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PROGRESSIVE ELECTRONIC

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Progressive Electronic definition

Born in the late 60's after the expansion of avant-gardist, modern, post-modern and minimalist experimentation, the progressive electronic movement immediately guides us into a musical adventure around technologies and new possibilities for composition. As an author or a searcher, the musician often creates his own modules and electronic combinations, deciding his own artistic and musical action. The visionary works of Stockhausen, Subotnick, John Cage ("concrete" music, electro-acoustic experimentation), La Monte Young, Steve Reich, Terry Riley (minimal, micro-tonal music) express a vision of total reconstruction in the current musical world. Luminous works such as "A Rainbow in Curved Air" (1967) and "Silver Apples of the Moon" (1967) bring an inflexion on opened forms and new ways to explore the essence and the physical aspects of sounds (through time and space). "Static" textures, collages & long running sounds, the power of technology previously exposed in ambitious classical works will have a major impact in "popular" electronic music.

After the artisan & innovative uses of magnetic tapes, feedback, microphones, etc., the instrumental synthesis, the elaboration of global sound forms and the psycho-acoustic interactions will be sublimated thanks to the launch of the analog synth. A great improvement happened in 1964 with the appearance of the first modular synthesiser (Moog). This material (or "invention") brings the answer to the technological aspirations of many musicians, mainly after the release of the popular "Switched on Bach" (Walter Carlos) and Mother Mallard's portable masterpiece (pieces composed between 1970-73).

At the beginning of popular essays in electronica, the pioneering technologies (in term of recording and sound transmission) will not be abandoned. For instance, "Tone Float" (1969) by Organisation (pre-Kraftwerk), "Zwei Osterei" & "Klopzeichen" (1969-70) by Kluster and "Irrlicht" (1972) by Klaus Schulze will carry on the domestication of the electric energy and the use of refined harmoniums, organs and echo machines. During the 70's decade, European groups & musicians such as Eno, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream will make their name in the music industry thanks to an abundant use of analog synthesisers and original electronic combinations. After weird, mysterious experimentation on conventional acoustic & electric instruments, Kraftwerk enjoyed huge success in popular music thanks to "mechanical electronic pop music". "Trans Europe Express" (1977) and "The Man Machine" (1978) figure as two commercial classics. The German spacey electronic scene launched by Tangerine Dream with their outstanding "Alpha Centauri" (1971) and Cluster "I" & "II" (1971-72) will have echoes everywhere, starting from the Berlin underground electronic scene (the Berlin School) with Klaus Schulze ("Timewind" 1974), Michael Hoenig ("Departure from the Northern Wasteland" 1978), Ashra ("New Age of Earth" 1976), Conrad Schnitzler's buzz-drones and repetitive electronics ("Zug", "Blau", Gold" 1972-74) . After several innovations always from Germany we notice the dark, doomy atmospheric manifests of Nekropolis (Peter Frohmader) in "Le culte des Goules" (1981), Asmus Tietchens in his colourful and engaged "Biotop" (1981) and the semi-ambient "Hermeneutic Music" (1988) by Lars Troschen (sound sculptor and synthesist).

In France, the "hypnotic" and "propulsive" electronic essays of Heldon ("Electronic Guerrilla" 1974) and Lard Free ("Spiral Malax"1977) introduce an inclination for industrial, urban and post-modern sound projections. The French "avant gardist" Philippe Besombes takes back the inspiration of " concrete music" (Pierre Henry.) and mixes it to a hybrid rocking universe (published in 1973, "Libra" figures as a true classic). Bernard Xolotl in "Prophecy" (1981), "Procession" / "Last Wave" (1983), Zanov (Green Ray, 1976) and Didier Bocquet (Voyage cerebral, 1978) will follow the musical path anticipated by Klaus Schulze in his kosmische electronic symphonies.

At the end of the 70's until the debut of the 80's Albums as "ambient 1: Music for Airports" (Brian Eno), "Cluster & Eno", "Deluxe" (Hans Joachim Roedelius side project called Harmonia) will announce the emergence of the famous ambient movement, musically characterised by gorgeous shimmering atmospheric textures.

During the 80's, Maurizio Bianchi will be in search of the absolute industrial "post-nuclear" sound tapestry. His visionary musical experience is based on cyclical loops, abrasive concrete noises and vertiginous piano dreamscapes. ("Symphony for a Genocide" 1981 and recently the mesmerising "A.M.B Iehn Tale" 2005). Before M.B and the industrial-bruitist wave, the 70's Italian specialists of electronic experiments had been (among others) Francesco Cabiati (Mirage, 1979), Francesco Bucherri (Journey, 1979), and Francesco Messina for representative, lyrical and spacey orchestrations and also Futuro Antica (D'ai primitivi all'elettronica, 1980) or Telaio Magnetico (Live' 75) for tripped out minimalism.

