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ECLECTIC PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Eclectic Prog definition

The term 'eclectic' in the context of progressive rock describes a summation of elements from various musical sources, and the influences and career paths of bands that take from a wide range of genres or styles. While progressive music can be, in a larger sense, eclectic, the 'Eclectic Prog' term is specially meant to reference bands that trespass the boundaries of established Progressive Rock genres or that blend many influences.

Eclectic Prog combines hybrids of style and diversity of theme, promoting many elements from different sources. The Eclectic category recognizes bands that evolved markedly over their career (in a progressive, evolutionary way), or have a plural style without a clear referential core.

The basic features lie within the music's variety, rich influences, art tendencies and classic prog rock elements. Among the representative bands are KING CRIMSON, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, and GENTLE GIANT.

- written by Ricochet (Victor)

Current Team as at 12/31/2013

Rob (Epignosis)
Logan (thellama73)
Sagi (Sagichim)

Eclectic Prog Top Albums


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

4.60 | 2927 ratings
IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING
King Crimson
4.52 | 2249 ratings
RED
King Crimson
4.50 | 1342 ratings
GODBLUFF
Van Der Graaf Generator
4.42 | 1438 ratings
PAWN HEARTS
Van Der Graaf Generator
4.39 | 1888 ratings
LARKS' TONGUES IN ASPIC
King Crimson
4.35 | 1101 ratings
IN A GLASS HOUSE
Gentle Giant
4.36 | 527 ratings
THE SILENT CORNER AND THE EMPTY STAGE
Hammill, Peter
4.31 | 1087 ratings
H TO HE, WHO AM THE ONLY ONE
Van Der Graaf Generator
4.28 | 987 ratings
STILL LIFE
Van Der Graaf Generator
4.26 | 1256 ratings
OCTOPUS
Gentle Giant
4.26 | 994 ratings
THE POWER AND THE GLORY
Gentle Giant
4.26 | 994 ratings
FREE HAND
Gentle Giant
4.24 | 980 ratings
ACQUIRING THE TASTE
Gentle Giant
4.21 | 904 ratings
VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE
Hackett, Steve
4.27 | 296 ratings
MEMENTO Z BANALNYM TRYPTYKIEM
SBB
4.25 | 340 ratings
ANABELAS
Bubu
4.23 | 370 ratings
MOTORPSYCHO AND STĹLE STORLŘKKEN: THE DEATH DEFYING UNICORN
Motorpsycho
4.24 | 324 ratings
BANTAM TO BEHEMOTH
Birds And Buildings
4.19 | 513 ratings
SLEEPING IN TRAFFIC: PART TWO
Beardfish
4.16 | 571 ratings
SPECTRAL MORNINGS
Hackett, Steve
4.24 | 256 ratings
BORIS
Yezda Urfa
4.10 | 1291 ratings
DISCIPLINE
King Crimson
4.12 | 835 ratings
THREE FRIENDS
Gentle Giant
4.09 | 1442 ratings
LIZARD
King Crimson
4.21 | 225 ratings
MULTIPURPOSE TRAP
Birds And Buildings
4.26 | 171 ratings
SI PARTIE 1
Nemo
4.26 | 153 ratings
SBB (WOłANIE O BRZęK SZKłA AKA SLOVENIAN GIRLS)
SBB
4.13 | 250 ratings
IN CAMERA
Hammill, Peter
4.14 | 232 ratings
BARBARES
Nemo
4.05 | 671 ratings
THE LEAST WE CAN DO IS WAVE TO EACH OTHER
Van Der Graaf Generator
4.21 | 150 ratings
1000 AUTUNNI
Ske
4.15 | 202 ratings
PAMIęć
SBB
4.14 | 222 ratings
LE VER DANS LE FRUIT
Nemo
4.06 | 440 ratings
UK
UK
4.19 | 152 ratings
ZE SłOWEM BIEGNę DO CIEBIE
SBB
4.05 | 339 ratings
SLEEPING IN TRAFFIC: PART ONE
