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NEW AND FEATURED:
Swedenís Anekdoten emerged in the early 1990s, displaying a great deal of King Crimson influence (circa Red) and relying heavily on Mellotron strings, their trademark style featuring dynamics shifts between somber and violent passages, between fragile beauty and harsh dissonance. They have been one of the most respected progressive rock bands of their era. Anekdoten return after an eight year hiatus with their sixth album Until All the Ghosts Are Gone (2015, digipack), and they are as good as ever. Read the Echoes and Dust and Sputnik Music reviews. Listen to Get Out Alive and If It All Comes Down to You on YouTube.
Before Englishman Rhys Marsh moved to Norway, heíd formed his first band Mandala in London in 1997, playing guitar and singing, with Francis Booth (bass) and Will Spurling (drums) and, at times, a string section. They were together for nine years and played hundreds of concerts, though they never recorded an album. They got back together in 2014 to record their debut album Midnight Twilight (2015, digisleeve, 50-minutes), an album 18 years in the making. They chose ten songs from the over 40 in their repertoire. The main tracks were recorded live in Marshís studio in Norway, with a few overdubs added. They then went to London to record their original string section (violin, cello) with the same recording engineer theyíd worked with ten years earlier. There is much in common with the music Marsh would later develop under his own name using Norwegian musicians, and it is not far removed from the Anekdoten style. The music is on the melancholy and dark side, blending progressive rock with folk-noir (both western and eastern), retro-style psychedelic rock, and more. Marsh describes it as all being ďwrapped in an early-seventies glowĒ. In addition to the real strings, Marsh adds a dollop of Mellotron strings. The 16-page booklet includes a brief history of Mandala and recording session photos. Watch the videos for Fire Is Mine and a live-in-studio performance of Sun (the first song Marsh ever wrote).
Transformation (2015) is the new and very long awaited studio album from FM, the Canadian progressive rock legends. The Esoteric label says: ďWith its roots firmly planted in late seventies progressive rock -- complex rhythms, driving bass lines, soaring melodies -- the music on Transformation is symphonic in scope with not one but two violinists on board.Ē FM co-founder/keyboardist Cameron Hawkins is joined by drummer Paul DeLong (Roger Hodgson), viola/mandolinist Edward Bernard on loan from Druckfarben, and violin virtuoso Aaron Solomon. Terry Brown (Rush) did the mixing.
It took until 2014, but here finally is the audio and video record of FMís performance at NEARfest 2006. This CD+DVD (NTSC, all-region) set comes in a digipack. The 12 tracks include six from Black Noise, three from Surveillance (all the best ones), one from City of Fear, and two new compositions. FM reformed and rehearsed for months for this show, and it showed as they were tight and polished. See our Canadian page for more FM CDs and more info on the band.
This four track CD (20:11, slimline case) contains new versions of Steve Hackettís anthem and signature track Spectral Mornings. The release is the brainchild of Magentaís Rob Reed, who wanted to reimagine the instrumental track with its beautiful melody as a song. Rob asked Big Big Trainís David Longdon to write lyrics for the new version. Spectral Mornings 2015 features guitars by Steve Hackett, vocals by Longdon and Magentaís Christina Booth, drums by Big Big Trainís Nick DíVirgilio, keyboards by Rob Reed, and bass from ever-in-demand Nick Beggs. Longdon also adds flute. The main version Spectral Mornings 2015 is followed by an acoustic version, an instrumental version, and the ďClassic MixĒ. The four versions are for the most part quite different from each other, not the usual alternate mixes but entirely different arrangements. For instance, the instrumental version features recorders played by Peter Jones, which combined with harp sounds from Reed opens the track in orchestral Celtic territory before the familiar soaring Hackett guitar enters and the song bursts into full-bandwidth splendor. Take one of the most beautiful, heartfelt, and uplifting instrumental pieces ever written, add high-quality lyrics and two of the most recognizable voices in contemporary prog singing a male/female duet. Let cream-of-the-crop musicians add new elements and ideas in a spirit of complete respect. Get that Hackett guy to ensure the guitar is done properly. The result is pure bliss. The musicians are donating their profits to the Parkinsonís Society UK.
This is the 2015 3-disc edition of Anthony Phillipsí classic first album The Geese and the Ghost, which comes in a clamshell box. The Geese and the Ghost was released in 1977, but the recordings for it had begun several years earlier and are representative of the pastoral early Genesis sound. As most Genesis fans know, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins play on this album, with Phil singing on two tracks and Mike co-writing three. Among the many guest musicians are John Hackett and Jack Lancaster.
The big news here is the third disc, a DVD-Audio disc (NTSC, all-region) containing the album in surround as well as hi-res stereo! The surround options are MLP 5.1 (lossless), DTS 5.1, and Dolby Digital 5.1 (as youíd expect on any DVD-A). There is also MLP stereo and 24/48 LPCM stereo. The first CD contains the remastered album. Esoteric call it the Ď2014 remasterí and state that this edition was ďnewly re-mastered from the original master tapes by Simon HeyworthĒ. Heyworth and Andy Myles did the surround mix. So it would appear that this is a newer remaster than the 2008 Voiceprint edition. The second CD contains demos and alternate versions, plus two versions of Silver Song (sung by Phil Collins). It appears to be identical to the second disc in the Voiceprint edition with the addition of one more bonus track, the previously unreleased 1973 song Only Your Love featuring Collins and Mike Rutherford. The box also includes a poster (so you can see the detail in one of the best album covers ever) and a very extensive booklet with a new essay, all in all a really nice job by Esoteric. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping. See our British page for more Anthony Phillips CDs. (If you have no intention of listening to the surround or hi-res audio on the DVD-A, you may be better off with the less expensive Voiceprint 2CD.)
This is the U.S. jewel case edition of The Tangentís eighth album A Spark in the Aether (2015), which contains the same bonus track as the European edition. This CD is subtitled The Music That Died Alone - Volume Two, a reference to The Tangentís debut album. Joining bandleader Andy Tillison this time are Theo Travis, Jonas Reingold, and Luke Machin, all of whom have played on previous The Tangent albums, plus new drummer Morgan Ňgren (Mats/Morgan band, Kaipa, Frank Zappa). Tillison says: ďThis is an album that seeks to return to the core of what The Tangent means to meÖ After our big orchestral opus that we delivered in Le Sacre du Travail, weíre to an extent reining in the instrumentation to the 5-piece electric prog rock band and focusing a little more on that all-important second word of the genre name: rock. At least (grins with less than average teeth) for the first half!Ē This time around, The Tangent incorporate American influences, ensuring A Spark in the Aether has something new to offer. ďThis will probably be my album of the year for 2015... It is not every day that you hear an album for the first time and realise you are listening to an absolute masterpiece of writing, playing, and production. In this case it happened, and on subsequent listens gets even better.Ē Read the full Background Magazine review, also the Progradar review. Watch the videos for the title track and San Francisco. See our British page for more The Tangent CDs, a DVD, and much more info.
Fragments (2009, 78-minutes) is the debut CD from ex-RPWL bassist Chris Postlís band, and it is a first-rate melodic prog album. Among the musicians supporting Postl are singers Christina Booth (Magenta) and Alan Reed (Pallas), guitarist Ian Bairnson (Alan Parsons Project), and RPWLís Yogi Lang on keys. This is the second RPWL spin-off, after Blind Ego, but Parzivals Eye are more progressive and RPWL-like than Blind Ego. In fact it is more traditional than RPWL, often recalling Genesis and Alan Parsons Project in addition to Pink Floyd. Some phrases in the lyrics are extracted from Genesis songs, which weíll assume is an homage. Read the Sea of Tranquility reviews. Watch the album trailer.
Christina Booth and Ian Bairnson have been promoted to full band members on Defragments (2015, digipack). Postl tacitly acknowledges two of his music heroes with covers of Long Distance Runaround (Yes) and Two of Us (Supertramp). As with the first album, the RPWL majesty and catchy melodies are here, with The Beatles as a mutual influence. But RPWLís dominant Pink Floyd influence is supplanted by a more pronounced Genesis influence (not to mention Yes and Supertramp). Postl says he very consciously steered clear of the typical sound of todayís prog and went instead for the smooth and warm sound of the 1970s and 1980s. Nothing was to disrupt the musicís dream-like feel. You know weíre onboard with that. Watch the album trailer.
The Gift of Anxiety (2013, digipack) is the first full-length album for Dutch prog band Sylvium, following a 2012 EP. While that EP was instrumental and more a solo project of guitarist and band leader Ben van Gastel, Sylvium are a proper band now, and The Gift of Anxiety has some quality vocals. Their bassist is Gijs Koopman, formerly of Cliffhanger and Knight Area. The music covers symphonic, neo-, heavy, ambient and Floydian prog and more, probably falling primarily in the Anathema / Porcupine Tree / Riverside camp. Watch the album trailer and the official video for Weathering.
Sylvium further develop their sound on their second CD, the concept album Waiting for the Noise (2015, digipack). Watch the album trailer and the official video for Signal to Noise. ďI was suitably impressed by Sylviumís debut album The Gift of Anxiety to say it was a brilliant progressive rock album, so how do you top that? You go one better with an album of exceptional songwriting and profoundly astute lyrics, where the musicianship is first-rate and the vocals become a definitive part of the story. There has been a lot of talk about how good Steven Wilsonís new release is, but for me, I think that this time David has slain Goliath. I doff my hat to Sylvium for producing one of this yearís most memorable albums so far.Ē Read the full Progradar review.
Sky were an instrumental classical-rock band whose members included John Williams, often considered the best classical guitarist in the world at that time, keyboardist Francis Monkman (Curved Air), Australian guitarist Kevin Peek, bassist Herbie Flowers, and drummer/percussionist Tristan Fry. Sky 1 (1979) reached #2 in the UK charts, rather unbelievable for a classical-rock album during the punk and new wave era. But then Sky 2 (1980) trumped that and reached #1. Sky 2 was originally a double-LP and is their best, with Sky 1 second. Read reviews of Sky 1 and Sky 2 at Prog Archives, where youíll also find some mp3s.
These 2014 editions of Sky 1 and Sky 2 on Esoteric have been newly remastered, with original album artwork fully restored and a new essay. And they each add a DVD (NTSC, all-region). The Sky 1 CD includes the bonus tracks Dies Irae, the single version of March to the Scaffold (previously unreleased on CD), and a previously unreleased live version of Where Opposites Meet recorded by BBC Radio One at a charity concert at Wembley Arena in November 1979. The Sky 1 DVD features all of Skyís surviving 1979 BBC TV appearances, seven tracks from five different shows, all previously unreleased on video or DVD. The Sky 2 DVD features all of Skyís surviving 1980 BBC TV appearances, all previously unreleased on video or DVD. These include 12 tracks from Skyís concert at Hammersmith Odeon in 1980 plus Skyís performance of Toccata on Top of the Pops in April 1980. Note some earlier CD editions of Sky 2 omitted two tracks, but this Esoteric edition omits nothing.
Francis Monkman then departed, replaced by Steve Gray. Monkman was the best composer the band had though, and no subsequent album reached the quality of the first two. Still, the band had a lot of momentum, and Sky 3 (1981) reached #8 on the UK charts, while Sky 4: Forthcoming (1982) reached #7. That would be the last studio album to chart in the UK, though the double-LP Sky Five Live (1983) would reach #24. Successful tours of the UK, Europe, Australia, and Japan followed the release of Sky 3 and Sky 4.
As with Esotericís reissues of Sky 1 and Sky 2, these 2015 editions of Sky 3 and Sky 4 on Esoteric feature the original albums newly remastered on the CD, and each includes a DVD (NTSC, all-region). Sky 3ís DVD features Skyís memorable concert at Westminster Abbey in London from February 1981, which was recorded and broadcast by BBC Television and later released on VHS and Laserdisc. This is its first time on DVD. Sky 4ís DVD features Skyís live set for the BBC TV program Night Music, broadcast in July 1982. This is its first ever release in any format.
In 1982, this lineup embarked on an extensive tour of Australia. A mobile recording unit captured concerts in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, which were mixed at Abbey Road studios and released as Sky Five Live in January 1983. Unavailable for nearly twenty years, this Esoteric reissue has been newly remastered and adds the 20-minute piece The Animals, originally featured on the vinyl double-LP but omitted from the 1996 CD release. The Animals does not appear on any studio album, and there are more tracks that are exclusive to this album, so though it is recorded live, it really does qualify as the fifth Sky album. The original album artwork is fully restored and the booklet features a new essay.
John Williams departed Sky in December 1983 and the band continued as a quartet, with Kevin Peek assuming a greater role. In 1985 they recorded the album The Great Balloon Race at studios in Australia and London, with several guest musicians adding some instruments not previously used by Sky (flute, pan pipes, sax, spoken word). This album gets overlooked because of where it falls on the Sky timeline, and because it had been out-of-print for a long time. In 1987 Sky recorded their final album Mozart (called The Mozart Album on its U.S. release, which also had a different cover). It saw Sky arrange Mozart compositions, and it features (heavily) the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (an English chamber orchestra) conducted by Sir Neville Marriner. Both The Great Balloon Race and Mozart had been unavailable for over 20 years until these Esoteric reissues, which are newly remastered from the original master tapes, fully restore the original album artwork, and feature a new essay. (No DVD with these two, just a CD.)
Cadmium (with DVD) has been delayed but should be along eventually.
Everlasting Instant (2015) concludes IZZís three-part series of albums that began with The Darkened Room in 2009 and continued with 2012ís Crush of Night, ďwith a fresh palette of sounds all the while maintaining the sharp and memorable melodies that have become a hallmark of the bandĒ. The band regards Everlasting Instant as the culmination of the musical themes presented on the two preceding albums: ďMany of the melodies, rhythms, and lyrics on Everlasting Instant began as seeds on the two previous albums and have come to fruition on this release. Listeners will recognize these subtle variations on prior themes and will also be presented with an exciting new collection of musical ideas.Ē Watch the video for Canít Feel the Earth, Part IV. See our U.S. page for all the IZZ CDs and much more info.
Gavin Harrison is best known as the drummer for Porcupine Tree and King Crimson, but the focus of Cheating the Polygraph (2015) is the former. Harrison has radically transformed some of his favorite Porcupine Tree tracks into contemporary big band jazz. This is modern big band, closer to Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention and Bill Brufordís Earthworks than to the clichťd classic big band sound. Harrison has some of the best contemporary jazz musicians onboard, his main collaborator being Laurence Cottle who is responsible for the arrangements. This mediabook (hardcover) edition adds a DVD-V containing the album in DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping. See our British page for more Gavin Harrison CDs.
Wolflight is Steve Hackettís 2015 studio album, and Steve seems to be taking this progressive rock fad seriously, as this is his best record in a long time. He is joined by long time collaborators Roger King (keyboards, programming), Gary OíToole (drums), Rob Townsend (sax, duduk), Nick Beggs (bass, Stick), and Amanda Lehmann (harmony vocals). Among the guests are Chris Squire and Hugo Dagenhardt. Read the Blogcritics review. Watch the videos for The Wheelís Turning, Love Song to a Vampire, and the title track.
The jewel case edition contains just the CD. The digipack adds a Blu-ray containing the album in DTS Master Audio 5.1, 24/48 5.1 LPCM, and 24/48 stereo LPCM (all are lossless). The Blu-ray also contains two bonus tracks in 24/48 stereo, and interviews with Hackett.
Note we hope to have the import mediabook edition soon but are at the mercy of the labelís U.S. distributor. The mediabook is the same CD+Blu-ray as the digipack above except for better packaging and a price a few dollars higher. So if thatís what you really want, check this space periodically. See our British page for more Steve Hackett CDs and our DVDs page for some Steve Hackett DVDs.
Blue Radiance (2015, digipack) is the 19th solo album for Erik WÝllo, Norwayís leading electronic musician. This is one of WÝlloís good ones, as it is rhythmic, melodic, and accessible, balancing ambient and upbeat moods. In the labelís words: ďBlue Radianceís eleven new compositions feature sophisticated and engaging waves of WÝlloís trademark processed electric guitar, occasional acoustic guitars, synthesizers, and percussion. Striking, varied, and deeply emotional, the tracks open up when the guitar surfaces out of the swirls, revealing soul-stirring themes rich with melancholy and hope. Itís that interplay Ė the contrast of the lead lines with the washes of sound and minimal piano Ė which make for an intensely powerful listening experience.Ē
Weltenuhr (2014, digipack) is the second collaboration between Erik WÝllo and German synthesist Bernhard WŲstheinrich. They use female vocals on two of the albumís 11 tracks, while the fully instrumental tracks (in the labelís words) ďrange from the pounding beat driven Subgiants to the ethereal Echoes of Parlours. Bernhardís inventive textural rhythms provide the perfect backdrop for WÝlloís soaring E-bow guitar melodies on tracks such as Oculus and Denser World.Ē See our Electronic Music page for more EM.
Sula Bassana is the pseudonym used by German musician Dave Schmidt, a veteran Krautrocker Kosmonaut who has numerous other projects. The Sula Bassana material consists of long, mostly-instrumental psychedelic space-rock excursions dominated by heavily-fuzzed guitar, with synths and Mellotron strings in support. Schmidt also handles bass and drums, with occasional help from other musicians on drums and vocals. Dark Days is from 2012, The Night from 2009. Both were mastered by Eroc (Grobschnitt). This is the 2015 jewel case edition of The Night.
Dreamer is the first Sula Bassana album, originally released in 2002. This ď10 Years AnniversaryĒ edition has been remastered with two bonus tracks added. Read the Aural Innovations reviews of Dark Days and The Night, and many more reviews on the Sula Bassana site.
Inversa Visual, the fourth album from this six-man Barcelona prog band, was released by the band in 2009 and reissued in this 2010 edition by Musea. Herba díHamelŪ began their career playing Jethro Tull covers, and theyíve gone through some changes, especially affecting their third album which was only released as a digital download. On Inversa Visual, they play 1970s-style symphonic prog featuring both flute and keyboards, in the vein of Gotic and Camel, with some jazz-rock that recalls Iman and Iceberg. The vocals are in Catalan. If you told us this album had been recorded in the mid-1970s, we would have been fooled and happily filed it next to Gotic, Ibio, Companyia ElŤctrica Dharma, and the many other first-generation Spanish prog bands. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Their self-released fifth album Girafes a SibŤria (2011) establishes Herba díHamelŪ as one of the best (and least known) 70s-style prog bands around. This record sounds like an undiscovered gem from the golden age of prog, with an understated majesty and graceful flow that is rare today. While too many bands today aim for a me-too Anglo-American mainstream sound, their influences limited to the same obvious ones, Herba díHamelŪís music has a sense of place, like the first-generation European prog bands who werenít trying to all sound the same. If your faith in progressive rock is in need of a little restoration, this album should do it.
Interiors (2015) is at least as good as Girafes a SibŤria. Read the Music From the Other Side of the Room review.
Aviator was a sort of second-tier British supergroup who released these two albums in 1979 and 1980. The band was formed by Jack Lancaster and Mick Rogers, joined by John G. Perry and Clive Bunker, with Robin Lumley producing. Lancaster is known for his Marscape and Peter and the Wolf albums with Robin Lumley and his Wild Connections album with Rick van der Linden. The second Aviator album Turbulence was recorded without Lancaster, but then Lancasterís 1980 album Skinningrove Bay featured all of the Aviator lineup, so they mustíve still been getting along. Mick Rogers is best known as the singer/guitarist of Manfred Mannís Earth Band. Clive Bunker is best known for his time as Jethro Tullís drummer, and John G. Perry was in Caravan, Quantum Jump, Anthony Phillipsí band, and others. The self-titled first Aviator LP was not hard to find in the U.S., but Turbulence was. Both reflect the fact that, the band UK excepted, it was difficult to make progressive rock in the UK during those years, and so these two albums are a mix of jazz-tinged prog and more straightforward rock and pop-rock. Read reviews at Prog Archives and the GloryDazeMusic.com reviews of Turbulence and Aviator.
This is the 2009 remastered edition on Esoteric of Two Sides of Peter Banks. Guitarist Peter Banks left Yes following the release of Time and a Word and formed the progressive band Flash. That band enjoyed a degree of success in the U.S., affording Banks the opportunity to record this 1973 instrumental solo album with guest musicians that include Jan Akkerman (Focus), Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, and John Wetton, as well as Flash members Ray Bennett and Mike Hough. Akkerman has the largest role. Read the AllMusic review (mp3 icon above).
Flash morphed into the band Empire but with Banksí wife on lead vocals. Empire released three albums between 1974 and 1978, the first being the best. The Mars Tapes (2CD, 2014) compiles live-in-studio recordings at Mars Studios in Los Angeles during the summer of 1979. The CD is dedicated to the memory of Peter Banks, who passed away in 2013. Empire had set up camp at Mars Studios for six months rehearsing and showcasing their music, much of which has been unheard until this release. The band basically recorded everything straight off the board. This 2CD includes performances of songs from all three Empire albums, the Yes arrangement of Somethingís Coming from West Side Story, and unreleased work-in-progress songs, both instrumental and vocal. Disc One has the vocal songs and is more representative of the Empire records, but Disc Two is instrumental (apart from the bonus track Sky at Night featuring Phil Collins on drums and backing vocals) and is prog. Read the Something Else review. Check our Bargain CDs page for more Peter Banks CDs.
This 1989 album was the first of two released by Fire Merchants, a trio of John Goodsall (Brand X) on guitar, Chester Thompson (Genesis, Weather Report) on drums, and bassist/percussionist Doug Lunn. The music is rock-fusion, like a heavier, more aggressive and rock-oriented Brand X. This is the 2014 edition on Gonzo, which includes three bonus tracks.
