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HEAVY PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Heavy Prog definition

Heavy Prog defines progressive rock music that draws as much influence from hard rock as it does from classic progressive rock. In simple terms, it is a marriage of the guitar-based heavy blues of the late 1960s and 1970s - artists such as Cream, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath - and the progressive/symphonic movement represented by King Crimson, Yes and Genesis.

The electric guitar, amplified to produce distortion (or 'overdrive') is a crucial element, providing the 'heavy' tone required for this aggressive style, and later for the British and North American heavy metal of the late 1970s and 80s. The primary rock format of drums, bass and guitar with keys and/or vocals on top is represented strongly in heavy prog. The presence of the Hammond organ with its deep, intense rumble was also common among harder progressive groups such as ATOMIC ROOSTER. Although certain other acts, such as King Crimson and Jethro Tull, utilize a heavy guitar, bass and keyboard sound, the bulk of their work over the years puts them in a different category.

Bands that represent Heavy Prog would include RUSH, PORCUPINE TREE, THE MARS VOLTA, URIAH HEEP, TEMPEST, BLACK WIDOW, DR. Z,ATOMIC ROOSTER, WARHORSE, BIRTH CONTROL, TILES.

- written bt Atavachron (David)

Current Team as of 12/24/14

Louis (rdtprog)
Thanos (aapatsos)
Frank (infocat)

Heavy Prog Top Albums


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

4.39 | 2663 ratings
MOVING PICTURES
Rush
4.36 | 2253 ratings
HEMISPHERES
Rush
4.32 | 2087 ratings
A FAREWELL TO KINGS
Rush
4.29 | 1924 ratings
PERMANENT WAVES
Rush
4.25 | 2422 ratings
FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET
Porcupine Tree
4.24 | 2382 ratings
IN ABSENTIA
Porcupine Tree
4.19 | 1164 ratings
DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM
Mars Volta, The
4.15 | 1056 ratings
THE MOUNTAIN
Haken
4.16 | 735 ratings
SALISBURY
Uriah Heep
4.11 | 1977 ratings
2112
Rush
4.13 | 1002 ratings
VISIONS
Haken
4.10 | 1912 ratings
DEADWING
Porcupine Tree
4.12 | 613 ratings
UNTIL ALL THE GHOSTS ARE GONE
Anekdoten
4.12 | 650 ratings
LOOK AT YOURSELF
Uriah Heep
4.06 | 1266 ratings
THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS
Porcupine Tree
4.07 | 993 ratings
AQUARIUS
Haken
4.06 | 866 ratings
FRANCES THE MUTE
Mars Volta, The
4.07 | 716 ratings
DEMONS AND WIZARDS
Uriah Heep
4.03 | 1424 ratings
LIGHTBULB SUN
Porcupine Tree
4.08 | 407 ratings
FROM WITHIN
Anekdoten

Heavy Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

SKELETON IN ARMOUR
Fusion Orchestra
ZUNDAPP
Zundapp
VULTRESS
Cosmic Nomads
HIGH TIDE
High Tide

Latest Heavy Prog Music Reviews


 Tribus by WINDMILL, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 73 ratings

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Tribus
The Windmill Heavy Prog

Review by The Jester

4 stars Review # 101. The Windmill is a Norwegian band that I discovered recently, and to be honest I was impressed. I had no idea about them until I saw some very good ratings and reviews about their latest album Tribus, and I decided to give it a try. Their music style can be characterized as Heavy Prog with a sound that reminds the bands of the '70s, but in a more modern way.

The album opens with the 24-minute-long The Tree, which left me speechless! If I would like to describe the feeling I had, I would say that it is as if you enter a train for a long journey, without knowing where it is going to lead you. So, you just sit back and enjoy the ride, with its infinite turns and changes of the landscape, and the peace you find yourself in. When the journey finally ends, you know that you only have to press "repeat" in order to feel it again. It is one of the album's "stronger" compositions, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the songs are just "fillers". Each of the 5 songs is wonderful in its own way, and creates different feelings for the listener. The Tree is followed by the 10-minute-long instrumental Storm. What I wrote about The Tree stands for Storm as well. The only difference is the length of the "journey". Another excellent track, including flute that permeates a vintage sound, if I can use that expression. Dendrophenia that comes next, is a lovely track that could easily fit in any of the old albums of Uriah Heep. A very nice and more "straight forward" track. Make Me Feel, the album's 4rth track, is another highlight! Again, a long ? 9.30-minute-long track, is one of the album's stronger compositions. I didn't pay much attention to it at first, because I kept listening to the first 2 songs repeatedly; but when I finally decided to continue with the rest of the album, this was the song that stuck with me again. Play with Fire is another wonderful tune that concludes the album in the best way possible. A more Folky and happier tune in comparison with the previous songs. Due to the sound of the flute and the singer's voice, it reminds me of Jethro Tull a little bit, but it cannot be characterized as a "copycat" in any way.