In the early 1980s and after following the kosmische path of classic Klaus Schulze, The Bay Area / Los Angeles school of electronic created the so called "alchemical" / "Sacred" space music. The music offers a dynamic combination between ancient-traditional music of the West and synthesised sonic soundscapes. The most representative artists of this movement are Michael Stream (Lyra Sound Constellation, 1983) Robert Rich (Numena, 1987) and Steve Roach (Dreamtime Return, 1988).

In the early 80s Ian Boddy (Spirits, 1984 / Phoenix, 1986) and Mark Shreeve (Assassin, 1983 / Legion, 1984) unique spacedout synthesised sagas represented the british answer to the challenging Berlin kosmische school. Their music embodies timbral drone sequences, systematic arpeggiations and synth-pop textures.

Young contemporary bands and artists in electronic experimentation took their inspiration from the 70's "kosmische" analog synth psychedelica of Klaus Schulze, Conrad Schnitzler, Tangerine Dream, etc. In the spaced out synthesisers spectrum, modern Japanese artists as Yamazaki Maso (noisy avant garde experimentor who contributes to the Kawabata's projects named Andromelos, Christina 23 onna and Father Moo & the Black sheeps) or Takushi Yamazaki (Space Machine) are key figures. The minimal, moody / lysergic epic soundscapes of Omit (Clinton Williams), Cloudland Canyon, Astral social club or Zombi also contribute to the renewal of the "cosmic" synth genre. Many modern electronic artists have taken an original musical direction, surfing on post-krautrock ambient waves (Aethenor), on spherical "abstract" ambient minimalism (Pete Namlook, Biosphere, Robert Henke) or on trancey, (post) industrial drone hypnosis (Alio Die / Amon / Nimh for the italian side and Andrew Chalk with his respective projects Mirror, Monos and Ora).

To sum up things, the progressive electronic subgenre is dedicated to intricate, moving, cerebral, intrusive electronic experiences that get involved in "kosmische", dark ambient, (post) industrial, droning, surreal or impressionist soundscapes territories.

Philippe BLACHE


The responsibility for the psych/space, indo/raga, krautrock and prog electronic subgenres is taken by the PSIKE team,
currently consisting of
- Sheavy
- Meltdowner
- siLLy puPPy
- Rivertree