Castle Canyon are an unknown early-1970s American instrumental progressive rock band. Two short tracks on Gods of 1973 (2009) actually were recorded in 1973-74. Four were composed in 1973-74 but not recorded until 2008, and three are new but sound consistent with the others. There is some guitar, but this is keyboard-dominated symphonic prog using vintage sounds. While ELP is the most frequently-heard influence and Trace is often a good reference point, the music ranges wider than that and is fairly original, including some excellent impressionistic soundscapes. Close your eyes and imagine itís a lost classic from 1973, because in a way it is.
Criteria Obsession (2015, digipack) is the second Castle Canyon CD, again emphasizing 1970s-style vintage keyboard dominated prog instrumentals. The trio of keyboards, guitars, and drums has the assistance of different bass players on different tracks, and a guest saxophonist on one. There are two short ARP 2600 solo works recorded in 1974, while the bandís 1972 tour de force Criteria Obsession / The Mushroom Song (14:35) finally sees the light of day in 2015. (There are brief vocals on this track.) The 13-minute Disaster is a studio recording of a piece the band used to play live; it juxtaposes carefully composed elements with sections of wild abandon, showing a fusion side to Castle Canyon. Though you might never guess, My Lady Carey is a rock arrangement of one of the earliest surviving renaissance musical pieces. They just donít make albums like this anymore.
Tiger Moth Tales is the brainchild of Englishman Peter Jones, who has a background writing and performing adult contemporary music but has gone 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 so far on White Knight. Read the Progarchy review.
Broken Lives and Bleeding Hearts (2010) is the debut solo album for Magentaís front-woman Christina Booth. Christina co-wrote all 10 tracks with Rob Reed, who also mixed and produced the album. Guests on the album include John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost), Steve Balsamo (The Storys, ChimpanA), Troy Donockley (ex-Iona), and Chris Fry (Magenta), with a remix of Deep Ocean by Jem Godfrey (Frost). Says Christina of the album: ďAlthough itís not Prog, itís pretty varied and I hope that Magenta fans will find plenty to like. Itís certainly been a labour of love, and I really believe itís the finest set of songs Iíve ever written.Ē Read the Musical Discoveries review.
Christinaís second CD The Light (2015, digisleeve) features contributions from Andy Tillison (The Tangent), John Mitchell, Theo Travis, Andy Edwards (IQ, Frost), Dan Nelson (Godsticks), and Magenta bandmates Chris Fry and Rob Reed. As on her first album, Christina worked closely with Rob developing the tracks, Christina coming up with the melodies and lyrics, Rob taking care of the arrangements as well as producing and mixing. The songs are linked lyrically, most inspired by Christinaís recent battle with breast cancer, with the natural melancholy of the music balanced by a sense of hope. Watch the video for Disappeared.
Rob Reed is of course Magentaís keyboardist and leader and one of those musicians who requires multiple outlets for his creativity (e.g., Kompendium). 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.
Willowís Song (2015) is an 11-track CD with a playing time of 35:29 containing material recorded for Sanctuary but omitted. The centerpieces are two vocal tracks featuring singer Angharad Brinn that were left off so as not to disrupt the feel of the all-instrumental Sanctuary. If youíve seen the movie The Wicker Man (the 1973 original), then you canít forget Willowís Song, a haunting psych-folk song (which is accompanied by Britt Ekland dancing naked.) Reed does a great rendition of this song, which you can hear in Reedís video to accompany it. The second vocal song is a brilliant version of the traditional Scarborough Fair, given the full Mike Oldfield treatment, transforming it into majestic prog. Willowís Song is repeated in an extended version, while Scarborough Fair is repeated in an instrumental version. There are two very Oldfield-esque instrumental pieces not used on Sanctuary, while the remaining songs are remixes and demo versions of parts of Sanctuary. The CD comes in a cardboard sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
Back in stock. Presto Balletís 2012 studio CD Relic of the Modern World had been unavailable for nearly two years, which stalled the bandís momentum, but now we have freshly-minted copies. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. See our U.S. page for the other Presto Ballet CDs currently available and all the info on the band.
Though Nosound began as the solo studio project of Giancarlo Erra, they grew into five piece live band. In the summer of 2014, Nosound were invited to perform at an extraordinary festival: the Starmus Festival at the Teide Observatory on the island of Tenerife (Canary Islands). It was here that Nosound recorded Teide 2390 (2015, mediabook with 24-page booklet), featuring songs from their entire career. (The Ď2390í in the title is the altitude of the location in meters.) In addition to a 70-minute CD, this set includes a hybrid DVD-Audio/Video disc. DVD-Audio players will play the 5.1 surround 24/96 MLP lossless mix of the album. DVD-Video players can play the DTS 24/96 or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround versions. The DVD also contains the stereo mix in 24/48 LPCM. In addition, there is a video featurette that includes the performances of several songs plus behind-the-scenes footage. Watch the video for I Miss the Ground. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping. See Page 2 for all the Nosound CDs and much more info.
The best orchestra in the world, recorded in the best studio in the world (Abbey Road), playing some of the best songs in the world. Guests include Thijs Van Leer (Focus), Richard Harvey (Gryphon), Patrick Moraz, Ian Bairnson (The Alan Parsons Project), Gavin Harrison, Guthrie Govan (Steven Wilson band), and the late Jimmy Greenspoon (keyboardist of Three Dog Night). The tracks: ELP Suite: Tarkus / From the Beginning / Tarkus (reprise), Comfortably Numb, Thick as a Brick, 21st Century Schizoid Man, Focus II, Nights in White Satin, Think of Me With Kindness, Roundabout, Watcher of the Skies, Red Barchetta. If your favorite song did not make the cut, lobby hard for a Volume 2. Watch the educational/motivational video.
DeLane Lea Studios 1973 is a live-in-the-studio recording by Renaissance performing in 1973 to a small gathering of friends at historic DeLane Lea Studios in London (used by The Beatles, Queen, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, among others). The track list: Can You Understand?, Let It Grow, Sounds of the Sea, Carpet of the Sun, At the Harbour, Ashes Are Burning, Prologue. Ashes Are Burning features guest appearances by Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash) and Al Stewart! This is on Cleopatraís Purple Pyramid label, so one must assume itís a legit release from the original tapes. It sounds good.
Also on Purple Pyramid is the double-CD Academy of Music 1974, an archival recording receiving its first legit release in 2015. This is Renaissance performing at the historic (and no longer standing) Academy of Music hall in New York City, accompanied by a 24-piece orchestra. It was professionally recorded for radio broadcast. The track list: Can You Understand?, Black Flame, Carpet of the Sun, Cold Is Being, Things I Donít Understand, Running Hard, Ashes Are Burning, Mother Russia, Prologue. See our British page for more Renaissance CDs.
Empires Never Last was originally released in 2007 and initiated the shift to a heavier, darker, and more intense Galahad. If their earlier albums were comparable to Pendragon, ENL is more in the direction of Arena, IQ at their heaviest, and Fugazi-era Marillion. There is more guitar and a metal influence, though it stops short of being prog-metal, staying in the heavy symphonic realm. Galahad also make good use of samples and electronic effects to enhance the proceedings. The album was recorded at Thin Ice Studios and engineered and mixed by Karl Groom, so the shift toward the huge Arena and Threshold sound is not surprising. Groom, Clive Nolan, and Christina Booth (Magenta) guest. This is the 2015 deluxe digipack edition, which adds two bonus tracks: alternate versions of Termination and This Life Could Be My Last, along with additional artwork not used on the original release. Rather than simply repress the CD, Galahad decided to revisit the album with Karl Groom to see how it could be improved to sound better than ever, particularly as the production and recording bar had been raised much higher on Battle Scars and Beyond the Realms of Euphoria. So this edition of ENL has been remixed, remastered, and some parts re-recorded. See our British page for lots more Galahad CDs.
The Breaking of the World (2015) is Glass Hammerís 17th studio album. (Thatís what it says on Glass Hammerís site; we lost count a long time ago.) This one features Carl Groves, Steve Babb, Fred Schendel, Susie Bogdanowicz, Kamran Alan Shikoh, and Aaron Raulston, with mastering by Bob Katz. The ubiquitous Steve Unruh guests on violin and flute. Watch the album trailer. Read the Progarchy review. See our U.S. page for the rest of the Glass Hammer CDs.
Secrets of Angels (2015) debuts another female vocalist for Karnataka: Hayley Griffiths. She is a classically trained soprano who has toured extensively worldwide as a solo artist and as lead vocalist in the international phenomenon Riverdance and Michael Flatleyís Lord of the Dance. Musical Discoveries, who have followed Karnataka closely from the beginning, call Hayley the best singer the band has had, which is high praise. Otherwise, Secrets of Angels picks up where 2010ís The Gathering Light left off, with Troy Donockley again guesting. ďSecrets of Angels is to The Gathering Light as Delicate Flame of Desire was to The Storm, that is to say, an exponential improvement in songwriting, arrangements, production and -- most notably -- vocal work that is nothing short of amazing.Ē Read the full Musical Discoveries review and the Rock Report review. Watch the album trailer. See our British page for more Karnataka CDs and much more info.
Hasse FrŲberg is known to prog fans as singer/guitarist of The Flower Kings since 1997. When TFK took most of 2009 off, FrŲberg had the opportunity to assemble his own band, and the debut Hasse FrŲberg & Musical Companion CD Future Past was the result. Powerplay followed in 2012, and now we have their third CD HFMC (2015, digipack). This is prog with some hard rock attitude, a wilder, dare we say more American-sounding version of The Flower Kings. Listen to the album teaser and watch the official video for Canít Stop the Clock and you will know all you need to know. Check our Scandinavian page for Future Past and Powerplay and more info on the band.
The Gentle Storm is a collaboration between mastermind and multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) and vocalist/lyricist Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering). Itís a given that this is an epic concept album. The interesting aspect of The Diary (2015, digipack) is that the two CDs in this set feature two contrasting interpretations of the same songs, with disc 1 ĎGentleí containing the ďacoustic/folkĒ arrangements and disc 2 ĎStormí containing ďa full-on metal assaultĒ. Of course the latter is as much symphonic prog as it is metal. Watch the official videos for Shores of India and Heart of Amsterdam and listen to the Gentle version of Shores of India.
This is the 2010 CD edition on Esoteric of the self-titled 1971 Fields album. After the first lineup of Rare Bird folded in early 1971, keyboardist Graham Field formed this outfit with bassist/singer/guitarist Alan Barry and drummer Andy McCulloch (in between his time with King Crimson and Greenslade). Although Fields didnít achieve the commercial success Rare Bird had, (what had until recently been) their sole album is a very good British prog album, certainly better than the Rare Bird albums that would follow since Rare Bird without Graham Fields wasnít very progressive at all. This CD edition has been remastered from the original master tapes and features an essay by Sid Smith and an interview with Graham Field. Read reviews at Music from the Other Side of the Room and Prog Archives.
Following the albumís release, the bandís line-up changed with the departure of Alan Barry and the arrival of Frank Farrell from Supertramp. This line-up recorded a follow-up album in 1972 that was perplexingly shelved by CBS Records and remained consigned to the vaults for forty-odd years! The original master tapes of this fine album were recently located and have been remastered by the Esoteric team as Contrasts: Urban Roar to Country Peace (2015) with the full involvement of Graham Field and featuring a booklet with an essay by Sid Smith and interview with Graham Field. Listen to Let Her Sleep on YouTube.
Argosí self-titled 2008 debut CD and 2010 follow-up Circles may be the most British-sounding prog records to come out of Germany. The music is keyboard-dominated and 1970s-styled, with vocals in English from a singer who sounds sort of like a cross between Peter Gabriel and Pye Hastings. The music displays influences of Genesis, Camel, Caravan, Hatfield and the North, and Stackridge. Argosí MySpace page lists other influences as well, of which Fruupp and England are also good references. When Argos do Peter Hammill, thereís no mistaking it -- itís almost better than the real thing. One of the characteristics of much classic British prog is whimsy, which Argos have understood. To some extent, you could call Argos the German equivalent of The Tangent, in that itís all about classic British progressive rock done extremely well. If your first love is 1970s British prog, this music provides that magical feeling -- you canít say exactly what it is, but you know it when you hear it. Part of it is emotional warmth, an accusation rarely leveled at modern-style prog. Unfortunately, Musea let both of those CDs go out-of-print after about two years.
Now on Progressive Promotion Records, Cruel Symmetry (2012, digipack, 55-minutes) is another fantastic album for Argos, often emphasizing their Canterbury side. The 20:43 title track is the centerpiece. Read reviews at Prog Archives and Background Magazine.
A Seasonal Affair (2015, digipack) includes guest spots for Andy Tillison (The Tangent), Marek Arnold (Seven Steps to the Green Door, Toxic Smile, United Progressive Fraternity, Flaming Row, Cyril), and Andy Wells (Pilgrym). For what itís worth, we compared Argos to The Tangent years ago, and now Andy Tillison is guesting. See the related band Yacobs.
Another great find for the Festival/F2 Music label, this is the 2015 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.
Glacier are a prog band from Durham, England who have been around in one form or another since 1979. Their CD debut was Monument in 2001, essentially a compilation of older material. And it isnít nearly as good as their second CD Ashes for the Monarch (2015, mini-LP sleeve). Itís safe to consider Glacier alongside Comedy of Errors, Abel Ganz, and Cyan, but Ashes for the Monarch is to a greater extent loaded with Genesis and Steve Hackett style symphonic splendor, some Yes influence as well. A guest on violin adds a Kansas or Solstice feel to some tracks, in particular the 11-part, 23-minute epic One Man Alone. This CD should be on the shopping list of any fan of melodic prog. It sounds very British, and is utterly free of metal or other impurities. ďThis is an album that should be enjoyed for what it is intended to be, a celebration of a genre that simply refuses to fade and as such represents an example of the highest calibre. For those seeking nostalgia with a contemporary twist, look no further. Glacierís new work fourteen years in the making is a joy and well worth the wait. Traditional prog at its very best.Ē Read the full Progmeister and DPRP reviews.
Stewart Bell is the keyboardist and main composer in Citizen Cain. It looks as though going forward, the Citizen Cain franchise is in his hands, as Bell plans this 74-minute album to be only the first in a trilogy. The Antechamber of Being (Part 1) is a prog rock opera featuring five vocalists: Simone Rossetti (The Watch), Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon), Bekah Mhairi Comrie, Phil Allen (Citizen Cain), and Bell himself. Allen also plays guitar, so two-thirds of Citizen Cain is present. Musically and even vocally, it sounds quite a bit like Citizen Cain, albeit slightly heavier, picking up where Citizen Cain left off with 2012ís Skies Darken. The Genesis and Peter Gabriel allusions still abound (if you donít hear Genesisí The Knife at one point, youíre just not listening), though the songwriting chops are not on the Genesis level. The music is complex and dense though not impenetrable; the same could be said of much of Citizen Cainís music. Read the DPRP, Jerry Lucky, and Background Magazine reviews.
AudioPlastik is a collaboration between guitarist/vocalist Dec Burke (Darwinís Radio, Frost, solo), guitarist/bassist Simon Andersson (ex-Pain of Salvation), and keyboardist Richard West (Threshold). In the Head of a Maniac (2015, digipack) is their debut. It has more metal elements than the projects Dec Burke has been involved with previously, yet Burkeís very melodic, well-constructed vocal lines and hook-laden choruses are the same as always, making for an uncommon blend. ďCinematic with equal helpings of pop, EDM, and metal, In the Head of a Maniac is ambitious and packed full of surprises. Across each of the 13 tracks, West shapes Anderssonís metal and symphonic influences into beautiful piano lines, giving the album a strong, modern, European prog flavour in places, but itís Burkeís melodic, Ďpoppyí vocals that give it a truly British slant... If youíre looking for neo with a modern twist, donít miss this.Ē [Prog] Read the Lady Obscure review. Watch the video for the song Now.
The Black Codex is the most ambitious project yet for Dutchman Christiaan Bruin, who has a number of excellent prog CDs under the Chris name (that you ought to hear) and is also a member of the bands Sky Architect, Nine Stones Close, and a couple others. The Black Codex is based on an original story of Bruinís. The series is first released as downloads by subscription, 52 ďepisodesĒ over a period of 52 weeks throughout 2014. The series is also being released on four double-CDs, packaged in mini-LP style sleeves, of which these are the first and second. A book is supposed to be published alongside the final 2CD. You can hear excerpts from each episode at The Black Codex website. The music is a very cinematic, epic, orchestral progressive rock, using vocals on some episodes, not only a unique concept but rather unique musically too, and very impressive. That this music is different from Bruinís other projects (and that his other albums are all different from each other) and yet still very much progressive rock speaks to the manís creativity and range. Watch the series trailer and listen to A Dot on the Horizon and Silhouette in the Window on YouTube.
Traveller (2014, digipack) is the debut for Dutch prog band Unkh (not to be confused with Polish band Ankh), though the band was established in 1991. As you listen to the album on Bandcamp (mp3 icon above), youíll realize that Unkh mix in some styles other than prog. The band describe themselves as ďa mashup of contemporary alternative rock and seventies progressive music.Ē Well, maybe not Ďcontemporaryí alternative rock, unless the 1980s are considered contemporary. But the non-prog is concentrated in some of the shorter tracks (which still have prog elements), while the no-doubt-about-it prog tracks are the long ones Borderlines.ca (12:51) and especially Borderlines.fr (13:32). Here and elsewhere, Unkh demonstrate an affinity with Supersister, not to mention Genesis and King Crimson. The album is actually easy to recommend as itís not the same old thing but instead a unique combination of influences. Read the Background Magazine review.
To commemorate the passing of guitarist Marc Vooijs, The Aurora Project organized a special concert in their hometown of Katwijk on January 31, 2015. Each attendee received the CD A Night to Remember featuring 75 minutes of unreleased material. Only 300 copies were manufactured, and the few remaining copies are now available to the general public while they last. A few tracks are alternate versions, and there are two acoustic live versions. But there are several tracks not heard before in any form, including a glimpse into the early days of the band: two 1999 tracks from rehearsal tapes totaling nearly half an hour. The CD comes in a cardboard sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
The labelís description: Shadow Border (2009) is the second album from Dutch progressive rock band The Aurora Project. Their 2005 debut Unspoken Words brought them much acclaim in the worldwide progressive rock community. The band has twice been invited to perform at the prestigious ProgPower Europe festival. TAP create atmospheric progressive rock with a metallic edge. Liquid keyboard solos duel with heavy, crunch-filled guitar riffs. Vocals take a theatrical approach reminding us that this is after all a prog band. Strong appeal to fans of Riverside, Rush, Arena, and Porcupine Tree.
Impressionist Symphony (2014) celebrates the 40th anniversary of Clearlight Symphony. For the new symphony, Cyrille Verdeaux is reunited with Tim Blake, Steve Hillage, and Didier Malherbe and joined by other friends old and new including Paul Sears (The Muffins) on eight extended compositions. Impressionist Symphony continues Cyrilleís return to progressive rock, which began with the previous yearís Spirits Burning & Clearlight - Healthy Music in Large Doses CD, which features Cyrille and many members of the prog and space rock communities. Impressionist Symphony is the album Clearlight fans had been waiting for Cyrille to make for many years. Read the Jerry Lucky and All About Jazz reviews. Watch the album teaser video.
With Clearlight leader Cyrille Verdeaux living in California now for a long time, a collaboration with California space collective Spirits Burning was a natural. There are at least 35 musicians on Healthy Music in Large Doses (2013), including Daevid Allen, Robert Rich, and members past and present of Hawkwind, High Tide, Gong, Universal Totem Orchestra, The Muffins, Thinking Plague, Cartoon, and others. Watch the album preview video. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Aural Innovations reviews. See our French page for the rest of the Clearlight CDs and much more info.
Brazilians Zůzimo Rech and Adrianne Simioni combine their efforts to varying degrees on these albums. Both musicians play guitar as well as keyboards and both combine synth music and instrumental progressive rock unlike anyone else. In addition to time spent in rock and fusion bands, Rech and Simioni were the only constant members of Orquestra Profana, an ensemble in existence from 1991-95 and dedicated to the interpretation of classical music with electric and electronic instruments. Their newest work is Le Quattro Stagioni / The Four Seasons (2015), which is Antonio Vivaldiís most famous work performed on electric guitars and synths. Orquestra Profana performed this live during their existence, and Rech and Simioni felt obligated to record a studio version.
The Life of a Star is by and large a loud, bombastic progressive rock album that uses a lot of synths, but electric guitar prevails. It was recorded back in 1997 but not released until 2006. Pictures of a Solar System (2006) is considered the sequel. Pictures of a Solar System has some electric guitar and some rock but is more of a symphonic/melodic/rhythmic synth album along the lines of Synergy, though with higher energy, sometimes touching upon the style of Fonya. It is compositionally the more mature album.
On her 2006 album The Intelligible Sky, Simioni plays electric & acoustic guitar and electric violin. Rech has arranging, co-arranging, and/or co-writing credits on all the songs, produced the album, and took care of the keyboards and sequencers. The album is more prog rock than synth music. It has more than enough energy and complexity for progressive rock fans, yet is full of sophisticated synth textures, both symphonic and spacey. The drums on these earlier albums are programmed, but they are well done; a human drummer would not have added much. The booklet for Pictures of a Solar System is particularly beautiful, 24 full-color panels featuring astronomy images created by Frank Hettick.
