Note Hungary & Romania have their own page. Titles are arranged alphabetically with recent additions highlighted in yellow.
A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-T | U-Z
We’ll be the first to admit that our Belarus section is a bit thin, but as a start, here is Belarus band 7 Ocean, a quartet (currently) of experienced musicians. The band was originally called Seventh Ocean, founded in 1989, before starting fresh as 7 Ocean. The music on the 7 Ocean debut The Mysterious Race of Strange Entities (2008) is 1970s-style keyboard-centric symphonic prog with some influence of ELP, The Nice, Rick Wakeman, Greenslade; really an amalgam of all the keyboard prog from that era, with an Eastern European flavor. The vocals are in what could be Belarusian. (All those languages with Cyrillic characters sound the same if you can’t speak any of them.) The music is relatively vocal-heavy, but as the tracks are long -- 10 tracks totaling 80-minutes -- there is ample room for instrumental and vocal passages to share the stage. Read the Progressor review.
7 Ocean followed with two albums released only as digital downloads or perhaps CD-Rs, then the Diapause CD in 2014. Son of Sun (2016) appears to have been originally written and recorded in 1990 but not released until now. If we understand correctly, this is a new recording of that material. “Accessible, melodic progressive rock with a strong vintage orientation is what 7 Ocean provides us with on their new release Son of Sun. And while the compositions may well have been crafted some time back in the day, they have stood the test of time rather well. An album that merits a check by those who know and love progressive rock as it was explored in the mid to late ’70s by bands such as Camel and Genesis.” Read the full Progressor review. Listen to mp3s of City of Sun, Ascension, In the Cave, Old Woman’s Story, and Disappearance.
After Collage and Quidam, Abraxas was the best Polish neo-progressive band of the 1990s, influenced primarily by Marillion and Genesis. This is the remastered edition of their (sort-of) self-titled 1996 debut, with two bonus tracks and a poster. It’s 71-minutes long, comes in jewel box + slipcase, and is their best album. Listen to Tabula Rasa and De Profundis.
Centurie (1998) is their second, while 99, logically from 1999, is their third. These are the 2011 reissues, packaged in super jewel boxes. Read the DPRP reviews of Cykl obraca się, Centurie, and 99.
Live: In Memoriam (2000) was their final release, a massive 78-minute live album in a digipack with a 24-page booklet. Check below for the related band Svann.
This is the 2010 digipack debut for Acute Mind, a six-piece Polish prog band that first gained notoriety opening for Quidam. They toe the modern Polish prog line, meaning they don’t stray far from the Riverside and Satellite camps, their music both melancholy and symphonic. Read the DPRP reviews. Watch the video for Misery.
After are an excellent Polish progressive rock sextet singing in English. It was the case that most of the Polish prog bands that appeared during the 1990s were influenced by Collage, and during the early 21st century, most of the new Polish prog bands bear some resemblance to Riverside. After’s 2005 debut Endless Lunatic kind of splits the difference between Riverside and Satellite. There is a strong Pink Floyd influence, with the expected dark, melancholy moods and lush spacey textures, but updated to the modern moody aesthetic one can hear in Riverside, Porcupine Tree, and Sylvan, to name just a few. After have some heavy guitar, but they also have strong melodies and some of the symphonic qualities of Satellite. Their second CD Hideout (2008) shifts a bit toward Riverside but is essentially similar, and of very high quality.
No Attachments (2011, digipack) is After’s third studio album, which features some cooperation with British band The Pineapple Thief. After’s guitarist Czarek Bregier explains how that came about: “While working on the new album, we wanted to change something, give it a new and different sound. We wanted someone to look at our material from a different perspective. We decided to have the album mixed and mastered at a different studio, though we had no idea where that should be. We very much liked the production of the last The Pineapple Thief album, so we decided to contact the Audiomaster studio where it had been recorded. It turned out that The Pineapple Thief’s keyboard player Steve Kitch actually worked there, and so our cooperation started in a very natural way. The band’s singer and guitarist Bruce Soord also started to work with us on those recordings, which certainly made the album’s sound richer. Mastering was handled by Steve Kitch and Mark Bowyer.”
AKKO stands for Antony Kalugin’s Kinematics Orchestra, so the more clever among you will have figured out that this is another project for the man already running Karfagen, Sunchild, and Hoggwash. AKKO 1 (2013, 71-minutes, digipack) features Kalugin on keys, programming, voice; Max Velichko on guitars; Misha Sidorenko on alto sax; and Jacky Cat on violin and voice. AKKO is Kalugin’s vehicle for a more relaxing style of instrumental music than his other projects. If everything that uses a lot of electronic keyboards and samples, leisurely tempos, and not a lot of rock drums is new age, then this is new age-y. But it does feature quite a bit of electric guitar, and it does have low-key drums/percussion. The problem with the new age genre is that musicianship has often been lacking, and many of the artists lacked a rock background or experience in a band that might have given their music more depth. That’s not the case with Kalugin, so AKKO is more relaxed than his other work but never insipid, ideal for when the mood calls for something mellow that can still be listened to with full concentration.
Ako Doma must be the best band of their era in Slovakia. The self-titled CD is their 1999 debut, an excellent mix of instrumental prog rock and fusion. They’re a seven-piece band on this one, with sax and cello in the lineup.
AKP (Antony Kalugin Projects) is the umbrella name for Ukrainian prog bands Sunchild and Karfagen. Maybe also Hoggwash and AKKO, but on this 2017 digipack DVD+CD, it’s Kalugin’s live ensemble on their 10th anniversary tour performing Sunchild and Karfagen material. (Karfagen is mostly instrumental, while Sunchild usually features vocals.) The 106-minute dual-layer DVD (PAL, all-region) and 79-minute CD were recorded live in Poland in April 2016. The DVD also includes some 2016 studio live material, plus two full albums as 320 kbps mp3s: AKP Live 2016 and Gnomology: The Best Collection (2012). Watch some of the live performance videos.
Polish band Albion began as a neo-prog five-piece with a female vocalist who sounds like Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq), playing music full of Marillion-isms and somewhat similar to Collage and early Quidam. Remake is a double-CD that combines 2006 remastered versions of Albion’s first two albums Survival Games (1994) and Albion (1995) with five previously-unreleased bonus tracks from 1995-97. These two albums are sung almost entirely in English. The bonus tracks are sung in Polish and are as good as the albums proper.
Albion re-emerged in 2005 with a new female vocalist and the album Wabiąc cienie sung in Polish. The music is more compelling than the earlier albums, very close to Collage and, by extension, early Marillion. Albion favor somber-but-beautiful, deliberately-paced tracks. There is a good balance of vocal and instrumental passages, and the vocals are lovely.
Albion continued with almost the same lineup on Broken Hopes (2007), but this one is sung in English. If Wabiąc cienie displayed Albion’s feminine side, Broken Hopes shows their masculine side. Not that there aren’t any delicate passages, but this album is noticeably more dynamic, with a greater variety of moods, tempos, and energy levels. It continues in the Collage/Satellite and early Marillion veins while adding a little Pink Floyd. This is Albion’s best album to date and almost a sure thing for neo-prog fans.
The Indefinite State of Matter (2012) continues with English vocals and neo-prog equally influenced by Marillion and Pink Floyd. The music is very atmospheric, the songs often starting mellow and gradually building in intensity. Ryszard Kramarski of Millenium engineered and produced, and who are Millenium’s two biggest influences? Marillion and Pink Floyd. So Kramarski may well have had some effect on Albion’s sound, and fans of Millenium should be equally smitten by this album.
This is the 2014 debut CD (first released in 2012 or 2013 as a digital download) by a Russian prog quartet on the MALS label. “I think the description these guys provide on their PR release is very accurate: ‘The band is from the ancient Russian town of Vladimir, and we play music which is neo-progressive rock with elements of heavy prog and Russian traditional music.’ The neo-prog influence is clearly evident in all the compositions, each in the 5-6 minute range. I can hear strands of IQ, Twelfth Night, and Pendragon, coupled with a higher level of guitar virtuosity leaning toward a more prog-metal style of music. Every now and again a more clearly traditional prog element emerges, for example, the bass playing on The Chimney House is clearly based on Chris Squire and Yes, and the drumming on Secrets of the Sky contains the highly technical accuracy of a Neil Peart. If I have any concern, and it’s minor, it is that the songs tend to be of a similar style; they are similar in construction and engineering, and I feel a bit more varied approach would suit the band better. I also note that I cannot understand the lyrics, as they are in Russian, but this adds a bit of an exotic element to the songs.” [Sea of Tranquility]
MILD is an acronym for Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams and is the 2007 debut CD for Polish band Alters. On this CD, Alters is a quartet playing outstanding progressive jazz-rock with some modern King Crimson flavoring and probably some debt to SBB. There are low-key Floydian vocals in English, but the music is heavily instrumental and strikes a good balance between challenging/angular and structured/melodic/symphonic. Note Alters added a trumpet player to the lineup after this album was recorded.
Ananke is the new incarnation of Abraxas, as Ananke includes three former members of Abraxas. Malachity (2010) and Shangri-La (2012, digipack) contain dark, atmospheric modern prog with some Pink Floyd influence. This is the music of Abraxas extrapolated to the present, a darker version of the band that during the 1990s was one of the top neo-prog bands in Poland, taking a back seat only to Collage and Quidam. Vocals in Polish. Listen to Obietnice and Sara from Shangri-La.
These are the 2004 re-editions of the first three Ankh CDs: Ankh (1994), Ziemia i Slonce (1995), and Bedzie Tajemnica (1998), each now with two bonus tracks. Ankh are a Polish band featuring violin, guitar, bass, and drums, plus male and (on Bedzie Tajemnica) female vocals in Polish. These first three albums should be of great interest to King Crimson and Anekdoten fans and to fans of rock violin. Their sound is often dark, with the much more active violin a more than adequate replacement for Anekdoten’s Mellotron. It’s the contrast between the heavy rock of the guitar, bass & drums and the sweetness of the violin that gives them their appeal and their uniqueness. Classical and folk elements are introduced by way of the violin. Bedzie Tajemnica includes a cover of 21st Century Schizoid Man (with rather hilarious accented English vocals).
Apostolis Anthimos is best known as the guitarist for SBB. Miniatures (2008) is Anthimos’ third solo album, on which he plays not only guitar but drums and keyboards, assisted by a bassist. Anthimos is a surprisingly capable drummer. The music is instrumental guitar-dominated fusion in the classic style, a mix of composed and improvised parts.
Anyway were a Polish symphonic neo-prog quintet singing in English, featuring musicians who would later appear in Abraxas. The music was recorded in 1993-1994, though the CD was not released until 1998. This is the 2011 reissue, packaged in a super jewel box. Read the DPRP review. Listen to Skorpion.
Rzeka Dam (2011, digipack) is the debut by a Polish prog band who demonstrate the maturity of the Polish prog scene in that their music is neither neo-prog nor prog-metal. Whereas most of the Polish prog bands fall somewhere along a short axis connecting Riverside and Satellite, Apple Bells are off-axis, with King Crimson their major influence. While you can’t call this album retro, it has a 1970s aesthetic: there is enough space for the music to breathe, and the production is not loudness-maximized and fatiguing. Sung in Polish, there is a connection here to the first-generation Polish, Czech, and Slovak prog bands that is refreshing to hear.
Disguise Serenades (2014, digipack) is the debut for Ukrainian prog band Arlekin. If you see a jester on the cover of a CD and assume the music sounds like early Marillion, you will never be wrong. Read the Prognaut review.
Progressive rock from Armenia, of all places. This is a world-class band incorporating influences mostly from Europe (Jethro Tull, Camel, Solaris, Focus) without abandoning their strong local identity. The band members are exceptional musicians, teachers at the Erevan University. As you might guess from the list of reference bands, Artsruni often use flute as the lead instrument. The instrumental tracks outnumber the vocal tracks. You would think The Live Cuts 2000-2001 is self-explanatory, but the first seven tracks sound like studio recordings -- they are studio quality and there is no crowd noise. The shift in sound when track 8 starts is obvious, and suddenly there’s an audience! Some tracks feature a chamber ensemble and others a symphony orchestra, but they are all uniformly excellent.
Artsruni’s first real studio album Cruzaid (2002) is mostly instrumental, dominated by flute, telling the story of the Crusades from the Armenian perspective.
Aviva, or Jim Aviva, is an alias for Dmitry Lukianenko, is a Russian virtuoso pianist and multi-instrumentalist, assisted on Rokus Tonalis (2007) by a guitarist and a number of guest voices. This is a 70-minute instrumental concept album inspired by the Apocalypse of St. John. At the same time, the composer has incorporated Paul Hindemith’s polyphonic piano cycle Ludus Tonalis into this electric rock format. This is sophisticated instrumental progressive rock that comes closest to ELP, with a more modernist flavor and some more reflective moments. Emerson of course was influenced by Mussorgsky and Stravinsky, and most of the Russian keyboard-dominated progressive works show this same strong Russian classical influence. Aviva is clearly conservatory trained. Rokus Tonalis is quite an original work that extends beyond the Keith Emerson universe, symphonic rock masterfully composed and executed; rich in contrasts, majestic melodies, and luxuriant arrangements; joyfully blending vintage and modern sounds.
Aviva then decided to form a band, hence the name change to Aviva Omnibus on the 2008 CD Nutcracker in Fury. In addition to Aviva, the band includes musicians on guitar, bass, drums, and a second keyboard player who doubles on violin. Nutcracker in Fury creates a musical fantasy by rearranging, twisting, and paying tribute to Tschaikovsky’s Nutcracker. What was said about Rokus Tonalis applies here. There is the classic ELP progressive style at the core, not to mention Tschaikovsky, but it is a more contemporary work and a highly-creative one at that, with samples deftly interwoven and a little heavy guitar, almost a new paradigm for classical-rock.
Aviva tackles Grieg’s work on Peer Gynt in Favour (2010), which is more electronic sounding than the previous Aviva albums. As with Nutcracker, this isn’t an electronic or rock version of the original but rather a radical interpretation of it. Read the DPRP review.