Progressive Electronic Top Albums


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

4.25 | 777 ratings
RUBYCON
Tangerine Dream
4.25 | 234 ratings
MIRAGE
Schulze, Klaus
4.21 | 228 ratings
TIMEWIND
Schulze, Klaus
4.57 | 25 ratings
CATCH WAVE
Kosugi, Takehisa
4.14 | 663 ratings
PHAEDRA
Tangerine Dream
4.52 | 24 ratings
IN COURSE OF TIME
Zanov
4.18 | 121 ratings
EPSILON IN MALAYSIAN PALE
Froese, Edgar
4.11 | 207 ratings
X
Schulze, Klaus
4.28 | 38 ratings
AN ELECTRIC STORM
White Noise
4.32 | 28 ratings
ALIO DIE & LORENZO MONTANA: HOLOGRAPHIC CODEX
Alio Die
4.16 | 46 ratings
FILAMENTS
Rich, Robert
4.22 | 33 ratings
LUCIFER RISING (OST)
Beausoleil, Bobby
4.16 | 44 ratings
INTEGRATI... DISINTEGRATI
Leprino, Franco
4.03 | 151 ratings
AMBIENT 4 - ON LAND
Eno, Brian
4.02 | 157 ratings
NEW AGE OF EARTH
Ashra
3.98 | 393 ratings
FORCE MAJEURE
Tangerine Dream
3.98 | 274 ratings
ANOTHER GREEN WORLD
Eno, Brian
4.55 | 12 ratings
ARCHITEXTURE OF SILENCE
Alpha Wave Movement
3.94 | 464 ratings
STRATOSFEAR
Tangerine Dream
4.11 | 38 ratings
GREEN RAY
Zanov
3.94 | 322 ratings
THE MAN-MACHINE [AKA: DIE MENSCH-MASCHINE]
Kraftwerk
4.14 | 30 ratings
20 JAZZ FUNK GREATS
Throbbing Gristle
4.64 | 9 ratings
LONG LOST RELATIVES
Syrinx
3.97 | 97 ratings
BODY LOVE (OST)
Schulze, Klaus
3.95 | 124 ratings
BRIAN ENO & DAVID BYRNE: MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS
Eno, Brian
4.28 | 17 ratings
ABANDONED CITIES
Budd, Harold
4.00 | 62 ratings
MUSIK VON
Harmonia
4.20 | 21 ratings
PARADISO
Tangerine Dream
4.95 | 6 ratings
THE HIDDEN SPRING
Alio Die
4.26 | 17 ratings
TUSSILAGO FANFARA
Anna Sjalv Tredje
3.90 | 256 ratings
TANGRAM
Tangerine Dream
4.45 | 11 ratings
BLACKER
Radio Massacre International
3.93 | 95 ratings
BODY LOVE - VOL. 2
Schulze, Klaus
4.12 | 24 ratings
RAVEDEATH, 1972
Hecker, Tim
3.88 | 278 ratings
TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS [AKA: TRANS-EUROPA EXPRESS]
Kraftwerk
4.01 | 42 ratings
EARTHEN
Alpha Wave Movement
4.08 | 28 ratings
LOGOS
Wakhevitch, Igor
3.94 | 75 ratings
SMALL CRAFT ON A MILK SEA
Eno, Brian
4.25 | 15 ratings
HORSE ROTORVATOR
Coil
4.10 | 24 ratings
SONANZE
Cacciapaglia, Roberto
4.80 | 6 ratings
DEN GÅTFULLA MÄNNISKAN
Malmberg, Eric
3.91 | 74 ratings
STAND BY
Heldon
4.65 | 7 ratings
TRANCE SPIRITS
Roach, Steve
3.93 | 58 ratings
AMBIENT 2 - THE PLATEAUX OF MIRROR (WITH BRIAN ENO)
Budd, Harold
4.34 | 11 ratings
LOVE'S SECRET DOMAIN
Coil
4.95 | 5 ratings
DECONSECRATED AND PURE
Alio Die
4.06 | 24 ratings
BALLET STATIQUE
Schnitzler, Conrad
4.01 | 29 ratings
ICELAND
Pinhas, Richard
4.73 | 6 ratings
ALIO DIE & SYLVI ALLI: AMIDST THE CIRCLING SPIRES
Alio Die
4.18 | 15 ratings
NUMINA + ZERO OHMS: BROKEN STARS THROUGH BRILLIANT CLOUDS
Numina
4.48 | 8 ratings
THE VOID
Lynne, Bjorn
3.91 | 52 ratings
THE EQUATORIAL STARS
Fripp & Eno
3.91 | 49 ratings
THE PEARL (WITH BRIAN ENO & DANIEL LANOIS)
Budd, Harold
4.02 | 25 ratings
DOCTEUR FAUST
Wakhevitch, Igor
4.44 | 8 ratings
SEAMLESSLY BLISS
Alio Die
4.27 | 11 ratings
ZUG
Schnitzler, Conrad
3.81 | 153 ratings
UNDERWATER SUNLIGHT
Tangerine Dream
3.79 | 205 ratings
COMPUTER WORLD [AKA: COMPUTERWELT]
Kraftwerk
4.75 | 5 ratings
LEXIKON I
Benkő, László
4.75 | 5 ratings
HARMONIC CURRENTS
Alpha Wave Movement
4.17 | 12 ratings
ADONIA
Ose
4.16 | 12 ratings
FROZEN NORTH
Radio Massacre International
4.95 | 4 ratings
HONEYSUCKLE
Alio Die
4.07 | 15 ratings
WARMTH OF EARTH
Artemiev, Edward
3.78 | 175 ratings
BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE
Eno, Brian
4.00 | 19 ratings
D.O.A. THE THIRD AND FINAL REPORT
Throbbing Gristle
4.50 | 6 ratings
THE ELECTRIC LUCIFER
Haack, Bruce
3.98 | 18 ratings
UBERFALLIG
Schickert, Günter
4.63 | 5 ratings
ELECTRONEGATIVITY - THE CASSETTE CONCERT SERIES NO.3
Schnitzler, Conrad
4.10 | 12 ratings
EMISSARIES
Radio Massacre International
4.36 | 7 ratings
VOYAGE CÉRÉBRAL
Bocquet, Didier
4.83 | 4 ratings
SIL MUIR
Sil Muir
3.77 | 100 ratings
APOLLO - ATMOSPHERES & SOUNDTRACKS (OST)
Eno, Brian
3.84 | 36 ratings
SURFACE TO AIR
Zombi
4.43 | 6 ratings
TRACER
Omit (Clinton Williams)
3.76 | 92 ratings
PICTURE MUSIC
Schulze, Klaus
4.41 | 6 ratings
THE PLACE WHERE THE BLACK STARS HANG
Lustmord
3.81 | 43 ratings
IN BLUE
Schulze, Klaus
3.84 | 31 ratings
EPITAPH FOR VENUS
Galactic Explorers
4.75 | 4 ratings
THE SIXTH EAR
Raicevic, Nik
3.76 | 76 ratings
EVENING STAR
Fripp & Eno
4.74 | 4 ratings
QUANTUM CONSCIOUSNESS
Five Thousand Spirits
4.74 | 4 ratings
CONDUITS AND ESTUARIES
Rapoon
3.73 | 174 ratings
HERE COME THE WARM JETS
Eno, Brian
4.28 | 7 ratings
THE DELICATE FOREVER
Roach, Steve
4.36 | 6 ratings
THE LAST STRANDS OF FORTITUDE
6LA8
3.74 | 95 ratings
BLACKOUTS
Ashra
3.76 | 63 ratings
ENO, MOEBIUS & ROEDELIUS: AFTER THE HEAT
Eno, Brian
5.00 | 3 ratings
BLUE DREAM
Sequentia Legenda
3.75 | 61 ratings
ANOTHER DAY ON EARTH
Eno, Brian
3.92 | 17 ratings
MIDNIGHT IN SPACE
Hydrus
4.34 | 6 ratings
STARS FALL DARKLY
Yeti Rain
4.18 | 8 ratings
MINOS
Languirand, Pascal
4.33 | 6 ratings
THE CLOUDS OF TITAN
Radio Massacre International
4.11 | 9 ratings
CELESTIAL CHRONICLES
Alpha Wave Movement
4.95 | 3 ratings
DOCUMENTS 1975
Harmonia
3.80 | 31 ratings
AUTOMAT
Automat
3.70 | 149 ratings
MOONDAWN
Schulze, Klaus
4.90 | 3 ratings
BARDO
Oöphoi
3.96 | 13 ratings
MUSIK AUS DEM SCHATTENREICH
Frohmader, Peter

