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NEW AND FEATURED:
This French instrumental band has existed since 1977 and contributed to the 1989 Musea album Enchantement. They were initially influenced by King Crimson, Robert Fripp, and Brian Eno but have since found a musical identity closer to Edhels or A Triggering Myth. Their first album was In Strum Mental (2002), followed by Le Repli des Ombres (2005), Timeless Island (2012), and For a Dreamer (2017). Sombre Reptile play their own brand of instrumental prog, melodic and structured, with hypnotic atmospheres, an original rhythmic base, ethnic flavors, and inspired, fluid dialogues between the Dedieu brothers on guitars and keyboards. It’s really the dreamlike atmospheres behind the lead instruments that elevates Sombre Reptile above the norm. Read the Proggnosis reviews of all these albums.
Norwegian band Sonic Sight is Finn Arild Aasheim (vocals, guitars ,bass, keyboards), who released two earlier albums under the name Finn Arild, and longtime friend Reidar Viik (keyboards, drums). This is a symphonic prog concept album generally in a Genesis vein, with neo-prog appeal as well, and the best yet for Finn Arild. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
The first thing that caught our eye about this CD is the fantastic cover by Michael Cheval, and you can always judge a prog CD by its cover, so you’re encouraged to view a large version. Phil Lanzon has been the keyboardist for Uriah Heep since 1986, but his debut solo album If You Think I’m Crazy! (2017) is outside the narrow confines of Heep music. It appears Phil had some serious prog he needed to manifest. He has a lot of pop/rock songwriting experience and had accumulated a backlog of songs that were not Heep-related. (OK, one song is Heep-ish.) This is glorious melodic/catchy prog plus some proggy ballads that probably could only have been created by someone from the first generation of British rock musicians. Lanzon grew up alongside the likes of Genesis, though he also admits to listening to and admiring Steven Wilson. Genesis may be the best single reference if one includes both their prog and pop eras, as the music here spans both. Lanzon’s songs also tend to be story-based. It’s surprising how bombastic most of this music is (‘bombast’ is an entirely positive thing to us progsters), with choirs, strings, and immaculate production yielding that larger-than-life sound. John Mitchell (Lonely Robot) had a big role on the album, playing guitar and singing some of the lead vocals. Other lead vocals are by Andy Makin, Andy Caine, and Lanzon himself. Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson, Frost) plays drums, Laurence Cottle (The Fents, The Alan Parsons Project, Bill Bruford’s Earthworks) plays bass. The whole album may make you nostalgic for the 1970s in that some of these songs would have had a chance at radio airplay then. Not now. You can audition the entire album via the mp3 icon above. If you’re like us, you skip to the longest track, in this case The Forest, although the shortest song, the instrumental Step Overture, is the most full-on prog (like the song Cinema was on Yes’s 90125), and the first song Mind Over Matter the one most likely to get lodged in your skull.
Seas of Change (2018, digipack) is the follow-up to 2017’s Quiet Storms. As the band says, whereas Quiet Storms contains 15 short-ish tracks and is a much more mellow affair, Seas of Change is the polar opposite. It consists of just one 43-minute track that twists and turns creating “a full-on, no holds barred prog/rock rollercoaster of an album”. Seas of Change is kind of a hybrid in style, featuring more traditional, occasionally pastoral elements reminiscent of the older Galahad sound while also incorporating the heavier guitar and more modern keyboard sounds of the last few studio albums. Seas of Change is also the first album to feature Lee Abraham on all guitars following his rejoining the band in spring 2017. Lee had been Galahad’s bass player from 2005-2009. Seas of Change is also Tim Ashton’s first appearance on a Galahad album containing all new material since he appeared on Nothing Is Written back in 1990. Karl Groom mixed and mastered. To pad out the CD, there are two extended edits of sections of the main piece, adding 13 minutes. This is now the highest rated Galahad album on Prog Archives. “That it is a masterpiece is not in doubt, that it will be viewed as album of the year by many is also a shoe-in, while the understanding that in many ways this is the most important release of their career should be taken as read.” [Kev Rowland] Read The Progressive Aspect review. See our British page for the rest of the Galahad CDs.
The full name of the live double-CD is Live at ProgFarm 2006 & Northern Prog Festival 2015 (2017, digipack), with the 2006 concert on disc 1 and the 2015 concert on disc 2. Between 1997 and 2011, Flamborough Head organized 15 editions of ProgFarm, a progressive rock festival staged in The Netherlands. At the 10th anniversary edition in 2006, their sound engineer recorded their gig but the band didn’t release these recordings at that time. A few months later their show in Budapest, Hungary was recorded and they decided to use those recordings instead for the first Flamborough Head live album. Twenty years after the first edition of ProgFarm, these live recordings are released, with the band’s concert at The Northern Prog Festival 2015 included.
Shreds of Evidence (2017, digipack) is a collection of Flamborough Head rarities. Most of the tracks originally appeared on various artists projects including Mellow Records’ The Moody Blues tribute, Musea’s The Flower Kings tribute, Cyclops sampler CDs, Progwereld’s Prog NL CD, and the Dante’s Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso projects. None of these tracks are simple alternate mixes or edits. One is a reworked and extended version, otherwise the tracks do not appear on other Flamborough Head CDs. There are also some obscure unreleased live tracks. See the full track list specifying the origin of each track.
See our Dutch page for the full catalog of Flamborough Head CDs currently in-print, along with lots 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 Eddie’s bandmates: Edo Spanninga (keyboards, production), Margriet Boomsma (flute), Gert van Engelenburg (keys), and Derk Evert Waalkens (keys). Watch the album sampler video.
Mulder’s second CD Horizons (2016, digipack) contains 12 new tracks plus five live bonus tracks. His bandmates Edo Spanninga and Margriet Boomsma again contribute keyboards and flute, respectively, alongside a guest violinist. The live tracks are performed by a five-person band.
Mulder’s third CD In a Lifetime (2017, digipack) again includes some of his bandmates from Flamborough Head, Leap Day, and Pink Floyd Project. Centered on the 17-minute title track, this one is more band and rock oriented, so newcomers start here. Watch the album trailer.
Another prog band name that just rolls off the tongue. Chronicles from Imaginary Places (2017, digipack, 60-minutes) is the fifth album for this Italian prog band who sing in English and are more focused on British prog styles of the 1970s and 1980s while still incorporating the typical Italian romanticism.