Beardfish
4.08 | 226 ratings
LAST EPIC
A.C.T
4.17 | 126 ratings
DETTA HAR HÄNT
Gösta Berlings Saga
4.11 | 171 ratings
DIAGONAL
Diagonal
4.08 | 210 ratings
NIGHTINGALES & BOMBERS
Manfred Mann's Earth Band
4.05 | 250 ratings
LADY LAKE
Gnidrolog
3.97 | 834 ratings
THE POWER TO BELIEVE
King Crimson
4.08 | 187 ratings
TODD RUNDGREN'S UTOPIA
Utopia
4.07 | 202 ratings
IN EXTREMIS
Days Between Stations
4.28 | 78 ratings
PHANEROTHYME
Motorpsycho
4.18 | 102 ratings
AEROLIT
Niemen, CzesŁaw
3.96 | 454 ratings
MAMMOTH
Beardfish
4.01 | 238 ratings
CHAMELEON IN THE SHADOW OF THE NIGHT
Hammill, Peter
4.01 | 242 ratings
SOLAR FIRE
Manfred Mann's Earth Band
4.00 | 243 ratings
THE MUSIC THAT DIED ALONE
Tangent, The
4.18 | 92 ratings
HAIKARA
Haikara
4.02 | 191 ratings
THE SANE DAY
Beardfish
4.16 | 95 ratings
PICTURES
Island
3.99 | 240 ratings
LE SACRE DU TRAVAIL
Tangent, The
4.29 | 64 ratings
MOTORPSYCHO + JAGA JAZZIST HORNS: IN THE FISHTANK 10
Motorpsycho
4.21 | 79 ratings
NIL NOVO SUB SOLE
Nil
4.01 | 193 ratings
THE LOW SPARK OF HIGH HEELED BOYS
Traffic
4.09 | 118 ratings
SKYMIND
Taal
3.95 | 331 ratings
DESTINED SOLITAIRE
Beardfish
3.99 | 215 ratings
OVER
Hammill, Peter
4.35 | 52 ratings
DIALOG S VESMÍREM
Progres 2
4.24 | 67 ratings
ECHOES OF FALLING STARS
Daal
3.88 | 1207 ratings
STARLESS AND BIBLE BLACK
King Crimson
4.00 | 175 ratings
DODECAHEDRON
Daal
4.05 | 131 ratings
IMAGINARY FRIENDS
A.C.T
4.33 | 51 ratings
KOROWOD
Grechuta, Marek
4.04 | 122 ratings
SI PARTIE II - L'HOMME IDÉAL
Nemo
4.15 | 77 ratings
MOVIN' ON
Circus
3.87 | 812 ratings
GENTLE GIANT
Gentle Giant
4.02 | 126 ratings
IN SPITE OF HARRY'S TOENAIL
Gnidrolog
4.13 | 79 ratings
LITTLE LUCID MOMENTS
Motorpsycho
4.11 | 83 ratings
STRANGE IS THIS WORLD
Niemen, CzesŁaw
4.00 | 131 ratings
IN CASE OF LOSS..
Areknamés
4.09 | 88 ratings
THE APOCALYPSE INSIDE OF AN ORANGE
Rodriguez-Lopez, Omar
4.18 | 62 ratings
ZALMOXE
Sfinx
4.12 | 76 ratings
ET CETERA
Et Cetera
4.02 | 110 ratings
SNAFU
East Of Eden
4.05 | 91 ratings
DESTRUKTIVE ACTIONS AFFECT LIVINGS
Daal
3.93 | 188 ratings
REWOTOWER
Profusion
4.59 | 28 ratings
PLAT DU JOUR
Plat Du Jour
4.34 | 41 ratings
SHESHET
Sheshet
4.13 | 67 ratings
TIMOTHY'S MONSTER
Motorpsycho
4.02 | 101 ratings
BELIEVERS & DECEIVERS
Brighteye Brison
3.86 | 388 ratings
GENESIS REVISITED II
Hackett, Steve
3.95 | 145 ratings
STILL LIFE WITH EGGPLANT
Motorpsycho
4.30 | 42 ratings
ONDE, QUANDO, COMO, PORQUĘ, CANTAMOS PESSOAS VIVAS
Quarteto 1111
3.96 | 133 ratings
EVER AFTER
Sanhedrin
4.01 | 101 ratings
MERCATOR PROJECTED
East Of Eden
3.87 | 289 ratings
NOT AS GOOD AS THE BOOK
Tangent, The
4.67 | 24 ratings
THE AMERICAN STANDARD
Dreadnaught
3.87 | 285 ratings
REVOLU$ION
Nemo
3.93 | 149 ratings
2ND HANDS
Gourishankar, The
4.00 | 101 ratings
ENIGMATIC
Niemen, CzesŁaw
3.86 | 303 ratings
THE VOID
Beardfish
4.10 | 66 ratings
TRUST US
Motorpsycho
3.88 | 215 ratings
JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE
Traffic
3.91 | 153 ratings
A BLACK BOX
Hammill, Peter
4.08 | 65 ratings
MARIONETKI
Niemen, CzesŁaw
3.83 | 338 ratings
BEYOND THE SHROUDED HORIZON
Hackett, Steve
3.79 | 1425 ratings
IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON
King Crimson

