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Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
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 Penumbra by BREIDABLIK album cover Studio Album, 2017
5.00 | 1 ratings

Breidablik Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

— First review of this album —
5 stars Penumbra is a new release from Breidablik, an EM project headed by Morten Birkeland Nielsen from Bergen, Norway. Here this album got released on vinyl on Pancromatic Records, this was the same label that issued the double vinyl set from Jordsjø, a wonderful prog rock band not unlike Wobbler or Änglagård. Speaking of Jordsjø, they released a split cassette with Breidablik called Songs from the Northern Wasteland. Breidablik then went and released Vinter, which is 100% Breidablik, on limited edition cassette (you can download it on Bandcamp). Penumbra simply takes what was done on Vinter one step further. Once again, lots of nice use of analog and analog modelling synths, as well as an Omenie Mellotron M3000. What's that? A Mellotron iPad app, that's what it is! From judging on the gear he uses, like the MicroKorg, Arturia Microbrute, Korg Monotribe, the Korg ARP Odyssey (yes, Korg resurrected the old ARP classic) and others, he uses lot of small, portable lightweight gear and puts them to great use. What took huge bulky gear for Tangerine Dream to accomplish what they did in the mid '70s, one can do something similar on small gear like what Morten does here. I own a MicroKorg and it's a wonderful, small, lightweight machine, about the size and weight of a 1980s toy Casio for children, but it's a wonderful synth capable of classic analog synth sounds, as well as an arpeggiator and vocoder, and I can see how Morten included one. The Monotribe is a sequencer that he uses here, but don't expect in-your-face Ricochet-sequencer overdrive as the sequencer use here is mid-paced. The music has an often eerie feeling like you're in the cold, barren areas of northern Norway. The music has a frequently ambient feel, particularly when the sequencers aren't being used. What I'm getting at is the music here is Berlin School style electronic music, although I've seen Breidablik's Bandcamp page call it the "Bergen School of electronic music", mainly because Morten Birkeland Nielsen hails from Bergen. Other than that, it's very much as you expect out of Berlin School electronic music. While Tangerine Dream, Schulze and the likes are to be felt, this isn't a clone. I can see Breidablik making a big impression in the world of electronic music, and Penumbra only proves that and very much worth hearing!


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 Würzburg Cairo 2015 by ELECTRIC ORANGE album cover Live, 2017
4.00 | 3 ratings

Würzburg Cairo 2015
Electric Orange Krautrock

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars German band Electric Orange have been around in some form for twenty five years now, founded by Dirk Jan Müller, a multi-instrumentalist who primarily handles keyboards (and also recently started a well-received Berlin School-influenced prog-electronic side-project Cosmic Ground). Over their early years, alongside frequent contributor Dirk Bittner, the group was mostly occupied by guests and/or a rotating door of varied musicians, but a settled line-up of the band eventually found their calling in heavy Krautrock-flavoured ambient jams on their most recent works. To commemorate their anniversary, Dirk and the group have delivered three very different and worthy works this year, one of them being `Würzburg Cairo 2015', a live document that showcases their set of trippy, atmospheric and frequently minimalistic jams from the 8th Psychedelic Network Festival of two years ago.

Fifteen-minute opener `Behind The Wall Of Sheep' (yes, you read that right!) sets much of the template that several stretches of the performance cover - behind Georg Monheim's rumbling incessant drums, Dirk's keyboards lightly coat the background in the most subtle of ways with pristine electronic caresses, Tom Rückwald's bass grumbles with purpose and Dirk Bittner's squalling feedback-laced distorted guitars reverberate into infinity. Traces of the improvisation remind of the legendary early Pink Floyd live performances in their more howling moments, and the piece moves between noisier builds and serene come-downs like so many of the classic Krautrock works.

