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 Thick As A Brick 2 [Aka: TAAB2] by ANDERSON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.74 | 387 ratings

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Thick As A Brick 2 [Aka: TAAB2]
Ian Anderson Prog Folk

Review by poito

3 stars The limping flutist goes by himself...and copies himself. Sorry for being disrespectful to the blowing master. He was one of my prog heroes till I saw him stalling the show and yelling angrily at a poor smoking boy. A shell of what he used to be. Let the children play, the same way your parents did with you. I've been following Jethro Tull from the start. A band that was amazingly chameleonic in the first 8-10 years and then they got frozen in time. Anderson is a genius composer no doubt, and here he shows some bits of it, but there is no reason to tarnish one of the quintessential albums of all time. Sure Anderson copies Anderson better than others, but was it really necessary to reuse the album's title? I mean, we all would be grateful if you do this in 1973, before the first brick worn down by the years. JT fans will have a good time with brick 2 out of nostalgia.

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 Lost Signal by CODE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2017
4.02 | 3 ratings

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Lost Signal
Code Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Lost Signal" is an EP release by UK progressive/avant rock/metal act Code. The EP was released through Agonia Records in January 2017. It's the successor to the band's fourth full-length studio album "Mut" from 2015 and features the same lineup as the album does.

"Lost Signal" doesn't contain any new original material but instead feautures 6 re-recorded and re-arranged tracks from the band's four preceding studio albums. Three tracks off "Mut (2015)" and one track from each of the other three studio albums "Nouveau Gloaming (2005)", "Resplendent Grotesque (2009)", and "Augur Nox (2013)". The tracks off "Mut (2015)" are given a slightly more raw and gritty treatment, while the three tracks from the first three albums are arranged to sound more like the dark and heavy progressive/avant rock/metal of "Mut (2015)". So the black metal influences of the past are mostly gone from the band's sound at this point, although the occasional snarling vocal phrase still stubbornly holds on to a minimal extreme metal orientation. "Lost Signal" however predominantly features clean vocals by lead vocalist Wacian.

Code manage to make the listener feel that "Lost Signal" was recorded live, that's how gritty, authentic, and organic the EP sounds. It's a perfect sound production for the material. Add to that intriguing songwriting and high level musicianship and you have another high quality release by Code on your hands. One of the great things about Code at this point of their career, is that there's stylistic development between every release, and as a listener you just know that they aren't through developing their style yet, and that you can expect more surprises in the future. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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 The Congregation by LEPROUS album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.04 | 436 ratings

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The Congregation
Leprous Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars On The Congregation, Leprous shift their musical style a little closer to the border between progressive metal and progressive rock; aggression, volume, and heavy riffs are played down in importance next to the melodic aspects of the music, as well as the keyboard work of synth-wiz and vocalist Einar Solberg. Here and there the approach has been compared to Muse, which sort of makes sense - in particular, to me it brings to mind Muse's Origin of Symmetry, since both albums have a very similar sense of unfettered exuberance, with both bands shifting away from the musical style of previous releases to follow a new sound with unwavering dedication, heedless of how overblown things may become.

The end result is a substantially more accessible Leprous release than any other I've heard, but whilst it's a good entry point to their music, it's also a solid development of what's come before which will have something new to offer seasoned fans too.

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 Nemrud by NEMRUD album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.99 | 188 ratings

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Nemrud
Nemrud Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars For a band, producing a self-titled album several releases into your career makes a certain statement - it suggests a certain maturity has been reached, that you've found your feet, established your sound, and are ready to put forth a distinctive manifesto of what your musical project is all about.

In the case of Nemrud's self-titled third album, the Turkish space rock unit seems to have decided that their musical mission is to pick up the distinctive style of Eloy and carry it forwards into a new era, with the end result being an album which, if you slipped it into the Eloy discography, would probably be acclaimed as the best thing they've done since the 1970s. Mert Gay's performance, in particular, with his distinctive guitar tone and his vocal style, puts me in mind of nothing less than the Eloy of the Ocean/Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes sort of era.

Nonetheless, it would be very wrong to write this album off as a mere exercise in cloning the Eloy sound; more modern electronics and synthesisers are integrated with a greater smoothness than I think Eloy themselves managed, and as with the preceding Ritual the extensive instrumental breaks have a character of their own. Whilst I wouldn't call it an all-time classic, I certainly think it's the best Nemrud release I've heard so far, and certainly deserves to get them attention from anyone who enjoys the particular brand of space rock that Eloy pioneered and which few others have taken forwards (Anyone's Daughter perhaps being the only example that comes to mind).

