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Little Atlas


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5 stars I picked up this CD at ROSfest last week and finally got around to playing it. Holy smokes. I think we have a nominee for album of the year. Complex yet accessible, these guys know how to write compelling melodies AND take out-there instrumental excursions. The guitar work makes me wonder why roy Strattman isn't an endorsed guitarist (maybe he is?). Great vocals and top notch rhythm section make this the most compelling album I have bought since Izz's "I move"

--Mark Schedener St. Louis

Report this review (#34711)
Posted Sunday, May 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Progarchives asks you to confirm a 5-star rating, and there's little hesitation here: Little Atlas is the best new prog band I've heard in years. If I recall, I've heard some comparisons to Spock's Beard, which are unfounded because Little Atlas is better (with this album being on par with Spock's all-time best, Beware of Darkness). Historical references: you hear a bit of the atmosphere of Genesis, the expertise of Yes, the quirkiness of Gentle Giant. Where to start: the musicianship from everyone is excellent (the one downside - a bit too much guitar from the King Crimson Discipline era). The vocals are interesting and unique: so many prog singers are either Gabrielesque, or airy fairy Anderson, but the vocals are - in a happy way - more similar to someone belting out fantastic tales at an old pub. The songs are epic in structure and very serendipitous, yet somehow Little Atlas manages to achieve in say, 7 minutes, what might take a lesser band 14 minutes. Each track is a mini-epic. But the best quality is the songwriting: the melodies are timeless, remarkable, and stay with you. This is a great album recommended to any prog fan.
Report this review (#34712)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars It might sound paradox, but to me this album sounds old and modern, complex and catchy at the same time. I'd say the perfect prog album, at least for my taste. Of course there'll be plenty of progsters finding too little innovation and weirdness here. Those one I would recommend to stay off this one. But for any lover of retro- or 70's prog I just can say that it's an excellent one in symphonic prog with a decent amount of heavy guitar but without ever crossing the line towards metal at any moment.

I've to put only the slight criticism that the chorus line of "Higher" reminds me very much to a song on Citizen Cain's "Raising The Stone". But since this song is really excellently done, this minor flaw is easily forgiven. An influence by that group and thus by Genesis (Gabriel) is certainly present in their music, though being not too obvious, especially not by the vocals that I find very good and unique. As well a slight influence by Gentle Giant in the multi-layered vocals of "Weariness Rides" can't be denied. Rather I would say Little Atlas combines influences from the last thirty years of progressive music to create their very own sound. I've to admit I haven't been diggin' this album right from the beginning. After the very first spin I was thinking that it's an absolutely irrelevant one and it was passing me by in some way. But after a while I put it again into my player and what shall I say, I've got a complete impression of it and the songs finally reached the responsive areas in my brain. One fellow reviewer mentioned that this is the best album he bought since "I Move" by Izz. I would even go beyond that comparison and say that it's even better than that one which could not fascinate me half as much.

All tracks on here are very good to excellent epic songs with very nice melodies that get stuck in your brain but not without the right portion of complexity to make them sound interesting. Highlights are I would say "Higher", "The Prisoner" and "Mirror Of Life" in which Bill Ayasse of Frogg Café is playing violin. Although it's a VERY GOOD album I wouldn't call it an essential one in prog from the general point of view, thus I'm giving it "only" 3 stars, but my true rating would be 3 ˝.

Report this review (#40110)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Finally had the chance to listen to "Wanderlust", the newest album by Little Atlas. Haven't heard their previous efforts, so it was at the same time my introduction to the band. There is one word that immediately comes to mind: geniality! When an artist or a band can combine high-quality technical skills, a crystal clear production, complexity and at the same time catchy melodies, then i think words like excellent and fantastic fall short.

To describe the music is even more difficult. The combination of catchy choruses and lenghty instumental passages make me think immediately of Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The heavy use of hammond (and on some tracks mellotron) combined with the modern sound reminds me of early Spock's Beard. Far echoes of Genesis, Yes, Kansas, Gentle Giant, Flower Kings and the more obscure German band Rachel's Birthday ... really too much to mention. But don't expect anything sounding like aforementioned bands, cause Little Atlas has a unique kind of symphonic prog, mixing influences of all era's of prog. In fact, i think in the future they'll become a reference on their own.