The things that I loved in Tribus are; firstly the very good and strong compositions, secondly, despite their sophistication, the songs don't tire you out. Although most of them include lots of changes, they come artlessly and effortlessly. These guys don't try to impress the listener with their technical skills, (which are very good), but with the quality of their music and their overall performance instead. This is a wonderful album that you listen from the first until the last minute, without having to skip not even one song. All the songs are wonderful and they have something to offer. Stronger tracks: The Tree, Storm, Make Me Feel. Weaker Tracks: None. It would be a mistake to ignore this album! Give it a try and you won't regret it. My Rating: 4.5 stars.

 Gusano Mecanico by CLIMAX album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.88 | 20 ratings

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Gusano Mecanico
Climax Heavy Prog

Review by Asiostygius

4 stars I agree 100% with PROGNATURE BEAST and I'd rather trust my ears too. I simply don't understand the low ratings for this album. Apart from the energetic hard rock with tinges of prog, psychedely and folk, we have even an interesting fusion track (6. Cristales Soñadores". The CD version I have in my hands is a remaster from RRP - Retro Remaster Plus, including 8 bonus tracks from their 2 EPs of 1969-1970), totalling 14 tracks and 60 min and 21 s of very good music. In the bonus material an additional member is listed: Bob Hopkins, an American marine (!) that helps in vocals, harmonica and percussion (tracks 11 to 14). As these guys lived sometime in the USA in late 1960s and early 1970s, they attended and absorbed the musical spirit of the time. No surprise among bonus tracks there are competent covers from Cream, Steppenwolf and Jimi Hendrix. The playing is excellent: I like the most the guitar and bass; by the way, the correct names of respective players are Jose Eguino and Javier Saldias, Even for a remaster the production is rough, but I like it! Several instances here at PA I saw members underevaluating pieces of art because the bad sound/production, waiting from records from 1960s or 1970s (and in this case in Bolivia) a cristal clear production! Nonsense, what matters is the music and the context of the time. No way this is a less than 4 stars rating!
 Sacrilegium by DEVIL DOLL album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.76 | 72 ratings

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Sacrilegium
Devil Doll Heavy Prog

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Welcome to Sacrilegium, the fourth album of one of the best prog-rock bands of the 90's!

Every Devil Doll is a whole and complete experience by itself. The style of the band was more or less the same throughout its whole career, but that means that every album has thousands of influences, styles and colors very well mixed and intertwined with Mr.Doctor's unique style of singing. Sprechgesang, to be exact.

And Sacrilegium is no exception!

It is another excellent composition by the mastermind Mr. Doctor, who was also in charge of the production of this record full of intricated passages, obscure lyrics, and their typical heavy metal guitars mixed with Gregorian chants, classical music, folk, cabaret, Bernard Herrmann's influenced passages and even tango.

Everything fits in Devil Doll's music and the result is just incredible!

Best Tracks: Sacrilegium has only one long song, just like every Devil Doll album with the exception of Eliogabalus.

Conclusion: the third Devil Doll opus is maybe not so surprising as their debut The Girl who was Death and not so outstandingly good as their last and best album Dies Irae, but it's another excellent record by one of the most unique, personal and unrepeatable prog bands in history.

My rating: ****

 Nil Recurring by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
3.92 | 476 ratings

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Nil Recurring
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Glimpse

3 stars Porcupine Tree's sixth and final EP, Nil Recurring, was certainly a pleasant gift for many fans as it came out just a few months after the release of their fantastic album Fear of a Blank Planet in 2007. The EP featured four leftovers the band had piled up from the album's recording sessions as the group felt they would just bloat the record, resulting in Fear of a Blank Planet having a lot less fat on it than their previous albums. Ultimately, I would say it was a good thing these came out here rather than on the album itself, as this EP tends to be a bit of a mixed bag overall.