Over a plodding beat, the guitars of `Fluff' move between victorious dreaminess and fierce defiant contemplations, Dirk's bleeding keyboard violations chug in and out of stormy drum tantrums throughout `Perpetuum Mobiliar', and `A Tuna Sunrise' drifts with shimmering electric piano tendrils and shambling acoustic guitars before culminating in a blissful Mellotron lift. `Supptruppen' is eleven minutes of haunting and mysterious drowsy guitar splinters cutting through murky ambient drones, and `Auslauf' is a shorter Mellotron-flecked guitar maelstrom that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the early Tangerine Dream albums. `Ducktango' is an early A.M hours drifting darkly jazzy saunter with slithering thick bass and groaning trumpet cries, and `Samba Ohrleck' is an equally stormy and chilled psychedelic shimmer with maniacal spoken-word rantings.

Equal parts dreamlike wander and nightmarish intensity, the near seventeen-minute closer `Mischwesen' is a relentless percussion-driven masterclass of hypnotic power and carefully executed build. Slow to unfold, meandering bass ruminations, droning trumpet wafts and maddening incessant drumming build into a barely restrained storm, Dirk adding a thick layer of brooding electronic washes, ghostly Mellotron choirs and a touch of early Klaus Schulze to his frantically delirious synth soloing.

Any listeners who have witnessed the band grow into the dynamic and mesmerizing Krautrock band that they are today over their last few studio albums will greatly appreciate this comparable and superb live account. While perhaps the band might be overdue for a new live DVD/Bluray, their first since `Live at the Psychedelic Network Festival 2007' a decade ago, `Würzburg Cairo 2015' is available on both CD and a lavish double LP on Sunhair Records, and it makes for a very fine way to celebrate the first twenty-five years of the group - here's to the next quarter century!

Four stars.


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 The Quiet Before The Storm by ATHELSTONE album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.98 | 17 ratings

The Quiet Before The Storm
Athelstone Eclectic Prog

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The Quiet Before The Storm is the debut album by Athelstone, a band formed in Malta in 2010. It was self-released in 2011 with a line up featuring Daniel Cassar (guitars, mandolin, keyboards), Matthew Vella (drums, percussion, vibraphone, glockenspiel, keyboards and Ryan Vella Bonello (bass) plus the guests Dana McKeon (vocals), Fabian Bonello (sax) and Rachel Attard Portughes (cello). Unfortunately, the overall sound quality of this work is not up to the wonderful art cover provided by Julian Mallia that in some way depicts its musical content. It's a completely instrumental work where dreamy, calm sections alternate with raw, nervous passages and where you can find some touches of jazz, bossa nova, math rock, psychedelia and other blended together with gusto. All along the three long pieces of the track list you can listen to some really good ideas but in my opinion at times they are like smothered by an excess of distortion... What a pity! Maybe next time...


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 The Aerosol Grey Machine by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.26 | 557 ratings

The Aerosol Grey Machine
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nº 146

Van Der Graaf Generator was formed in 1967 while their members were studying at Manchester University in U.K. The initial trio was comprised by Peter Hammill (vocals and guitars), Nick Pearne (organ) and Chris Judge Smith (drums and wind instruments). In the late of 1969 the band split. But, before that moment, Pearne had already been replaced by Hugh Banton. At the end of 1969 a new version of Van Der Graaf Generator was formed during the recording of an album that was originally intended to be a Peter Hammill's solo release, 'The Aerosol Grey Machine'.

However, 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' wasn't released as a solo Hammill's album and became as the debut studio album of Van Der Graaf Generator and was released in September of 1969. All songs were written and composed by Hammill except 'Black Smoke Yen' which was written and composed by Banton, Keith Ellis and Guy Evans. So, the line up of this album is Peter Hammill (vocals and acoustic guitar), Hugh Banton (backing vocals, piano, organ and percussion), Keith Ellis (bass), Guy Evans (drums and percussion), Jeff Peach (flute) and Chris Judge Smith (vocals on 'Firebrand').

'The Aerosol Grey Machine' always tended to be a little bit an underrated album, as is the case with most debut albums by any progressive rock band. But, especially in this case, and we mustn't forget that we are talking about of one of the most creative bands ever, the real problem is that there's hardly anything groundbreaking on here. So, yeah, this is all really true but if we pay more attention to it, after we took quite a few listens to it, maybe we can appreciate some of its charm. Lyrically, the classic Van Der Graaf Generator's style is already here and somehow all the songs can really rule.

