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 Oxygène 3 by JARRE, JEAN-MICHEL album cover Studio Album, 2016
2.47 | 6 ratings

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Oxygène 3
Jean-Michel Jarre Prog Related

Review by Stalvern

2 stars

Sounds more or less like a cross between Oxygène 7-13 and the unfortunate Téo & Téa. There's not much left of the original Oxygène here; sadly, rather than building on it, Jarre has instead diluted it with generic "modern" tones at least ten years out of date. No word on whether or not they're presets, like on Téo & Téa, but either way, they're far below Jarre's standards.

As for the songs themselves, they're barely there. Jarre often contents himself with noodling over a basic groove, and when he reaches further, it's usually to crib from Oxygène 7-13 ("Part 16" and "Part 19") or Chronologie ("Part 17"). The closing track tries to put a big, dramatic finale on the "trilogy", but it hardly rises to the occasion - playing a few arbitrary chords louder and louder and LOUDER isn't actually moving, and the self-mythologizing sample of the original album's "Part 6" really doesn't help.

Let me be clear: This is not a terrible album. Those huge, lovely Oxygène tones are still there to fill up the sound, and apart from a few, uh, jarring lapses of taste (What the HECK is going on at the beginning of "Part 20"?), it all goes down smoothly enough. But when those old-fashioned sounds have to share the mix with chintzy plastic crap straight out of Newgrounds, and when it all exits my mind as easily as it enters, neither of those counts for much. At its best, this just makes me want to listen to Oxygène 7-13 again, and at its worst, it makes me wonder if it's even Jarre I'm hearing in the first place.

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 Close To The Edge by YES album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.65 | 3862 ratings

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Close To The Edge
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars What is there to say about CLOSE TO THE EDGE that hasn't been spoken yet? What man would prefer my review over others, or better, what man would read reviews rather than follow the consensual intuition that calls this YES masterpiece as the epitome of progressiveness? If you're said man, then I shall do my duty to bring you my review.

My output for this is simple: CLOSE TO THE EDGE is the best progressive rock album I have heard thus far. Some may gift this title to the unsinful IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING, others might do so - although rather awkwardly - to PINK FLOYD's, some even to SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND. But the reason CLOSE is the top among my list so far is because it demarks everything that, for me, prog is supposed to represent: inventiveness, classical revival, "technical wankery" (what a derogatory yet fitting term), ethereal themes and musical performances that leave the listener thunderstruck. The use of several music genres and styles is something to be noted.

If I had to summarize each song, CLOSE TO THE EDGE would be "inventively chaotic"; AND YOU AND I "acoustically magnificent and gentle"; and SIBERIAN KHATRU "jazzy, funky and guitar-oriented".

The title track, CLOSE TO THE EDGE, begins with calm nature sounds: birds chirping, and a river flowing. Suddenly, your ears are blown by a staggering, chaotic, seemingly anarchical & cacophonical introduction composed of violent quick drums, an eerie background guitar playing and a poorly (purposedly) sounding distorted guitar, accompanied by soft keyboards. My first listen to it rendered me awed, "What the hell is this?". For as strange, it was pleasant. I had to admit, even though I had no clue what I was listening to, it was truly creative. Especially intelligent to bring a serene intro followed by an explosion of sounds. Eventually, the insanity ends with a mellow guitar riff, that develops into the main section - the verses. An... ukulele? So it seems. 6/8? Yes. Bass and drums are connected, as every loud drum beat happens along a bass note. Overall, it sounds a little amusing.

Particularly speaking, JON ANDERSON's vocals are great. His voice is very matching with the overall theme of the song. Lyrics speak about... I don't know, somewhere? Somewhere interesting, beautiful. The ukulele really brings us the tranquility of the ambient the lyrics speak about, yet the drums & bass' odd connection keep us aware this is a progressive track. Eventually, calmness intensifies on a much more tender - and rather melancholic - piece, and the song ultimately oozes to my favourite part: the organs. A very, VERY imponent organ playing begins on a solo piece, followed by spatial keyboards which refer, once again, to the outlandishness of the track's theme. It is followed by a drums and keyboard duet. The keyboard plains, once again, the "mellow riff" on its very own insane manner. While the keyboard itself is already upbeat, the ridiculously technical and speedy performance of BRUFORD increases the section by a notch. WAKEMAN then proceeds to play a very rapid solo, and after he's over, ANDERSON returns to finish the song with the final verses & repetition of the chorus. After this majestic insanity we've been subjected to, we're left with the same birds and river to perform the outro.