At the time of the first couple The Psychedelic Ensemble (TPE) CDs, we wrote that this is the best American symphonic prog by an artist youíve never heard of. Each TPE CD has improved on the previous and garnered a larger audience, so by now the word is out. The band name is a misnomer as the music is symphonic prog, not psych. The noun Ďpsycheí is a better word than Ďpsychedelicí as far as the album concepts go, since itís the human psyche that is often being examined. Essentially a solo artist, youíd never guess that was the case because the music sounds like a large ensemble. The man behind it all doesnít reveal his identity and weíll respect that, though we can say he has a career in contemporary classical music and a long composition resume. Maybe he doesnít want his classical peers or his academic colleagues to learn he has an alternate life as a progger.
The debut The Art of Madness (2009, 54-minutes) was released on the Musea label and is slightly different than what follows. The dominant influence on this album is DSotM-era Pink Floyd, though somewhat more introspective and brooding -- if you know the band Product, weíre reminded of their approach. But Pink Floyd is far from the only style here. There are instrumental passages that have nothing to do with Pink Floyd, fast-tempo and adventurous, while there is room for classical chamber music, prog-folk, ELP-style and more. There is great attention to detail, an uncommonly intricate sonic tapestry, all told quite an original and impressive work.
On the following albums: The Myth of Dying (2010, 58-minutes), The Dream of the Magic Jongleur (2011, 64-minutes), and The Tale of the Golden King (2013, 72-minutes), Yes becomes the dominant influence while the Pink Floyd influence drops off. ELP/UK and Gentle Giant are also influences, but the music is generally darker and busier than those bands. The Tale of the Golden King features vocalist Ann Caren and an orchestra on some tracks. All the albums are more instrumental than vocal. Read reviews of all; see Prog Archives for more reviews.
The fifth TPE album The Sunstone (2015, 62-minutes) is another concept album. It includes an orchestra on several tracks, a string quartet, an electric violinist, vocalist Ann Caren, and a guest appearance by Michael Wilk of Steppenwolf on Hammond B3. The music logically follows on from The Tale of the Golden King while exploring some darker, more dissonant harmonies.
Oregon (2004, 66-minutes) is the second CD from Dutch quartet Nice Beaver, who expand well beyond the neo-prog style of their 2002 debut On Dry Land (currently out-of-print, but the band say a re-release is in the works). For one, theyíve added some heavy guitar, but more importantly, there is a Camel influence on some tracks and some slight jazz touches, and though the early Marillion style is still present in places, it isnít the only thing they do. That said, there are some great Steve Rothery style guitar leads. A very good sophomore effort showing a lot of growth. Read the DPRP and Sea of Tranquility reviews.
For The Time It Takes (2015, digipack), Nice Beaver followed Flamborough Head, Leap Day, and Trion over to the Polish Oskar label, not too surprising given how intertwined these Dutch prog bands are. Nice Beaver take another step forward with this album, showing an even stronger kinship to Camel as well as to Rush and Marillion, with jazzy touches throughout. Listen to the album teaser and Rainbowís End on YouTube.
Note Flamborough Headís Lost in Time is back in stock.
Please Come Home (2015) is the debut CD for Lonely Robot, the project of songwriter/guitarist/vocalist/producer John Mitchell (Kino, It Bites, Frost, Arena). Mitchell is backed by Nick Beggs (Lifesigns, Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Iona,... ) on bass and Craig Blundell (Pendragon, Frost) on drums. Steve Hogarth (Marillion) performs on two songs on piano and backing vocals. Touchstoneís Kim Seviour sings on one track. Heather Findlay (ex- Mostly Autumn) sings a duet on one track, in more of a Kate Bush style than her usual delivery, while Peter Cox (Go West, Manfred Mannís Earth Band) sings on another track. Nik Kershaw contributes a guitar solo to one track, and keyboardist Jem Godfrey (Frost) plays on two tracks. English actor Lee Ingleby (Master & Commander, Harry Potter) provides some narration to link tracks together. This comes closest to Kino and Frost and will certainly be one of the top modern prog albums of the year. Watch the album teaser and the videos for Are We Copies? and God vs. Man. This is the U.S. edition, which comes in a jewel case and includes the same three bonus tracks as the European special edition. The three bonus tracks are alternate mixes of album tracks.
Cinema is a current German electronic music project, but the man behind it is a veteran: JŁrgen ďPŲngseĒ Krutzsch, once the guitarist of the German 1970s prog band Tibet. There was a privately-released 1985 Cinema LP titled Isolation, then nothing until The Magix Box (2013). Here PŲngse is aided by two other musicians. The music is warm, melodic/rhythmic electronics that sounds like an updated blend of Ashra and Vangelis, also reminiscent of modern Mike Oldfield and modern Tangerine Dream. There is prog rock crossover appeal due to the use of electric guitar and the well-formed melodies. Eroc (Grobschnitt) did the mastering. Watch the official trailer.
Loopings (2014) is the follow-up, full of classic electronic music goodness that leans a bit more toward Tangerine Dream. The same musicians are involved and Eroc again mastered. A listen to the generous (11:31) official trailer should convince EM fans that this is a must-have.
Yes, this is the same Ramses that released La Leyla (1976) and Eternity Rise (1978) on Sky Records, two fine German sympho-prog albums approximately in the Eloy style of those years. Ramses released the more commercial Light Fantastic in 1981, then nothing until Control Me in 2000, an album that few have actually heard. So the release of Ramsesí fifth studio album Firewall (2014, digipack) is a bit of a surprise, celebrating the bandís 40th anniversary. There is no return to the bandís 1970s style, which was perhaps too much to hope for, as Firewall is generally melodic hard rock with proggy aspects. At least Ramsesí roots are perceptible.
Steven Wilsonís 2015 fourth studio album is one of the most anticipated releases of the year, and for good reason. Wilsonís band is the same one that recorded The Raven... and toured in 2013-2014, but Wilson demonstrates again that he isnít going to make the same solo album twice. The standard CD edition comes in a digipack. The Blu-ray has lossless hi-res surround (96/24 5.1 LPCM and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) and 96/24 LPCM stereo versions of all the album tracks. It has a studio documentary filmed and edited by Lasse Hoile, and a photo gallery. It also adds instrumental versions of all the album tracks in 96/24 stereo LPCM, seven alternative version bonus tracks, and lastly, the Blu-ray comes with a download code for FLAC and mp3 versions of the album, which means the Blu-ray has you covered. Listen to First Regret / 3 Years Older on SoundCloud. Watch the video for Perfect Life. (Three chords, six words, and youíre probably singing along first time through.) See Page 2 for more Steven Wilson titles.
Steve Rothery is of course Marillionís guitarist. His instrumental album The Ghosts of Pripyat was first released in September 2014 after a very successful Kickstarter campaign. InsideOut took over in 2015 for the general release, and this is the U.S. jewel box edition. Steve Rothery invited Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett to contribute a guest guitar solo each, and you can see what the main criterion for playing guitar on this album was. Actually Rotheryís band includes guitarist Dave Foster (Mind if we call you Steve?) from Mr. So & So. It was a couple writing sessions with Dave that was the genesis of this album. The rest of the band is Riccardo Romano (RanestRane) on keys, Yatim Halimi (Panic Room) on bass, and Leon Parr (ex-Mr. So & So) on drums. The album has kind of a David Gilmour / Pink Floyd vibe, along with many Rothery trademarks familiar to Marillion fans. Watch the album trailer and listen to Morpheus on YouTube.
The 3-disc Live in Rome digipack set was recorded at a sold out show in Italy in 2014. The first CD contains six tracks from The Ghosts of Pripyat. The second CD contains performances of classic Marillion material plus two songs by Italian prog band RanestRane. The reason for that is that for this concert, the keyboardist was Riccardo Romano of RanestRane, and Rothery (as well as Steve Hogarth) guested on the RanestRane album A Space Odyssey Part I: Monolith. The rest of Rotheryís band is Dave Foster on guitar, Yatim Halimi on bass, Leon Parr on drums, and guest singers Manuela Milanese and Alessandro Carmassi. The DVD contains the video of all the songs on the two CDs except for Sugar Mice, presumably dropped for reasons of space. Read the Echoes and Dust review. Watch The Old Man of the Sea. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Sanguine Humís third studio album Now We Have Light (2015) is a double-CD that comes in two editions. The standard edition is a 2CD in jewel box + slipcase. The limited edition comes in a fat digipack and adds a DVD (NTSC, all-region) containing a making-of documentary (counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping). Now We Have Light is a concept album that the band had been working on for over a decade, its roots going back to the days of Antique Seeking Nuns. During this time, they hatched a bizarre conceptual story that perhaps took the formation of Sanguine Hum to make it feasible to complete. Somewhat like a twisted mix of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Frank Zappaís Joeís Garage, and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Now We Have Light is a future parable set in an entirely possible scenario, in which entirely impossible events start occurring. Although core songs were written for this album as far back as 2002, the band were inspired by the most recent Sanguine Hum material to revisit the old tunes and, where needed, develop and rewrite what already existed, while at the same time creating a large amount of new music. Ultimately, it has come to represent a definitive cross section of all the work theyíve made as Antique Seeking Nuns, Joff Winks Band, Nunbient, and Sanguine Hum thus far. UK jazz vibraphone player Jim Hart guests on several tracks. Watch the album promo video. See our British page for all the Sanguine Hum studio CDs and much more info.
Sylvan and RPWL are the leaders of the current German prog scene, both bands having been releasing CDs for about 15 years now, so itís good to see them working together on the business end, as Sylvanís 2015 studio album Home is released on RPWLís Gentle Art of Music label. The less expensive version is the standard jewel case edition. The limited edition has the same 78 minutes of audio but comes in elaborate mediabook packaging for not much more (counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping). Home is Sylvanís first full-on concept album since Posthumous Silence. Epic in every sense, Home could unseat Posthumous Silence as the bandís meisterwerk. Watch the album preview video and the video for Shine; listen to In Between. See our German page for the rest of the Sylvan CDs.
This is Esotericís newly remastered and expanded edition of the 1975 self-titled Kestrel album, a minor classic of English prog. The second disc contains six bonus tracks: two are non-LP, while the others are single or alternate versions of album tracks. The audio was remastered from the original master tapes, while the booklet fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay. Kestrel were from Newcastle and released only this one album before disbanding. The LP became a collectorís item, particularly in Japan. The fact that the keyboardist plays a lot of Mellotron has something to do with the albumís reputation. File this album next to Cressida, Spring, Fantasy, and Fruupp. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Listen to August Carol on YouTube, and you can find the rest of the album there with a little effort.
Neil Campbell is an English composer, virtuoso guitarist (classical and electric), and multi-instrumentalist. Like Oldfield and Hackett before him, Campbell is more interested in composing and creating than simply showcasing his guitar skills. Despite the varying band/artist name, these are all full-on progressive works featuring a full band lineup. There is some overlap in the musicians, but the albums are distinct from one another. Campbell has an outlet for his solo guitar work (you can find his solo CDs on his website), so these band CDs receive his progressive energies. Emergence (2015, digisleeve) is an uncommonly good instrumental prog album, on which Marty Snape (Bulbs) makes important contributions. Campbell employs wordless female voices here in a manner between Karda Estra and The Northettes. Combined with Campbellís classical guitar and keyboard/electronic embellishments, these more relaxed pieces will have you floating blissfully downstream. That is until Campbell cuts loose with electric guitar while a tight rhythm section plays energetically in odd meters, sending energy up your spine. There is fusion, majestic symphonic prog, even Philip Glass style melody lines if you listen for them, just some of the best instrumental music being made. Listen to an mp3 of Morphogenic Fields. Counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
On (2013, digipack) is the debut for Campbellís band Bulbs, and it may have been the best instrumental prog album of that year. Most of the music has a flowing nature a la Ozric Tentacles, but while there is some spaciness and frequent electronic textures, Bulbs is much more of a progressive rock band as opposed to space-rock band, the music structured and composed. Both Campbellís electric and classical guitar are at the forefront, with synths in support, but this is miles from a guitarist solo album. As Neil says, the music is quite complex (using time signature changes and cyclical structures) but extremely melodic, groovy, and accessible. It varies from high energy tracks with modern aggression (with electric guitar obviously) to seductive pieces reliant on classical guitar. There is some influence of 1970s King Crimson and Summers/Fripp, and use of speech samples, all the while pushing instrumental prog in new directions. Read the Prog Archives reviews.
Particle Theory (2008) is by Neil Campbellís earlier band, which includes some of the best musicians in Liverpool on vocals, drums, bass, cello, horns, and Celtic harp, while Campbell himself plays all manner of guitars, keyboards, and more. The music is predominantly instrumental, with some male lead vocals and occasional ethereal female vocals, but is not song-oriented. The first thing that is apparent is that these are musicians with classical training. At times the NCC sound like a chamber orchestra playing rock, more rock-oriented than Karda Estra, more melodic and warm than Univers Zero. While they donít strongly resemble any of the 1970s progressive bands, the NCC share the same true progressive ethos and the same desire to incorporate several centuries of western musical development into rock. Read the Exposť review.
King of Agogik is a German instrumental prog band that has been flying way too far under the radar, maybe because of the obscure words in the band name and album titles. (The word is agogic in English and refers to accenting a note by increasing its duration.) King of Agogik is the project of Hans JŲrg Schmitz, an accomplished drummer with much band and live experience. He was the drummer on Traumhausís Die Andere Seite and Willowglassís The Dream Harbour albums, and there is a King of Agogik track on Decameron: Ten Days in 100 Novellas - Part II.
The King of Agogik CDs thus far are: Exlex Beats (2014, digipack, 77-minutes), From A to A (2011, digipack, 77-minutes), The Rhythmic Drawing Room (2009, 2CD, digipack, 134-minutes), Aleatorik System (2008, digipack, 75-minutes), and Membranophonic Experience (2006, digipack, 74-minutes). Start with the later CDs and work backwards. All feature other musicians; among the many musicians on the latest album Exlex Beats are Steve Unruh (Resistor, The Samurai of Prog), Andrew Marshall (Willowglass), and Arne Schšfer (Versus X, Apogee). The instrumentation is extensive, and though it varies from album to album, there are keyboards including Mellotron, flute, violin, mandolin, Chapman Stick, sax, oboe, and female voices, not to mention guitar, bass, and drums. The music is generally symphonic prog/neo-prog but it is eclectic, with sections that range from metallic to jazzy to pastoral to cinematic to jamming and more. Head to Prog Archives for reviews and details, and see the bandís review compendium. Watch Exlex Beats trailer 2 and trailer 1 and thatíll probably be enough convincing without having to read anything.
We wouldíve stocked this British CD just for the band name, but it turns out to be an amazing album. Itís a homemade project that doesnít sound homemade, but it does have the charm of an authentic, hand-knitted prog album. The music was written by father-son team Kevin and Bruce McDade, who play most of the instruments with help from a few others, while father Kevin wrote the lyrics. They did the smart thing in hiring drummer Gareth Roberts, a veteran of Londonís West End, then recorded the drums and had the album mixed in a professional studio. The result is an excellent sounding production named Grak (2014, digipack). Paradoxically, it is familiar-sounding enough to make classic prog fans feel all warm and fuzzy, yet itís also unlike anything youíve heard before. There are influences of Genesis and Jethro Tull, among others. There are folk instruments including violin, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and bodhran (Irish heritage on display). There are synths and French horns and Mellotron, but there is also heavy guitar sprinkled throughout, and some crazy electronic beats. The 22-minute closer A Sense of Texture has a middle section of manic electronic beats (challenging Mike Oldfieldís Guilty for best prog dance bit), yet it never stops sounding like prog. The music can be quite complex (the 150 tracks of audio on A Sense of Texture crashed the studioís Pro Tools system), and the mix engineer contributed this useful review quote: ďThis is flippin bonkers!Ē. But for all the complexity, there are songs here. If it seems as though modern prog bands are unable to write an actual chorus (you know, something that occurs more than once, makes you want to sing along, and sticks in your head after the music has stopped), Twombley Burwash will remind you how British bands of yore wrote choruses. The band says that the idea of the album was to take the listener on such an enjoyable and challenging journey that, at the end, youíd want to start all over. Sounds like the mission statement of the best prog bands. Read the DPRP review; they gave it 10 out of 10.
This is the U.S. edition of Beardfishís 2015 CD +4626-Comfortzone. It is a double-CD with the same audio content as the more expensive European limited edition; the only difference is that it comes in a jewel case rather than a digipack. The bonus second disc is entitled The Early Years - Outtakes and Demos and contains 13 tracks recorded between 2002-2008, almost all previously-unreleased. If you thought The Void ventured too far toward prog-metal, youíll be pleased to know that Beardfish have done an about-face, returning to a large degree to their early sound, which is what got us excited about them in the first place. ďThis is an album that fizzes with passion for musicís endless bounty. The bar for 2015 has been set.Ē [Prog Magazine] Read the Sonic Abuse and Background Magazine reviews. Listen to Hold On on SoundCloud. See our Scandinavian page for the rest of the Beardfish CDs and more info.
Abyssal (2013) is the second and superior album for Gambit, a French neo-prog quintet singing in French (which is how we like it). Think of a neo-prog Ange, a French Marillion, or just file next to Skeem, Elora, and Arrakeen. Watch the video for Le manŤge en chantier and the album teaser video.
This is the digipack 2CD limited edition of the new Van der Graaf Generator live album Merlin Atmos, recorded on the bandís 2013 European tour. Disc 1 contains Flight, Lifetime, All That Before, Bunsho, A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers, and Gog. These are reportedly the first live performances of the full Flight and A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers, the latter being the bandís all-time epic, while Flight is Peter Hammillís epic-length piece from his A Black Box album. If that set list isnít sufficient to cause paroxysms of delight, this limited edition adds a 70-minute second disc containing Interference Patterns, Over the Hill, Your Time Starts Now, Scorched Earth, Meurglys III The Songwriterís Guild, Man-Erg, and Childlike Faith in Childhoodís End. As you can see, the second disc is as essential as the first, containing many VdGG classics. Check our British page for more VdGG CDs.
Autumnsongs Records is a relatively new Norwegian label who now have U.S. distribution. This is the first batch of CDs to come through their U.S. distributor:
Heartbreak in ((Stereo)) (2015, digisleeve) is the debut by Mollmaskin, the project of Anders Bjermeland, leader of psychedelic adventurers Flashback Caruso and a member of Rhys Marshís The Autumn Ghost. Bjermeland sings and plays all manner of instruments here, with a bit of help from Rhys Marsh (who also mixed and mastered) and Magnus NygŚrd Muldal. The music has a wonderful, nearly indefinable retro sound that today could only have come out of Scandinavia. Early song-oriented Soft Machine is one reference point, and Faust can be mentioned if only because the album contains a cover of Faustís Jennifer (one of Faustís slightly more conventional songs). Listen to How Many Ants and The Long Shadow on YouTube. Note this is a double-CD, but the album would have fit easily on a single CD. Itís the same price as a single CD on the label, so maybe thereís just a lot of unused capacity at CD plants these days.
Scandinavian prog luminaries Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (Jaga Jazzist, Motorpsycho), Rhys Marsh (The Autumn Ghost, Opium Cartel), and Mattias Olsson (Anglagard, White Willow) joined forces as Kaukasus to record and release their outstanding debut album Kaukasus I (2014, digisleeve). The project began as an experiment in the Krautrock style, but the music morphed into full-fledged, modern-sounding, dark Nordic progressive rock, with elements of Krautrock, art-rock, and world music. The label references Japan, Genesis, Can, Brian Eno, and early Peter Gabriel. ďDespite the fact weíve seen these musicians work together before in various contexts to make fantastic music, Kaukasus is perhaps their first collaborative effort to exhibit a truly deep level of prog appeal. Furthermore, thereís something special about this group that clicks, the way they sort of take the best of Rhysí singer-songwriter style but place it in an extensive environment that Rhys, Einarsen, and Olsson have, quite frankly, turned into their prog playground. I give huge compliments to all three in saying that ďIĒ is a spectacular album that has a strong sense of emotional weight, a record to be taken seriously and reckoned with in and of itself, and a release that while not being perfect, clearly demonstrates that if these guys produce a second album, it is sure to be a masterpiece. Kaukasus is surely to be considered one of the best new bands of 2014, and ďIĒ is likely to rank up there with the best albums of the year. Read the full Progulator review, also the Sea of Tranquility review. Listen to Lift the Memory and In the Stillness of Time on YouTube.
Rhys Marsh is a British expat singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer who now lives in Norway. His Ďmulti-national orchestraí The Autumn Ghost has featured members of Anekdoten, Wobbler, White Willow, ńnglagŚrd, and others. The double-CD Trio (2013, digisleeve) was recorded live in the studio, the only overdubs being vocals and flute. Marsh had decided to form a live band to promote his third album The Blue Hour, but he wanted to reinterpret the songs rather than replicate them. So the line-up he chose featured two exciting multi-instrumentalists from Norwegian psychedelic band Flashback Caruso. Trio features songs from the first three Autumn Ghost records, dramatically rearranged for this new ensemble, plus one new instrumental track. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Listen to the album sampler on YouTube.
Sentiment (2014, digisleeve) is the first Rhys Marsh album on which he does everything himself. ďThe guitar work, both electric and acoustic, is solid and superbly recorded, but it is probably keyboards that do more to define the sound. If Mellotron can choke horses, surely this album has enough to do it. Both string and flute sounds are used on nearly every track, along with electric piano and other instruments, none of which are noticeably digital in nature, though I wouldn't rule them out. Sentiment is a prime example of applying such vintage sounds in a modern context. The general vibe is not unlike Porcupine Tree without any appreciable metal elements. Tempos and moods vary from track to track, so while the overall effort is very cohesive, it doesnít descend into tedious sameness. On the whole, this is a fine release that should find fans among many prog fans, provided theyíre not allergic to Mellotrons.Ē [Exposť] Also read the Progulator review. Watch the videos for Burn the Brightest Day, Last November, and The Seventh Face. See our Scandinavian page for the earlier Rhys Marsh CDs.