'The Aerosol Grey Machine' has nine tracks. The first track 'Afterwards' is a great song to open this peculiar Van Der Graaf Generator's album. It's a very simple and na've song, very beautiful, one of the most beautiful and simple songs composed by Hammill in his entire, long and fantastic musical career. It's, at my taste, one of the best tracks on this album. The second song 'Orthenthian St, Parts 1 and 2' is a nicely constructed song and is also very interesting. Once more the voice of Hammill is great and I particularly like the way how Evans plays drums on this song. This is also one of my favourite tracks on the album. The third track 'Running Back' is a very peaceful acoustic song with a very simple structure that reminds me very much 'Refugees', the second track of their second studio album 'The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other'. However, this song is much simpler and less interesting than the other. The fourth track 'Into A Game' is also a good song. It's interesting to note that on this song, for the first time, we can feel some energy in the music of the album. This is a song with some musical complexity, with a very interesting bass line, and once more, I like particularly the way how Evans plays drums on this song. The fifth track, the title track, 'Aerosol Grey Machine' is the smallest on the album. It isn't properly a song but is really a joke of the band. The sixth track 'Blake Smoke' is the second smallest song of the album and is an instrumental song. It's a simple song which is a kind of an introduction to the next song. In my opinion, these two songs are unnecessary and could have been perfectly avoided. The seventh track 'Aquarian' is a song with some psychedelic influences and with fantastic and beautiful vocals of Hammill. This is another song with a very interesting bass and drum lines and also with an interesting chorus. It's also another of my favourite songs on the album. The eighth track 'Necromancer' is a very bizarre, obscure and deep song with scary lyrics. This is a song with a superb Hammill's voice and once more it has a good and melodic chorus. I think this is another interesting song. The ninth track 'Octopus' is the most difficult and complex on the album. This is, in my humble opinion, the most typical band's song of this album and also the most eclectic and progressive in its musical structure. It's the most representative song of what would become the future sound of Van Der Graaf Generator.

Conclusion: I can't agree with those who don't consider this album a Van Der Graaf Generator's album. It's true that it was intended to be the first Hammill's solo album and that lacks to it the necessary presence of David Jackson on flute and saxophones. However, this album has, for me, some of the main characteristics of the group. It has the complex, dark and beautiful lyrics of Hammill as also his beautiful, original and unique voice, it has the presence of the fantastic and unique keyboard sound of Banton, it has the original drumming of Evans and it has also the sound of the bass, sadly missing in most of their future works. I think we can compare this album with the debut album of Genesis, 'From Genesis To Revelation' released in the same year. Despite 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' isn't a great album, it's, in my opinion, better than Genesis' album, because we can see on it some progressiveness and a road to follow in their future musical path. So, 'The Aerosol Grey Machine' is a good, na've and a unique album, in their career, very simple and very acoustic. I think it has a single place to be in the musical career of this unique and original progressive rock group.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)


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 A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer (Special Edition) by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.75 | 21 ratings

A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer (Special Edition)
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by The Jester

5 stars This is not a new album; but at the same time, it is! How is that possible? Let me explain'

Once upon a time, Gandalf's Fist was a duo, and with the help of synthesizers, they were doing everything by themselves; plus a drum machine.

In 2013 they released this album, which was a concept one. It was a very good effort, but it needed something more in order to be characterized as a really good album. (Personally speaking, I am usually bothered by the sound of drum machines). But as it seemed, the sales went well, and finally the CD was sold out. So, instead of making a second pressing of the album, they decided to go into the studio and re-record it; and that was a very wise decision! Because the band now is more 'mature' than before, and now they also have a real drummer instead of a drum machine. The addition of Stefan Heppe on drums, improved the band's dynamic a lot without a doubt.

