTRALIS Chile
ASTURIAS Japan
ATEMPO Argentina
ATRIA France
ATRIUM Portugal
AUFKLARUNG Italy
AVALON USA United States
SIMON AYRES United Kingdom
BACKYARDS France
BALLOON ASTRONOMY United States
BAROCK PROJECT Italy
NICK BARRETT & CLIVE NOLAN United Kingdom
KEVIN BARTLETT United States
SAULO BATTESINI Brazil
BEING & TIME Japan
BEL AIR Germany
BELIEVE Poland
BELLAPHON Japan
BIG PICTURE United States
BIJOU Spain
BLACK PAGE Japan
BLIND EGO Germany
BLIND OWL United States
BLUE MAMMOTH Brazil
BOLUS Canada
FABRICE BONY France
XAVIER BOSCHER France
BRASSÉ Netherlands
DEC BURKE United Kingdom
TIM BURNESS United Kingdom
CAAMORA United Kingdom
CARPTREE Sweden
ALAN CASE Netherlands
RICH CASEY United States
CASINO United Kingdom
CASTANARC United Kingdom
CATAFALCHI DEL CYBER Italy
CATHEDRAL United States
CATWEAZLE Sweden
MARC CECCOTTI France
CENTAUR RODEO United States
CHANDELIER Germany
CHANETON Argentina
CHEST ROCKWELL United States
CHILDREN OF NOVA United States
CHRIS Netherlands
CINDERELLA SEARCH Japan
CIRKEL Netherlands
CIRRUS BAY United States
CLEPSYDRA Switzerland
CLIFFHANGER Netherlands
COALITION United Kingdom
COLD FAIRYLAND China
COLLAGE Poland
COMBINATION HEAD United Kingdom
COMEDY OF ERRORS United Kingdom
CONTEMPORARY DEAD FINNISH MUSIC ENSEMBLE Finland
COSMIC DANGER United States
COSMOGRAF United Kingdom
COSMOS Switzerland
CRAYON PHASE Germany
CREDO United Kingdom
CRIMSON SKY United Kingdom
CRISÁLIDA Chile
CROMWELL Germany
CRUZ DE HIERRO Mexico
CRYSTAL MAZE Germany
CRYSTAL PALACE Germany
CYAN United Kingdom
THE D PROJECT Canada
DARIUS Germany
DARWIN'S RADIO United Kingdom
DAYS BEFORE TOMORROW United States
DEAD HEROES CLUB Ireland
DEAD LETTER CIRCUS Australia
DEEP THOUGHT Switzerland
DELTA CYPHEI PROJECT Germany
DEYSS Switzerland
DIAL Netherlands
DIFFERENCES Netherlands
DIFFERENT STRINGS Malta
DIRECTION Canada
DISPERSE Poland
DISTANT DREAM United States
DOCKER'S GUILD Italy
TROY DONOCKLEY United Kingdom
DR. NO Spain
DRACMA Spain
DRAMA Uruguay
DREAM ARIA Canada
DUSTER United States
EARTHSTONE United Kingdom
EAST Hungary
ECHO US United States
EDEN SHADOW United Kingdom
EDHELS Monaco
EDISON'S CHILDREN Multi-National
EDITH Italy
EGDON HEATH Netherlands
EGOBAND Italy
ELEGANT SIMPLICITY United Kingdom
ELEPHANT & CASTLE France
ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND United States
ELIXIR France
EMERALD Netherlands
ENDLICH ALLEIN Italy
EPILOGUE United Kingdom
EQUINOX Panama
ERASMUS United Kingdom
ESKAPE Germany
ESTHETIC PALE Germany
ETERNAL WANDERERS Russia
EUREKA Germany
EURHYBIA France
EVERY WAKING HOUR United States
EVOLUTION United Kingdom
EVOLUTIVE France
EXHIBIT A United Kingdom
EXOUSTIA United States
EYE 2 EYE France
EYESTRINGS United States
EZRA United Kingdom
FACTORY OF DREAMS Portugal
FANCYFLUID Italy
THE FAR MEADOW United Kingdom
FAUN Germany
FINAL CONFLICT United Kingdom
FISH United Kingdom
FIVE-O-ONE AM Netherlands
FJIERI Italy
FLAMBOROUGH HEAD Netherlands
FLAMMARION Portugal
FLUTTR EFFECT United States
FOR ABSENT FRIENDS Netherlands
FOR YOUR PLEASURE Germany
JACK FOSTER III United States
FRACTAL United States
FRAMAURO Poland
FRAMES Germany
FRAMEWORK United Kingdom
SALLY FRENCH United Kingdom
FROST* United Kingdom
FRUITCAKE Norway
THE FYREWORKS United Kingdom
GALADRIEL Spain
GALAHAD United Kingdom
GALLANT FARM Italy
GALLEON Sweden
GAMBIT France
GANDALF'S FIST United Kingdom
DANIEL GAUTHIER Canada
PETER GEE United Kingdom
