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NEW AND FEATURED:
French keyboardist Yann Porťe added ďLindatarĒ to his name because itís apparently the Elvish word for ďcomposerĒ in Tolkienís world. Weíll just say it: LíUltime Attente (2015) is the best keyboard-prog album we can think of since Rick Wakemanís The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Patrick Morazís The Story of I. Porťe admits that Wakeman is his greatest influence, and Six Wives is the closest reference point for LíUltime Attente, which is instrumental apart from a smidgeon of spoken word at the start and several seconds of wordless vocals. The music is keyboards and drums (not sure if the bass is done by keyboards or bass guitar) until the finale which features electric guitar. Porťe has been called a fervent defender of progressive rock. His music is of the 1970s, and since then there have been few prog keyboardists who are pianists first, who can really play, and who demonstrate first-hand knowledge of classical music. There are also similarities to some of Keith Emersonís work, and the Dutch band Trace would be another reference point if Rick van der Lindenís major influence had been Beethoven rather than Bach. Maybe listeners who came into prog after the golden age wonít have the same reaction to this, but for us it is an all too rare now joy.
Kotebel are a Spanish symphonic prog band that released their first CD Structures in 2000. That first CD was more of a solo project of bandleader Carlos Plaza, and Kotebel was initially only a studio project. Kotebel became a band that continued to grow with each new album, eventually becoming a powerful live act. This limited edition 2CD (2016, digipack) is a remastered version of the album released in 2014 only as a digital download, containing Kotebelís complete concert at the 2013 Prog-Rťsiste convention in Belgium. The album features the complete Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble plus pieces from Ouroboros. As such, this is Kotebelís modern style, which is challenging and complex, closer to the likes of Anglagard, as opposed to Kotebelís earlier, more melodic/romantic prog style. This 2CD adds bonus tracks from Kotebelís concerts at Portugalís Gouveia Art Rock festival in 2007 and Madrid in 2011. See our Spanish page for more Kotebel CDs and much more info.
In the preceding few years, The Pineapple Thief had to some extent begun to drift away from progressive rock and toward indie rock. On Your Wilderness (2016, mini-LP sleeve), bandleader Bruce Soord says he returned to the bandís progressive roots for inspiration. Assisting in this change of direction is Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson), who plays drums throughout and clearly elevates the material. Guests include John Helliwell (Supertramp) on clarinet, Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan) providing a string quartet, Darran Charles (Godsticks) on guitar, and a four-piece choir. ďOn this album, the band seem to have regained focus and direction, overtaking their recent output, and whilst I look back to the grand canyons they have journeyed before, I am more than happy to take a ride with them and see what lies ahead.Ē Read the full Progradar review, also the Heavy Blog Is Heavy review. Watch the videos for In Exile and No Manís Land. See Page 2 for more The Pineapple Thief CDs.
Riding on the success of The Grand Experiment album, The Neal Morse Band (Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Eric Gillette, and Bill Hubauer) set out on a world tour in the spring of 2015. Alive Again shows them performing for an enthusiastic audience in The Netherlands in March 2015. ďThe Neal Morse Band are a force of nature. They have evolved into a great live band, one that is as good as there is in music and they really shine on this live set. The performances here are jaw-dropping and might have you giving a standing ovation from your couch. Take a bathroom break before you start too, because once you start watching, you wonít be able to stop.Ē Read the full The Prog Report review. Watch the trailer.
The Time Is Always Now (2016, digisleeve) is the debut album from Holon, the project of Norwegian singer, songwriter, and guitarist Ronny Pedersen. Itís a new release for Rhys Marshís Autumnsongs Records and fits right in with the slightly psychedelic Scandinavian prog and post-prog style of the label. The album was recorded at Autumnsongs Recording Studio in Trondheim and produced and mixed by Marsh. Contributing musicians include Lars Fredrik FrÝislie (Wobbler, White Willow) on Hammond organ, Silje Leirvik on vocals, Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (Kaukasus, Jaga Jazzist) on flute, and Geir Anfinn Halland Johansen (Anfinnsaas) on drums, as well as Marsh (vocals, pedal steel, bass, various keyboards including Mellotron). Ronny sings and plays guitar, bass, and sitar. The Time Is Always Now is a collection of songs Pedersen had been writing over the past ten years. He met Rhys Marsh through a common friend, played him some of these songs, and Rhys offered to produce Holon. Watch the videos for A Drop of Me and Two Grains of Sand.
The Fringe is a new super-trio consisting of Randy McStine (Lo-Fi Resistance), Jonas Reingold (Karmakanic, The Flower Kings), and Nick DíVirgilio (Big Big Train, Spockís Beard). This is their self-titled 2016 debut CD (digipack). The three met three years earlier, prompted by DíVirgilioís desire to assemble a trio for a pair of shows in Poland. The three initially created new arrangements of songs from their respective catalogs, but the chemistry was such that they wanted to continue as a group and write new material. While modern recording technology wouldíve easily allowed them to write and record their debut album from remote locations, the spark of working together in the same room was felt strongly during their initial sessions. So this album was recorded by the ancient method of having everyone in the studio together. The Fringe are a rock band -- maybe the name indicates theyíre on the fringe of prog - but as youíd expect with these musicians, there is complexity in the arrangements. Of the membersí other bands/projects, The Fringe probably comes closest to Lo-Fi Resistance. Read The Prog Report review.
Your eyes do not deceive you, it is a new album by Welsh prog band Multi Story! Part of the British progressive revival, they released their first LP East/West in 1985. We mustíve liked it because it became the second CD released on the Kinesis label (or whatever we were calling the label in 1992). The key members of the quintet are writing partners Rob Wilsher (keyboards) and Paul Ford (vocals). There was a second Multi-Story LP (there used to be a hyphen in their name), 1987ís Through Your Eyes, with a different singer, but donít fret too much if youíve never heard it as itís a fairly tepid AOR affair. More recently, Wilsher and Ford got the creative juices flowing again and started working on new material as a duo. The material was nearing completion when Rob met brothers Jordan and Aedan Neale on another music project, which sparked the idea of reworking the material to accommodate a full band and fire up the Multi Story machine again. Bassist Kyle Jones completed the new lineup, and the band began gearing up for live dates. With the key original members in charge, Crimson Stone (2016) resembles East/West except that while the latter contained mostly short songs, Crimson Stone has mostly long tracks, only one under five minutes. If youíre not familiar with East/West (itís out-of-print), the music was closer to Yes than to Genesis/Marillion, which set Multi-Story apart from the other neo-prog bands. The Yes influence may be more imagined than real though, the similarity between Paul Fordís and Jon Andersonís voices having much to do with the perception. To rerun an old quote from CD Services: ďThe band actually sound similar to Yes but not in the clone way that Starcastle did, more like imagining that if Yes existed in a parallel universe, this might be the musical direction they could have taken. This is how they might sound, only with a bit more variation and less intensity, but still with a sound full of rich textures and excellent compositions plus good vocals from Paul Ford. This UK band had the potential to be big during the second phase of prog rock in the 1980s, but like many other excellent bands, it never quite happened.Ē
The tour following Steve Hackettís 2015 studio album Wolflight was titled Acolyte to Wolflight with Genesis Revisited. This 2016 live release contains 23 tracks spanning Hackettís entire solo career with extra attention given to Voyage of the Acolyte on its 40th anniversary, plus eight Genesis classics (including deep catalog such as After the Ordeal). Hackettís band features Roger King (keyboards), Nad Sylvan (lead vocals), Gary OíToole (drums), Rob Townsend (woodwinds and more), and some guy named Roine Stolt mostly playing bass, oddly enough. John Hackett and Amanda Lehmann guest. In addition to the 2.5+ hour main show, there are behind-the-scenes and rehearsal documentaries, plus videos for three songs. The Blu-ray (all-region) contains DTS-HD Master Audio 4.1 surround (no center channel) as well as stereo. Watch the trailer.
In September 2015, over the course of four sold-out shows, Ayreonís concept album The Human Equation was brought to life as a full-blown musical production at the Nieuwe Luxor theater in Rotterdam. Ayreon had apparently never performed live before. The final night was recorded for this DVD+2CD set (2016, digipack). The Theater Equation show features the 19-strong Epic Rock Choir assembled for this event, as well as guest vocalists from the original 2004 album including James Labrie, Marcela Bovio, Heather Findlay and others, plus Anneke van Giersbergen, Jermain ĎWudstikí van der Bogt, and Mike Mills who replaced original vocalists unable to take part. The DVD features 5.1 surround audio and subtitles in nine languages. (It should be NTSC, all-region as it was manufactured in the U.S.) Watch the trailer. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping. See our Dutch page for Ayreon CDs.
Having completed the massive Danteís The Divine Comedy project, Finnish progressive rock association Colossus continues its excellent series of various artists progressive rock concept CDs, digging deeper into Italian literature of the Renaissance with another classic: Giovanni Boccaccioís Decameron. Each participating band created a new piece of music, generally in a vintage style and often lengthy. Musea released the 4CD Part I in 2011 and the 4CD Part II in 2014. The Seacrest label took over the franchise beginning with Part III (4CD, 2016), a logical fit as not only is Seacrest a Finnish label, theyíre also home to The Samurai of Prog, featuring some of the same musicians and also focused on vintage prog. Just some of the bands on Part III: Latte e Miele, United Progressive Fraternity, Robert Webb, Ageness, Ellesmere, JPL, Willowglass, Trion, Nexus, Elephants of Scotland, Jinetes Negros, Interpose+, Court, Il Tempio delle Clessidre, Rebel Wheel, Taproban, Díaccord, Phoenix Again, Castle Canyon, Il Castello di Atlante, Faveravola, Cirrus Bay. Artwork for the album and its 64-page booklet is by Ed Unitsky. So much good prog here at only pennies per minute! Watch the 10-minute album overview video (where youíll also find the full band/track list) and the teaser video for United Progressive Fraternityís Mercenaries. Counts as 2.5 CDs for shipping.
TCP, short for Temporal Chaos Project, is a U.S. prog band, a collaboration between several musicians with a number of guests helping out on The Way (2009), their 74-minute debut. The music draws primarily from classic early 1970s symphonic prog but doesnít strongly resemble any one band. The dark, slightly Gabriel-esque vocals are one element that suggests early Genesis, and the keyboard sounds (mainly organ, piano, Mellotron strings) tend to be of that vintage. The music features extended instrumental passages with layers of keys and guitars over shifting and complex rhythms. OK, we cribbed some of that last sentence from the press release, but itís accurate. The Way could be grouped with the first Deluge Grander CD.
Fantastic Dreamer (2011, 61-minutes) is TCPís second. The album opens with a short and heavy track combining King Crimson and Black Sabbath, after which TCP stick to their true style, which is sort of an amalgam of Genesis, Renaissance (lots of piano on this album), Marillion, and various other prog influences, not quite as refined as those bands, but then who is? The music is also darker and a bit heavier, so the one contemporary band that sounds closest to TCP may be Carptree (on their later albums), especially given the similarities in the singersí voices. ďFantastic Dreamer is easily an early candidate for Prog Album of 2011, so make sure to dig in deep to what this exquisite banquet has to offer.Ē [Sea of Tranquility]
After a five year episode of life-gets-in-the-way, TCP enthusiastically return with their third release, Temporal Chaos (2016), an album filled with the bandís penchant for drama, twisted melodies, double-meaning lyrics, and the marriage of old and new. ďThis is an absolutely great follow up to Fantastic Dreamer; although that did have the powerful and inspirationally epic ending of the title track, each song here is stronger. The power has been spread throughout the album, rather than concentrated at the end. Everything I was hoping for and more is here. Get this album and enjoy one of progís most innovative bands.Ē Read the full The Progressive Aspect review. Read more reviews of all the TCP albums. Watch TCPís videos.
Back in stock. Ossicles are a Norwegian prog band who initially self-released their debut Mantelpiece as a double-CD digipack at the end of 2012. We briefly sold that edition before it went out-of-print. However, Karisma Records (Airbag, Magic Pie, Nordagust,...) took notice and reissued Mantelpiece as a single CD in a jewel case in 2015, which is the edition for sale here. In reducing it to a single CD, it looks like only the final song Miracle Worker (4:34) was omitted. On the strength of this album, Ossicles were invited by Mike Portnoy to appear at the Progressive Nation at Sea Festival in 2014, though the band had to decline for financial reasons. The music on Mantelpiece is more or less in the Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree vein, though Ossiclesí own personality shines through. ďSometimes an amazing album comes your way that you wonder how the rest of the world missed it. Over a year ago, two 20 year old guys from Norway produced a breathtaking CD called Mantelpiece. Itís a rich and accomplished piece and it deserves to be noticed.Ē [Progarchy] Read the DPRP review. Watch the official video for Watersoul II.
Karisma then released the second Ossicles CD Music for Wastelands (2015, digipack). Listen to Halfway Homes and watch the official video for Family Tree. Read the Exposť and Soundscape reviews.
Karmakanic is the Swedish prog band led by bassist Jonas Reingold. Originally an offshoot of The Flower Kings, Karmakanic is by now well-established. The current lineup also includes drummer Morgan Ňgren, keyboardist Lalle Larsson, keyboardist/singer Nils Erikson, guitarist Krister Jonsson, and lead vocalist GŲran Edman. This is the U.S. jewel case edition of Karmakanicís 2016 studio CD Dot, which comes with a DVD of Karmakanic Live from Rosfest 2012 plus The Making of Dot featurette and interviews, supposedly over 2 hours + 20 minutes of content on the DVD. The centerpiece of Dot is the track God the universe and everything else no one really cares about, which comes in two non-contiguous parts totaling nearly 30 minutes. Andy Tillison of The Tangent contributes Hammond organ to this track and co-wrote one of the other tracks. Read the The Prog Report and Dangerdog reviews. Watch the video for God.... Check our Scandinavian page for more Karmakanic CDs.
German band Shamall is one of the more closely-guarded secrets in progressive rock. If youíll have a look at Prog Archives, youíll see Shamall albums stretching back to 1989, and there is actually Shamall music from as early as 1986. The early Shamall albums are synth music, but after the start of the new millennium, the music transitions to spacy progressive rock. The first four CDs of the 5CD box set History Book (2016) are a compilation tracing the career of Shamall from the beginning, in chronological order. The earlier material has been remastered. See the detailed contents. The fifth CD is new material titled Continuation. Continuation contains more material from the rather fruitful Turn Off sessions. Turn Off is the most successful Shamall album to date, the music influenced by Pink Floyd but sounding even more like Eloy. Watch the videos for Fragments part I & part II and Fragments part III from Continuation. History Book counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping. See our German page for more Shamall CDs and more info.
English band Big Big Train began in the early 1990s as a soft neo-prog band, but steadily improving with each album, they have grown into one of the top progressive rock bands in the world, and one that is breaking new ground. The band that had already added drummer Nick DíVirgilio, former XTC and Peter Gabriel guitarist Dave Gregory, and best-singer-in-prog David Longdon, has now added Beardfish mastermind Rikard SjŲblom! Who doesnít want to join Big Big Train now?
Stone & Steel (2016, dual-layer Blu-ray) is Big Big Trainís first video release. (There is no DVD, and as weíre now well into the 4k era, itís time DVDs were retired.) Big Big Train had until recently been focused on studio work. Uncertain how easy it would be to do justice to their complex and layered recordings on stage, the band decided to try out live renditions of their songs in a studio environment. In August 2014, they were joined at Real World Studios by a film crew tasked with documenting the weekís rehearsals. Stone & Steel - the title referencing some of the bandís lyrical themes of English landscape and industrial history, and the fabric of Real World Studios itself - shows the bandís transition from studio to stage. The film features full-length live-in-the-studio performances of nine songs, plus interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from the Real World rehearsals. A year later, in August 2015, Big Big Trainís first gigs in 17 years took place at three sold-out shows at Kings Place in London. Stone & Steel also features live performances of four songs from the gigs. The audio on all performances is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and stereo, the running time approximately 3 hours. Stone & Steel comes in a hardcover mediabook with a 64-page full-color booklet and counts as 2 CDs for shipping. Watch the promotional video. * IMPORTANT! The Stone & Steel Blu-ray is not guaranteed to play on all players outside the PAL zone (Europe, Australia, New Zealand), and returns are not accepted due to player incompatibility. Your player must be capable of playing 25 fps / 50 Hz video. If you own an Oppo, you should be set; owners of other brands and especially older players should check their manuals. Please read this technical briefing. When this Blu-ray was released back in March 2016, the band intended to release a North American edition in July but were forced to abandon this idea when the conversion/encoding process did not meet their standards.