But that's not all. Almost all the songs are improved, a 11-minute-long epic is added, and I think that the production and the mix are better. I am not a studio expert, but this version sounds a lot better to my ears. On the top of everything else, the narration parts between the songs are lovely, and give to the listener a 'massive' feeling. The band decided to repeat the 'recipe' they used in The Clockwork Fable, and they succeeded! Another very important element of the album is that they replaced the keyboard-string parts, with real strings, like Cello and Violin for example.

If you have the 2013 version of this album, you should definitely try this one. It will sound familiar, but at the same time different and better by far. If you don't have the old version, don't even bother to find it. This new one is a wonderful piece of work, starting from the ' new designed ' cover, up to the last detail. I never rated the original version, but I think that I could give something like 3.5 out of 5.0 stars.

As for this version, I think that I will give 4.5 stars.

Favorite songs: The nine billion names of God, Stowaway to the mushroom planet, Somewhere beyond the stars, The battle for Tannhouser gate. (I like almost all the songs in the album, but these are the ones I like the most).

Try this album, you will not regret it!


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  Lottery Of Memories  by SWARA SAMRAT album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.74 | 4 ratings

Lottery Of Memories
Swara Samrat Krautrock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

5 stars I've got shocked, and immersed in really. Stumbled upon a obscure track "Lottery Of Memories" by a Krautrock killer Swara SAMRAT via YouTube, that completely knocked me out. Very soon I've searched his album (vinyl) but the mission could not be done easily ... what a rare gem. As for such an explosive paranoia, I've already had a similar experience via "Cosmic Kraut Experience" by Merlin, Swara, Ilor And Friends. "Lottery Of Memories" should be considered as another incarnation of Swara's multi-dimensional Krautrock authority.

In this sense, the titled track "Lottery Of Memories" can be called as his masterpiece, I'm sure. Based upon oriental vibes and movements filled with sitar shower and ritualistic percussion, crazy pan flute flames and technodelic inorganic electronika keep dancing around and around. Swara's voices are convoluted like dragon rising to the heaven, and drive the audience mad like a psychoactive substance. Excessive, energetic, eccentric surrealism could be heard ... such a massive sound effect has not be experienced until now.

"Walkin' On The Beach" is not only a melodically of delicious pop indeed, but also flooded with impressive crooked guitar sounds and ethnically tribally danceable percussion. Mysterious electronic footprints can give weird, psychic herb flavour into the sound colour. Sounds like Swara would shout he'd let us touch not simple rock texture but complicated sound collective produced fully with his initiative. "Angelina" has bluesy, deep, heavy touches full of exaggerated dissonant hard-edged guitar enthusiasm. Another psychedelia can invade into our mind. The guitar plays are so sensual enough to absorb the audience inside. Via "Hello Goodbye", we can grab some musical essence ... pop, ambient, psychedelia ... it's fine even that each element repels another, like oil and water. Don't imagine the same titled song by The Beatles lol.

Sounds likewise via the following samba "Samba For Lisa", with crooked electronic ambience and mad guitar daemon behind it. Suppose this vision might have been Swara's music identity or attitude for the world. It might not be bad for the audience, but simultaneously we would be afraid he should have needed such a quirkiness all around. On the other hand, the last "A Kind Of Loneliness" is a magnificent sound experiment. Colourful melodic, tunic variation should burst out, battled and be merged, be unified, and be melted. Sweet dissonance of full volume is comfortable for us, and sound confusion gives a dreamy dream to our brain. Just like a French experimental commune Semool, or a weird music actor Mahogany Brain.

In conclusion, we should have an interpretation that Swara has merged 70s pop essence into authentic Krautrock material. This is his vectorial, I can mention here?


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 Love, Fear And The Time Machine by RIVERSIDE album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.09 | 626 ratings

Love, Fear And The Time Machine
Riverside Progressive Metal

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Riverside have produced one awesome album after another and this, their latest, takes a new direction but is no less lacking in excellence. "Love, Fear And The Time Machine" has a sound more akin to Steven Wilson's solo albums but this is not a bad thing, and there are still heavy passages of guitar and that glistening vibrating Hammond sound is prevalent. It would be the last album for guitarist Piotr Grudziński may he rest in peace. He had been attending a Winery Dogs concert in Warsaw the night before but died on the 4th of March from a sudden cardiac arrest. Riverside cancelled the tour dates, released a compilation of ambient and instrumental pieces, titled Eye of the Soundscape, and held off replacing Piotr Grudziński, instead becoming a trio. Mariusz Duda played guitar on the albums, and session members played live. On February 22, 2017 Riverside announced that guitar player Maciej Meller will join the band as a touring member. So "Love, Fear And The Time Machine" acts as a tribute to Piotr and the last studio album since 2015.