GERARD Japan
GHIRIBIZZI Belgium
IL GIARDINO DEI VIZI CONTINUI Italy
JIM GILMOUR Canada
GLACIER United Kingdom
GOOD AUTHORITY Netherlands
ANDREW GORCZYCA United States
IAN GORDON United Kingdom
GPS United States
GRACE United Kingdom
LE GRAND BATON Guadeloupe
GREEN SPACE France
JEFF GREEN Ireland
GRENDEL Poland
GREY LADY DOWN United Kingdom
HANGOVER PARADISE Netherlands
HARNAKIS Spain
HARVEST Spain
HAZE United Kingdom
THE HEALING ROAD Germany
HELLO MADNESS Mexico
HIDDEN LANDS Sweden
HIGH SPY United Kingdom
HIGHER CIRCLES United States
TRACY HITCHINGS United Kingdom
LALO HUBER Argentina
HUIS Canada
HYBRID United Kingdom
I AND THOU United States
ICE Netherlands
ILLUMION Netherlands
ILUVATAR United States
IN NOMINE Spain
INDISCIPLINED LUCY Sweden
INES Germany
THE INSTITUTE OF MODERN LOVE United Kingdom
INTROITUS Sweden
INVERTIGO Germany
INVISIGOTH United States
IQ United Kingdom
IRIS France
IT United Kingdom
VELISLAV IVANOV Bulgaria
IXION Netherlands
JADIS United Kingdom
JANISON EDGE United Kingdom
JESETER Czech Republic
JOLLY United States
JUMP United Kingdom
K2 United States
KAMPAI Germany
KEN'S NOVEL Belgium
KINETIC ELEMENT United States
KING OF AGOGIK Germany
KNIGHT AREA Netherlands
KONCHORDAT United Kingdom
KRAMER Netherlands
LAHOST United Kingdom
LANDMARQ United Kingdom
THE LAST PLACID DAYS OF PLENTY Canada
LEAP DAY Netherlands
LEGEND United Kingdom
LEGGAT Canada
THE LENS United Kingdom
LEVIATHAN Italy
LIFESIGNS United Kingdom
LIGHT Netherlands
LIKE WENDY Netherlands
LITTLE ATLAS United States
LONGSHOT France
LORIEN United Kingdom
LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA Finland
LUNAR CHATEAU United States
MACROMARCO Italy
MAD PUPPET Italy
MAD TEA PARTY Germany
MADELGAIRE Belgium
MAGENTA United Kingdom
MAGNÉSIS France
MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) United States
MAJESTIC United States
MALOMENOS Chile
MANDRAGORA Argentina
GEOFF MANN United Kingdom
MARATHON Netherlands
MARATHON Italy
MARILLION United Kingdom
MARTIGAN Germany
MARYSON Netherlands
MASCARADA Spain
MASQUE Sweden
MASTER OF CEREMONY Italy
MAYBE France
MAYER & ROUCH United States
MEDICINE MAN United Kingdom
MENAYERI Puerto Rico
MENTAUR United Kingdom
MERCHANTS VICE United Kingdom
MERCY TRAIN United Kingdom
METAMORPHOSIS Switzerland
METAPHOR United States
MILLENIUM Poland
MINDGAMES Belgium
MINOR GIANT Netherlands
MK II United Kingdom
MONARCH TRAIL Canada
MONTECRISTO Indonesia
MOONRISE Poland
MORIA FALLS United Kingdom
MORPHELIA Germany
MOTHS United Kingdom
MR. GIL Poland
MR. SO & SO United Kingdom
MUDWAY Italy
MULTI-STORY United Kingdom
MUTE ALBINO Belgium
MYSTERKAH France
MYSTERY Canada
BADER NANA Kuwait
NAOS France
NAVIGATOR United States
NEGUA Spain
NEMEZIS Poland
NEO-PROPHET Belgium
NEON LEAVES United Kingdom
NEPENTHE United States
NEW EDEN ORCHESTRA United States
NIADEM'S GHOST United Kingdom
THE NIGHT WATCH Italy
NINE STONES CLOSE United Kingdom
NO NAME / THE NO NAME EXPERIENCE Luxembourg
NO RESTRAINTS United States
NOLAN & WAKEMAN United Kingdom
CLIVE NOLAN United Kingdom
ERIK NORLANDER United States
NORTH STAR United States
NOSTALGIA Italy
NOVEMBER Netherlands
NOVOX Netherlands
NOW Belgium
NTH ASCENSION United Kingdom
NUANCE France
NUMEN Spain
NURKOSTAM Finland
NYL Russia
OCEAN Norway
ONZA Spain
OORT France
OPUS EST Sweden
MARTIN ORFORD United Kingdom
ORPHEUS Japan
OSIRIS Bahrain
THE OTHER SIDE United States
OUTSIDE France
OVERDRIVE Italy