The EP begins with the title track, an instrumental piece featuring Robert Fripp. It's a pretty nice track, featuring the band's characteristic 2000s era heaviness with a few more psychedelic passages sprinkled in. However, unlike Fripp's feature in Fear of a Blank Planet, he brings a bit more to the table here as he actually sounds like Robert Fripp at times, especially towards the end of the track. Something that I could really appreciate, as if you are gonna bring someone on to feature on a track, it would be nice for them to actually bring something interesting to the party.

Then comes the second track on the album, Normal. This is the weakest track on the album, as it is just an early, bloated version of the track Sentimental. Nothing that happens here is really all that interesting. It also features some of Wilson's weakest vocal work that I have heard so far. Sure, Wilson has never been the most dynamic or compelling vocalist ever, but he usually does a much better job than he does here. Here he just sounds flat, like he is not really giving it his all, this is particularly noticeable in the "Sullen and bored the kids stay" section of the song as his vocals and harmonies here are just so hollow sounding. Really this track just makes me appreciate the Sentimental we got on the album a lot more, as it expresses the ideas found here much better with a shorter run time.

Next up to bat is Cheating the Polygraph, away from the dull Normal and back to heavy goodness. This is pretty standard Porcupine Tree fare, a moderate length track with plenty of heaviness and a bit of a quieter break about 2/3rds of the way in featuring keyboard and effects work. Really nothing all that special here, but it is still a solid track nonetheless, not much for me to say here.

Of course, the group saves the best for last with the track What Happens Now? It is not a very heavy track, instead the heaviness takes a backseat to the more electronic sounds and psychedelic effects throughout the track. It feels somewhat like a throwback to Wilson's earlier work with the group, and overall it is a pretty nice track. Probably the only track on this EP that I could legitimately see myself coming back and listening to casually.

Nil Recurring all-around is hardly anything spectacular, but being a collection of leftovers, that was probably not what the group was shooting for with this release. Sure there are interesting moments, but it is not really hard to see why most of this material didn't make the cut. I would give this anywhere between a two or three, but I feel like overall it is good enough to earn a three. Though it should be noted that if you are interested in listening to these tracks, there are plenty of newer editions of Fear of a Blank Planet that feature these tracks along with the regular track listing, so if you want to listen to these tracks that would probably be your best route rather than buying an individual EP just for these tracks. Unless you are a collector or already have it, there is not really much point in buying this release on its own anymore.

 Time Lost by ENCHANT album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.71 | 112 ratings

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Time Lost
Enchant Heavy Prog

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Third full length album by the heavy prog act Enchant!

Time Lost consists in four new tracks plus three unreleased three compositions, produced by the guitarist Douglas A. Ott.

And maybe that's the main reason that this album sounds like a mixture of their first and second efforts, because the different band stages when it was composed. So the more heavy and straightforward guitars in the vein of Wounded are mixed with some symphonic and neo-prog elements typical of the first band's release.

But maybe for this reason, this album is also a bit more dynamic and not so repetitive like Wounded. And despite it does not reach the quality of A Blueprint of the World, it's also worthy of the attention of 90's heavy prog fans mainly because the awesome vocals of Ted Leonard and the excellent guitar work of Douglas A. Ott.

Best Tracks: Under the Sun, Foundations and Mettle Man.

Conclusion: despite having been composed in different sessions and times, Time Lost is a cohesive record with a pair of very fine songs and a solid work of the whole band, especially the splendid (but a bit repetitive to be honest) Ted Leonard and the colourful riffs of Douglas A. Ott.

My rating: ***

 Themata by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.57 | 102 ratings

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Themata
Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by Kempokid

3 stars Despite Karnivool playing a large part in the Australian prog scene, this album more resembles that of an alt metal one. The guitar riffs are mostly simple, the vocals are quite standard for alt metal, and the production is crystal clear in such a way that really highlights the more standard rock sound of them. However, there is still definitely some proggier elements to the band, especially in terms of the rhythm section, which definitely brings some interesting things to the table at times.

