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 Alight by CELLAR NOISE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.20 | 51 ratings

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Alight
Cellar Noise Symphonic Prog

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

5 stars Italian band Cellar Noise was formed by keyboardist Niccol Gallani and guitarist Alessandro Palmisano back in 2013, and despite a few line-up changes since then, the band quickly came to the attention of modern Italian prog-rock icon Fabio Zuffanti, who agreed to produce their debut album. Zuffanti's gut instinct for spotting talent has once again paid off brilliantly, as Cellar Noise's 2016 debut `Alight' is an absolute symphonic knockout beginning to end, lyrically being an observation on the mundanity of modern life but managing both stark and hopeful themes, and a work that perfectly blends vintage prog-rock and current sounds.

On the surface, Cellar Noise often calls to mind the classic Peter Gabriel-fronted Genesis period (instrumentally at least, but not at all vocally) given a modern makeover by way of a younger keyboard-heavy Italian group like Unreal City, and they deliver a rich level of musical precision that reminds of classic Italian band Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. There's a touch here and there of heavier guitar grunt that will appeal to younger listeners, and it frequently has a refreshing vocal-driven melodic approach that will make it instantly accessible, as well as also being one of the better examples of an Italian band utilizing English of recent years.

Like with Promenade's recent debut `Noi al dir di Noi', it's perhaps a gamble that a vocal-driven band open their debut disc with a near ten-minute instrumental, but that's what `Dive with Me' is, and WHAT an instrumental! Think the regal Mellotron veils and organ pomp of Genesis' `Watcher of the Skies' spiced with lonely sax, Eric Bersan's peppy drumming, fancy acoustic guitars and sparkling grand piano, all growing together in carefully building drama. Once Niccol's whirring keyboard overkill hits, we're instantly reminded of current popular Italian prog-bands like Unreal City and La Coscienza di Zeno, and as stirring violin, soft flute, creaking oboe and elegant cello concoct almost classical-flavoured themes, it definitely takes the band the closest to a pure RPI moment (or even Fabio Zuffanti's own symphonic Hostsonaten project), as well as being one of the loveliest and most exceptional instrumental pieces of the year.

But the vocal pieces don't disappoint either, as singer Francesco Lovari has a soothing and amiable voice, and his use of charmingly accented English here mostly works very well. He swoons and trills around bassist Loris Bersan's placid acoustic guitar strums and colourful keyboards of `Underground Ride', where grandiose Mellotron choir rises, Alessandro Palmisano's soaring Steve Hackett-esque reaching guitar strains and even stream-of-consciousness spoken-word passages intertwine throughout a gorgeous and melodic tune, and the two minute instrumental break from the 4:30 mark will make Genesis fans smile wildly!

The darkly romantic `Embankment' is book-ended with a vivid lyric aided splendidly by softly melancholic yet pretty piano, but the piece also unexpectedly breaks into dirtier heavy guitar tantrums and manic keyboard outbursts in the middle. `Temple' is highlighted by Loris Bersan's ravishing classical guitar, and the complex vocal arrangement offers great variety and easily met challenges for Francesco. But a darker searing heaviness is lurking just below the surface, and quickly glistening electric piano tiptoes, bubbling Moog trills and intimidating Mellotron strings and choirs burn the middle of the piece with hellish fire before an exquisite classic Genesis-styled three-minute instrumental climax.

A nice shorter break, the buoyant and brisk `Blackfriars' is Genesis given a heavier guitar snarl and a biting social commentary lyric, and `Move the Stone' is a welcome stripped-back ballad mostly carried by restrained piano, cello and flute touches but effortlessly still manages to work in some subdued powerful moments that never overwhelm. Darker album closer `Monument' holds a constant peppy momentum and breathless urgency, and even finds time for some moments of booming gothic intensity! Loris Bersan gets plenty of bass soloing spots to shine, and while the piece presents a confronting lyric about crippling social anxiety, it all builds to a hopeful and defiant finale - just an amazing end to a superb album.

There's endless things to recommended about this disc - incredible arrangements, vocals full of character, intelligent lyrics and top-notch playing (which includes probably the best piano playing on an Italian disc so far this year), and even better the whole album runs a nice vinyl length of forty-nine minutes which means it's easier to approach and will be replayed much more frequently (none of this packed-to-the-gills, 79-80 minutes CD limit nonsense here, thank you very much!). Mr Zuffanti might have a keen eye and great ear for big potential when he sees it, but the skill and talent of Cellar Noise is already all theirs, and this cracking debut album is one of the standout Italian works of the year well deserving of plenty more attention, and one that should also hold a great crossover appeal for English speaking prog-rock listeners.