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 Pno, Gtr, Vox, Box - 84 Live Performances by HAMMILL, PETER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2012
3.04 | 4 ratings

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Pno, Gtr, Vox, Box - 84 Live Performances
Peter Hammill Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In 2011 Peter Hammill released 2-CD live set "PNO GTR VOX" of his specifically themed solo performances in Japan; on one gig PH is backing himself solely on acoustic guitar, and on another gig with piano (1st and 2nd discs of this release), and later on he changes the instrument during the gig (or disc), but never using both on a same song. No other musicians or instruments are involved in this entire 7-CD box. Sounds like it was made for die-hard fans only, doesn't it? I'm not such fan, even less a completionist for ANY artist, and actually I was very close to give a "collectors/fans only" two-star rating, as that description hits the nail. Let's get it straight at once: clearly this IS fan stuff, not recommended for more casual Hammill listeners. That being said, I'll use the rating scale more freely, based on my personal reception.

Peter Hammill is an artist that strongly divides opinions. Either you like him or you can't get into his music at all. I do like him, and Van der Graaf Generator especially, but definitely not everything he's done. And often, in this case more than ever, the certain rawness won't win any new listeners. Technically, Peter Hammill is an average player of piano. And he's an average player of guitar too. So it's obvious that the power of this music comes from the unique vocalist/lyricist. For those who dislike his voice, listening to this set through would be mere torture. Not that it would be a light task for a dedicated fan either. In the liner notes Hammill admits that there can be TOO MUCH of Peter Hammill to digest at once, referring both to the restricted lengths of the concerts and the lengths of the CD's that only in three cases out of seven exceed the 70-minute mark. He also encourages the listener to edit his/her own ideal set list.

The four gig themes in Japan were "What if I forgot my guitar?", "What if there no piano?", "'What if I knew this was the last show I'd ever do?" and "'What if I played only VdGG/VdG songs?" You can check out the set lists as well as the three other (more or less artificial) CD themes on the album page. Track lengths are unfortunately missing, but in the leaflet PH has listed the studio albums for all songs (a gesture I appreciate!), and the discographies of both VdGG - or VdG - and Hammill's solo career are being covered pretty evenly, ie. there are no many albums that are not represented at all. Some are by one song only, e.g. 'Afterwards' from the VdGG debut (1968), gorgeous 'The Comet...' from In Camera (1974), 'Too Many of My Yesterdays' from And Close As This (1986), 'Time to Burn' from In a Foreign Town (1988), superb 'A Way Out' from Out of Water (1990) or 'I Will Find You' from Fireships (1992). The last mentioned song is one of the most banal songs in this set, and Out of Water would have been a suitable source album in general for one-man performances, just to pick up two examples of could-have-been-better -cases. Some albums, e.g. Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night, Enter K, Patience, or the latest at the time, Thin Air (2009), are sources for three or four songs.

To get the idea of those solo shows, it wouldn't be unwise to choose the 2-CD version instead of the box set. The most irrelevant is the 7th disc containing alternate versions (yeah, talk about "fans only" stuff...). The disc containing only VdGG/VdG songs was the most striking disappointment for me. Simply because these ripped-down versions are SO inferior to the originals! This naturally applies also to some solo stuff, though to notably smaller degree. The better I remember the original, the more I miss the other instruments such as the violin/viola of Stuart Gordon or saxes and flutes of David Jackson that grace several PH albums. CD's 5 and 6 expand the song selection pretty well (even though being under an hour's length) and offer well-functioning songs such as 'Autumn', 'The Lie' and 'Four Pails'. To sum up: if you're a die-hard fan of Peter Hammill and enjoy his unique magic created by passionate vocals and meaningful song-writing, also in the rawest of settings, you'll enjoy this box set. For all others I advice to get some of the best studio albums instead.

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 Mind Cemeteries by COMA CLUSTER VOID album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.86 | 3 ratings

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Mind Cemeteries
Coma Cluster Void Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars If you wish to advance past the avant-garde atonal brutality of technical death metal such as the landmark Gorguts album "Obscura," then it is not with that band's following albums that is the path to the ultimate expression of progressive metal orotundity is furthered as Luc LeMay and his pioneering band would tone things down ever so slightly and drift in a slightly more accessible direction. While the desire to one up the great Gorguts has been attempted by quite a few tech death metal bands over the last two decades, very few have matched the intensity and sheer bleakness of that pioneering album of sombre and uncompromising hopelessness and intimidation. Coming from Germany is is the extreme tech death metal band COMA CLUSTER VOID who offer a serious contender for the Canadian classic with their debut album MIND CEMETERIES which delivers a veritable frenetic intensity worthy of its title.