Mater Thallium was formed in 2013 by two members of the band Procosmian Fannyfiddlers as a celebration of dark rock icons Candlemass, King Crimson, and Black Sabbath. Mater Thalliumís eponymous 2013 debut was a full-on symphonic doom rock album. What was initially intended as a one-off project took on a life of its own, and the quartet immediately began work on the far more progressive and adventurous concept album Abandoned by the Sun (2014, digisleeve). The opening track establishes a link to the previous record, but thereafter the music moves in multiple, unexpected directions. This is the type of prog album youíd expect to find on the Italian Black Widow label, if that helps clue you in to its style. Read the Jerry Lucky and The Progressive Aspect reviews. Listen to Exiled Witness and Finite on YouTube.
With the Lights Turned Out So Beautiful (2012, digisleeve) and Endless Serenade (2013, digisleeve) are the first two albums by Norwegian singer-songwriter Silje Leirvik, released by Autumnsongs Records. Both were recorded and produced by Rhys Marsh, who plays many instruments, with help from Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (Kaukasus) on Endless Serenade. The first album features more organic tones including grand piano, violin, and cello, while the second album has more experimental textures and Mellotron. Both feature guitar and drums. But the absolute highlight is Siljeís voice, which is simply one of the greatest female voices of our time. These albums transcend the usual pigeonholing, as there is some sort of Nordic magic at work here. Read reviews at Siljeís website. From With the Lights Turned Out So Beautiful, listen to Dark Pages and With Me on YouTube. From Endless Serenade, watch the video for Black Heart and listen to Serenade.
Cleopatra / Purple Pyramid originally released this CD in 2013, then dropped the price in 2015. Itís part of their series of all-star CDs organized by Billy Sherwood and assembled in his studio, this time 11 covers of Steve Miller Band songs, all classics having received lots of airplay in the day. The participants are mostly from the world of prog and in addition to Sherwood include Tony Kaye, Peter Banks, John Wetton, Rick Wakeman, Geoff Downes, Sonja Kristina (Curved Air), John Wesley, Steve Morse, Rod Argent, Steve Hillage, Nektar, Jordan Rudess, Derek Sherinian, Colin Moulding (XTC), Fee Waybill (The Tubes), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow), Steve Stevens, and Martin Turner (Wishbone Ash). If you came of age during the 1970s and had the radio on, then these songs are part of your DNA, and hearing them again interpreted by these musicians is great entertainment.
Good Morning, Gettysburg (DVD+CD, 2015, digipack) is Vermont progsters Elephants of Scotland live at Rosfest 2014. The entire 13 song set was shot in high definition and mixed from the 24-bit digital multi-track recording. So while the DVD (NTSC, all-region) is necessarily standard def, the band have cleverly included the HD video on the DVD as an mp4 file. Now there are only 14 songs total on Elephants of Scotlandís two studio CDs, and the only song not performed live is on the DVD as a bonus track with a new 2015 studio mix (with video of the drum tracking session). So this is sort of the complete and unabridged Elephants of Scotland. See our USA page for Elephants of Scotlandís studio CDs and info on the band.
This is the first release on the new Timeless Momentum label, run by Antoine Fafard (Spaced Out). And itís the best fusion release weíve heard in a long time, an album that may remind fusion fans why they fell in love with fusion in the first place. Unless you live in Montreal, you may not have heard of Canadian guitarist and composer Jerry De Villiers Jr, a unique player with incredible tone and highly melodic phrasing. Jerry was heavily active in the Montreal jazz scene in the 1990s and was also busy composing, recording, and performing his own music under the project name Turning Point. Due to various circumstances, none of the music he recorded in the studio with Turning Point was ever released on CD. The music on The Turning Point Archives (2014, 76-minutes) consists of seven 1995 studio tracks plus seven pieces recorded live in 1994, basically an LP worth of each. The sound throughout couldnít be better. On the live tracks, Jerry is supported by a keyboardist, bassist, and drummer. The studio tracks include various collaborators, with Jerry playing some keys in addition to guitar. There is a brass section on two of the studio tracks, sax on three. Half the tracks are in a fusion-tinged, symphonic rock style centered on soaring lead guitar, while half the tracks (more so the live ones) are in a straight fusion style. But it is fusion of the highest caliber, the kind of stuff that energizes fusion aficionados like nothing else can. The CD comes in a simple printed sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
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 the 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!
Things are heating up in Luxembourg, first TNNE and now Light Damage, who began as a Genesis and Pink Floyd cover band. Their Pink Floyd tribute was under the name Brain Damage. Now writing their own material, this 2015 digipack CD is the quintetís debut. Light Damageís sound has much of the old Marillion, or actually the continental European take on Fish-era Marillion that one hears in Clepsydra, early Sylvan, and others. And of course there is a Pink Floyd component as well. Read the Background Magazine review. Listen to The Supper of Cyprianus and Empty on YouTube and Heaven on SoundCloud.
Karda Estra is a unique hybrid of progressive and classical music, using both rock and classical chamber instruments. Six of the eight tracks on their 12th(?) album Strange Relations (2015) were jointly composed by Karda Estra mastermind Richard Wileman and Paul Sears (The Muffins) and also feature Sears on drums. It looks as though this collaboration will continue in the future. As usual, many other musicians flesh out the unique Karda Estra sound. Listen to Strange Relations 5 on YouTube. ďKarda Estra continue to revise and fine tune a sound that is expressive, angular, and uncommonly beautiful. Composer and multi-instrumentalist Richard Wileman has chosen a path that eschews all of the common trappings of the rock idiom, perfecting a profile that lies midway between symphonic rock and a modern chamber sound, lushly orchestrated with violins, double-reeds, flute, clarinet, saxes, voice and more, in addition to Wilemanís guitar, bass, keyboards, piano, kalimba, and percussion... a seriously enjoyable listen thatís in a class of its own.Ē [Exposť] See our British page for many more Karda Estra CDs and much more info.
Live at the Orpheum (2015, digipack) was recorded September 30 and October 1, 2014 at The Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, during King Crimsonís sold-out US tour featuring the new seven-piece line-up. This set includes a CD and a DVD-Audio disc (NTSC, all-region), the latter containing 24/96 hi-res stereo (but no surround). The DVD is playable on all NTSC DVD players. The track list: Walk On: Monk Morph Chamber Music, One More Red Nightmare, Banshee Legs Bell Hassle, The ConstruKction of Light, The Letters, Sailorís Tale, Starless. See Page 2 for more King Crimson and related CDs.
We hadnít been able to restock the Special Edition of IQís 2009 CD Frequency for the past several years, and never had it at this price. Whereas the standard edition contains just the CD (in a jewel case), this Special Edition comes in a digipack and adds a full-length DVD (NTSC, all-region, stereo, 16:9) of IQ performing live in Holland in 2007. Sweet! See Page 2 for the rest of the IQ catalog.
The self-titled Quantum Jump album (1976) is the first of two great if somewhat curious albums by Rupert Hineís funky jazz-rock progressive-pop band. In addition to Hine (vocals, keyboards), the band features John G. Perry (bass), Mark Warner (guitar), and Trevor Morais (drums), with Morris Pert and Ray Cooper guesting on percussion. Hine says that on this album, they were trying to blend funk and fusion with English songwriting sensibility. Thereís a feel of Steely Dan and Zappa run through a Canterbury filter. Sort of. This is the 2014 edition on Esoteric, remastered from the original tapes and including five bonus tracks. (These appear to be the same bonus tracks that were on the 1998 Voiceprint edition.) The booklet features fully restored artwork and new liner notes.
Barracuda (1977) saw the departure of Warner but the addition of multiple guests including Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan) as well as Simon Jeffes and ďThe Penguin Cafe String EnsembleĒ as they were credited. There is less of the funk and jazz-rock of the first album here, and Barracuda gets the nod as the slightly better of the two. This 2015 edition on Esoteric has been newly remastered from the original tapes and expanded to a double-CD. It has 15 bonus tracks including Quantum Jumpís entire live appearance on the BBC Radio One In Concert show in July 1977, which saw guitarist Roye Albrighton (Nektar) in a short-lived role as a member of the live band, along with Geoffrey Richardson on viola. The other bonus tracks include two single edits previously unreleased on CD, two outtakes from the 1977 recording sessions at Trident Studios in London, and four rare tracks taken from the 1979 remix compilation album Mixing. The booklet fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay and interview with Rupert Hine. ďBarracuda is a sumptuously layered and beautifully recorded album that, a superabundance of clavichord apart, gives few clues as to its age.Ē Click the mp3 icon above to read the full AllMusic reviews of both albums.
The Third Day (2014, gatefold mini-LP sleeve) is the third full-length CD for Edinburgh prog-pop-electronica band North Atlantic Oscillation, signed to the Kscope label. It gets a U.S. release several months after its European release, so this will look like old news to some of you. The 2013 Sand album (NAO in all but name) improved upon the second NAO album, and The Third Day improves upon Sand, making it the NAO album with the greatest appeal to traditional prog fans. Really, it departs from most modern prog not so much in the music itself as in the unconventional mix (vocals are half-buried, separation of instruments wasnít a goal). Give it a listen; you can stream the whole album at the mp3 icon above. ďThis is the sound of progressive music in 2014 but with a broad appeal outside that genreís demographic. A highlight of the year so far no matter how clumsily you try to define or pigeonhole it.Ē Read the full Echoes and Dust review.
Sattyg (2014, 69-minutes) is Kaipaís 12th album, the seventh for the second incarnation of the band that began in 2002, after five albums for the first incarnation (1975-1982). It continues Kaipaís run of top-notch 21st century albums. Watch the album trailer and the video for Screwed-upness. Read the Get Ready to Rock! review. See our Scandinavian page for more Kaipa CDs and more info.
Tony Patterson is probably best known as the singer for top UK Genesis tribute act ReGenesis, and he recently contributed to Nick Magnusís Nímonix album. His voice is naturally Gabrielesque and doesnít sound contrived. Keyboardist Brendan Eyre may be best known for the band Riversea, which he formed with singer/guitarist Marc Atkinson; both also joined Nine Stones Close. Tony and Brendan discussed the idea of working on a project together that would reflect their native North East (England) roots. The albumís themes include memories of loss, heartache, and the abiding beauty of the North East landscape that drew them back to places and people left behind. Northlands (2014, digipack) is a beautifully crafted, cinematic album that features contributions from Steve Hackett, John Hackett, Nick Magnus, Tim Esau (IQ), Adrian Jones (Nine Stones Close), and several others. ďWithin the same month of Pink Floydís final album being released comes a musical adventure from two relatively unknown musicians who have sculptured a masterpiece which deserves as much recognition as Pink Floydís swan song. From the premise of the tale to the honing of each song and nuances there within, Northlands is a breath of fresh air... What it is defies category. It is beautiful, delicate, thought-provoking, and a joyful journey for any music lover. Northlands exceeded all expectations for me, and any listener will find with each listen it will grow with you and you with it.Ē Read the full Progmeister review. Watch the album preview video and listen to an even longer album preview on YouTube.
Scorch (2014, digipack) is the second album for Tin Spirits, this one released on Esoteric Antenna, which is Esotericís imprint for new prog as opposed to reissues. Tin Spirits are a quartet led by former XTC and current Big Big Train guitarist Dave Gregory. Gregoryís guitar work has been an important factor in Big Big Trainís ascension. Much like label-mates Schnauser, Tin Spirits are unabashedly progressive (the final track exceeds 15 minutes) yet entirely accessible. After an appearance at the 2014 Summerís End prog festival, UK prog fans know this band well, and now U.S. fans need to get on board. Read the Progarchy review. Watch the video for Summer Now and listen to Little Eyes on YouTube.
This 2CD set includes the entire output of Pelican, who were one of the first Icelandic prog bands. Included are their LPs Uppteknir (1974) and LŪtil Fluga (1975), plus three non-LP bonus tracks. After the release of Uppteknir, Pelican were the biggest band in Iceland. Despite the Icelandic album titles, Pelican sang in English, and in fact their LPs were recorded in Massachusetts! They even toured the U.S. east coast, playing to as many as 1,000 people, an audience size that seems almost impossible now for a prog band. In addition to progressive rock, Pelicanís music included Beatles-esque pop, pysch, and American rural rock. But they never lost their Icelandic flavor and their sound remained distinctive. Listen to Ń Sprengisandi (an arrangement of an old Icelandic folk song), Instrumental Love Song, Amnesia, and Sunrise to Sunset on YouTube.
Cleveland, Ohio-based Syzygy released their outstanding debut Cosmos and Chaos in 1993 under then band name Witsend. It is one of the classiest American prog albums. These guys have chops that arenít common these days in prog. Probably influenced most by Yes and ELP, maybe early Ambrosia with a bit of Steve Hackett thrown in, this mostly-instrumental music is nevertheless quite contemporary in sound and execution. This is the reworked 20th anniversary edition (which was late, released in the closing days of 2014), which comes in a digipack with new artwork and liner notes. It includes four previously-unreleased bonus tracks. Two are from 1984 and the Witsend Quartet, which predates Witsend. Two are contemporary live renditions of Witsend pieces that were originally instrumental, now with vocals by current singer Mark Boals. The 12 original Witsend tracks have been gently remastered. Two solo piano parts were re-performed in order to replace the original Yamaha CP70 with acoustic grand piano, as well as to allow for reinterpretation. Finally, the track order was rearranged, resulting in a more satisfying whole. See our U.S. page for the rest of the Syzygy catalog and more info.
Our pick for Best Album of 2014:
Dave Bainbridge is the main creative force in the band Iona. Bainbridgeís Veil of Gossamer (2004, 64-minutes) is stunning, as good as any prior Iona release and better in some respects. While Iona singer Joanne Hogg sings on every track except for the instrumentals, Bainbridge also employs two more incredible female voices: Rachel Jones (Karnataka) and Scottish singer Mae McKenna (at least three albums of her own). Jones and McKenna are used extensively; usually all three vocalists are present on the same track, with McKenna handling the Scottish Gaelic vocals. Also playing on most tracks are Iona bandmates Troy Donockley and Frank van Essen, as well as Tim Harries, Nick Beggs, and others. The album strikes the perfect balance between vocals and instrumental work, ranging from soaring progressive rock to orchestral splendor to that plaintive, yearning beauty that characterizes the best Celtic music.
Iona reached their peak in prog rock terms on 2006ís The Circling Hour. Troy Donockley would later depart and Iona returned to their early sound, de-emphasizing the progressive rock aspect of their style to some extent. Well, energy cannot be destroyed and must go somewhere, and now itís crystal clear where Dave Bainbridgeís progressive energies have gone. Celestial Fire (2014, 74-minutes, digisleeve) is absolutely incredible, a masterpiece and an album Dave says heís always wanted to make. Dave explains: ďItís an album which really draws upon the excitement and exhilaration I first felt, listening to many of my early musical heroes: Yes, Gentle Giant, David Sancious and Tone, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Curved Air, Hatfield and The North, Deep Purple, Clannad, Mike Oldfield, The Enid, Keith Emerson, Allan Holdsworth, Alan Stivell, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, to name but a few! It was listening to all these great musicians and composers that first inspired me to become a musician and composer.Ē The album showcases some amazing playing from Dave on both guitar and keyboards, and though the music is heavily instrumental, there are vocals from numerous singers including Damian Wilson, Joanne Hogg, and Sally Minnear (daughter of Kerry). Dave is assisted by Troy Donockley, his Iona bandmates, Randy George (Ajalon), and many more. For all the details, read the Musical Discoveries review. They chose Celestial Fire as their best album of 2014, and the only reason it wonít make your top ten is if you donít hear it before you have to hand your list in! Also read the Spiritual Prog and Sea of Tranquility reviews. Listen to For Such a Time as This on YouTube.
Edge of the World: Live in Europe (2014, 2CD, digisleeve) is Ionaís first full-length live recording in nine years. It was recorded at various venues in the UK and The Netherlands during their 2012 Another Realm tour. There are 20 tracks though none from The Circling Hour, the focus being on Another Realm and the albums up through Open Sky. Read the Musical Discoveries review. See Page 2 for more Iona CDs.
Life Journey (2009) sees Ionaís co-founders reunited once again for another inspirational soundtrack to a book, taking up where 1998ís The Eye of the Eagle left off. Frank van Essen guests on violin and drums. This all-instrumental music was originally commissioned and conceived as a musical interpretation of the imagery and prose contained within Mary Fleesonís book Life Journey, but it transcends that as the unique chemistry between the two musicians has produced a deeply spiritual, timeless work. Dave Bainbridge says: ďIn many ways this felt like we were returning to the source of the inspiration that birthed Iona the band.Ē Watch the official video for the title track. Listen to Light Eternal on Soundcloud. See Page 2 for more Iona-related CDs.
Joanne Hogg is Ionaís singer (she also plays keyboards and acoustic guitar), while Frank van Essen is Ionaís drummer and violinist/violist. Raphaelís Journey (2010) was initially available only as a download prior to this CD, which comes in a simple printed sleeve (counts as only one-half CD for shipping). Clannadís Moya Brennan sings on five tracks, while the other musicians include the rest of the Iona lineup of that period: Dave Bainbridge, Troy Donockley, and Phil Barker, plus guests on cello, electric guitar, and vocals.
Uncountable Stars (2014, digipack) sees Joanne working with producer/guitarist Tre Sheppard, with many musicians assisting including Frank van Essen. Itís a collection of songs of depth and quality, varying from upbeat to mystical/magical; songs such as Mountain of Debris reach peaks that are quite intense. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Note the version sold by amazon.com is an on-demand CD-R; we have the real thing.
Guitarist/composer Malcolm Smith is a founding member of U.S. prog band Metaphor. While Metaphor still exists, and a new album from them should appear eventually, Smith took this opportunity to form an alternate band. The keyboardist on We Were Here (2014, digipack) is Metaphorís Marc Spooner, who made important contributions to the compositions. The drummer is Mattias Olsson (ńnglagŚrd, White Willow), and the bassist is Loren Gustafson. Metaphor and Mind Furniture vocalist John Mabry sings on one track, while the other five tracks are instrumental. Other musicians guest. First, dispel any notion that this sounds less like a band album than Metaphor because itís under Malcolmís name. It sounds exactly like a band recording, and depending on your taste, it is arguably better than the Metaphor albums to date. Metaphor grew out of a Gabriel-era Genesis tribute band. We Were Here still has some Genesis influence, but the music is shifted toward Gentle Giant and, to a lesser extent, Happy the Man, more complex and quirky without sacrificing too much accessibility. Well, Metaphor were going in that direction anyway when they left off. This album has all the layered instrumentation, tempo and time signature changes, multi-section arrangements, and exemplary musicianship a prog fan could want. Shameless and indulgent, just the way you like it, and an emphatically proggy way to bring 2014 to a close. See our U.S. page for the Metaphor and related CDs.
This box set on Esoteric compiles all of PFMís BBC radio and television appearances on two CDs and one DVD (NTSC, all-region), all newly remastered. An illustrated booklet with essay is also included. These audio and video recordings had remained in the BBC archives until now; this is their first official release. Disc One contains PFMís 1975 Radio One In Concert recordings, while Disc Two contains their 1976 Radio One In Concert recordings. The DVD contains three broadcasts of the classic BBC Two television series The Old Grey Whistle Test, from 1974, 1975, and 1976. See Prog Archives for the track listing. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
This is the 2014 digipack reissue on the Seacrest label of Yesterdaysí debut full-length CD Holdfťnykert (Moonlit Garden), first released by the band in 2006, then by Musea in 2008. It had been out-of-print for some time. This new edition has improved sound, new artwork, and a new booklet with liner notes in English. Yesterdays are a progressive rock band formed by musicians belonging to the ethnic Hungarian minority of western Romania. This is why their female vocalist JŠnosi Kinga sings most of the songs in Hungarian, though a few are sung in English. The founder of the band, BogŠti-Bokor Ńkos, was also guitarist of the band You and I, one of the best Hungarian progressive bands. His bands and projects since have included Tabula Smaragdina and The Cosmic Remedy. From the bandís name, youíd be correct to infer a Yes influence, as there was in You and I, and a fleeting quote of a well-known Yes melody confirms that. But the Yes influence is minor, and there is as much influence of Camel, Renaissance, or Genesis. The music is beautiful symphonic prog, generally mellow, perfect for summer days. It is highlighted by female vocals, flute, and Mellotron, and much of the guitar work is acoustic. It often brings Magenta to mind, while the original liner notes referenced Harmoniumís classic Les Cinq Saisons. Read the DPRP review.
In Search of the Perfect Melody (2014, digipack) is the latest studio CD for Polandís Millenium and also marks their 15 year anniversary. It includes the longest track theyíve ever done, the nearly 20-minute title suite. Several musicians guest on vocals, sax, and cello. Listen to Girl from a Glass Sphere and Over & Over on YouTube. See our East Euro page for lots more Millenium CDs and more info.
This is the English-language version of the 2014 second CD by Polish prog band Walfad, whose name apparently is an acronym for We Are Looking For A Drummer. They already have a drummer though, and youíd think that name would make him a bit uneasy about his job security. This second album is much better than Walfadís debut. Milleniumís Ryszard Kramarski produced and probably exerted some influence. The Musicwaves review (in French) compares Walfad to Tai Phong and Galadriel. Read the DPRP review. Listen to Sullen Lady on YouTube.