Four and a half stars, but let's round it up to five for one of the best prog-rock releases of 2017!

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 Saltos En El Tiempo by METROPOLIS VI album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Saltos En El Tiempo
Metropolis VI Progressive Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars A good album from a band which deserved better!

Metropolis VI was born in Madrid back in 2001. I had the luck to see them live in Granada in 2003 in Sala Quilombo, and I have to say that they were just great playing live! I will never forget this marvellous evening of splendid music. And Saltos en El Tiempo, their first CD, is also very enjoyable.

Sadly, the band suffered different problem which led to their break-up years later. But their albums are still here to be discoverd for true progressive metal fans!

Saltos En El Tiempo opens with Destino, a very Dream Theater influenced song with a good bass melody and great riffs. The lyrics are not the best, and the vocals from Marcial are just tolerable, but the song is pretty good nonetheless. The chorus is good and the solo is even better. Reflejos is darker, stronger and it contains another outstanding bass line.

Por Qu No? offers one of the best guitar works of the album, especially during the verses and the instrumental section, while Quisiera Volver has another very competent instrumental work, despite the weak chorus.

Hay Algo shows the hard rock influences of Metropolis VI, in the vein of King's X. It has a very catchy riff and even a heavy section which remembers me to another great Spanish band called Los Suaves. Good track! Otro Mundo has an almost jazz beginning, and another Ty Tabor influenced riff. Good verses for another decent song.

Mi Lugar is the best track of the album and it also contains the best vocal interpretation from Marcial, alongside an impressive guitar solo and good acoustics. The very melodic final part is superb! Saltos en el tiempo and Vrtigo are a bit darker and heavier, following the influence of Dream Theater, while Tres Minutos is a nice hard rock track with very good melodies during the solo. The lyrics are also pretty funny!

Conclusion: if you want to hear a mixture between Dream Theater and King's X, and you are eager to hear some good progressive metal in Spanish language, Metropolis VI is your band despite the lack of true personality that they always had. The vocals are OK, the guitar and bass playing are over the top, and the rest of the band also made a good job. And the songwriting was also really good! And that's the most important fact.

Moreover, if you don't understand the lyrics please don't worry. They are the worst aspect of this band!

Best Tracks: Reflejos, Por Qu No?, Mi Lugar.

My Rating: ***

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 Wind And Wuthering by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.10 | 1718 ratings

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Wind And Wuthering
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 132

'Wind And Wuthering' is another studio album of Genesis that closes one more musical cycle in the life of this great band. This is the album that closes the Steve Hackett's cycle. Hackett left the group in 1977 after their acclaimed second live album 'Seconds Out' released in 1977, which became his final release with Genesis. Once again, the group decided not to replace the lack of another band's member. So, Mike Rutherford took the guitar and bass duties in the studio. During their live performances, he alternated guitar and bass duties with the American session musician Daryl Stuermer, which became with Chester Thompson a permanent live band's member. This represents also a landmark in Genesis' career, because for many fans, 'Wind And Wuthering' represents the last truly great and prog album of them.