There are only 4 songs on the album which I consider to be of very high quality, 'Cote', 'Themata', 'Roquefort' and 'Mauseum'. with the rest serving as decent tracks, but nothing particularly special. 'Cote' is quite a beautiful opener with good riffs and fairly good, emotional vocals, overall opening the album in an adequate way. 'Themata' definitely picks things up immensely, with a much more dynamic song with a lot of powerful behind it. I love how the keyboards has a slight Egyptian/Middle Eastern sound to it, and I also find the drumming to be really great, becoming more energetic as the song progresses, constantly raising the impact of the incredible chorus. 'Roquefort' is without question the best song this album has to offer, starting off with a killer intro riff that plays around with rhythm and time signatures quite a lot, along with being extremely fun and groovy. Making things even better is the great vocal performance, being more loose, but having a certain playfulness to it that sounds great. 'Mauseum' is mostly a great song due to the riffs, which have a slight djent edge to them that really has it stand out, along with some entertaining rhythm sections.

Unfortunately, I find the rest of the album to be nothing particularly special, with many songs sounding very similar to one another, often somewhat repetitive in nature. These songs tend to be good, bug simply nothing particularly great. There are a couple of songs that sound quite poor though, one being 'Life Like' which at points sounds like a filler song by 'Disturbed' and is just generally boring.

This is an album composed of peaks and valleys, with a couple of chasms strewn throughout. The peaks are all extremely good songs that are catchy and fun while also having some really great technical elements, and the valleys are mostly decent. The really low points on the album are quite cheesy, bland and generally awful, but overall, the album is serviceable. 'Karnivool' definitely went on to improve with their next album, 'Sound Awake' which had much better compositions with more variety and a much more interesting, proggy sound all around, but this album is fairly average in many parts.

Best Songs: Themata, Roquefort, Mauseum

Weakest Songs: Life Like, Sewn and Silent, Change (Part 1)

Verdict: Definitely a must for any fans of alt metal, but other than that, I don't think that this is a must listen by any means, other than the songs I've listed as best on the album, as the rest is quite samey. The rhythm sections are quite interesting, but it doesn't stop this from being an album with some large flaws in places.

 Quatermass by QUATERMASS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.71 | 161 ratings

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Quatermass
Quatermass Heavy Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin

5 stars Who founded heavy prog? Difficult to say, but among the first stand out Quatermass, even if they are a trio without a guitar. Quatermass, formed by bassist John Gustafson (future Roxy Music), keyboardist (piano, Hammond, harpsichord, sinths and strings arrangement) Peter Robinson and percussionist Mick Underwood, three players from various backgrounds which tried a fusion between prog and hard rock. The name "Quatermass" was inspired by the famous television and film character of Professor Quatermass, protagonist of a successful saga.

Qautermass released only one album (Harvest, 1970), on which appears the "Laughin Tackle" suite (ten and a half minutes, composed by the factotum Peter Robinson), their maximum effort, accompanied by other masterpieces of 7-9 minutes. After an intro played by the organ, starts "Black Sheep In The Family" (written by Steve Hammond, who plays in two songs as session man), very good and powerful song (vote 8). "Post War Saturday Echo" (almost ten minutes, written by the whole group), is a mid-tempo ballad based on Robinson's great work on keyboards (organ, piano), and that has sudden accelerations that make it almost a suite. Excellent singing (Gustafson). Masterpiece (vote 8,5/9). The shorter "Good Lord Knows", orchestrated in Baroque style with a Strings ensemble (Paul Buckmaster on cello) and the harpsichord (Robinson), is a little jewel (vote 7,5/8). "Up On The Ground" (seven minutes, written by Gustafson), with the synth instead of the heavy guitar, is another remarkable song, very enthralling, with great work on drums by Mick Underwood (vote 8+).

Side B opens with "Gemini" (six minutes, written by Hammond, vote 7,5): this song in a certain sense blends Nice with Deep Purple, seen the initial classic rock, with pounding rhythm (Underwood), and the classical breaks on the keyboards. "Make Up Your Mind" (almost 9 minutes) begins with a coarse repetition strophe-refrain, then follows a long digression on the keyboards by Robinson, which challenges Emerson; at the end the singing returns (vote 7,5/8). The excellent instrumental suite "Laughing Tackle" (vote 8,5) starts with a bass solo, to which are added the keyboards and the drums in the background (played in jazz style); after four and a half minutes this impressionist instrumental beginning gives rise to a rock solo of Underwood, followed by the return of the bass; then arrives a part orchestrated with the Strings ensemble which climbs into an orchestral sound on the verge of dissonance, then dissolves slowly together with the bass, plus another 40 seconds of "Entropy". It could be compared to Valentyne Suite by Colosseum.