If you were asking yourself how Big Big Train could follow a work of the magnitude and brilliance of English Electric: Full Power, it has taken a few years for the answer, which is Folklore (2016, 68-minutes, digipack). From the press release: On Folklore, Big Big Train are reimagining and breathing new life into traditional themes, and also creating a few new ones along the way. The crafts of songwriting and storytelling beat strongly at the heart of the Big Big Train and inform every track on the new album. Folklore features the same line-up (eight-piece band and brass quintet) that performed three sell-out shows at Kings Place in London during the summer of 2015, with the addition of a string quartet. The experience of bringing this complex music to the concert stage has honed the bandís sound, making Folklore a focused and exciting listening experience. All the hallmarks of the Big Big Train sound can be found here: powerful and emotional vocal delivery, and dramatic extended song arrangements which showcase the musical ability within the band. Watch the fantastic video for the title track, the album trailer, and the video for Wassail (the title track of the Wassail EP also appears on Folklore).
Please see our British page for the rest of the Big Big Train catalog. Note the majority of the Big Big Train CDs have gone out-of-print, so if we have those in stock, they are our last copies.
The Rome Pro(G)ject is an international all-star project headed by keyboardist Vincenzo Ricca and including Steve Hackett (electric & classical guitar), David Jackson (sax, flute), and Billy Sherwood (bass, drums, electric guitar), with Mauro Montobbio and Luca Grosso of Narrow Pass, Riccardo Romano and Daniele Pomo of Ranestrane, Franck Carducci (two solo albums to date), and others. Of Fate and Glory (2016, digipack) is their second concept CD about the Eternal City, containing 66-minutes of instrumental progressive rock, a musical story about ancient Rome. Listen to the 10-minute album sampler and watch the video for S.P.Q.R. with Steve Hackett getting a lot of screen time.
In the Haze That Surrounds Us is the 2015 debut by this Quťbec prog band in the Haken vein, singing in English.
Dream the Electric Sleep, or DTES for short, are a modern prog band from Kentucky who debuted in 2011 with Lost and Gone Forever (77-minutes, digipack) and followed up with Heretics (2014, 73-minutes, digipack). DTES belong to that cadre of modern prog bands typified by Oceansize whose only strong connection to classic prog is to Pink Floyd, though DTES also mention Genesis and King Crimson as influences. This is music composed by guitarists, and they build up a big sound by layering guitars with different tones, while keyboards play a very minor role. OK, that last bit also describes some of Rush, and Rush is part of the DTES sound. There are also aspects of post rock, modern Marillion, and Americana flavors (banjo is used sparingly). Within that framework, it is all quite ambitious and accomplished.
ď[Lost and Gone Forever] gets an easy 5 out of 5 stars -- did I say epic? One of the best albums of the year and one of the best debuts I have heard in a while.Ē Read the entire Sea of Tranquility review. ďSwollen with ambition, Lost and Gone Forever is a precocious first effort from a band who have clearly embraced four decades of progressive rock in their convoluted entirety. The main reference points here are more recent sonic explorers like Radiohead and Cave In, but there are flashes of everything from It Bites-style pomp right back to Floyd-esque space blues floating around in this colorful quagmire. First and foremost, DTES deal in huge melodies and arena-filling crescendos, and from the opening track onwards this album exudes a dogged desire to stir the soul and tug the heartstrings. The finest moments are simply beautiful.Ē [Prog magazine] Read the Sea of Tranquility and Background Magazine reviews of Heretics.
After two self-produced, independently-released CDs, Beneath the Dark Wide Sky (2016, digipack) sees DTES moving up in the music world, now with a label and a producer. Watch the album trailer and the videos for Flight and Let the Light Flood In.
Momentum (2016) is the debut for this offshoot of popular Norwegian progsters Magic Pie, and in a similar style. Elephant Plaza includes former Magic Pie members Gilbert Marshall (electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, lead vocals) and John Kamphaug (bass, vocals) as well as Magic Pie sound tech Olav Rygg (drums, vocals). The rest of the band is Kim Christiansen (lead electric & acoustic guitars, vocals), John Petter Sśterdal (keyboards, vocals), and Jan-Fredrik Heier (keyboards, vocals). You canít join this band if you canít sing. Among the numerous guests is Eirikur Hauksson of Magic Pie and Kerrs Pink on lead & backing vocals. Listen to Momentum Parts 1-5 and watch the video for Naked.
Pandora (2015, digipack) is the debut by a wonderful prog band from Manchester, England who use both female and male vocals in music that is heavily instrumental. ďThe best praise I can give We Are Kin is to say that, for the sixty-four minutes I listen to Pandora, my life is irrevocably a much better place to be.Ē Read the full Lady Obscure review. ďPandora is awash with melodic and varied compositions that are multi-layered and complex, plus there is an underlying narrative describing a potential future. You can get lost in it all... This is not music that has been written using a formulaic and predictable Ďprogí blueprint. For me that will always keep me listening over the rehashing of well-known classic prog tracks.Ē Read the full The Progressive Aspect review. Listen to Tides of Midnight and Home Sweet Home.
And I Know (2016, digipack) is their sophomore effort, more difficult to describe than Pandora, which wasnít easy to describe to begin with. Itís still under the progressive rock umbrella, but itís even more quirky (and we like quirky). The album title and three of the song titles combine to form the sentence ďAnd I know that one day weíll have to say goodbyeĒ and yes, there is poignant beauty here. We Are Kin have a unique vision, and their music fascinates in its balance of familiarity and unpredictability. ďThis is emotion and expression on a grander scale than a casual listening will allow. It is the complete package.Ē Read the full The Prog Mind review.
City of the Sun is the 2014 debut CD for Los Angeles based Heliopolis, a band made up of former members of Mars Hollow, Shaun Guerinís band, Ten Jinn, and Genesis tribute band Gabble Ratchet. Half of Mars Hollow is here, and of those bands, Mars Hollow is who Heliopolis most closely resemble, actually surpassing them. Heliopolis play classic prog with Yes as the major influence, followed by Genesis and King Crimson. ďThese days there seems to be a disproportionate emphasis on darkness,Ē says bassist Kerry Chicoine. ďWe find exploring the balance between despair and optimism a more challenging and creatively satisfying approach.Ē Well said. These are mostly long tracks that take the listener on a journey, with the melodies, intricacies, and musicianship expected of classic prog, featuring vocal passages (some with four-part harmony) combined with sophisticated instrumental excursions. This album belongs in the (British-inspired) American progressive rock canon that also includes the likes of Cathedral, Mirthrandir, Lift, Pentwater, Netherworld, Starcastle, etc. One of our favorites of the year. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Epic at the Majestic (2016, digipack), released by the British label Bad Elephant, is Heliopolis recorded live at their 2015 RoSFest performance. They play their entire City of the Sun album but in extended versions. The venerable Mike Potter did the recording, while the mastering was done at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood, ensuring excellent sound.
Becoming Aware (2016, digipack) is the debut by London-based melodic prog band Paradigm Shift. This is modern British prog with some classic rock flavoring and good guitar/keyboards interplay. The album was mixed by Rob Aubrey (IQ, Big Big Train, many other UK prog bands). Read the Progradar and Background Magazine reviews. Watch the album trailer.
Mike Kershaw is a British singer/songwriter who until 2011 recorded under the name Relocate to Heathrow. He attracted the attention of the Bad Elephant label, who released what is probably Kershawís strongest work to date: What Lies Beneath (2016, digipack). Most of Kershawís music is clearly progressive rock or influenced by it, and he finds himself in the lineage of British singer/songwriters such as Dave Cousins, Roger Waters, Roy Harper, and Guy Manning, to name a few (though Kershawís voice reminds us of Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs). In addition to singing, Kershaw plays keyboards and has a host of other musicians on the album including two-thirds of Fractal Mirror. Leopold Blu-Sky of Unto Us plays bass, guitars, keys, and pedal steel and produced and mixed the album. The longer tracks allow Kershaw to shift through different moods and tempos while retaining the sense of warmth that pervades his music. Read the The Prog Mind and Progradar reviews.
These are the 2016 digipack second editions released on the Polish Oskar label. The audio of Tales... and Bridge... was remastered in 2016.
Unspoken Whisper (1997) is the debut from this Dutch prog band singing in English. It is good neo-prog with a strong Genesis/Camel influence, felt predominantly during the instrumental sections, of which there are many. Sweeping synths and piano from the two keyboardists give ample room for emotive guitar breaks in the Steve Hackett or Gary Chandler (Jadis) style.
Flamborough Headís fourth album Tales of Imperfection (2005) continues with the same lineup as 2002ís One for the Crow, now with female vocals. This album is more instrumental though, with more flute and recorder and a very strong Camel influence. While guitarist Eddie Mulder doesnít have quite the warm, smooth tone of Andy Latimer, his leads are otherwise Latimer-like, and the prominent flute will remind the listener either of Snow Goose-era Camel or, when paired with 12-string guitar, early Genesis. The vocal sections have a different feel of course, similar to early Quidam or Karnataka. Mellotron flavors some of the music, and there are four tracks around the ten-minute mark, so at least for those oriented toward 1970s prog, this is Flamborough Headís strongest album to date.
Bridge to the Promised Land contains the first recordings of Flamborough Head. It was originally released in 1994 only on cassette and led to the band being signed by the British Cyclops label. After Cyclops released the Unspoken Whisper and Defining the Legacy CDs, they released a CD of Bridge to the Promised Land in 2001 in a limited edition of only 500 copies. The CD includes three previously-unreleased tracks plus three very different versions of tracks from Unspoken Whisper and Defining The Legacy.
See our Dutch page for the full catalog of Flamborough Head CDs currently in-print, along with more info.
Dreamcatcher (2015, digipack) is the first solo CD for Eddie Mulder, guitarist of Flamborough Head, Leap Day, and Trion. The album is pensive, peaceful, and largely acoustic guitar oriented, with accents from keyboards, flute, and electric guitar. Assisting are some of Eddieís bandmates: Edo Spanninga (keyboards, production), Margriet Boomsma (flute), Gert van Engelenburg (keys), and Derk Evert Waalkens (keys). Watch the album sampler video.
Roine Stolt met Jon Anderson on the 2014 Progressive Nation at Sea cruise, which led to Invention of Knowledge (2016, digipack). The album also features Tom Brislin (who has played with Yes, Renaissance, and Camel, among others), Jonas Reingold and Felix Lehrmann from The Flower Kings, Lalle Larsson (Karmakanic), Michael Stolt, Nad Sylvan, Daniel GildenlŲw (Pain of Salvation), and more. The lyrics were written by Anderson while the music was created by Stolt and Anderson sending audio files back and forth online, then the production was done in Sweden with Stolt producing and Reingold mastering. ďYou might expect this album to sound like a mix of Tales from Topographic Oceans (one of Stoltís cited influences) and a Flower Kings record, and indeed it does. It is even comprised of four long-form compositions, only this time with a good dose of Swedish melodic third-wave prog... An organic, majestic, mystical, wondrous, richly-woven tapestry of melodies, this album succeeds because Stoltís experience as the third waveís hero of long prog compositions blends beautifully with Andersonís invention of the genre in the first wave. It succeeds not because of who they are, but because of what they have done with it.Ē [The Prog Report] Probably going to be the album of the year, though we should first play out the second half of 2016. Here are a few seconds of music to whet your appetite: teaser 1 ♦ teaser 2. Watch the video for Knowing.
The Battle (2016, digipack) is the debut by Israeli prog quartet Aperco, who sing in English. Guests add flute and sax. Aperco take their cues from the 1970s prog giants with Pink Floyd probably the most frequently occurring influence, but one can hear the influence of Camel, King Crimson, and Genesis as well. There are orchestral moments and there are pastoral moments, and Aperco integrate all their influences best on the nearly 12-minute Awaken, a majestic way to close an outstanding album for classic prog lovers.
Dentro de los Cuentos del DŪa (2015) is for all intents and purposes the debut by Venezuelan symphonic prog band Syriak. Syriak was actually formed way back in 1981 and recorded an album that year that remains unreleased. The bandís bio says a second album was recorded in 1986 and released in 1987 but doesnít mention its title. After a long hiatus, the band was revived in 2010, bringing in a new singer and new drummer. They began writing new material, resulting in this CD. Syriak list Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, and Rush as their influences. The music is melodic and exuberant, with quality vocals in Spanish and plenty of intricate instrumental work. In fact there are more than enough instrumental fireworks that listeners who usually avoid non-English lyrics may want to make an exception. The exuberance in the music reflects Syriakís roots in the 1980s, before the influx of metal and melancholy into prog slowed tempos and elevated dreariness to an art form. Anyway, itís heartening to see new activity of any sort on the Venezuelan prog scene, and this is not simply another entry but one that has that spark and is genuinely exciting.
Symphonic rock masters The Enid have been going for 40 years now and yet there are prog fans who remain unaware of the band. The current incarnation is really The Enid, The Next Generation, as founder/leader Robert John Godfrey repopulated the band with younger musicians. Dust (2016) completes the trilogy of albums begun with Journeyís End and Invicta. Dust takes a somewhat more theatrical approach, full of melodrama, with a greater role for lead vocalist Joe Payne who seems poised to be the next Freddie Mercury. Watch the video for Someone Shall Rise. Read the Sputnik Music and Progarchy reviews; the latter includes an interview with Robert John Godfrey. See our British page for many more The Enid titles and more info.
These are the 2012-2016 remastered digipack reissues on Sireena Records. New Views is the 1984 debut by Swedish symphonic prog band Tribute. This is an album weíre very fond of, and though the band may have been forgotten in the past three decades, this album sold well upon its release, and the band toured western Europe. It was during their 1985 tour in Germany that their drummer bailed and Tribute managed to find a replacement in Pierre Moerlen, who became a member for three years. The music on New Views is instrumental with beautiful wordless female vocals. Even though Moerlen had not yet joined, there is a very strong influence of instrumental Mike Oldfield (Moerlenís employer at the time) of the Incantations through Crises period. There are also elements of Camel, Genesis, instrumental Alan Parsons Project, and (in one track) Tangerine Dream. The 22-minute epic title track is the highlight of an album that is supremely melodic with just the right amount of grandeur.
Moerlen was on board for the second Tribute album Breaking Barriers (1986) and contributed to the writing. The style of this album shifts toward the Pierre Moerlenís Gong style of the same timeframe. Breaking Barriers has much in common with the similarly-named PM Gong album Breakthrough released the same year, which has almost all of the Tribute members in the line-up. ďBreaking Barriers was Tributeís second release and continued their exploration into commercial symphonic progressive space rock. This album has stronger electric guitar presence and a couple vocal tracks, but manages to sustain their positive musical explorations. The vocal harmonies are truly majestic with compelling voices used throughout. The great thing about this album is that they did not try to carbon copy the first and really gave way to some new leanings and genuine progression to follow through on. On this album, Tribute also dig more into the world music envelope with an African ditty (featuring Amadu Jarr on African percussion) and a Scottish Celtic influenced track. Overall a great album full of excellent musicianship and expressive positive songwriting.Ē [Prog Archives]
The mostly-instrumental live album Live: The Melody, The Beat, The Heart was compiled from different performances in late 1986, mostly in northern Germany. The recordings feature Pierre Moerlen on drums. This album is by no means redundant, as the majority of the material does not appear on a studio album. Tribute played over 300 gigs between 1983-86, so this is the sound of a seasoned band of seven musicians, and the recording quality is superb. The music is full of what the prog heart desires, with flute, sax, vibraphone, and tubular bells expanding the sound.
Terra Incognita (1990) is Tributeís fourth and final album. The band had undergone significant restructuring, as Pierre Moerlen, Josef Rhedin, and Ňke Ziedťn had left the band. Those remaining were siblings Gideon, Lena, and Nina Andersson, and Dag Westling, joined by a huge number of guests. This album represents a return to a more epic symphonic style, and the tracks are characterized by long instrumental passages and orchestration on a grand scale. The overdubs were numerous, including various stringed instruments, vocals, synths, drum sets, orchestral percussion, and many other orchestral instruments played by members of the NorrkŲping Symphonic Orchestra, with which Tribute had collaborated on several earlier occasions. One song has Swedish lyrics, the rest English. At the time of this writing, it is the highest rated of Tributeís studio albums on Prog Archives.
Red Jasper are an English prog band that formed in the mid-1980s and released a half dozen albums up through 1997. After a hiatus from 1998-2011, Red Jasper reformed with their former drummer David Clifford replacing founding member Davey Dodds on lead vocals. 777 (2016) is the bandís seventh studio album, which carries on from their first reformation album, 2014ís The Great and Secret Show. Red Jasperís 1997 album Anagramary was the blueprint for how Red Jasper would sound today, essentially a neo-prog band with little of the folk element of their early days. Dodds was hardly involved on Anagramary, while Dave Clifford sang lead on two of the Anagramary tracks. Clifford worked extensively as a vocalist during Red Jasperís long break and the job is now his. While some will miss the eccentricity and English folk elements, fans of early Marillion, Galahad, Twelfth Night, etc. are probably happier. See our British page for more Red Jasper CDs and more info.