First released in 2014, this 2017 second edition (digipack) adds three bonus tracks. No alternate mixes -- the bonus tracks are new compositions. Well, the last bonus track is actually a rearrangement of Le Orme’s Truck of Fire, which appears only on their In Concerto album. Italian prog band Sezione Frenante was formed way back in 1974 and played live many times, and much of the material of Metafora di un Viaggio (Metaphor of a Journey) was composed in 1978. The band split, resumed activity in 2006, eventually resulting in this debut album which not surprisingly is reminiscent of PFM, Banco, Locanda delle Fate, Le Orme, and Biglietto per L’Inferno. (That’s some pretty serious name dropping.) Listen to preview 1 and preview 2. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Ryan Parmenter was the leader of the band Eyestrings and is the nephew of Matthew Parmenter of Discipline. Clearly they share a lot of prog DNA as well as talent. One can hear songwriting chops and a melodic sense underlying Eyestrings’ dark, brooding progressive rock that is absent in many prog bands, and on The Noble Knave (2007), Parmenter makes that songwriting ability abundantly clear. The Noble Knave is a wonderful progressive pop album, a collection of songs written by Parmenter over the previous ten years. There is a strong Beatles influence, songs reminiscent of City Boy, some Beach Boys-level vocal harmonies, and much more. It is lively, fun, and very English. How a guy from Michigan can make such English-sounding music is a mystery. It’s all very clever and carried off with an obvious progressive sensibility, and the album is not as self-consciously retro nor as derivative as some other modern attempts at bringing the spirit of The Beatles forward. Read the Sea of Tranquility reviews.
While The Noble Knave is best referred to as prog-pop, One of a Different Color (2018, digipack, 59-minutes) is very much in the progressive rock vein of Eyestrings. The guitar work of David Dawkins features on half of the tracks, and Matthew Parmenter makes a cameo on violin on the title track. The album seems to have been intentionally organized into a side 1 and side 2, with the bitter, more dissonant songs on side 1. Side 2 does a 180, containing hopeful, joyous, majestic symphonic prog, arguably the best music Parmenter has produced under any name. And what we’re calling side 2 is actually close to 60% of the album.
Burdened Hands (2004, 66-minutes) is the debut by a Michigan-based quartet led by vocalist/keyboardist/composer Ryan Parmenter. If that last name looks familiar, Ryan is the nephew of Matthew Parmenter, and Eyestrings’ bassist and drummer have both been members of Discipline. This is an impressive debut, as the band have taken influences from the Beatles to the prog rock giants (Genesis, King Crimson, Yes) through to Tears for Fears and Radiohead and made it all their own. There is a great deal of variety here, yet the band pulls off the difficult trick of making it all sound cohesive. And it is all prog. Probably the closest reference is Echolyn with a little Discipline blended in (and more explicit Genesis references), especially in the way the band can be simultaneously retro and modern, and in the level of chops on display. Read the Progressor and Sea of Tranquility reviews.
This 2017 CD (digisleeve) is the first for German collective Atlantropa Project, made up of eight experienced musicians. Bandleader Heinz Kühne and two others were members of the band Waniyetula, who formed in 1969. Perhaps not a household prog name, but Waniyetula’s 1978 album Nature’s Clear Well was released under the band name Galaxy (which may have been the label’s doing), so only their 1983 album A Dream Within a Dream was released under the name Waniyetula. The concept of the Atlantropa Project album revolves around engineer Herrmann Sörgel, who beginning in the 1920s fought for his idea to build a massive dam between Gibraltar and Africa to drain the Mediterranean sea and create new land. It’s an excellent symphonic prog concept album with wide appeal. Watch the promo video.
Divided We Fall (2017, digipack) is the new studio album from this Floydian French band who sing in English. Read reviews at Prog Archives. See our French page for the full The Black Noodle Project catalog and all the info.
Invisibili Realtà is the 2017 album by Aldo Tagliapietra, founder, composer, singer, and bassist of Le Orme until 2009. Many no doubt feel that Tagliapietra was the heart and soul of Le Orme, similar to Roger Hodgson vis-à-vis Supertramp, even if the band using the name Le Orme now has made some excellent music since Tagliapietra’s departure. If we may misappropriate comments from an unsuspecting prog fan: “It’s like the 70s incarnation of Le Orme rose from the grave to record another album. Aldo Tagliapietra, at age 72, presents himself once again at his best. Neither his sophisticated songwriting skills nor his trademark clear voice have suffered over time.” [Sven B. Schreiber]
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), released on Rob Reed’s 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 you’re doing and just listen and smile.
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. Pete lost his sight as an infant to Retinoblastoma, making his story quite amazing and inspiring. “Peter 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.” Read the full Progradar review. Watch the videos for Beauty Falls and The Quest for Beauty.
The Depths of Winter (2017, digisleeve) runs over 70 minutes, with most of the songs based on wintery concepts. The music is sometimes more melancholy and personal than the previous two albums, with Jones’ soothing vocals serving as a warm blanket. Luke Machin (The Tangent) guests. Fans of Big Big Train don’t need us to recommend Tiger Moth Tales to them because they’re a clever lot who’ve already figured that out. Watch the videos for Hygge and The Ballad of Longshank John. Read The Progressive Aspect and The Prog Mind reviews.
Karfagen’s ninth studio album Messages from Afar: First Contact (2017, digipack) is the first chapter of a multi-album concept. The second chapter is due in 2018 but will be by Karfagen’s alter-ego Sunchild. The band says that this is their “homage to art rock as we know it from the heart of the 20th century”, while the label mentions Camel, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Happy the Man, and Yes. By now you shouldn’t need references, as Antony Kalugin has been responsible for a metric ton of great progressive rock over the past 10+ years, regardless of whether Karfagen, Sunchild, Hoggwash, or AKP is the vehicle. Read reviews at Prog Archives. See our East European page for the rest of the Karfagen and related bands catalog.
The Ocean (2017, digipack, 73-minutes) is the second CD for Smalltape, the Berlin-based band led by Philipp Nespital. Originally a solo project, the demands of live performance have led to the formation of what is now a quintet. The German press considers this to be potentially the best German prog album of the year, and the only thing keeping it off worldwide best-of-2017 lists now is the need for more exposure. It is a compositionally mature work of cinematic prog, and it can’t be pigeonholed into one of the substyles that almost all new prog falls into. Though not present on every track, there is a facility with jazz and fusion here that is usually missing from modern prog, as well as pianistic skills that are also the exception rather than the norm. Listen to the album teaser. Read The Prog Mind review. Please note the version sold by amazon.com is an on-demand CD-R; ours is the real thing.
Lee Abraham was the bass player of Galahad from 2005-2009 and rejoined the band in 2017 as guitarist. Having already done his Black & White album in 2009, Lee counters with Colours (2017). If one counts the Idle Noise album, this is Abraham’s seventh. It again features his core band of Gerald Mulligan on drums, Rob Arnold on piano, Alistair Begg on bass, with Lee handling all guitars and some keys. The vocalists keep coming back too: Dec Burke (Frost, Darwin’s Radio), Marc Atkinson (Riversea, Mandalaband, Nine Stones Close), Gary Chandler (Jadis), Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf), Simon Godfrey (Tinyfish, Valdez), and Steve Overland. Listen to the album overview. In what seems like a short time, Lee Abraham went from an unknown to one of our best selling artists.