Check them out!

Report this review (#42724)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars How could you imagine when Rush meets Yes, Kansas and King Crimson? Terrible isn't it? But it's not the case with LITTLE ATLAS "Wanderlust". The band has successfully blend the components of prog classic bands into a cohesive whole really makes the music of Little Atlas. For those of you who have not heard the band you might be curious on how the band sounds like. Ok, my suggestion is this: don't even bother of having your mind filled with the impression of early prog band sounds like Rush, Yes, Kansas, King Crimson etc. Just buy this CD - like what I did couple months ago - and spin the CD, enjoy the music, let it infuse into your mind (and hopefully your heart) without any preconceived mind. Then you would get the whole picture of the band's music. I'm sure the album would not disappoint you at all. This is one of the albums that I recently enjoyed. AT first I got the CD from Rizal on "loan" basis - but llater I purchased it myself and I enjoy the music very much.

The album opener "The Ballad of Eddie Wanderlust" (7:37) is truly a good album opener as the music blasts off energetically in relatively fast tempo through a combination of guitar by Roy Strattman and dynamic drumming by Diego Pocovi which accompany the clean vocal of Steve Katsikas. The vocal quality reminds me to the vocalist of Sweden-based A.C.T. It's an excellent album opener that fits my taste. Second track "Higher" (9:40) is performed mellow at first half of the track demonstrating, again, excellent guitar work. Oh yes, the guitar solo at the interlude part is really stunning and very easy to digest. It continues with keyboard solo by Steve Katsikas. Some guitar shows the Hackettian style. The music suddenly turns high right after the interlude part at approx 6th minute with great keyboard (reminds me to Rush' "Tom Sawyer" even though it's not the same). The keyboard sometimes sounds like Rick Wakeman solo with less pulsating chords / notes. This track is really great.

"Weariness Rides" (6:27) starts off in ambient style combining guitar and keyboard work. The guitar fills a bit of King Crimson (Robert Fripp) style even though not that much similar. Through this track I can sense the excellent quality of vocal by Steve Katsikas as well as the great guitar fills of Roy Strattman which sometimes sounds like Steve Howe as well. The combination of guitar and keyboard in the middle of track is really great - performed in relatively fast tempo. Track "The Prisoner" (10:38) starts with rough guitar riffs combined with dynamic drumming followed with rocking vocal. The music then flows in a smooth way with many tempo and style changes throughout its long duration. This track demonstrates obvious bass lines by Rik Bigai.

"Home" (6:44) provides a musical break with some sound effects in mellow style at the intro part followed with melodic music with distant vocal sounds augmented with soft keyboard work. It's probably the only song with ballad style from this album. "On and On" (5:35) intro part reminds me to the intro of EARTH & FIRE's "Gate Into Infinity" even though when the music enters, it changes the style. This is basically a straight forward track in medium tempo rock music. "Mirror of Life" (5:31) opens with soft piano touch which accompanies vocal in mellow style. The music flows in relatively the same style throughout the track. I enjoy the instrumental (interlude) part where guitar and keyboard demonstrate its roles.

It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#73733)
Posted Saturday, April 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars Wandering over the Little Atlas

This is a typical release which grows with every time you hear. You may discover many references to Symphonic and Art Rock bands like SPOCKS BEARD, KING CRIMSON, IZZ, SALEM HILL or BIG BIG TRAIN. But LITTLE ATLAS never plagiarizes. The complete album is characterized by permanent changes and never ending ideas. Arranged with a lot of care.

Absolutely interesting to hear from the first to the last minute. Nothing lacks - the vocals are excellent - guitar and keyboard are harmonizing - f.e. on Higher. The ballad of Eddie Wanderlust is a good opener. Higher and Weariness rides are my personal highlights.

Highly recommended - get it and hear it for several times - you'll not be disappointed!

Report this review (#80304)
Posted Sunday, June 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars.The record opens with "The Ballad Of Eddie Wanderlust" that features some great guitar melodies and vocals. "Higher" is another good song with lots of time changes. The guitar playing in the beginning reminds me of ANEKDOTEN, but later really sounds like Gilmour. There is a keyboard solo as well.