My Name is Janet is a multi-national heavy-prog band assembled by Jim Aviva, with Swedish musicians Eric Rauti, Alexx Hedlund, and Andy LaRocque (King Diamond). Their debut Red Room Blue (2011) was recorded in Sweden and is much less classically-influenced than the Aviva albums. Read the Prog Archives and Background Magazine reviews.
Azazello are a prog band (guitars, keys, bass, drums) from the far east of Russia, five days from Moscow by train, maybe the only Siberian prog band. They play mostly prog-metal but also some progressive rock that has nothing to do with metal. The lyrics are in Russian. Upstairs (2001) is their second CD, blending hard rock and some East European folk music into symphonic prog. The arrangements are quite complex and the level of musicianship is high.
Wings, their third, was recorded in 2002. While the album proper is quite interesting and not quite like any other prog-metal you’ve heard, the two bonus tracks are even more interesting. They were recorded with a folk choir called Divo, and the singing style of multiple female voices is not too different from the singing you can hear in Finnish and Swedish folk outfits.
The dominant style on this 2004 album is a unique progressive world rock featuring traditional Uzbekistan sounds and high-energy drum/percussion tracks of great complexity, all blended into a modern style. There are also some jazz-rock tracks with guitar in the lead, with a nod toward Allan Holdsworth. Badirov, who was born and raised in Uzbekistan, is a drummer with considerable live and studio experience and is also a founding member of Fromuz. He blends his drums with percussion loops and samples to achieve the complex rhythms on this disc. A large number of other musicians play on the album, contributing traditional Uzbekistan instruments plus electric guitar and bass, while Badirov adds electronic textures. Listen to the title track.
Solar Wind - The Inner Circle (2012, 80-minutes, digipack) is the debut full-length album by Moscow-based Batisfera (‘Bathysphere’ is our guess). Batisfera play complex symphonic prog in the classic style featuring keyboards, flute, and electric & 12-string guitars. The music is an amalgam of Yes (especially Topographic Oceans), Genesis, Camel, Grobschnitt, and a dozen other prog bands. It is sophisticated, constantly changing and evolving. Occasionally it’s heavier than the bands mentioned but remains in a 1970s style. It’s fortunate the album is as instrumental as it is, as the vocals (which are in English) have yet to catch up to the skill level of the instrumentalists. Still, the album is so full of symphonic goodies, it’ll keep your brain releasing endorphins for a good while. The album is a conceptual work, supported by a beautiful 28-page booklet in English. Read the Progplanet review. Listen to Earth - I’m Walking.
Believe is the current band of Mirek Gil, guitarist and founding member of Collage. Two other ex-Collage and/or Satellite members are or were in the band: Przemek Zawadzki (bass) and Tomek Rózycki (English-language vocals, guitars). An important member of the band is female Japanese violinist Satomi. Their debut CD Hope to See Another Day (2006) blends the Collage style with that of Riverside, meaning Believe sound more contemporary than Collage, the guitar is sometimes heavier and the music more melancholy. The violin is a welcome addition as it almost always is. This is the 2013 remastered digipack edition on Metal Mind, which adds two live bonus tracks.
On their 2008 second CD Yesterday Is a Friend, Believe further develop the style of their first album, marrying elements of Satellite and Riverside, with the violin adding another dimension. The music is sensuous, atmospheric, and finely detailed, easily placing Believe in the same class as Satellite or Riverside. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the digipack edition of Believe’s 2009 third studio CD This Bread Is Mine (64-minutes), which includes one bonus track. This album introduces new vocalist Karol Wróblewski, who also adds flute, while a cellist guests. Believe took a step backwards here. It’s by no means a bad album, but there are virtually no keyboards, so the violin saves the day. Because without the violin, it would be mostly guitar/bass/drums, and a lot of that guitar is alt-rock style. The music is gloomy and melancholy, almost without respite, and little remains of the Collage/Satellite style. But violin improves just about everything, so This Bread Is Mine is still a worthwhile album.
On their 2010 fourth studio CD World Is Round, Believe brought in a new keyboard player, filling the vacancy that existed on their previous CD and righting just about everything that was wrong with that album. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? While still melancholy, World Is Round is not nearly as gloomy, as there are many uplifting melodies. We thought we’d lost a good prog band for a while there, but Believe are back.
Live at the 1st Oskar Art Rock Festival 2006 (79-minutes, digipack) should be fairly self-explanatory. Here Believe play their entire debut CD Hope to See Another Day plus a track from the first Mr Gil CD.
The double-CD simply packages two jewel box Believe CDs together in a slipcase at an attractive price. (Counts as 2 CDs for shipping.) Check our DVDs page for Believe’s DVDs. Check below for Mr Gil’s CDs.
There’s probably no way to convey how cool this band is, other than to say they may be our favorite band to come out of Poland. It’s safe to say there isn’t another band quite like them. Cash-Romantic Music Machine (2006) is their debut. As the band says: “You can call it what you like. Call it folk or call it prog, porn-groove or lala-rock. Call it pop, we will not mind. You can even call it jazz, if you don’t know any better.” The band is built around Tylda Ciolkosz, who plays violin and sings. She is incredibly versatile as a vocalist. At times she sounds like Kate Bush at her most adventurous (The Dreaming), but that only begins to describe her vocal talents. She’s also a great violinist, as the violin is central to Cashmere’s sound. Even without the vocals, this is first-rate violin-led progressive rock that defies expectations. Some other violin-led bands, the original Ankh for one, are one-dimensional compared to Cashmere. Sometimes there is a European folk influence; there is a song or two that a progressive-minded Steeleye Span fan could get into. Sometimes the music is jazz-tinged, but most prog fans who’ve gotten beyond the basics will identify all of it as progressive rock. Czech band Stromboli were only beginning to approach this when they shutdown (insider pun there). Squonk Opera are in the ballpark. The vocals are in English save one song in Polish and one in German. For some of the songs, it doesn’t really matter what language it is. Read the Exposé review.
These are the 2003 remastered editions on Metal Mind of the Collage CDs, all with bonus audio and/or video tracks. They are packaged two together in a slipcase at an attractive price. (Each counts as 2 CDs for shipping.) Collage were the top Polish neo-prog band; their members went on to form the bands Satellite and Believe. At their best (Basnie and Moonshine), they were nearly the equal of IQ and Marillion. Basnie (1990) is sung in Polish and is somewhat darker than Moonshine (1994), which was their first album with English lyrics and has improved production.
Changes is a compilation of re-recorded songs written by Collage between 1985-1992 and is generally comparable to Basnie. Safe (1996) was their final album, and while it is their best-produced and best-sounding album, it lacks the spark of the earlier albums, though it’s still a decent neo-prog album. Check our DVDs page for Collage’s Living in the Moonlight DVD.
Delate is Artur Szolc, Robert Srzednicki, and Łukasz Naumowicz. Szolc and Srzednicki were responsible for the excellent Music Inspired by Zodiac and Music Inspired by Tarot CDs. Delate’s 2006 debut CD is powerful progressive rock with vocals in Polish, more rock-oriented than the Zodiac or Tarot CDs but having much in common. There are rock guitar and symphonic keyboards up front, dark atmospheres and creative use of electronics as well as percussion. Between the Polish vocals and the uncommon melodies, this progressive rock has a Slavic character to it, a refreshing change from all the international-standard Anglo-prog. While Delate are by no means a retro band, the music does harken back to the 1970s in the sense that bands then were more likely to sing in their native language and the music more likely to have national or regional characteristics.
Music Inspired by Zodiac is a 2002 CD by a Polish duo, two members of the band Annalist, an impressive CD of instrumental progressive music with world music elements, ethnic percussion, and touches of electronics. Much of this is rock but it goes beyond that in an epic soundtrack sort of way.
Nadhir is apparently a pseudonym for Robert Srzednicki. Music Inspired by Tarot (1998) is vibrant instrumental progressive music combining Nadhir’s electric & acoustic guitars, flute, and keyboards with Szolc’s complex percussion and drums, featuring a vast array of ethnic percussion. Listen to Tarot.
Different Light is a neo-prog band that began life in Malta, releasing the CD All About Yourself in 1996 and the EP A Kind of Consolation in 1999. The first incarnation of the band ended then, but Different Light was reconstituted in Prague in 2008 by singer/keyboardist Trevor Tabone, where they released the album Icons that Weep in 2009. Il Suono della Luce (The Sound of Light) is subtitled “A Collection 1996-2009”; it includes 12 tracks representing the best material from those first three albums plus one unreleased track. The Burden of Paradise (2016) is Different Light’s latest studio CD. It may send fans of Fish-era Marillion into a euphoric state at times. (About 30 seconds into the CD, there is a piano figure that has to be a deliberate Lavender reference.) The album covers more ground than just Marillion but remains in a melodic neo-prog or more keyboard-centric 1980s Rush style. Tabone says he had quite a few older ideas that they’d never recorded, and that these were combined with newer compositions, especially in the multi-part suites. Read the Progarchy and Rocking Charts reviews.
A Russian quintet of two guitars, sax/synths, bass, and drums, Diversion Voice play instrumental fusion with significant prog and psych influences, especially 21st Century Schizoid Man King Crimson. There are some Frippian guitar leads, while sax has the lead much of the time. Underwater (2011) comes in a mini-LP sleeve. The CD sleeve and booklet are 3D inside and out, and anaglyph (red-green) 3D glasses are included. You need the glasses to view the CD cover graphic here in 3D. Read the Prognaut and Sea of Tranquility reviews.
Russian guitarist Sergey Dudin has several albums to his credit; these are probably his two best. Eternal Call dates from 1999; this is the 2006 MALS label reissue with a bonus video track. This is for all intents and purposes the Russian Pink Floyd (circa Dark Side of the Moon / Wishing You Were Here), with lyrics in Russian. Assisted by a drummer and several other musicians, Dudin does his best David Gilmour impersonation, and all of the essential Pink Floyd elements are there. 62-minutes of bliss for the Floyd fan.
Mirage (63-minutes) dates from 1995; this is the 2007 re-edition. A bassist and drummer are listed, but at least some of the bass and drums are programmed. Whether or not the title is an intentional reference to Camel, there is some Camel influence, but the music is much closer to the progressive rock albums of Jeremy (American Jeremy Morris, who released two albums on the Kinesis label, a few on MALS, and a slew of them on his own label). Dudin and Jeremy have similar lead electric guitar tones and styles -- Dudin is a bit more demonstrative but just as lyrical -- and they both usually play over a bed of symphonic keyboards and straight-forward rhythms. The album is instrumental except for the majestic last track, which features a guest vocalist (English lyrics).
This Moscow-based band is not your typical progressive rock band in that the nucleus of the band is two sisters: keyboardist/singer Elena Kanevskaya and guitarist Tatyana Kanevskaya. The vocals are in English. While their official start date as a band is 1997, it was only in 2006 that they added a bassist and drummer and became a rock band. Forget all your preconceptions of what a band led by two women should sound like. This is symphonic prog by musicians who clearly love the genre, but with their influences absorbed well enough that Eternal Wanderers have a unique identity.
Their first full-length album was The Door to a Parallel World (2008). So Far and So Near (2011) followed. Their third album is the double-CD The Mystery of the Cosmic Sorrow (2016, digipack), the result of five years of work. It is a monumental work of symphonic space-prog, spacier than their previous output while building upon it. But then “cosmic” is in the title. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
Check our DVDs page for Exodus - A Ray of Sunshine DVD.
Along with SBB, Exodus was the best first-generation Polish progressive rock band, a quintet sometimes referred to as the Polish Yes. One should also mention Eloy, as there is a spacey element to their music. Exodus is more of a symphonic band than SBB. Their first album The Most Beautiful Day (1980) is their best, featuring the 20-minute title suite. Supernova (1982) doesn’t have an epic track like their first album, but is still quite beautiful and lyrical. This remastered digipack edition on Metal Mind adds five bonus tracks recorded for Polish radio in 1981-82.
The Singles Collection album collects all of Exodus’ singles, all of which are non-LP. This remastered digipack edition on Metal Mind adds four bonus 1982 live tracks, taking the total playing time up over 79-minutes.
Najpiekniejszy Dzien appears to be a 74-minute compilation that was remastered in 2000. Of the 13 tracks, five are from The Most Beautiful Day, four are from Singles Collection, one from Hazard (the third Exodus album), two are tracks recorded for Polish radio, and one we can’t figure out. None are from Supernova.
The music scene is heating up in Uzbekistan. Flight 09 have existed since 1983 and are considered the dean of Uzbekistan rock bands. Signs of the Water (2014) is their fourth album. They had two releases on a U.S. label before moving to the Moscow-based MALS label for 2005’s Human Nature. That album was more or less hard rock dressed up with symphonic keyboards. Signs of the Water is definitely proggier, also more metal than hard rock per se, and more diverse. The vocals are in English.
From.uz are a world-class, mostly-instrumental progressive rock and fusion band from Uzbekistan, very high-energy and fairly heavy. Using the ISO code for their country (UZ), their name literally means “From Uzbekistan”. Audio Diplomacy (2007) features a DVD (NTSC, all-region) of a 2005 live performance, a multi-camera professional production. There is an accompanying 75-minute audio CD containing the same songs on the DVD, the two discs housed together in a jewel box. There is so little crowd noise, and the recording quality is so high, this could pass for a studio CD. Maybe it is and we’re just confused. The DVD includes two bonus tracks. Read the Sea of Tranquility reviews.
On Seventh Story (2010), From.uz continue the shift towards symphonic prog begun on Overlook (2008, out-of-print), leaving all but a little fusion behind. This may have something to do with lineup changes. While the compositional core of the band remains, drummer Badirov and the bassist have been replaced and a second keyboardist added, with grand piano being used for the first time. The music is now more rock-oriented, more symphonic and classical, and even features some vocals. There are references to King Crimson, a little Camel, proggy jams, the music jumping around between different progressive rock styles so that the album is always interesting. This is the From.uz CD with the broadest appeal so far. Read the Sea of Tranquility reviews.