This is the 2014 debut by a Polish keyboard-dominated prog band with female vocals (in English). Sea Vine list the keyboards used as grand piano, Fender piano, Moog, and Hohner String Melody, so expect vintage sounds.
Andy Jackson is 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.
* 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
Supernatural Highways (2014, digipack) is the first new CD from Rocket Scientists since 2007. It is all-instrumental with a playing time of 30:13, dominated by the 26-minute, seven-part Traveler on the Supernatural Highways. The other track is an arrangement of the John Barry composition On Her Majestyís Secret Service, written for the Bond film. It is the first of two 2014 CDs, the other being Refuel, the result of the band having written too much material for a single CD. The core of Rocket Scientists remains Mark McCrite (guitars), Erik Norlander (keyboards), and Don Schiff (NS/Sticks, cello), here joined by Gregg Bissonette (drums), Greg Ellis (percussion), Lana Lane (vocal pads), plus a trumpet player and a trombone player handling the Bond brass parts. This is Rocket Scientists at their (instrumental) best. The Bond piece is, like Rocket Scientistsí Space 1999 theme, much more fun than the original. The epic suite has much that is familiar to RS fans but sees the band stretching in new directions. Paramount is the integration of electronics. Norlander has already proven himself an excellent electronic musician, and here he incorporates sequencers and electronic sounds into driving progressive rock, something that a few have done (Ozric Tentacles, obviously) but that could be explored/exploited further. Other parts of the suite get fusion-y, and one has the feeling that, with a different mix, sections could be used as epic and thrilling Hollywood movie soundtrack material.
After the all-instrumental Supernatural Highways, Refuel (2014, 61-minutes, digipack) is a more traditional Rocket Scientists album mixing vocal and instrumental tracks in the bandís characteristic style. Gregg Bissonette is again the drummer. The guest vocalists include Lana Lane, Kelly Keeling, and Emily McCrite, while the brass players featured on Supernatural Highways return. Refuel is probably the bandís most collaborative work, with Don Schiff penning two of the songs. In addition to Stick and bass, Schiff plays contrabass, cello, and viola throughout the album. Mark McCrite remains the primary vocalist, but Erik Norlander sings some lead, something that was an important element on the first two Rocket Scientists albums. Watch the video for Sheís Getting Hysterical. See our U.S. page for more Rocket Scientists.
Red Jasper are an English prog band that formed in the mid-1980s and released a half dozen albums up through 1997. After the Angel Air label reissued the Red Jasper albums in 2012, the band reformed and are now playing live again. It also led to this new CD: The Great and Secret Show (2014). Founding member and lead singer Davey Dodds is no longer involved, so the band is now a quartet with the same lineup as on 1997ís Anagramary, minus Dodds. 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 all the Red Jasper CDs and more info.
This 2014 live CD captures a set of King Crimson songs performed by American prog band District 97 with former King Crimson singer/bassist John Wetton. Wetton had previously made a cameo appearance on District 97ís 2012 album Trouble With Machines. The track list: One More Red Nightmare, The Great Deceiver, Lament, The Night Watch, Fallen Angel, Book of Saturday, 21st Century Schizoid Man, Starless, Easy Money. Many of these songs are rarely heard live now. District 97ís female lead vocalist Leslie Hunt sometimes sings alongside Wetton, adding a unique flavor. See our U.S. page for District 97ís two studio CDs.
Moods (2009, 78-minutes) is the second studio CD by this Dutch band playing in the Dutch neo-prog style exemplified by Egdon Heath, For Absent Friends, Sinister Street, and various bands on the defunct SI label, which operated during the 1990s. Silhouetteís music is very melodic and symphonic, closest to Egdon Heathís style, and sounds like it could have been recorded in the early 1990s in that there are no concessions to more modern trends. It wonít convert any neo-prog haters but is easily recommended to fans of Marillion, Pendragon, et al. Moods was mixed and mastered by Gerben Klazinga of Knight Area, while guitarist Aldo Adema (Egdon Heath, Seven Day Hunt) guests. This is the 2013 digipack edition on the Dutch FREIA label.
Across the Rubicon (2012, digipack) is their third, Silhouette showing steady growth with each album. Read reviews at Sea of Tranquility, Background Magazine, and Prog Archives.
Kayakís Ton Scherpenzeel guests on Beyond the Seventh Wave (2014, digisleeve), which puts Silhouette up there with the best continental neo-prog bands. Other guests add clarinet, flute, cello, and violin. Watch the album trailer video.
Isopodaís Taking Root had been out-of-print for many years, but Musea manufactured more (probably not more than 500). These are the CD reissues with bonus tracks of the two albums from the Belgian (Flemish) Genesis: Acrostichon (1978) and Taking Root (1981). Isopoda sang in English, and the vocal melodies and harmonies are well-crafted, something of a lost art these days. On various Isopoda tracks, one could also reference Kayak, Supertramp, or Camel, and for some reason weíre reminded of Swedish band Opus Est, who came along just a bit later. For fans of melodic symphonic prog, Isopodaís CDs are highly recommended. Listen to Sunset Alley on YouTube.
While World in Motion (2014, mini-LP sleeve) is the debut by a Belgian prog band, Fossil Evolutionís pedigree is surprising. Those whose core competencies include progressive rock know that Isopoda were, along with early Machiavel, the top Belgian sympho-prog band. After releasing albums in 1978 and 1981, Isopoda reunited briefly in 2004 for two concerts. They reunited a second time in 2013, with the band lineup augmented by two of founding member Arnold De Schepperís three sons. Arnold had already formed Fossil Evolution with all his sons and were to be joined by Isopoda keyboardist Luc Vanhove. However, Luc passed away in 2013, so the lineup was completed by the school friend of one of the sons. World in Motion consists of five original tracks and one fully-reworked adaptation of the Isopoda classic Considering, which has gone from 8 minutes to 12:37 and now includes trumpet passages -- itís better than the original! The album blends the Isopoda style with more contemporary influences, with the primary appeal being to neo-prog fans. Watch the album trailer video.
This 2014 CD on Angel Air is the first time on CD for this 1976 album that had been out-of-print forever. This is the first album under Dave Greensladeís name and is his best, for while his later albums really were solo albums, Cactus Choir sounds like a band album, and most fans probably think of it as the fifth Greenslade album, and on a par with the best Greenslade. The Roger Dean artwork doesnít hurt. Greenslade had split up in 1975, but Dave Greenslade had already written a new album of music and was ready to make another LP. He assembled a stellar cast of musicians including Tony Reeves from Greenslade, Simon Phillips, Steve Gould (Rare Bird), John G Perry, Mick Grabham (Procol Harum), and more. This CD includes one bonus track, which began as a piece Dave wrote in 1974 as the theme tune for a TV series. He wrote lyrics for it in 1976 and got Chris Farlowe to sing them. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Prog Archives reviews. Listen to the title track, Country Dance, and Gettysburg on YouTube (some taken from vinyl). See our British page for some Greenslade CDs.
Solaris are Hungaryís well-known instrumental symphonic prog band who use flute extensively, lending comparisons to Jethro Tull and Camelís The Snow Goose, but Solaris have their own distinctive style that incorporates Hungarian folk melodies. Their 1983 debut The Martian Chronicles is their classic, for many the best Hungarian prog album and one of the top instrumental prog albums period. Martian Chronicles II (2014) is the sequel to that album. As with Tubular Bells and Thick as a Brick, nothing boosts sales and press coverage like naming your new album the same as your classic album and appending a ďIIĒ. But weíre grateful for a new Solaris CD under any name. Watch promo video 1 and promo video 2. See our Hungarian page for more Solaris CDs and related bands.
Formed from the ashes of Australiaís much-loved Unitopia, United Progressive Fraternity sees Unitopiaís Matt Williams, David Hopgood, Tim Irrgang, and Mark Trueack joined by Guy Manning (Manning), Dan Mash (Maschine, The Tangent), and Marek Arnold (Toxic Smile, Seven Steps to the Green Door, Cyril). Guests on the UPF debut Fall in Love With the World (2014) include Jon Anderson, Steve Hackett, Steve Unruh, Claire Vezina, Guillermo Cides, Ian Ritchie, and more. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Dangerdog reviews. Watch the album overview video and the video for The Water.
The After-Effect (2014, digipack) is the fifth CD for Polish prog band Osada Vida, who have come a long way since their debut. Watch the official trailer and the videos for King of Isolation and Sky Full of Dreams. See our East European page for more Osada Vida CDs (and a DVD).
Lucid Moments (2011) is the debut CD for Tune, a Polish band who might sound like Riverside or Pain of Salvation except that on this album, they integrate accordion into their sound, making them unique. Read the Sea of Tranquility and progVisions reviews.
Tuneís lineup is the same on their second CD Identity (2014, digipack), but theyíve abandoned the accordion, so scratch that comment above about them being unique. Keyboardist Janusz Kowalski, who played the accordion on Lucid Moments, seems to concentrate on piano on this album. Itís all very dark and melancholy. Listen to the album teaser and the songs Crackpot and Change on YouTube.
Smorgasbord (2009, 55-minutes) is already the third CD for this Norwegian prog band. How can they be less than famous? As with Magic Pie, Von Hertzen Brothers, and other current Scandinavian bands, Brimstone do a modern, proggier take on classic early 1970s rock, with influences extending back into the late 1960s. The first clichť that comes to mind is Ďa breath of fresh airí, but that occurred to at least one of the reviewers linked to below, so no need to repeat it. Some of the music is what used to be called Ďrural rockí, with CSN&Y style vocals, but done up in proggy arrangements that result in what weíll call Ďfeel-good progí because of the sunny, summer mood. And some of the music is more overtly proggy, which feels even better than the Ďfeel-good progí. If none of that makes much sense, read the reviews at Prognaut and Sea of Tranquility.
Thankfully the band shortened their name to just Brimstone for their 2014 CD Mannsverk. (Donít panic, they still sing in English.) Brimstone again deliver vintage prog using vintage instruments with crisp modern production. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The Unseen Cord (2014, 70-minutes) is Salem Hillís ninth studio album. The CD actually has two titles and two covers, the other being Thicker Than Water. Presumably the bandmembers couldnít agree on a name or cover and so there are two. Bandleader Carl Groves says that this is their most poignant record since 1998ís The Robbery of Murder and adds: ďIf you loved the debut and/or Different Worlds for their quirkiness, youíll groove on this one. I give you Happy Hands, an instrumental in 7 with Hammond, grungy bass and...VIBES! If you liked Catatonia and The Robbery of Murder for the stories and the emotional impact, youíll groove on this one. Weíre dealing with some pretty weighty issues on a couple of tracks, one of them clocking in at 28 minutes. If you like the pomposity of Not Everybodyís Gold, we flex our prog chops on, well, every flippiní track on this album. There are some particularly gnarly sections in a song called Sing On and in the aforementioned epic. You like the bite of Be? Crunch guitar carries the 8-minute rocker This May Hurt More. Pining for the lush keyboard flavoring of Mimiís Magic Moment? We gotcha. A beautiful Yamaha C7 acoustic grand piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, and Mellotron prominently flavor the song Float. You want the thick vocals and enchanting melodies of Pennies in the Karma Jar? We deliver. Every song. If we sound braggadocious, itís only because this one is special.Ē See our U.S. page for the rest of the Salem Hill CDs (and DVD) currently in print, and more info.
The Great Divide (2014) is the first album in ten years for Enchant, the San Francisco Bay Area prog band whose first CD appeared in 1995. This is the 2CD mediabook (hardcover) edition, which has one bonus track on the first disc, while the bonus second disc is a 10 track, 71-minute anthology covering the entire Enchant catalog. Listen to the album teaser on YouTube. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping. See Enchant at Rosfest 2015!
Pneumatica (2014, digipack) is the first purely instrumental album for Squonk Opera, who have been going non-stop for something like 22 years now. Squonk Opera may be even more alluring to prog fans as an instrumental band than they are with their usual female vocals. Take a minute and 26 seconds to watch this glimpse of Squonkís fabulous Pneumatica show. Youíll see and hear that Steve OíHearn has a new toy: MIDI (electronic) bagpipes from Asturian piper and instrument maker Hevia. This adds a new dimension to Squonk Operaís sound. You can find bands featuring pipes that play rock or add programmed beats, but none of them play in odd time signatures or have symphonic arrangements like this, none of them play progressive rock. For those still not familiar with Squonk Opera, head to our U.S. page for more Squonk Opera CDs (and a DVD) and much more info.
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 who Terraced Garden is.) 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 Strange Attractors (2013, digipack) was mastered in Norway by Rhys Marsh, expanding the international aspect. Read reviews. Watch the video for The Fading Ghosts of Yesterday.
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 and the video for The Garden.
Lost World Band was formed in 1996 by three Moscow Conservatory students. Their first album Trajectories was released in 2003 on the prestigious Russian Boheme label. The band have since taken matters into their own hands, and band leader Andy Didorenko at least now lives in New York City.
This is the 2014 second edition of Awakening of the Elements, the word revisited added to the title to distinguish it from the first edition released in 2006 on Musea. This new edition is released by the band and comes in a digisleeve with 12-page booklet. Not only was the entire album remixed and remastered, the drums and strings were re-recorded live. On the 2006 edition they were programmed. These changes make this version a great improvement over the Musea edition.
Awakening of the Elements is all-instrumental. This is classical progressive rock of the highest order, with flute and violin featured prominently. Probably because theyíre Russian, Lost World Band sound unlike most of the other prog bands with heavy classical influence, so the music usually sounds quite original. Kansas, The Dixie Dregs, or Jethro Tull are fair reference points for some of the material. These guys can play and they can compose. Read the Proggnosis and Progressor reviews of the 2006 edition. See our East European page for the full Lost World Band catalog and more info.
Blue (2014, digipack) is the debut CD by German/English prog band Eyesberg, whose first period of existence was in the late 1970s and early 1980s. All the compositions here date to that time but have been recently recorded. Among the current members is Ulf Jacobs (Argos, Yacobs). Eyesbergís singer Malcolm Shuttleworth has a voice a bit similar to Phil Collins, and Genesis is probably the bandís primary influence, but the end result may have greater appeal to fans of neo-prog. Itís really a case of one foot in classic-prog and one foot in neo-prog, always melodic and majestic. Watch the generous (10:46) album trailer on YouTube.
Gong, with Daevid Allen in control, are back with a new studio album. I See You (2014) comes in the hardcover mediabook format, with 28-page booklet. The current sextet lineup is augmented by Gilli Smyth adding ďsprinkled space whisperĒ. With no compromises, this is Gong doing their psych-space-jazz-rock that may have you seeing airborne teapots and angelic eggs, though itís the word ĎYouí in the title that may be the most important clue. Read the Ytsejam.com review. Check our British page for a few of the classic Gong albums.
These are the digipack editions of the White Willow CDs on the bandís Termo label. Storm Season, Sacrament, and Ex Tenebris are new 2014 remastered and expanded editions with new artwork. Storm Season has three bonus tracks: two demos and one outtake. Sacrament has three bonus tracks: two demos and one live version of album tracks. Ex Tenebris has four bonus tracks: a live version of one album track and three demos of previously-unheard songs.
Norwayís White Willow managed a distinct sound on each of their six albums, with lineup changes often a contributing factor. They began with Ignis Fatuus in 1995, which had a softer, pastoral sound based upon refined female vocals, Mellotron, flute, and acoustic guitars. They were essentially a pagan folk ensemble that discovered Anglagard and Landberk, producing a melancholy and mystical hybrid. Their sound on Ex Tenebris (1998) and Sacrament (2000) became darker, heavier, and more gothic. There are acoustic timbres (flute, recorder, oboe, etc.), but by the time of Sacrament, itís arguable whether there is any folk left; rather it is symphonic prog with a pastoral, neo-classical component.
The band consider Storm Season (2004) to be their breakthrough album, at least in terms of sales. It is White Willowís most electric and rock-based, with heavy guitars prominent at times, though there is still plenty of Mellotron and other analog keys, flute, and cello along with the female vocals.
White Willowís sixth album Terminal Twilight (2011, digipack) finds them with a new lineup, now with Anglagard drummer Mattias Olsson and the return of vocalist Sylvia Erichsen. Tim Bowness (No-Man) guests. All the White Willow trademarks are in place: chiming guitar chords, flute, Mellotrons, and songs about sad people. See AllMusic (mp3 icon above) for reviews of all of these albums.
Led by Jacob Holm-Lupo of White Willow, Norwegian prog band The Opium Cartel is in most respects the follow-on to White Willow. Among the numerous musicians appearing on both Night Blooms (2009) and Ardor (2013, digisleeve) are Tim Bowness and Stephen Bennett (No-Man, Henry Fool), Mattias Olsson (White Willow, ńnglagŚrd), Rhys Marsh, Lars Fredrik FrÝislie (Wobbler), and Ketil Einarsen (Jaga Jazzist, Wobbler). Scott McGill appears on Night Blooms, which is fairly close in style to the final White Willow album Terminal Twilight. Ardor continues along this trajectory, emphasizing the dream-pop component of the later White Willow albums while also featuring Nordic folk influences and the Scandinavian retro-prog style. Holm-Lupo explains: ďI wanted to pay tribute to some of the music I heard and loved on the radio in the 80s. I wanted the color and sheen of 80s synths, coupled with the more adventurous playing and song structures of art rock and progressive rock.Ē Among the singers on Ardor are Norwegian pop stars Venke Knutson and Alexander Stenerud. Read the Musical Discoveries reviews of Ardor and Night Blooms; the former was their pick for best album of 2013.
Andrew Laitres is the man behind the bands The Winter Tree and Magus. Singularity (2015, digipack) is his first album of pure ambient electronic music: instrumental, atmospheric, and meditative.
The Best of Magus & The Winter Tree 1988-2013 (digipack) is an anthology of the closely-related Vermont-based bands Magus and The Winter Tree. If youíre not familiar with these bands, see our U.S. page for their full catalogs and all the info. This nice-price CD is full, containing 50 minutes of revised/remixed Magus songs plus 30 minutes of the best of the three The Winter Tree albums. Itís a different selection of Magus songs than the earlier Echoes from the Edge of the Millennium CD apart from ...and the River Joins the Sea... and the Gong-inspired Rif, but this new CD includes the full revised/remixed/remastered editions whereas Echoes... contains only edited versions. Some of the Magus tracks here have had new bass, drums, and/or textures added before being remixed and remastered.
Swedish prog band Cross have a career dating back to the late 1980s. Da Capo (2014, digipack) consists of new versions of Cross songs originally released in the early 1990s, re-recorded by Cross in 2014. The keyboardist on this album is Mats Bender from Introitus, while bassist Thomas Christensen, a Cross member from 1994-97, was happy to rejoin. The songs date as far back as the second Cross album Second Movement. Cross are now a much more symphonic and powerful prog band than they were back then, so this is no redundant rehash. With the same lush, symphonic arrangements and production as heard on the previous Cross album Wake Up Call, this is in effect a new album, with four long tracks (Fire, Dream Reality, Visions, Courage) plus the brief Changing. Listen to Dream Reality and Fire on YouTube. See our Scandinavian page for the full Cross catalog and more info.
Belgian band Fish on Friday play a pop/prog blend that reviewers often compare to The Alan Parsons Project. The man corresponding to Parsons in Fish on Friday is keyboardist/vocalist Frank Van Bogaert, who owns one of the top studios in Belgium. Godspeed (2014, digipack) is Fish on Fridayís third but their first for the Esoteric Antenna label (Esotericís imprint for new music). ďThe addition of renowned bassist Nick Beggs and the ever-busy saxophonist and flautist Theo Travis has only enhanced and added a certain elegance to the sound on Godspeed. Fish on Friday have generated comparisons to The Alan Parsons Project, not only musically but also in terms of it being a producer/engineer-led project. That trend is continued here, most notably on Radio and Stay, which recall the Parsons album Pyramid. Thereís also a hint of Yes that pops up during Godspeed. Yet itís not all about recreating the triumphs of the 70s, and Ghost Song is almost Steven Wilson-esque in stature. There are also countless original twists on Sanctuary and Tick-Tock, confirming that Fish on Friday possess a readily identifiable sound. Ultimately, itís an outstanding, articulate and impeccably presented album.Ē [Prog Magazine] Watch the album preview video.
Protein for Everyone (2014, digipack) is the fifth album for this band from Bristol, England. They marry the Canterbury style (e.g., early Soft Machine, Caravan) with classic psych-pop vocal melodies ŗ la The Beach Boys, Stackridge, 10cc, or XTC, with all the quirkiness that implies and more. One might compare them to a more accessible Antique Seeking Nuns (instrumentally anyway), or to Supersister, or (for those with an advanced degree in prog) to Moving Gelatine Plates. To quote the liner notes: ďOccasionally melancholic and blackly humorous lyrics are wrapped in a musical blanket of odd time signatures, fizzing with lively energetic progressive arrangements that have a pop sensibility, luring you in with three part harmonies and earworm melodies before wigging out on an inappropriate glockenspiel and fuzz bass solo in 10/8.Ē This is a brilliant album, and youíll probably need to watch the album preview video to hear for yourself. ďThis is a fantastic album and shows a band at the peak of their musical and compositional powers, and there is no weak track on it.Ē Read the full Progarchy and The Active Listener reviews.