In my opinion, Quatermass is a masterpiece of the first progressive: it is sensational that in 1970 this record has such a progressive attitude, able to make a perfect synthesis of Keith Emerson's keyboardist rock (and overcome him in ability and talent) and the harpers of hard rock (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple). The pieces are all high class for composition and arrangement; the musicians are technically excellent. Difficult to expect much more from a 1970 album.

Medium quality of the songs: 8,07. Vote album: 9. Masterpiece. Rating: Five stars.

 Blurring The Lines ... A Democracy  Manifest by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.13 | 98 ratings

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Blurring The Lines ... A Democracy Manifest
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars These boys know how to embellish two-, three- and four-chord blues rock chord progressions with enough jam-band-like instrumental flourishes, to bely the simplicity of the compositions. The musicians are all proficient at their instruments, the sound choices and effects all very accurate duplications of those from classic prog, psychedelia, and jazz fusion, and the weaves all full and feeling complete, but there is again this stark simplicity to each composition that I find difficult to ignore. It is especially obvious through and with the predominance of straight time signatures. I feel as if I'm listening to DAAL, QUANTUM FANTAY, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, and early KING CRIMSON.

1. "Wretch" (7:13) is one of the strongest songs on the album, sounding like QUANTUM FANTAY at their best. (9/10)

2. "Return to Splendor" (5:55) has a driving, jamming SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT start and feel to it until the soft DAAL-like piano-based section in the fourth minute. Quite pretty?the bass lines and electric guitar arpeggi are especially engaging. At 4:40 chunky DAAL guitar power chords (two chords) shift the music back to the insistence of the opening. (8.75/10)

3. "Kilauea" (1:31) opens as a solo acoustic guitar piece before the guitar is trebled in tracks 40 seconds in. (4/5)

4. "The Trapper's Daughter" (4:13) opens with IQ-like raunchy synth which is soon joined by John Bonham "When the Levee Breaks"-sounding drumming before organ and rest of band fills the soundscape. Adrian Belew-like guitar screams and screeches enter around 1:55 but then become buried in the rest of the sonic barrage. But then a soft, cinematic reprieve starts and gradually morphs into a three-chord acoustic guitar duet to the end. Interesting. (8.5/10)

5. ""Forbidden Valley Opiate" (4:46) opens with solid drum play and Dick-Dale-like guitar riffing before filling out to be a song that could come straight from QUANTUM FANTAY's 2010 album "Bridges of Kukuriku." Another mid-song acoustic slowdown occurs in the third minute, but then proceeds to alternate with the driving two-chord progression that the song first established in the first minute. In the fourth minute the two sections kind of meld as the wah-ed lead guitar jumps into the fore and stays there till song's end. (8.75/10)

6. "Cosmic Pillow" (8:06) opens with a solo sitar before a few sparsely spaced single piano notes join in around 0:40. The duet continues as both instruments gradually embellish and augment their separate patterns with little flourishes, chords, and runs. At 2:18 the piano enters into a more domineering pattern and is joined by tabla. Talented dudes! But the strangest thing then occurs: at the four minute mark when electric bass and electric guitar enter, the whole song changes, instrumental foundation, mood, sound, everything. Gone are sitar, tabla, and any echoes of Indian sounds, exchanged for heavy four-chord bluesy prog rock. In the sixth minute, the musical structure tries on a kind of KING CRIMSON sound with angular guitar chords and arpeggi and wild saxophone runs. Impressive imitation but, again, it is based in such simplicity! (8.5/10)

7. "Another Afterthought" (3:54) is the first of the album's songs in which the band enters into the realm of 70s instrumental Jazz Rock?here using an instrumental sound palette quite similar to bands like NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN, LARRY CARLTON, and even Belgium's MINIMAL COMPACT. The song is interesting?even pretty in many places. (9/10)