We wish the band would decide whether or not there’s a period in their name, as they’ve gone from Fromuz to From.uz and back again, though the names seem to correspond to two different lineups. The lineup on Sodom and Gomorrah (2013) has reverted to the original one, with the addition of a second keyboardist. No two Fromuz CDs have been the same, and Sodom and Gomorrah again shifts style. Mostly instrumental, Sodom and Gomorrah was originally composed by multi-instrumentalist Albert Khalmurzaev for a theatrical musical production of the same name. Fromuz originally performed this material live over a span of three years beginning in 2004. They recorded the material during this timeframe, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the decision was made to edit, mix, and master the tracks for an official release. “Majestic. Powerful. Grandiose. Melodic. Epic. These are just some of the words that describe what you are in store for when you first pop in the latest CD from Uzbekistan prog rock/fusion act Fromuz... more often than not, the band opt for soaring, melodic flights that bridge the gap between prog, jazz-fusion, and a world/classical mix that really is a joy to listen to.” Read the full Sea of Tranquility review.
Fusion Point are a Russian (St. Petersburg) trio of piano/bass/drums whose style you may be able to guess. Morning Rain is their 2012 debut. Watch live performances of Mania and Japanese Girl.
Lukasz Gall is the singer for Millenium and Moonrise. His first solo CD Anonym (2010) is an all-star project of the current Polish prog scene, featuring musicians from Millenium, Moonrise, Albion, Loonypark, and Nemezis. Read the Background Magazine review.
This is the 2003 debut by a Polish quartet playing complex and original progressive rock, roughly a combination of RIO, modern King Crimson, and Area. It is mostly instrumental, while the Polish-language vocals are half-sung and half-chanted, only adding to the music’s quirkiness.
I Want You to Get Back Home (2012, digipack) is the fourth studio CD for the band led by Mirek Gil, guitarist for Believe and formerly Collage. Vocalist Karol Wroblewski sings in English here. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Listen to Come Home and Our Shoes.
On Skellig (2010), Gil was perhaps challenging himself to make a progressive rock album using only guitars, no keyboards or other melody instruments. Believe’s singer and bassist and Satellite’s drummer complete the band. The key is to get sufficient variety and density of tone colors from guitars while keeping everything tasteful. Gil does an admirable job by overdubbing different guitar tracks and using the vocals as yet another tone color. Vocalist Karol Wroblewski sings in Polish here and sounds more comfortable than he does singing in English on Believe’s This Bread Is Mine. “Think of early Collage with much better production and without the keyboards. Instead Gil makes a complete CD using only guitars as solo and harmonic instruments (usually the acoustic guitar as the basic guide and the electric guitar for soloing and harmonies)... You may feel that some keyboard lines could add a little color here and there. But really, this a guitar genius solo album and he proves his point very well here... Forget all the grunge/alternative/pop experiments Mirek Gil was doing on his various solo projects before. This is the truly prog guitar album we all waited to hear for so long.” Read the full review at Prog Archives.
Alone (1998) is the first solo album from Mirek Gil. It’s in a similar style to the final Collage album Safe and also features Collage’s keyboardist and bass player. This is the 2005 re-edition on Metal Mind that adds four bonus video tracks. Listen to Wake Up.
This quartet (vocals, keyboards, guitars, drums) with the catchy name is a Russian symphonic prog band singing in English. 2nd Hands (2007, 71-minutes) is one fantastic progressive rock album. The CD begins and ends as a roller coaster ride, with The Gourishankar cramming in as many ideas as possible, the music seemingly changing style every eight bars, going from Genesis-style sympho-prog to prog-metal to classical-rock to electronic-prog to fusion-prog within the space of two minutes, then repeating. Just as you begin to wonder whether this band is capable of a cohesive composition, they settle down and do exactly that. A guest on violin and viola takes a track or two into symphonic Kansas territory; another musician guests on sax and flute. One thing The Gourishankar do really well is integrate electronics into their prog rock. OK, the vocals are often relatively low in the mix, conceding the upper hand to the instrumental content. Despite the occasional metal touches, this is predominantly classic-style symphonic prog, but not at all retro. It is played with great skill by very creative musicians who know what classical music is, know what real progressive rock is, and the 71-minutes flies by without the excitement ever waning.
After 2nd Hands became a best seller for them, the Unicorn label decided to re-release The Gourishankar’s 2003 first CD Close Grip. This edition adds one bonus track, a rousing cover of Gentle Giant’s For Nobody. The music is slightly more conventional than on 2nd Hands, actually sounding kind of American. The vocals are too low in the mix on this one too, so it must be a conscious decision (but then why sing at all?). It’s a very good symphonic prog album with some prog-metal, but start with 2nd Hands.
Hopefully you won’t be too surprised to learn that Polish band Grendel are heavily Marillion-influenced. But then so are a lot of the contemporary Polish prog bands, and The Helpless (2008) fits solidly in the Polish neo-prog mainstream defined by Satellite and Riverside. Grendel’s music has only a little metal, but the typical Polish melancholy is omnipresent. They have an excellent singer (English lyrics) and lots of lyrical Steve Rothery style guitar. This CD is full of beautiful melodies and lush, bittersweet atmospheres. Even if it doesn’t stray far from the other Polish neo-prog bands, it still is one of the best, a debut CD by a band that emerges fully mature. Initially released in a digipack, that edition has been replaced by this jewel box version that adds one bonus track.
Dreams of Sea (2010, 59-minutes) is the debut for Group 309, a Russian symphonic prog quartet (keys/vocals, guitar, bass, drums) in the style of Autograph, that is, a mainstream symphonic prog style, song-oriented with vocals usually present. The composer is the keyboardist, which as usual results in more structured, classically-influenced compositions that those of the prevailing guitar-dominated modern bands, and the keyboards do more of the interesting stuff. We’re not talking neo-prog in the sense of Marillion but rather the streamlined version of classic progressive rock that began to appear in the late 1970s. If Autograph isn’t a helpful reference, then another unhelpful reference is Synkopy. Excellent production, lyrics in Russian.
For The Keeper of an Hourglass (2014, 60-minutes), Group 309 have chosen to shift emphatically toward their prog side and away from their pop side without radically overhauling their sound, which still suggests Autograph, with mainly late-1970s British and American prog influences and a touch of Saga. The result is a powerful prog album, fully-professional and a big step up from their debut. Hopefully the band Little Tragedies has exposed more of the international audience to Russian-language vocals; Group 309’s male singer is somewhat similar to Little Tragedies’ singer. Group 309 also feature well-known female singer Irina Surina on two tracks. The vocals are high quality and the music is too good to miss simply because one’s provincialism precludes listening to music with lyrics in any of the thousands of other Earth languages. English translations of the lyrics appear in the booklet.
This is a Russian quartet (singing in Russian) that the label describes as “melodic gothic-rock with influences of Blackmore’s Night and The Gathering”. Well, maybe. They do have a female singer with a beautiful voice, but there is no renaissance music influence as in Blackmore’s Night. Group 33 is much more electronic, symphonic, and modern, and though they use a lot of acoustic guitar, it’s a different style than Ritchie Blackmore plays. And Group 33 isn’t really all that gothic. Overall, Group 33 is more of a progressive rock band than either Blackmore’s Night or The Gathering, and they have great songs and excellent production. Stream of Passion is a good reference point. All This World (2004) is their debut and comes in a beautiful 8-panel digipack.
Sky Is the Limit (2006) is the debut studio CD by this Polish modern prog sextet plus guests. The band says that this CD is conceptually divided into sides 1 and 2 like a vinyl LP, with side 1 containing gentler songs with child-like female vocals and side 2 containing music with more power and a rock beat, with some male vocals. The music is heavy at times, spacey and Floydian at others. They frequently blend in creative electronic textures and samples, showing some Tangerine Dream influence as well as modern electronica. The vocals are in English except for one section of one song where one of the guys sings in Polish. It’s an excellent CD, imaginative and unpredictable.
Still Ummadelling (2007, 74-minutes, digipack) features one new studio track plus a 10 track live set recorded in 2006 that includes the tracks from Sky Is the Limit plus a few previously unreleased tracks. About a half hour of this CD then is new material. Included is Hipgnosis’ rendition of Pink Floyd’s Careful With That Axe, Eugene. Mellotron strings are used on the studio CD but are much more prominent on some of the live tracks. Listen to Mantra - Sky Is the Limit.
Hoggwash is another band of Antony Kalugin (Karfagen, Sunchild, AKKO), lord of progressive rock in Ukraine. Hoggwash though is a collaboration with Welsh musician Will Mackie. On their debut The Last Horizon (2007), Mackie and Kalugin have co-writing credits on all tracks, but the music was recorded in Ukraine by Kalugin with Karfagen members/collaborators and other Ukrainian musicians. And while Karfagen has mostly been an instrumental band, Hoggwash has excellent vocals by Kalugin. The result is a beautiful melodic symphonic rock CD in the Genesis and Camel veins. Despite all the input from Ukraine, The Last Horizon sounds so British that it serves to remind us what it is that distinguishes classic British prog from most everything else. This is the second edition, which adds two bonus tracks to take the total playing time up to 75-minutes.
It took a while for the follow-up Spellbound (2013, digipack), but then there have been at least nine albums from Kalugin’s other projects in the interim. Kalugin again sings and plays keys, Mackie plays keys, and seven other Ukrainian musicians take care of electric & acoustic guitar, bass, drums, percussion, alto sax, and more vocals. Hoggwash is distinct from Kalugin’s other bands -- Hoggwash is the more familiar form of sympho-prog, the most song-oriented and British-sounding and therefore having the widest appeal.
Beneath the Skin (2002) is the third album from Latvian progressive rock band Holy Lamb, the five members joined by a number of singers and a flute player. This music is so full of ideas, with constant twists and turns, that several listens are required to absorb it all, yet it isn’t difficult to listen to, just highly inventive. This is a concept album, a “transgressive rock tale”, and the various singers take on different voices for the numerous characters in the story. (All vocals in English.) We like it a lot.
Salt of the Earth (1999) is their second album and is somewhat more of a neo-prog record than Beneath the Skin, sitting between classic and neo-prog, but you can hear the potential.
Gyrosophy (2015) is Holy Lamb’s fourth album. Watch the album teaser, Murderous Words, and This Amazing Race videos. Read the Latvians Online review.
iamthemorning are a Russian duo of (female) singer Marjana Semkina, who sings in English, and keyboardist Gleb Kolyadin, who is primarily a classically-trained pianist, with guests on guitar, bass, drums, violin, viola, and cello. Live, the band performs with as many as eight musicians on stage. Perhaps you came across iamthemorning’s 2012 independently-released debut album, titled simply “~”. It bowled a lot of people over, sounding somewhat like a neo-classical version of Renaissance, with more “indie-sounding” female vocals (a more dispassionate Kate Bush comes to mind). The Renaissance comparison is due primarily to the piano work being similar to that of John Tout, but Tout’s style is largely Russian classical anyway.
We thought a label would pick up iamthemorning, and Kscope did, releasing Belighted (2014) and Lighthouse (2016, digipack). Lighthouse features Gavin Harrison on drums, Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) on bass, guest Mariusz Duda (Riverside, Lunatic Soul) on vocals, and other musicians on guitar, bodhran and percussion, harp, flute, trumpet, clarinet, bombard, violins, violas, cellos, and double bass. Oh, and a choir. “Lighthouse is an album that ebbs and flows like the rich, green sea through my heart and mind. I was expecting another great step forward, but this is an album that has left a deep impression on my mind. It’s like a watercolor painting put to music, hitting all the right notes. It combines the best of their original sound with the ambition and instrumental chops of their last album, crafting something very special and very near and dear to any progressive fan’s heart. Lavish, abundantly inspired, and desperately good in every respect, Lighthouse is made for those who crave expression, beauty, and emotional power.” Read the full The Prog Mind review.
Warsaw-based prog band Iluzjon began as a trio on City Zen (2005), an excellent album of ambient progressive rock with occasional similarities to Peter Gabriel, overall more subdued and mesmerizing than what would follow.
On No Phantoms In (2007), Iluzjon are a quartet and seem to be centered on singer/composer/lyricist Michal Dziadosz in the same way that Porcupine Tree is centered on Steven Wilson. The vocal passages (sung in English) are full of atmosphere and ambience, while the instrumental passages are sometimes heavy and sometimes symphonic. Iluzjon are far from being Porcupine Tree copyists as their sound is distinct, but they do belong in the modern progressive camp that Porcupine Tree helped define.
Silent Andromeda (2009) is their third, and now it’s clear this band is not going to make the same album twice. There is some carryover of the style found on No Phantoms In, but here the rest of the band steps forward. There is some modern King Crimson influence now, while electronics are used to create great atmospheres. One reason for the change is new guitarist Matthew Wojcik, who is able to play in a wider range of styles. Sometimes the music has the aggressive modern sound, while at other times it’s dreamier. It’s certainly easier to describe the Polish bands who stick to the mainstream neo-prog and prog-metal styles, but while Iluzjon make reviewers’ jobs more difficult, it’s a small price to pay for a more original progressive style. This is their most mature work.
Inescapable (2011) is the second full-length CD for this Moscow-based instrumental prog band who sound like a heavier Djam Karet. The core quartet consists of two guitarists, bassist, and drummer. The bassist adds piano on several tracks, and there is a guest cellist. Infront play angular guitar-dominated instrumentals probably with a degree of improvisation, slightly psychedelic and slightly fusion-y rather than symphonic, with metal guitar intruding in spots. Read reviews at Prognaut and ProGGnosis. Listen to Postcard Notice.