The band is the project of John Streider who plays a down-tuned 10-string guitar and is the main composer of this maelstrom of progressive brutality. The band is completed with the bass playing of Sylvia Hintz (yes! women play tech death metal too) and Chris Burrows' ferocious percussion attacks that effortlessly groove and roll around the swirling freneticism of the endless stream of dissonant string action swarms. While the music is of the utmost avant-garde experimental death metal most reminiscent of "Obscura" era Gorguts, all the complexities are turned up several notches creating one of the most forbidding musical experiences in the entire metal universe. The vocal duties are shared by Mike DiSalvo (formerly of Cryptopsy) and Austin Taylor (of the band Dimensionless). The pair trade off between in sync frenetic torturously screamed rants to semi-spoken declarative prose that at time sounds like some of the mystic Satanic revelations of Deathspell Omega. There are occasional clean Pagan folk type vocals as well but they are muffled by the incessant din.

The album begins with the bleak ambient atmospheric opener "Prologue: I Am" which sets the tone for an utterly devastating attack of sonic fury to come before the first disharmonious delivery of atonal distortion churns out of the guitar and bass which for better or worse act as a single instrument for the majority of the album's run making it indistinguishable where the 10-string guitar ends and bass continues in the lower realms of the bass octaves. Burrows is an absolute beast on the drums as he effortlessly keeps the beat to the unsettling time signature deviations at blastbeat speeds with jazzy fills that frenetically outpace the anguished angular rhythmic assault of the guitar riffs fueled with distortion that stretches to infinity. While the album is rather unrelenting in its delivery, a small hiatus occurs in the middle with the slowed down intermission "Interlude: I See Through Your Pain" which while set in ambient mode yet still find the atonal guitar strums interrupting any attempt to regain sanity.

COMA CLUSTER VOID offer up an extremely demanding listen with MIND CEMETERIES and sound like they took many cues from the masters of the extreme by utilizing the compositional prowess of Gorguts, the atonal fury of Deathspell Omega, the distorted multi- dimensional surreality of Portal and Mitochondrion and take it all up a few more notches believe it or not. Personally i didn't think that could be done but they prove here that this angular zigzagging can indeed be cranked up on the extreme-o-meter. Needless to say, that this isn't your parents' heavy metal. This is some sort of freakazoid science experiment akin to a genetic mutilation that occurred from some secret extraterrestrial genetic experiment that got loose and is driven to create as much havoc as the laws of the universe will allow. This one is only for those who can immerse themselves in the most brutal, the most progressive and the most surreal soundscapes that have been crafted by demons. Definitely not a sing-a-long album but one that will surely blow your mind and ear canals to boot.

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 EOXXV by ELECTRIC ORANGE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.53 | 5 ratings

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EOXXV
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 Mller, 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, with the main focus being on `EOXXV', an expansive 134-minute set that falls somewhere between a new studio work and compilation (the recordings date from 2013 to January of this year), and for your money you get a lavish triple LP set or a double CD collection of superb Krautrock jams that frequently run to over twenty minutes in length each.

`Continuum' opens the album like many of the improvisations here and on recent Electric Orange works, blending long stretches of slowly unfolding ambient electronic drones, dusty distortion-laced guitar atmospheres and rumbling bass grumbles turned in multiple unpredictable directions by unrelenting drumming, the band expertly lifting in drama and retreating again over and over. Grumbling fluid bass ruminations and trippy guitar shimmers permeate `Under The Nun' around ethereal electronic canvasses, searing Mellotron bursts and slowly growing spacey swirling Hammond organ swells (that often call to mind the `Inside/Floating' psychedelic period of vintage German symphonic band Eloy). The sublime `Gnosis' (sadly only included on the CD edition) is spiced with the most subtle of delicate jazzy flavours among its glacial synth pools and lightly pattering drums that eventually take on a hypnotic tribal beat-like grasp, the piece taking a dangerous turn with some maddening fiddle slices and wavering electronic shivers in the finale.