Erik Norlander is known as the keyboardist for Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane, and the John Payne version of Asia, not to mention numerous albums under his own name. Surreal (2016, digipack) is the follow-up to 2009ís The Galactic Collective album, a full-band, high-energy rock album with Norlanderís keyboards to the fore. While The Galactic Collective contained re-recorded existing compositions, Surreal is new material: five instrumental tracks plus one track with vocals by Lana Lane. The rhythm section is the same as on The Galactic Collective: Mark Matthews on bass and Nick LePar on drums. Another familiar face is percussionist Greg Ellis, who played on three other Norlander solo albums including his 1997 debut Threshold. Rocket Scientists members Don Schiff (cello, NS/Stick) and Mark McCrite (acoustic guitar) guest. Surreal also highlights the guitar work of Alastair Greene and Jeff Kollman, two of Los Angelesí finest axemen and stellar musicians that Norlander has worked with on other projects. See our DVDs page for Erik Norlander DVDs and our bargains page for Erik Norlander and Lana Lane CDs at reduced prices.
Sula Bassana is the pseudonym used by German musician Dave Schmidt, a veteran Krautrocker Kosmonaut who has numerous other projects. Shipwrecked (2016) is a departure from the previous Sula Bassana album, as this is an electronic krautrock album (think Harmonia, Neu!, Kraftwerk, early Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze), allowing Schmidt/Sula to employ all the vintage electronic gear heíd been stockpiling. The album features synthesizers, organs, drum machines, sequencer, Mellotron, guitar, bass, and toy mandolin. Eroc did the mastering. Read the Aural Innovations review. See our German page for more Sula Bassana CDs.
The UK band Drifting Sun began in the early 1990s when bandleader Pat Sanders left his native France for England. They released an eponymous first CD in 1996, followed by On the Rebound in 1998, then nothing until 2015 and their third album Trip the Life Fantastic, featuring a new lineup. This album will get the blood of neo-prog fans pumping. It is the more bombastic modern take on early Marillion (in a broad rather than copyist sense), with of course several other prog influences, featuring excellent dramatic vocals and a good guitars/keys balance. Read reviews at Prog Archives, The Progressive Aspect, DPRP, and Get Your Rock Out.
This is the limited edition of Safe Asylum (2016), which contains two additional instrumental tracks (that first appeared several months earlier on the download-only Alice EP). Safe Asylum is darker, more complex and serious sounding than Trip the Life Fantastic. Which you can tell just by looking at the covers. The mostly long tracks are quite involved, though the music remains melodic to be sure. The keyboardist is the bandleader, so the guitar/keys balance is enforced. At this point, Fugazi-era Marillion is only a distant ancestor, as Drifting Sun have ambitiously taken their music into other realms. Read the Progradar and Progarchives reviews.
Rob Reed is of course Magentaís keyboardist and leader and one of those musicians who requires multiple outlets for his creativity (e.g., Kompendium, Kiama). Sanctuary (2014, digisleeve) is a rather amazing work, as it is in essence an alternate-universe version of Mike Oldfieldís Tubular Bells, to right-thinking people everywhere one of the most important progressive rock albums ever made. (If the current generation of prog fans sometimes seems clueless about Mike Oldfield in general, there is this perspective: Oldfield is one of only four individual artists to whom Paul Stump devotes a section of his The Musicís All That Matters book, the others being Peter Hammill, Robert Fripp, and Anthony Phillips. The others owe much of their renown to the bands they were in.) Reed even secured the collaboration of Tubular Bells producers Tom Newman (who co-produced) and Simon Heyworth (who mastered Sanctuary) after receiving their seal of approval. If Reedís abilities on instruments other than keyboards hadnít been apparent before, they are now, as he plays everything by hand, apart from the nonsense-syllable vocals. Reed was inspired to become a musician and composer at the age of seven after discovering Tubular Bells. So inspired was he by the album that he learned to play not just one but all the instruments featured on that album. We always thought Rob Reed had his head and heart in the right place musically, and this seals it. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains the album in 24/96 stereo and DTS 5.1 surround for maximum bliss, plus the promo videos. Watch the videos for Sanctuary Part 1 and Sanctuary Part 2 (excerpt), the latter a great piece of comedy with a special guest star, and you should find a few more of the promo videos nearby.
Rob Reed cements his status as the second coming of Mike Oldfield with Sanctuary II (2016, digisleeve), a double-CD + DVD (NTSC, all-region) set. The first CD contains Sanctuary II Parts 1 & 2. The second CD contains two more songs, two tracks from the Marimba EP, and some alternate versions/mixes. The DVD contains a 5.1 surround mix and 24/96 stereo of Sanctuary II Parts 1 & 2 as well as promo videos. Simon Phillips (who played on several Oldfield albums) plays drums, Angharad Brinn handles lead vocals, Les Penning plays recorders, and Tom Newman adds bodhran in addition to being credited as executive producer. The women of Synergy Vocals do the nonsense-syllable vocal style that Oldfield invented (and which Karl Jenkins later ran with in Adiemus). As Reed is carrying on Oldfieldís legacy, this album also moves forward in time from the Tubular Bells style of the first Sanctuary album to the next Oldfield phase, using a drummer and increasing the majesty of the soaring guitar lines. Uplifting, to say the least. Watch album promo 1, promo 2, and promo 3.
Home Away from Home (2013, digipack) is the debut for Vermontís Elephants of Scotland, a quartet of keys/guitar/bass/drums, with the keyboardist on lead vocals and two others on backing vocals. They play symphonic prog with slight nods to ELP and Yes, but like many American prog bands, they eschew melodrama in favor of a more direct, Rush-like approach. Only on some tracks does the music actually resemble Rush, but as the keyboardistís brother is in the Rush tribute band Blame Canada, itís a genetic predisposition. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Elephants of Scotlandís second CD Execute and Breathe (2014, digipack) is all around a more powerful album, the natural result of the bandís greater experience in all facets of music creation and recording. ďIn sum, Execute and Breathe is a great sophomore release from a band who never stray from a songwriting mantra. They write prog with hooks and flavors, songs with loose thematic connections that can stand alone while still contributing to the whole. This is a solid album that will grow on you with subsequent listens.Ē [The Phantom Tollbooth] Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The Perfect Map (2016, digipack) is Elephants of Scotlandís new third studio CD.
Berlinís Crystal Palace have been releasing albums and EPs since 1995, though most of those appear to be out-of-print. We stocked their 2010 album Reset and wrote that it ďcontains everything one would expect from a neo-prog CD in 2010: melodic Marillion-influenced songs sung in English, skewed darker and heavier at times. Another quality German neo-prog band to join Martigan, Morphelia, Jack Yello, and others.Ē
With The System of Events (2013, 70-minutes), Crystal Palace joined RPWL on the latterís Gentle Art of Music label. RPWLís Yogi Lang and Kalle Walner guest, as does Porcupine Treeís Colin Edwin, with Lang responsible for the superb sound of this recording. The System of Events follows the trends, the music now more atmospheric, a blend of Marillion-style neo-prog, the likes of Riverside and Anathema, and the uplifting, anthemic RPWL style. ďThe whole album is a top-notch effort. Much thought has gone into both the subject matter and the music to produce a magnum opus of colossal proportions with exceptional musicianship throughout, taken still further by the monumental title track. Jaw-droppingly good.Ē Read the full Get Ready to Rock! review. Watch the album trailer.
Personally we wish prog bands would stop naming their albums things like ďDawn of EternityĒ or ďBeyond the Realms of InfinityĒ, but at least you know itís a prog album. Crystal Palaceís Dawn of Eternity (2016, digipack) is a significant step forward for the band, revealing more focused songwriting while scaling back some of the heaviness of the previous album to free up space. This album was again mixed and mastered by Yogi Lang, while Markus Reuter plays touch guitar on three tracks. Watch the album overview video and the video for Hearts on Sale.
Disconnected (2016) is the fourth full-length album from Norwegian prog band Airbag. Prog Magazine described Airbagís previous album The Greatest Show on Earth as ďa confident step in the right direction, so much so youíre led to believe that album number four really could be the big oneĒ. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. This is the jewel case edition. Check our Scandinavian page for the rest of the Airbag catalog and more info.
Tales from the Silent Ocean (2015) is the debut CD for Steve Hughes. You may know Steve as the drummer for Big Big Train on four albums or the stand-in drummer for Kino in 2004. He also spent four years touring and recording with The Enid (1994-1998) and has had stints with countless other bands over the last 20 years. One of those was Rush tribute band The Spirit of Rush, which also featured vocalist Dec Burke (Darwinís Radio, Frost, solo). Tales from the Silent Ocean features Sean Filkins on vocals, Maciej Zolnowski on violin and cello, Jamie C. Strand on electric & acoustic guitars, several additional singers and a couple guest guitarists. The music is superb symphonic prog that is fascinating throughout the albumís 79 minute length. In terms of the classic prog bands, itís coming more from a Genesis direction than any other, but it has a more contemporary style closer to Frost, Kino, or Sean Filkinsí album. Watch the album preview video.
Once We Were: Part One (2016, digipack, 77-minutes) is Hughesí second, which features contributions from Dec Burke, Maciej Zolnowski, guitarist Keith Winter (ex-Shakatak), and others. The monumental 33-minute track The Summer Soldier is the new high water mark for Steve. Watch the album trailer video.
Cyril began as a band project combining melodic and progressive rock that now includes the core members of Toxic Smile. Their first album Gone Through Years (2013, digipack) is thematically based on the book The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Keyboardist and woodwind player Marek Arnold has released numerous albums with his other bands Toxic Smile, Seven Steps to the Green Door, and Flaming Row and seems to join another band each year; he has since signed on with United Progressive Fraternity. Cyril also features the voice of Larry B. (Toxic Smile), plus guitar, bass and drums. Guitarist Ralf Dietsch interjects a little flamenco and classical guitar but otherwise plays in a conventional style. We admire Marek Arnoldís other bands, but Cyril has the best songs and is so polished, itís hard to believe this is a debut. The grand, larger-than-life choruses with harmony vocals harken back to a time when rock was a happier music, and these songs have the hooks needed to lodge in your skull. While there is great emphasis on melodies and vocal arrangements, Cyrilís music is progressive rock first and foremost. It can get heavy but thereís no real metal, rather aspects of bombastic modern hard rock. The music is too upbeat and melodic in exactly the way that modern metal isnít. While the music and words are credited to Cyril, itís a good bet Marek Arnold is responsible for most of the music, because the difference between Cyrilís music and typical modern prog is the difference in how keyboardists and guitarists write and arrange. Keyboardists tend to have a stronger foundation in harmony and approach composition harmony-first, while modern prog is run almost exclusively by guitarists. Arnoldís sax and clarinet are great additions to the orchestration, and the production couldnít be better. Maybe the band closest to Cyril is Unitopia. Both bands rely on their excellent singers, and fans of Unitopia can expect to find similar qualities here. (Note we wrote that last bit prior to Arnold joining United Progressive Fraternity, the successor to Unitopia. So there.) Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Paralyzed (2016, digipack) is Cyrilís second, which bears the ďMastered by ErocĒ quality assurance stamp. Larry B. shares vocal duties with Stern Combo Meissen singer Manuel Schmid for added variety, while Guy Manning contributed some lyrics. It often takes until the second album for a new band to get everyoneís attention, and as Cyril have continued with the same style as on their debut, we expect we donít need to write much more and that the album will sell itself. Listen to the album trailer.
Some of you ought to remember the 1997 album Burning Banners, the debut by German neo-prog band Cromwell. But who expected to see a second Cromwell album in 2016? Black Chapter Red (digipack) picks up where Cromwell left off 19 years earlier, in a style close to Pallas and any number of continental neo-prog bands. Listen to the album trailer.
JPL is the band of Nemo guitarist/singer/bandleader Jean-Pierre Louveton. Eight years after the first volume comes JPLís Retrospections Volume II (2016, digisleeve), a collection of mostly unpublished music written between 1992-2005, rearranged and re-recorded by the current live lineup. Listen to the album sampler and Cette main on YouTube. Counts as only one-half CD for shipping. See our French page for more JPL and Nemo CDs and more info, with prices reduced on some titles.
Thirst (2011), Left to Burn (2007), and A Handful of Earth (2004) are the first three CDs by Swedish prog quintet Salva, now signed to White Knight Records, the label run by Rob Reed of Magenta and Will Mackie of Caerllysi Music, who say: ďSalvaís unique trademark sound combines symphonic prog, hard rock/metal, and folk/singer-songwriter. The bandís influences range from the 70s prog of Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, and Pink Floyd to hard rock/metal by Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Rainbow to Scandinavian and Celtic folk mixed with pop sensibilities. On Thirst, the symph has become grander, the riffs have become heavier, and the melodies are as elaborate and melancholy as always. The combination of compositional and thematic focus, great musicianship, and seldom heard variety in both writing and sound makes this a must-have for all lovers of melodic, adventurous, and at times heavy symphonic rock.Ē Watch the video for Primoris Iugum from Thirst. Read reviews at Salvaís site and at Prog Archives.
Sigh of Boreas (2016, digisleeve) is the fourth Salva CD and one that should earn the band an even wider fan base. Watch the video for Gone II, which effectively showcases most of the Salva style. We especially like the folk touches and acoustic instruments when they appear and think Salva could do even more of this.
From Heaven to the Stars (2016, digipack) is the debut by a French symphonic prog band presenting a very attractive mťlange of classic British and continental European progressive rock styles. On the French side, Tai Phong is probably one of their influences. The vocals are mostly in English, a little French and even a little Spanish. Listen to the album overview on YouTube.
Frost are a UK prog band who like to put an asterisk at the end of their name, but weíre not going to comply because people would be looking below for a footnote. This is the digipack edition of Frostís long-awaited third album Falling Satellites (2016), which includes two bonus tracks. The album features a 32-minute suite titled Sunlight. Joe Satriani guests. ďItís that contrast of light to dark, loud to quiet, reverential to utterly modern that mark Frost*ís Falling Satellites clearly as the prog album to beat in 2016, mainly because it will be the single most progressive attempt all year.Ē Read the full Popdose review and the Background Magazine review. Watch the video for Heartstrings. See our British page for more Frost titles and more info.
The Samurai of Prog is a project put together by Marco Bernard, the editor of Colossus magazine and the guy who organized all those various artists conceptual albums published by Musea. Bernard is an Italian who before moving to Finland was a member of the Italian band Elektroshock at the end of the 1970s. The core of The Samurai of Prog is Bernard on bass, drummer Kimmo PŲrsti (leader of Mist Season), and American Steve Unruh of Resistor (vocals, violin, flute, acoustic guitar). There are numerous guest musicians on Undercover (2011), including Roine Stolt and Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings), David Myers (The Musical Box), Alfio Costa (Tilion, Prowlers, Daal), Guy LeBlanc (Nathan Mahl), and Michael Manring. Undercover includes covers of some prog rock chestnuts: The Lamia (Genesis), Starship Trooper (Yes), World of Adventures (The Flower Kings), Assassing (Marillion), Gravita 9.81 (Arti+Mestieri), Dogs (Pink Floyd), and Jerusalem (based on the ELP arrangement). There is one original song written by Kimmo PŲrsti and another by David Myers. The album concludes with four Elektroshock compositions, performed here by Steve Unruhís band Resistor, Alfio Costa & Guglielmo Mariotti (Italy), Roz Vitalis (Russia), and Contrarian (USA).
Secrets of Disguise (2013) is a double-CD that contains some original compositions alongside the covers. But these are not the same old tracks that always get covered nor are they all covers of English bands. There is some depth here, with tracks from England, Crack, Sandrose, and Utopia, not to mention Van der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant, PFM, Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, and Rush. The guest musicians include Jon Davison (Yes), Roine Stolt, Guy LeBlanc, Robert Webb (England), David Myers, Mark Trueack (Unitopia), Phideaux Xavier, Kamran Alan Shikoh (Glass Hammer), Linus KŚse (ńnglagŚrd), Mento Hevia (Crack), Lalo Huber (Nexus), Andrew Marshall (Willowglass), and many others. Watch/listen to the album montage. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The big change with The Imperial Hotel (2014) is that it is all original material. It is probably our second favorite CD of 2014, after Dave Bainbridgeís Celestial Fire. The core of the band remains Bernard, Unruh, and PŲrsti, with major contributions from Robert Webb, Linus KŚse, David Myers, and Octavio Stampalia (Jinetos Negros). Guests include Yoshihisa Shimizu (Kenso), Kamran Alan Shikoh, Andrew Marshall, Martin Henderson (England), and more. All that talent and all that experience covering classic prog has translated to a fantastic album of classic-style prog. This is the real thing, with a lot of Yes and Genesis influence, Genesis style whimsy and Gentle Giant style intricacy, coming closest overall to England (Garden Shed). Well, that last statement has a lot to do with the fact that the title track and centerpiece of the album is the lost jewel of the band England, a 28-minute 1975 composition that finally sees the light of day. And it was worth the nearly 40 year wait. Despite the different composers, the entire album sounds remarkably cohesive. The CD comes in a beautiful (expensive) six-panel mini-LP style sleeve with 40-page booklet and artwork by Ed Unitsky. ďThe Samurai of Prog have outdone themselves with The Imperial Hotel and I can safely say this is one of the best prog releases of 2014. If you enjoy the likes of Genesis, Yes, Kansas, et all, I cannot recommend this album enough.Ē [Sea of Tranquility] Watch the album overview video.