Part of the British progressive revival, Welsh prog band Multi Story released their first LP East/West in 1985. We must’ve 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), 1987’s Through Your Eyes, with a different singer, but don’t fret too much if you’ve never heard it as it’s 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 you’re not familiar with East/West (it’s 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 Ford’s and Jon Anderson’s voices having much to do with the perception. To rerun an old quote from CD Services: “The 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.”
Live at Acapela (2017) is a double-CD recorded at Cardiff’s Acapela Studios as a finale to Multi Story’s 2016 tour. The album features tracks from all three Multi Story albums: East/West, Through Your Eyes, and Crimson Stone. Meanwhile, the band is working on material for their next studio album (apparently taking this notion of 21st century prog seriously).
The Los Angeles prog band Moth Vellum may have only made one album back in 2008, but its offspring are combining to give us more quality prog than might have existed had Moth Vellum continued. Mancunian Candidate is another branch off the Moth Vellum family tree, after Perfect Beings and Johannes Luley’s solo albums. Mancunian Candidate is based in San Francisco and is led by Matthew Swindells, who was drummer and vocalist with Moth Vellum. Swindells also plays keyboards on the self-titled debut (2017, digipack), which also features (among others) Matthew Charles Heulitt (Moetar) on guitar and a stellar cast of bass players including Matt Bissonette (Elton John, Joe Satriani) and Neil Fairclough (Queen). The music retains the Yes vibe of Moth Vellum, is of the same high quality, and will certainly appeal to the same fans. To understand the band name, you need to know that Swindells is an English expat from Manchester. Then if you don’t know that Manchester residents are known as Mancunians, you’ll need to know that too. (It’s a Latin thing.) Watch videos.
Johannes Luley is the bandleader of Perfect Beings and formerly Moth Vellum. He released his first solo CD Tales from Sheepfather’s Grove in 2013, a Yes-influenced work using lots of acoustic instruments and hand percussion, suggestive of Jon Anderson’s Olias of Sunhillow with a similar tribal/spiritual/enchanting vibe. Luley’s second solo album Qitara (2017, digipack) was recorded over the span of a few years while taking breaks from working with Perfect Beings. Quite unlike Tales from Sheepfather’s Grove, Qitara is mostly instrumental with a focus on the electric guitar, and takes a sharp turn toward jazz-rock. Johannes says he grew up with the Canterbury sound, before jazz-rock was called fusion. The single vocal performance on the album, Sister Six, marks the return of Johannes’ former Moth Vellum bandmate Ryan Downe. Other guests include heavy hitters Otmaro Ruiz (Arturo Sandoval, John McLaughlin, Jon Anderson), Katisse Buckingham (Herbie Hancock, Andy Summers), Michael Hunter (Stanley Clarke, Lenny Kravitz), and Scott Kinsey (Joe Zawinul). “Absolutely stunning. Restlessly innovative, aggressive in the exploration of new sonic possibilities, and always anchored by strong melodic backbones. The musicianship on this album is out of this world, and the songwriting is top notch. Fluid open arrangements give everyone a chance to shine.” [Fred Beaulieu]
Breton Alan Simon has been making Celtic-flavored progressive rock operas for many years now, not only writing and recording the albums, but staging the large scale productions as well. He has always had the support of legendary international musicians. Excalibur is his best known work, the first part of which was released in 1999. Excalibur IV: The Dark Age of the Dragon (2017, digipack) features Alan Stivell, Martin Barre (Jethro Tull), John Helliwell (Supertramp), Sonja Kristina (Curved Air), Michael Sadler (Saga), Moya Brennan (Clannad), Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep), Jesse Siebenberg (Supertramp) and more, most appearing on multiple tracks. Watch the album trailer and the longer album overview.
RTfact is a Russian/American band and one of the biggest new names to burst onto the prog scene in recent years. Michael Caplan, the man who snuck Echolyn and October Project onto Sony back in the 1990s when he was head of A&R there, is handling PR for RTfact in his current consulting business. The band is led by Yuri Volodarsky, who had a prog band in Russia back in 1979. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1991 with his family and now calls San Francisco home. The RTfact debut Life Is Good (2017) is symphonic prog with heavy nods to Gentle Giant, ELP, Spock’s Beard, and Alan Parsons. Guests include Nad Sylvan, Jeff Soto, Oz Noy, and others. Watch the album teaser video. Read The Prog Mind review.
Icon was the collaborative band of the late John Wetton and keyboardist Geoff Downes. Zero (digipack) is the 2017 remastered edition of the 2002 album titled simply Wetton/Downes, which featured a different cover. It predates the first Icon album, so it has been rebranded as Icon - Zero to bring it into this ongoing series of Icon reissues fully sanctioned by Downes and the estate of Wetton. A couple bonus tracks have been added, one demo and one alternate version. Francis Dunnery (It Bites) and Agnetha Fältskog (ABBA) are among the guests.
Urban Psalm had previously only been available as a DVD* from the artists’ merchandise store, so this 2017 edition is its first general release, now with the audio on two accompanying CDs. The performance is from a special one-time concert in February 2009 in an historic church in London. The rest of the band is cellist Hugh McDowell (ELO), singer Anne-Marie Helder (Karnataka, Panic Room, Mostly Autumn), drummer Pete Riley (Keith Emerson), and guitarist Dave Kilminster (Wetton, Emerson, Roger Waters, Steven Wilson,...). Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping. See our British page for more Wetton-Downes CDs.
* No indication is given on the packaging, assume the DVD is PAL.
Deluge Grander sprang from the ashes of Baltimore progressive band Cerebus Effect. It was the addition of keyboardist Dan Britton that made the final Cerebus Effect CD their most symphonic, and on their debut August in the Urals (2006, out-of-print), Deluge Grander continued in that direction, more symphonic and, well, grander. Britton is the primary composer, and he is a tremendous keyboardist. August in the Urals is complex symphonic prog in a 1970s style, with some vocals but no attempts at songs per se, as instrumental content clearly dominates. There are many possible reference points, including Änglagård, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Fireballet, Genesis, and Yes, but the music rarely suggests any one band for long.
Birds and Buildings is Dan Britton’s other band and is fairly similar. The two bands also share a bass player. The major difference between Bantam to Behemoth (2008, out-of-print) and the first Deluge Grander is the presence of a woodwinds (sax, flute, clarinet) player. The flute tends to be used in the gentler, pastoral passages, while the sax is used in the more energetic passages. The sax style is similar to David Jackson or Mel Collins, ranging from melodic to frenzied. The presence of sax leads to comparisons with King Crimson, Van der Graaf Generator, and Gong, and there is more of a Canterbury influence than in Deluge Grander. There are still gobs of Mellotron strings and choir, and highly-skilled ensemble playing.