The concept album Faith (2009, mini-LP sleeve, 73-minutes) is the debut CD by maybe the second-greatest prog band in all of Belarus. (Check above for the band 7 Ocean, also from Belarus.) On their website, they brand themselves as ‘art rock / prog metal’, and that’s accurate as they switch between progressive rock and melodic prog metal such that you can’t simply say they are one or the other. The common attribute is that In Search For are bombastic in that Ayreon way whether playing prog or metal. The vocals are (mostly) in English, mostly male with some female vocals in support, and the band sound like they could be from just about any country. Most of it is very symphonic, with loads of keyboards and a little violin, viola, and flute. There’s a recurring bit where the protagonist in the story carries on a conversation with Mickey Mouse, though we think it’s supposed to be the voice of a computer. It sounds like Arthur Dent’s conversations with the white mice in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This 2001 double CD contains two albums from the famous Czech fusion band led by keyboardist Martin Kratochvíl. Excluding the joint album they did with Modrý Efekt, Pozorovatelna (1973) is their debut, known as The Watch-Tower in English, and is one of their best. Album, Které Nikdy Nevyšlo translates to Album That Never Happened and appears to compile single A and B sides plus unreleased tracks spanning 1979-1987. This 2CD includes five previously unreleased bonus tracks. Out-of-print, last copy.
This is the answer to the question that had been on everyone’s minds: What happened to the violinist from Ankh? Michal Jelonek was the violinist in the Polish band Ankh on their first three studio CDs, all released during the 1990s. Ankh was all about the contrast between Jelonek’s violin and the heavy rock of the guitar, bass and drums. Ankh released one more album without Jelonek, but it wasn’t the same, as the violin was the whole attraction. This 2007 CD (digipack) is entirely instrumental and features Jelonek’s new band. Actually, Jelonek kept busy appearing in or with numerous other bands, but this CD represents the continuation of the original Ankh style with bigger and better production. Overall the sound is also heavier, prog-metal at times, but it’s really all about Jelonek’s skillful, classically-influenced violin with the rock band as the supporting cast. If like us you just love violin in a rock context, here you go.
Jeseter is a Czech prog band singing in Czech, originally inspired by Yes. Their third album Siddhartha (2016) is based on Hermann Hesse’s novel and is their most accomplished album to date.
Karfagen’s ninth studio album Messages from Afar: First Contact (2017, digipack) is the first chapter of a multi-album concept. The second chapter is due in 2018 but will be by Karfagen’s alter-ego Sunchild. The band says that this is their “homage to art rock as we know it from the heart of the 20th century”, while the label mentions Camel, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Happy the Man, and Yes. By now you shouldn’t need references, as Antony Kalugin has been responsible for a metric ton of great progressive rock over the past 10+ years, regardless of whether Karfagen, Sunchild, Hoggwash, or AKP is the vehicle. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Ukrainian band Karfagen is the first and more instrumental band of Antony Kalugin, the rather busy man also in charge of day-to-day operations at Sunchild, Hoggwash, and AKKO. See Prog Archives for reviews of all the Karfagen albums.
The 2009 double-CD The Key to Perception is billed as the definitive history to date of Karfagen: 39 tracks and a booklet providing comments on each track. This 2CD contains the entire first two Karfagen albums: Continium (2006) and The Space Between Us (2007), plus 12 tracks (~55 minutes worth) of new material and alternate versions.
Continium is an elegant and classy album of instrumental symphonic prog. Camel and Genesis sound like the strongest influences, and the standard instrumentation is augmented by flute and at times bayan (accordion), duduk (an ancient wind instrument), and wheel lira (another ancient instrument). (What do we look like, ethnomusicologists?) The bonus track is a tender song with male and female vocals in English. Keyboards have the primary role, and the emphasis throughout is on beautiful melodies and music that flows gracefully. The Space Between Us is again instrumental, though there are some wordless vocals. It continues in the same general style, but even more original. Camel is a reference point only to the extent that the music is usually flowing and melodic. There is a strong classical influence, and the bayan and flute are again welcome touches. Both albums are highly recommended to sympho lovers of the 1970s persuasion.
Solitary Sandpiper Journey (2010) has Antony Kalugin joined by a large percentage of the musicians in Ukraine, the instrumentation including cello, flute, oboe, bassoon, viola, violin, sax, and bayan in addition to keys, acoustic & electric guitars, bass and drums. As before, the music lies roughly in Camel (The Snow Goose) and Genesis territory, but is more eclectic than that. The music is still predominantly instrumental, with Kalugin singing on one track, while female vocalist Marina Zacharova adds a Renaissance feel to a couple others. The lyrics are in English. This is a finely-crafted progressive rock album; those who’ve heard the Sunchild and Hoggwash albums would expect no less. The 22-minute track Mystery that concludes this 75-minute album is a real tour-de-force.
Lost Symphony (2011, digipack) is, in Kalugin’s words, for “all who endorse and savor instrumental art-rock from the 1970s, something like Camel, Focus, Happy the Man, and Pat Metheny”. Those references are accurate enough, though the classical instrumentation and especially the bayan (accordion) make Lost Symphony unique. This is a remarkable work, really one of the great rock symphonies, full of warmth and humanity.
Aleatorica (2013, digipack) again has a large number of musicians on a wide range of instruments. Two of the 14 tracks have lyrics; the bulk of the album is instrumental. This is another astounding work, and another for which the term ‘rock symphony’ fits. Kalugin is not standing still, as the style here has evolved a great deal from the early Karfagen albums. Aleatorica has more acoustic textures and ethnic/folk melodies, as the accordion, flute, and other acoustic instruments are used heavily, and there is often a decidedly playful feel. The end result sounds a bit like a Ukrainian Jethro Tull, a bit like an electric Flairck, a bit like Gryphon meet Pekka Pohjola on a pirate ship sailing off the edge of the world, and other references that make even less sense. Mostly it sounds like an original style. We’re always going to heap praise on bands that sound like they’re from somewhere rather than aping a generic Anglo-American sound, bands who understand that progressive rock is not Rush and Dream Theater, bands who have absorbed what has gone before but produce something new. This album is a perfect example, we just hope listeners with more mainstream tastes can keep up with where Kalugin is going.
The unrest in Ukraine didn’t slow Kalugin, as Magician’s Theater (2014, digipack) is another instrumental opus of modern symphonic prog. Kalugin handles mainly keyboards while two guitarists with contrasting styles are employed. In addition to a powerful rhythm section, other musicians contribute Stick, flute, alto sax, bassoon, and accordion. This album is generally heavier than the previous Karfagen albums and a bit more of a conventional sympho-prog album than Aleatorica, still with those touches that set Kalugin’s work apart. It may be the best place for the uninitiated to start. Watch the videos for The Juggler’s Boast and The Birth of Mankind.
The seventh Karfagen album 7 (2015, digipack) is centered around the nearly half-hour epic Seven Gates. Kalugin says: “I’ve done my best to create it with the variety of being both dynamic and also allowing the music to breath, to recreate the late 70s prog ‘tone’ that I still enjoy so much today.” The label says that Kalugin stays true to his love of Camel, Focus, and The Alan Parsons Project, to name just a few.
After a tour of Europe, Kalugin returned reenergized to the studio to finish the amazing Spektra (2016, digipack), again with half the musicians in Ukraine guesting. This is 63 minutes of innovative symphonic prog that consistently surprises, and after absorbing it, you’ll be the one who’s reenergized. Will Kalugin ever receive the recognition he deserves? Listen to the album teaser, Terra Incognita, and Olympia.
This is the CD reissue of the 1981 EP plus the 1983 LP by Estonian band Kaseke, their only output. “Kaseke is considered Estonia’s finest progressive-fusion band... Their style of fusion is clean and influenced mostly by the late-seventies American fusion scene. In fact, many tracks here have a radio-friendly sound. Yet the music has a subtle complexity to it that will appeal to prog fans more than the casual jazz listener. The thing that struck me while listening to Kaseke was that the band sounded incredibly modern. I would have never guessed that most of the music came out in 1983. Even the keyboards sound like they came out of the factory around 1998. And the keyboardists (there are several that play on the album) remind me a bit of Jordan Rudess’ work on the Liquid Tension Experiment albums. The keyboard playing is not as complex of course, but the choice of notes is similar to Jordan’s. The listener will also notice the nice dual-guitar work by Ain Varts and Riho Sibul, who are known in Europe for their skills. Overall, this CD will please most progressive-fusion/jazz fans.” [Zoltan’s Progressive Rock Webpage] Also read the ProgressiveWorld review.
Kayanis is the name of a Polish musician/composer, but this 2008 CD is not exactly a solo work. It is a large-scale project combining orchestra, choir, soprano singer and rock band (synths, guitar, bass, drums) for a 75-minute, mostly-instrumental rock symphony, with the emphasis on symphony. What vocals there are are in English. This is a sophisticated romantic work, and one that demonstrates there is life in the current Polish prog scene beyond the Satellite/Riverside adherents.
Little Victories (2013, digipack) is the debut CD for this instrumental quartet from Kiev, Ukraine. (There was a 2008 Krobak CD, but that was really a solo project of band leader Igor Sidorenko.) The lineup here is violin, guitar, bass, and drums. For the most part, Krobak play post-rock influenced primarily by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the violin providing the extra dimension that guitar-only bands can’t reach. Krobak’s sound is in transition though, shifting towards King Crimson of the 1973-74 era and expected to go further in that direction in the future. So as post-rock goes, this is about as good as it gets. Think of Krobak as a post-rock version of Polish band Ankh. Watch the video for Broken. There’s even a band documentary there with English subtitles (which you may need to turn on first), and loads of live videos.
Outside of Nowhere (2011) is the debut for Polish band Landscape. This is typical modern prog influenced by Porcupine Tree, Riverside, and Sylvan, guitar-dominated with keyboards primarily playing filter-swept pads for texture and spaciness, vocals filtered to sound distant, as if they’re being heard over a telephone line. Landscape are more hard rock than metal, employing hard rock guitar sounds/styles that alternate with ethereal passages: dark, moody, and emotionally somewhat cold.
Ensign of Fairies, Book 1 (2013), which you may also see referred to as The Banner Fey, Book 1, is a very British-sounding, early-1970s style progressive rock album from Russian band Lantinor. The origins of the band go back to 1992, and they have albums dating back to 1996. There is an Anglo-Celtic folk element to their music that makes it special, along the lines of Horslips, Jethro Tull, or Gryphon. Early Yes and Gentle Giant are likely influences too. Four of the five tracks are sung in Russian, one in English. Given how many people are still incapable of listening to music with non-English lyrics (apparently the music becomes inaudible as soon as someone starts singing in another language) and how serviceable Lantinor’s English vocals are, it would be great if the band made their next album for the international market and sang mostly in English. Listen to the audio samples -- we like this album a lot!
This 2008 release on the Lynx label was actually recorded between 2001-2003. Liquid Shadow were a Polish band with female vocals, playing a lot of standard Dream Theater prog-metal but also some neo-prog, including ballads with more acoustic textures that come close to the refined style of Varius Manx. There are two guitarists listed; one replaced the other, which could account for the split personality of the band. The lyrics are in both Polish and English, with two instrumentals plus a video. Liquid Shadow disbanded in 2004, but could be revived. Some members went on to play or sing on Millenium albums and/or to the bands Loonypark and Nemezis. 67-minutes of audio.
If the title sounds slightly awkward, it should have been translated to At Night, so deal with the extra letter. This is Little Tragedies’ 2014 studio album, running 61-minutes. This is the real symphonic prog, featuring Little Tragedies’ trademark mix of powerful instrumental fireworks and vocal passages with poetic Russian lyrics. (As if we know what they’re singing about.) As always, there is a lot of ELP influence, but also plenty of electric guitar. At a time when the distinction between what is called prog and the more prosaic forms of rock is often blurred, it’s reassuring to hear a band led by a keyboardist with classical training and chops.
Little Tragedies is a Russian band led by composer/keyboardist/singer Gennady Ilyin. Once upon a time, progressive rock bands had first-hand knowledge of classical music, and while this has not often been the case with later generations of prog bands, it isn’t difficult to find prog bands in Eastern Europe with conservatory-trained musicians, which is the case with Ilyin. Their first release was Return (2003), an excellent album mixing 1970s style symphonic prog with some jazz-rock and contemporary classical music. The vocals are in Russian, lending the work a Slavic personality. The instrumentals especially are influenced by ELP and UK, though they are even closer to the style of Japanese bands such as Deja Vu or Social Tension, virtuosic and just slightly over-the-top.
The double-CD New Faust (2006) followed, one of Little Tragedies’ best, a brilliant work. The Russian classical influence is very strong, and the dominant influence is again ELP and their brethren, though Little Tragedies do have a guitarist. The music is keyboard-dominated and heavily instrumental, varying from frenetic, bombastic and virtuosic to sensitive and peaceful. In addition to the classical and ELP influence, there are elements of Genesis and Yes, but overall the music has a distinct personality.
Little Tragedies quickly followed New Faust with The Sixth Sense in 2006 (out-of-print), which has less emphasis on the flashier style and includes more tracks of a more sedate and lyrical nature, emphasizing the poetic Russian lyrics.
Chinese Songs Part One and Part Two, both released in 2007, are so called not because they contain any Asian music but because the lyrics are by 8th-13th century Chinese poets, sung in Russian translations but printed in English translations in the booklets. Continuing with the trend established on The Sixth Sense, more of the music on these CDs is of the serene and lyrical side of Little Tragedies, though when they do unleash their full power, it’s about as good as it gets.
Cross (62-minutes) is a studio CD released in 2008. On The Sixth Sense and the two Chinese Songs CDs, the balance had shifted to the vocal and reflective side, but with Cross, Little Tragedies put things right. Instrumental passages dominate, and the CD is full of rip-roaring classically-influenced sympho-prog. This is a return to the style of New Faust, and Cross ranks with that album as Little Tragedies’ best. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with booklet containing English translations of the lyrics.