Lost and Found (2016) is a double-CD in a gorgeous six-panel mini-LP style sleeve, full of Ed Unitskyís incredible artwork, with a 32-page booklet. Working with original members of Pavlovís Dog, Lift, Cathedral, Odyssey, and Quill, The Samurai of Prog have excavated lost prog epics from the 1970s by these bands. Because of dissolving record contracts, band line-up changes, and the shifting landscape of popular music, these amazing compositions were never properly recorded... until now! These songs had survived only as old cassettes containing demo recordings, band rehearsals, or live performances. The Samurai have recorded stunning, brand-new arrangements, and the result transcends a mere new prog album. This is living history, or revisionist history, rendered in audiophile quality. The Samurai of Prog remains the core trio of Marco Bernard, Kimmo PŲrsti, and Steve Unruh, plus Tom Doncourt and the late Stefan RenstrŲm (Simon Says). Special guests include Jon Davison (Yes), Mark Trueack (UPF, Unitopia), K. Alan Shikoh (Glass Hammer), David Myers (The Musical Box, solo), Linus KŚse (ńnglagŚrd), Chip Gremillion (Lift), Keith Christian (Quill), Johan ÷ijen (Brighteye Brison), and Steve Scorfina (Pavlovís Dog). The album includes a 57-minute track The Demise written by Ken DeLoria and the other Quill members. Watch the album overview video.
Karda Estra is a unique hybrid of progressive and classical music. Using both rock and classical chamber instruments and heavenly wordless female vocals, composer Richard Wileman achieves a surreal melancholy and poignant beauty that has few parallels. Karda Estraís 12th album Time and Stars (2016) collects the two previously-released EPs The Seas and The Stars and Future Sounds on a new special edition CD. The EPs were released as very limited CD-Rs that are no longer available. ďRichard Wileman, a.k.a. Karda Estra, with consummately-skilled help from his usual musical friends, has gifted us a skillfully crafted, fleet-of-foot sci-fi classical soundtrack concept album, chronicling the history of time and the universe... possibly. It is a delicate and beautifully beguiling thing, made all the more delightful by Ileesha Wilemanís occasional wistfully gossamer vocals.Ē [Something for the Weekend?] Please see our British page for more Karda Estra CDs (some on sale) and much more info.
Lee Abraham was the bass player of Galahad for a time and has a couple CDs previous to these under his belt, one under his name, one as half of the duo Idle Noise. Black & White (2009) is a British neo-prog all-star project that includes John Mitchell (It Bites, Arena,...), Simon Godfrey (Tinyfish), Jem Godfrey (Frost), Gary Chandler (Jadis), Steve Thorne, Sean Filkins (ex-Big Big Train), and Dean Baker (Galahad). That cast leads to certain expectations, and this CD delivers on them. The music is melodic, mainstream, third-generation (unless weíre up to fourth generation now) British prog. Read the DPRP review.
Leeís follow-up Distant Days (2014, 60-minutes) was recorded with the same core band that did the handful of gigs after the release of Black & White. Guests on Distant Days include Marc Atkinson (Riversea, Mandalaband, Nine Stones Close), Dec Burke (Frost, Darwinís Radio), John Young (Lifesigns), Steve Thorne, Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf), and Karl Groom (Threshold). Jon Barry and Simon Nixon helped out on guitar. Pink Floyd is the dominant influence, though thatís true of most of the current generation of mainstream prog bands. The highlight is the 15-minute final track Tomorrow Will Be Yesterday, which sounds like it will be the concert finale. Watch the album overview video. Read the DPRP review.
Lee Abrahamís fifth album The Seasons Turn (2016) sees Lee reunited with his core band of Christopher Harrison, Alistair Begg, Rob Arnold, and Gerald Mulligan. Dec Burke, Marc Atkinson, and Robin Armstrong also return. Abraham says: ďMark Colton of Credo sings lead vocals on a track very far removed from his usual style. Simon Godfrey provides heartfelt vocals to the albumís other epic track. And in a rare return to prog, Martin Orford has recorded some haunting flute.Ē The album explores the passage of time across its five tracks. Read The Progressive Aspect review. Watch the album overview video and listen to Harbour Lights.
At last, Twice Bitten on CD! During the British progressive revival of the 1980s, quite a few bands released their music only on cassette, at least initially. Those outside the UK had to have really been tuned in to know about some of these bands. (A young Steven Wilson was in one of them, the band Karma.) Twice Bitten was the duo of Rog Patterson and Greg Smith, who met at Nottingham University in 1982. A shared love of the work of Anthony Phillips and 12-string guitars led to them writing (in their words) Ďquasi-prog compositionsí and inventing the genre Ďheavy woodí -- melodic music relying on electric and acoustic stringed instruments with no keyboards or drums. Twice Bitten released two cassette albums back then, and Rog Patterson at least a couple solo cassettes. Late Cut CD (2015, digipack) is the CD reissue of Twice Bittenís 1985 cassette album No Third Man with the audio cleaned up and remastered, plus two tracks recorded in 2015. One of these is the 12-minute, five-movement Crocus Point, a track Twice Bitten used to perform live but which had previously only been recorded in greatly abridged form. Fans of Anthony Phillips and early Genesis, this album will restore you spiritually. Watch the video for Crocus Point.
Itís probably better to refer to British band Haken as a prog-metal-and-rock band rather than simply a prog-metal band, because they do set themselves apart from typical prog-metal, especially on their third CD The Mountain (2013), which even has some Gentle Giant-isms. Read reviews at Prog Sphere, Sputnik Music, and Prog Archives. Watch the official videos for Atlas Stone and Pareidolia.
We can state with confidence that Hakenís fourth album Affinity (2016, digipack) is their finest, because the sticker on the front of the CD says so. Why would the sticker lie? This 2CD digipack edition contains the instrumental version of the album on the second disc (for karaoke presumably). Read the Progressive Music Planet review. Watch the official videos for Initiate and The Endless Knot.
Following their 2008 CD St Lo which was really a solo album by bandleader Adrian Jones, British/Dutch band Nine Stones Close began with Traces (2010), their first as a full working band. Jones apparently lives in Leiden in The Netherlands but is probably an expat given his name and the fact the other musicians on Traces are British. The music is very melancholy, brooding, and remorseful, with the obvious reference points being Pink Floyd, Brave-era Marillion, Porcupine Tree, The Pineapple Thief, Gazpacho, and American band Product.
One Eye on the Sunrise (2012, 61-minutes) features both Dutch and British musicians alongside Jones: Peter Vink (Q65/Ayreon/Star One) on bass, Pieter van Hoorn (Knight Area) on drums, Marc Atkinson on vocals, and Brendan Eyre (Riversea) on keys. Read the Progmeister and Prog Archives reviews. Watch the album teaser video and videos for the tracks A Secret and ... and Dream of Sleep.
Following a gestation period during which Jones released the Jet Black Sea album, Leaves (2016, digipack) sees Nine Stones Close with a new label (Bad Elephant) and a revamped lineup, now mostly Dutch musicians including Christiaan Bruin (The Black Codex) on keyboards. Marc Atkinson and Brendan Eyre are gone. Pieter van Hoorn remains, the new bass/Stick player is Peter Groen, while the new singer is Adrian OíShaughnessy. Three Dutch guest musicians add violin, cello, and rhythm guitar. The previous albums were already dark, and this one is darker still.
The Room is the progeny of Grey Lady Down, a well-liked neo-prog band of the 1990s. The Room was formed by GLD singer Martin Wilson and GLD guitarist Steve Anderson, adding three new members on keyboards, bass, and drums. With Wilsonís distinctive voice in the mix, it would be impossible for GLD fans not to think of the parent band when listening to The Room. Beyond the Gates of Bedlam (2015, digipack) is their second and more fully-realized album. The bands Jump and Multi-Story are also good reference points. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Progradar reviews.
Daymoon is a Portuguese symphonic prog band that on All Tomorrows (2011, 65-minutes) includes multinational guests Andy Tillison (The Tangent), Mats Johansson and Thomas Olsson (Isildurs Bane), Hugo Flores (Sonic Pulsar, Project Creation, Factory of Dreams), and many others from Portugal, the USA, Sweden, and Italy. Tillison produced and mixed the album. Daymoon have an early-1970s progressive sound, and while you can say that about numerous current bands, Daymoonís retro sound is relatively rare. Much of it has the softer, more mysterious and slightly psychedelic sound that is part Trespass-era Genesis, part Moody Blues, part early Van der Graaf Generator, part Giles Giles & Fripp, and part early Pink Floyd. Along the way there are suggestions of Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson. Daymoon use flute extensively to get that particular period sound. A surprising release then, and one with great appeal to those fond of that early sound and style.
Fabric of Space Divine (2013, digipack) had been a work in progress since before All Tomorrows. It recounts the history of the universe in a little over an hour, with each track flowing seamlessly into the next. Flores is again among the guests. This is an impressive symphonic rock album that canít be easily compared to one or two prog bands, but the names we tossed out there for the debut are still applicable, along with Mike Oldfield and Floresí own bands (Sonic Pulsar, Project Creation) minus the metal. Daymoon weave in subtle ethnic touches on some tracks, adding to the richness of the music. The variation in style is one of the albumís strong points, as weíve all heard bands with a homogeneous sound repeat it for 70 minutes and then wonder why listeners pine for the days of 35-minute albums. Elaborate, rich, and more consistent than its predecessor, Fabric of Space Divine is a significant step forward for this unique band. See Prog Archives for reviews of both CDs.
Cruz Quebrada (2016, digipack) is still sung in English. As the album trailer explains, Cruz Quebrada is the name of a Lisbon suburb that translates to ďbroken crossĒ. Also watch the official video for Thyme (though it contains only an excerpt from the very long track). Even if between them the two videos donít portray the full range of the music here, we urge you to watch them as there is a heartbreaking story behind this album. The album moves from a dark and melancholy first half to a more optimistic second half, using a great variety of instrumentation including violin, trumpet, clarinet, recorder, and more. Read the streetclip.tv review.
The News (2016, digipack) is the second full-length album for N.y.X, a wild and crazy Italian prog band assisted on this album by Adrian Belew and Trey Gunn, among others. Read the Progressive Music Planet and Progradar reviews.
Trojan Horse are one of the new breed of British prog bands that the Bad Elephant label is especially good at signing, bands that are fresh and exciting and donít retread familiar prog paths. As such they arenít easy to describe in a few words. Trojan Horse somehow connect the dots between early Soft Machine and Cardiacs, taking a lot of unexpected twists and turns along the way. It all goes into a blender and comes out with a lot of energy. World Turned Upside Down (2014, digipack) is their second. ďEver since Trojan Horseís brilliant self-titled debut, this magazine has championed them, and here is the grand payoff. The Duke brothers and drummer Guy Crawford have made a spectacular follow-up worthy of their Salfordian musical heritage as well as their 70s prog forebears... Trojan Horse have again brought together everything thatís great about both classic and modern prog.Ē [Prog magazine] Watch the album promo video and the video for Paper Bells.
Beyond (2013) is the debut album for Alms, the project of Spanish composer and multi-instrumentalist Aitor Lucena. Lucena is one of those rare talents who seemingly can play any instrument handed to him. He names his musical heroes as Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, and Le Orme. Listen to Hypnos on YouTube. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The second Alms CD An Irosmic Tragedy (2016) is ďan epic rock symphony about life divided in three long suites, corresponding to each one of its phases: childhood, adulthood, and elderhoodĒ. Itís a significant improvement over Beyond, partly due to the participation of four other musicians on drums, keyboards, cello/viola, and voice. Watch the album promo video and listen to this excerpt. Spanish speakers can read the La Caja de Pandora review. ďA solid work with a beautiful vintage sound that will delight classic prog fans.Ē [Prog Archives]
Despite Guardian Angels (2014, 73-minutes, digipack) is the debut by Montreal prog band Huis, composed of veterans of the Montreal music scene. Though not a founding member, Mystery bandleader/guitarist Michel St-PŤre joined Huis more recently, and Mystery is not a bad reference point. ďDespite Guardian Angels incorporates all of the staples of a great prog rock album, including lush instrumentation, odd time signatures, sharp tempo changes, well balanced, omnipresent keyboards with Hammond, Moog and Mellotron tones, mesmerizing compositions impeccably interpreted, highly cohesive, never going overboard on the symphonic side, and with Michel St-PŤreís elegant and tasteful guitar work throughout. The album as a whole flows incredibly well between the vocal and instrumental components.Ē [ProgMontrťal] Read the Lady Obscure and Sea of Tranquility reviews.
Neither in Heaven (2016, 68-minutes, digipack) is the follow-up. Gerben Klazinga (Knight Area) guests on keyboards, while other musicians guest on keyboards and flute. Arena might be the best comparison now. Watch the album teaser video.
Geometric Dutch neo-prog band Triangle began under the name Square the Circle in Rotterdam in 1993. This places them right in the heyday of Dutch neo-prog, a generation of bands beginning with Edgon Heath who took their cues from the British neo-prog bands that arose during the 1980s (Marillion, IQ, etc.). Square the Circle became the name of Triangleís 2000 debut CD, which was followed by Retreat in 2004. After a hiatus, Triangle returned in 2016 with Alert & Alive, the title probably a reference to their comeback, the music still in the neo-prog mainstream.
Itís not like you can throw a rock today without hitting a band influenced by Pink Floyd (or by extension, Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson), but the young Berlin-based band Osta Love are a rather good one, based on their second album Good Morning Dystopia (2013, digipack). Read the Background Magazine and Power of Metal.dk reviews.
Osta Love added new members on keys/vocals and bass, and The Isle of Dogs (2015, digipack) goes in a different direction, brighter and more upbeat than the melancholy Good Morning Dystopia, with vocal harmonies made possible by the addition of another singer. While Osta Love and RPWL have distinct styles, the RPWL audience is the natural one for Osta Love now. ďThe addition of two more minds here has had quite an effect on the music. The band has veered away from the cold insecurity of their debut and sprinted toward a lovelier, brighter, and more whimsical sound. The Isle of Dogs is in every way better than its predecessor. It is an album of serene journeys, featuring earthy and intuitive passages that make you feel connected and at peace... The Isle of Dogs feels exactly like a collision of Pink Floyd with The Moody Blues... It truly is an album that allows you to take flight and view the vistas in your mind. Ultimately, it feels like home.Ē Read the full The Prog Mind review.
This is the 2009 edition on Esoteric of Concerto for Electric Violin, remastered from the original master tapes. The label says: ďConcerto for Electric Violin was recorded by Curved Air and Wolf violinist Darryl Way for Island Records and was the subject of much critical acclaim and a feature on ITVís South Bank Show upon its release in 1978. A unique fusion of rock and classical music, the album made full use of synthesizer technology to produce a truly unique work of classical progressive rock. For the recording sessions, Way was joined by former Curved Air colleague Francis Monkman and drummer Ian Mosley (formerly with Wolf, later to join Marillion).Ē ďIt is exactly what it says on the package, a full-fledged concerto that bucks every prevalent musical fashion (1978 was the age of punk, after all) by proving that prog wasnít only alive and well, it was also still capable of startling the unwary listener... Certainly Wayís Concerto withstands comparison with any other rockerís attempt to blend the classics with more modern disciplines.Ē Read the full AllMusic review.
Ultra Violins (2013) is the first solo album in over 20 years for violinist Darryl Way, known for his work in Curved Air and Darryl Wayís Wolf. Ultra Violins features Wayís interpretations of a number of a well-known classical pieces as well as a new version of the Curved Air show-stopper Vivaldi, all multi-tracked with some use of other instruments for a full sound. On Vivaldi at least, Way plays electric violin. Way says: ďThe motivating force behind creating Ultra Violins was to introduce some new material for solo violin that came from the vocal repertoire and the world of orchestral music, rather than music specifically for solo violin.Ē The CD includes a multimedia section with a music video and a video interview of Way. This album is a real pleasure, and youíll get smarter just by listening to it.
Children of the Cosmos (2014) is Darryl Wayís first prog album in approximately forever. In addition to electric violin, Way plays keyboards and sings, with his daughter Rosie singing on one track. Both Darryl and Rosie are more than capable singers. Read the All About Jazz, Prog Rock Music Talk, and Examiner.com reviews.