Opening with Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By a Hat?) the listener will be greeted by the clean vocals of Mariusz Duda and wonderful reflective lyrics; "I dropped down again, From a star, On a desert island, Full of skies, And I saw a boy, Looking up, Dreaming of his future, From my past, Soon I drew an ocean, Tamed the sun, And I plunged my feet Into the sand, Bit by bit I came To understand, How I miss this freedom, And the swoosh of waves." The musical interlude is delightful with proggish guitar licks and Lapaj's Hammond gloriously pervading over.

Under The Pillow has a cool guitar motif and lyrics that implore the protagonist to stop hiding under the pillow and face the consequences of their actions. There are some very atmospheric moments with keyboards and guitars trading off well and an energetic rhythm section. This is enhanced by the addition of a great lead break and shimmering keyboards overlayed. The bass heartbeat at the end is fabulous as the guitar soars over; a simply stunning track on the album.

‪#Addicted is adorned by a massive bassline, and very infectious guitar hooks. It is a clean sound and very accessible music overall. It has a Deep Purple feel at times, and this is really an outstanding track due to the melody that ingrains itself into your brain and Mariusz Duda's vocals that are superb. Caterpillar And The Barbed Wire is remarkable for its lyric content such as; "I want to fly, I want to flap my wings, And cause a hurricane in your heart, Butterflies Better lies than hate, But I can't pretend anymore, I'm tired of suppressing all of my needs, I want to belong to the cloudless sky, Not to the shaded ground." The atmosphere is darkened by distorted guitar riffs and some haunting keyboards, and the rhythm is fractured.

Saturate Me has killer guitar licks and some beautiful keyboards backed by a strong rhythm foundation. The lyrics are more supressed, not as many but I love how it is sung with an ethereal reverberation; very trippy and spacey with a psychedelic edge. As the time sig locks into 3/4 a glorious lead guitar break takes over; one of the best moments of the album.

Afloat is a soft gentle approach from the band more akin to Steven Wilson in most respects. Duda's vocals are second to none, sparkling clear and haunting. Piotr's guitar is mesmirising, as is the keyboard work of Lapaj.

Discard Your Fear has a melody that immediately appealed to my senses. The bass is relentless and it is the guitar lick that grabs me along with those incredible keyboard flourishes. There are some heavy percussion fills on this, and a simply stunning instrumental break; it really is a great track.

Towards The Blue Horizon has wonderful melodies and guitar riffs that hook into the brain. Time Travellers opens on an acoustic layer with the strong vocals about travelling across lands far away, "We survived, To believe that this is not the end, This is not the time, Moving unseen beyond, The shadows, Waiting for, The birth of a star we can follow."

Found (The Unexpected Flaw Of Searching) continues the theme of searching and longing for peace in a world of chaos. A soaring lead break augments the track, emotionally played by the late Piotr. So the album ends on a melancholy note.

Overall this Riverside album is excellent throughout and even though it is a much more softer approach, it does not detract from the musicianship that is always brilliant. The vocals, the lyrics, the themes all make up for a very emotional listening experience and one that Riverside fans should enjoy from end to end.


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 In The Court Of The Crimson King by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.61 | 3764 ratings

In The Court Of The Crimson King
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by The Prognaut
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Arguably, the best progressive rock record of all time. Unarguably, a cornerstone to understand the complexity and depths of the genre. Over the years, this record specifically has been target of several and endless debates between experts, fans and music enthusiasts of whether it defines the origins of Progressive Rock in its whole or not. "In The Court of The Crimson King" is as core musical creation just as any other that emerged alongside at the time the genre was being conceived. What makes ITCOTCK outstand from the rest, is its pure and unique blend of trademark sounds, the eerie mysticism, the overwhelming mixture of profound lyrics and the heavenly powerful lineup.