There's an uncomfortable unease to the first half of `Misophonia IV's rumbling and brooding faraway ambient sound-collages that float and shimmer in unhurried hallucinogenic washes, with the piece soon moving in and out of tense drumming hypnotics, nightmarish psychedelics and stormy distortion melts. `Misophonia V' glides between dreamy mellow guitars, ethereal synth caresses and cacophonous flurries of wild drumming, the final crashing moments of `Faint' with its pounding mountain-sized drumbeat stomping down on everything in its path has to be heard to be believed, and album closer `Residuum' is equally a lulling space-music collage and darker ambient distortion drone with moments of blissful life- affirming touches.

`EOXXV' jumps back and forth between `kind of more of the same' as the last few studio releases, and serious contender for one of the albums of the year. While several tracks follow a similar pattern and the album is far too long, each individual piece is an outstanding Krautrock jam of heady sounds and exploratory colour all its own, and to have them compiled in the one place makes it a very attractive release. If you're a massive EO fan and not bothered by the fact that parts of the album mine similar ground to `Volume 10', `Misophonia' and `Wrzburg Cairo 2015', then `EOXXV' will make a huge impression on you and make for yet another first-rate modern Krautrock work from one of the best heavy psych bands going around today.

Four and a half stars.

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 Caravan by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.68 | 464 ratings

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Caravan
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars Out of the ashes The DAEVID ALLEN TRIO and THE WILDE FLOWERS comes this debut album from one of the three most important contributors to the Canterbury legacy. Daevid Allen has moved to France, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and the Hopper brothers are moving all over the place (Soft Machine to Matching Mole, et al.) which leaves the Hastings, Sinclair, and Coughlan families to sort out their own directions and desires.

1. "Place of my own" (4:01) nice vocal melodies for this organ-based tune. (8/10)

2. "Ride" (3:42) rather bland and ordinary with Pye singing the lead up close and personal. (7/10)

3. "Policeman" (2:44) Richard Sinclair taking a turn at the lead--he's more conservative than we'll hear in a year or two. Quite a little similarity to THE BEATLE's "I am the Walrus" without the crazed, surreal lyrics. (8/10)

4. "Love song with flute" (4:10) a very catchy and almost perfectly polished prog pop song (using melodic themes that they would return to over the course of the next few years). (9.5/10)

5. "Cecil runs" (4:07) opens with experimental guitar chords, spaciousness and a new synth to play with. Chorale harmony vocals enter to announce the telling of a story. Animated organ play provides the action here. I love the beat to this one. And the theatric vocal displays. My favorite song on the album due to both it's experimental play and its unbound theatric storytelling. (9.5/10)

6. "Magic man" (4:03) serves notice to the fact that the boys are struggling to find the voice of their own, instead they are talented singer/musicians taking on sounds and styles others have had success with. This one is more of a combination of PROCUL HARUM's now-classic "Whiter Shade of Pale" and ELP's recent monster "underground" hit, "Lucky Man" (bass and guitar). Not bad! (9/10)

7. "Grandma's lawn" (3:25) Richard in lead again, organ and guitar are quite a bit looser here and the MOODY BLUES-like lyrics and vocal flow more extemporaneously. (8.5/10)

8. "Where but for Caravan would I be" (9:01) their first prog epic--containing a lot of elements reminiscent of contemporary bands like THE BEATLES, THE DOORS, THE ZOMBIES, and even THE MOODY BLUES, this organ-based blues-rock song is musically quite rudimentary yet contains some very interesting vocal and lyrical choices. The final 90 seconds is the best. Tidings of things to come. (8/10)

The best is yet to come.

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 Hugh Hopper & Alan Gowen: Two Rainbows Daily by HOPPER, HUGH album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.83 | 40 ratings

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Hugh Hopper & Alan Gowen: Two Rainbows Daily
Hugh Hopper Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

2 stars An album of sensitive, somewhat melodic, protracted keyboard experimentation with support from jazz bass by two Canterbury artists still committed to the original spirit of Canterbury Scene artists. The problem herein is the lack of direction: each song sounds like it exists purely for study or experimentation with a certain sound, cadence, chromatic sense, rhythm, sequence, or nonmelody.