Bantam to Behemoth was recorded between the first two Deluge Grander CDs, and the second Deluge Grander CD The Form of the Good (2009) seems to have more in common with Bantam to Behemoth than August in the Urals, perhaps not surprising given that B&B’s woodwind player guests here. The Form of the Good is entirely instrumental and has more of the sonic maelstrom approach of the French band Clearlight. Here the core quartet of keys/guitar/bass/drums in augmented by a large number of guests contributing clarinet, flute, sax, violin, cello, trumpet, trombone, and oboe. Clearlight had Didier Malherbe’s woodwinds and either David Cross’s or Didier Lockwood’s violin, so Deluge Grander usually have a sonic counterpart to those in the mix here. As with B&B, this is blended with a more symphonic style highlighted by Mellotron.
2013 and it’s Birds and Buildings’ turn again, with Multipurpose Trap. The lineup has changed but the instrumentation still includes violin, sax, flute, and clarinet. In the band’s words, B&B “play a mixture of intense jazz-rock (often bordering on Zeuhl), complex symphonic music, and occasional avant-garde heaviness”. The band says that every song has up to six people singing, but only for a minute or less on most songs, mainly to confound ‘instrumental’ versus ‘vocal’ classification. Read the Exposé reviews.
2017 and naturally it’s Deluge Grander’s turn with Oceanarium (digipack, 79-minutes). The album is instrumental symphonic prog, densely and meticulously orchestrated, with guests adding trumpet, trombone, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, sax, violin, and cello. It’s time to add more bands to the reference list, and Dan Britton acknowledges Kenso, Maneige, and Kotebel.
See also the related band All Over Everywhere.
Glass Hammer celebrate their 25th anniversary with Untold Tales (2017), a 74-minute collection of rare and previously unreleased recordings from 1993-2017. There is one 2017 live track: No Man’s Land. There are previously unreleased covers of Argent’s Hold Your Head Up and The Beatles’ It’s All Too Much. The rest are previously unreleased studio recordings spanning the life of the band, including a couple epic length tracks. Untold Tales features vocalists Walter Moore, Carl Groves, Susie Bogdanowicz, and Jon Davison. Current bandmembers Fred Schendel, Steve Babb, Kamran Alan Shikoh, and Aaron Raulston are all present as are many GH alumni. The 16-page booklet contains lyrics and extensive liner notes. See our U.S. page for more Glass Hammer titles.
Leftoverture Live & Beyond (2CD, 2017, digipack) features the 1976 Leftoverture album performed start to finish by the new Kansas lineup, plus several songs from 2016’s The Prelude Implicit as well as numerous tracks from the band’s 1970s heyday. Leftoverture Live & Beyond was recorded in 12 different U.S. cities on the band’s Leftoverture 40th Anniversary Tour; the best version of each of the 19 tracks was selected. This live album was produced by Jeff Glixman, who produced Leftoverture all those many years ago. Read the TeamRock review.
Italy’s greatest musical export Premiata Forneria Marconi return in 2017 with a new rock album. No, the current PFM lineup is not going to make another album to rival their 1970s classics, so just dispel that notion now, but Emotional Tattoos is very good, quite energetic and an order of magnitude proggier than their forgettable 1980s albums such as PFM? PFM! or Miss Baker. This is the 2CD jewel case edition. Disc 1 contains the English version of the album, Disc 2 the Italian version. Read the Vintage Rock review. See our Italian page for more PFM CDs.
Kaipa was the top first-generation Swedish prog band. Keyboardist Hans Lundin reformed Kaipa circa 2002, and the new band’s style has been faithful to the original apart from switching to English lyrics. Children of the Sounds (2017, digipack) continues with the same lineup that has been in place since Angling Feelings, and the same essential style. “What truly makes Kaipa stand out here, as always, is the way in which they create celebratory sonic worlds filled with a childlike sense of wonder, hope, and possibility. Rather than aim for soulless virtuosity (as a fair amount of their peers do), they make each technical moment serve the central goal of enveloping the listener in an aural fairytale of colorful, life-affirming compositions. Children of the Sounds is as fine an example of that as any other Kaipa record, or any other modern genre LP for that matter, and it should be cherished as such by as many people as possible.” [The Prog Report] Also read the Get Ready to Rock, Dangerdog, and The Progressive Aspect reviews. Watch the videos for What’s Behind the Fields and the title track.
See our Scandinavian page for more Kaipa CDs.
For those not familiar with Duncan Browne, he was a gifted songwriter, singer, and guitarist who sadly passed away in 1993 from cancer. He was a musical chameleon, recording the post-psych chamber pop classic Give Me, Take You album in 1968, then re-emerging four years later as an introspective singer/songwriter. By the mid-1970s, he had signed to the Transatlantic label as a member of Euro art rock sophisticates Metro. The Metro album is quite respectable, but it’s after Browne left Metro that it gets really interesting for prog fans. Browne’s two best albums are The Wild Places (1978) and Streets of Fire (1979). These two prog/pop albums not only feature outstanding songs but a lot of first-rate progressive rock, as Browne had assembled a stellar cast of British session musicians in keyboardist Tony Hymas (Jeff Beck), bassist John Giblin (Brand X, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel,...), and drummer Simon Phillips (801, Mike Oldfield, Jon Anderson,...) for both albums. (Giblin and Phillips were already in place on the Metro album.) These albums also demonstrated that Browne was a really good electric as well as acoustic guitarist. The title track of The Wild Places remains a classic, a great song with lots of dynamics followed by an all-out sympho-prog instrumental outro, Mellotron choir and all. The track American Heartbeat on Streets of Fire is another classic song, while instrumentals such as the title track from Streets of Fire showcase the prog and fusion credentials of the musicians. These albums are of such a class that it’s a crime Duncan Browne isn’t better known. This anthology contains both The Wild Places and Streets of Fire in their entirety, the complete Metro album, and some rarities including the long lost 1979 song China Girl (no relation to the Bowie song, though paradoxically Bowie did cover one Metro song), its first release in any format.