8. "Handful of Infinity" (3:09) trying on the folk-tinged PAT METHENY GROUP style, we have a two-chord verse structure as the foundation over which electric guitar, Patrick Moraz-like synth, and piano get some solo time. The segue into more delicate territory at 2:00 is interesting, and then we finish with the same acoustic guitar-based jazz-rock opening. (8.75/10)

9. "Taiga" (4:01) opens like it's going to explode into a DEAD CAN DANCE song, but then, instead, becomes more of an ambient VANGELIS "Antarctica" thing before single chord piano and simple bass line bounce repetitively while synth twinkles and poppies its percussive sounds. A chamber strings addition in the third minute proceeds a rich, cinematic section over which bass nd electric guitar interplay. Good song. (8.75/10)

10. "Mother Tongue" (7:15) opens with a band and a runaway pace with many bridges of tempo shifts and pregnant pauses strung together while drums and organ crash away. Electric guitar becomes more integrated into the weave than anticipated, but then morphs into an interesting due to the arrival of acoustic guitar in lead position, but then heaviness crashes back in to take the dominating style. But no! A slower, more spacious psychedelia foundation is created allowing the blues Hendrix-like lead guitar to float and flail, dance and fly all over the fast-panning soundscape. This song is all over the place! Does it work? Drumming, bass play, and piano are very cool in their support of the Hendrix imitator. Definitely a bluesy jam band-like song. The four-chord repetition to the end is an unusual way to draw the song to a close. (9/10)

11. "Wretch Reprise" (1:32) faded in, faded out. Must have been a solo section from an alternate or longer version of the album's opener. I am SO familiar with this style of creating songs! (3.5/5)

12. "Usul" (4:48) is the most obviously KING CRIMSON-esque song on the album, "Red" era, but, other than the wonderful drumming on display, ultimately fails to maintain its beguilement. (8.5/10)

Again, these band members, one and all, are masters of taking very simple constructs and using the collective embellishments from their familiar instruments to weave together some very nice and deceptively layered song tapestries. There are more frequent jam-band type of song developments than complex Crimsonian constructs?though, again, each of the individual musicians are quite proficient at their instruments. Their gift, so far, lies in masterfully mounting a collective attack slowly but surely, building as one to eventually create the full sounds and impressive concotions that they have.

Four stars; a wonderful addition to any prog lover's music collection; an impressive collection of a variety of styles familiar to any prog lover from the progressive rock musics of the 1970s.

 Porcupine Tree Sampler 2008 - Transmission 8.1 by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2008
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Porcupine Tree Sampler 2008 - Transmission 8.1
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars This is the second Porcupine Tree Sampler (this one dated 2008), and like the previous one released in 2005, this one contains tracks collected from various solo projects and non-PT projects that the members of the band were involved in during the time. Also, just like the previous sampler, the music does not resemble that of PT very much, and it was released to give some exposure to the other projects that Richard Barbieri, Steven Wilson, Gavin Harrison and Colin Edwin were involved with.

The sampler starts off with Richard Barbieri with a track called 'Hypnotek' from his solo album 'Stranger Inside'. This is a nice electronic based track with processed piano, a driving beat and a mysterious feel. What sounds like some heavy guitar effects come in later and some added intensity keeps the track dynamic. Throw in some indiscernible vocal loops and you've got an interesting track. 'Red Square' follows this from his solo album 'Things Buried'. This one has Tangerine Dream style synths with some cool bass effects. Some lovely piano is added in later.

Colin Edwin is represented by three tracks by his project called 'Ex-wise Heads'. The first track is 'Harmonic Chain' from the album 'Holding Up the Sky'. Percussion and a funky bass provide the back drop to this interesting track that features nice effects along with a flute. 'Another Spark' is a track from the album 'Liquid Assets'. This one has some jazz leanings with light percussion. It is driven more by the bass at first, but a sax has the main spotlight on this one. Later, a tricky flute solo takes over. Next is 'Exit Strategy' which has a more tribal, or world, flavor to it, driven by percussion and bass.

Gavin Harrison is the next featured musician. 'Sailing' is a tricky progressive jazz tune with some lounge-y vocals that I don't care for. 'Sometime' follows this with a similar sounding track. These tracks do little to show Harrison's talent as they are not very interesting.