'Wind And Wuthering' is the eighth studio album of Genesis and was released also in 1976, like their seventh studio work 'A Trick Of The Tail'. The album has nine tracks. The first track 'Eleventh Earl Of Mar' written by Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett is a typical Genesis opening track. It's a fantastic song to open the album and the music was composed in the basic style of Genesis' music. Musically, it's a complex song and is a kind of a return to their musical past. The second track 'One For The Vine' written by Banks is another fantastic song, totally different from the previous one, but with the same quality level. It's a wonderful and melodic song where the music is very rich in arrangements and that combines various styles. For my taste, this is one of the best and most beautiful compositions written by Banks. This is the main reason why Banks is with Hackett one of my favourite elements of Genesis. The third track 'Your Own Special Way' written by Rutherford is, for me, the weakest track on the album, and despite being written by Rutherford, looks more like a song composed by Collins. However and despite be a very good ballad with great melody, is like the title track of 'A Trick Of The Tail'. Both are in an inferior level and both are somewhat out of the high quality of both albums. The fourth track 'Wot Gorilla?' written by Banks and Collins is an instrumental track and is the smallest song on the album. It's a great instrumental track which gives to each band's member a chance to show what they really can do musically, and it reminds us, how great and brilliant these four musicians are. The fifth track 'All In A Mouse's Night' written by Banks is one of the band's more interesting songs and is one of my favourites too. Musically, it's a complex song with excellent combination of high and low points and it has also delightful lyrics. It's the kind of songs that use the very typical progressive method created by Genesis. The sixth track 'Blood On The Rooftops' written by Hackett and Collins is another fantastic song of this album, and is, as I remember, one of the best songs co-written by Collins on the band. This is a very pretty track with beautiful classical guitar introduction very well accompanied by the mellotron and the melodious Collins' voice. This is a very English beautiful and melancholic song. The lyrics are very contemporary and satirical. The seventh track 'Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers'' written by Hackett and Rutherford and the eighth track ''In That Quiet Earth' written by Banks, Hackett, Collins and Rutherford are in fact a single song that are only split because of its copyright. This is really a fantastic and energetic instrumental track, is one of the favourite songs of the fans and is one of my favourite tracks too. We even can say that this instrumental song is in the same vein of 'Los Endos' of 'A Trick Of The Tail'. The ninth and last track 'Afterglow' written by Banks represents the grand final for this fantastic and unforgettable musical work. This is one of the most majestic themes ever composed by Banks, and so, no wonders that this is for him one of his favourite Genesis' songs. We can consider that 'Afterglow' is the atmospheric, relaxing and magical moment of this great album. It's the third and final part of three fantastic suite pieces of music which closes this album with a really great musical atmosphere.

Conclusion: 'Wind And Wuthering' always was one of my favourite albums of Genesis. It's one of the most perfects, complexes, progressive and beautiful albums released by them too. Unfortunately, it's also the last studio album with the participation of Hackett, which would prove to be fatal for the end of the progressive music in Genesis. 'Wind And Wuthering' is also the last masterpiece of the group, and surely it wasn't irrelevant the presence of Hackett on the album. If we compare 'Wind And Wuthering' with 'A Trick Of The Tail', the only two studio albums from Genesis without Gabriel and still with Hackett on board, we will realise that 'Wind And Wuthering' is probably better arranged, less romantic and less gentle than its predecessor. With the last notes of 'Afterglow' ends a wonderful book that began with the words 'Looking For Someone' on 'Trespass', and panned seven years full of glorious tales. Soon enough, the remaining trio would already to seal the story with pop music with good quality and sometimes, with a touch of prog. However, it never was the same. They achieved a lot of success in their career, but prog was almost dead from now on.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Discipline by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.11 | 1668 ratings

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Discipline
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars Mindbogglingly King Crimonish: 10/10

What a spectacular release. KING CRIMSON is, in my opinion, the utmost emblematic band of progressive rock, mostly because they hold true to the genre's name and don't think twice before completely transforming their core and musical style. Worth mentioning right now is that I think that Robert Fripp is KING CRIMSON and vice-versa. It's his mind that was used as combustible to feed the diverse repertoire of KING CRIMSON while the other musicians - equally qualified and accomplished, might I add - are if anything auxiliary to achieve KING CRIMSON's pinnacling potential. In the same way, Robert Fripp isn't nearly as brilliant under any other musical banner. They're in a symbiotic relationship.

In 1981, whether or not willingly, Fripp did it again: he reinvented progressive rock with DISCIPLINE. Which begs the question of the reason behind it; after all, Fripp assumed prog and all its values ceased to exist by around the mid- seventies. So, the doubt emerges, why would he resuscitate King Crimson?

It's important to understand that Fripp's mind is restlessly experimental and anything less than inventiveness doesn't mean jacksh*t to him, pretty much the reason why during the 70s KING CRIMSON was boldly avant-garde. However, when the progressive movement was to die, so would the band, assuming everything it represented would be pointless - what's the point of a group of dudes experimenting in an environment creativity isn't cherished and perpetuated? Well, eventually Fripp felt it: he felt prog perished. Disenchanted of the music business, he disbanded King Crimson in 1974. An unwise idea, considering his spirit remained uneasy the following years, and unfruitfully Fripp tried to appease it, going as far as selling out to New Wave (with the self-titled album of his ephemerous band 'The League of Gentlemen' on 1979). Although short, that band-making experience sufficed for Fripp to nurture his mind and adapt to the new musical landscape. He decided he wanted to play New Wave, but add his own ingenious touch to it.