Eclectic Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

CLOSE GRIP
Gourishankar, The
ERIS
Baku Llama
NOT OF SOUND MIND
Zapotec
OJCIEC CHRZESTNY DOMNIKA
Skrzek, Józef

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Latest Eclectic Prog Music Reviews


 Reunion - Live In Tokyo by UK album cover DVD/Video, 2013
5.00 | 3 ratings

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Reunion - Live In Tokyo
UK Eclectic Prog

Review by Gerinski
Prog Reviewer

5 stars In 2009 John Wetton and Eddie Jobson joined to tour under the name U-Z Project (Ultimate Zero), with guests musicians including the likes of Tony Levin, Trey Gunn, Marco Minnemann or Greg Howe, playing music from U.K., King Crimson and other compositions by their members. The experience encouraged Wetton and Jobson to go for what could be called a proper U.K. Reunion and tour as from 2011.

U.K. are one of the few of the 'classic dinosaurs' which I could never see live, their video material is rather scarce, and unfortunately I also missed seeing them live in their recent reunion, so seeing them in this DVD was like an old pending item in my wishing list finally being ticked.

We don't have Bruford or Bozzio at the drum kit but the great Marco Minnemann does an outstanding job, and few guitarists could be a better choice for filling in for Allan Holdsworth than the Austrian Alex Machacek.

The filming and sound quality are clearly sub-par for such a recent release, but for me, the quality of the music and performance more than compensate for that. This is superb Prog played masterfully.

The set list could not be much better, the tandem "In The Dead Of Night ? By The Light Of Day ? Presto Vivace ? Reprise" opens the show leaving no doubt that these guys are in for serious business. Wetton's voice is in great shape and Machaceck replicates Holdsworth faithfully even if a bit too clinical, not daring to go further than what is supposed for a guest musician. "Danger Money" follows with a great performance by Jobson and Minnemann. "Thirty Years" is such a beautiful composition with those original progressions and harmonies. Eddie Jobson displays his Emersonian influences in "Alaska" followed by "Time To Kill" where he squeezes his electric violin full of effects. Then we have the beautiful King Crimson's "Starless" with a great crescendo where Jobson does another amazing display with his violin.

"Carrying No Cross", the epic in their Danger Money album, is another display for Jobson, making it clear that he should be more considered among the top Prog keyboardists and not just as a violin player. Alex Machacek stays absent for this one. Then we have a very good drum solo by Minnemann and a violin solo by Jobson, very effects-driven. "Nevermore" is another highly beautiful piece with great soloing by Jobson and Machacek, followed by King Crimson's "One More Red Nightmare" were Jobson delivers new violin solos.

"Caesar's Palace Blues" and "The Only Thing She Needs" continue the fantastic track choice.

As an encore, Wetton and Jobson stay in the stage and perform an intimate version of "Rendezvous 6:02" just on e-piano and voice.

Wetton does not look too enthusiastic but he sings very well, Jobson confirms how good a keyboardist he is besides his violin playing, Minnemann is a delight to watch and Machacek successfully does the difficult job of covering for Holdsworth. Overall a wonderful release for fans of this supergroup.