Progressive Electronic overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Progressive Electronic experts team

DEN GÅTFULLA MÄNNISKAN
Malmberg, Eric
SYNTHETIK 1
seesselberg
HARMONIC ASCENDANT
Schroeder, Robert
HATHOR
Wakhevitch, Igor

Latest Progressive Electronic Music Reviews


 Spiral Revelation by ROACH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.51 | 3 ratings

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Spiral Revelation
Steve Roach Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Cool, attractive and tactically low keyed, but nevertheless totally creative cosmic-pulse driven electronics, coming from an always daring as prolific musician like Steve Roach is good news from any progressive electronic angle one can look into.

When this kind of sophistication occurs, everything turns to the basic premise of music composition. How well can you write enticing, deep and personal melody lines, which no matter when or how presented should trascend their natural state of sound to become tri-dimensional entities as real as our apparently solid flesh and bones? And of course be unique in doing so. Small feat!

"Spiral Revelation" released at the end of 2016 kind of makes up for a year of very few really surprising prog/electronic releases and does so with a bang!

*****5 "FULL" PA stars.

When the word "SPIRAL" appears in any of Steve Roach's albums, something is really cooking!

 Triplet (Tommy Betzler and Michael Brückner feat. Sammy David) by BRÜCKNER, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Triplet (Tommy Betzler and Michael Brückner feat. Sammy David)
Michael Brückner Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars With their first album being playfully called `Two' (a reference to the actual pairing up of German electronic artist Michael Brückner and electronic-percussionist Tommy Betzler, not their second album!), it only makes sense that the duo name their follow-up `Triplet', right?! In this case, it's a reference to the added prominence of guitarist Sammy David, who contributed to parts of the first collaboration but appears in greater capacity here, and, like the debut, it helps make `Triplet' a first-rate crossover work that sits perfectly between ambient spacey electronics with something closer to a more accessible progressive rock approach.

The four pieces on offer here are essentially later studio adaptions of ideas and themes that the main trio of musicians here mostly improvised at the E-Live festival at Oirschot in the Netherlands on October 29th 2016. Eighteen minute opener `The Trip' moves between a reflective atmospheric mood and lively stronger colourful bursts. Introduced by one of those stark piano ruminations that Brückner always does so well, whirring spacey trills and eerie Mellotron flute wisps flit around mellow bluesy Pink Floyd-like ringing guitar soloing. Guest keyboardist Fredryk Jona again contributes some tasty and delirious Moog Voyager solos, and once Tommy's electronic drums and pattering of percussion carefully break to the surface and take hold alongside softly bouncing sequencer patterns, the piece lightly comes to resemble Tangerine Dream's `Force Majeure' album.