Myths, Legends and Tales (2016) continues the second coming of Darryl Way, making progressive rock again with renewed creativity. As Way says: ďAs a rock violinist, I have always been searching for that elusive sound, turn of phrase and means of expression that would give the electric violin a legitimate voice in the idiom of rock music. With this album, I feel that I have come closer than ever before to achieving this goal. Myths, Legends and Tales is another attempt by me to fly the flag for prog rock. Iíve raised the flag up the mast as far as I am able and can only now hope that it will be seen and appreciated by the devoted fans of this neglected genre.Ē
This is the 2016 Esoteric edition, the first ever official UK CD release for this 1974 classic, remastered from the original Deram master tapes. It includes three non-LP bonus tracks. Originally formed in 1968 at Exeter University, the band was first known as Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, a hippy music/theatre collective. After recording two albums for Dandelion and touring for two years, the original group disbanded. In 1972, original members Root Cartwright (guitars, mandolin), Belinda Bourquin (violin, keyboards, recorder), and David Jones (percussion) formed a new band under the moniker of Principal Edwards, with Nick Pallett (lead vocals), Richard Jones (bass, vocals), and Geoff Nicholls (drums). Moving in a more rock-oriented direction and signing to Miles Copelandís management company, they secured a contract with Deram and recorded Round One in 1973, with Pink Floydís Nick Mason as producer. While the proggiest tracks are Triplets and the 13-minute The Rise of the Glass - White Gangster, the whole of the album is very good, a prog/art/psych/pop/folk amalgam that sounds more like 1971 than 1974.
A star is born... Maglev is a Dutch sympho-prog band coincidentally centered on talented singer and multi-instrumentalist Joost Maglev (which sounds like a made-up surname, but who knows), with Robby Valentine on piano, Sebas Honing on guitar, a violinist, and two backing singers. Joost has played in many bands and has released music under his own name in a progressive pop vein. He is amazing at Queen-style harmony vocals. (Listen to his earlier song Nymph.) Overwrite the Sin (2016, digisleeve) is Maglev gone full-on prog, featuring five tracks, the shortest 8:15. Each track emphasizes a different prog sub-style, with allusions to Yes, Queen, Kayak, A.C.T, City Boy, and maybe Cardiacs (the latter named by Joost as a musical hero). So there is exuberant pomp-prog, Yes grandeur, A Night at the Opera eccentricity, and modern heaviness, always melodic and grand scale. Overwrite the Sin is obviously the product of someone who learned how to write songs first before expanding the arrangements as required by prog. We were going to work magnetic and levitation into this blurb but didnít want to force it. Watch the album trailer on YouTube. Read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review. Counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
Konchordat is another name to add to the British neo-prog pantheon. They debuted in 2009 with English Ghosts (out-of-print), which was mostly in the classic 1980s neo-prog style (e.g., Marillion, Pendragon), though since singer Lee Harding has a somewhat Gabriel-like voice, Citizen Cain or the more Genesis-like Ad Infinitum tracks also come to mind. The New Crusade (2011) is their second. ďThe New Crusade marks a significant surge in confidence and artistry for Konchordat. Still entrenched in lavish symphonic prog, albeit tempered by brief excursions into neo-prog pastures, founder member Steve Cork and now permanent singer and guitarist Stuart Martin have begun to forge a distinct identity of their own. The opening title trackís shimmering keyboards and potent six-string sustain certainly betrays a penchant for Fish-era Marillion, and maybe even a dash of Pallas, but that is the last time on The New Crusade that this band sound wholly indebted to anyone else... This is a purposeful and precise reinvention of a thoroughly British strain of prog, replete with spine-tingling guitar solos, some elegantly poetic lyrics, and enough pathos to force tears from the eyes of a stone statue of Stalin.Ē [Prog magazine] Read the Background Magazine review. Note the band sold us their last copies of The New Crusade, so donít wait until this one is also gone.
Rise to the Order (2016, digipack) is markedly heavier than the first two Konchordat albums. Think of Arena and Pallas at their heaviest.
Itís come to our attention that some people donít know what a Rube Goldberg machine is, so for those people, weíll tell you that thereís no one in this band named Rube Goldberg. The Rube Goldberg Machine is a London-based trio, and Fragile Times (2016, digipack) is their debut on the Bad Elephant label, who are quickly becoming one of the most important prog labels. We liked this CD the first time we heard it, and have liked it even more with each subsequent listen. The music seems familiar, related to a lot of British music stretching as far back as The Beatles, yet weíre at a loss to compare it to anyone in particular. If it helps, it would sound at home on the Kscope label. It is diverse, inventive progressive rock with an unforced, natural sound (no stinkiní metal). The songwriting is very strong, the vocals and lyrics are important, while the instrumental content is suitably intricate. The instrumental lineup is two guitars, bass, and a session drummer, those being each musicianís primary instrument, but each musician in the trio doubles on keyboards. As expected, the keyboard parts tend to be Mellotron-like pads as opposed to anything pianistic, resulting in lush textures and accents that work perfectly in these compositions. In some tracks, the two guitarists play intricate interlocking lines. At times there is a slight space/psych feel, at other times a slight psych-folk aspect. The vocals are recorded relatively dry, which gives them intimacy. The Rube Goldberg Machine describe themselves as a forward-thinking prog rock band, and weíre just going to go with that.
Unsongs (2016, digipack) is the debut CD for Mancunians Mothertongue, the most Cardiacs-like band to come out of England since the beloved Cardiacs. (Not that any other country could have produced Cardiacs.) ďďLetís hope they donít notice how little sense it makes before they release it,Ē said Mothertongue drummer John Simm of their debut LP on signing to Bad Elephant. It was a fair point. Much of Unsongs makes no sense at all. Single songs span several different subgenres, and stated influences include imaginary numbers, science fiction, and dinosaurs. All of which is unsurprising, perhaps, for a Ďrandom collection of musiciansí with a collective propensity for hopping from gypsy cabaret to ska to indie prog to Sensational Alex Harvey Band-esque madness. A lot is crammed in, weaved into tight proggy timings that slickly change by the minute... For ears that relish glorious chaos, look no further than Unsongs.Ē [Prog magazine] Also read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review.
Bring Me to the Water (2016) is a seven-track CD with a playing time of 34:34, the first CD by a Dutch prog band with powerful female vocals somewhat similar to Magentaís Christina Booth. While five of the tracks are listed as bonus tracks, they are actually remastered versions of the bandís earlier material. Nothing is repeated; they are different songs. The album was produced and mixed by Christiaan Bruin (Chris, The Black Codex). Read the Muzikman review. The CD comes in a simple printed sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
Inner Odyssey are a young band from Quebec whose 2011 debut CD Have a Seat was in the prog-metal vein. (Donít stop reading now because the story gets much better). It displayed influences of Riverside, Porcupine Tree, and (what a surprise) Dream Theater. Inner Odyssey made a tremendous leap with their second CD Ascension (2015, digipack). The metal aspects of the first album are greatly downplayed, as this is modern symphonic prog with occasional aggressive guitar, full of intricacy and subtlety. They also have a new singer. ďAscension is as good an album of refreshingly contemporary progressive rock as you will hear Ė it never sits still, never flags, never disappoints, and despite its occasional forays into the dark recesses of the mind is positively life-affirming.Ē Read the full Get Ready to ROCK! review and the Jerry Lucky review. Listen to Losing Your Mind, Retrospection, and A World of My Own on YouTube.
Emotional Creatures Part One (2005) and Part Two (2007) are two finely-crafted neo-prog albums from English singer/songwriter Steve Thorne. Both were released on IQís GEP label and include many well-known prog musicians. Part One includes, among others, Tony Levin, Nick DíVirgilio, Geoff Downes (Asia), Martin Orford (IQ), Gary Chandler (Jadis), Steve Christey (Jadis, John Wetton), John Jowitt (IQ, many more), and Paul Cook (ex-IQ). Part Two includes DíVirgilio, Levin, Chandler, Downes, Orford, Pete Trewavas (Marillion), John Mitchell (Arena, Kino, etc.), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), and several more. Both are excellent albums featuring Thorneís songs, vocals, and multi-instrumental skills in expansive symphonic arrangements that integrate progressive rock with folk and pop leanings. The styles touch upon Hogarth-era Marillion, IQ, Jadis, Kevin Gilbert, Peter Gabriel, Manning, Pineapple Thief, and more. In classic British progressive fashion, Thorne starts with a song; itís the arrangement that makes it progressive rock. Read the DPRP reviews of Part One and Part Two.
Thorne moved to the Festival Music label for his 2009 third CD Into the Ether. Thorne again assembled a stellar cast of musicians to realize his songs, including Trewavas, DíVirgilio, Harrison, Levin, Mitchell, Chandler, John Giblin (Brand X, many others), and John Beck (It Bites, Kino). Thorne has taken the production and songwriting on Into The Ether to the next level. With thought-provoking lyrics, very strong melodies and lush arrangements, if Ďsinger-songwriter neo-progí is a genre, then Steve Thorne is the benchmark. Warning to those who embrace the modern zeitgeist: these songs contain joy and exuberance and may cause you to feel good. The CD comes in a slipcase with 28-page booklet. Read the DPRP review.
Thorne is back on GEP for Crimes & Reasons (2012, 54-minutes, digipack). This album features Tony Levin on bass, Nick DíVirgilio and Bob White on drums, Gary Chandler on guitar, and (coaxed briefly out of retirement) Martin Orford on flute, with Thorne handling more instruments himself. Itís another collection of songs as good as any coming out of the UK now in any genre, full of heart energy, set in prog rock arrangements with a suitably powerful and expansive sound (thanks to Rob Aubrey and his studio), and not a single weak track. Read the DPRP review.
Island of the Imbeciles (2016, digipack) is Steve Thorneís fifth and possibly last album. Steve intends to take a break from his solo career for a while, although he says he has enough material for another four or five albums, but that he wants to concentrate on writing for other artists. Tony Levin, Nick DíVirgilio, and Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf) all contribute to Island of the Imbeciles. Watch the promo video. (Yes, we wish it was longer than 42 seconds too, but you have to admit, itís a great 42 seconds.)
British prog band Red Bazar formed in 2007 and have a couple earlier instrumental albums plus an EP under their belt. But they began a collaboration with vocalist/lyricist Peter Jones, the man behind Tiger Moth Tales and one of the fastest rising stars on the UK prog scene. Tales from the Bookcase (2016, digipack) is the result, a collection of musical stories, many of which are based on Peteís favorite books. The Red Bazar Facebook page has an album sampler video plus a series of videos with Pete explaining each track with excerpts of the music. Tales from the Bookcase is a shining example of current British progressive rock, one that at times rocks harder than the Tiger Moth Tales albums but can still be filed next to them. Weíve taken the liberty of doing just that.
Tiger Moth Tales is the brainchild of Englishman Peter Jones, who has a background writing and performing adult contemporary music but went full-on prog with Cocoon (2014, 69-minutes), released on Rob Reedís White Knight label. Well, most of our customers are adults and many of them are contemporary, so maybe this still is adult contemporary music. Jones cites his influences as (from the classic side) Genesis, Steve Hackett, and Queen, and (from the modern side) Frost, Big Big Train, and Haken, also Roine Stolt (who Jones may not have heard until recently, but as Stolt was a founding member of Kaipa, he can straddle both camps). The artist name is itself an allusion to Steve Hackett. If you have the love we do for Genesis and English whimsy, this album will make you drop what youíre doing and just listen and smile. This is the best release to date on White Knight. Read the Progarchy review.
What could be better than the best recent new prog artist turning out a fantastic second CD in a short time? Story Tellers Part One (2015, digisleeve) is just that. That Pete Jones wrote and recorded this new album in 28 days (because there wasnít much else to do during February) indicates a singular talent at work. Pete lost his sight as an infant to Retinoblastoma, making his story quite amazing and inspiring. ďPeter Jones has delivered what is, to my ears, an album that is even better than the delights of Cocoon. My inner child is brought to the fore by the magic, charm, and allure of Story Tellers Part One. It takes me away to an inner nirvana where nothing can touch me or spoil my mood. Peter is one of the pre-eminent songwriters out there today and has given us a little piece of wonder to enjoy.Ē Read the full Progradar review. Watch the videos for Beauty Falls and The Quest for Beauty.
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 ďA Collection 1996-2009Ē; it includes 12 tracks representing the best material from those first three albums plus one unreleased track. The Burden of Paradise (2016) is Different Lightís 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 theyíd never recorded, and that these were combined with newer compositions, especially in the multi-part suites. Read the Progarchy and Rocking Charts reviews.
Matthew Parmenter is known for his narrative songwriting and costumed performances as leader and front-man of Discipline, rightly hailed as the American Van der Graaf Generator, earning Matthew the title of the American Peter Hammill. As the press release suggests, Parmenterís third solo album All Our Yesterdays (2016, digipack, not named after a Star Trek episode) is best experienced as a single, all-encompassing musical odyssey. Each track can be taken on its own merit, but the full, immersive effect is most evident when theyíre all heard in succession. The listener is transported on an allegorical journey and emerges transformed at the close of the album. Paul Dzendzel of Discipline guests on drums, while Parmenter sings and plays all other instruments. Like Parmenterís previous albums, this has the feel of a full band, and the title ĎThe American Peter Hammillí has never been more deserved. All Our Yesterdays was mixed by Terry Brown (Rush, Fates Warning) and mastered by Grammy winning engineer Peter Moore. Read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review. See our U.S. page for more Matthew Parmenter and Discipline CDs.
Fractal Mirror is a distant collaboration between two Dutchmen and one American. The origins of Fractal Mirror are in mid-1980s Amsterdam. The band says they were initially influenced by bands on the 4AD label and David Sylvian, and this influence can still be heard. But at that same time, the second generation progressive rock bands were in full force, and Fractal Mirror mention IQ, Pendragon, Twelfth Night, Marillion, and Pallas. But they especially credit Canadian band Terraced Garden, which is amazing because, have you ever heard anyone cite Terraced Garden? (You probably donít even know Terraced Garden.) Terraced Gardenís LPs have (to our knowledge) never been reissued on CD, which is a good way to become unknown. Anyway, the two Dutchmen rebooted in 2012 and found their American drummer and lyricist via Facebook.
Their first CD was Strange Attractors (2013). Garden of Ghosts (2014, digipack) is a big leap forward. It was co-produced and mixed by Echolynís Brett Kull who plays guitar and/or adds backing vocals on every song, while Larry Fast (Synergy) contributes keyboards, Don Fast sitar and guitar, and Amsterdamís Stephanus Choir do what choirs do. Echolynís Ray Weston, Paul Ramsey, and Tom Hyatt get some vocals in, just to stay sharp. Larry Fast also mastered the album and in fact signed the band to his label. Brett became enamored of the band too, saying źďFractal Mirrorís music is a strange combination of different cultures creating a unique and yet familiar sound. I love the occasional odd chord change or Leoís brilliant note choice in his melodies. There is an Ďeaseí in these songs Ė nothing pointy or pointless. Even heavier tunes like Phoenix have a certain amount of grace in them. There is real experience in the words and the way they are sung by Leo that transcends rigid style borders.Ē Watch the album preview video.
Slow Burn 1 (2016, digipack) again features assistance from Brett Kull (on every track), Larry and Don Fast, plus several other musicians. The vibe is generally laidback, and other than singer Leo Koperdraat sounding like the singer from The Psychedelic Furs, the music is progressive-sounding, thanks in large part to the Mellotron sounds (strings, choir, flute, more) that are everywhere. Read reviews of and watch videos from all the Fractal Mirror CDs.
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.
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 The Door to a Parallel World (2008) has already been deleted. While The Door to a Parallel World was good, So Far and So Near (2011, 64-minutes, digipack) is really good. One thing you can expect from todayís Russian bands is a connection to classical music on a par with the first-generation progressive rock bands, a much more direct connection than is common among todayís bands. For Eternal Wanderers, sometimes that connection is to Stravinsky and other early 20th century classical; this is where Eternal Wanderers occasionally sound like ELP. More often itís the earlier, romantic classical style, where Renaissance and Genesis are better reference points. Eternal Wanderers added a flute player on this album, and they sometimes play a medieval-flavored style closer to Jethro Tull. The final track And I Will Follow is very Renaissance-like and features Eternal Wanderersí most beautiful vocal performance to date. Perhaps the most attractive thing about Eternal Wanderers and the Russian bands in general is that they are just far enough out of the western music mainstream to have a unique style, thankfully ignoring trends toward metal, pop, and conformity elsewhere in prog. Not entirely out though, as this CD was mastered by Masterdisk in New York. For those who like complex, classically-influenced prog that still has accessible melodies, this CD is manna. Read the DPRP review.
Eternal Wanderersí 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 ďcosmicĒ is in the title.