NOW, NOW. What makes CLOSE TO THE EDGE a spectacular progressive track is its absolute creativity; vast array of instruments, techniques, and sounds employed; the amount of tempo, time signatures, and melody changes; and a successful mixture of psychedelia with jazz and rock elements. It is, however, the type of song you should listen more than once to successfully absorb: the first listen leaves you flabbergasted; the second, impressed; and the third, inspired.

Then, we're presented to AND YOU AND I. A love song, progressive style. There's no direct reference to love, but the companionship the persona desires is undoubtfully fulfilled by a significant other. It's not the "I love you" song, but the "I want to spend my life with you" type. Besides, there's even this obvious love hint: "All completed in the sight of seeds of life with you". It initiates with a nice 12-string-guitar riff, timely keyboard riffs, and ANDERSON's vocals that evoke an undoubtful loveliness. It evolves to a more slow and symphonic piece which could easily be confused for the outro. But fool! This is progressive rock! After the "outro", the song returns with a softer form of the previous section. ANDERSON and HOWE are much more cheerful. Eventually, all instruments return, and the AND YOU AND I definitive version kicks in. Once again, by its ending, WAKEMAN plays a keyboard outro. ANDERSON swiftly returns to an even more sweet version of the song, a short sung outro, to finally end the song.

Alright fella, here it comes the weird-but-cool member of the CLOSE TO THE EDGE album family: SIBERIAN KHATRU! I don't think there's any cooler name than that. Just like I read on Rolling Stones' progressive album list, "is Khatru even a word"? Well, does it matter? Certainly not.

A very jazzy and Siberian (okay, not THAT much Siberian) intro, to get you all shaking and funky. HOWE's guitar is superb on this track. I can't say anything BUT this track being his shining moment. There's only one word for Khatru: FUNKY. The main riff is very jazzy, and the chorus, even more. HOWE, as aforementioned, is omnipresent in this track: every note he plays is perceived. Eventually, YES brings us a new section where several guitar solos tackle in. The steel-string solo is perhaps one of my favourite ever. It's less than thirty seconds long, but awesome nonetheless. Lastly, it ends, followed by - you guessed it - a (short) gentler piece. Only two minutes away from its ending, the song - and album - outro arrives. It is powerful, and it is implicit it's not the ending just for KHATRU but for CLOSE TO THE EDGE as a whole. Even CHRIS SQUIRE, whose bass has been the background hero, jumps in the protagonism with an interesting - and obviously equally funky - solo accompanied by HOWE, who kicks in a great solo. Our KHATRU ends with the same feeling it has begun, and as no sound is yet to be heard, we're confirmed CLOSE TO THE EDGE is officially over.

YES' attempt to invent, to create, to astonish and to inspire is triumphant. CLOSE TO THE EDGE is a historical name. One of RUSH's members agreed with me, publically. (Or better, I agreed with him. Or well, pretty much almost everyone else) YES brought the best frontman to the progressive genre. This album represents everything progressive is supposed to represent, and it does majestically. BRUFORD thought so, and he even left Yes because he felt he couldn't topple this. Well, not really, but it's fun to think that's the reason. RELAYER would be there to show YES could bring another album as genial as CLOSE TO THE EDGE. OWNER OF A LONELY HEART showed YES died. But that's not important.

What's important is that if you're reading reviews for this album rather than listening to it, well, just do it. You won't regret: there's no way you would.

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 Pike 240 - Chart by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2016
2.90 | 2 ratings

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Pike 240 - Chart
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars B U C K E T H E A D PIKE 240- C H A R T 21st album by BUCKETHEAD in 2016 (released on Dec 2) Clocks in at 28:24 ALL instrumental

"Chart" (7:41) starts out with some speedy distorted heavy metal guitar riffing with a bass and heavy drumbeat following suite and goes through a series of riff changes all the while ratcheting up the intensity ever so slightly. Slower breakdowns occur that utilize distorted arpeggiated chords and then back to riffage with some more adventurous guitar shreds. The riffs get crunchier and thrasher after a couple minutes while the melody just seems to loop around really going nowhere. The track has an 80s speed metal feel to it. About half way through there is a key shift but it follows all the same patterns. This one is well executed but fairly standard for this kind of PIKE track and have heard this many times before so i'm not overly excited about it