1. "Seen Through A Door" (5:54) sounds an awful lot like some of ANTHONY PHILLIPS keyboard work from this era and later--soundtrack like in a rudimentary, almost rehearsal kind of way. (8.5/10)

2. "Morning Order" (6:32) again, sounding more like the background music to a segment of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, the keyboard work progresses nicely as the bass remains fully present and supportive. Again, more experimental in nature as there is very little melody presented for listener engagement. (8.5/10)

3. "Fishtank 1" (4:56) more keyboard "practice" as bass plays one chord every twenty seconds or so. Nice melody from the left hand of the keyboard. (8/10)

4. "Two Rainbows Daily" (4:14) piano-based with a little more lively bass support and interplay. Reminds me of Lyle Mays' work. The structured and complete-feeling song on the album so far. (9/10)

5. "Elibom" (5:04) a duet that feels quite equal in participation, though, again, the melodic sense makes it feel more like an tude or a television soundtrack. (7.5/10)

6. "Every Silver Lining" (5:23) sounds like a TERRY C. RILEY practice session or early Berlin School contrivance but certainly not a complete song. (7.5/10)

7 . "Waltz For Nobby" (9:07) slow, delicate pace--could almost be a soundtrack for a children's story or an episode of Mr. Rogers. Very pretty melodies throughout and I love spaciousness. (9/10)

Bonus tracks on 1995 CD remaster: While the seven songs selected for the original release are void of any percussion/drums, these have percussion support but are much more demo-sounding in sound quality and, thus, more even more sparse, incomplete, and practice-like in their form. Nothing so very extraordinary here.

8. Chunka's Troll (4:03) experimental jazz 9. Little Dream (5:16) trio sublteties 10. Soon to Fly (4:03) classical piano bar 11. Bracknell Ballad (4:10) warm up of all instruments 12. Stopes Change (3:25) drums plus

In my opinion, this collection of songs, both the original and the 1995 re-issue, are only worthy of recommending to Canterbury Scene completionists or fans of either of the two musicians on the billing.

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 Thoughts by ZYMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.96 | 53 ratings

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Thoughts
Zyma Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars Outstanding recording engineering and sound clarity to support great performances from all musicians, great vocals from both Greg Lake-like male vocalist Meinrad HIRT and Amanda Parsons-like female vocalist (and violin, flute and percussion contributor), Dorle FERBER. The keyboard work from Günter HORNUNG is top notch throughout and the bass work from Bodo BRANDL also stands out.

1. "Thoughts" (8:19) flows along beautifully, superlatively, for the first four Zeuhlish minutes as choir intermittently exchange support and lead moments with lead singer Dorle Ferber--who sings wordlessly in a vocalese style. Steady, almost funky bass with rock-Zeuhl drumming while Günter Hornung plays on a number of different keyboards. By the time the violin takes the lead, the music has shifted to a more spacious jazz foundation. At 6:20 there occurs a rather radical shift into a kind of West Coast blues-jazz-pop with Dorle singing in English about what's going on in your brain. I like the first third the best. (8.5/10)

2. "Businessman" (12:33) spacey synth and jazzy keyboard opening with delicate cymbal play make it feel as if we're at the dawning of something. Separate drum kit and bass track emerges from 1:30 resulting in a quick-paced Fender Rhodes chord-based foundation over which synths and electric violin (and, later, female vocalese) solo and collectively repeat complex jazz melodies. At 4:15 clavinet and different (arp?) synth take over. Love the bass play throughout this one. Male lead vocal enters at 5:15--with stage musical-like background choral shouts. Raucous piano solo follows the second verse in the fifth minute. Another sound shift at 5:45 while bass and drums continue to play at their frenetic pace. Violin takes another turn alternating with synth sound soli. Rhythm section finally slows down and decays into near stillness in the tenth minute before a varied return occurs at 9:55. More synth soloing over clavinet while drums and bass race to the finish. Pretty amazing display of musicianship! (9/10)

3. "One Way Street" (8:04) oddly weird and, unfortunately, dated, but stands up due to great clarity and cohesiveness among the band members--unified focus. (8/10)

4. "We Got Time" (3:43) sounds like a little flower child pop songs like something from Britain's Sonja Kirsten (CURVED AIR), Lulu or Dusty Springfield. Catchy and upbeat if not wholly prog. (8.5/10)

5. "Wasting Time" (9:39) the centerpiece of the album and a Canterbury epic for the ages! I LOVE FLANGED DRUMS! Awesome bass line, drumming and piano work throughout this classic. One of the best, most definitive Canterbury songs ever. (10/10)

While not totally fitting into the classic Canterbury Scene, the experimental nature of the sound and stylistic choices definitely makes this album a shining example of the Canterbury approach to jazzier pop/progressive rock music.

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List of all PA collaborators

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VV by Lotto album rcover
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