Though not released until 2009, The Paris Symphony was recorded in 1997 (with some 1996 bonus tracks), making it the earliest Little Tragedies studio work. The band at this time was a trio of keyboards, bass and drums, purely instrumental. “Sonically, this album sounds as if it belongs between New Faust and The Sixth Sense because of its heavy use of polysynths instead of Hammond organ... The heavy polysynth in The Paris Symphony keeps reminding me of Works Vol. 1-era ELP, or to a lesser extent, Eddie Jobson’s keyboard work on the first UK album or (even more) The Green Album. The compositions are excellent: rockin’, bombastic and classically-influenced at the same time, but with that Russian classical feel pervading the piece. It also reminds me quite a bit of their countrymen Aviva’s first album, though this has no prog-metal content like Aviva’s second release. The Paris Symphony is a great album... Fantastic.” [Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock]
Obsessed was recorded in 2009 but not released until 2011. After establishing their range with The Sixth Sense and Chinese Songs Part One and Two, Little Tragedies are with Cross and Obsessed back to the power symphonic/classical prog that is their forte. “Stylistically again closer to New Faust, they are once again celebrating their full-blown, wonderfully over-the-top and classically inspired prog rock including the quirky Russian vocals that makes all this just so unique. Anyone who knows Little Tragedies won’t need any further description of what this sounds like. To anyone else, I would just recommend listening to the sound samples. What I really like here is that despite all the pyrotechnical wizardry, there is also a fine display of composition/songwriting which is a craft that does not always stand at the center with many bands.” [Prog Archives] Read reviews of all CDs.
The Sun of the Spirit (1998) and Porcelain Pavilion (1999) are the first solo CDs by Little Tragedies’ leader, but they were originally released by Boheme Music under the name Little Tragedies. Ilyin wrote the music, plays the keyboards and sings, assisted by the guitarist and sound engineer of the Little Tragedies lineup of that time. As Ilyin says, there was still the feeling of a band, albeit studio-like, hence the decision in 1998 to use the band name. These are the 2009 reissues on the MALS label, each of which adds one bonus track and comes in a mini-LP sleeve. Because Little Tragedies’ lineup has since changed, it was decided to reissue them as Gennady Ilyin solo projects. As one should expect by now from Ilyin, these are very accomplished progressive works that cover a lot of ground, with complex arrangements and skillful playing. The music was inspired by the lyrics of the Russian poet Nikolay Gumilev. Ilyin sings in Russian (English lyrics in the booklet), but the music is heavily instrumental. There are some classical-rock workouts in the ELP and Little Tragedies styles, but for the most part, Ilyin uses this opportunity for less flash, more nuance and acoustic timbres. Certainly much of the material is classically-influenced, but Ilyin never settles for pure orchestral simulation. His use of expressive synth sounds is similar to Jozef Skrzek of SBB, and Skrzek’s early solo albums are a good reference point for some of this material.
Lizard are a Polish prog band featuring powerful vocals in Polish. They debuted in 1996 with W Galerii Czasu (In the Gallery of Time), updating the tradition of some of the great East European prog bands of the 1970s and 1980s such as Modry Efekt and Synkopy. They followed with Psychopuls (2004), on which Lizard are very influenced by King Crimson circa 1973-1974, even to the extent of including some David Cross-style violin. (So that’s where they took their name.) Tales from Artichoke Wood followed in 2005 and it is a more original work, more lyrical, flowing and symphonic, with a subtle jazz-rock influence and some delicate passages worthy of Genesis. There is as much of an influence of the first UK album here. Unfortunately, these early CDs are probably out-of-print.
Spam (2006) is another quality album from Lizard, though not simply a continuation of Tales from Artichoke Wood. This one returns somewhat to the sound of their earliest albums, but the writing and playing have matured. Some King Crimson influence is present, but there is more UK influence, specifically the UK tracks with Jobson on violin. With violin used on every track, one is also reminded of Ankh, but Lizard are more refined and complex. As on their first album, Lizard sound like the successors to Synkopy, East, and other great first-generation East European prog bands.
Lizard had been working on Master & M (2013) since early 2008 but had to deal with some personnel changes along the way. (The violin is gone). Live: Destruction and Little Pieces of Cheese (2015) is a recording of Lizard’s concert in Łódź, Poland in late 2014. It draws primarily from Master & M and finishes with a rendition of 21st Century Schizoid Man. Watch the official video of Lizard performing Chapter I from this album.
Logic Mess is the band formerly known as Crystal Lake with a new singer and new drummer. Element of the Grid (2012, 72-minutes) is typical Polish prog-metal (Riverside and their ilk), a definite improvement over the Crystal Lake CD. Read the Lady Obscure review.
Loonypark are a Polish neo-prog band that includes the (female) singer and the keyboardist formerly with Liquid Shadow. (The keyboardist is also a member of Nemezis and at least one other band.) Egoist (2008) is Loonypark’s debut. The music here is in the Polish neo-prog mainstream, with English-language vocals and both Steve Rothery-style and metal guitar, but more conservative and relaxed than most. Millenium circa Reincarnations is not a bad reference point. Singer Sabina Godula has a relatively deep, soulful voice that has a large impact on the feel of the music.
The second Loonypark CD Straw Andy (2011) seems even more a vehicle for Sabina’s vocals. This is lush pop-prog in the style of Varius Manx and Nemezis.
Lost World Band (initially just “Lost World”) was formed in 1996 by three Moscow Conservatory students. Their 2003 first album Trajectories was released in Russia. Bandleader Andy Didorenko now lives in New York City.
Their second album Awakening of the Elements was first released in 2006, with an updated version released in 2014. Both Awakening of the Elements and the follow-up Sound Source (2009, 65-minutes) are all-instrumental. This is classical progressive rock of the highest order, with flute and violin featured prominently. Probably because they’re Russian, they sound unlike most of the other prog bands with heavy classical influence, so the music usually sounds quite original. Kansas, The Dixie Dregs, or Jethro Tull are fair reference points for some of the material. These guys can play and they can compose. Read the Proggnosis and Progressor reviews.
Solar Power (2013, digipack) features English-language vocals, though instrumental content dominates. The violin seems more prominent on this album, and this is some of the best violin-prog around. At times the music shows similarities to symphonic Kansas, King Crimson with David Cross, Atoll’s L’Araignee-Mal lineup, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and KBB. But much of the music defies easy comparisons, and as this is their fourth studio album, it’s time to acknowledge this as Lost World Band’s style.
Of Things and Beings (2016, digipack) was recorded in both New York City and Moscow and continues with the same lineup as Solar Power with the addition of a percussionist. Over time, Andy Didorenko has assumed an ever greater role in the band, in the studio handling all guitars, violins, keyboards, and vocals, and he is as talented a musician as you will find in prog.
Lunatic Soul is the solo project of Riverside singer Mariusz Duda, who we all know has a great voice. Helpfully, the first two CDs are labeled simply “Lunatic Soul”, the idea being that together they form a double-album. The black one is the first, from 2008, and comes in a digipack. The white one is the 2010 sequel and you have your choice of digipack or Super Jewel Box. Duda is assisted by several other musicians including Riverside’s keyboardist and friends from Quidam and Indukti. The music is beautifully textured, and the mood is much the same as Riverside (and Porcupine Tree and all the other modern prog bands who’ve jumped on this particular bandwagon): dark, lush, melancholy and moving. It’s easy to draw parallels to the music Steven Wilson creates outside of Porcupine Tree, or to early Porcupine Tree (when it was really Wilson solo). With the metal element of the parent band downplayed (the first three Lunatic Soul albums contain no electric guitar at all), the music is more ambient, and the more refined and progressive elements are allowed more room to be heard. The second album is even more refined than the first. Duda says it’s a blend of everything he likes, in particular Dead Can Dance and Peter Gabriel on IV or Passion. Watch the Lunatic Soul II album teaser video.
Impressions (2011, digipack) is considered to be the final part of a trilogy of Lunatic Soul albums. As Duda says: “Impressions is a collection of instrumental compositions which act as an addition to the story told on the black and white Lunatic Soul albums. These songs without lyrics, with scarce vocal parts, are more ambient in style.” Read the Reflections of Darkness review. Watch the album teaser video.
Walking on a Flashlight Beam (2014, 64-minutes) sees electric guitar returned to the mix, and that’s not the only way in which Duda expands the Lunatic Soul sound palette, using more ethnic sounds for one. Following the instrumental Impressions, Duda is singing again here, yet the instrumental passages are not forgotten. This is the standard edition CD. There once was a more expensive CD+DVD edition, but you’re not missing much as the DVD content is nothing more than a 25-minute “making-of” documentary/interview that you can find on YouTube. Read the Prog Sphere review. Watch the album teaser video.
Millenium are a Polish five-piece neo-prog band with Polish vocals on their self-titled 1999 first album and English vocals on everything afterwards. Their earlier material is generally in the Pendragon, Pink Floyd, and early Marillion styles, while Pink Floyd becomes the dominant influence on later albums. You can hear a bit of the influence of Collage (as you can in nearly every Polish neo-prog band).
Interdead (2005, 61-minutes) is a very professional neo-prog concept album that treads a fairly mainstream path, still with a latter-day Pink Floyd influence heard on several tracks. This is the 2008 digipack edition with four bonus tracks.
Numbers and The Big Dream of Mr Sunders (2006) is Millenium’s sixth studio album if we counted correctly. This concept album is Millenium’s most successful blending of the later Pink Floyd and early Marillion styles to date. The digipack is the 2010 remastered edition, which adds one alternate-version bonus track.
Three Brothers’ Epilogue (2008) is a bargain-priced 28-minute CD-EP. It includes the tracks Epilogue: Three Brothers Trilogy (15:01, new 2008 track), Dream About Aliens (8:02, 2007 full version of Talk to Aliens plus Aliens and Me), and Wake Up John! (5:04, 2007 vocal version of And the Big Dream of Mr Sunders).
Exist (2008, digipack) consists of just four long tracks spanning 53 minutes. With this CD, Millenium have shifted the balance almost entirely to the Pink Floyd side, with only vestiges of Marillion influence remaining. Millenium’s career arc has them making their best neo-prog style albums at the very beginning, getting conservative in their middle period, and emerging on the other side sounding more like a classic progressive rock band than ever.
The double-CD Puzzles (2011, digipack) is Millenium’s attempt at an epic concept album in the vein of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Watch/listen to the album trailer and read the band’s description of the album there. Read reviews at Prog Archives and Background Magazine.
Ego (2013) is the nth (we lost count) studio CD for Millenium. The well-established Millenium sound is augmented by guests on sax, trumpet, and female voice. Millenium still tread a path on the Marillion side of Pink Floyd, more in terms of mood and tempo than strongly resembling either. Łukasz Gall is in the upper echelon of prog singers, and the tracks are built around his voice, here complemented nicely by the female vocals. Watch the album trailer video and video for Lonely Man. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the 2008 debut by a Polish prog band singing in English, though heavily instrumental. Mindfields expertly blend the Marillion, Pink Floyd and later Camel styles, putting them near Millenium on some tracks, closer to Satellite or Quidam on others. Their progressive rock is atmospheric and free of metal, and is up to the high standard we’re coming to expect from Polish prog bands.
Mind Portal are a Russian instrumental quartet (guitar/keys/bass/drums) debuting in 2010 with 1/1. They play heavy, fusion-tinged prog in a style similar to Planet X and Liquid Tension Experiment, with comparable technical skills. But Mind Portal earn high marks for melody and for concise, focused compositions, avoiding most of the excesses of those other bands. They have guitar melodies similar to what Joe Satriani comes up with, but not a lot of shredding for shredding’s sake. We would have liked some small degree of Russian flavor to give the music some distinctiveness -- this sounds entirely American -- but we understand that some of today’s prog fans prefer a music monoculture. Read the Sea of Tranquility and DPRP reviews.
Using a proprietary numbering scheme, 1/2: Thought and Matter (2014) is Mind Portal’s second, even better than their first. The technical level of the musicians is quickly apparent, and while that’s the end of the story for so many bands who can play but not compose, Mind Portal’s music is a real pleasure to listen to.
Integrated in the System of Guilt (2006, 60-minutes) is the 11th full-length release by Polish band Moonlight. This is modern art-rock with female vocals (in Polish here). The music is characterized by the modern penchant for coldness and melancholy, contrasting passages of stark beauty with somewhat harsh passages dominated by synths and guitar. Vocalist Maja is a great asset, able to carry off the moods required by the music. Moonlight sometimes sound like the Czech band Stromboli extrapolated forward in time. The arrangements show a good deal of sophistication, and once you adjust to the eerie, dark, angst-ridden moods, the music does have a beauty all its own.
On their 2008 debut The Lights of a Distant Bay, Moonrise operate in the same general Satellite/Riverside territory where most of the contemporaneous Polish prog bands sit. There is an uncommon elegance to Moonrise’s music. It’s surprising to learn that it’s the work of one multi-instrumentalist/composer, Kamil Konieczniak, plus Lukasz Gall, the singer from Millenium (lyrics in English). Konieczniak adds many creative touches on keyboards, and at the same time, his guitar work is full of lyrical, almost mournful Steve Rothery type leads. Gall is an excellent singer, but Konieczniak leaves plenty of room for instrumental passages, which also sets Moonrise apart.
Soul’s Inner Pendulum (2009, digipack) is their second. This is a pure neo-prog album with more lush, sometimes spacey keyboards than just about any other contemporary neo-prog album. Moonrise is now a band with a guitarist, drummer and sax player having joined Konieczniak, and while singer Gall is listed as a guest, he is a busy guest. The sax is a nice touch, but it is only present here and there. The Marillion influence is obvious, but given Gall’s voice, the music sounds even more like Jadis. Gall could pass for an American singer, his English is so good, and his excellent vocals have much to do with the quality of this album. Soaring guitar leads over a lush keyboard foundation is a tried-and-true formula for neo-prog, and it still sounds wonderful here. Read the Background Magazine review.
NarcolipZ are a Polish gothic rock band singing in English, with some crossover prog appeal due to the symphonic keyboards, which can still be heard despite the best efforts of the grungy guitars to drown them out. Rice With Nails (2008, digipack) is their debut. Listen to Toward the Void.
Oaksenham are an Armenian progressive rock band immersed in English music, and their debut Conquest of the Pacific was one of the best CDs released by Musea in 2007. Oaksenham have the usual keys/guitars/bass/drums lineup with the addition of a violinist and a flute player, while guest musicians add harp, cello, oboe, bassoon, English horn, French horn, and clarinet. This amazing band play a lively, airy instrumental progressive rock with renaissance and baroque influences. The CD includes covers of Gentle Giant’s Talybont and On Reflection and a theme borrowed from Jethro Tull’s Velvet Green, and the rest of the CD continues with those influences, also Gryphon, Flairck, even Kansas when the electric guitar is present alongside violin and organ. Oaksenham restore the academic component missing from so many of today’s progressive bands. Out-of-print, last copies.