"Granite Track" (10:04) begins with a slow and echoey guitar that is in true space rock territory. A contrasting bass and drums drops in and builds up speed and then drops out and then comes back as the strange guitar effects sort of swirl around and sustain. A more subdued guitar comes out of the void and arpeggiates for a bit and then back to the heavier spacey rock. This one has a spooky feel to it as the ambience has a haunting sort of sound to it. The guitar marches forth and throws in some licks that are recognizable as BH trademarks. This one is pretty cool and unique. It takes the basic instrumental approach on many PIKEs and adds a more space rock layer to it which combined with some cool guitar innovation makes for an interesting track

"Glowing Gate" (10:39) and after a long dramatic pause between tracks this one starts things off with a clean guitar that hesitatingly plucks slowly away until it adds a little distortion as the bass and a hand drum come into play. The melody is quite familiar if you've heard your share of PIKEs. The distortion drops out and the speed remains slow and easy. Then power chords come in and slowly add some oomph without picking up the speed but when they drop out all we hear is an ambient background and clean delicate guitar notes in a sequence. It finally picks up steam but not too much tempo as the rock guitar comes into play and it chugs more as the bass and drum pick up intensity. It does manage to pick up speed a bit and carries the melodic developments further into slight improv territory. It always finds resolution in little breakdowns where it slows down and recallibrates again. This one is OK but not OMG.

With the exception of "Pike 238 - Attic Garden" i haven't been too excited about any PIKEs past the 200 mark but this one is fairly decent although many elements have been done before and often. This one is a pleasant listen but other than the second track nothing extremely unique

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 Pike 101 - In The Hollow Hills by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2014
1.95 | 2 ratings

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Pike 101 - In The Hollow Hills
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

2 stars BUCKETHEAD - PIKE 101 - In The Hollow Hills 60th album out of 60 in 2014 and 130th overall All sounds brought to you by Buckethead and all instrumental This one clocks in at 29:01 and has four tracks

"In The Hollow Hills" (7:51) begins with a slow tempo and clean guitar riff with a slight echoey Floydian guitar tone. The bass and drums are equally chilled and a background atmospheric synth resonates. It has a very slight spaghetti Western feel to the whole thing but in a spacey type of way. Or maybe i be trippin'. It never really develops into anything and stays calm and spacey. The melody is the looped variety and well, i'm just not enthralled by this one

"Ghost Of Broken Eggs" (13:23) begins with a bendy note type of blues guitar and then a second guitar lick delivers some higher register blues. It's one of those cool cat numbers with the bass delivering a never-ending recurring four note to five note loop and the guitar simply performs predictable blues runs that sound more like B.B. King or other classic old school blues cats from the past than BH. This is all fine and dandy but nothing really too exciting and more than wears out its welcome clocking in over the thirteen minute mark. Nice background music though. Would be perfect for a movie soundtrack as well

"Bumper Cars" (1:29) picks up the steam and delivers a grungy alternative rock riff that gets even more feisty as it becomes more funkified grungy rock. The guitar drops out and it becomes simply a bass and drum show and then just like that?.. poof! it's gone

"Seas And Stars" (6:18) begins with a bending reverberating ambient synth tone that is joined by a super slow and mellow clean guitar and as the synth swirls around, the guitar develops a melodic run. It remains on super chill mode. The ambience swirls while the guitar only intermittent plucks out a few notes that have a somewhat bluesy feel. There is no bass or drums on this one. It's ok but nothing outrageously interesting either

This PIKE i neither love nor hate. It's just average

2.5 rounded down

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 Pike 100 - The Mighty Microscope by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2014
1.95 | 2 ratings

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Pike 100 - The Mighty Microscope
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

2 stars BUCKETHEAD - PIKE 100 - The Mighty Microscope 59th album out of 60 in 2014 and 129th overall All sounds brought to you by Buckethead and all instrumental This one clocks in at 29:59 and has three tracks