 Camera Chiara by CAMERA CHIARA album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 3 ratings

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Camera Chiara
Camera Chiara Eclectic Prog

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Camera Chiara were formed in Salerno in the second half of the first decade of this century. After a first demo in 2008, in 2013 they self-released an interesting eponymous début album with a line up featuring Francesco Lembo (keyboards), Danilo Lupi (bass), Vincenzo Manzi (guitar) and Antonio Pappacoda (drums). The name of the band was inspired by a book about photography by Roland Barthes, La chambre claire (translated in English as Camera Lucida) and the love of the band for the art of photography is also portrayed on the album cover that in some way gives you the right key to approach the musical content of this brilliant work.

Barthes considers photography as asymbolic, irreducible to the codes of language or culture, acting on the body as much as on the mind and he develops the twin concepts of studium and punctum: the first denoting the cultural, linguistic and political interpretation of a photograph, the latter denoting the wounding, personally touching detail which establishes a direct relationship with the object or person within it. Well, on their website the band invite the listener to focus on the punctum of the "musical photographs" contained in the album. This is a completely instrumental work, all you have to do is close your eyes and let the music drive...

The short opener "Tufa Domes, Pyramid Lake" sets a mysterious, dark atmosphere. Although there are no liner notes in the booklet, the title seems to refer to a famous picture shot in 1867 by Timothy H. O'Sullivan which portrays an almost lunar landscape on the Pyramid Lake, a place near Reno, Nevada while the music recalls Pink Floyd.

The following "Chiaroscuri" is a long, complex track marked by the constant contrast between dark and light atmospheres. It' another track that testifies the deep passion for photography of the band. In fact, chiaroscuro (Italian for light-dark) is a word that defines the artistic use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition or a picture. Here pulsing, tense bass lines contrast with light, soaring keyboards waves and electric guitar patterns while calm moments are followed by stormy passages. Every now and again Goblin or L'Ombra della Sera come to mind but the music does not sound derivative at all. A real treat!

Then comes "Maschere cadute" (Fallen masks), a nice short track full of positive energy that leads to the reflective "Nel tuo mondo" (In your world). Here the atmosphere is dreamy but never relaxed while shadows and lights seem to dance all around. A great track!

"Danzano le memorie" (Memories are dancing) is a short, romantic track with the piano in the forefront that almost melts into the following "In un gioco di specchi" (In a game of mirrors) where you can hear a haunting marching beat and experience some strange exotic flavours. Then the rhythm rises taking you to mysterious territories where your imagination can run free conjuring up psychedelic visions...

"Come il bianco col nero" (As white with black) is another complex track where influences from the past and modern sounds are mixed in an original way with brilliant results. Then "Il nuovo e il vecchio giorno" (The new and the old day) concludes the album with a good dose of electricity and powerful blows of optimism.

This work is completely instrumental but very rich in ideas and there is no weak point. According to the band's website, among their influences you can find bands and artists with a different background such as Air, Balletto di Bronzo, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Biglietto per l'Inferno, Genesis, Goblin, King Crimson, Le Orme, Philip Glass, Pink Floyd, Rush, Soft Machine, Tool and Vangelis but I think that Camera Chiara have succeeded in mixing all these influences with great personality and excellent composition skills. This album is really worth listening to...

 Camera Chiara by CAMERA CHIARA album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 3 ratings

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Camera Chiara
Camera Chiara Eclectic Prog

Review by Todd
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano!

4 stars Camera Chiara is a band from Salerno, Italy, who came together in the latter half of the 2000s, and who released their self- titled debut album late in 2013. The lineup for the album was Francesco Lembo (keyboards), Daniel Lupi (bass), Vincenzo Manzi (guitar), and Antonio Pappacoda (drums).

The music is instrumental, relying heavily on textures, melodies, and interweaving lines from keyboards and guitar, all with some excellent steady, always interesting contributions from the rhythm section. The bass lines in particular are very memorable, driving the songs forward and providing a solid anchor. At times the moods are spacey, other times tinged with a post-rock melancholy, still others driving and heavy. Each song moves down its own unique path, but they all definitely share common elements.