Classically trained at the University of Bologna in composition and piano, composer/arranger Alex Carpani continues the great Italian keyboard-centric prog rock tradition. On Waterline (2007, printed sleeve), his fluid and inventive keyboards are accompanied by an American rhythm section. Waterline is mostly instrumental but does feature Aldo Tagliapietra (Le Orme) on vocals and is between the Italian and British 1970s progressive rock styles. Dan Shapiro (Clearlight) and Ken Jaquess (K2, Atlantis) play bass, while Neil Bettencourt (Clearlight) plays drums. A number of guitarists contribute, among them Tony Spada (Holding Pattern). Counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
On The Sanctuary (2010, digipack), Carpani is assisted by two members of his live band: Ettore Salati on guitars and Fabiano Spiga on bass, while drums are handled by Gigi Cavalli-Cocchi (Mangala Vallis, Moongarden). Watch the album preview video. The cover art for the first two CDs is by Paul Whitehead.
Alex Carpaniís live band is now his studio band too, and on 4 Destinies (2014, digipack) has one important additional member: David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator) on saxes & flutes. The rest of the band is Alex on vocals & keyboards, Ettore Salati on guitars, Joe Sal additional vocals, GB Giorgi on bass, and Alessandro Di Caprio on drums. Cristiano Roversi produced and co-arranged. 4 Destinies has just four tracks averaging close to 14-minutes each. Watch the album trailer. Read lots of reviews.
Itís over to the Italian Ma.Ra.Cash label for Carpaniís fourth album So Close, So Far (2016, digipack), which features his current five-man band. With English-language vocals throughout, this one is much closer to an English neo-prog style than to classic Italian prog, with a lush, expansive sound and heroic melodies. Watch your speed if listening while driving. Watch the album teaser video.
Over Reality (2016, digipack) is the debut by an Italian synth-centric prog band singing in English, with a tremendous singer who sounds like Bono of U2. They could easily pass for a British band, and their music and videos are highly professional. Interestingly, the album was mastered in the U.S. In an era of sameness and mediocre singers (in prog anyway), Metadrive donít sound like every other band, rather their music sounds like a symphonic space-rock take on 1980s British/Irish pop. Watch the short album teaser and the official video for Mankind Theme. You can hear much of the album during this radio interview.
Kaipa were the top first-generation Swedish prog band, featuring guitarist Roine Stolt, who would later form The Flower Kings, and keyboardist Hans Lundin, who would reboot Kaipa in 2002. Kaipa sing in Swedish on these albums, while both The Flower Kings and the second incarnation of Kaipa switched to English-language vocals. Relative to The Flower Kings, Kaipaís music is more purely Swedish, their symphonic rock colored by the centuries-old Swedish choral and folk music traditions. The self-titled first album (1975), Inget Nytt Under Solen (1976), and Solo (1978) are for us the best albums to have come out of Sweden (along with Atlas - BlŚ Vardag). By now a lot of prog fans will have discovered the later bands first and need to work their way backwards to these albums. Prog fans old enough to have listened in chronological order or who simply have a 1970s orientation (and have not limited themselves to albums sung in English) are likely to consider the 1970s Kaipa albums superior.
This is the first time on CD for Hšnder (1980) and Nattdjurstid (1982). Roine Stolt was no longer in the band, the 1980s were underway and, well, you know how that decade went for the first-generation prog bands. Hšnder could be considered a transitional album like Genesisí Duke. (Hšnder was recorded in the same studio just after Genesis cleaned out their gear.) Nattdjurstid went farther off course into synth-pop.
These are all the 2015-2016 editions on the Tempus Fugit label. The audio was remastered in 2015. The first album has two bonus tracks, Inget Nytt Under Solen has four, and Nattdjurstid has three. Interestingly, three of the four original members (all except Hans Lundin) toured in 2014-2015 as Kaipa Da Capo, playing the original Kaipa music, augmented by Roineís brother Michael Stolt on lead vocals, and keyboardist Max Lorentz. See our Scandinavian page for the later Kaipa CDs.
This late 2015 CD is the second in a trilogy of albums inspired by Kubrickís 2001: A Space Odyssey for Italian prog band RanestRane, in case that wasnít obvious from the title. Marillion fans may know RanestRane for their collaborations with Steve Rothery, and Rothery plays on two tracks on this album. ď[RanestRane] made a true masterpiece with this release. Everything just falls into place on this CD. As a lover of Rock Progressivo Italiano and progressive rock in general, I couldnít ask for more. Therefore the highest score of five stars is in place for one of the musical highlights of 2015. All I can say is bravissimo and bring on the final part of A Space Odyssey trilogy!Ē Read the full Background Magazine review. Watch the album trailer.
Eureka is the project of German multi-instrumentalist Frank Bossert, probably best known for his fourth album Shackletonís Voyage, which was released by InsideOut. Great Escapes (2015) is what Bossert had been working on since 2010, and it is a different beast than the previous Eureka CDs, the first full-blown rock album for Eureka and the first on which Bossert is the only lead singer. Yogi Lang of RPWL makes his presence felt by mixing and mastering as well as adding some keyboards, while a drummer, guitarist, and four backing singers guest. The album is Rush-influenced and song-oriented, as the album trailer and the video for Animated World will make apparent. Read the Ytsejam.com review. See our German page for the earlier Eureka CDs.
Last (2016, digipack) is the sixth album for Bavarian prog band Frequency Drift, who have found a stable home on RPWLís Gentle Art of Music label. To allay fears, the title doesnít seem intended to signal the end of the band. There have been more lineup changes, and they have a new female singer in Melanie Mau, who contributed to Seven Steps to the Green Doorís Fetish, while Martin Schnella (Flaming Row, Seven Steps to the Green Door) is now a full-time member. The electric harp plays an important role, and there is Mellotron and Theremin, while the strings and unusual instruments found on 2014ís Over are gone (the Mellotron covering for some of them). There is a narrative to the songs, and Last is another impressive album of melodic and epic progressive rock. ďThey have created what may be their best album to date, full of innovation, abstraction, emotion, and projection. Last is cinematic and masterful, yet also gritty, dark, and very personal. It honestly doesnít get much better than this for me.Ē Read the full The Prog Mind review. Watch album teaser 1, album teaser 2, and the video for Merry. See our German page for the rest of the Frequency Drift CDs and much more info.
Yes, RPWLís main influence is Pink Floyd, but they clearly incorporated that influence into their own unique style. There would have been no point to another bunch of covers of the most obvious Pink Floyd tracks from DSotM on, but thatís not what RPWL do here. Instead they delve into the early, deep Pink Floyd catalog, playing in the spirit of Pink Floyd but in the style of RPWL. The tracks: Arnold Layne, The Embryo, Green Is the Colour, Atom Heart Mother, Fat Old Sun, The Narrow Way Part 3, Let There Be More Light. These were recorded live between 2010-2015 all over Europe, some songs greatly extended over the studio versions. This 70+ minute CD is a limited edition and comes in a digisleeve. (Counts as only one-half CD for shipping.) Watch the album trailer. See our German page for more RPWL titles.
Rhys Marsh is the British expat singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer who now lives in Norway and has released a number of CDs there since 2008. The Black Sun Shining (2015, digisleeve) is a 42-minute song-cycle in seven movements, which Marsh says is intended to be listened to as one piece of music. Marsh tried a different approach to writing, starting with the rhythms rather than the chords, yielding an album that goes in a somewhat different direction than his past work. Read the Progarchy review. Watch the videos for Wondering Stars and I Hear, I Know. See our Scandinavian page for the rest of the Rhys Marsh CDs and more info.
Tritonus is the German prog band that was led by keyboardist Peter Seiler, who went on to make a name for himself in synth music and soundtrack work. Tritonus was a classical-rock trio in the ELP format and style. They released two studio LPs: their self-titled debut in 1975, and Between the Universes in 1976. The three Germans played a gig at Staggeís Hotel in Osterholz-Scharmbeck in October 1977, documented on this 2015 digipack CD on the Sireena label. The CD contains seven long-to-very-long live tracks: four songs from the first album and three from the second, some greatly expanded from the studio versions.
When we first began stocking the CDs of German band Martigan, we wrote that they will be the best neo-prog band youíve never heard. They were founded in 1994 and made steady progress with each album, such that with Vision (2009, 79-minutes) they are at least on a par with Collage and Deyss at their peak, arguably ahead of any other continental band who play or played a style similar to early Marillion or IQ. Which is exactly what Martigan play, the original neo-prog style without metal, excessive melancholy, or other modern downgrades. The music is melodic, exuberant, dramatic and majestic, with soaring Rothery-style guitar leads and excellent vocals, and like the best neo-prog bands, the Ďneoí tag is not always necessary. The 23-minute track that opens Vision will hook any fan of the style immediately.
Distant Monsters (2015, 75-minutes, digipack) shows no major change in style, just a very enjoyable album in the classic neo-prog style. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Watch the album trailer.
This is the 2009 30th Anniversary Edition on Esoteric Recordings of Tony Banksí first and best solo album, 1979ís A Curious Feeling. The CD is not simply remastered, rather it contains a new stereo mix, for the same reason the most recent editions of the Genesis albums have new stereo mixes -- it is essentially a byproduct of creating a surround mix. Yes, Genesis house engineer Nick Davis did for this album what he did for the Genesis albums, returning to the multi-tracks to craft a 5.1 surround mix. This was first released in 2009 in a hardcover mediabook, but that deluxe edition went out-of-print quickly and so the surround audio remained unavailable for several years. In 2016, Esoteric reissued the CD+DVD edition in a slipcased jewel box. Between the lower list price and the stronger dollar, the price is now considerably lower. In addition to the surround audio, the DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains the new stereo mix in 96 kHz / 24-bit, plus two rare 1979 promotional videos for the songs For a While and The Waters of Lethe. The booklet contains new liner notes by Tony.
The Fugitive (1983) was Banksí second solo album. Ant Phillips and Mike Rutherford had chosen to be their own lead vocalist on their second solo albums, and Banks followed suit on his. The other musicians include Daryl Stuermer (guitars), Mo Foster (bass), and three drummers dividing duties, notably Steve Gadd. No doubt The Fugitive is a step down from A Curious Feeling, but listening to it again after all these years, itís better than we remember. Probably the disappointment back in 1983 of realizing that no Genesis member, not even Tony, was going to make a progressive rock record again made it difficult to give The Fugitive a fair shake. Read the AllMusic review. These 2016 editions on Esoteric contains a new stereo mix by Nick Davis and Tony Banks. The CD+DVD hardcover mediabook edition also contains a new surround mix by Davis and Banks. The DVD-V (NTSC, all-region) contains the 5.1 surround mix in DTS 96/24 and Dolby AC3 and the new stereo mix in 96/24 LPCM, plus the promo video for This Is Love. The two bonus tracks from the earlier CD edition (K2 and Sometime Never) are included on both the CD and the DVD. The booklet contains new notes from Tony (and smells great when you first crack it open). As was the case with A Curious Feeling, this hardcover edition is limited and probably wonít be around forever.
Sonus Umbra is a band whose incarnations have followed bandleader/composer/bassist Luis Nasser, from the bandís roots in Mexico City (the band then called Radio Silence), on to Maryland and now Chicago. Consequently the Sonus Umbra lineup on Winter Soulstice (2013, 71-minutes, digipack), the first CD for the Chicago edition, has only Nasser and drummer Andy Tillotson in common with the Maryland band, the rest of the band consisting of Rich Poston (electric guitar), Tim McCaskey (acoustic guitar), Brian Harris (keys), Steve Royce (flute/vocals), and Roey Ben-Yoseph on lead vocals. Thereís also a guest cellist. Winter Soulstice is the best Sonus Umbra CD to date. The band even call it a departure from their previous work, but the characteristic Sonus Umbra mood is present, as well as the acoustic moments that are a highlight of the early albums. This is clearly the best lineup Sonus Umbra have had. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Beyond the Panopticon (2015, digipack) is the second CD for the Chicago edition of Sonus Umbra and features an expanded lineup, with Brittany Moffitt sharing lead vocal duties, and guest spots for both cello and clarinet. Watch the album trailer and the video for Grotesquerie.
Sonus Umbraís debut CD Snapshots from Limbo was very well received, eventually getting re-released by Musea. Spiritual Vertigo (2004) is their second. Here Sonus Umbra produce a melancholy and brooding progressive rock with slight psychedelic or space-rock overtones, leaning towards dark and mysterious without sacrificing melody. Guitars have the edge over keyboards, but the liberal use of acoustic guitar keeps things sounding warm. Andres Aulletís vocals have a slightly surreal quality to them, and he is aided briefly by guest vocalist Lisa Francis of Kurganís Bane. They have their own style; at different times you hear traces of Pink Floyd, Rush, and a host of other 1970s progressives. This is the MALS label edition; the U.S. edition is out-of-print.
Digging for Zeros (2005, 61-minutes) saw changes in the vocal department, the lead vocals here shared by Lisa Francis and Jeff Laramee, both of whom were at this time also members of Baltimore band Kurganís Bane, as was Luis Nasser. Sonus Umbra continue to be at their most compelling when they add acoustic guitar to the mix, which they do frequently. On this album, there are occasions when the acoustic guitar is absent, the keys drop out and the music becomes mere hard rock (like Kurganís Bane). But in addition to the acoustic guitar, there is plenty of piano and synth to keep things progressive. The dominant tone is again somber and dark but not to the point of ugliness, and there are many lighter, uplifting moments, particularly when Francis sings. Her vocals add a welcome dimension to Sonus Umbraís music.
Shortly after the release of their eighth studio album The Unquiet Sky, Arena embarked on their 20th anniversary tour and played an outstanding show in Poland at Katowiceís Kinoteatr ďRialtoĒ in April 2015. The show was filmed/recorded for XX, a live DVD (NTSC, all-region) and companion double-CD (both are digipacks). Bonus video includes interviews with Clive Nolan and Mick Pointer. The DVD features Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio and runs 140 minutes. The 2CD contains the same 18 songs as the DVD.
The Unquiet Sky (2015) is the eighth studio CD for Arena, currently Clive Nolan, Mick Pointer, John Mitchell, Paul Manzi, and new bassist Kylan Amos. Read the Sea of Tranquility and DPRP reviews. Check our British page for more Arena CDs.
When Lazuli first appeared on the scene, Musea called them ďthe most promising new French band in yearsĒ, and they were right. It took a few years for prog fans over here to come up to speed. After appearing at Baja Prog 2006 as a virtual unknown, Lazuli were immediately invited back for a more prominent slot at Baja Prog 2007. They then headlined the first day of Rosfest 2009, and critical mass was achieved. Lazuli use Warr Guitar, marimba, vibraphone, percussion, guitars, vocals, and a custom-designed instrument called the Lťode. The Lťode is, among other things, an electronic device, so it is responsible for sounds that might otherwise be handled by keyboards. It produces a strange but beautiful sound for lead lines. Lazuli added a keyboardist to the lineup beginning with 4603 battements. Lazuli play an atypical progressive rock that comes close to early Halloween in the generally dark atmospheres, symphonic power, and surreal, bewitching nature, and the Lťode does to some extent play the same role as the violin in Halloween. Lazuli combine this with a Peter Gabriel style, but their melodies and textures are different enough to make them unique. They have electrifying instrumental power, more explosive than Halloween or Gabriel, matching King Crimson in that regard, while they also have a singer who is as emotionally expressive as Christian Dťcamps.
Lazuliís 2007 second CD En avant doute (currently out-of-print) was their breakthrough, a beautiful collection of sophisticated songs, succeeding in combining the suggestive power of French words and the sophistication of the instrumentation. Amnťsie (2003) is Lazuliís first CD, reissued by Musea in 2006. The style here is similar, overall closer to being a French Peter Gabriel, seemingly influenced most by atmospheric Gabriel tracks such as San Jacinto.
4603 battements (digipack) is Lazuliís 2011 studio CD. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Tant que líherbe est grasse (digipack) is Lazuliís 2014 studio CD, which features Fish singing on one song. You can listen to the first song on Lazuliís site.
Nos ‚mes saoules (2016, digipack) is Lazuliís sixth studio CD and includes a 20-page booklet. Read The Progressive Aspect review.
Check our DVDs page for Lazuliís DVDs.
Aaron Goldich, keyboardist for U.S. prog band The Source, formed a newer band called Ampledeed. A Is for Ampledeed (2013, digisleeve) retains some of the sound of The Source but goes for greater complexity while maintaining accessibility, shifting toward a Canterbury style. ďThis is indeed a very good album, a uniquely creative and energetic piece, very hard to describe but very easy to listen to even though this is not the most digestible platter I have come across. No, this is quite an exercise in complexity and I wouldnít want it any other way... While the í70s influence is strong -- I hear bands like Caravan, The Beatles, Gentle Giant, and Happy the Man -- there are also modern elements to be found. Accessibility and complexity do not often go hand in hand, but Ampledeed have found a way to make it work. I for one cannot wait to hear what they come out with next.Ē Read the full Sea of Tranquility review and the Exposť review.