Anthony Phillips is of course the original Genesis guitarist. On Invisible Men (1983), Anthony collaborated with Richard Scott, and the album includes guests such as Morris Pert, Bimbo Acock, and Joji Hirota. It is an album of ambitious pop songs, the most pop-oriented of the Anthony Phillips catalog. But Phillips has the same knack for writing catchy songs that runs through the Genesis family, and many of these are very good, perhaps comparable to Camel’s The Single Factor released the previous year, which Phillips played on. This 2017 double-CD digipack edition on Esoteric has no surround as presumably the multitracks are not available. However, the original stereo mix is newly-remastered from the original tapes, and the set adds 19 extra tracks. Three are on the first CD and date to 1991; 16 more on the second CD titled Out-takes and Demos were recorded in the same timeframe as Invisible Men. The 16 are previously unreleased, as unlike the earlier titles, Invisible Men didn’t get a 2CD reissue on Voiceprint when the other did back in 2008-2011. In fact only a few of the extra tracks are alternate versions; the vast majority are previously unheard songs. The booklet fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay by Jon Dann. “Throughout, the album is upholstered with luscious chords pressed into the service of toe-tappers rather than Phillips’ more usual pastoral ruminations. It might be a far cry from the acoustic alchemy and intimate warmth of Phillips’ classics such as The Geese and the Ghost, but that was the object of the exercise and as such it’s an entertaining diversion. Phillips’ own assessment was that Invisible Men was a misstep, but while many of the songs eschew the more thoughtful, intimate side of Phillips’ catalogue, many contain a degree of craft that’s not only admirable but surprisingly catchy.” [Prog magazine] Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Anthony Phillips’ 1990 album Slow Dance contains a two-part orchestral rock suite and has for a long time been the highest rated of all his albums on Prog Archives, and with a statistically significant number of ratings. It’s a marvelous work that gets overlooked simply because it was released as late as it was. Esoteric’s 2017 3-disc edition comes in a fat digipack and features a newly remastered original stereo mix and a lossless 5.1 surround mix by Simon Heyworth, plus a CD of previously unreleased ‘Slow Dance’ Vignettes. It includes a lavishly illustrated booklet that fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay by Jon Dann. The DVD-Audio disc is NTSC, all-region. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping. See our British page for the earlier titles in this surround/remixed/remastered series (The Geese and the Ghost, Wise After the Event, Sides, and 1984) plus more Anthony Phillips CDs.
John Hackett is of course Steve’s younger brother and longtime sideman, known best as a flute player but he also plays guitar, bass, bass pedals, and keyboards. Another Life (2015, digipack) is John’s second rock album, the follow-up to 2005’s 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.
John Hackett’s newly-formed band features classical guitar specialist Nick Fletcher, Jeremy Richardson (bass, vocals, acoustic & 12-string guitars), and Duncan Parsons (drums). They debut with the studio album We Are Not Alone (2017, 2CD, digipack). Steve Hackett makes a token appearance. This interview contains some previews of the music. This is the deluxe 2CD edition. The second disc is titled Another Live, recorded at the Classic Rock Society in 2016 featuring live performances of 19 songs from Checking Out of London and Another Life.
Moonspinner (2011) is one of John Hackett’s acoustic albums, on which he plays flute and guitar. Andy Gray from ReGenesis guests. As with similar albums by Ian Anderson and Thijs van Leer, Moonspinner bridges the classical and prog genres. Gorgeous stuff. Read the Background Magazine review.
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 was heard from Drifting Sun until 2015 and their third album Trip the Life Fantastic, featuring a new lineup. 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.
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. 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.
Twilight (2017, digipack) is arguably the band’s best work to date, striking a balance between the darkness of Safe Asylum and the light of Trip the Life Fantastic. “Drifting Sun have made another leap forward with their latest album, Twilight. With their last two albums both reviewed favorably here at Progarchy, that is no light praise.” Read the full Progarchy review, also The Progressive Aspect review.
We had given up hope of seeing this 1980 Kayak-related album reissued on CD, but in 2017 it’s happened, a remastered CD with five bonus tracks! Edward Reekers became Kayak’s second singer beginning with 1978’s Phantom of the Night when original singer Max Werner did a reverse Phil Collins and retreated to the drum stool. We love Werner’s unusual voice on the early Kayak material, but Reekers clearly had the voice to make Phantom of the Night a gold record in The Netherlands. Reekers remained with Kayak until they split in 1982 and rejoined the reformed band in 2005.
The Last Forest is Reeker’s first solo album. Kayak were in their symphonic pop phase, to which this album belongs. It is very close to being a Kayak album as Reekers is joined throughout by fellow Kayak members Johan Slager (electric & acoustic guitars, bass) and Max Werner (drums, some backing vocals). Ab Tamboer and Gerard Koerts of Earth and Fire are responsible for the string arrangements. The original album was recorded in both England and Holland and was produced by Stephen W Tayler (Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Saga, UK,... the list of Tayler’s credits is very long). For this CD edition, Tayler enhanced and remastered the tracks from the original master tapes. The five bonus tracks are from three singles Reekers recorded for Polydor in 1982 and 1983. It’s all housed in a digipack with the original artwork carefully restored, with a 12-page booklet containing liner notes by Reekers and various photographs and clippings provided by Reekers and Tayler.
This Belgian band’s 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 don’t make you jump around the room, well then you’re probably not prone to jumping around rooms. But if you’re a fan of Ozric Tentacles, then it’s a good bet Quantum Fantay’s 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 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.
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 band’s trademark style. Ed Wynne of Ozric Tentacles guests, which makes perfect sense.
The Belgian funsters return in 2017 with their seventh studio album and another easy-to-remember title: Tessellation of Euclidean Space (digipack), having added two new members on flute and sax.
Jet Black Sea is a project of Adrian Jones, leader of Nine Stones Close, joined by Michel Simons. Absorption Lines (2017, digisleeve) is again the core duo of Jones and Simons, with assistance from Brendan Eyre and Tony Patterson (who you may know from their 2014 album Northlands), Adrian O’Shaughnessy and Pieter van Hoorn from Nine Stones Close, and Paul van Zeeland. “With the release of Absorption Lines, Jet Black Sea have made a significant leap forward in their sound, the album only revealing its full trove of treasures with multiple listens. While maintaining the innovative, inventive qualities that made The Path of Least Existence such a success, Simons and Jones have pushed themselves to the limit once more... Mysterious yet charismatic, ambient yet powerful, alluring yet secretive - Jet Black Sea deserve your attention. Read the full Prog Archives review, also the Real Gone and Progradar reviews. Watch the album preview video.
The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery (2017, digipack) is The Tangent’s ninth studio album, the lineup now Andy Tillison (keyboards, vocals, drums), Luke Machin (guitar, vocals), Jonas Reingold (bass), Theo Travis (sax, flute), and new member Marie-Eve de Gaultier (keyboards, vocals). “This is the best The Tangent release since 2003’s debut The Music That Died Alone. The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery is complex, adventurous and clever, and it succeeds in blending traditional prog and jazz-fusion expectations with the best type of forward-thinking musical chicanery... It is simply masterful, as one would expect from musicians of this calibre. The Tangent are indeed back.” Read the full The Prog Report review. See our British page for more The Tangent CDs and more info.
Tim Burness (who is a completely different person than Tim Bowness) has been at this since the mid-1980s with his band Burnessence, who released two LPs and played gigs with IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Solstice, and Steven Wilson’s first band Karma! He continued to record under his own name during the 1990s. Finding New Ways to Love (2004) is a blend of his progressive-pop vocal tracks and progressive rock instrumentals. Tim is joined by several musicians on this album, notably Fudge Smith (Pendragon, Steve Hackett) on drums. The vocal tracks are inspired by Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Tears for Fears, while you can spot the influence of early Steve Hillage in the instrumentals, also a little Steve Hackett and Robert Fripp. The hammered dulcimer on two of the instrumentals is a great addition; only Nigel Mazlyn Jones has done something similar.