Brückner and his electronics mostly step back for `Trilogy', allowing guitarist Sammy David to take much of the spotlight with plentiful soloing frequently in the manner of David Gilmour, but also adopting a tougher hard rock drive in parts, Tommy's constant punchy e-drumming pushing the piece towards an 80's Tangerine Dream flavour. `Doublette' then returns to the core pairing of Brückner and Betzler for a lengthy twenty-three minute workout that seamlessly transitions back and forth between softly sweeping cinematic-like synths, unhurried ambient deep-space drifts and liquid programmed trickles with stronger up-tempo rhythmic bursts fuelled by Tommy's drums, and it makes for a varied and unpredictable piece full of crowd-pleasing soloing.

The main CD also includes a bonus track of a live-in-the-studio interpretation from the four musicians of the third and longest set from the above mentioned show, here entitled `(Three) To the Flame of Life'. Rumbles of drums and cymbal crashes build behind weeping and spacey synth cries, programming slithers, buoyant beats and bubbling wavering psychedelic spirals bleeding over gutsy guitar soloing and peppy drumming, with a dreamy closing few minutes culminating in an uplifting triumphant finale.

Note that some versions of the `Triplet' CD come with a limited DVD-R (that admittedly works best accessing it from your computer) of rehearsals, interviews and rough concert footage of the main three musicians performing at the above mentioned festival in the Netherlands, and it's wonderful to see the musicians in action at their improvisational best backed to the hypnotic psychedelic visuals provided by Edward Rink and Jeroen Bouma.

Overall, the addictive and richly subtle`Triplet' would be ideal for listeners who frequently find a lot of prog-electronic/ambient music too vague or repetitive, as the musicians here have created a diverse, focused and interesting collection that remains exploratory and atmospheric but also melodic and easily approached. It has a great crossover appeal for general prog-rock fans with its liberal use of guitar, and overall the set is full of movement, energy and colour. If something that often sounds like a modern interpretation of Tangerine Dream's `Force Majeure/Cyclone'-era sounds intriguing, investigate `Triplet' immediately, and you won't find a better line-up of Michael Brückner, Tommy Betzler and their musical friends to deliver the goods!

Four stars.

 Fade To Gray by ROACH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.05 | 3 ratings

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Fade To Gray
Steve Roach Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars In addition to the sublime `Shadow of Time', a pair of very different collaborations with upcoming electronic musician Robert Logan and a stunning archival live release `Pinnacle Moments', progressive electronic/ambient icon Steve Roach closes out 2016 with no less than three complete brand-new studio works, all offering glimpses of very different aspects of the artist's personality, genre bending and constantly exploring musical mind. Of the three, `Spiral Revelation' is rhythmic and lively, `Painting in the Dark' a lightly psychedelic pure ambient work, but this one, `Fade to Gray' is another of Roach's single long- form compositions very much in the manner of the previous year's `This Place to Be', a challenging and impossibly subtle work that remains as challenging as always.

Completely devoid of any rhythmic elements, the seventy-four minute sound-collage `Fade to Gray' is a furtive unceasing drone of ever-reaching echoing ambient washes and darkly symphonic sweeps. Dreamy lethargic ebbs seep into cavernous groaning crevices, slivers of light eventually piercing through melancholic veils of stormy faraway rumbles to blanket the atmosphere with pristine serene pools.

These sort of works are often quite hard to assess, and they always prove divisive amongst listeners. To some, these unhurried and drifting musings are utterly entrancing, others find them completely tedious and uneventful. `Fade to Gray' is certainly not the latter, but it can be patience testing and quite confronting in the first half, not particularly easy listening until some lighter, more inviting qualities gradually reveal themselves in the later stretches. It's definitely not a place to start for newcomers looking to explore Roach's works (out of this new triple set, best pick up the other two first). But, as always, it's a quietly reflective and thought-provoking mood piece from a master of many electronic-related genres, and it remains a mysterious and evocative soundtrack.

Three stars for general listeners, four stars for seasoned dark ambient fans.

 The Ship by ENO, BRIAN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.52 | 10 ratings

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The Ship
Brian Eno Progressive Electronic

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Brian Eno's best album in years strikes a lopsided balance between his purely ambient abstractions and the more song-centered performances from his feather-boa'd youth, but it definitely leans far closer toward the minimalist end of his musical spectrum. Imagine a typical Eno pop song, slowed down to below 16 rpm and stretched out over 21-minutes in length, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

There's a dreamlike lack of clarity to the music, as if The Ship of the album's title (supposedly RMS Titanic, in her final agony) was running at quarter-speed through dense fog. Eno's artfully auto-tuned singing adds just the right touch of maritime angst, resembling the lonesome chantey of an old sea dog on the evening's last watch aboard a four-masted windjammer.