BYOB (2016, digisleeve) is their outstanding follow-up, with everything sounding more polished than on their debut. Ampledeed are accessible and song-oriented one moment, then the next moment head off in unexpected directions, the music full of twists and turns. Think of a marriage of Happy the Man, Echolyn, and Thievesí Kitchen, then think some more. It would be hard for this album to be any proggier, so if Ampledeed were somewhat overlooked before, that wonít continue after BYOB. Read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review. (Each CD counts as only one-half CD for shipping.)
Kiama is a new all-star prog band formed by Rob Reed (Magenta), Andy Edwards (Frost, IQ), Luke Machin (Maschine, The Tangent), and Dylan Thompson (The Reasoning). Kiamaís prog leans to the classic rock side. As the band says: ďWe drew musical references from the early 70s bands who were primarily thought of as rock bands, but to us were responsible for some of the greatest prog epics. Led Zeppelinís Kashmir and Stairway to Heaven, Rainbowís Stargazer, and Queenís Bohemian Rhapsody were the order of the day. It was all about the melody, groove, and the songs, not musical widdle. There was no point in doing what each of us had done previously in our respective bands; the goal was to do something different. One ingredient that you find with these classic albums of the 70s was that the bands were not afraid to mix the styles of music up from track to track. On a Zeppelin or Queen album, each track would have a different feel: rock, folk, jazz, blues. This is something we were not afraid to do. We just did what we liked, so each track ended up with a different feel. These days albums are very linear, stay in one style, and can be a little monotonous.Ē Sign of IV (2015, digisleeve) was recorded at Peter Gabrielís Real World studio, with the band playing together in the same room for that authentic feel. Listen to Tears, Slip Away, and Cold Black Heart on YouTube.
This Zara-thustra (with the hyphen) is not to be confused with any other German band named Zarathustra (there are several). This Zara-thustra is a Munich-based symphonic rock band formed in 1982 by Hermann Weindorf (keyboards, vocals), who had previously played with Doldingerís Passport, along with his brothers Berthold (vocals, saxophone, clarinet), Alfons (vocals, drums), and Clemens (vocals, horn, keyboards), plus Walter Black (vocals, drums) and Max Sprenger (vocals, keyboards). They released three LPs between 1983-1985 from which this 2015 compilation CD (digipack) draws 16 songs selected by the musicians themselves, all with German lyrics, giving the music a flavor seldom heard today. Some of the music sounds like 1980s radio fare, albeit with classical flourishes and some unlikely elements. It is very melodic, full of hooks, and much more (new) romantic than the NDW (German new wave) bands prevalent at that time.
Solarisí Martian Chronicles Live CD was recorded live at the Palace of Arts in Budapest in October 2014. Solaris played all of their classic Martian Chronicles album, a subset of the Martian Chronicles II Suite, plus a few songs from their second album 1990. Due to space limitations, the 80-minute CD omits three songs. Read the DPRP review. See our Hungarian page for more Solaris and related CDs.
Andy Jackson is probably best known for his role as Pink Floyd engineer and co-producer, but he is a musician and composer in his own right, having recorded the albums On the Surface, Obvious, and Mythical Burrowing Animals*. (Apparently selling CDs was not the goal of those albums, as Andy mostly hoarded them.) Signal to Noise (2014, digipack) is, not surprisingly, quite Floydian. This deluxe edition adds a DVD-Audio disc (NTSC, all-region) containing a 96kHz / 24-bit quad (4.0) mix in your choice of Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio, both of which are lossless, plus a hi-res LPCM stereo mix. Read the Mediaversal review. Watch the album preview video and the video for The Boy in the Forest.
73 Days at Sea (2016, digipack) sees Jackson fully assuming the mantle of Pink Floyd. David Jackson (Van Der Graaf Generator) and Anne-Marie Helder (Panic Room, Mostly Autumn, Karnataka) guest. The DVD features a 5.1 surround mix and 96 kHz / 24-bit stereo. The widescreen, cinematic music blossoms in surround. Watch the album preview video.
* Described by the one (and only) amazon reviewer as ďEasily the best record ever made. This could be the basis for a whole new religion that could one day topple Christianity.Ē
This is the 2016 debut by The Mute Gods, a new band signed to InsideOut whose members are all renowned prog musicians. The band leader is bassist, Chapman Stick player, and vocalist Nick Beggs (Steve Hackett, Steven Wilson, Lifesigns, Lonely Robot,...). Beggs is helped most by long-time Steve Hackett collaborator and keyboardist Roger King. Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, UK, The Aristocrats,...) plays the drums on most of the tracks. Guests include Adam Holzman, Frank Van Bogaert (Fish on Friday), Ricky Wilde, Rob Reed, Nick DíVirgilio, and Gary OíToole. The label says the album is ďa mercurial journey that seamlessly shifts between the realms of progressive rock and adventurous pop.Ē Watch the official videos for the title track and Feed the Troll. This is the U.S. jewel case edition.
4Ĺ (2016) is Steven Wilsonís interim release between Hand. Cannot. Erase. and the next studio album. Of the six tracks, four originated during the sessions for Hand. Cannot. Erase. and one from the The Raven That Refused to Sing sessions. The last track is a version of Donít Hate Me, a song originally recorded by Porcupine Tree in 1998, and is based on a live recording made on the recent European tour with additional recording done later in the studio. The vocals on this new version are sung as a duet between Steven and Ninet Tayeb. Also appearing on the album are current and former members of Stevenís band: Adam Holzman, Nick Beggs, Guthrie Govan, Dave Kilminster, Craig Blundell, Marco Minnemann, Chad Wackerman, and Theo Travis. The Blu-ray features DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 96/24 5.1 LPCM, and 96/24 stereo LPCM audio, plus six bonus instrumentals and alternate mixes including a 5.1 mix of the 2015 version of Lazarus. The Blu-ray includes mp3 and FLAC download codes that do not come with the CD version of this album, so you are covered. (If you have never experienced Steven Wilson in surround, our heart goes out to you.) Listen to the album trailer (all 15 seconds of it) on YouTube. See Page 2 for more Steven Wilson titles.
This is the 2015 (2016 in the U.S.) debut CD (digipack) from the main man behind The Pineapple Thief. All the tracks were written and performed by Bruce Soord with Darran Charles of Godsticks playing additional guitar. Here Soord focuses on the more introspective and dreamier side of his songwriting. As the Crash and Ride Music review implies, this album relates to The Pineapple Thief in the same way Lunatic Soul relates to Riverside. Listen to the album teaser, Willow Tree, and Familiar Patterns on YouTube. Read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review. See Page 2 for The Pineapple Thief CDs.
Nash the Slash was the alias of the late Canadian musician Jeff Plewman. Not only did Plewman use the pseudonym, beginning in 1979 he performed with his face covered in surgical bandages, making for one enigmatic artist. Nash the Slash may be best known to prog fans as the original electric violinist and electric mandolinist in FM. He didnít stick around long after Black Noise but did rejoin FM for the forgettable Con-test (1985) and Tonight (1987) albums. The first recorded output of his solo career was the 1978 Bedside Companion EP, followed by Dreams & Nightmares (1979) and Children of the Night (1981), continuing to release studio albums through 2008. Bedside Companion and Dreams & Nightmares are instrumental, while Children of the Night was the first to feature vocals.
This 2016 2CD reissue of Dreams & Nightmares comes in a DVD-size tall digipack with booklet (counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping). The second CD in the set is Bedside Companion, which Nash claimed was the first EP that could be played at two speeds (45 and 33-1/3). Both speeds are included on this CD. (Really it was a 45 rpm record, but a radio DJ mistakenly played the whole thing at 33-1/3 when it was first released.) Children of the Night was Nashís most popular full-length album. This 2016 reissue comes in a 6-panel digipack and adds six bonus tracks: three live, one previously unreleased, and two alternate versions. All the audio on both titles has been remastered and the artwork restored to the best possible quality. Nash combined synth music with his signature electric violin and mandolin, the results being generally eerie and dark on Dreams & Nightmares, more accessible on Children of the Night. Among his acknowledged influences are classical music, Hawkwind, and lots of Krautrock pioneers: Neu, Michael Rother, Ash Ra Temple, Amon Duul, and Kraftwerk, which should give you a good idea where his music is coming from.
This is the 2016 U.S. edition on The End Records, which comes in a tall digisleeve. Deliverance and Damnation were originally released separately in 2002 and 2003 respectively, but the albums stem from the same writing and recording sessions and were originally intended as a double album, even if the two are dissimilar. This edition puts the two together on two CDs that contain new stereo mixes. More significant are the two DVDs (NTSC, all-region) which contain new 5.1 surround mixes (DTS 96/24 5.1 and Dolby AC3 5.1) as well as the new stereo mixes in 96/24 LPCM. Steven Wilson did the new mixes for Damnation, while Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief) did the new mixes for Deliverance. The artwork was reworked by original designer Travis Smith, while the 32-page book features liner notes by Mikael Akerfeldt and Jerry Ewing of Prog magazine. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Memorias do Tempo (2008) is the first solo CD by Gťrson Werlang, the guitarist and singer of the Brazilian progressive rock band PoÁos & Nuvens. Other PoÁos & Nuvens members guest, and this is as good as or better than the PoÁos & Nuvens CDs. The lineup varies from track to track, as Memorias do Tempo is a mix of large-lineup symphonic rock pieces with an instrumental emphasis, and smaller scale songs that are more vocal, more intimate, and more acoustic. Werlang sings in Portuguese. In addition there are beautiful female vocals, sometimes wordless, sometimes in duets with Werlang. The violinist from PoÁos & Nuvens appears on two tracks; other musicians add keyboards, bass, and drums, while Werlang plays electric and classical guitars. There are high-energy passages, but more often the atmosphere is warm, slightly spacey, and affective. The artwork in the booklet also deserves praise.
Sistema Solar (2015) is Werlangís second, again a mix of larger-scale progressive pieces and smaller scale songs. Listen to Anťis de Saturno, O ŕltimo Tango em Plut„o, and Noites de Inverno on YouTube. Check our South American page for the PoÁos & Nuvens CDs.
This is the 2015 40th Anniversary edition of Klaatuís debut album, which is fully remastered and comes in a digisleeve with a full-color booklet including lyrics, in-depth liner notes, and interview. We believe the mastering is the same as the 2011 edition released by Klaatu on their own label but not widely distributed. The 1976 LP was simply titled Klaatu in the U.S., but the Canadian LP was titled 3:47 E.S.T. after the exact time the alien Klaatu landed in the 1951 classic sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still. Most of you, or at least those in North America, should be familiar with this prog-pop album engineered and produced by Terry Brown, which is bookended by the two best songs. The 7:18 opener Calling Occupants (of Interplanetary Craft) was famously covered by The Carpenters, and much later by Unitopia on their Covered Mirror album. The 8:18 Little Neutrino that closes the album is the other highlight. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Ed Bernard is the guitarist of Toronto prog band Druckfarben, in which he also plays violin and mandolin and contributes backing vocals. On his first solo album Polydactyl (2015, digipack), Bernard also takes care of keyboards, bass, and vocals, while two drummers split drum duties. Polydactyl is every bit as proggy as Druckfarben and on the same high level. The album features guest vocalists Cameron Hawkins of FM and Druckfarben bandmate Phil Naro. William Hare (Druckfarben keyboardist) plays piano on one song, while two other musicians guest on piano and bass. Maybe the band weíre most frequently reminded of is Kansas, but the album also contains a lot of high-energy rock-fusion as well as influences of Genesis, Yes, and others. Like Druckfarben, this is classic progressive rock surpassed by few today. The virtuosity is obvious but never obscures the melodies and songs. And the acoustic instruments are not forgotten. Read the Progressive Music Planet review. See our Canadian page for the Druckfarben CDs and DVD.
Galahadís Solidarity: Live in Konin (DVD+2CD, 2015, digipack) was recorded in Konin, Poland in October 2013, one of a few selected live shows promoting the Battle Scars and Beyond the Realms of Euphoria albums. This live album includes Mark Spencer in the line-up on bass guitar as well as Neil Pepperís bass and guitar parts on a couple tracks. Both the 2 CDs as well as the DVD (PAL, all-region) concert film contain the complete show. The DVD adds a band documentary/interview and photo gallery. View the track list.
Sleepers (1995) is Galahadís third studio album, which made great strides from the previous two. The Avalon Records edition is the 2005 second edition on the bandís own label, which comes in a jewel case. The remastered digipack is the 2015 20th anniversary edition on the Oskar label. It was recently remastered and generally spruced up by Karl Groom at Thin Ice Studios. This digipack edition also adds two bonus tracks: Suffering in Silence, which we believe had been a Japan-only bonus track, and a new orchestral/vocal re-recording of Pictures of Bliss. See our British page for lots more Galahad titles and more info.
Lizard are a Polish prog band featuring powerful vocals in Polish. They debuted in 1996 but their earlier CDs have gone out-of-print. At times Lizard have been very influenced by King Crimson circa 1973-1974 (so thatís where they took their name), while they also update the tradition of some of the great East European progressive bands of the 1970s and 1980s such as Modry Efekt and Synkopy.
Spam (2006) is the last Lizard album to feature violin. 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.
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). This concept album is one of their two best, some King Crimson influence still showing but the style overall quite different from KC. Itís still easy to think of a contemporary (heavier) version of Modry Efekt or Synkopy, given the similar sound of the West Slavic languages. Most of the Polish prog bands that emerged during the 1990s (Lizard, Collage, Quidam, Abraxas, etc.) sang in Polish, but since then laws were passed mandating all vocals be in English, and so there are too many today who would rather miss out on great progressive rock with great vocals than come to terms with the existence of other languages. Those so-called prog fans wonít know Modry Efekt and Synkopy anyway and probably stopped reading this already. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Live: Destruction and Little Pieces of Cheese (2015) is a recording of Lizardís concert in Łůdź, 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. (So is there a Blu-ray in the works?)
The Tour Kaputt DVD (PAL, all-region, digipack) and double-CD (digipack) each contain 13 tracks (143 minutes) recorded live at De Boerderij in The Netherlands in 2007, featuring the line-up of Roine Stolt, Tomas Bodin, Hasse FrŲberg, Jonas Reingold, and special guest Pat Mastelotto. Each has a 20-page booklet. See our Scandinavian page for The Flower Kingsí CDs.
Leap Day are a Dutch symphonic prog band formed by members of Flamborough Head, Trion, Nice Beaver, King Eider, and Pink Floyd Project. They debuted in 2009 with Awaking the Muse and followed in 2011 with Skylgeís Lair. The first album was full of upbeat, melodic neo-prog in the old Marillion, IQ, and Egdon Heath styles, while the second showed Leap Day leaning a bit more toward classic prog. See our Dutch page for these first two Leap Day CDs.
From the Days of Deucalion, Chapter 1 (2013, digipack) followed on the heels of new albums by Trion and Flamborough Head, a very productive period for these musicians. Watch the album trailer video and listen to Insects on YouTube. ďTaking little cues from the classic era of Genesis and the epic sound of Pink Floyd, but with a vocal personality all their own and little traces of humour, this atmospheric work is not only Leap Dayís crowning achievement to date, but one of the finest neo-prog albums in a long while... Tighter melodies, tastefully executed instrumental passages without the need for drawn-out showboating, warm production and a surreal subject matter showcase the band improving everything they already did very well, while also setting the bar very high for not only themselves, but the neo-prog sub-genre itself.Ē Read the full review and others at Prog Archives, also the Background Magazine review.
From the Days of Deucalion, Chapter 2 (2015, digipack) is the second part of the concept album series. (Who knows how many chapters this thing has?) Watch the album trailer.
Hyperlive (2015, digipack) is the first live DVD (NTSC, all-region) for popular Dutch neo-prog band Knight Area. An audio CD is included. Hyperlive was filmed in Katowice, Poland on 9 April 2015, with Knight Area performing 12 tracks including almost all of their most recent album Hyperdrive. Bonus features include interviews with Mark Smit, Gerben Klazinga, Mark Bogert, and Pieter van Hoorn, plus a photo gallery. Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo audio, 100 minutes. Watch the DVD trailer. See our Dutch page for Knight Areaís CDs.
Transfiction (2015, digipack) is the second CD for Elleven, a German melodic neo-prog quintet with female vocals, along the lines of Breathing Space. The band began circa 2001 as an offshoot of Chandelier (one of the earliest German neo-prog bands), though by the time this album was recorded, the Chandelier guys had moved on. Watch the video for Try . With purchase of the CD, weíre supposed to include a download card for an instrumental mix of the album. If we forget, please bug us.