Obiymy Doschu (Rain’s Embrace) is a six-person Ukrainian band plus guests, with male vocals in Ukrainian. Their 2009 album Elehia (Elegy) was re-released in 2011 in this MALS label edition. Obiymy Doschu blend the gloomy and melancholy Anathema/Katatonia/Riverside aesthetic with the lush strings sound of the Nordic and post-rock bands. The saturated strings are probably part Mellotron but also real violin and viola, lending a neo-classical feel. There is some metal guitar, a complete mismatch for the rest of the instrumentation of course. (A sympathetic, progressive-style guitarist would have fit much better, but they’re apparently hard to find now.) However, the violin plays some of the soaring melodies that the electric guitar might have covered. Piano, acoustic guitar, female backing vocals, bass and drums fill out the sound palette, which varies little from track to track, one reason the album flows uninterrupted, with a single mood. It is atmospheric and quite beautiful and elegant (apart from the metal guitar), if compositionally unvarying; this music is all about the bittersweet mood and the sad-but-majestic orchestral textures.
Cherdak (2008, 56-minutes) is the second album by this Latvian progressive band, stylistically similar to their 2002 debut CD Gramercy. Cherdak includes four long tracks, one of which is instrumental. The music of Olive Mess sports influences of classical, baroque, renaissance and modern academic music. Relative to Gramercy, the sound has become denser. While Gramercy featured the soprano of Ilze Paegle, Cherdak features the baritone of Maris Jekabsons, who sings in the classical (opera) style. In addition to electric & classical guitars, keys, bass and drums, Olive Mess use bagpipes, baroque guitar, and archlute. The band use historical events as the subject matter for their music and three different languages for their song texts: English, Latin, and old Provencal. If Gentle Giant worked with an opera singer, it might sound like this. On second thought, it still wouldn’t be as unusual as Olive Mess.
In the mid-1980s, there were two great Polish electronic bands: El Division and Omni. While the El Division LPs have yet to be issued on CD, the 1985 first album by Omni has. This is the Metal Mind re-edition, which adds three bonus tracks. Omni is a duo making melodic/rhythmic electronic music somewhere between the Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre styles, but very high-energy and very exuberant. Classical themes are blended with racing sequencers and electronic drums. Listen to Omni Modo and Omni Homo Mendax.
Nothing more was heard from Omni until Mermaids (2006). The core of their sound remains late-70s/early-80s Tangerine Dream. The first of the four tracks is electronic rock, as Omni add rock guitar, drums and wordless female vocals. The remaining three tracks stick mainly to electronic music, but each is quite distinct. One member adds cello at times, which is one element Omni use to elevate their music beyond ordinary EM. The 23-minute final track is a beautiful example of EM that builds from ambient/cosmic to a powerful sequencer-driven conclusion. Listen to Molpe and Anai.
The latter-day Polish progressive rock bands have tended to cluster around a couple styles exemplified by the most successful Polish prog bands. First it was Collage (later Satellite), who were influenced by the British neo-prog bands, later Riverside, who took their cues more from Porcupine Tree. Many of the Polish prog bands don’t stray too far from these, and Openspace can be wedged into the open space between Satellite and Riverside. Most of what they do on their 2008 self-titled debut (out-of-print) is in the Satellite style, but they add metal guitar on some tracks, bringing their music closer to Riverside. Elementary Loss (2010) is their second, sung entirely in English. Listen to Underground.
ME 2.0 (2012, digipack) is the third album for Ordinary Brainwash, the first on the Metal Mind label after two on Lynx. Ordinary Brainwash is actually the work of young Polish musician Rafal Zak, who describes the music as “a post-prog mixture of beautiful melodies, original lyrics and startling compositions” that the label says should appeal to fans of Porcupine Tree, Chroma Key, and Gazpacho. Listen to Outdated and Me 2.0.
Check our DVDs page for Osada Vida’s Where the Devils Live DVD.
Particles (2013, digipack) marks the debut of Osada Vida’s new singer Marek Majewski (ex-Acute Mind). Watch the video for Those Days. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the digipack special edition of Osada Vida’s 2009 album Uninvited Dreams, which contains three bonus tracks: two new songs and one alternate version, 79-minutes total. This is superior to Osada Vida’s previous work, the album you knew they could make if they chose to. They’ve reined in the metal guitar enough to tip the balance overwhelmingly to their progressive side. They still like some grit in their prog, and that’s fine; it gives Osada Vida an identifiable sound.
This is the digipack special edition of The Body Parts Party (2008, 73-minutes), which contains two bonus tracks. It’s a concept album that uses various body parts and organs to symbolize something or other. The pancreas gets short shrift, but on balance, this is an improvement over their previous album Three Seats Behind a Triangle. As is usually the case, when Osada Vida play progressive rock, the music is quite good, and when they shift over to metal and hard rock it’s, well, metal and hard rock. There is often a spacey Pink Floyd or Eloy element to the keyboards, while at other times the keys are jazzy and classy. Read reviews at Sea of Tranquility and Prog Archives.
Despite the title, this is a studio album, the 2012 debut by Russian post-rock band Oshean. By ‘post-rock’, we’re referring to that Krautrock-influenced, mostly-instrumental style based on electric guitars used for textural and timbral effect rather than their traditional uses in rock, with tracks building to dense, majestic climaxes. Like post-rock icon Godspeed You! Black Emperor (or however they’re punctuating their name these days), Oshean add violin to the stew (the whole mix is heavily-reverbed), which lends a certain elegance. Oshean use some vocals, but the words are not discernable; the voice is also used for texture rather than its traditional use in rock. This is close to symphonic space-rock and as rich sonically, an excellent entry point for prog fans ready to explore post-rock.
Back in the bad old days of the Soviet Union, records were released on the state-owned Melodiya label, and fans in the west weren’t always aware of where the artists actually hailed from. It turned out that the majority of the Soviet progressive rock bands were really Estonian, and they were very good. But after Estonia gained independence in 1991, their progressive rock scene never recovered, economic realities having something to do with that, and little was heard out of Estonia. Until this CD.
Pantokraator are from Tartu, Estonia’s second city, and trace their roots to the early 1980s. They released their first album in 1990, broke up in 1992, reformed 14 years later, and now are really back with the 2009 CD Tormidesööjad (The Storm Eaters). The album opens with Metsavaht, a song of aggressive folk-rock, similar to heavy Scandinavian folk-rockers such as Hoven Droven. A great song, but not representative of the rest of the album, as it is symphonic prog the rest of the way, with a Yes influence that is sometimes heard clearly. Pantokraator have excellent male lead vocals with some female backing vocals. There are slight ethnic touches in spots that give the music a special character, as do the Estonian vocals. The Estonian language is close to Finnish, and the ethnic touches sound Scandinavian. If you’re one of those so-called prog fans who prefers all music sound like it comes from some generic Anglo-American place where everyone sings in English and there is nothing of a national or regional character, then you probably haven’t read this far. For those who prefer richer, more varied and less contrived music, this is an exciting world-class prog album played by highly-skilled musicians. The CD comes in a tri-fold digipack with a 24-page booklet containing English translations of the Estonian lyrics. (Don’t confuse this band with the Swedish metal band spelled Pantokrator.)
Indrek Patte is an Estonian singer, keyboardist, and guitarist, a veteran of several bands since the 1970s, notably Ruja and Linnu Tee. On Celebration (2011, digipack), he is aided by a large number of musicians on guitars, bass, drums, flute, cello, violin, sax, and backing vocals. This is symphonic prog and neo-prog showing influences of Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, Marillion, Pendragon, Spock’s Beard, and Neal Morse. Read reviews.
Peter Pan is a side project of current Satellite and former Collage member Wojtek Szadkowski. On Days (2007, digipack), they play excellent neo-prog similar to Collage and Satellite, more aggressive overall (but still not metallic). Singing would not be our first choice of career for Peter Pan’s vocalist, but plenty of instrumental action makes up it. Vocals in English.
Psychosolstice (2009, 57-minutes, digipack), the debut CD by Polish band Pinkroom, is solidly in the Porcupine Tree and Riverside style of modern prog: dark moods, melancholy vocals (in English), some spaciness, some metal, and an overriding sense of alienation. A guest cellist on two tracks is a nice addition. This style is becoming a bit too familiar by now, with quite a few young bands going down this path, but fans of the style will relish this CD as it is done as well as any. Unloved Toy (2014) is Pinkroom’s second, with some King Crimson influence now more evident.
Inside (2009) is the first album by the vocalist of Crystal Lake, Adam Płotnickiego. Adam sings, plays synths and does drum programming. Other musicians appear on guitar, bass, more synths and more drum programming. The music is in a 1980s synth-pop style that does get more ambitious at times.
Point of View are an excellent Polish prog-metal quintet singing in English, and like most prog-metal bands, nothing in their sound reveals their country of origin. Disillusioned is their 2007 debut. Reviewers have mentioned Fates Warning, Queensryche, and Dream Theater. Point of View have a good keyboardist, and there are times when they sound like Satellite, and times when they sound like Satellite with metal guitar overdubbed. Read the Proggnosis review.
Check our DVDs page for Quidam’s DVDs.
Along with Collage/Satellite, Quidam have arguably been the top next-generation progressive band in Poland. Their style on their first two CDs mixes Marillion (as filtered through Collage) with Renaissance, while demonstrating a strong affinity for Camel. (Quidam members have played with both Camel and Colin Bass.) Emila Derkowska was one of the best female vocalists in progressive rock. The heavy use of flute further highlights their sound.
The 77-minute Live in Mexico ’99 is from Quidam’s stunning Baja Prog 1999 performance. The concert includes a cover of Camel’s Rhayader Goes to Town and the middle section of Genesis’ Firth of Fifth. This current version comes in a super jewel box + slipcase and adds a DVD (PAL, all-region) containing video of live performances of seven tracks and a documentary of Quidam’s stay in Mexico. The booklet is in both Polish and English.
Their third studio album Pod Niebem Czas / The Time Beneath the Sky (2002) saw them expanding their sound and losing most of the Marillion influence.
The title of Quidam’s 2005 album SurREvival is a reference to their own situation. Their great female singer Emila left the band in 2003, followed by their bassist and drummer, leaving their continued existence in doubt. So the remaining three members went out and found a new rhythm section and a great male vocalist who sings in flawless English, reinventing themselves in the process. Now consisting of six men (still with a full-time flutist), SurREvival has little of the style of their first two studio albums. The band seems freer to stretch out their song forms (the tracks tend to be longer). They are now a much more contemporary prog band, sounding more serious, with some elements of Spock’s Beard but much more of a mesmerizing, flowing, moodier sound closer to Porcupine Tree, Peter Gabriel, Riverside, and that whole aesthetic. The band has gone from strength to strength. This 2CD edition comes in a super jewel box + slipcase and adds the Half Plugged CD. Half Plugged (51-minutes) is a semi-acoustic album released separately in 2006 that includes rearranged songs from SurREvival and covers of The Beatles’ Blackbird, The Moody Blues’ Nights in White Satin, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, and excerpts from Deep Purple’s Hush. There are also three videos: one rehearsal and two live. Given that there is electric bass and drums, the major change here is that the guitar is acoustic. The more intimate setting and freed-up sonic space means the flute is more prominent, one can really appreciate how good a singer Bartek Kossowicz is, and the quality of the songs themselves shines through. This CD will increase your appreciation of the current Quidam lineup.
Alone Together (2007, 63-minutes) is a concept album and a shining example of a contemporary melodic prog album. It feels as though the current lineup has settled on who they are as band, as Alone Together seems to have more continuity with the earlier Quidam style than SurREvival did. The Marillion influence that was always part of Quidam’s sound comes through especially in the Rothery-like lead guitar work, and flute is still an important element. The expressive vocals of Bartek Kossowicz give Quidam some of that modern Peter Gabriel / Porcupine Tree / Riverside feel, and there is enough aggression in the music to satisfy fans of the latter two, but there is little melancholy or despair. The music here is ultimately uplifting and hopeful. And kind of addictive. The CD comes in a super jewel box + slipcase.
It was a long break between albums. Saiko (2012, digibook) is surprising not only in that it is sung almost entirely in Polish, but Quidam’s style has also shifted to sparser, more minimalist arrangements.
Russian symphonic prog band Quorum debuted in 2011 with Klubkin’s Voyage, an album in the vein of Kansas, Yes, Genesis, and Camel. The lyrics are in Russian, though the music is heavily instrumental. Another World (2015, digipack) is Quorum’s second, but the compositions date to a decade earlier, before Klubkin’s Voyage, during the earliest days of the band. This album consists of six songs with vocals and one instrumental. Five of these songs along with two others were recorded and released as a demo CD in 2006. The band decided to postpone the final release, having already begun work on Klubkin’s Voyage. The material that appears on Another World was revised and recorded again almost from scratch. The audio was mastered at Masterdisk in New York City. Klubkin’s Voyage is very good, but taking stock now after Another World, Quorum may well be the best Russian band ever in the melodic symphonic prog mainstream of 1970s Genesis and Yes. (If we’re talking ELP, then it’s Little Tragedies.) There is some fantastic Genesis-inspired material here, and the fact Quorum’s music has its own character, due in part to the Russian vocals, makes it far more than derivative or copyist. It is certainly highly recommended to those who believe that first, golden era of progressive rock was cut way short by a hostile industry.
This band of Muscovites play instrumental post-rock. The Last Twenty Years (2012) is their debut, released on the MALS label.
Polish band Retrospective released their first full-length album Stolen Thoughts in 2008. That album contained dark, despairing modern prog sung in English, like a more depressed Riverside. While there is only a little actual metal, the aesthetic seems closer to the modern metal aesthetic, though there is some Pink Floyd and a little 1970s King Crimson influence.