The long title track grows progressively more weird, as the dying ocean liner presumably settles to the North Atlantic sea floor. More accessible melodies then begin to emerge in the three-part "Fickle Sun", but the overall mood remains austere: gray music for an uncertain voyage, perfectly illustrated in the album's monochromatic artwork. So when the faux-brass section suddenly kicks in just beyond the 7:00 mark of "Fickle Sun, Part One" the effect is all the more powerful by contrast.

It's esoteric stuff, but strangely compelling: the poetry of ideas expressed as sound...a goofy description, I admit, but not when listening to Eno. And Part Two of "The Fickle Sun" is in fact an actual poem, recited by actor Peter Serafinowicz (the zombie roommate in the movie "Shaun of the Dead") over a gentle Satie-like solo piano phrase. Which then leads directly into Part Three, "I'm Set Free": an old Velvet Underground song, beautifully rendered into one of Eno's best vocal performances since the 1970s.

A final coda ("Away", once again with echoes of "Another Green World") is only available on Japanese editions of the album...sadly, because it offers an ideal epilogue to an already indelible experience. The whole package is quintessential Eno: subtle yet engaging, calm to the point of immobility but still able to stir the gray matter like nobody's business.

 Spiral Revelation by ROACH, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.51 | 3 ratings

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Spiral Revelation
Steve Roach Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars In addition to the sublime `Shadow of Time', a pair of very different collaborations with up-and-coming electronic musician Robert Logan and a stunning archival live release `Pinnacle Moments', progressive electronic/ambient icon Steve Roach closes out 2016 with no less than three complete brand-new studio works, all offering glimpses of very different aspects of the artist's personality, genre bending and constantly exploring musical mind. Of the three, `Fade to Gray' is a long-form moody drone, and `Painting in the Dark' a lightly psychedelic pure ambient work, but this one, `Spiral Revelation' is constantly lively, and, like its colourful cover art, full of a pulsing energy, often in the form of heavy rhythmic-driven compositions that Roach doesn't step into all that often these days, making it another very welcome and exciting change of direction.

`We Continue' starts the most gently and prettily, an opener that will become an instant Roach classic, holding traces of his early years with the honed intelligence and subtlety he's mastered over the decades. Whimsical chiming notes ring amongst glistening pools shimmering to the surface with the same joyful and comforting love that flitted through `Reflections in Suspension' off Roach's seminal 1984 classic `Structures from Silence', a nurturing innocence and comforting embrace at its very core. The fizzy beats of the ringing `Unseen Hand' skitter out of rising/falling caresses, the relentless `Finger on the Pulse' unravels with danger, mysterious electronics bleed and seep through `A Righteous Thing', and `Primary Phase' is a restrained head-nodding chill-out, growing strident beats and cinematic slivers weaving tastefully together.

But the closing twenty-minute title track `Spiral Revelation' is a masterclass of deeply atmospheric and enigmatic prog- electronica, and is likely a piece that vintage electronic/Berlin school fans will greatly appreciate. Endlessly hypnotic with just a hint of early Klaus Schulze alien danger and the grace of Robert Schroeder's `Harmonic Ascendant' but given a modern and vital interpretation, undulating beats grow in presence and rippling unease with subtle surges forwards and retreating waves back, locked forever in an unceasing spiralling loop. A stark pure-ambient coda is exceptionally haunting, and it wraps the disc in a surprisingly emotional and subdued manner.

It's very welcome to see the artist delving back into another more melodic, energetic rhythmic-based work so soon after 2015's `Skeleton Keys'. This collection provides endless movement and momentum but crucially doesn't skimp on the most minute of ambient intelligence constantly coating the background to give it a delicate richness, and it proves instantly that ambient albums can still be full of life and vitality. `Spiral Revelation', along with the other two wildly different above-mentioned simultaneous releases here, ensures Steve Roach wraps a wildly successful and artistically stimulating series of intelligent releases throughout 2016, and sets up the new year as surely another inspired, creative, divisive and absolutely vital period for the prog-electronic/ambient icon.

Four and a half stars.

 Cyclone by TANGERINE DREAM album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.59 | 302 ratings

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Cyclone
Tangerine Dream Progressive Electronic

Review by Scorpius

4 stars There are two different types of Tangerine Dream fans. Those who despise this album and those who believe it is a masterpiece. I happen to fall very close to the latter of these two. This album is very underrated, but I do see where those who hate it are coming from. Certain tracks fall short, holding down the rest of the album from critical acclaim. Lets get to it, shall we?