Vision On (2008) continues the mix of progressive-pop vocal tracks and prog rock instrumentals, with more of a band vibe as Tim leads the same group of musicians from the previous CD. Some tracks feature a combination of Steve Hillage-style spaciness and neo-prog that is unique, and in fact this CD includes a track dedicated to Hillage and Gong. Tim feels this album represents a return to his prog rock roots.
Whose Dream Are You Living? is a 2017 CD though the bulk of the music was released in 2015 as a download. The music was remixed and extended for this CD. The album features the same Tim Burness Band nucleus of Fudge Smith (drums), Keith Hastings (bass), and Monty Oxymoron (keyboards), with Burness on vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, e-bow, guitar synthesizer, keyboards and programming. Among the five guests is Lee Abraham. This is Burness’ best album to date, a very solid melodic prog album that is going to make more than a few prog fans wonder how they could have missed this artist before now. “Whose Dream Are You Living? is certainly a strong candidate to crack my best albums of 2017 list. Fans of the better CDs by Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Steve Hackett and others should really check this album out.” [Proggnosis]. “[Tim Burness] has a very English approach to progressive and neo-progressive rock and hits many, many musical bases. He is a bit like a musical magpie, picking up the shiny things and hoarding them, and while they are all valuable, they certainly don’t all sound the same. The first number These Are the Days could have come from Fudge’s previous band Pendragon in the very early nineties, while And Set Your Spirit Free has so much energy that one can imagine it being played in the clubs in Ibiza. Some songs are full on and over the top, while others are incredibly delicate and restrained. This is what makes this such an incredibly solid album; there is huge variety and depth in what he does.” [Kev Rowland / Prog Archives] Watch the video for Grass Is Greener.
Excavations of the Mind (2010) is the debut for Sky Architect, a quintet of relatively young Dutch musicians including three from a Rotterdam conservatory. They come right out and state that they are interested in reviving the symphonic progressive style of the 1970s. Sky Architect are a bit hard-edged, dark, quirky, and technical. Beyond a vague sense of King Crimson or Gentle Giant, they don’t really call to mind specific bands. There are lots of vintage keys including Mellotron. It would have been nice to hear some suggestion of Focus, Kayak, Supersister, Trace, Finch, or any other Dutch 70s progressive rock instead of only British influences, but it’s not uncommon today to find young European prog musicians unaware of their own heritage. Nevertheless, this is a very promising debut by a band who’ve gone back far enough in their listening to find the real, undiluted prog. Mark Wilkinson created the CD artwork.
Probably just coincidence, but Sky Architect’s 2011 follow-up A Dying Man’s Hymn does at times sound like the great Dutch prog band Finch! And how many later bands have ever been compared to Finch? A Dying Man’s Hymn is quite an extraordinary album, more mature than their debut. It is more instrumental than vocal, not without some contemporary aspects but primarily classic prog with a dark, Van der Graaf Generator vibe. The band relocated to the woods of Sweden to record this album, woods known to be full of prog magic.
A Billion Years of Solitude (2013) is Sky Architect’s third, which they describe as “heavier, more daring and inventive”. They say the result is “a stunning outburst of creativity featuring surprising changes, crazy rhythmic devices, polyphonic arrangements, and complex song structures”. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Watch the official video for Tides.
Sky Architect’s fourth album Nomad (2017, digisleeve) sees the band integrating their classic prog influences into a contemporary heavy prog style, likewise balancing complexity and chops with memorable melodies and stunning song climaxes. Read reviews of all the Sky Architect CDs at Prog Archives.
Christiaan Bruin is the Dutch musician who has released five excellent albums under the name Chris and eight discs of material in The Black Codex series, and is a member of Sky Architect, Nine Stones Close, and a few other bands. Inventions is a project akin to The Black Codex, where every two weeks Chris releases a new song plus a YouTube video in which he share the ideas and inspiration which led to the creation of the song. Along the way, he explores interesting ideas in art, mathematics, philosophy, music history and whatnot, to see how they can be applied to the creation of music. Meta is the first physical release containing all 11 songs from Series 1 plus four additional mixes. The CD comes in a lightweight mini-LP style sleeve. Watch the video for A Place Where We Belong.
Italian band The Watch have had a successful career as a clone of Gabriel-era Genesis. Their seventh studio album Seven (2017, digipack) features a guest appearance by Steve Hackett. Read The Progressive Aspect review. See our Italian page for the rest of The Watch CDs.
Cosmograf is one of the ascendant stars of the British prog scene, a project led by multi-instrumentalist Robin Armstrong, who cites Steven Wilson, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour as some of his inspirations. The third Cosmograf album The Man Left in Space (2013) features performances from Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train), Dave Meros (Spock’s Beard), Matt Stevens (The Fierce and the Dead), Greg Spawton (Big Big Train), Simon Rogers, Steve Dunn, Lee Abraham, Luke Machin (The Tangent), and Dave Ware. It’s another concept album, often with a wonderful spacey/surreal atmosphere, blending Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, and neo-prog, with a smidgeon of heavy guitar. Part of it even sounds like a modern, proggy take on David Bowie’s Space Oddity, probably a deliberate allusion. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
On Capacitor (2014), Armstrong is assisted by Nick D’Virgilio on drums, Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) on bass, Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Lifesigns, The Mute Gods...) on bass, Matt Stevens on guitar, Andy Tillison (The Tangent) on keyboards, and Steve Dunn on bass. “This album is not just a piece of music, it is part of Robin Armstrong’s body and soul and you can tell he has put everything into this, leaving nothing back. I cannot fault this record in any way. It is musical paradise with an amazing musician as its peerless architect. If I died and went to heaven right now, I couldn’t have asked for any more; I have had the biggest epiphany when it comes to music, in my life, ever. This is not just one of the albums of the year, it is one of the best albums I have ever heard, period.” [Lady Obscure] Also read the Prog Archives reviews.
Cosmograf’s fifth studio album The Unreasonable Silence (2016, digipack) is an existential concept album with an alien theme, based on the essay The Myth of Sisyphus by French philosopher Albert Camus. Nick D’Virgilio plays drums on all tracks save one, while Nick Beggs and Dave Meros guest. Armstrong employs a number of voice actors here including one Steven Wilson. “A peerless, outstanding, and incomparable listening experience that you will not forget any time soon.” Read the Progradar review.