Four years later and Lost in Perception (2012, digipack) was released on the German Progressive Promotion label. The model for Retrospective may still be Riverside, but this is a more self-assured effort, with the band playing more to their own strengths. Female vocals from the keyboardist complement the male lead vocals. Watch the album trailer and the videos for Ocean of a Little Thoughts and The End of the Winter Lethargy, which are the album’s two singles. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
Five more years and we have Re:search (2017, digipack), Retrospective’s strongest album to date. Watch the album trailer and the video for Right Way.
Eye of the Soundscape (2CD, 2016) showcases Riverside’s ambient electronic side featuring 13 highly atmospheric instrumentals, some previously used as bonus material for the Shrine of New Generation Slaves and Love, Fear and the Time Machine albums, alongside rare cuts (a new mix of Rapid Eye Movement and the single Rainbow Trip, previously released only in Poland), plus four new songs.
Out of Myself is the 2004 debut by a Polish band that have carved out a style that now seems to be a standard of sorts among the newer Polish progressive bands. Their brand of modern prog is on the dark and moody side, influenced by Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd while blending in psychedelic and metal elements a la Opeth. Riverside have an outstanding singer in Mariusz Duda; his vocals are in excellent English.
Second Life Syndrome (2005) is their follow-up. No sophomore slump here, as this album is even better, a bit darker perhaps, with Riverside finding their own style even though the core styles of their debut are carried over. Yes, there are more metal elements and the tempo is often quicker than on their debut, but it would be a disservice to call this a prog-metal album. Much of the guitar work actually derives from the Steve Rothery style, and there is a Collage influence present at the music’s heart. The album has been reviewed by every metal website, but it is primarily a progressive rock work that has appeal across a broad spectrum.
The ‘hi-def’ in Riverside’s 2009 studio CD Anno Domini High Definition is just part of the title, as this is a standard CD. (The Special Edition with the DVD is no longer available.) On this album, Riverside lost some of the elements that gave them credibility as a progressive rock band. Here they are more metallic and aggressive, and the music is considerably less lush, with dirty Hammond the primary keyboard sound. Read the Sputnik Music review.
Memories in My Head (2011, 33-minutes) is a shorter CD to commemorate Riverside’s 10th anniversary. It’s new material consisting of three long tracks that segue into a cohesive whole. It also represents a course correction, a return to the spacier, melancholy sound of their early work. Riverside’s singer Mariusz Duda had promised this CD would be a pleasant surprise to those who felt that Riverside’s last releases lacked distinctive melodies and space. Riverside have intentionally returned to their beginning and, in a way, come full circle.
This is the limited 2CD mediabook edition of Shrine of New Generation Slaves (2013), which comes in a hardcover format with expanded, bound-in booklet. It adds a second disc containing two long instrumental tracks (22:17 total). (Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.) Watch the album trailer video. Read the Sea of Tranquility, Sputnik Music, and Stereoboard.com reviews.
This is the 2016 “Hi-Res Stereo and 5.1 Surround Mix” edition of Riverside’s 2015 studio album Love, Fear and the Time Machine, which sees Riverside moving closer to the style of singer Mariusz Duda’s solo project Lunatic Soul. Obviously the hi-res stereo and 5.1 is on the DVD in this CD+DVD digipack set. The DVD also contains the hi-res stereo of “Day Session”, which is the material found on the bonus disc of the 2CD special edition, plus the official video for Found. “The band once again altered their sound and have stripped the heaviness of the last album for a new refined and more organic sounding Riverside. The results are outstanding, making it one of the top albums of the year.” Read the full The Prog Report review, also the Sputnik Music review. Watch the videos for Found (The Unexpected Flaw of Searching) and Discard Your Fear.
From Saint Petersburg, Russia, Roz Vitalis has existed since 2001 as a studio project and since 2008 as a full-fledged instrumental progressive rock band led by keyboardist/composer Ivan Rozmainsky. On Compassionizer (2007), approximately Rozmainsky’s eighth album, he is joined by a guitarist and a clarinet player. Rozmainsky is very influenced by 20th century classical music, so though the music here has passages of beauty, overall it is dark, dissonant and complex avant-prog in the vein of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd. Because the drums are used to provide counterpoint and never simply to keep a beat, Rozmainsky is able to use high-quality samples and lose nothing. Read the Prog Archives and Sea of Tranquility reviews.
On Revelator (2011), Roz Vitalis is a five-piece band with electric & acoustic guitars, flutes, bass and drums in addition to Rozmainsky’s grand piano, Hammond and other keyboards. There are also guests on cello, viola, bassoon, trumpet and flugelhorn, giving this album a more acoustic and organic sound, still in an unclassifiable, offbeat area of avant-sympho-prog dominated by keyboards.
Patience of Hope (2012) is arguably Roz Vitalis’ best work, showing that the band is still growing. The music is again instrumental and at the intersection of several genres, primarily progressive rock and chamber music, also jazz and European folk. This album is less keyboard-heavy. There are more acoustic textures, as concert grand piano, flute, cello, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophone, accordion, metallophone, and harpsichord augment the rock instruments. Start here. Read the Prog Archives and Progplanet reviews.
Czas Wodnika, Parakletos, and Maraton Rockowy are the 2007 limited edition remastered digipack reissues put out by Polskie Radio. RSC are a Polish symphonic prog band (singing in Polish) whose two early-1980s albums are among the best Polish progressive rock albums. The seven-piece band features violin prominently, and the music is close to early Kansas. Maraton Rockowy (1994) contains re-recorded versions of most of the tracks from RSC’s self-titled 1982 album and four from their 1983 second album Flyrock.
Czas Wodnika (1996, 71-minutes) was RSC’s first real studio album since 1983. It and Parakletos (1997, 68-minutes) are fine comeback albums, rockier than their early output but in the same general style and featuring the same violin/organ/guitar attack.
Despite having nearly the same name as their earlier album and making use of its cover art, Aka Flyrock (2008) is a new record, the third coming of RSC. This one features violin on a few tracks only. As the only legendary Polish band on the Lynx label, home of many younger Polish prog bands, it’s natural to contrast the old guys with the young guys. Aka Flyrock contains some modern elements such as loops and samples, but it is consistent with RSC’s classic prog style, with ensemble vocals in Polish that immediately distinguish it from the current generation of Polish bands. That and the symphonic keyboards that occupy their rightful place. There is also a sense of majesty here, an important component of many of the bands that defined progressive rock that is absent from most modern prog. The CD contains 64-minutes of audio plus a professional video (4:21).
Looking for Myself is the 2006 debut by Sandstone, a young Polish melodic prog-metal quintet who use a lot of keyboards and are not overly heavy or metallic. They have a powerful vocalist singing in flawless English, and a bit of Riverside in their sound. Just six tracks span 55-minutes.
Check our DVDs page for Satellite’s Evening Dreams DVD.
Satellite is a progressive rock band formed by ex-Collage members. Collage was Poland’s top neo-prog band, operating from about 1986-1995 or later. At their best (the albums Basnie and Moonshine), they were nearly the equal of IQ and Marillion. Listening to Satellite, the Collage lineage is evident. Collage finished their career with their weakest album (Safe), but fortunately Satellite return to the more progressive aesthetic of early Collage, then bring that into the present. The vocals are in English.
A Street Between Sunrise and Sunset (2003) is their 72-minute debut and features a Mark Wilkinson cover (the guy who did the early Marillion album artwork). Their second, Evening Games (2005), is another great one that has appeal across almost the entire prog rock spectrum. The digipack edition contains two bonus tracks.
With Into the Night (2007), Satellite revealed that their three albums are meant to be a trilogy, and the final chapter does not disappoint. Into the Night features the same lush, stirring, symphonic neo-prog now with more elements of Porcupine Tree and Riverside in the mix. Read the reviews at Sea of Tranquility, Prog Archives, and DPRP.
Nostalgia (2009, 68-minutes) is Satellite’s fourth studio CD. The digipack edition has two bonus tracks. Already the de facto leaders or at least co-leaders of the current Polish progressive scene, Satellite are not resting on their laurels, as Nostalgia adds new sonic elements and expands the boundaries of their familiar neo-prog style. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The double-CDs simply package two Satellite CDs together in a slipcase at an attractive price. (Each set counts as 2 CDs for shipping.) In the case of A Street Between Sunrise and Sunset + Into the Night, they are jewel box CDs. In the case of Evening Games + Nostalgia, they are the digipack versions with the bonus tracks.
Check our DVDs page for some of SBB’s DVDs.
SBB was the most important 1970s progressive rock band in Poland, probably the most important Polish rock band period. The band split up in 1980, was reactivated briefly at various points during the 1990s, and has been active again since 2000. Usually a trio of keyboards/vocals, guitar, and drums, they are well-known because they toured Western Europe before the Iron Curtain came down.
SBB have now released so many albums that they’ve had to begin recycling album names, so their 2012 album is simply called SBB (mini-LP sleeve, 78-minutes), as was their 1974 debut. Listen to Ameryka. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the digipack edition of SBB’s 2010 CD Blue Trance, with two bonus tracks, 61-minutes total. SBB continue with the same lineup and same general style as on Iron Curtain and The Rock. Five songs have Polish lyrics, two are sung in English, and six are instrumentals. There is a bit of blues-rock, which is par for the course with SBB because Jozef Skrzek likes to get out from behind his keyboards and strap on his bass guitar. But he stays put most of the time, and the music is a mature blend of Skrzek’s classical/symphonic tendencies and Apostolis Anthimos’ jazz-rock leanings, with those characteristic keyboard leads you just don’t hear much anymore. Watch the video for Los Człowieka.
For New Century (2005), Jozef Skrzek (vocals, bass guitar, Minimoog, Hammond organ, Nord Lead Electro 2, grand piano, harmonica) is joined by original guitarist Apostolis Anthimos. The drums are handled by Paul Wertico, with a couple guests supplying guitar and backing vocals. Most of these tracks were recorded in one take, giving the album a live feel. The first seven tracks are decent progressive rock before the album peters out into a long blues-rock jam, a short harmonica & drums thing and a short rocker. The progressive tracks are recognizably SBB, though one track introduces a modern, ambient feel that is new for them. It isn’t up to their best albums but it is quality stuff. The jewel box CD version is 58 minutes long. The DVD-Audio adds two bonus tracks for an additional 8 minutes. The DVD-Audio contains the first 5.1 surround mix recorded in Poland. It also includes a video of one track, a video documentary with Polish and English subtitles, and the lyrics.
All the titles labeled “remastered” are the 2005, 24-bit remastered editions on Metal Mind, each with an 8-page booklet with new liner notes in both Polish and English. These were initially released as limited edition digipacks, but some have sold out and reverted to jewel box versions. The audio content is identical. Nastroje (2002) was SBB’s first new studio album in about 20 years. It’s no Follow My Dream, but it is a respectable prog rock album, and it’s good to hear Skrzek’s synth leads once again. Vocals in Polish and English. This edition adds two bonus tracks: an alternate mix of one track and a video of the same track.
Follow My Dream (1978) and Welcome (1979) are arguably their two best and have English lyrics. Follow My Dream is the album that really showed to the West the talent level in Eastern Europe, and got SBB ranked alongside the top British progressive rock bands by fans in the know. Welcome was mixed by Conny Plank in Germany and released there before it was released in Poland. Follow My Dream has three important bonus tracks spanning half an hour, bringing the total time of the CD up to 76-minutes, while Welcome has seven bonus tracks that take the total time of the CD up over 78-minutes.
After Welcome, SBB seemed to give up on the idea of conquering the west, returning to Polish lyrics on Memento z Banalnym Tryptykiem (1980), which also returns somewhat to their pre-Follow My Dream style, with longer tracks. This album probably does that style better than any of their others. One long (10:40) bonus track has been added.
Jerzyk (1977) continues with SBB’s fusion-tinged prog style. It now has eight bonus tracks recorded for Polish radio, taking the playing time up to 78-minutes.
SBB’s fourth album Ze Slowem... (1977) is one of their best, featuring two side-long, mostly instrumental, fusion-tinged symphonic prog tracks. A 29-minute 1976 bonus track from SBB’s archive has been added.
The double-CDs simply package two CDs together in a slipcase at an attractive price. (Each set counts as 2 CDs for shipping.) In the case of Iron Curtain + Memento z Banalnym Tryptykiem, they are jewel box CDs. The jewel box edition of Iron Curtain doesn’t include the bonus tracks of the digipack, while the jewel box Memento (which is the remastered edition) does. In the case of Nastroje + Ze Słowem Biegnę do Ciebie, they are the digipack editions with the bonus tracks.
SBB have a ridiculous number of legitimate live albums. Budai Ifjusagi Park Live is from a 1977 concert in Hungary. It has good sound and features SBB’s usual long jams. By the time of Live in America ’94 (67-minutes), SBB had expanded to a quintet, adding a bass player and an acoustic guitarist/vocalist. This edition includes four bonus tracks recorded later during the same tour.
W Filharmonii Akt 1 (65-minutes) and Akt 2 (which we’re out of) are live albums recorded in 1998. Akt 1 features three bonus tracks and Akt 2 two bonus tracks recorded in 1999. For this concert, SBB added orchestral percussion (timpani, tubular bells) and Jozef Skrzek played a lot more pipe organ.
At the time of Absolutely Live ’98, SBB was focusing on some of their best known tracks from the 1970s, including Walking Around the Stormy Bay, the whole Going Away suite, and the 16+ minute Memento z Banalnym Tryptykiem.
Good Bye! is a live album by the lineup with Paul Wertico on drums, recorded in 2000. The five bonus tracks are in fact the entire The Golden Harp CD-EP, a studio recording from 2001.
Jozef Skrzek & Guests - Kantata Maryjna ($14.99)
SBB’s main creative force is keyboardist Jozef Skrzek, who has had a long solo career and is still active. Pamietnik Karoliny (1978) is Skrzek’s first solo album, instrumental aside from some childrens’ voices. Skrzek plays all manner of analog keyboards plus some drums and guitar. The subject matter seems to have something to do with children, and some of the music has a magical, movie soundtrack feel. This is the 2005 remastered edition on the Oskar label that adds seven bonus tracks, taking the total time up to 72-minutes. And the bonus tracks are mostly very good.
Jozefina (1981) is a very good album, focusing on shorter songs and vocals.