We love this record, first released on LP in 1984, with a first CD issue that was deleted before anyone could buy it, and now this 2014 remastered and expanded CD edition on Esoteric. If youíre not familiar with this album, you may want to read its Wikipedia entry or the Allmusic review to understand the full story. It is both a comedy and a music album, and stands alone as either. Neil, played by actor Nigel Planer, is the hippie character from UK comedy series The Young Ones (1982-84). The man behind the music is none other than Dave Stewart (Egg, Hatfield and the North, National Health). The cast of musicians is reasonably astounding: Gavin Harrison, Pip Pyle, Jakko Jakszyk, Rick Biddulph, Jimmy Hastings, Annie Whitehead, Barbara Gaskin, and Bryson Graham (Mainhorse, Spooky Tooth). On the comedy side, Stephen Fry and Dawn French make appearances. The songs are mostly covers of prog and pysch nuggets, to mention a few: Caravanís Golf Girl, Hole in My Shoe (Traffic), and My White Bicycle (Tomorrow). In some regards, these are better than the originals because of Dave Stewartís arrangements. What makes a song ďprogĒ is largely down to the arrangement, especially evidenced by the version here of Donovanís Hurdy Gurdy Man. Quotes from The Court of the Crimson King and Strawberry Fields Forever pop up in other songs. Esoteric have added four bonus tracks. Three were only on the cassette version of the album, and one is the B-side of the Hole in My Shoe single.
This 2014 Esoteric Recordings release is the first official CD of this 1972 album, newly remastered from the original master tapes. The bandís origins are in Berlin in 1969, initially called Children of Fools, founded by two Americans. The ensemble grew to ten members, most with a U.S. military service background. Gigs in Germany led to a UK recording contract, and in 1971 the various members of the band somehow managed early outs from the army and went to London to record their one and only album. They were championed by Old Grey Whistle Test presenter Bob Harris. The album is a fusion of rock and jazz using brass instruments, the full lineup on the LP being guitar/vocals, keyboards, bass, drums, alto sax, tenor sax, two trumpets, trombone, and congas. The music is at times reminiscent of early Chicago, at other times in the underground early prog style. The LP is very rare now. Read the DPRP review. Listen to Ein Grosses (probably the heaviest, most jamming song) on YouTube.
These are the newly-remastered 2014 Esoteric Recordings editions. Forest of Feelings has one bonus track; both have booklets with fully restored artwork and new liner notes. Keyboardist/guitarist David Sancious was still a teenager when he joined Bruce Springsteenís E Street Band. He became an in-demand session and touring musician, and some prog fans may only know him for his work for Peter Gabriel beginning with Passion, or for playing a big role on Jon Andersonís Animation. But Sanciousí true legacy is his own records, and Forest of Feelings (1975) and Transformation (The Speed of Love) (1976) are arguably his two best. While Transformation is credited to his band Tone, thatís a mere formality as the same musicians appear on Forest of Feelings. Fortunately the music has nothing to do with Springsteen; it has more in common with Yes, Genesis, and ELP. It is a unique blend of symphonic fusion and progressive rock. Sancious learned classical piano at an early age, and he uses a large arsenal of keyboards on these records, records that are essential in any serious progressive rock library. ďForest of Feelings is an auspicious debut that delivers not only a mastery of various musical genres, but a holistic view of them. Just as the whole fusion thang was moving toward an increasingly irrelevant technicianís language devoid of any cultural connection other than its own, this culturally advanced, spiritually open set hit the shelves. This music sounds as refreshing and life-affirming in the 21st century as it did in 1975.Ē ďAs an album, Transformation (The Speed of Love) is awe-inspiring, a work of progged-out jazz-rock thatís as iconic as Birds of Fire, Blow by Blow, or Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, yet stands alone for its artful ambition and emotional commitment.Ē Click the mp3 icons above to read the full Allmusic reviews.
North Star (digipack) is the 2014 comeback album for Curved Air, one of the pioneering progressive rock bands. The lineup now is Sonja Kristina (vocals), Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums), Kirby Gregory (guitars), Paul Sax (violin), Robert Norton (keyboards), and Chris Harris (bass). So often such comeback albums are a disappointment, but North Star is really good, better than any of the Curved Air studio albums after 1973ís Air Cut. You wonít miss Darryl Way with Paul Saxís fine violin work. Seven songs are new, four are re-recorded versions of songs from the first two Curved Air albums and one Sonja Kristina solo album, and three are covers. One of the latter is The Policeís Spirits in the Material World, which is permissible since Sonja was married to Stewart Copeland. Read the Prog Rock Music Talk review.
Violinist Darryl Way is a co-founder of Curved Air, though not a current member. Children of the Cosmos (2014) is his 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 can sing! Read the All About Jazz, Prog Rock Music Talk, and Examiner.com reviews. See our British page for more Darryl Way and Darryl Wayís Wolf CDs.
These 2014 remastered and expanded editions on Esoteric complete that labelís reissue program of Gordon Giltrapís band albums. See our British page for all the Giltrap band CDs and more, plus much more info. There youíll also find some of the previous editions on Giltrapís La Cooka Ratcha label (Voiceprint) at reduced prices.
Swedish prog sensation Moon Safari are back with Live in Mexico, a double-CD recorded live in April 2014 at the Baja Prog festival in Mexico. Drumming on this release is Mikael Israelsson from Black Bonzo, while Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings) mixed and mastered the audio. There are only two songs in common with Moon Safariís earlier live 2CD The Gettysburg Address. Three songs are from their most recent studio album Himlabacken vol. 1, and the finale is Loverís End Pt. III: SkellefteŚ Serenade in its entirety. See our Scandinavian page for the complete Moon Safari catalog and much more info.
These are the 2012-2014 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. If this album is new to you and youíre a fan of Oldfield and the other artists mentioned, rejoice that there is still undiscovered music like this.
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 either 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.
This 2CD set is the first live album for popular Canadian prog band Mystery. Recorded live at the Boerderij in The Netherlands in May 2013, Tales from the Netherlands (digisleeve) features a selection of songs from The World Is a Game as well as favorites from Mysteryís back catalog. It is the only live recording with former lead singer Benoit David, who was also Jon Andersonís replacement in Yes for a time. Watch the album montage video (which makes one wonder if a DVD is in the works). See our Canadian page for the rest of the Mystery catalog and more info.
Men Who Climb Mountains (2014) is Pendragonís 10th studio album, written and arranged by vocalist/guitarist Nick Barrett. With only a change in drummer since the previous album, the lineup is now Barrett, Clive Nolan (keys), Peter Gee (bass), and Craig Blundell (drums). Pendragon shifted to a darker and somewhat heavier style beginning with 2006ís Believe (for which we can thank Porcupine Tree and their ilk). Men Who Climb Mountains sees Pendragon continuing to reinvent themselves along those more contemporary lines. This is the limited edition 2CD, which adds a bonus disc containing Nick Barrettís ďAcoustic House Concert - Live at TwigísĒ, a 2013 solo acoustic recording. See our British page for more Pendragon CDs.
Lunatic Soul is the solo project of Riverside singer Mariusz Duda, who we all know has a great voice. Helpfully, the first two CDs are labeled simply ďLunatic SoulĒ, the idea being that together they form a double-album. The black one is the first, from 2008, and comes in a digipack. The white one is the 2010 sequel and comes in a Super Jewel Box. Duda is assisted by several other musicians including Riversideís keyboardist and friends from Quidam and Indukti. The music is beautifully textured, and the mood is much the same as Riverside (and Porcupine Tree, and all the other modern prog bands whoíve jumped on this particular bandwagon): dark, lush, melancholy and moving. Itís easy to draw parallels to the music Steven Wilson creates outside of Porcupine Tree, or to early Porcupine Tree (when it was really Wilson solo). With the metal element of the parent band downplayed (the first three Lunatic Soul albums contain no electric guitar at all), the music is more ambient, and the more refined and progressive elements are allowed more room to be heard. The second album is even more refined than the first. Duda says itís a blend of everything he likes, in particular Dead Can Dance and Peter Gabriel on IV or Passion. Watch the Lunatic Soul II album teaser video.
Impressions (2011, digipack) is considered to be the final part of a trilogy of Lunatic Soul albums. As Duda says: ďImpressions is a collection of instrumental compositions which act as an addition to the story told on the black and white Lunatic Soul albums. These songs without lyrics, with scarce vocal parts, are more ambient in style.Ē Read the Reflections of Darkness review. Watch the album teaser video.
Walking on a Flashlight Beam (2014, 64-minutes) sees electric guitar returned to the mix, and thatís not the only way in which Duda expands the Lunatic Soul sound palette, using more ethnic sounds for one. Following the instrumental Impressions, Duda is singing again here, yet the instrumental passages are not forgotten. This is the standard edition CD. There is or was a more expensive CD+DVD edition, but youíre not missing much as the DVD content is nothing more than a 25-minute ďmaking-ofĒ documentary/interview. Read the Prog Sphere review. Watch the album teaser video.
Landmarq are a British neo-prog band who came to prominence during the 1990s. Entertaining Angels (2012, digipack) is Landmarqís comeback album, with Tracy Hitchings still the singer. UK critics call this the strongest album of Landmarqís career. Cellist Hugh McDowell (ELO) guests. This is the special edition, which to the 72-minute first disc adds a second disc with over 28 additional minutes of music, allowing the band to sidestep the painful decision of which songs to cut. Some songs are new studio recordings of songs that first appeared on Landmarqís Turbulence DVD. Read the DPRP review.
The double-CD Origins is an anthology covering 1992-2014. The upper year in that range is because this set contains one new song. Since the four studio and two live Landmarq CDs on the Cyclops label have been out-of-print for years, Origins is not superfluous as most anthologies are. Disc One (73-minutes) is titled The Tracy Years, while Disc Two (74-minutes) is titled The Damian Years. Damian Wilson was Landmarqís singer on their first three studio albums (1991-1995), after which Tracy Hitchings took over. Landmarqís 1990s CDs are recommended to fans of Pendragon and Clive Nolanís various projects of that era.
This is the excellent 2012 debut by a Quťbec prog quintet singing in English, their music a mix of classic symphonic (Genesis, Floyd) and more modern (Porcupine Tree) prog styles. While the band keep reasonably busy playing live near home, theyíve been a well-kept secret outside the province. Hopefully their inclusion here begins to remedy that, and in time Piezo should reach the same level of popularity that Red Sand enjoy. Watch the promo video.
Visions from Realities (2013, 50-minutes, digipack) is the debut by this Italian band/project, the initiative of Umberto Pagnini who wrote the music and lyrics but used other musicians to realize the album. The music on this first CD is song-oriented symphonic prog with a folk-pop overlay. The primary singer is Norwayís PelleK, who can also be heard singing on The Anabasis CD. He comes from a metal background, but you wouldnít know it as he saves any oversinging for his own band. Additional vocals are provided by Mark Colton of Credo and Norwegian Marit BÝrresen (thatís a female name). There is electric guitar and symphonic keys, but most prominent are the acoustic and clean guitar tones in a Le Orme style. The best songs have that Italian romantic feel (Le Orme, Atons, etc.), but as the lyrics are in English, that feel is not as strong as it would be with Italian lyrics. But then none of the singers are Italian. This is an album where the second half is stronger than the first. Be sure to at least audition the song Usual Plays in Heaven - Be Kind and Talk to Me, which showcases most of Active Heedís considerable strengths.
Only singer PelleK returns on Higher Dimensions (2014, 65-minutes, digipack), otherwise Pagnini has a new crew, primary among them Cristiano Roversi (Submarine Silence, Moongarden, CCLR, Mangala Vallis, solo), who is responsible for all the arrangements in addition to keyboards and bass. Moongardenís Gian Maria Roveda is the drummer, while Mirco Ravenoldi of the band Catafalchi del Cyber is the guitarist. This is no doubt the superior album, the prog elements having now nudged the pop elements off to the side, with Roversi adding a lot of Genesis stylings via his vintage keys. There are also occasional heavier elements not present on the first album. Read the Jerry Lucky and Lady Obscure reviews.
This is the 2014 mini-LP sleeve reissue on the Azafran label of a 2010 CD that disappeared far too soon. Amoeba Split are a Spanish band with female vocals (in English), though their music is heavily instrumental. They are greatly influenced by the British Canterbury bands, from Soft Machine to Hatfield and the North to Matching Mole to Caravan to Gong. Dance of the Goodbyes is their first full-length release, following a 2003 demo. This edition adds a previously-unreleased bonus track. Read the Exposť and Prog Archives reviews.
Hidden Lands is essentially the continuation of the first line-up of Violent Silence, who disbanded in 2008. Main composer Hannes Ljunghall focused on raising a family but eventually started writing songs again with the vague notion of releasing a solo album. Meanwhile, former VS bass player Phillip Bastin had been working with drummer Gustav Nyberg in a couple other bands. Bastin convinced Ljunghall to provide songs and play keyboards in a new group, and as for a singer, former VS member Bruno Edling was their first choice and he happily accepted. Later keyboardist BjŲrn Westťn, the fourth former VS member, was approached to complete the lineup. So Hidden Lands is the same band as the Violent Silence that recorded Kinetic, with only a change in drummer. The reason for the name change is that Violent Silenceís drummer Johan Hedman had been working on the songs that the band had written and started to record before disbanding. Those songs were completed with a new vocalist and appear on the Violent Silence CD A Broken Truce.
The main influence on In Our Nature (2012) is Genesis, but the level of originality is high enough that Hidden Lands donít sound like any other Genesis-influenced band. The keyboards here are, um, key. Listen to enough nu-prog (sometimes referred to around here as Ďno-progí) before listening to Hidden Lands, and the difference a classically-trained keyboardist makes is obvious. In fact, the definition of new-prog may as well be the absence of or greatly diminished role of a classically-trained keyboardist. In symphonic prog, itís a requirement, and itís rewarding to be reminded of that by Hidden Lands. Watch the videos for the songs The Road to Halych and LíAncien Rťgime. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Adam Baruch reviews.
Have no fear, Hidden Landsí second CD Lycksalighetens Ų (2014, digipack) is sung in English. The Swedish title translates to Isle of Bliss. There is slightly more guitar than on In Our Nature, slightly more intricacy, and at times more melancholy, which has to do with the subject matter (a former classmate of songwriter Hannes Ljunghall found dead the previous year). Listen to the track Corsican Daydream on YouTube.
TNNE is the successor to Luxembourg neo-prog band No Name, who released four albums between 1993-2006. You have to look closely at the CD cover to see that TNNE stands for The No Name Experience, and TNNE have taken over the No Name website. TNNE is No Name founding member, keyboardist and composer Alex Rukavina plus No Name singer Patrick Kiefer, along with a new guitarist, bassist, drummer, and guest saxophonist. The Clock That Went Backwards (2014, digipack) is their debut. Expect neo-prog along the lines of Clepsydra, Pendragon, IQ, etc. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
Colin Mold founded the band Kara, is currently the guitarist in Karnataka, and is an associate member of Magicfolk. On his second solo CD Girl on the Castle Steps (2012, 59-minutes), Mold sings and plays electric & acoustic guitar, keyboards, and violin and is joined by a full-time drummer (who adds pipes on one track), and Ionaís Martin Nolan guesting on whistles. Cindy L. Spear, who has also worked with Iona and Mandalaband, wrote the lyrics of four songs. You want the short description? How about Pendragon meets Fairport Convention? The songs at their core are in the best British Isles singer-songwriter folk tradition, and with the violin naturally suggest modern Fairport Convention, but Moldís songs are more poignant and epic. These folky songs begin with symphonic synth pads and Clannad-like atmospheres, then build to majestic sympho-prog climaxes, with Moldís lyrical electric guitar soaring like Nick Barrettís or Mike Oldfieldís. Mandalaband, Iona, and Barclay James Harvest are good reference points. Watch the videos for the songs Realm of the Free and By the Lake.
Now You See Me (2014, 60-minutes, digipack) is Moldís third, with the lyric writing split between Mold and Spear. ďWhile nowhere near the hyper-complex poly-rhythmic prog-rock that we all enjoy, the music of Colin Mold is utterly honest, oozing from a sensitive soul who expresses himself with a great amount of humility, originality and personality. Having been a music teacher as well as a touring member of Karnataka proves that he possesses chops and skills that are clearly beyond the ordinary. His guitar playing is exemplary, a style that is passionate and highly compact, somewhere between Steve Hackett and Ionaís Dave Bainbridge, while he handles symphonic keyboards as well as occasional piano and uses the violin to heighten the effects that he wishes to depict. Lyrically, he also depends on Cindy L. Spear to provide some emphasis to Colinís picturesque yet simply expressed instrumentals, exuding just the right amount of sonic grandeur and preciousness. But where Colin Mold really outclasses the competition in the singer-songwriter category is his drop-dead beautiful voice, an extremely expressive delivery as well as a tone that is plainly amazing. He sings with great passion, not just obvious skill... Colin owns a warm, suave, suggestive, passionate, fragile yet powerful tone that seems to emote very convincingly, at least to my ears. Listening to it is sheer panacea, a healing disposition that never fails to amaze and charm... I always get the impression, a rare one I must admit, that he is singing for just me, so how could I not be enthused?Ē Read the full review at Prog Archives. Watch the videos for Eye of the Wind, Blue Wings, and Will We Ever Return on YouTube. These are among the loveliest and most seductive soft progressive CDs weíve heard in some time.
iamthemorning are a Russian duo of (female) singer Marjana Semkina, who sings in English, and keyboardist Gleb Kolyadin, who is primarily a classically-trained pianist, with guests on guitar, bass, drums, violin, viola, and cello. Live, the band performs with as many as eight musicians on stage. Perhaps you came across iamthemorningís 2012 independently-released debut album, titled simply ď~Ē. It bowled a lot of people over, sounding somewhat like a neo-classical version of Renaissance, with more ďindie-soundingĒ female vocals (a more dispassionate Kate Bush comes to mind). The Renaissance comparison is due primarily to the piano work being similar to that of John Tout, but Toutís style is largely Russian classical anyway. Initially the only CD edition of ď~Ē was a handmade version the band were making one at a time. Theyíve since manufactured a couple CD editions (a digipack is available on their bandcamp site, mp3 icon above).
We thought a label would pick up iamthemorning, and somewhat surprisingly, it is Kscope that released Belighted (2014, gatefold mini-LP sleeve). Gavin Harrison performed and recorded the drums parts. Belighted is slightly darker and slightly more conventional souding than ď~Ē, which makes sense for a Kscope release, but this is still a rare, novel form of rock-classical fusion. Rare because of the relative dearth of current generation prog musicians who have significant classical training. Weíre almost forced to turn to Russia now to find conservatory-trained musicians in rock, Little Tragedies being another example though their style is very different from iamthemorningís. This is beguiling music with few parallels, but weíre going to take a shot and call it a blend of Kate Bush (circa The Dreaming but also her 21st century work), Karda Estra, Renaissance, post-prog and modern indie. Itís a start anyway. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Watch the album preview video, or just while away an hour watching iamthemorning on YouTube.
Hyperdrive (2014) is the latest CD for Dutch neo-prog band Knight Area, featuring a new lineup. Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) guests. See our Dutch page for all the Knight Area CDs and more info.
This 2014 digipack CD is the third for the Swedish improvisational instrumental psych-space-rock quartet whose members include Anekdotenís Nicklas Barker (who brought his Mellotron). ďAll I can say is...wow. This is what space rock is all about folks. Music of this nature is supposed to take you on a journey, allowing the listener to close their eyes and let the sounds carry you off into another dimension, and Once There Was a Time When Time and Space Were One clearly does that, and then some. Utilizing acoustic & electric guitars, Mellotron, flute, bass, drums, congas, and other instruments, the band have put together a collection of pieces that sort of flow into each other, the album insisting on being taken as a whole rather than broken into separate songs. This is one that you really have to just put on and let it sweep you away, and trust me, it will, over and over again. Recorded fully analog on 2" tape courtesy of a 16-track Ampex from 1969, the album has that classic sound from start to finish, tracks like the two-part Song of Innocence taking you back to vintage-era Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, and Ash Ra Tempel with waves of slashing guitars, throbbing rhythms, and pulsating keyboard washes... Into the Cosmic Halo just soars, with guitar work that reminds of some of the best Steve Hillage, while Garden of Delights builds and builds in intensity to a stunning climax, almost like a lost track from the Pink Floyd Ummagumma album... Itís an intoxicating album, with gorgeous soundscapes that literally can take your breath away. The haunting Mellotron of Epilogue is one of the most gorgeous passages youíll hear on a prog album this year, but in truth itís just one of many captivating parts of this wonderful album.Ē [Sea of Tranquility] Watch the album trailer video.
Manningís Akoustik (2012) contains reimagined / reworked pieces from the now vast Manning back catalog in an Ďunpluggedí format, and follows the success the band have had playing acoustic gigs. The band has been stripped down to a mere nine people here, while the Jethro Tull / Ian Anderson feel is more pronounced. ďAkoustik is a great album for a lazy Sunday. It has a delightfully relaxed vibe and would suit a quiet moment with a chance to watch the rain come down from the warmth of your home. The timing of the release couldnít be better as there are some lovely autumnal shades to this work. The tracks are beautifully realised as acoustic numbers, and it almost seems that the original versions had their acoustic counterparts hidden within them and that Guy and the band have stripped away the layers to expose them.Ē [Prog Archives]
Akoustick #2 (2014) is the follow-up and includes what Guy Manning describes as ďNine reimagined oldies from across the Manning back catalogue plus three brand new pieces, all given the acoustic treatment.Ē Listen to an mp3 of the track Flight 19. Both CDs come in cardboard sleeves and count as only one-half CD each for shipping. See our British page for the rest of the Manning catalog and much more info.
Product is primarily the work of Arman Christoff Boyles (vocals, guitar, keys), with help from Scott Rader (drums, bass) and guests. Their first CD On Water (2000) tells a surreal story from the viewpoint of a drowning young sailor, set against the backdrop of the American Revolution. The level of originality is high; the closest comparisons are No-Man, Porcupine Tree, and Hogarth-era Marillion, specifically their moodier tracks. Boyles has a deep, unique voice. Songs usually start off in acoustic singer-songwriter mode, with dry, close-miked vocals, then blossom into lush, majestic progressive rock. A wealth of subtle production effects warrants repeated listens.