Robin says the sixth Cosmograf album The Hay-Man Dreams (2017) harks back to the sound and feel of the classic prog era. “To complement the vintage theme, I wanted a warm retrospective sound. I’m making no apologies for this and I’m relinquishing any claims on being progressive with a small ‘p’. I’m largely fed up with the argument and I’m pretty tired of the notion that everything has to be new and original to be good. I like old stuff…The best music was made in 1970s. It’s a sound I’m familiar with and one I fell in love with when I was 15. Classic rock-inspired guitar, bass and drums, with some vintage keyboards. In fact you won’t find a single instrument on the album that wasn’t available in 1973, albeit a lot of the keyboard parts are very modern simulations of the real thing of course.” Guests include Rachael Hawnt (The Beautiful Secret), Kyle Fenton (These Septic Stars), Matt Stevens, Rachel Hall (Big Big Train), and former BBC voiceover artist David Allan. Watch the album teaser, album sampler, and the video for Cut the Corn.
German melodic neo-prog band Karibow won the 2014 German Rock & Pop Award in the category Best Progressive Band. Karibow have a discography stretching back to 1997 or 1998 that few outside Germany know about, and bandleader Oliver Rüsing had previously been a member of Last Turion. From Here to the Impossible (2017, digipack, 72-minutes) features Jim Gilmour (Saga), Monique van der Kolk (Harvest), Sean Timms (Unitopia, Southern Empire), Mark Trueack (UPF), Marek Arnold (countless prog bands), Daniel Lopresto (Southern Empire), and other guests. Karibow have toured with Saga, and with the presence of Jim Gilmour here and Michael Sadler on the previous album, Saga is a fair reference point as is the whole Unitopia family of bands. Watch the album trailer and the earlier sneak preview. Read the Progradar review.
Discipline have rightly been hailed as the American Van der Graaf Generator and one of the top U.S. prog bands ever. Their new studio CD Captives of the Wine Dark Sea (2017, digipack) will be the U.S. prog album to beat in 2017. Watch the album teaser and the video for Life Imitates Art. See our U.S. page for more Discipline and related CDs.
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 D’Virgilio, former XTC and Peter Gabriel guitarist Dave Gregory, and best-singer-in-prog David Longdon, has now added Beardfish mastermind Rikard Sjöblom! Who doesn’t want to board Big Big Train now?
Big Big Train’s 10th album Grimspound (2017, digisleeve) follows swiftly after Folklore as the band found themselves with a wealth of new material and writing input from their newer members. They probably also realize that they’re at both a creative and popularity peak and are not taking the future for granted. Bassist Greg Spawton says: “There is some complex music on this album, with extended instrumental sections alongside vocal passages. We had a lot of fun making the album and have pushed ourselves as progressive rock bands should.” Judy Dyble adds vocals to “a song concerning the reported sightings of a ghostly apparition beside the cemetery gates in a quiet English village.” Nick and Rachel sing some lead parts on this album, further expanding the sonic palette. Watch the videos for As the Crow Flies and Experimental Gentlemen. Read the Progradar, The Progressive Aspect, and The Prog Report reviews.
And The Second Brightest Star (2017, digisleeve) follows just a couple months after Grimspound (which in May hit number one in the UK Official Rock Album Chart!), as The Second Brightest Star is considered a companion album. It features over 40 minutes of new songs and instrumentals plus 30 minutes of bonus music from the Folklore and Grimspound albums presented in extended formats. Listen to the title track. Read The Prog Report review.
See our British page for a few more Big Big Train CDs. (Most have gone out-of-print.)
Mogador are an Italian prog band from Como with one English expat, drummer/singer/lyricist Richard Allen. They were a quartet on their self-titled 2009 debut (out-of-print), continuing as a trio handling the same instruments on All I Am Is of My Own Making (2010). Mogador matured a great deal on AIAIOMOM. The production is greatly improved and the music is more original, eclectic, and multi-faceted. The departure of the guitarist who played on the debut is a positive development, as he preferred a heavier style. There is a strong Yes influence on AIAIOMOM, but overall the music feels closer to Glass Hammer (who are also very Yes influenced), with a good balance between electric and acoustic guitars, alongside mostly vintage keyboard sounds. The first two CDs are both primarily 1970s-styled though not entirely retro, more so AIAIOMOM with its greater sophistication and elegance. Read the Classic Rock Presents Prog review.
Absinthe Tales of Romantic Visions (2012) shows an evolution in style, sounding like it came straight out of the early 1970s, not Italy but Britain. This album features four international guest singers including Jon Davison (Yes, Glass Hammer) and two female singers. Absinthe... has a lot of hard-edged guitar, but still a 70s guitar tone. While one could mention Crimson, Gentle Giant, Tull, Van der Graaf, Yes, and Genesis, the music reminds us more of first generation American prog bands such as Netherworld, Mirthrandir, etc., who likewise absorbed the styles of those British bands and created albums of great quality. Listen to the album preview and the short song The Sick Rose.
The title of Mogador’s fourth CD Chaptersend (2017) refers to the closing of the first chapter of the band. They say that this new 74-minute disc has two distinct parts. The first part picks up where Absinthe Tales of Romantic Visions left off, with Jon Davison again singing on one song. The second part comprises completely reworked versions of the Fundamental Elements Suite from Mogador’s out-of-print 2009 first CD. Mogador have expanded to a quintet here, plus guests on violin and flute.
See our Italian page for the related band Sarastro Blake.
Bent Knee was formed in 2009 at Berklee College of Music in Boston. For their fourth album Land Animal (2017), the band have moved to the InsideOut label, which seems like an odd fit. For Bent Knee are an unusual prog/art-rock band that probably fall in the love-’em-or-hate-’em category. Newcomers are required to watch the videos for the title track and Terror Bird and read The Prog Report review. Brace yourself! This is the U.S. jewel case edition.
The Dutch band Plackband formed in the mid-1970s and were most influenced by Genesis. They took an 18-year holiday, reuniting in 2000. After 30 years, Plackband rebooted as PBII with three of the original members and the desire for a more modern sound. Plastic Soup (2010, digisleeve, 69-minutes) includes guests John Mitchell and John Jowitt, two guys who never met a neo-prog band they didn’t want to play with, and singer Heidi Jo Hines. It’s not a radical change from Plackband, as the old Genesis influence is still present most of the time. PBII’s desire for a more modern approach has more to do with the use of modern sounds, modern production, and the sound of the mix than a change in musical style. In addition to a standard CD, this Dutch edition of Plastic Soup includes a DVD (PAL, all-region) containing a 5.1 surround mix of the entire album, plus two videos. (There was a U.S. edition that lacked the DVD.) Read the Background Magazine and DPRP reviews.
The PBII@Boerderij.org DVD (2011, PAL, all-region) contains the launch concert for Plastic Soup. PBII perform the entire album plus additional songs that include covers of Here Comes the Flood and Have a Cigar. The concert features performances by John Mitchell, John Jowitt, and Heidi Jo Hines. It was shot by six HD cameras. The band says: “You will enjoy this concert in High Definition picture and sound”, and of course you won’t because this is a DVD, which is standard-definition picture and sound. (There is no Blu-ray.) Extras include behind the scenes material. 104 minutes, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio.