"The Mighty Microscope" (13:57) begins a quick paced tempo with a funky guitar that sounds like something out of the 70s with a subordinate bass and drums. Guitar has a wah-wah effect and creates a fairly simple danceable melody which repeats frequently but around the two minute mark we finally get a little break and something new begins to emerge as it changes and then the guitar gets a little looser and free flowing with more licks and solos spewing out of the jive turkey guitar tones. The guitar solos become more bluesy and remind me a bit of 80s Guns N Roses types that Slash used to churn out. They don't last long enough and back 2 da funk rock! Yeah just hard rock. Not heavy enough to qualify as metal. As the track goes on it basically keeps the same beat, same rhythm and same overall melody while the guitar offers slight variations of the overall theme. It's all nice and listenable although i think a near 14 minute is a little excessive for what's offered here. We'll played and all is OK but not OMG

"Phase Yellow" (5:21) begins more subdued with a slow down-tuned bluesy type of sound with a bass lick followed by a Hendrix like type of squealing guitar line. It's a cool cat type of sound that makes me think of a blues based speakeasy in Chicago in 1969 or something. While the bass line stays silky smooth and chilled out, the guitar gets all freaky and spastic and delivers some rip roaring sizzling bluesy solos. The drum is chillin' with the bass so it's two on codeine while the other is on caffeine. The solos offer some interesting uniquenesses but overall pretty standard blues stuff. Still i find this one really cool and a fun listen

"Inner Space" (10:41) begins even slower and mellower with clean guitar, bass and snail-paced lazy drumbeat. This immediately starts sounding like a million other slow sappy ballads in the BH canon. Nice echoey guitar effect and melody not bad but like other similar PIKE tracks doesn't evolve past the recurring chord sequences and despite ratcheting up the tempo and dynamics to make it more rockin' it's still one of those deja-vous tracks that sounds all too familiar because it's been done to death and this one adds no new spins to the recurring theme whatsoever. Meh

First track is decent, second track is actually pretty cool. Third track makes me wanna lose my lunch so unfortunately not my favorite PIKE of the lot

2.5 rounded down

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 Pike 99 - Polar Trench by BUCKETHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2014
1.95 | 2 ratings

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Pike 99 - Polar Trench
Buckethead Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

2 stars BUCKETHEAD - PIKE 99 - Polar Trench 58th album out of 60 in 2014 and 128th overall All sounds brought to you by Buckethead and all instrumental This one clocks in at 30:37 and has four tracks

"The Light In The Fog" (9:56) begins things with clean mellow guitar, sleepy slow bass and cymbal action. It picks up into a slow rocker. The melody is pleasant but it's also one of those been-there-done-that type of tracks that are common the the slower subdued PIKEs. As the track progresses it contains a background rhythmic guitar riff and a bluesy slow treble lick. Although it ratchets up to mid tempo it never presses on further. The lead lick is very pleasant and so are the drum and bass interaction but it's also very cliche and not many new ideas are presented here. For those who really love the slow and melodically mellow, there is plenty to like here. It's actually decently done but "Passageways" spoiled me for the slow PIKEs. It was done quite well while this feels more by-the-numbers

"Polar Trench" (8:59) turns things around with a heavy funk guitar driven riff before it drops out and a funky bass with wah-wah jumps in and does a little dance before the funk driven heavy guitar riff comes back for a little stroll down the cat walk. Bass stays funky while the lead guitar delivers some bluesy guitar solos on high adrenaline. While variations of the major theme do occur, the track is essentially funk bass driven with the guitar nosediving into hyperdrive on many occasions but never getting to virtuosic and staying in heavy blues rock territory. This one is also okayish but rather outstays its welcome since there is no need for it to be nine minutes long

"Heiro" (2:15) is the short little track here. It is a hyperactive funk guitar driven little monster with the slap bass just as jive turkey punk ass caffeinated. I like this one. Short but sweet and to the point. Excellent heavy funk rock track

"Glyphics" (9:27) is another heavy funk rock track with a slap smackin' bass line and guitar bustin' it out with the drums. When the guitar steps out of funk mode and into lead action, the bass also joins in and becomes more rock oriented. This track essentially alternates between straight up hard rock and funk rock. The bluesy melody pretty much stays the same with some minor variations and soloing here and there. This one is intense in its deliver but is fairly predictable and not the best slice of funk rock the chicken lover has dished out. Hendrix inspired solos are aplenty but another that doesn't need to churn on for over nine minutes. Okay but not outstanding

2.5 rounded down

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 An Unfathomable Convergence by ALIO DIE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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An Unfathomable Convergence
Alio Die Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars In the same tenor as his past masterworks "An Unfathomable Convergence", 2016, simplifies to the point of sophistication its elements, structures and their seemingly aleatory slow paced movement.