OVERLOAD Pakistan
OVNI El Salvador
PALLAS United Kingdom
PANDORAS.BOX Germany
PANGAEA United States
PANTOKRAATOR Estonia
MATTHEW PARMENTER United States
PARZIVALS EYE Multi-National
JAKE PASHKIN Russia
INDREK PATTE Estonia
PAX ROMANA Finland
PBII Netherlands
PENDRAGON United Kingdom
PETER PAN Poland
PHAESIS France
PHENOM India
PHOENIX AGAIN Italy
PHREEWORLD United States
PI XPRNC Venezuela
PICKLELEGAZ Netherlands
PICTURES Italy
PILGRYM United Kingdom
PLACKBAND Netherlands
PRELUDE Belgium
PRIMITIVE INSTINCT United Kingdom
PRODUCT United States
PROFUNA OCEAN Netherlands
PROTEO Italy
PROTOS United Kingdom
PROVIDENCE Japan
PROXIMAL DISTANCE United States
THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE United States
PTS Netherlands
Q Chile
QANTUM France
QUADRA France
QUASAR United Kingdom
QUIDAM Poland
QUMMA CONNECTION Finland
QWAARN Canada
RADAVIQUE Netherlands
RAEL Argentina
RED SAND Canada
REVELATION United Kingdom
RICOCHER Netherlands
RIVENDEL Spain
RIVERSEA United Kingdom
RIVERYMAN Finland
RIZENGARD Mexico
RPWL Germany
SAENS France
SAGITTARIAN Japan
MOTOI SAKURABA Japan
SALEM HILL United States
SANGUINE HUM United Kingdom
SAQQARAH France
SARIS Germany
SATELLITE Poland
SCAPELAND WISH United States
SCHEHERAZADE Japan
SEA VINE Poland
SEASONS OF TIME Germany
SECRET CINEMA Italy
SETI Chile
SEVEN DAY HUNT Netherlands
SEVEN STEPS TO THE GREEN DOOR Germany
P.J. SHADOWHAWK United States
SHADOWLAND United Kingdom
SHAKARY Switzerland
SHAMALL Germany
SILENT AGREEMENT Netherlands
SILHOUETTE Netherlands
SILVER KEY Italy
SINISTER STREET Netherlands
SINUS Poland
SIX ELEMENTS United States
SKEEM France
SKYFOX 8 Brazil
SLOW MOTION REIGN United States
SLYCHOSIS United States
MARK SMOOT United States
SNOWDONIA Spain
SOLIS Brazil
SOLSTICE United Kingdom
SPEKTRUM Sweden
SPLINTER Netherlands
STEALING THE FIRE United Kingdom
STEP AHEAD France
STRANGEFISH United Kingdom
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN United Kingdom
SUBSIGNAL Germany
SUBTERRA Chile
SUPPER'S READY Luxembourg
ROBERT SVILPA United States
SYLVAN Germany
T Germany
TALE Multi-National
TALE Italy
TALE CUE Italy
TALE OF DIFFUSION Poland
TALIESYN Germany
TAMARISK United Kingdom
STEVE TASSLER United States
TAURUS AND PISCES Netherlands
TEA IN THE SAHARA Germany
TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER') Japan
THALASSA France
THEATRE Italy
THIRD QUADRANT United Kingdom
TIME AND TIDE United States
TIME HORIZON United States
TIMELOCK Netherlands
TMP (TOON MARTENS PROJECT) Belgium
TOP LEFT CORNER Italy
TOWER Italy
TR3NITY United Kingdom
TRAMA Italy
TRANSIENCE United States
TRIANGLE Netherlands
TRISTAN PARK United States
TSUKI-USAGI Japan
TSUNAMI Germany
LA TULIPE NOIRE Greece
TWELFTH NIGHT United Kingdom
TWIN AGE Sweden
ULTIME ATOME France
ULTRA VIOLET RAYS United States
UNICORN Sweden
UNISPHERE Canada
US Netherlands
UTOPIAN FIELDS Norway
VANTASMA Indonesia
VESTAL United States
VIENNA CIRCLE United Kingdom
VINTAGE Spain
VIOLET DISTRICT Germany
THE VIOLET HOUR United Kingdom
MIKE VISAGGIO United States
VISIBLE WIND Canada
THE VOW Germany
THE WATCH Italy
WHITECHAPEL France
WILTON SAID Canada
WINTER United Kingdom
XENN Poland
YACOBS Germany
YAK United Kingdom
YLECLIPSE Italy
YUKA & CHRONOSHIP Japan
YWIS Netherlands
ZENIT Switzerland
ZENOBIA Germany
ZIFF Germany
ZONK MONK Japan
TOMMY ZVONCHECK United States

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