Stand out moments for me are Chiaroscuri, Nel Tuo Mondo, In Un Gioco Di Specchi, Il Nuovo E Il Vecchio Giorno, and especially Come Il Bianco Col Nero, which I'll try to describe to give a sense of what the album is like.

The song opens with a bass trill with some echoes applied. Spacey keys and guitar effects soon appear, as well as a quiet stuttering drum beat. These all interplay and gradually build, with the bass continuing its hypnotic trilling riff. There are two alternating chords that form the backbone of this section. About two minutes in, the guitar and bass double in a new riff that takes over and acts as a bridge to the next longer section. A descending bass line reminiscent of Pink Floyd's Interstellar Overdrive introduces the next section, a more uptempo beat with some punchy keyboards and building guitar riffs, some angular and some fluid. The keys vary from vibraphone to organ, shifting to background for some killer guitar solos.

This is a very strong album, never dull and frequently engrossing, and will certainly appeal to fans of instrumental prog, particularly those who enjoy their space themes spiced with some modern sensibilities. Please visit their bandcamp page and listen and download the album. Or purchase the CD from the band or from other distributors (such as Synphonic). Four stars. (Gnosis 12/15)

 Godbluff by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.50 | 1341 ratings

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Godbluff
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by FragileKings

5 stars VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR are one of those classic prog bands that must be in any decent prog collection. I believe this now with affirmed feelings. Yet early on I had a difficult time finding something to appreciate in the music. Whenever I gave a listen, it was Peter Hamill's vocals that quickly put me off. The music may have had a genius quality but Hamill was more of a madman. How was that singing? He'd have done better by talking.

Well, one day I noticed that I was slowly acquiring and enjoying most of the albums on the PA top 20 of all time and so I figured I'd just order "Godbluff" and give it a good listen. And well that I did.

"The Undercover Man" begins slowly and the music is easy to get into because it is not weird and builds very nicely as the song progresses. Peter Hamill sounds like he's reading a book and singing the odd word here and there. If I had never been able before to imagine the concept of someone singing without a tune or melody then I sure can now. But soon I seem to get what Hamill is doing. He's singing poetry. And actually it's not that bad.

"Scorched Earth" begins without me even noticing the first time because it seems to just be another part of "The Undercover Man". But the music turns more energetic and aggressive and there's a new twist to the sung poetry. This is getting interesting now. The song has edge and the music is pleasantly powerful. This I can dig.

The album continues to impress on side two with a great drum and bass intro to "The Arrow". A saxophone comes in and I am trying to imagine what image this music can conjure in my mind's eye. I settle on ghost ships appearing through the fog. The song rolls with that keyboard sound and Hamill delivers the lines with a rough edge to his voice at times. All right. So two very good songs so far and one that's interesting enough to be worthy of repeat listens.

And then we reach the climax of the album and for me THE VDGG song to have me hooked: "The Sleepwalkers". The song begins just as good as anything I've heard so far. I am really surprised that I am enjoying music without electric guitar this much. There's this wonderful bit that sounds like living room dance music for my dear grandmother's generation, with images of barrel-bodied seniors in brown pants and knit one- piece sweater/skirts dancing joyously in the living in the 1970's. Love it! Then the first part wraps up and morphs into a spacey organ bit that goes on a bit longer than I'd like. But that's OK because presently a serious rock section begins and my ears are soaking in all in. This is really good music. The sax and organs along with an acerbic Peter Hamill screaming the lyrics as well as any punk rocker is just bliss. And again I notice that there's no electric guitar and I am loving the saxophone. Fantastic!

Based on the sheer joy of listening to the music on "Godbluff", I bought "Still Life" but was disappointed. Later I bought "Pawn Hearts" and though I like it now, it took some time to appreciate. But "Godbluff" is quite a package of music. It sure deserves it's place among the top albums of progressive rock. Certainly, VDGG is not for everybody and if the music isn't too hard to swallow then Peter Hamill's voice might be the clincher. More than a singer, I would call him a theatrical vocalist. But if you can "get" this then this album should really please. One thing I really appreciate is that I can listen to the whole thing through and keep my interest, and as well, I can pick two or three songs to put on mix playlists. These are two of the traits of a great album for me.