Productís 2003 second CD Aire is currently out-of-print. Their third CD The Fire (2005, 63-minutes), released by the British Cyclops label, is based on the life of Nero and restores some of the fire that was missing from Aire. This album sounds like a meeting of Hogarth-era Marillion and Pink Floyd with touches of King Crimson, generally quite dark and moody.
Product completed their water/air/fire/earth tetralogy in grand style with Earth (2008, 67-minutes), their most fully-realized work to date. Earth is based on the life of Nikola Tesla and reflects on our relationship with technology. Read the DPRP review.
Product return in 2014 with Aether (77-minutes), based on the life of Harry Houdini and his interaction with the spiritualist movement. All the hallmarks of the Product style are present, with Mellotron strings used often to add grandeur. This one is even better than Earth, and even more difficult to compare to anyone else.
Swedenís A.C.T play symphonic prog with the addition of strong pop songwriting along the lines of Queen, Kayak, Saga, City Boy, and early Split Enz. They marry English-style progressive and pop extremely well, with a lush, dense sound and plenty of complexity to go with a knack for catchy melodies. InsideOut reissued their first four CDs in 2006/2007 with bonus audio and/or video tracks and expanded booklets: Silence (2006, 64-minutes), Last Epic (2003, 67-minutes), Imaginary Friends (2001, 63-minutes), and Todayís Report (1999, 62-minutes).
After a wait of eight agonizing years, A.C.T released Circus Pandemonium (2014), which has more metal guitar but is otherwise similar. We initially sold the European edition back in late winter 2014; our current stock is the U.S. edition released more recently on MVD. The audio content appears to be identical. Watch the album teaser video and listen to the song A Truly Gifted Man on YouTube. Read the Stark Music Reviews and Prog Archives reviews.
Masal is a band led by and performing the compositions of French musician Jean-Paul Prat. The beginnings of Pratís music lie in the 1970s, and Zeuhl lovers will remember the album Masal, a classic recorded in 1982 under the name Jean-Paul Prat. The lineup at that time included from five to fourteen musicians who also performed with the likes of Gong, Magma, and Soft Machine. Galgal followed in 2009, built around the same elements that made its ancestor a success: an over-the-top instrumental music, owing as much to Christian Vanderís universe as to brass-jazz-rock or classical music. Viens des quatre vents (2014, digipack) is another album of world-class jazz-rock in the French tradition as well as the jazzier Canterbury style (Gilgamesh, for one). Watch this video of the band live in the studio.
Weíre just capitalizing the band name the way they do. La Grande Illusion (2014) is the debut by this Finnish project led by Matti Laine, who composed the music and handles keys, electronics, bass, additional guitar, EBow, and vocals. There are quite a few other musicians, contributing electric guitar, drums, percussion, violin, trumpet, and additional vocals. The music is primarily instrumental, a very cool, hi-tech world-prog, with elements of Peter Gabriel, Deep Forest, and much more. The trumpet, played in a Mark Isham style, gives la YnE a not-something-you-hear-every-day flavor. Watch several videos on YouTube.
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 easily one of the must-have CDs of the year. 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]
Hunting for Significance (2009, 59-minutes) is the debut by a Dutch prog band that not only features female vocals -- Esther Ladiges has previously sung on albums by Ayreon and Ixion -- but is led by female guitarist/composer Eveline van Kampen and (on the first album) also includes a female keyboardist. They describe themselves as a symphonic prog band even though the guitar playing on the first CD is more often in the metal idiom. References include older The Gathering, Magenta (but heavier and less refined), and Ayreon (but less overblown). But there is a bit more than that here. When Illumion omit the metal guitar and thus open up the mix, there are passages where the vocals show some of the artiness of Kate Bush, other passages where the keyboards are free to create more sophisticated textures. ďIf ever a band showed promise of really going somewhere, itís Dutch group Illumion via this stunning debut. Playing a medieval-tinged light prog-metal hybrid, Illumion offers a sound firmly entrenched in old-school classic prog.Ē [Progression issue 57]
Illumionís second The Waves was originally released in 2012 but only on vinyl and a 2LP+CD combo package, after which the label realized that that was maybe not the smartest decision and released it on this standalone CD in 2014. Good thing too as this is a much stronger album that should not be missed. Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) guests. ďThis is definitely prog but not as we know it... I simply adore the ever-changing depths and variation in the compositional style and the instrumentation. Most songs are written in complex, non-standard time signatures... 9.5 out of 10Ē [DPRP]. ďIllumionís The Waves is simply spectacular! ...Every once in a while you get the pleasure of finding something extremely unique. This was one of those experiences... A great mix of progressive rock filled with new elements and original sounds and rhythms. Just listening to Ladigesí vocals alone is worth the price of admission... You just have to experience this album to believe it.Ē [Sea of Tranquility] ďThe music can hardly be compared to anything or anyone else in the prog scene which certainly is a tremendous achievement nowadays! Illumion really impressed me; this is what prog rock should be like!Ē [Background Magazine] Read more reviews of both CDs.
Weíve all been waiting for these for so long that many had lost hope, but these are the first legitimate CD issues of the two albums from Fireballet, one of the very best American prog bands ever. (We always give the top spot to Happy the Man for their staggering originality, but after HtM, Fireballet are right up there.) Both of these CDs are digipacks with embossed covers and bonus track(s), the albums remastered by Larry Fast (Synergy). Night on Bald Mountain (1975) has a previously unheard studio track and a live version of King Crimsonís Pictures of a City. Two, Too (1976) has a previously unheard live track. If you can only afford one, Night on Bald Mountain is the better album. Ian McDonald (somewhere in between King Crimson and Foreigner) produced and added some flute and sax. Early King Crimson is a major influence, also ELP, Yes, and Genesis. One track is pure pastoral Trespass-era Genesis, probably the best take on that unique style by an American artist. Fireballet had two keyboardists, and so there is Mellotron and Hammond and pipe organ and ARP and all that is good and holy.
Two, Too is wordplay on tutu, the ballet costume. With the benefit of hindsight, the original LP cover featuring all the band members dressed as ballerinas has been replaced by the quasi-naked ballerina lifted out of the Night on Bald Mountain cover. One has to wonder whether the Two, Too LP cover isnít half the reason the album is not regarded as highly as it should be. It may also have something to do with the band overreaching on some of the Yes-inspired vocal arrangements. There is a bit of the same change in direction you find from the first to second Ambrosia album, where there is at times a sort of cabaret or theatrical bent. It actually shows more originality and experimentation than the first album, even if not everything works. Whatever, we still like it a whole lot.
Despite the Norwegian/Germanic looking name, RÝsenkreŁtz are an Italian band led by Fabio Serra. Serra began as guitarist for the band Arlequin, who released a cassette at the beginning of the prog revival, then went on to Genesis tribute band Yellow Plastic Shoobedoo. (Both bands featured the late D.F.A. keyboardist Alberto Bonomi.) From 1989 on, Serra has worked as a producer and engineer in addition to musician and composer, which will explain the high production values on this CD. The genesis of Back to the Stars (2014) was a project Serra began long ago with Leviathan singer Alex Brunori. More recently, Serra assembled the RÝsenkreŁtz band (both studio and live) and completed this album with the help of some guests that include a violinist and Cristiano Roversi (Moongarden, Mangala Vallis). RÝsenkreŁtz sing in English and sport more Anglo influences than Italian, principally Genesis. The music is energetic with some Asia-style AOR mixed in and should hook most prog fans pretty quickly. As one Prog Archives reviewer says: ďBack to the Stars is a near-perfect example of how good crossover bands can be when they get that balance of progressive technicality and melodic commercial appeal just right - no easy feat!Ē Read all the reviews at Prog Archives.
Thirteen Eight (2011, 71-minutes, digipack) is the CD that White Knight Records (co-founded by Magentaís Rob Reed) had been champing at the bit to let the world hear. The FreddeGredde debut Thirteen Eight is the work of Swedish wunderkind Fredrik Larsson, assisted by a drummer. As the story goes, the young artist initially rose to prominence in the early days of the viral video revolution where his great musicianship gained attention on YouTube and generated millions of views on some of his most popular videos. Larssonís YouTube channel quickly became the number one subscribed channel in Sweden. But Larssonís real dream is represented by these CDs. The first thing that strikes the listener is the voice. The first generation of prog bands had some great singers, but the best singers of later generations by and large did not join prog bands. So male vocals of this quality are not common in todayís prog. The music is energetic modern symphonic prog that is both complex and accessible. Larsson may be young, but he knows the 1970s bands -- watch his video cover of Queenís Killer Queen on his YouTube channel. This is one of the best debuts by a prog artist this millennium, and assurance that the future of prog is in good hands. The fastest way to preview the CD is via this video. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
With the experience of the first album under his belt, FreddeGreddeís second CD Brighter Skies (2014) is that much better. Larsson again employs a (different) drummer, and a guest adds flute on one track. Brighter Skies makes us think of a heavier and more bombastic Moon Safari, with a somewhat similar melodic sense and positive vibe. Or Spockís Beard having gone very slightly insane. Our one criticism is that there are passages that, though not really prog-metal, have some of that ďaestheticĒ (ok, shortcoming) where the music gets overblown, the drummer overplays, too many sonic elements compete for space and attention, and the plot is lost -- the music gets aurally suffocating and the song and the subtleties are buried. In other words, there is a big difference in musical maturity between Yes and Dream Theater, unless you donít think there is, in which case youíre really going to enjoy those overblown passages! Mind you most of the music on Brighter Skies has no problem breathing, as Larsson keeps the music in pure prog territory far from metal the bulk of the time. Overall this is excellent stuff. Read the Progulator and Prog Archives reviews. This is the jewel box edition.
ďBloody hell!!! How good is FreddeGredde??!!! Totally bloody amazing! What a voice!Ē [Jem Godfrey of Frost]
Engineersí 2009 second album Three Fact Fader is their first for the Kscope label, home of Porcupine Tree and The Pineapple Thief and bands that sound like them, so not surprisingly, there is a noticeable PT/TPT style at play on this album. There is also the wall-of-fuzzy-guitars-and-reverb sound of Cocteau Twins, and the unmistakable guitar style of Neu! and Harmonia. So mix the melancholy psychedelia of Porcupine Tree with shoegazing dream-pop, and you have Engineers. Read the allmusic review.
We thought that Engineers might find it difficult to continue the blurred sound and style of Three Fact Fader without it becoming redundant (though that didnít stop Cocteau Twins), and in fact Engineers did not make more of the same music on their third album In Praise of More (2010, super jewel box), personnel changes having a lot to do with this album being fairly different from its predecessor. The music is a very mellow kind of dream-pop, the vocals very soft, like The Beach Boys on quaaludes. We wouldnít be surprised if the singers recorded their vocals lying down. The ambiences are often beautiful, yielding a gentle, dreamy psychedelic pop wrapped in fluffy cotton. This 2CD edition adds an instrumental version of the album on the bonus disc. Read reviews at The Line of Best Fit, Clash, and musicOMH.
Always Returning (2014) should be the Engineers album with the most prog appeal. While original singer Simon Phipps has departed, the vocals still have a soft, hypnotic quality, and the sound is lush and mesmerizing. Itís an unhurried music for when the mood calls for such, and an analog recording approach this time around has increased the musicís warmth. ďTheir most realised album yet, guided by a fascination with warm melodies and the textural possibilities of ambient soundĒ [PROG Magazine] Read the allmusic review.
Chroma (2014, digipack) is the first full-length album for Norwegian electronic-prog trio Three Winters, released on Termo Records (White Willow). The most familiar of the three musicians is Wobbler and White Willow keyboardist Lars Fredrik FrÝislie. This is electronic music with programmed percussion that can get bombastic, in the realm of Goblin, John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, and instrumental Ultravox / Billy Currie, with a conscious 1980s sound. Watch the official videos for Rapture and Atrocities and listen to Animism and At the Centre of Dystopia on YouTube. Read the Peek-a-boo review.
The Lie of the Beholder (2014) is the work of Roy Strattman, guitarist and co-composer of the band Little Atlas, here teamed with Nick D'Virgilio on drums and Little Atlas mates Ricardo Bigai on bass and Steve Katsikas on piano and cajon. Strattmanís writing process for this album began during the writing and recording of Little Atlasís 2013 album Automatic Day. That album represented a shift to darker, more aggressive and more modern prog, and The Lie of the Beholder continues along that trajectory, deep into Porcupine Tree territory. As such, the music contrasts the dark and menacing with the serene and beautiful. Of course much depends on the degree to which the mood of the album resonates with the listener, but if it does, youíre likely to find this a very impressive work. ďThe album as a whole might satisfy those who long for a new Porcupine Tree [album], although it should be said that although the influence can be heard, this is by no means a direct clone.Ē [Ytsejam] Read the Sea of Tranquility and Rate Your Music reviews. Watch the promo video for the track A Candle in the Sun. See our U.S. page for the Little Atlas CDs. See Strattman at Rosfest 2015!
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, etc. One of our favorites of the year. See Heliopolis at Rosfest 2015!
Attack of the Martians is the debut CD for Massachusetts four-piece Eccentric Orbit, originally released in 2004, but it had been out-of-print for years. With the band active again, it made sense to re-release it. Behind the not-terribly-attractive cover lies a very good instrumental progressive rock album based around vintage analog keyboards (or samples thereof), especially Hammond and Mellotron, also Rhodes, clavinet, etc. On this album, Eccentric Orbit feature keyboards, MIDI wind-controlled synths, bass, and drums. Their members have appeared on albums by Pye Fyte, A Triggering Myth, and two Gentle Giant tribute CDs. Some of the tracks on Attack of the Martians sport an ELP influence, while others suggest King Crimson, some of the Italian 1970s bands, and a bit of Happy the Man. Itís retro enough that it may fool people into thinking theyíve found a lost early-70s album. This 2014 edition comes in a jewel case and adds a 10-minute track, taking the total playing time to 56-minutes. The new song was written back in 2004 but only recorded recently by the current line-up. Listen to the tracks Star Power and Sputnik on YouTube. Read the Sea of Tranquility review of the first edition.
Creation of the Humanoids (2014, digipack) is Eccentric Orbitís second CD, and itís significantly more powerful and accomplished. The current lineup has new member Tom Benson on violin, guitar synth, and MandoBot (an electric MIDI mandolin!); Rick Landwehr on drums; Bill Noland on bass; and Madeleine Noland on wind synth and keyboards. Itís again a retro-sounding album, itís just that there may never have been a band that sounded exactly like this back in the 1970s, or ever. The bandís stock-in-trade Mellotron and other vintage keys still play a big role, but the sound is more aggressive, along the lines of 1970s King Crimson what with the violin and muscular bass, balanced by Eccentric Orbitís more symphonic tendencies. Fans of Crimso-style instrumental prog will be very happy.
French band Motis began circa 2005 in a style we described as a cross between Malicorne and Ange. They have since become ever proggier, quietly blossoming into one of the top current French (classic-style) prog bands. Really. Their 2014 studio CD is a concept album about the fictitious character Josquin Messonnier. Vintage keys include Mellotron, Hammond, Rhodes, and Solina String Ensemble. Listen to the album teaser and the track Couches dans la Paille - Ouverture. See our French page for the rest of the Motis CDs and much more info.
If the title sounds slightly awkward, it should have been translated to At Night, so deal with the extra letter. This is the 2014 studio album for Russian band Little Tragedies, running 61-minutes. This is the real symphonic prog, featuring Little Tragediesí trademark mix of powerful instrumental fireworks and vocal passages with poetic Russian lyrics. (As if we know what theyíre singing about.) As always, there is a lot of ELP influence, but also plenty of electric guitar. At a time when the distinction between what is called prog and the more prosaic forms of rock is often blurred, itís reassuring to hear a band led by a keyboardist with classical training and chops. Listen to the tracks Walking Stick and Dawn. See our East European page for the rest of the Little Tragedies and related CDs and much more info.
Glass are a northwest U.S. prog trio that have been around since the early 1970s. Palindrome (2014) contains Glassís characteristic mix of Canterbury (specifically Soft Machine), classical-rock, space-rock, and self-indulgent experimental noodling. Read the Aural Innovations review. The rest of the Glass CDs and much more info are on our U.S. page.
Introitus are a superb Swedish prog band centered on married couple Mats and Anna Jobs Bender, initially with two of their children in the band. There are quite a few other musicians appearing on their debut CD Fantasy (2007, 73-minutes), while the core lineup of seven persons recorded their second CD Elements (2011, 67-minutes, digipack). Anna sings lead vocals and has a lovely voice, though the music is about half instrumental. Mats plays keyboards and writes most of the music, and you can tell the music is written by a keyboardist because, with a few exceptions such as Steve Hackett, guitarists donít create symphonic architectures like this. Fantasy is full of symphonic prog in the Genesis, Hackett, and Yes veins, though Introitus have a very distinct personality. On Fantasy, they add accordion, cello, fiddles, sax, flute, and Swedish bagpipes in spots, the pipes and fiddle adding Celtic melodies when they appear, and there are touches of Vangelis-style electronics. Some of Matsí compositions are 30 years old, so the ties to classic prog are stronger than one might expect. First released by the band, this is the 2011 remastered edition of Fantasy on Progress Records. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Fantasy caught the attention of the Progress Records label (Magic Pie, Brother Ape, etc.), who signed Introitus for Elements. Elements is also full of symphonic prog in the Genesis and Yes veins and a bit heavier than Fantasy; guess the youngsters in the band are asserting themselves. Elements still features flute and a small amount of cello, though we do miss those additional instruments found on their debut. On the other hand, two other band members are helping out with the keyboard workload, which features some skillful electronics touches. The final track is 17-minutes long and a grandiose conclusion to the album, sounding like a stirring movie soundtrack done up prog rock style. Read reviews here, also at Prog Archives. Listen to The Hand That Feeds You on YouTube.
On their third CD Anima (2014, digipack), the lineup is Mats Bender (keys), Anna Bender (lead vocals), Pšr HŲlje (guitar), Henrik BjŲrlind (flute, additional keys), Dennis Lindkvist (bass), and Mattias Bender (drums, vocals). The younger members continue to assert themselves as the music continues to get slightly heavier and more modern sounding, but the classic prog elements havenít gone anywhere, and the blend makes for quite an exciting listen. Listen to the tracks Broken Glass and Who Goes There on YouTube. Read the Prog Archives and Progplanet reviews.
Colours of Solitude (2014, digipack) is the first full-length CD from Swedish prog band A Secret River, who received exposure when one of the songs from their 2012 3-song EP was included on a Prog magazine cover CD. Since the EP, the core duo added a guitarist and a keyboardist to expand to their current four-man lineup. And keeping with tradition, one of the songs from Colours of Solitude appears on the CD that comes with the August 2014 issue of Prog. Artrock.se describes A Secret River as reminiscent of Moon Safari, later Anathema, and Blackfield. The Moon Safari resemblance is more in the instrumental passages, especially when synths have the lead lines. A Secret River donít have harmony vocals of the Moon Safari magnitude; the vocals instead are of the dreamier, slightly-melancholy style of many modern prog bands. Overall, A Secret Riverís music is joyous, just not giddy-happy like Moon Safari (who after all are the happiest prog band on earth). A Secret River deserve high marks for how their instrument parts can be quite intricate without being demonstrative, allowing the music to remain subtle and playful. A Secret River have the songs, melodies, harmonies, and arrangements to be a very popular prog band. (Before you ask us to get it for you, the three songs from the EP appear on Colours of Solitude.)
Touch the Sky Volume II (2014) is the much superior second CD for symphonic Ameri-prog band Supernal Endgame, who have joined the 10T Records roster as the label starts to corner the market on quality American prog bands (Iluvatar, Little Atlas, etc.). We were lukewarm about Volume I, which came out in 2010, but for Touch the Sky Volume II, drummer and lead vocalist Rob Price says ďweíve pushed much further into prog/art rock territory, without sacrificing our commitment to making thoroughly melodic music. Although there are significantly more purely instrumental passages on this album, we hope that listeners will spend time pondering the projectís lyrical content.Ē Special guests include Dave Bainbridge (Iona) and Carl Baldasarre (Syzygy). Think vintage Kansas.
Majestic is the band lead by American multi-instrumentalist Jeff Hamel. Majesticís first album is from 2007 and each album has been a significant stride forward, that trend continuing with Epsilon 1 (2014, digipack). Epsilon 2 (digipack) was promised to follow later in 2014, and the band has delivered. Majestic can now be called the American Ayreon in that the music falls in the heavy symphonic space prog vein, different singers are used on different songs, and the album concept is in the sci-fi realm. Most of the vocalists from the previous album V.O.Z. return here, with the new guy being Marc Atkinson (Riversea, Nine Stones Close, Mandalaband). Read reviews at Prog Archives. See our U.S. page for the rest of the Majestic catalog and much more info.