When the first notes of "21st Century Schizoid Man" rumble to the common ear, a feeling of panicking vertigo and lightheaded symptoms strike irreparably. It's a sense of collapsing discomfort that you end up getting used to over time and oddly how, enjoying endwise. The elaboration is brilliantly terrifying, almost as subtle as strange with a pinch of uttered mildness. In the years to come, this piece will turn into one of the most meaningful progressive rock songs of all time to all those own and strange to the genre.

Right after, "I Talk to the Wind" flutters shyly through delicate fluty notes that lead the way to a beautiful ballad. The words come out suitably exquisite to intertwine with the musical passage where a dreamlike scene takes places before your eyes.

And just when you start feeling this reassuring feel of detachment from the world outside your head, "Epitaph" jumps right in to blur away all that. This third piece in the album can be plainly defined as "mind-blowing". It's quite ironic to believe that a song can make you feel as gloomy as happy in a matter of almost nine endless minutes. There's no question about how magnificent was Greg LAKE behind the mic during his time with KING CRIMSON and in my humble opinion, this song is mainly carved in our minds due to the devoted voice of this man.

"Moonchild" is to me, a much underrated song that undoubtedly suits the wholeness of the record. It floats through enigmatic and comforting sounds, the instrumental section slowly reveals the enchantment of the track as it goes forward, letting us appreciate some intricate guitar and cymbal notes in between that create this moody ambiance all around the song.

Last but not least impressive, "The Court of the Crimson King" blasts away to wind up this 1969 record superbly. This piece was determinant to embrace the spirit of KING CRIMSON then and now of course. The song has turned into this sort of hymn, mandatory to refer to any entry in the history book of this iconic band. To me, it's not possible to think of KING CRIMSON's legacy without bringing this composition to the table. And far beyond from all that, this song seems to hold the essence, the origin, the birth and the entireness of the band that has lasted and prevailed for almost 50 years. Long live the King.


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 Hesse Between Music by BETWEEN album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.77 | 4 ratings

Hesse Between Music
Between Krautrock

Review by ProgAlia

4 stars For their fourth album, Between had made something special. Selected texts by Hermann Hesse should be the focus of the album, presented by Gert Westphal and musically complemented and framed by Between. The whole thing was probably mainly an idea of ​​"Jazz Pope" Joachim-Ernst Berendt, who has been organizing projects under the motto "Poetry & Music" (or "Jazz & Poetry") since the early 1950s. Berendt not only produced "Hesse Between Music" but also selected the lyrics.

Lyrics and music in "Hesse Between Music" are so balanced. Westphal reads (speaks) excerpts from Hesse and Between make music. The music of the group represents a similar mixture of jazz, Indian, classical and a trace of electronic, as on the previous discs. The music is a bit more varied, however, with meditative, hypnotic-hymnic soundscapes,and simple improvisation. The mood of the music adapts to the respective Hessetexten, which sometimes turned out poetic-word-painting, sometimes humorous-direct, occasionally ironic, almost sarcastic. By and large, the group succeeds in finding the right mood and merging text and music into a single unit. A little put on and imposed on the whole but in places, something intentional intellectual. Since the music is often subordinated to the lyrics, it sometimes seems a bit pale and simple, just like accompanying music.

"Hesse Between Music" offers an interesting tightrope walk between music, poetry and lyric. The Italians of Pholas Dactylus had a similar concept, but with a much more rock-oriented "accompaniment music". Who appreciates their only album, has something for Hesse and the contemplative Indojazz (rock) of Between mag, should also check out "Hesse Between Music"!