 The Good Earth by MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.50 | 111 ratings

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The Good Earth
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Manfred Mann's Earth Band's progressive phase continues in 1974 with the album ''The good Earth'', recorded again at The Workhouse in Old Kent, London.The album dealt with ecological concerns and the band promoted it i a unique way.Each one having bought the copy would own the rights of one square foot of the earth in the County of Brecon, Wales, after registering via a coupon enclosed in the album!The album was released in October 1974 on Bronze Records.

Stylistically speaking this was one of Manfred Mann's Earth Band's most uneven works in the 70's.The main reason was propably the selection of songs of the opening side, ''Give me the good Earth'' was a reworking on a track by Spooky Tooth's Gary Wright from his solo album ''Footprint'', while both ''Launching place'' and ''I'll be gone'' were originally written by Mike Rudd, the main man behind Aussie Psych Rocker's Spectrum.So, ''Give me the good Earth'' is actually a raw Psych Rock piece with bluesy guitars and vocals in evidence with a nice after-middle part, highlighted by Mann's Mellotron and the nice guitar tunes of Mick Rogers.''Launching place'' is along the stylings of the band around the time, fronted by the spacey Moog synthesizer of Mann and the some bluesy/melodic guitar moves by Rogers, followed by a very good solo, while ''I'll be gone'' is a simple rockin' piece with a slow tempo and a rather cliche sound.The band's original material is displayed on the flipside and comes on par with the sound of ''Solar fire''.Much more balanced, with Mann's delightful keyboard themes in a jazzy and symphonic vein, these pieces are pretty close to GREENSLADE, featuring lots of keyboard interludes and more quirky bass and guitar parts.Mellotron, Moog synthesizer and acoustic piano come in evidence in moments, containing cinematic textures, Fusion techniques and Classical flavors, the instrumental parts are pretty extended and the vocals are more convincing, the result is music full of grandieur and instrumental efficiency, scanning a variety of styles and setting up a trully progressive atmosphere.

Had this album followed the style of the second side, we would be dealing with a fantastic work of Prog music.Even so ''The good Earth'' is another mark left by Manfred Mann's Earth Band in the 70's prog list, characterized by great keyboard lines and instrumental majesty.Recommended.

 A Black Box by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.91 | 153 ratings

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A Black Box
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by madcap68

3 stars Even the biggest heroes can err...

As we all know, don't we, Peter Hammill isn't only one of prog's most prominent visionaries (and one of my all time favourites, see the hero above) but also invented punk rock. Sort of... With Jargon King and The Wipe he also invented the weird genre of Jungle Prog Step or whatever, which really doesn't work for me. I use to constantly sing Peter's praise to my friends and colleagues but I come back to these two tracks that even the most valiant heroes... er, yes, we had that one before..

On the other hand, we have the epic Flight, which combines "classic" Hammill with his Wave style offerings. At least in parts, Flight makes for a 5 star candidate. I also like the dark and moody Fogwalking but all in all, for me, this is one of his weaker albums.

 Volume Two by MASTERMIND album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.35 | 14 ratings

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Volume Two
Mastermind Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars ''Volume one'' was much of a synthetic work, but its undisputed energy and proggy principles were warmly received by Prog fans worldwide.Anyway, by the time the album was re-released the Berends brothers had already started working on a second album ''Volume Two, brainstorm''.The first few pieces date back in 1988 and the last ones were recorded in 1991, the time of the album's release on ZNR Records.Bill of course was handling the guitars, bass and keyboards with Rich providing the drum duties with three bassists helping out during the long recordings at the Trademark Music Studios in Brown Mills, New Jersey.