Steven Wilson is highlighted with the next 3 tracks. The first is from his project with Tim Bowness called 'No-man'. The track is the lovely 'Truenorth' sung with Bowness' airy vocals that comes from the excellent album 'Schoolyard Ghosts'. It is an edited version of the track, the original was over 12 minutes. This is a beautiful, lush track. Next is 'Get All You Deserve' from Steven Wilson's solo album 'Insurgentes'. It features Wilson's vulnerable vocals against a minimalist piano. This later intensifies when heavy guitar arpeggios are introduced. At four minutes, drums come crashing in as tension builds through the track until it becomes quite noisy at the end. The last track is from SW's solo experimental and electronic project 'Bass Communion'. The track is called 'Glacial 1602' from the album 'Molotov and Haze'. The track is edited from 13:10 to 9:03 with some of the most prolonged ambience cut out. Even so, the music is minimal, yet beautiful. Effects seems to be processed guitar and probably synths.

Just like the previous sampler, this is a good way to try out the other projects that the musicians from PT were involved in to see if you would want to explore them more. The tracks are all great this time, except for Harrison's which is kind of surprising. However, as can be expected from samplers, the music is varied and works better when presented on a full album. At any rate, you can still get a good idea from these tracks as to what to expect. These samplers were my gateway into the further exploits of both Wilson and Barbieri as I love most of their projects, especially 'No-man' and 'Bass Communion'.

 Transmission IV by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2001
3.99 | 109 ratings

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Transmission IV
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This recording was originally a limited release sent out to PT newsletter subscribers. Since then, it has been released on other recordings like "The Sky Moves Sideways" album, but in edited versions. This was the only way to get the unedited, 40 minute improvised track, which is a spacey and psychedelic musical voyage that really works well as trippy music or background music. Since 2001, it has been reissued a few times, because PT fans demand to have access to everything they record.

The band line up had not been completely established yet and SW plays most of the instruments on this recording. By this time, however, Colin Edwin had joined him on bass and would become a long-time member of the band. Chris Maitland, the early drummer for the band was also providing most of the percussion. Another guest percussionist for the recording is Rick Edwards and the harmonica is provided by another guest Markus Butler.

This album is not going to be appealing to everyone because it is 40 minutes of mostly floating music without anything like a melody. It is actually completely instrumental, except for some field recordings that begin around 15 minutes in. It is broken up into sections which can go on for many minutes before changing. Each section develops until it reaches it's desired sound and groove and continues on with improvised keys and guitar and sometimes with other instruments. The first section gets it's groove, then with a bass and drum foundation, SW improvises atmospheric sounds on the guitar with embellishments from the keyboards. This lasts for 15 minutes, and is quite repetitive if you only pay attention to the foundation of the improvisation. At this point, things get somewhat ambient as the main sounds are conversations from what sounds like a lunar landing while the instruments provide background. This continues for a while, then the music builds another foundation over which more improvisation develops. This time, there is a nice harmonica joining the music provided by Markus Butler. That will continue until 25 minutes in and then things start to get a bit more pensive as a spacey organ takes over the spotlight and bongos are added into the percussion. All the while, the spotlight instruments don't really stand out as solo instruments as much as they are simply a layer to the entire production. Around 29 minutes, the rhythm breaks down as things get psychedelic with birds chirping and other effects and some floating synths.

The last 10 minutes is the best part of the album. It takes a bit longer to build from the bit of ambience that takes over here, but soon drums and bass start establishing a pattern. Now you will start to hear SW fade in a more riveting and intense guitar as keys push him forward. This is where things get exciting as you feel it build a very heavy and fast beat and SW starts to play a blistering solo. The heaviness continues until 35 minutes, when everything drops out except for atmospheric keys and guitar that plays a floating and minimal psychedelia until the end at 40 minutes.

At first listen, this might be too unstructured for most listeners, but the more you listen, the more you start to pick up and realize that this can be divided up into sections of continual music. As a psychedelic, Space Rock style recording, it is an excellent album and is one that you can easily get lost in. But as far as being melodic, it is not at all, at least in any kind of song structure, as it is mostly improvised. I have to be in the right mood to listen to it, but as far as background music, it never fails to satisfy. As far as comparison to the other epic early psychedelic PT works, I prefer "The Sky Move Sideways" more than this one or "Voyage 34", but this one is still quite good as far as trippy psychedelic music goes. It will probably appeal more to Space Rock lovers and PT fans more than anyone else.

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