Haunted by KING CRIMSON's ghost, he recruited a second guitarist (Adrian Belew) to prove, conclusively, the upcoming project DISCIPLINE was distinct from it. Apparently, Fripp's antennae palpitated as it identified an inventive band with much potential, only equaled by the then long-dead veneered legend... As Fripp himself says, "In the first week of the rehearsal, I knew the band I was hearing. There was no doubt the band playing was King Crimson". Fripp resuscitated KING CRIMSON, scrapping "Discipline". But he resuscitated it only semantical and philosophically. Materialistic (in the means of music), he constantly stressed it was different. "Sure, this is King Crimson. But [...] it's a modern rock band playing in 1981." It was important to root this new incarnation on the new conjecture, rather than nostalgically recall the past (as Neo-prog was doing at the time).

Ranging from puzzling African-inspired polyrhythms sections to deliciously delicate atmospheric gamelan (Asian, specifically, Indonesian) rock music, DISCIPLINE is different from anything KING CRIMSON had ever released, or that anyone had ever released, for that matter. Obviously, New Wave is the paramount influence, clearly branding every song with its melodic touch.

The swanky trait of the band is easily recognizable on Elephant Talk's experimentalist new wave, from its sarcastic lyrics to the complex funky background. I suppose the terrific high-pitched mid-song solo was probably a huge influence on many 80s guitarists. Frame by Frame is commercially friendlier, even with its intricate structure. Matte Kudasai is introspective, melodic, and paradoxically warmly melancholic. Adrian Belew's emotive vocals accompanied by occasional guitar swells really creates a strong atmosphere. The dissonant anger of Indiscipline is homologous to RED's or LARKS' TONGUES IN ASPIC's hard-rocking/borderline metal parts to the point I suppose was successful at taming many KING CRIMSON veteran fans' hearts to love DISCIPLINE. Thela Hun Gijeet is pretty funky, but disoriented. I can't understand its purpose or goals. The Sheltering Sky is where the gamelan music strikes at full force through its multi-layered meditative ambiance, featuring even slit drums. My second favorite track, topped only by the legendary namesake track, Discipline. Technically impressive and sonically tricky, Fripp's intention was to create an exercise where all instruments have equal importance, and such isonomy would be guaranteed through... you guessed it... discipline. An exercise where only the most disciplined musicians can keep their sh*t together through the hypnotic and highly disorientating music.

What really shone for me is KING CRIMSON's ability to ally experimentality with New Wave's inherently popish tendencies. DISCIPLINE is melodically and subjectively enigmatic, harboring interesting and catchy sounds, techniques, and progressions, yet still staying away from inaccessibility or overly pretentiousness. Erudite yet lightheartedly enjoyable. An intricacy delicatessen, yet simultaneously, something to enjoy unpretentiously.

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 Rocket (The dreams of Wubbo Ockels) by PLACKBAND album cover Studio Album, 2017
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Rocket (The dreams of Wubbo Ockels)
Plackband Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
5 stars Wubbo Johannes Ockels was a Dutch physicist, astronaut, pilot and professor. On October 30, 1985, he was the first Dutchman in space when he participated in a flight on the space shuttle Challenger, STS-61-A. This experience affected him deeply and when he came back he put a lot of effort into safe ways of preserving the Earth and methods of producing safe energy. Until his death in 2014, he was Professor of Aerospace for Sustainable Science and Technology at the TU Delft Faculty of Aerospace Engineering. Ockels died in 2014 of an aggressive form of kidney cancer. Until his very last day of his life - some say with his last breath - he spoke of our responsibilities: Save the earth, well now!

Dutch prog outfit Plackband, who always had a very strong socially involved projects like Plastic Soup (2010, about the pollution of the Oceans) and 1000 Wishes (2013, with the topic of child cancer), decided to write a rock opera about Ockels and his vision, both during and after his flight into space. Well, I must say I´m not very fond of rock operas in general: usually the music suffers when it has to carry primarily the message of the words. Only a handful of bands could come up with a really good work that is musically as strong as the idea within the lyrics. And I´m glad to say that Rocket is one of them. The band has a long and complicated history at the Netherlands prog scene, being active, on and off, with vairous line up changes, since the mid 70´s. Nowadays the core members of Tom van der Meulen (drums), Ronald Brautigam (guitars) and Michel van Wassem (keyboards) are joined by singer Ruud Slakhorst and bass player Alex van Elswijk. Also on board is soprano and backing singer Natalie Mees.