Without an understanding of Polish, it’s hard to say exactly what Skrzek’s Kantata Maryjna album is other than that it is a 2002 live performance of what sounds like an ambitious musical/theatrical work featuring a large cast of musicians and singers. The female ensemble vocals are a highlight. Skrzek plays a lot of pipe organ in addition to his synths, and some of it has a sacred feel, while a lot of it has a Slavic romanticism powered by a rock aesthetic. There are drums on some tracks, and dramatic male spoken word (poetry?) in a couple spots. It sounds like some of the things Kormoran have done in Hungary. It’s the kind of thing that sounds like the tale of some great people or historical event. Whatever it is, it’s one of the most enjoyable things Skrzek has done, and may well be his most important work. Listen to Matka Slowa.
This is the 2014 debut by a Polish keyboard-dominated prog band with female vocals (in English). Sea Vine list the keyboards used as grand piano, Fender piano, Moog, and Hohner String Melody, so expect vintage sounds.
This is the 2013 debut by an excellent Polish band playing spacey prog with female vocals in English. The vocals are usually multi-tracked, heavily reverbed, and panned to different locations to give a psychedelic effect. We’re hesitant to call this space-rock because that usually implies long improvised jams, and that’s not what Soma White do. Their songs are composed and structured, the arrangements lush and detailed. They use an excellent variety of guitar tones ranging from modern aggressive to lyrical leads to clean, ringing tones, and they augment their sound with creative use of electronics. Above all, the music is original. As with the band Hipgnosis, it’s exciting to find a new Polish band not playing the same tired prog-metal or tepid neo-prog, and yet Soma White’s sound is modern and may appeal to fans of the spacey side of Riverside. The album was mastered by Andy Jackson, known for his work with Pink Floyd. The CD comes in a type of hardcover packaging we’ve never seen before; it’s quite nice. (Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.)
This is the 2006 debut CD by a Polish prog/prog-metal quintet that includes former Collage and Satellite keyboardist Krzysztof Palczewski. Some of their material is prog-metal, while some is melodic neo-prog. Vocals in English.
Strawberry Fields is a project of Wojtek Szadkowski, the leader of Satellite, working here with a female singer using the name Robin (really Marta Kniewska). River’s Gone Dry (2009) is their debut CD. The rest of the band is Satellite minus their singer: guitarist Sarhan Kubeisi, bassist Jarek Michalski, keyboardist Krzyś Palczewski guesting, and Szadkowski on keyboards, acoustic guitar and drums. This is Szadkowski’s chance to apply his considerable skills to a more contemporary style that incorporates all the trappings of modern music technology, and also to work with a talented female vocalist. Robin’s vocals are the focus of the music and are especially beautiful when multi-tracked. The result is a blend of the old and the new, more laid-back and atmospheric than Satellite but even more detailed, an excellent example of a prog musician making a more accessible or trendy music without compromising on quality. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Watch the promo video. Listen to Fool and Close. Check our DVDs page for Strawberry Fields’ Live DVD.
Antony Kalugin’s musical empire continues to expand, which in addition to these Sunchild CDs include numerous CDs with his other bands and projects Karfagen, Hoggwash, and AKKO. Kalugin has half the musicians in Ukraine on the Sunchild albums, with vocals in English primarily by Kalugin. This is melodic symphonic prog that draws from all eras of progressive rock and establishes Kalugin as one of the top contemporary composers in the genre. See Prog Archives for reviews of all the Sunchild CDs.
As for The Wrap (2010): “Sunchild have produced a superb piece of orchestrated symphonic progressive rock, which appeals to fans of all genres of music including Camel and Marillion for two easy comparisons. I can see a huge leap forward musically for them on this release and hopefully it will be enjoyed by even more fans than his last release under the Sunchild moniker.” [Harmonic Lizard]
Isolation (2012, digipack) is highlighted by the lengthy four-part title suite. Sunchild is no longer a studio project, as the band toured Europe in support of this CD. Read the Rocktopia and Background Magazine reviews.
Synesthesia (2015, digipack) turns over lead vocals to John Sleeper, who we know little about other than that he is the best singer Sunchild have had in the studio. With a true lead singer on board, Synesthesia puts more emphasis on vocals, evolving in a Peter Gabriel direction, with the distinction between Karfagen (more instrumental and more challenging) and Sunchild now clearer.
The First Cosmic (2015, digisleeve) is the third and strongest album to date for Sunrise Auranaut, an instrumental sympho-prog project of Russian multi-instrumentalist Vitaly Kiselev, who cites Genesis, Yes, Camel, ELP, Uriah Heep, Eloy, Van der Graaf Generator, Hawkwind, and Blue Oyster Cult as his major influences. “The First Cosmic is an hour-long journey overloaded with enough endless ideas and great playing to fill numerous albums. This is proudly symphonic-styled prog in the regal manner of modern groups like Karfagen, Trion, or Willowglass, with Snow Goose-era Camel, perhaps Rick Wakeman’s solo works, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and a hint of Jethro Tull thrown in for good measure, but also given a frequently spacey spin.” Read the full Prog Archives review.
This is the 2009 debut by a prog band from St. Petersburg, Russia, though the two founding members are named Andrew Lee-Beth and Steve Kuddins, so most likely they’re expats. The music is entrancing instrumental Floydian rock, spacey and mostly easy-going, with occasional outbursts of energy and menace. As for other similar artists, one could mention Michael Rother, Bo Hansson, and Camel. Read reviews at Sea of Tranquility, Prog-Nose, Proggnosis, and DPRP. Listen to Light in a Wasteland. Mini-LP style sleeve.
Svann is a Polish progressive rock band formed by ex-Abraxas members, with a very good female singer named Anja who apparently also sings for a gothic rock band and owns the title “The Queen of Polish Gothic Rock”. This 2003 album, whose title translates as The Boundary of Black and White, reminds us a bit of the Czech band Stromboli, but Svann are at once more progressive, more symphonic, and more contemporary. Svann play modern progressive rock, more linear and urban (as opposed to pastoral) than classic prog, but still very romantic, ambitious, and texturally rich. Gabriel-esque atmospheres and rhythms, some creative use of percussion loops, and a few heavy passages characterize their music. 64-minutes, vocals in Polish.
Agnieszka Swita is the Polish (female) singer, songwriter, and other core member of Clive Nolan’s Caamora Theatre Company, responsible for Alchemy in 2013 and She in 2007. Agnieszka’s first solo album Sleepless (2014) features Clive Nolan on keyboards, orchestrations, and backing vocals; Steve Harris (Ark, Paul Menel Band) on guitars, Andy Faulkner (Jump, Twelfth Night) on bass; and Dave Mackintosh on drums. The music and lyrics are all Agnieszka’s apart from the title track which is Nolan’s. Nolan produced while Karl Groom engineered, mixed, and mastered at Thin Ice Studios, home to Pendragon, Arena, and other British neo-prog bands. This album has that bombastic Thin Ice sound and sounds a lot like Arena with female vocals, or Caamora without the histrionics.
This is the 2006 debut by a young Polish band singing in English. They mix and match many prog styles, one of which is prog-metal. When they do play metal, they achieve their apparent goal of sounding like a dime-a-dozen metal band. Fortunately the metal is only present in spots, and everything else they do is inventive and makes them quite a unique band. Some of the album is as far away from metal as possible. There are many really intricate and tasteful arrangements here and excellent musicianship. If they’d lose the metal, the album’s couple low points would be eliminated, but those are minor blemishes on a quality prog album showing uncommon creativity.
Earthshine (2011, digisleeve) is the second album from Poland’s top post-rock band. We could see Earthshine appealing to open-minded fans of electronic space music and of the more cosmic-sounding Krautrock bands. This is wonderful music to lose oneself in, drift into that alpha state of consciousness, but it builds to peaks of great intensity and so sounds just as good wide awake. It would be fantastic to hear in surround -- we hear Steven Wilson is available for hire. Read the Background Magazine, Sonic Abuse, and Muzik Dizcovery reviews. Watch the promo video.
Travellers is another project of Wojtek Szadkowski, known from his work in Collage, Satellite, and Strawberry Fields. Travellers features the same female singer as Strawberry Fields: Robin (aka Marta Kniewska). A Journey Into the Sun Within (2011, digipack) is their debut. Szadkowski says: “It’s a mixture of prog, ethnic music, the 80s, a large dose of magic and space, all of this crowned with Robin’s beautiful voice.” Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Lucid Moments (2011) is the debut CD for Tune, a Polish band who might sound like Riverside or Pain of Salvation except that on this album, they integrate accordion into their sound, making them unique. Read the Sea of Tranquility and progVisions reviews. Note Tune abandoned the accordion on their second CD Identity (2014), so don’t judge them based on that album.
Turquoise are a Polish neo-prog band who were probably originally modeled on early Quidam. Their self-titled CD 2001 debut features female vocals in Polish. Po Drugiej Stronie is their 2003 second CD, a bit heavier than their debut and with more male vocals. Futura is their 2006 third CD, which returns to all female vocals, this time in English. So Futura will be more accessible to those American prog fans who are frightened by non-English lyrics. The music is still early Marillion style neo-prog with some heavier touches.
Polish quintet Twilight play melodic neo-prog with some hard rock touches. They have a strong vocalist singing in flawless English. This is their 2005 debut CD.
Uistiti is a Polish quartet of female vocals, guitar, bass/Warr guitar/Stick, and drums. Uistiti’s bassist is also Millenium’s bassist. This is Uistiti’s 2008 debut CD on the Lynx label, who had a busy 2008 with debut releases. The music is a sort of alt-prog, with their singer having a large impact on their sound. Her vocals suggest Bjork or Cocteau Twins, with interesting multi-tracked harmonies that suggest Balkan or Finnish folk. There is a little heavy guitar but it is mostly ringing, low-distortion tones. There is a slight similarity to Porcupine Tree’s psychedelic pop style. It’s enjoyable enough, and good to see that not all the bands on the Lynx label have identical styles. Lyrics in Polish. (For those who still have difficulty listening to non-English lyrics, this is a band where it’s easy to hear the human voice as another instrument.)
Volume 1 of the Polish Art-Rock series is a beautiful package in the digibook (hardcover) format with both Polish and English text. The CD contains tracks from Abraxas, Museion, Anamor, Millenium, Lukasz Swiech, Lizard, Albion, Revolver, Framauro, Kroner Cirkus, and Quidam. The other volumes are in jewel cases. Volume 2 includes tracks from Ankh, Golem, Zywioly, Mediana, Gargantua, H.D.R.M., Pawel Ziobrowski & Friends, Bordo, and RSC, with a 20-page booklet in both English and Polish. Volume 3 includes 14 tracks by Polish progressive artists including After, Indukti, Special Experiment, Colt, and 10 other new names, with an informative 16-page booklet in both English and Polish. The quality of music presented here is very high, all progressive but covering a respectable range of styles. Note the Vol. 2 discs are CD-Rs.
Polish Prog-Metal Vol. 1 (72-minutes) features a bilingual English/Polish booklet and one track each from Music Atelier Project, Draft, Forgotten, Sabracadabra, Mind Gate, Indukti, Liquid Shadow, Space Avenue, New Machine, and Memories Garden.
Varius Manx is a very popular band in Poland, with albums on Sony/BMG and EMI and sales of over two million in Poland alone. Today they exist on the border between neo-prog and a very intelligent, progressively-arranged pop that relies heavily on their female lead singer, but they actually began as an instrumental progressive band. This is Metal Mind’s remastered reissue of their first album with two bonus tracks added. The Beginning (1990) is instrumental with some soaring wordless female vocals. It often sounds like a more progressive Andreas Vollenweider, though there is no harp. The drums are sometimes powerful but more often use an orchestral and percussive approach as opposed to straight rock drumming. The textures are very symphonic, using synths and piano, acoustic & electric guitars, with guests on violin, cello, orchestral woodwinds, and a string quartet. Beautiful, sophisticated stuff. The two bonus tracks are of their later style with female vocals, quite good in their own right. Check here for Varius Manx’s Ona Ma Sile DVD.
This is the English-language version of the 2014 second CD by Polish prog band Walfad, whose name apparently is an acronym for We Are Looking For A Drummer. They already have a drummer though, and you’d think that name would make him a bit uneasy about his job security. This second album is much better than Walfad’s debut. Millenium’s Ryszard Kramarski produced and probably exerted some influence. The Musicwaves review (in French) compares Walfad to Tai Phong and Galadriel. Read the DPRP review.
Xanadu are a Polish band, this incarnation formed in 2008. There was a Xanadu in the 1990s with the same drummer as well as another guy, Mariusz Duda. Duda went on to form Riverside and Lunatic Soul. So not surprisingly, the label compares The Last Sunrise (2011) to the first Riverside CD: ambitious, melancholy, modern progressive rock.
Offworld is the 2003 debut from a prog rock quartet formed by ex-Abraxas members, playing an atmospheric and surreal-sounding progressive rock that is nevertheless powerful and rhythmic. This is contemporary prog with English vocals, incorporating samples and loops, world music elements, with Stick used alongside bass in several songs. It is highly creative, much more so than the Abraxas CDs (which were pretty good!), and not directly comparable to anyone. Listen to A Postcard from Offworld and Dark Matter.
Dances on Gobelins (2003, 58-minutes) is by a band from the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan. X Religion is a trio of the same people responsible for the 2002 Al-Bird CD (though Dances on Gobelins was recorded before Sodom & Gomorra XXI): Albert Khalmurzayev (keyboards & guitar), Valery Vorobjov (electronic drum set) and ProgressoR.net webmaster Vitaly Menshikov (bass and acoustic guitar). X Religion is an instrumental keyboard power trio, so naturally there will be some comparisons to ELP, but X Religion is more classically-influenced, heavy-handed and technical, lacking any songwriting or the emotion that Emerson routinely injects into his compositions. ELP has the more innate understanding of rock, while in X Religion you can hear stronger influences of Russian classical music. The booklet is full of beautiful, surrealist paintings by Vladimir Finkilstein, along with English-language poems whose gothic typeface and low-contrast colors will discourage most people from trying to read them.