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 Machine Years by TONEV, KALIN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.90 | 11 ratings

Machine Years
Kalin Tonev Heavy Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars "Machine Years" is a Heavy Prog instrumental 2017 album from Bulgaria from the multi instrumentalist Kalin Tonev. He is joined by guitarists Nenko Milev, Daniel Eliseev and Biser Ivanov. The album has some striking music that is powered by glorious Hammond organ and strong rhythms throughout. The music is always dynamic and explorative with some infectious hooks that ocasionally wander into ELP or 70s Genesis territory. I am particulary enamoured by the riffs in The Shortcut, that are a throwback to classic 70s rock with some odd percussion thrown in.

Human Not Machine has a heavy guitar driving it with a seriously vicious Hammond sound, followed by a lengthy Minimoog solo; a grand opener. Short Story About Tanks is a keyboard workout par excellence, with layers of bass synth lines and haunting violin pads. An industrial distorted guitar blasts through and more lightning fast keyboard solos. Beings is a synth soaked paradise, with a wash of vibrating Hammond passages. The music has a symphonic quality and is one of the more beautiful melancholy tracks. The lengthy track has an exploratory feel taking us on a journey that has an emotional ethereal atmosphere.

Dust features some haunting synth sounds and beautiful acoustic guitars. The shimering synths are delightful and a wall of keyboards light up the musicsphere. The track is gloriously spacey and so wondrous; one of the definitive highlights.

Mad Dancer opens with electronic effects, strikingly different from the other tracks. The heavy guitar riff that locks in is fabulous with a vintage feel, and then the keyboards dominate as lead instruments. The cool rhythm is fast paced and exciting, and how good are those multi layered synths! This features some of the heavier guitars and really powerful keyboard workouts that soar and descend until it culminates in a gentle vibrating synth-charged atmosphere. Cathedral organ closes this masterful piece.

Late Again is glistening Hammond to the walls grinding with a ferocity until a guitar riff becomes the centrepiece. Hammond staccato stabs jab at the guitar and then it cascades into a spacey outer worldy feel. The bassline is delightful and it moves into some swing rhythms and very retro synth lines.

Human Not Machine II has a steady tempo and Hammond crunches until the fractured melody enters. A symphonic vibe breaks through, and very catchy guitar hooks. The Hammond sound is pure filth as it blasts over the layers of off kilter percussion and synth pads. This is one of the more progressive tracks as far as structure is concerned.

News From Nowhere is the longest piece clocking in at 8 minutes. The Hammond is again omnipresent, and it shimmers with proud relish over the waves of guitars and percussion. A synth solo takes over. Soon a chunky guitar riff with a distorted sound bashes its way through all the keyboards. It is the heaviest section so far, metallic and aggressive, and it gives the music an exciting edge. More synths sparkle over and the tempo switches to a 7/8 feel and a guitar solo follows. The ending is like A Space Odyssey soundtrack; so mesmirising to my ears.

Step 4 blows the cobwebs out with a fiery rhythm; splattered with a Hammond foundation. Garden is a short piece, very pastoral and tranquil. The peaceful atmosphere is striking after the heavier tracks. It allows our ears to calm down into a restful state but one suspects it will be short lived. It makes a nice interlude away from the chaos and overpowering Hammond.

This Empty Space actually features real NASA sound bytes. It is spacey and ethereal, with synth reverberations and African rhythms. The Hammond beast returns like a lion from its cage, and then a pounding drum beat ensues. The synth strings have that Vangelis "Blade Runner" sound and it ends witha NASA byte; "Godspeed" says the astronaut.

Later Than Usual is another short piece to close the album. It has a heavy distorted guitar and synths slice through carving up the atmosphere. This whole album is hypnotic and really captures a very distinct style with powerhouse keyboard playing and some downright infectious riffs.

This bold debut album by Kalin Tonev is a dynamic atmospheric instrumental journey that really struck me for its diversity in heavy guitars and Hammond stabs, through to synthesizer flourishes and a driving rhythm section. The sound generated is at times organic, spacey and symphonic, at other times jarring and fractured. Each track has its own atmosphere and keeps the ear intrigued. It is inventive, complex and innovative, exploring musical styles with passion and vitality. For this reason I can recommend "Machine Years" as one of the better debuts in recent years.


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