1000 Wishes is PBII’s most ambitious project to date. The CD (2013, digipack) features The Hague Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Steve Hackett guests. The story is about the fight of a young boy against cancer and more generally about cancer in children. This is certainly PBII’s best music so far, symphonic neo-prog that is often reminiscent of Yes due in part to the singer’s voice, while you may also flash back on Grobschnitt’s Rockpommels Land on occasion. Watch the promo video and the video for Evil Weed. Read the Background Magazine and DPRP reviews.
PBII have performed 1000 Wishes as part of a rock opera with the orchestra and a theater group (actors and dancers). The performances of 30-31 March 2013 were captured on the 1000 Wishes DVD (PAL, all-region, digipack). While the lyrics are in English, the play portion is in Dutch, so you have been warned, but it is a unique spectacle. Watch the DVD trailer.
Rocket (2017, digisleeve) is subtitled The Dreams of Wubbo Ockels. Ockels was the first Dutchman to go into space, and the Background Magazine and DPRP reviews will fill you in on the story behind this album. The band is assisted by three violinists and a cellist, while Nad Sylvan sings lead on one song. Singer Ruud Slakhorst sounds a lot like Jon Anderson, and this is an elegant Yes-influenced work that soars. Watch the teaser video and the video for Rocket Part II.
Rob Reed is of course Magenta’s keyboardist and leader and one of those musicians who requires multiple outlets for his creativity (e.g., Kompendium, Kiama). His series of Sanctuary albums begun in 2014 are rather amazing, in essence alternate-universe Mike Oldfield works. If Reed’s abilities on instruments other than keyboards hadn’t 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.
Sanctuary Live (2017) was recorded in October 2016 at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios by a 13-piece band, including fellow Magenta members Christina Booth, Chris Fry, Jiffy Griffiths, and Dan Nelson, plus vocalist Angharad Morgan (Kompendium). Reed’s ensemble performed a selection of music from his highly successful Sanctuary 1 and Sanctuary 2 albums as well as Willow’s Song. Both the DVD and CD feature the entire show; the DVD adds a documentary. Watch the promo video.
Variations on Themes by David Bedford (2017) is a CD-EP of Reed’s reinterpretations of three Bedford compositions. David Bedford was a renowned classical composer and Mike Oldfield collaborator who passed away in 2011. He would have been 80 in August 2017, and this EP is part of a celebration of his work. Alongside Reed, the EP features Terry Oldfield, Les Penning (Ommadawn), Angharad Brinn, and Tubular Bells producer Tom Newman who also mixed the album. The EP contains Rio Grande from Bedford’s album The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, King Aeolus from The Odyssey, and the title track from Nurses Song With Elephants. These pieces are then repeated once or twice in alternate mixes. Watch the videos for King Aeolus and Rio Grande. Those unfamiliar with Bedford would do well to listen to Reed explain things, or head to Prog Archives.
The CD Karma (2017, digisleeve) is the seventh for Swedish prog band Brother Ape, containing eight songs culled from a series of three digital EPs that began in 2015. The intent was to eventually pick the favorite songs from those and release them as this album, with additional songs added. The first EP Worlds Waiting was released in autumn 2015, followed by Mandrill Anthem and Other Tales in spring 2016 and First Class in autumn 2016. All the songs from First Class made the cut, while the other two contributed only one each; two more songs make their first appearance. See our Scandinavian page for the rest of the Brother Ape CDs still in print plus info on the band.
Signed to IQ’s Giant Electric Pea label, Damanek is led by Guy Manning, whose previous band Manning is responsible for a large catalog of high quality prog. Following an impressive first show at the 2016 Summer’s End festival, On Track (2017) is Damanek’s debut album. The band is Guy (lead & backing vocals, keyboards, acoustic instruments, guitars, EBow, percussion), Dan Mash (bass), Marek Arnold (saxes, clarinet, keyboards, Seaboard), and Sean Timms (keyboards, banjo, backing vocals). Sean Timms (Southern Empire, Unitopia) put his Mister Class and Quality stamp on the production. Damanek could be seen as an alter ego of United Progressive Fraternity since Guy, Dan Mash, and Marek Arnold are all UPF members, and Sean Timms was in UPF’s parent band. (Marek Arnold now is in so many prog bands that we’ve stopped trying to list them.) The album also features a host of guest musicians including Brody Thomas Green (Southern Empire), Luke Machin (Maschine/Kiama/The Tangent), Tim Irrgang (UPF), Nick Magnus, Phideaux Xavier, and more. Listen to the track Long Time, Shadow Falls. Read this review on Progressive Ears.
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 Hackett’s singer. Nad’s first 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 D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spock’s Beard), Gary O’Toole and Rob Townsend (Steve Hackett), Doane Perry (Jethro Tull), Annbjørg Lien, and others. Rooted in classic prog, Nad considers Courting the Widow “very much a symphonic album... I feel that I have delivered an album that’s true to myself and my values in life. It’s heartfelt, passionate, emotional, and full of dramatic passages.” Read The Prog Mind review. Listen to the album teaser.
Nad’s follow-up The Bride Said No (2017) features guests Roine Stolt, Steve Hackett, Guthrie Govan, Tony Levin, Jonas Reingold, Nick D’Virgilio, Doane Perry, and more. Watch the video for When the Music Dies. Read the DPRP reviews.
Abel Ganz was the other Scottish neo-prog band during the 1980s progressive revival, Pallas being the better known of the two. Abel Ganz’s singer Alan Reed became Pallas’s second singer. Abel Ganz’s 1980s albums were initially only available on cassette before being reissued on CD circa 1991 by a now-defunct French label. The sound quality on those wasn’t great. In 2016, band co-founder Hew Montgomery remixed Abel Ganz’s 1984 first album Gratuitous Flash, keeping the original audio in the mix while augmenting it with additional sounds and keyboards. Of course if you remix, you must then remaster. There is one bonus track, Alan Reed’s superb solo arrangement of Kean on the Job. This is melodic symphonic prog that ranks with Pallas, Twelfth Night, Haze, Galahad, and Castanarc. Digipack.
Long Earth is a new branch of the Glasgow prog family tree. The Source (2017, digipack) is their debut. Long Earth features two former members of Abel Ganz: Ken Weir on drums and Gordon Mackie on bass. The music is a mix of influences firmly rooted in classic prog, and was recorded, arranged, and produced by the band members and Hew Montgomery (Abel Ganz, Comedy of Errors, Grand Tour). Check our British page for the rest of the Abel Ganz CDs and Grand Tour’s CD.
Having completed the massive Dante’s 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 Boccaccio’s 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, they’re 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, D’accord, 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 you’ll also find the full band/track list) and the teaser video for United Progressive Fraternity’s Mercenaries. Counts as 2.5 CDs for shipping.
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