This is the standard CD (jewel case) edition of Opethís Pale Communion (2014). Steven Wilson did the mixing. ďThis is an admirably coherent collection of songs that are as uncompromisingly intricate and strange as they are incisively melodic. Mikael Ňkerfeldtís voice has become a thing of wonder; his ability to tug at heartstrings while singing the most willfully hazy of lyrics is matched only by these songsí beautiful arrangements and pin-sharp ensemble playing. But Opethís leader is an awkward sod, and canít resist indulging his CSNY harmony fantasies on the country-tinged first half of River, getting his Italian-horror groove on for the self-explanatorily titled Goblin, and peppering the air with perverse folk-rock curveballs during the languorous Moon Above, Sun Below. It ends with Faith in Others, which is at once the most profoundly moving song Ňkerfeldt has ever written, and a tantalising glimpse into one possible future for this peerless band.Ē [The Guardian]
Midge Ure was the second singer for Ultravox, during their years of greatest success. His solo career began with The Gift in 1985. While relatively unknown in the U.S., Ureís solo albums contain much quality material, and Ure even employed Troy Donockley for a time. By distancing his solo work from the robotic beat that characterized Ultravox, Ureís music was free to breathe (Breathe being the name of his 1996 album). Fragile (2014) is Ureís first album of new, original material in over a decade, and showing more progressive influences than his past work. Become is the liveliest track and the one that sounds the most like Ultravox. The rest of the songs are generally more stately and atmospheric. To the extent that this is pop, it is very symphonic, grandiose, sophisticated pop. Lush synth sounds make up most of the sound palette, sometimes with the Ultravox grand piano sound, while there is occasional electric guitar (or a reasonable facsimile) of a slightly Frippian nature. There is some cinematic instrumental material, and most of this album is as deserving of being called contemporary prog as a whole lot of other stuff. Listen to the album overview. Read the Get Ready to Rock review.
Robert Webb is the keyboardist, singer, and main composer in the band England, known for their legendary 1977 album Garden Shed. His solo album Liquorish Allsorts (2014, 64-minutes) contains long lost gems, recordings spanning over 40 years and from many different recording situations, from early studio sessions to home recordings to his current music work. The 20-page booklet tells the story behind each track. Some tracks include crystalline female vocals from Jenny Darren, other tracks have male vocals, and much of the music is instrumental. Many other musicians appear, varying of course track by track. As youíd expect, the music covers more ground than just the England style, but it still all falls under the progressive rock and classical-rock umbrella, and much of it does have at least some England flavor, sometimes a lot. In other words, Webbís solo music is consistent with his work in England, as opposed to the work of a musician who had disowned his past and since made unrelated music. Robert says that his intent has always been either to make pop music more artistic, or art music more popular. Fans of classic prog will find much to love here.
See Abel Ganz at Rosfest 2015! Abel Ganz were the other Scottish neo-prog band during the 1980s progressive revival, Pallas being the better known of the two. Abel Ganzís singer Alan Reed became Pallasís second singer. Abel Ganzís 1980s albums were initially only available on cassette before being reissued on CD by a now-defunct French label. Back from the Zone features five remastered tracks from their first three albums, finally sounding the way they should, plus one of their old tracks re-recorded in 2001, plus a new 2001 track, for a total of 65 minutes of music. This is melodic symphonic prog that ranks with Pallas, Twelfth Night, Haze, Galahad, and Castanarc.
Originally released in 1988, The Dangers of Strangers is considered by many to be Abel Ganzís best album from the 1980s. This 2008 20th anniversary edition comes in an elaborate fold-out digipack housed in a slipcase, with all new artwork, a 20-page booklet, liner notes, and archive photos. There is a 7:12 bonus track, an alternate version of the title track that originally appeared on the vinyl release Double Exposure, a compilation of unsigned prog bands assembled by a young Steven Wilson. The audio has been remastered from the original master tapes, and the band says the improvement in sound quality is quite remarkable. The CD also includes video footage from the recording sessions 20 years earlier.
It was a long wait, but Abel Ganz returned with Shooting Albatross (2008, digipack) with co-founders Hew Montgomery (keys) and Hugh Carter (multiple instruments) back together again. Drummer Denis Smith, who played on The Dangers of Strangers album, is back in the fold along with three newer members including singer Mick MacFarlane. Alan Reed contributes vocals to this CD, while Magentaís Chris Fry contributes some guitar solos. This is Abel Ganzís most mature work to date, and it is obvious that a lot of work went into it. There is some of their old 1980s Marillion-like style present, but the bulk of this 66-minute CD cannot be called neo-prog, though Abel Ganz have lost none of their melodic sense. Starting from common ground, it is as if Pallas are now in charge of all the pomp and bombast, while Abel Ganz have the subtlety and nuance. The predominant vibe on this CD is laid-back, and the Scottish flavors are especially welcome.
The self-titled Abel Ganz CD (digipack, 73-minutes) is their new 2014 album. Word on the street is that this is their masterpiece, to wit: ďI have just listened to a musical composition that goes further than just pleasing the senses. It is full of beauty and grace and manages to combine musical styles that are quite disparate and deliver a musical release that beguiles, bewitches, and enthralls. This is music that will stand the test of time and could become a legacy for this superb band. Abel Ganz has delivered what is bound to become a highlight of this already impressive musical year. I implore you to go henceforth and purchase this musical marvel!Ē Read the full Lady Obscure review. This is a different band than the 1980s Abel Ganz, with Denis Smith now running the show. None of the original members remain, though while Hugh Carter and Hew Montgomery have passed the baton, they did make minor contributions to this album. There are a lot of guest musicians, too many to name all here, but Frank Van Essen (Iona) and Malcolm Jones (from the great Scottish band Runrig) must be mentioned. In fact, this Abel Ganz have significantly strengthened their connection to Scottish music, and in an era in which it seems every prog band in every country draws from the same small set of influences, thatís exactly what weíd hope a Glaswegian band would do. Need a reference point? Big Big Train is not a bad one. Watch the official videos for Unconditional and Recuerdos.
Weíll venture that the majority of visitors to this site are familiar with American band Iluvatar, as they were the best-selling band on the Kinesis label when there was such a thing. So like us, youíve been waiting since 1999ís A Story Two Days Wide for a new Iluvatar CD. After a period of time acclimating to the new millennium, Iluvatar, with their lineup unchanged, present From the Silence (2014) on 10t Records, the long wait referred to not only by the title but by some of the subject matter that deals with ďembracing the aging process, and all that goes with itĒ. If we may crib from the press release: ďFeaturing all of the signature elements that fans expect, this new release proves that Iluvatar have lost none of the epic grandeur that made them a modern prog legend!Ē The first four Iluvatar CDs, though currently out-of-print, have been remastered and are scheduled for re-release on 10t soon, or at least eventually.
On the Road (2014), the debut by Dutch neo-prog band Minor Giant, will be one of the top albums of the year for neo-prog fans. Gerben Klazinga (Knight Area) engineered, mixed and mastered. While the band cites as main influences Neal Morse, Frost, Transatlantic, and Camel, the end result is closer to Pendragon, Knight Area, and other Dutch neo-prog bands: very melodic, very symphonic, and very powerful. Watch/listen to the album overview and the title track. See the bandís website for more info.
Agnieszka Swita is the Polish (female) singer, songwriter, and other core member of Clive Nolanís Caamora Theatre Company, responsible for Alchemy in 2013 and She in 2007. Agnieszkaís first solo album Sleepless (2014) features Clive Nolan on keyboards, orchestrations, and backing vocals; Steve Harris (Ark, Paul Menel Band) on guitars, Andy Faulkner (Jump, Twelfth Night) on bass; and Dave Mackintosh on drums. The music and lyrics are all Agnieszkaís apart from the title track which is Nolanís. Nolan produced while Karl Groom engineered, mixed, and mastered at Thin Ice Studios, home to Pendragon, Arena, and other British neo-prog bands. This album has that bombastic Thin Ice sound and sounds a lot like Arena with female vocals, or Caamora without the histrionics.
JPL is guitarist/singer Jean-Pierre Louveton of French prog band Nemo. Heís one of those musicians who needs multiple outlets (Wolfspring is his band too), and since 2002, heís been releasing CDs under the JPL brand name in parallel with Nemo. The music is on the same high level as Nemo, not hugely different but somewhat more guitar-centric. MMXIV (2014) contains some French and some English lyrics and features guest singers Dominique Leonetti (Lazuli) and Nicholas James (25 Yard Screamer). Nemo keyboardist Guillaume Fontaine also guests. Watch the official Le dernier souffle de vent and album overview videos. See our French page for the Nemo catalog.
Dressed in Voices (2014) is the most melancholy and ominous-sounding Mostly Autumn album to date, though it wouldnít be Mostly Autumn if it didnít also possess uplifting qualities. Classic Rock Presents Prog says: ďDressed in Voices is a stunning, inventive work, lifting Mostly Autumn to a new stratum. It has so much variety and passion, both in the music and the narrative, that it takes a few bites to even begin to get to grips with the content. In some ways, itís a movie waiting to happen, and the visual aspect of this tale is remarkably brought to the surface by the musical construction. More than anything, Mostly Autumn have set the bar extremely high for themselves, and this might be the start of a fresh season for them.Ē Also read the Progulator review. Listen to First Day at School on YouTube, which should whet your appetite sufficiently.
No indication is given on the Live at the Boerderij packaging, but we believe it is PAL, all-region. This double-DVD set contains Mostly Autumnís complete show of 15 September 2012 in The Netherlands. Itís Mostly Autumnís first DVD with Olivia Sparnenn on lead vocals. Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette and a photo gallery. Read the Background Magazine and Get Ready to Rock! reviews. See our British page for the rest of the Mostly Autumn CDs and much more info, and our DVDs page for more of their DVDs.
Even without organizing all the Baja Prog festivals, Cast would still have asserted themselves as the top prog band in Mexico. A lack of funds forced them to wait 20 years before releasing their first CD in 1994, but there has been no stopping them since. Cast initially sang in English and fell into the neo-prog category. They made steady improvement and really hit their stride with 2003ís Al-Bandaluz, as a new line-up injected new life into the band and their style became far more connected to classic prog. Cast also began singing mostly in Spanish at that point, and the musical growth and the language switch seem to be connected. Their 2011 album Art reverted to English lyrics and the music regressed a bit, but Arsis or CastArsis (2014, digipack) returns to Spanish vocals (male and female). For whatever reason, Cast are a better band when singing in Spanish. (The problem of course is that a lot of Americans prefer mediocre music sung in English to the best prog album sung in any other language.) Polish violinist Michal Jelonek (who records under the name ĎJelonekí) guests and adds a new element to the Cast sound, which also includes flute, sax, and clarinet from Pepe Torres. Torres first appeared on Al-Bandaluz and has been an important feature of Castís sound since. Alfonso Vidales may never get the recognition he deserves as both player and composer, but he really is in the top tier of progressive rock keyboardists. See our Mexican page for more Cast CDs and much more info.
Flor de Loto (Lotus Flower) are at present the biggest prog band in Peru. The band began as an instrumental quartet with their first CD released in 2005. The current lineup is bigger now, with lead and backing vocals (in Spanish) and instrumentation consisting of electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, flute, Andean woodwinds, tenor sax, bass, and drums. Initially Flor de Loto were more jam-based and psychedelic. Their music continued to evolve, becoming carefully-composed, more European and less Andean sounding and closer to the prog mainstream, with a slight metal influence eventually creeping in but also some fusion. They added vocals while the psychedelic aspect vanished. There has always been a folk element that is central to the bandís identity, calling to mind an Andean version of Tempest. The flute has always suggested Tull and Solaris, maybe early Camel when the flute playing is more pastoral. The reason we havenít continued to stock the earlier Flor de Loto CDs was that it was becoming impossible to acquire CDs that hadnít been pre-damaged by being shipped around South America without jewel cases. The Mexican Azafran label has come to the rescue, releasing Flor de Lotoís sixth album Nuevo MesŪas (2014) in a factory-sealed, 8-panel foldout mini-LP style sleeve. The CD contains nine new songs, while the DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains six videos (two live), the Making of Nuevo MesŪas documentary, and a photo gallery. The videos are all songs from previous albums, so no redundancy with the CD content.
This double-CD reissues the two albums of Spanish prog band Storm: The Storm (1974) and El Dia de la Tormenta (1979). The first album is in the Deep Purple heavy-prog style, organ and all, and sung in English. When Storm returned five years later with their second album, only the bass player had changed, but their style had changed, not surprising given how rapidly rock changed in those years. The second album is both more symphonic and more accessible, and is sung in Spanish. This 2CD set comes in an 8-panel foldout mini-LP style sleeve. Listen to the first three songs from the first album and the first two songs from the second. (These songs on YouTube were taken from vinyl and not from this 2CD; donít worry about the pops and clicks.)
This 2014 CD is the third for Italian band LogoS, but their previous albums were released back in 1999 and 2001 (and are currently out-of-print). So Líenigma della Vita (76-minutes) is a new beginning for LogoS. Suffice to say, this CD is exactly what fans of Italian symphonic prog crave, and there is a spacey element that gives LogoS distinctiveness. ďLogosí LíEnigma della Vita is one for the ages, a scintillating example of modern RPI, caramelized with grandiose symphonic elements, a touch of space/psychedelia, massive hues of shadow and light, as well as all the characteristics that make RPI such a devout prog institution... The material is exemplary, highly layered and intensely emotional on a multitude of levels, a recording that will definitely stand the test of time.Ē Read the rest of this and other reviews at Prog Archives. Watch the promo video and more songs/videos on YouTube.
Return of the Samurai (2013) really means the return of Tai Phong. Tai Phong are a well-known prog band in France (and to a lesser extent Japan), though they sing almost entirely in English. This is partly because their 1970s albums were released on WEA and produced the hit single Sister Jane, also because their singer Jean-Jacques Goldman went on to become a hugely popular (in the French-speaking world) pop-rock singer-songwriter. Goldman not surprisingly has no interest in rejoining Tai Phong now, but the founders of the band are two Vietnamese brothers, of whom Khanh remains and is now running the band. After three albums during the 1970s, Tai Phong re-emerged once in 2000 with the album Sun, so this is their second comeback. They were always a soft symphonic prog band, perhaps comparable to early Barclay James Harvest, with Yes, Genesis, and Pink Floyd influences well assimilated. Their style has changed somewhat but it still tends to the softer side, while they now use female vocals on some songs. It appears Tai Phong are aware that they have two sets of fans, their prog fans (Tai Phong were first and foremost a prog band) and their pop fans whose gateway was Sister Jane, and so this new album has something for both camps. Even the more mainstream songs here are usually elevated by Gilmour-esque lead guitar. Mike Oldfield had a similar problem around the time of Moonlight Shadow, and this new album made us think of his mid-period work. Watch the videos for One Day, Long Ago, Reviens Moi, and Carry Me. The CD comes in a simple printed cardboard sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
Magnolia is The Pineapple Thiefís 2014 studio album. We initially offered the 2CD mediabook edition, but Kscopeís limited editions get deleted pretty quickly these days, and this one was no exception. So the current edition is a single CD in jewel box + slipcase. Watch this official video, containing an instrumental edit of the title track. Read the Echoes and Dust review. See Page 2 for the full The Pineapple Thief catalog.
Apple Jack Magic (2014) is the fifth album for prog guitarist/singer/songwriter Jack Foster III, whose previous work has prominently featured Robert Berry and Trent Gardner (Magellan). Berry is on this album on bass, drums, keys, backing vocals, and a couple co-writing credits, while several other musicians also contribute. Jack says: ďA lot of the music is more drama-oriented than in past albums. I was working on various versions of a rock opera which never materialized. Some of the music comes from that effort: Guinevereís Dead, Beyond the Blue, Take a Little Time... all might have been part of a big Broadway production!Ē Except that this album sounds nothing like what ďrock operaĒ usually implies. There are no histrionic vocals, nor does the instrumental work suggest a stage production. It just sounds like quality songs: some rockers, some with touches of Americana, the majority more symphonic with an understated majesty that sometimes suggests an American (latter-day) Marillion, or Neal Morse (minus the religion). In case youíre new to the ďJazzraptorí brand name, you can ignore the Ďjazzí because there isnít any. The CD comes in a simple printed sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping. See our U.S. page for the rest of the Jack Foster III CDs and more info.
Beacon of Light (2009, 73-minutes) is the second CD for Adventure, who are sort of the Norwegian counterpart to the Swedish band Black Bonzo in that they blend retro-style symphonic prog with the heavier Uriah Heep style. Adventure have two male lead vocalists, one of whom sings in a more pompous, affected style, and female backing vocals. Their sound features vintage keys, flute, and guitar that sticks mainly to early-1970s tones. The sympho-prog side of their style is vaguely in the vein of The Flower Kings or Camel. Read reviews.
The self-titled CD is Adventureís 2000 debut. This is the 2006 re-edition on the MALS label.
While Black Bonzo went in the opposite direction, on Caught in the Web (2014), Adventure take their Uriah Heep meets Jethro Tull style further towards the progressive side. Listen to the album teaser and the tracks Test of Time and Fast Train on YouTube. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Awake & Dreaming, the debut by Londonís The Gift, is a 71-minute neo-prog opus consisting of two long song suites. The music relies heavily on the vocals of Mike Morton, which are front and center, very clear in the mix, while instrumentally it is mainstream symphonic neo-prog along the lines of Galahad, Tr3nity, Landmarq, etc., with just a touch of heavy riffing to let you know itís a modern record. While the Cyclops label over-hyped it to call it the best prog album of 2006, it is a fine album that will probably require a few listens to get under your skin. Read the Prog Archives and DPRP reviews.
The follow-up Land of Shadows (2014) was a long time coming and finds The Gift on a new label. While in the same vein as their first, this is the superior album, slightly darker and showing progression in several areas. Tinyfish now strikes us as a decent reference, though unlike Tinyfish, The Gift have a keyboardist. We wouldnít put The Gift alongside Big Big Train just yet, but theyíre heading in that direction. Some of the songs are in that one-foot-in-prog, one-foot-in-serious-melodic-rock category, the focus on storytelling and thoughtful lyrics, the style not far removed from later Pink Floyd. But the Giftís longer tracks are the proggy highlights, particularly the nearly 20-minute The Comforting Cold. Read the Lady Obscure and Prog Archives reviews.
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. So not surprisingly, When Age Has Done Its Duty (2011) is an ambitious Pink Floyd-style concept work. It features a number of special guests from the UK prog community including Bob Dalton (It Bites), Steve Thorne, Simon Rogers (Also Eden), Steve Dunn (Also Eden), Huw Lloyd-Jones (Unto Us), Lee Abraham, Luke Machin (The Tangent), and Dave Ware. Read the Progmeister and Prog Archives reviews.
The Man Left in Space (2013) features performances from Nick DíVirgilio (Spockís Beard), Dave Meros (Spockís Beard), Matt Stevens, Greg Spawton (Big Big Train), Simon Rogers, Steve Dunn, Lee Abraham, Luke Machin, and Dave Ware. Itís 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 Bowieís Space Oddity, an allusion that may be deliberate. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
On Capacitor (2014), Armstrong is assisted by Nick DíVirgilio on drums, Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) on bass, Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Lifesigns) on bass, Matt Stevens on guitar, Andy Tillison (The Tangent) on keyboards, and Steve Dunn on bass. ďThis album is not just a piece of music, it is part of Robin Armstrongís 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 couldnít 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.Ē [Lady Obscure] Also read the Progulator and Prog Archives reviews. Watch the album promo video and the video for The Fear Created.
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 these CDs will excite you like no Ozrics CD has in many 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.
Bridges of the Old Fishingmine contains 78-minutes of Quantum live madness from the Belgian Fonnefeesten in August 2011, heavy on songs from 2010ís Bridges of Kukuriku. Watch the album trailer video.
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.
Paradise Filter is the 2014 studio CD for Caravan, their first new album in ten years. The lineup here is Pye Hastings (vocals, guitars), Geoffrey Richardson (viola, banjo, acoustic guitar, backing vocals), Jan Schelhaas (keyboards, backing vocals), Doug Boyle (lead guitar), Jim Leverton (bass, backing vocals), and Mark Walker (drums). Pye, the bandís primary songwriter for a long time now, composed nine of the albumís ten tracks. Read the JonB52 review.
The 2014 Ian Anderson album is a Jethro Tull album in all but name. As with Thick as a Brick 2, the billing is henceforth ďJethro Tullís Ian AndersonĒ. If youíre curious about Ianís reasoning for that, itís explained in the booklet. Homo Erraticus continues the Gerald Bostock thing begun on Thick as a Brick and continued on Thick as a Brick 2. As Anderson says: ďBostock has returned once again to lyric writing,... and I have had the fun and frolics of setting all to music of folk-rock-metal stylings. But you can call it Prog.Ē Ian and his band will be playing the album in its entirety on their tours, followed of course by a selection of Tull classics. The standard edition CD comes in jewel box + slipcase, while the hardcover mediabook edition has a 32-page booklet and adds a DVD-V containing the DTS 5.1 surround mix (by Jakko Jakszyk), 24/48 LPCM (high-res) stereo, and a making-of video. Those fortunate enough to have heard Thick as a Brick on a decent surround system know there is no going back to 2-channel now. Mediabook counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
This 5 disc set on Chrysalis/Warner contains the Tull CDs Songs from the Wood (2003 remaster), Heavy Horses (2003 remaster), Stormwatch (2004 remaster), A (2004 remaster), and The Broadsword and the Beast (2005 remaster). Note these do not contain the bonus tracks that were on the 2003-2005 remastered CDs, just the albums proper. The discs come in thin sleeves inside a slipcase. Yes, you probably already own some or all of these, but weíre talking four bucks per CD and the whole package takes up as much space as one jewel case CD. So maybe you still have the first edition CDs rather than the remasters and want to free up some shelf space too. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
This is the debut by a new British neo-prog band on IQís Giant Electric Pea label, produced by IQís Mike Holmes and engineered by Rob Aubrey. Expect something resembling IQ and Jadis blended with influences of Muse, Porcupine Tree, and Cardiacs. Read the Prog Archives and Lady Obscure reviews. See Synaesthesia at Rosfest 2015!
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