Nad Sylvan first appeared on the prog scene as singer in the Genesis-inspired Swedish duo Unifaun before joining Roine Stolt in Agents of Mercy. More recently, Nad has been Steve Hackettís singer. Nadís solo album Courting the Widow (2015, 70-minutes) features an impressive cast of guests including Steve Hackett, Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Transatlantic), Nick Beggs (Steve Hackett, Steven Wilson, Lifesigns,...), Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings), Nick DíVirgilio (Big Big Train, Spockís Beard), Gary OíToole and Rob Townsend (Steve Hackett), Doane Perry (Jethro Tull), AnnbjÝrg Lien, and others. Rooted in classic prog, Nad considers Courting the Widow ďvery much a symphonic album... I feel that I have delivered an album thatís true to myself and my values in life. Itís heartfelt, passionate, emotional, and full of dramatic passages.Ē Read The Prog Mind review. Listen to the album teaser and the title track on YouTube.
Molok (2015, mediabook) is Gazpachoís ninth studio album. World-renowned Norwegian accordion player Stian Carstensen from Farmers Market guests, as well as Norwegian music archaeologist Gjermund Kolltveit who plays some stone age instruments including our favorite, moose jaws. ďMolok is, in its own right, a deeply impressive piece of work. Conceptually intriguing, instrumentally beguiling and emotionally powerful, itís beautifully composed, played and produced Ė another practically flawless entry in one of the most consistent back catalogues in modern progressive rock... History will record this band as one of the most relentlessly adventurous and eclectic progressive rock bands of recent years, but for now Gazpacho remain one of the best-kept secrets of modern progressive rock, and Molok numbers among their finest achievements.Ē Read the full Echoes and Dust review, also the Sputnik Music review. Listen to Know Your Time on YouTube.
Night of the Demon (2015, digipack) was recorded when Gazpacho embarked upon the Demon album tour in spring 2014. They brought in Dutch filmmaker Jon Vis to film their show at Boerderij in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands. Gazpacho played songs from Firebird, Night, Tick Tock, Missa Atropos, March of Ghosts, and the majority from Demon. The 80-minute audio CD features nine tracks while the DVD (NTSC, all-region) features the full 14 track performance. Watch the DVD trailer. See our Scandinavian page for more Gazpacho titles and info on the band.
American Jeremy Morris is best known to prog fans for his Pilgrimís Journey and Celestial City CDs released on the Kinesis label in the mid-1990s. He has released many other albums on his own label, most with vocals, his main styles other than prog being psychedelic rock, space rock, and power pop. Across its 77 minutes, Not of This World (2015) covers most of Jeremyís styles, concentrating on his progressive and late-60s psychedelic rock styles. The CD features mostly long tracks, both vocal and instrumental, concluding with the 17-minute progressive highlight The Other World. The most pop-sounding material suggests an alternate universe where The Monkees got a Mellotron and started to go prog. Read the Something Else! review. Listen to mp3s of What Planet Are We From?, The Other World, and Clouds are Lifting. See our U.S. page for more Jeremy CDs.
Moth Vellumís debut CD (2008, digipack) introduces a Los Angeles-based symphonic prog quartet heavily influenced by Yes and committed to classic 1970s progressive aesthetics, albeit with modern production. They resemble Yes both vocally and instrumentally, often using similar guitar and bass tones as Howe and Squire, and generally staying near the Wakeman keyboard style, Mellotron washes included. Thereís enough room in the Yes universe to fit several bands heavily influenced by Yes that sound little like each other, as for example no one will confuse Moth Vellum with Starcastle. Thereís also a little Genesis in Moth Vellumís style.
Moth Vellum disbanded, but bandleader Johannes Luley released his first solo CD Tales from Sheepfatherís Grove (digipack) in 2013. As you might guess from the cover art, the Yes influence is dominant. Because Luley uses a lot of acoustic instruments and a vast array of hand percussion in lieu of drum kit, Sheepfatherís is suggestive of Jon Andersonís Olias of Sunhillow, with a similar tribal/spiritual/enchanting vibe. The keyboard sounds are vintage, and the album is meant to be heard as a continuous piece of music, or at least a Side 1 and Side 2 of a continuous piece of music. But the occasional electric guitar sounds like Steve Howe, so youíll have to conflate Olias and Beginnings in your mind. Read reviews.
Perfect Beings is the new prog band assembled by Luley. Perfect Beings I is their 2014 debut, while Perfect Beings II is their 2015 second CD; both are digipacks. Yes is still the dominant influence, but it is less overt than in Moth Vellum or on Sheepfatherís, as Perfect Beings have a more original and unique style. The soothing vocals establish a serene baseline from which the music expands in symphonic splendor or bursts out in intricate instrumental passages. Read reviews.
Glasgowís Comedy of Errors had been known (if they were known at all) as the other Scottish neo-prog band, after Pallas and Abel Ganz. Though the band formed in 1984, their time had not yet come. Comedy of Errors are calling Disobey (2011, digipack) their debut, but the band released a vinyl mini-album in 1986 that compiled their demos to that point. Those tracks were later combined with 1987 demos to form the eponymous CD released in 1988 by the French UGUM/MSI label. (Good luck finding that now.) The 2011 reformed Comedy of Errors features the three core members from those days, a new drummer, and a bit of assistance from Hew Montgomery (ex-Abel Ganz). Rob Aubrey did the final mixing and mastering for all these CDs, almost a requirement for a UK neo-prog CD. If youíre a fan of UK neo-prog and didnít know of Comedy of Errors before, you are in for a treat. And if you do know Comedy of Errors, you are in for a treat. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Listen to the Disobey montage.
Comedy of Errorsí triumphant comeback continues with Fanfare & Fantasy (2013, digipack). Read reviews at Prog Archives. Listen to the Fanfare & Fantasy montage.
Spirit (2015, digipack) is Comedy of Errorsí latest, their best sounding CD yet and one that every self-respecting fan of neo-prog needs. Listen to the Spirit sampler.
Heavy on the Beach (2015, digipack) is the debut CD from Glasgowís Grand Tour, a new band featuring some not-so-new musicians. Grand Tourís leader is keyboardist Hew Montgomery, a founding member of Abel Ganz. Grand Tour had its genesis in 2005. Hew says heíd begun to feel the need to take more direct control of his own material as Abel Ganz moved off in a slightly different musical direction from his. In fact, the current Abel Ganz has no full-time members in common with the band that recorded the first two Abel Ganz albums; it appears only current bandleader Denis Smith has any connection to Abel Ganz of the 1980s or 1990s. The second member to sign on to Grand Tour was local guitarist Andrew Young. The two were joined in 2007 by Joe Cairney, vocalist with then-dormant Comedy of Errors. The lineup was completed with the addition of drummer Bruce Levick (Comedy of Errors) in 2009. In 2010, Young was replaced by Comedy of Errors guitarist Mark Spalding, who agreed to join after a brief listen to the existing demos. So with the keyboardist/composer of the original Abel Ganz and three Comedy of Errors members, you ought to have a pretty good idea what youíre going to get. This is Glasgow-prog!
John Hackett is of course Steveís younger brother and longtime sideman. Another Life (2015, digipack) is Johnís long-awaited new rock album, the follow-up to 2005ís Checking Out of London, with most of the same people involved. Nick Clabburn again provides lyrics, and John is again joined by brother Steve on lead guitar, while Anthony Phillips guests. The whole project was produced and mixed by Nick Magnus, who again takes care of keyboards, drums, and programming.
Klubkinís Voyage is the 79-minute 2011 debut by a Russian symphonic prog band in the vein of Kansas, Yes, Genesis, and Camel. The lyrics are in Russian, though the music is heavily instrumental. The audio was mastered at Masterdisk in New York City, and the artwork is gorgeous. Read the Prognaut and DPRP reviews. Klubkinís Voyage was April 2011 Record of the Month at Progressive Rock BR (read review).
Another World (2015, digipack) is Quorumís second, but the compositions date to a decade earlier, before Klubkinís 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 Klubkinís Voyage. The material that appears on Another World was revised and recorded again almost from scratch. The audio was again mastered at Masterdisk in New York City. Klubkinís 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 weíre talking ELP, then itís Little Tragedies.) There is some fantastic Genesis-inspired material here, and the fact Quorumís 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 Belgian bandís name results from a typo on their first demo and the decision that it was simpler to change the band name than to correct the demo. Quantum Fantay are a space rock band that have people as excited as when they first heard Ozric Tentacles. If the Quantum Fantay CDs donít make you jump around the room, well then youíre probably not prone to jumping around rooms. But if youíre a fan of Ozric Tentacles, then itís a good bet Quantum Fantayís CDs will excite you like no Ozrics CD has in years. Maybe ever. Give the Ozrics credit for doing it first, and they are a huge influence, but Quantum Fantay are more melodic and include elements of symphonic prog that take this style to a new level. Their sequential electronics are outstanding. They breathe new life and energy into a genre many thought had exhausted its possibilities. Believe every superlative you read about this band; they are the current progressive space rock kings.
Terragaia (2014, digipack) is a 70-minute concept album featuring guest appearances by members of Anima Mundi, Neo Prophet, and others. Despite the passage of nine years since the first Quantum Fantay CD, weíre still jumping around the room, and only slightly slower. Watch the videos for Chopsticks and Gongs and Desert Rush.
With four long tracks of almost exactly the same length, Dancing in Limbo (2015, digipack) showcases a new Quantum Fantay lineup, which only adds fresh angles to the bandís trademark style. Ed Wynne of Ozric Tentacles guests, which makes perfect sense.
Kind of surprising no one combined ďprogressiveĒ and ďfusionĒ for this band name before, even if there is little real fusion here. Profusion are an Italian heavy prog quintet (vocals in English, keys, guitars, bass, drums), who you might file alongside Subsignal. Profusionís drummer is a native of Georgia (the country, not the U.S. state), which explains the Georgian ethnic elements that appear in some songs. Phersu (2015, digipack) is Profusionís third album and features well-known guests from outside Italy, including Mamuka Ghaghanidze from Georgian ethnic fusion band The Shin, Polish virtuoso accordionist Jakub Mietła, and mezzo soprano Anita Rachvelishvili, originally from Georgia. (To see/hear Anita, watch the video for Wrinkled Maiden). A creative band like Profusion expands heavy prog beyond its usual restricted boundaries.
Vly is a distant collaboration between British-based guitarist Karl Demata (Crippled Black Phoenix) and New York singer Keith Gladysz, Italian keyboardist Elisa Montaldo (Il Tempio delle Clessidre), bassist Chris Heilmann (Crippled Black Phoenix), and Swedish drummer Mattias Olsson (ńnglagŚrd, White Willow). The musicians never met face-to-face, instead relying on the now common method of sending files over the Internet. The band says the sound of I / Time (2015, digipack) includes ďelements of progressive rock, classic rock, folk, early-Floydian psychedelia, intimate pop melodies, massive walls of epic guitar riffage, post-classical, post-rock, and electronic music.Ē The music is in the mainstream of the modern prog style that has Steven Wilson as its patron saint, with that slightly psychedelic, dreamy, indie-rock atmosphere. The retro elements include some Beatles references, the aforementioned Floyd influence, and some vintage keys, but otherwise there is little connection to classic prog or ńnglagŚrd or Il Tempio delle Clessidre. Just so thatís clear. Watch the album trailer and the video for Circles.
t is the moniker used by Thomas Thielen, formerly singer/guitarist of the band Scythe. Voices (2006, 73-minutes) is the second t album, an under-recognized work of modern symphonic prog. Thielenís voice has similarities to Steve Hogarth and Peter Gabriel, and the music has similarities to Brave and other later Marillion, to Gabriel, and to bands such as No-Man and Product. The predominant mood is dark, atmospheric, surreal, dramatic, and profound. There are lots of richly-textured, detailed, dense instrumental arrangements that often include Mellotron and real strings. It is majesty without bombast. These tracks supposedly deal with the voices we hear in our head in various life situations, and Thielenís voice has a distant quality that evokes that. This is the MALS label edition, which is identical to the Galileo edition apart from label boilerplate.
Psychoanorexia (2013, digipack) is the fourth t album. Only four tracks span 66-minutes; three are multi-part suites running about 20-minutes each. While there is still that atmosphere similar to Hogarth-era Marillion, Psychoanorexia is darker, more symphonic, and more intense. This is pretty amazing stuff, not only in the way it bridges the gap between symphonic neo-prog and modern prog, but t takes the listener into an alternate musical reality, and after the album concludes, you may need to pause and take several deep breaths before returning to waking reality.
Fragmentropy (2015, digipack) continues an amazing string of albums for Thielen, with t now getting the recognition this music deserves.
Seven Steps to the Green Door consistently produce one of the most intriguing modern takes on progressive rock. In true postmodern fashion, this German band integrate many different styles into a cohesive whole, but there is little doubt that it is symphonic prog at its core. The classically-influenced piano playing of Marek Arnold is a key feature of the music, and he also adds some woodwinds. They have excellent male vocals (and some female vocals) in English. Their albums are sophisticated and very well recorded.
Step in 2 My World (2008, 66-minutes) is their second. Where the band have really taken things to the next level are the vocals. They use one female and two male singers, both in lead and harmony roles, plus a guest spot for Larry B., the singer from the current Stern Combo Meissen and Toxic Smile.
The? Book (2011, digipack) was first released as a hardcover digibook with 52-page booklet, but that edition is gone, replaced by this less expensive and less elaborate digipack. Larry B. again guests, as well as Flaming Row leader Martin Schnella (who would become a full band member). This concept album is the bandís most ambitious to date, more intense than the first two. ďThe conclusion this time is simple: the best (retro)-progressive album of the year. Melodic but never dull, diverse without being unstructured, both gentle and fierce, sustained by an elaborate story that focuses on what seems for a lot of people to be currently burning in their soul.Ē [Musikreviews.de, translated from German] ď...the album offers everything the proggiesí heart desires: springy melodies, complex rhythms, delicate vocal harmonies, fast-paced keyboard and guitar riffs, and a pinch of metal for seasoning here and there... Certainly one of the best German (prog) rock releases of recent years.Ē [Babyblaue Seiten, translated from German] ďSeven Steps to the Green Door have clearly reached the premier league of the German prog scene... My absolute buy recommendation!Ē [proggies.ch, translated from German]
Among the guests on Fetish (2015, digipack, 78-minutes) are Arno Menses (Subsignal), Dan Mash (United Progressive Fraternity, The Tangent), and Steve Unruh (Resistor, United Progressive Fraternity). Seven Steps are at their best on this album, which has everything a fan of contemporary prog could want. Fetish is so nimble, melodic, and playful, and yet it is inventive, always pleasantly surprising the listener, compositions full of complexity that still come across as prog ear candy because the band have a knack for making everything flow effortlessly. Watch the album preview video, the video for Porn!, and listen to Inferior on YouTube. ďSeven Steps to the Green Door has crafted a magnificent album with Fetish, itís as easy as that. The sheer diversity of this album will perhaps alienate some, but the generally easy-flowing compositions are easier on the ears than you would imagine from a band incorporating such a great diversity into their material. And a top quality mix and production also ensure that these fairly challenging compositions are easy to enjoy. An eclectic recording well worth inspecting, and on my personal shortlist as a strong contender for album of the year for 2015.Ē Read the full Prog Archives review. See our German page for the related band Toxic Smile.
Italian Stefano Panunzi is a key figure in that ambient & jazz inflected prog subgenre that may not yet have a name but can count musicians such as Richard Barbieri, Gavin Harrison, Tim Bowness (not to mention Henry Fool and No-Man), David Sylvian, and the late Mick Karn among its other leading lights. Panunzi is leader of the band Fjieri, who debuted in 2009 with Endless. All those musicians apart from Sylvian played on that album, alongside quite a few others. Words Are All We Have (2015, digipack) is Fjieriís second, another Anglo-Italian project, the participants this time including Fjieri core member Nicola Lori, Bowness, Harrison, 05Ric, Jakko M. Jakszyk, Daniele Iacono (Ezra Winston), American expat trumpeter Mike Applebaum, and several others. Loriís twisting fretless bass is a worthy successor to Mick Karnís. Most of the songs have vocals, sung by Jakszyk except one by Bowness, and they are quality songs. Imagine the band Japan (at the end of their career) extrapolated into even more progressive realms, merging with King Crimson, No-Man, and the solo work of all these great musicians. Watch the album trailer.
The CDs Stefano Panunzi has released under his own name are quite similar to the Fjieri CDs. A Rose (2010, digipack) is his second and features Mick Karn, Tim Bowness, Giancarlo Erra (Nosound), Theo Travis, Markus Reuter, Robbie Aceto, and many more musicians. It downplays the ambient jazz of Panunziís first CD and features more songs: seven songs using seven different singers, plus three instrumentals. The production is immaculate, the music mesmerizing and seductive; this is a masterpiece of ambient progressive rock. Read the Prognaut and DPRP reviews.
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