"Weariness Rides" has an ominous intro, more cool guitar melodies.This is a dark song with some good vocal harmonies. "The Prisoner" contrasts the light and heavy passages, with more amazing keyboard playing. "Home" features more splendid guitar solos and riffs. The final song "Mirror Of Life" opens with piano and gentle vocals, guitars and drums follow, including some good riffs and a violin solo as well.

This is a fun record with animated vocals, a good album.

Report this review (#97745)
Posted Wednesday, November 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here I like to pay tribute to this band, that composes and brilliantly execute music I like more: intricate and delicate, long songs with melodic passages, in between more varied tempos and rythms, not too easy to get (so that you never get bored to listen the next time), not too abstruse (so that you don't have to convince yourself that you like it...). WANDERLUST has been my introduction to LITTLE ATLAS, that led me to buy SURFACE SERENE (very goodand enjoyable, but less mature yet) and the latest HOLLOW (on the highest level of WANDERLUST). This is a CD that I listen repeatedly, when I want to make a break with the latest purchases, maybe for benchmarking? Absolute masterpiece? For the pleasure that gives in listening (and from first to last song), it couldn't be better. So, 5 stars are not excessive!
Report this review (#185459)
Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Without a trace of doubt, the Nort-American band LITLLE ATLAS is one of the bands from the late 90's, which better get a balanced fusion to Classic and Neo school of progressive music. Showing a cleary influence by the monsters of prog of the 70's like YES, GENESIS, RUSH, etc... in addition to the new icons of neo-prog like SPOCK'S BEARD, IZZ, THE FLOWER KINGS, etc..., whitout plagiarize, the band makes a brilliant encounter to very bucolic themes guided by acoustic guitars (or eletric guitars without distortions) and piano, whit a fantastic heavy and intricate passages with great riffs and furious guitar solos and eletronic keyboards. In help to emphasize this drastic changes the band count with the iincredible and dramatic interpretation of Steve Katsikas on the vocals, which cross from the almost meditative and whispering to a appealing and agressive form. The highest points of "Wanderlust" are the tracks 1,2,4 and 6, however the other tracks are very recommendable. My rate is 5 stars !!!
Report this review (#284197)
Posted Sunday, May 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I can still remember the time I checked out lots of neobands at the same time listening to PA's streamtracks just to find out what were the better bands of those I didn't know yet. And this very band Little Atlas came out as one of the very best. And that's pretty surprising since I'm an "old school" neofan so with lots of guitar- and keyboardsolo's (like Pendragon and Clepsydra for instance) and I can tell you Little Atlas is nothing like that at all. It's even a boarderline neo case leaning towards eclectic prog. This was very notable on their successor Hollow, my first experience with this American band. Let's say Little Atlas is 70% neo and 30% eclectic prog, so slightly less accessible than most neoprog and a bit more profound.

I even feel Little Atlas has resemblance to Echolyn, another band that's leaning towards the eclectic prog subgenre. But on the other hand LA also has obvious neo characteristics like highly melodic instrumental contributions even though they are not really extended. In the end I like this style pretty much but I also believe this predecessor of Hollow is really the better album of the two and probably Wanderlust is the best of all four releases looking at the ratings. All songs on here are great and several even excellent.

So where I had almost a headache making up the rating for Hollow and decided for the three stars ultimately, this time the choice for the rating is not hard at all. This is a full blooded 4 star case and highly recommended for almost all progfans. Mainly the fans of Echolyn could have another fine discovery with Wanderlust (or Little Atlas in general).

Report this review (#505548)
Posted Friday, August 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars On Wanderlust Little Atlas offer the listener a textbook run-through of the neo-prog playbook without much in the way of surprises. It's a fun enough album if you are passionately devoted to this style, though at the same time I can't put my finger on anything which would really make me compelled to listen to Little Atlas as opposed to any other band ploughing this particular well-ploughed furrow. On the whole, I think if you are really passionately devoted to this style of album and want as many examples of the same thing as possible, you should go for it, but otherwise there's better examples of precisely this sort of thing to be had.
Report this review (#684168)
Posted Sunday, March 25, 2012 | Review Permalink

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