Mastermind headed for an even more ambitious sound in this second album, indicated by the addition of two long epics, ''Brainstorm'' and ''Triumph of the will'', together completing some 38 minutes of music.I do not know if it is a matter of inspiration or better recording techniques, but ''Volume two'' sounds like an album created by a mature band.With equal doses from RUSH'es lyrical yet powerful Prog Rock and E.L.P.'s Classical-drenched attempts, fronted by the combination of the midi-guitar and synthesizers, the American duo proposed a bombastic, fast-paced music with keyboard masturbations, grandiose atmospheres, Heavy Rock pounds and even some complex Fusion workouts, sounding similar to compatriots MAGELLAN.The addition of some instrumental and vocal melodies certainly helped the band's profile, while the multi-parted epics showcased the accomplished side of the group, displaying influences from Power Rock, Arena Rock, Classical Music and Fusion, eventually creating a very epic style of composing with cinematic soundscapes and frenetic instrumental offerings.The rather digital sound of the instruments still is a bit disturbing, but the tight compositions, the complex themes and the interesting tempo shifts are reasons to leave this factor behind for a while.The shorter tracks are pretty great as well, either coming from an E.L.P. matrix with a symphonic manifest of guitar, bass and keyboards, showered by Neo-Classical textures, or revisiting the powerful lines of RUSH and KANSAS.Two tracks are reworkings on the timeless documents of Richard Wagner (''William Tell overture'') and Gioachino Rossini (''The ride of the Valkyrie'') with Mastermind flirting with Neo-Classical Metal during these pieces.

A huge improvement over the mediocre debut.Bombastic mixture of Symphonic/Classical and Heavy Rock with jazzy inflections, I am very impressed considering the fact this album was recorded in late-80's/early-90's by a duo of musicians without the current recording techniques.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 North Star by CURVED AIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.59 | 33 ratings

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North Star
Curved Air Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars Only the 4th review of this album! CURVED AIR's halcyon days were the early 70's. Playing prog with lots of classical elements, featuring a sexy vocalist Sonja Kristina and two classically trained musicians, violinist Darryl Way and keyboardist-guitarist Francis Monkman, they were important in the British prog scene but never shared the popularity of the major acts. Gradually their albums (amidst continuous changes in the line-up) became weaker and weaker. 24 years since their preceding studio album Love Child (1990) this new release is an unexpected surprise. Surely not an object of enthusiasm and high hopes like the new YES album, but the easier it is to be positively surprised at the high level.

As all the other reviewers have rated this with four stars, I'm rounding my 3˝ stars down for balance. The sound is very good (especially the violin by Paul Sax is absolutely delicious), and with as many as 14 tracks - and over 70 minutes of music! - there are many that are really enjoyable. One highlight is 'Time Games' which has an energetic fusion spirit. Also 'Magnetism' has a charming, personal identity. Some songs are recycled; 'Puppets' and 'Situations' originate from Curved Air's classic era and their new versions are good enough to justify their making. 'Spirits in the Material World' is originally by THE POLICE (from Ghost in the Machine, 1981). I personally prefer the fast-tempo original, but it's respectable how Sonja & Co. have made a notably different, much slower version. The album closes with a dreamy, beautiful version of the BEATLES classic 'Across the Universe'.

I hate to point this out but the age clearly shows in Sonja Kristina's voice. This is definitely not a problem, as the musical performance seems to come first. One of the weakest tracks to me is 'Colder Than a Rose in Snow', a serene and romantic ballad, maybe because the vocals in it are more central than on the album in general. There are some other not-so-interesting compositions, but all in all this is a very positive surprise indeed. Worth hearing for any listener of female-fronted prog with classical and fusion elements, and a must for fans of the group.

 Genesis Revisited : Live at The Royal Albert Hall by HACKETT, STEVE album cover Live, 2014
4.10 | 15 ratings

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Genesis Revisited : Live at The Royal Albert Hall
Steve Hackett Eclectic Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Post/Math Rock and Crossover Teams

4 stars With rumors and hopes for a new Genesis tour filling my social media, my only response is that Steve Hackett, the great guitarist of Genesis, is already giving us the sound and experience of Genesis through his Genesis Revisited tour. Personally, I will get to see the live show in a few months, but this live album recorded at the famous Royal Albert Hall is quite a teaser for me, and quite an experience in and of itself.

First of all, the production values are enormously high. Hackett's guitar (probably the most important part) thunders as if in a vacuum, and the array of instruments all sound well-mixed and larger than life. I especially love the sax and flute work from Rob Townsend. These musicians, and all the rest, are all incredible, and there's a reason Hackett chose them. The presentation is rather "epic", if I can use that word. It keeps you guessing at what will be played next and how the songs will have changed. This is a sophisticated and professional show, through and through.