The results are stunning: a great mix of neo and symphonic prog, where the band delivers an hour of continuous great music (all tracks are linked in way or another) that takes the listener to the amazing experiences of Wubbo Ockels in an a roller coaster of sounds that is always varied, melodic and creative, with not a single moment of boredom all the way through. In fact this is one of the most interesting concept albums I have heard in a long time. A rare case where the words and music combine successfully in equal terms in a rock opera. Slakhorst voice may annoy some people with his vocal lines very similar to Jon Anderson. Unlike most of Anderson´s imitators, who sound forced, Slakhorst voice comes across as natural and smooth, a simple coincidence of timbres. The band delivers a tapestry of sounds that takes some time to get into, but that will provide the listener with a great deal of pleasure if you listen carefully. This is definitely a grower that reveals more and more fine details with each spin, like any great prog record does. This is a real team work with all the instruments appearing and leaving according to the what the song demands. So don´t expect any explicit display of virtuosity here. This is music for art´s sake. Still, I do have to point out those fine, emotional guitar solos by Brautigam, a guy that has his own style of playing.

Rocket has a very good production and tasteful arrangements that include a string quartet to enhance the sound of some passages. Nad Sylvan (Unifaun, Agents Of Mercy. Steve Hackett) sings on one track too.

Conclusion: One fo the best records of 2017. Those guys took a quite risky project and came up with an excellent work that will please anyone who likes good melodic prog rock, even if they don´t get the storyline. With no weak parts and a very original approach for such "political correct" theme, Plackband gives us both a masterpiece of good music and very good food for thought. Not many artists can accomplished that. Kudos to them.

Special thanks to Erik Neuteboom, my good friend and long time PA collaborator, who is now working with PB and sent me the promo CD of this great work of art. Somewhere out there Wubbo Ockels might be smiling upon this beautiful homage.

Final rating: 5 stars with honors.

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 Unfolded Like Staircase by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.24 | 359 ratings

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Unfolded Like Staircase
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

4 stars It's like Neo-prog, except it ain't neo-prog: 8/10

If DISCIPLINE's name was inspired by KING CRIMSON's album of the same name, then those two hold no similarities. Whereas the album completely disregards progressive rock roots, the band nurtures directly from it - particularly VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR. They're not a copy of any sort, but the influence is pretty visible, especially through the gloomy atmosphere (and dark alto sax playing). As if, above you, dark thunderous clouds gather, cold northern winds blow, the warmness of the sun is roughly inexistent, all this happens as you gaze at the ocean, a lighthouse in the corner. Basically, as if you're in the north of Great Britain with all the cold, muddy, gritty characteristics you might think of. There's heavy fog too, sure, why not.

UNFOLDED LIKE STAIRCASE is less cryptic than VDGF (excluding that enigmatic title) lyrically, although conceptually it might be just as shady. Well, actually, if DISCIPLINE had the same limelight VDGF, perhaps their intentions would be clear. Nonetheless, what I understood through this album is that those fellas are melodramatic pessimistic. "Melo"(dy) is especially visible in Canto IV and Crutches (my favorite song on the album), whereas "dramatic" is predominant on the (relatively) energetic performance of Into the Dream the 22-minutes-long epic.

That song is peculiarly interesting. GENESIS's influences (particularly from TRESPASS and FOXTROT) are astoundingly visible. Matthew Parmenter might not materialize a fairyland nearly as beautiful as Peter Gabriel does, but he makes some delicious gimmicks with his strangely contralto-sounding vocals (a guy that sounds like a girl that sounds like a guy, nice one). If anything, he's on the right track. The outro is particularly good at mimicking Mellotron and the Moog.

What is particularly adorable in UNFOLDED LIKE STAIRCASE is exactly this; there are little technical power and A LOT of melodic introspection. Whether or not they're incapable of bringing virtuosity is disregardable; they succeed at their melodic pretention. I suppose it's important to cite that while there are certain similarities between DISCIPLINE's musical style here and Neo-Prog, it's too much of a stretch to consider them so; they're not technically simple and honey-overdosed enough. Sure, both tempos are slow(-ish), but DISCIPLINE is much grittier than you'd get from Neo- Prog. Not unfair to say they resemble though.