The album begins with "Cold Bent Sidewalk", a 13 minute epic that introduced vocals into Tangerine Dream's sound. This track was actually my introduction into the band, so I might be biased here, but I think it's genius. Many people criticize the vocals for being uninspired and bland. I honestly don't understand where this is coming from. I always thought the track had riveting, inspired, beautiful vocals that blend with the song perfectly. The vocals on this track and the next are one of the main reasons this album divides TD fans so much. Although the vocals are endlessly criticized, there is no denying how epic and beautiful the instrumental part of this track is. Synthesizer and moog arpeggios intertwine with some almost Jethro Tull-like flute. Its simple, its genius, and most importantly, its Tangerine Dream.

The next track is "Rising Runner Missed by Endless Sender". This is the track that for me, holds this album back from 5 stars. The vocals are grating and repetitive, and so is the music. The keyboard arpeggios are back, but this time all they do is repeat, with a change in pitch every minute or so. Thank God this track is short, or I might have had to give this album a lower rating.

The final track is "Madrigal Meridian", a 20 minute epic closer. No more vocals. Happy? This track is your classic Tangerine Dream epic. Epic tracks like these, at least for me, are generally hard to dissect, so I wont even try. Let me just say that if you are a fan of the older TD sound found on Rubycon and most of Phaedra, you will love this track. Had it been on a more respected TD album, this track would get the much needed respect and love it deserves.

 Kontinuum by SCHULZE, KLAUS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.72 | 65 ratings

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Kontinuum
Klaus Schulze Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The recovered continuity

Whereas the troubled new-wave / new-age waters of the 80's were a difficult context for Klaus Schulze to express himself, the 90's represent a celebration of his ideas with the explosion of techno and trance. However, for me, it was the third millennium that really saw the genuine awakening of the German Moog pioneer. Schulze finally found his place in the contemporary musical landscape, and managed to renew himself better than most other historical electronic bands, such as TANGERINE DREAM for example.

"Kontinuum" revives the typical schulzian experience by offering extended hypnotic sequenced soundscapes with modern sonorities. The three titles are continuous, forming a single track of 76 minutes. Besides a return to the original 70's recipe, this opus also marks the 60-years anniversary of the synthesizer wizard.

As you may have guessed, "Sequenzer (from 70 To 07)" is a reference to Schulze's career in the musical industry, as his first studio release dates back to his participation to TD's "Electronic Meditation" in 1970. A spacey sequenced title, the Berlin School style, pulsating and mesmerizing. During the last third, the loops vanish to unveil hazy waves of ambient keyboards. A nice trip, although a bit too long, which will be a recurring reproach about the disc. "Euro Caravan" begins atmospheric to then turn esoteric with its middle-eastern-ish vocalizations. Interesting when you know Schulze will further collaborate with Lisa Gerrard from DEAD CAN DANCE... A dynamic sequence reminding the good-old days adds a futuristic fauna to this desert landscape. An electronic caravan is passing...

The 32 minutes "Thor (Thunder)" is the final and longest title of the record. Don't be mistaken by the opening storm sounds, this composition is pretty much in the vein of the previous track, however without less vocalizations and inspiration. With such a title, the listener expecting a dark and raging epic suite will be quite disappointed, as the music is rather calm and takes the time, finishing in an ambient note. Not bad per se, but a little redundant with "Euro Caravan" and definitely too lengthy.

Like me, I believe than many progressive electronic and 70's KS lovers were somehow disoriented by his releases after the ambitious 1978's "X" or 1980's "...Live...". "Kontinuum" arrives as the long awaited album for these fans, the one where Klaus finally remember his magical formula. Although "Moonlake" was more modern and varied, this opus more resembles trademark Schulze compositions in terms of structure and ambiance. There are two major problems though: the length and the redundancy. The music does not expose enough changes or evolutions to justify such durations, and "Thor (Thunder)" is optional.

Anyway, if you're a fan of classic Klaus Schulze, don't miss this disc. "Kontinuum" is one of the best post-1980 works by the German, with "Moonlake". How should we call it? "Modernized vintage electro-prog"?

 Dig It by SCHULZE, KLAUS album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.92 | 62 ratings

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Dig It
Klaus Schulze Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Klaus goes digital

Whereas most of his electronic brothers, such as TANGERINE DREAM, KRAFTWERK, Jarre or even NEURONIUM, manage to renew themselves while still offering inspired compositions at the dawn of the eighties, the same thing can't be said for Klaus Schulze. In fact, the German musician is maybe one of the first synthesizer pioneer to exhibit a decrease of inspiration from 1980. Curious, as his works were always demanding and not always accessible. This time either, Schulze didn't - and never - want to turn commercial by proposing radio-friendly tunes. So why "Dig It" is an half-failure?