Yet, everyone wants to know about the tracklist. Honestly, it's pretty stellar. Obviously, there's not much reason for me to go into why certain Genesis songs are so great, as that's been done to death a million times over by others. However, I will say that the songs all sound great, and I love Hackett's changes. Everything from "Dance on a Volcano" to "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" to the spectacular visions of "Supper's Ready" and "Watcher in the Skies" are all different, yet the same. Their best moments are for sure left intact. Though most people dislike it, my favorite Genesis album is "Wind & Wuthering", and so I was more than pleased to see my favorite Genesis songs "Unquiet Slumber for the Sleepers", "In the Quiet Earth", and "Afterglow" in the tracklist. Not only that, but they have been modified with a new jazziness that elevates them considerably.

In all honestly, I think Hackett has improved upon most of the tracks he has modified. It may just be modern recording methods, but the songs have much more contrast between highs and lows, much more depth, and a certain personality that simply fits. Hackett's "Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall", then, is a wonderful live album that almost stands as an album all by itself. Hackett is continuing his strong solo career, and he deserves to be recognized more.

 Time Is... by RAW MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.22 | 38 ratings

BUY
Time Is...
Raw Material Eclectic Prog

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

3 stars British band Raw Material recorded two albums over the course of as many years between 1970-71, and the second album from the band, `Time Is...' is a strong collection of mostly Proto-prog styled pieces with light psych, jazz and folk elements. Due to the inclusion of saxophone/flute player Mike Fletcher, fans of the sax dominated early King Crimson albums and Van der Graaf Generator will find much to appeal here, with bands such as Beggars Opera, Pink Floyd and Novalis also other possible little reference points. It's not an album that instantly impresses, instead one that gradually reveals the consistently strong instrumental and compositional skills of the band on repeated plays.

On lead track `Ice Queen', the band were evidently quite influenced by Van der Graaf Generator, but although the sax lines throughout almost exactly recreate the VdGG classic `Killer', accusations of this band being an outright clone of them are completely false! A powerful and dramatic opener with howling winds, a dominating vocal from keyboard player Colin Catt, drifting flute and snarling lead guitar, with a nimble spiraling piano and thrashing drums driven jazz breakdown in the middle. Announcing intimidating sax opens `Empty House', a deranged Roger Water-esque vocal from Colin snarling `You and me can have some fun, empty houses one by one...'! Plodding heavy Uriah Heep-style guitars, treated droning sax over commanding acoustic guitars before heavy electric grooves twist the piece.

The first extended piece `Insolent Lady' incorporates soft dreamy Pink Floyd-like acoustic guitar passages, a warmer vocal, glistening electric piano, heavier sax, shimmering cymbal crashes, rising organs and gentle washes of synths that almost bring a rising and falling orchestral quality. `Miracle Worker' reminds instantly of Beggars Opera, a more upbeat melodic tune driven by addictive Hammond organ, Cliff Harewood's rapid fire mangled Byrds-like guitar licks and a catchy distorted electric piano solo in the middle over smashing drums.

There's a very slight psychedelic period Beatles sound on `Religion', mostly one chord played over and over behind dirty honking sax blasts, the imposing drumming building in urgency throughout to become quite hypnotic. The three part extended closer `Sun God' offers plentiful changing moods. The first section `Awakening' delivers an unhurried acoustic guitar and flute passage not unlike the drowsier Novalis moments, quickly shattered by the raucous `Realization' with wild vocals and clattering percussion, thick Hammond organ stabs and lusty guitar grooves before calming down into mellow jamming, the murmuring bass a highlight. After a brief reprise of the first section, `Worship' closes the album on a reflective ocean of fading-in placid synths before a final stirring sax fanfare.

There's no absolute classics to be found here, nor should the album ever be confused with being a lost classic, but `Time Is...' is still a strong and solid collection of early prog- influenced tunes, and it's a shame the band didn't get a chance to offer more works from here. It's definitely one to consider adding to the collection if you come across an LP or a CD reissue at a decent price, and it remains a very enjoyable album that deserves a bit more attention.

Three and a half stars.

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