A lovable album to both neoproggers and archaicoproggers. If that beautiful cover didn't captivate you enough to give this a shot, do it nonetheless - the music will do it.

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 Abacab by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.57 | 1121 ratings

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Abacab
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars This is the album where the band decided to go with a different sound with producer Hugh Padgham who wanted a bigger drum sound. The influence of Phil Collins is becoming more important bringing his past solo experience with "Face Value". It did not have a success among the critics and some old fans of Genesis. "Abacab", "Dodo/Lurker", "Keep it Dark" are solid tracks and "Me and Sarah Jane" show a return to some music complexity of the past. "Who Dunnit" is a strange and funny song that came from an experimentation of Tony Banks with his synths. For the rest of the songs that have a more simple structure, i still enjoy listening to them after many years. "No Reply At All" with the addition of horns is typical of a song from Phil Collins solo material. "Another Record" is maybe the weakest track of this album.

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 Fantastic Party by STAFF CARPENBORG AND THE ELECTRIC CORONA album cover Studio Album, 1970
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Fantastic Party
Staff Carpenborg And The Electric Corona Krautrock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

— First review of this album —
5 stars Well, this is one of the most obscure releases I know from the German music history in general. The front cover of the original Maritim vinyl release shows some young (futuristically) fashioned people, and promises the ultimate dance album provided for some hot hours. Okay, I was 14 at that time, this might have been an interesting item for my parents though. But hey, they would have been appalled for sure after buying this by accident. While, for example, expecting a common song collection interpreted by the James Last Orchestra or similar. The credits for all tracks are going to somebody named Paul Bucher, and, to make the mystery perfect, using the alias Carpenborg on top of it. But who is really responsible for that?

Unfortunately, concerning this issue, there is nothing substantial given. A lot of rumours are circulating moreover. Consequently it's nearly impossible to keep my nose out, not to speculate, when listening to this. No chance. Is this a remnant or follow-up of the film music recordings for the German sci-fi series Raumpatrouille Orion? Otherwise, for example I possibly could give Achim Reichel and some like-minded friends credit for that, this prior to the A. R. & Machines phase. Or maybe it happened in the following way. Studio musicians sometimes feel limited, uninspired, when playing pre-confirmed stuff over and over again. Just imagine some jazz orchestra members experimenting during a period of time, challenged by upcoming krautrock bands like Can, Organisation, Amon Dl 2 ...

... this probably within several breaks between recording sessions, the brass division having breakfast, dinner or finishing time. Presumably at least they themselves had a fantastic party on every occasion. Whatever, for me this does not appear solely intuitively played, moreover organized due to some pre-conditions. Prepared by the aforementioned so-called Paul Bucher, or Staff Carpenborg if you will. Prolific jazz educated musicians are at work here it seems, just breaking all chains. The result sounds like proto kraut somehow. Not simple or aimless noodling at all, but it's weird, still today. A mystical virtuoso affair by all means. Besides some quirky vocals the involved instruments are bass, contrabass, organ, guitar, drums, percussion, flute and tambourine, what I can hear.

So at first, obviously a mock fight, they are leading the listener on a wrong track with the famous riff taken from Beethoven's 5th symphony. What follows is completely different anyhow, and not easy to describe. A monotonic, tambourine caused beat is backing lively organ and guitar, this decorated with some effects. Initiated by percussion generated machine gun fire The Every Days Way Down To The Suburbs now shows bass and drums in a very cheerful mood, a male singer is somewhat improvising in a whacked out manner moreover. Wow! Let The Thing Comin' Up soley could be played in this way due to some mind-expanding substances, I'm sure. And we're not missing a (proper?) blues song too regarding this P.A.R.T.Y.

Shummy Poor Clessford Idea In Troody Taprest Noodles by the way is part of the famous unofficial Blumenkraft compilation 'Kraut! Demons! Kraut!' Overall this is definitely a more krautish curiosity than 'The Vampires Of Dartmore', priorly produced by Schlager and jazz music composer Horst Ackermann and Heribert Thusek. I will repeat myself now, prolific musicians are involved. What an unique attitude! I have been listening to this over and over again, completely puzzled to this day! You may find the rare vinyl gem somewhere, but it doesn't come cheaply. The CD reissue is still available too, alternatively the songs are part of a compilation issued on Gear Fab Records.