As the double-pun album title suggests, the sound is now digital, which will greatly harm the progressive electronic genre in the 80's. Goodbye charming trippy analog synthesizers of the 70's, say hello to the soulless icy numerical keyboards of the new decade. In this opus, the German abandons his trademark contemplative and hypnotic soundscapes in profit of... we don't really know, a few shorter tracks, a bit more melodic... however less unreal and magic. Anyway, the music has not aged well and resembles hardly nothing to what he had accustomed us before. Schulze cannot be blamed though for trying to renew himself, but unfortunately the result is not very convincing and the choice of sonorities not always suited.

This change of direction can be perceived from the first seconds of the disc. "Death Of An Analogue" is a sad reference to the gone glorious analogue days of the seventies. Ironic, as the track itself is definitely not in the same league to what the years it refers to. This opener could be described as a digitalized funeral march, with a text narrated by Schulze at the vocoder. Rather monotonous and lengthy. Although "Weird Caravan" is overall average, it does possess a special intriguing ambiance that makes this title unique with its jazzy bass and world / new-agey sounds. The only truly good track is the futuristic "The Looper Isn't A Hooker", for its eerie atmosphere. The length and structure of "Synthasy" should theoretically remind 70's Schulzian soundscapes, but is finally flat and fails to catch attention.

Fans of Berlin School, and even 80's TANGERINE DREAM and Jarre lovers, will be somehow disconcerted by the orientation taken by Klaus Schulze in this decade. This opus marks a transition in his approach, not a very good one I'm afraid. The music is more varied indeed, contains new ideas, but is really also very dated and doesn't provide the immersion and evasion of his former works. Although released at the very beginning of the eighties, "Dig It" makes no exception, and the next albums will follow this path paved with cheesy synthesizers and unequal compositions.

Give it a try if you want to make your own opinion... For me, the German pioneer will take time to wake up and recover his past grandeur...

 Reflection by ENO, BRIAN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.96 | 5 ratings

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Reflection
Brian Eno Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Well, opposite to what one will suspect, but average in an average Prog world of opinions and tastes, Brian Eno's works, as many other former band members who went solo, are underrated without hesitation by disappointed or offended raters, to be honest it is quiet funny to watch that side of the average listener's school yard.

Anyway, for starters Brian Eno's 2017 "Reflection" advertisement reviews do not stop mentioning "Discreet Music", 1975, which is the easy way out to explain this meditative, yet not symphonic at all as "Discreet Music" was, release.

But let me state that indeed this is a one track , 54 minutes dronescape by one of the "dronescaping" pioneers when the word drone was not even associated with these musical compositions, choosing for the no less iconclastic yet amiable (and mostly misunderstood) term of Ambient music.

So, as you may intuit, this is no speed freak's paradise, maybe their hell. Slow paced transmutation of simultaneous, full or minimalistic, ethereal flowing melody lines, counterpointed by the oncoming and ongoing echoing of bells which are the guiding lights as they are the subtle launching pads to its constantly changing musical structures' detours, making it rich, creative and deep, yet conceptual as a single track.

Vigorous, obscurely fresh, perfectly timed and true to its creator's language, the undercovered diversity of musical composition environments add up for an attractive (even addictive) memorable listening experience.

****4 (This one stays home!) PA stars.

 Ambient Monkeys by TANGERINE DREAM album cover Studio Album, 1997
1.72 | 20 ratings

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Ambient Monkeys
Tangerine Dream Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

1 stars Might work for nature shops...

First let's define the "ambient" mention from the title. Both old fans expecting a come-back / revisit of early TANGERINE DREAM's "kozmische" material, like "Zeit" or "Atem", and more recent electronica lovers eager for 90's quality ambient works in the vein of THE ORB, THE FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON or early AUTECHRE will surely be disappointed. Instead, "Ambient Monkeys" mainly consists in a continuous mixture of more or less new-age TD from the nineties, noodling, natural sonorities and animal sounds. Sometimes, attentive listeners will recognize a known title...

The point is, this environmental soundtrack was only used by the band before starting concerts to warm audiences up. These pieces were initially not meant to be released. However, on "public demand" by the fans, the Froeses finally made this available. So who is to blame?

In conclusion, was it worth it? Not really... The "music" will rarely catch the ears of both classic and 90's TANGERINE DREAM lovers. Only for fans of background ambient wanting to sonically dress their vegetal lounge or bathroom with a "nature" soundtrack...

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