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 Sonic Celluloid by DJAM KARET album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.92 | 24 ratings

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Sonic Celluloid
Djam Karet Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars DJAM KARET have been making music for some 35 years or so. They really deserve some lifetime achievement award for being so consistent with their releases over that time, and yes a ton of great music. I think 5 years is the longest gap between studio albums over that time. "Sonic Celluloid" is a fairly ambient album overall with a significant amount of electronics and mellotron. Mellotron-flute seems to be the go-to sound when it comes to the mellotron. This is headphone music people! There's so much going on when you really listen to this album though, I'm very impressed.

"Saul Says So" opens with atmosphere, and get used to it(haha). Yes a spacey intro with electronics and eventually sequencers surprisingly around 1 1/2 minutes. Keys follow as that spacey atmosphere continues. Drums and bass after 2 1/2 minutes. Great sound here. Guitar a minute later and check out the bass 4 minutes in. Some excellent sounding mellotron in this one as well.

"Forced Perspective" opens with a beat, bass, guitar and synths. The guitar does come to the fore in a tasteful manner and then the sound turns fuller after 2 minutes but it settles back again quickly. "Long Shot" is dark and spacey to start as a sample of spoken words and static arrive. An electronic melody arrives and continues after the sample ends. Mellotron follows and what a majestic sound after 2 minutes. So good! Drums after 2 1/2 minutes and I like the organ before 3 minutes as electronics continue. It kicks into gear with some nice guitar but not for long.

"No Narration Needed" opens with mellotron as a horn blasts. This is spacey with background sounds. The guitar starts to make some noise. Nice. A change 3 minutes in as a solo bass line takes over then the mellotron returns. Picked guitar will eventually take over in atmosphere. "Numerous Mechanical Circles" has a spacey beginning as the mellotron rolls in along with some spoken words and nature sounds.

"Oceanside Exterior" is laid back and melancholic. This sounds really good especially when the sounds of the ocean arrive. One of my favourites. "Au Revoir Au Reve" opens with atmosphere and a beat. Sounds like vocal melodies of the female variety before 1 1/2 minutes. Guitar a minute later.

"Flashback" is mellow with intricate sounds and guitar. "Lower" features sounds that drift as some sparse piano comes and goes. Suddenly background voices can be heard and the build to a crescendo. "The Denouncement Device" ends it on a high. Intricate guitar, bass and atmosphere early. Love that bass in that spacey atmosphere. Mellotron-flute before 2 minutes and later after 3 minutes. It turns powerful with guitar after 3 1/2 minutes. Nice!

Another quality release from these Californians. What a discography though, such an impressive band and it's so cool that in 2017 they continue to impress. A solid 4 stars.

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 Sand by MONARCH TRAIL album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.46 | 27 ratings

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Sand
Monarch Trail Neo-Prog

Review by Second Endeavour

5 stars Monarch Trail continue their forward momentum as they've just released a sophomore album 'Sand' which is quite tremendous in its effect. Combining the best elements of their debut release and using potion of inventive extract, MT seek to take us back to the Glory Days of the 1970's. Once again, the core personalities (Ken Baird - keyboards & lead vocals, Dino Verginella - bass, Chris Lamont - drums) enlisted the support from the guest guitarists (John Mamone, Kelly Kereliuk, Steve Cochrane) who append some hues and textures to the signature style. Here and there, the floating synth lines embrace the mode of Tony Banks with deliberate nods to Rick Wakeman. Whereas the flamboyant keyboards are accompanied by splendid guitar passages, skillful rhythmic changes and engaging soundscapes evoke a delectable retro feel, the general approach is sweetened by attractive singing from Ken Baird. To a certain extent, the vocal performance makes me think of Alan Parsons Project and Barclay James Harvest. As a whole, the second Monarch Trail offer is a superb mix of exciting instrumental pieces ('Station Theme', Charlie's Kitchen', 'Another Silent World') and gorgeous vocal tracks ('First Thoughts', 'Back To The Start', 'Missing', 'Sand'). The musical content is very rich with melodism that holds your attention all the way through. Entering gently into a magical venture, the anterior cut sets the stage for following material. Yes, it may be a cliche to say so, but the final composition, 24+ min. epic, sums up all the ingredients, showcasing how versatile this Canadian group can be within a symphonic prog rock multi-movement. Indeed, a great choice to complete the consistent album. The bottom line: buying a CD 'Sand' guarantees you're in for something special. RECOMMENDED!

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