Alio Die (field recordings, drones & loops) surrounds himself again with the same collaborators of his parallel release "Imaginal Symmetry " , Lingua Fungi (kantele, organ & treatments) , Aglaia (electronics and effects) plus the addition of Enten Hitti (percussions, oboe & voice).

Less zither driven (by much) than its twin release, this work conveys 4 years of recordings into a 3 track album which consists of one 50+-min. dronescape, a 13 min. one and a 6:30 min. extract of the lengthier first track.

A perfectly balanced showcase in constant mutation, charged with deep-dream like highlights which undergo the structuring, restructuring and deconstruction of its expandable musical environments , worked throughly to millisecond detail without no kind of frenzy nor obsession.

Beauty happens by the constant mutation and combination of its flowing particles and its uprising and decline participate the same in building parallel ones, therefore the ride is creative, rich as intriguing.

**** 4.5 PA stars.

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 Metamorphosis by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.39 | 64 ratings

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Metamorphosis
Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by aglasshouse

4 stars Every time I've seen Iron Butterfly's history, their profile has a whole, and the music they've created, I've always thought of them as steadfast. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, for all intents and purposes, should not have been as successful as it was. An 18-minute long acid trip jam? Many others at the time tried to achieve the same thing and failed, but these Californians somehow managed to turn such a product of the times into a product that stands the test of time (and made a boat-load at that). Something as miraculous as this is hard for anyone to followup, let alone a half-stoned [&*!#] rock band like Iron Butterfly was. They managed it though, the following album Ball (1969) charting even higher than it's predecessor in the U.S.

Iron Butterfly managed to make magic happen twice. I guess the obvious question that should and was asked was: "can they do it again?" Yes and no.

There's a difference this time around. Metamorphosis, released the following year after Ball, charted at 16 in the U.S. Now, in any other circumstance this would be laudable, because obviously it's not easy to whip up a record that charts in the first place. But for Iron Butterfly, this was practically dismal. Granted, 'Easy Rider' did chart 66 on Billboard, being I.B.'s biggest hit since 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida', although I personally owe this more to the success of the latter and name recognition as opposed to song quality (who knows, the 70's were easily pleased). So, financially-wise, Iron Butterfly were sort of able to hit the gold once more. However, musically-wise, Metamorphosis is different from all of it's predecessors, even including Heavy. What I was saying about Iron Butterfly's seeming fragility comes into play here, because the band slowly started going downhill after their monster-hit, and Metamorphosis was the last album regarded at least decently by critics. On this particular album, the original line- up is broken, with guitarist Erik Brann parting ways due to band conflicts. Replacing him, flatteringly enough, was four different session guitarists. Mike Pinera of Blues Image and Alice Cooper (as well as Ramadam, a supergroup formed with Mitch Mitchell of Jimi Hendrix Experience), Larry Reinhardt (future Captain Beyond along with Dorman), Bill Cooper, and even producer Richard Podolor on the twelve-string.

Metamorphosis is really the culmination of Iron Butterfly's slowly building up musical consistency since In-A-Gadda- Da-Vida. This applies for musicianship (because honestly they weren't the greatest players), production, and songwriting. The production is much higher, and allows for a more dynamic sound in both the experimental and traditional departments. Speaking of experimental, critics tend to refer to Iron Butterfly post-Vida as being more and more musically adventurous, and I would tend to agree. Metamorphosis puts a much greater emphasis on the progressive/space rock side of the band, something I've always found remarkably endearing when it comes to them in particular. Mostly this is on the smash epic 'Butterfly Bleu', a masterpiece of proto-metal and prog music that rivals even I-A-G-D-V (except is much more structured and, dare I say, intelligent?). Still retaining a spaced-out, pseudo complex attitude, 'Butterfly Bleu' manages to be heavy, emotional, and eclectic all in on package. It also funnily enough features one of the earliest uses of a talk-box (yeah, that thing Bon Jovi used on 'Livin' On a Prayer' to make his guitar go "rwoworwowrwow") during a gritty section on the latter half of the epic. Of the traditional we have 'New Day', a Steppenwolf-esque song headed off by a disarmingly good catchy riff. 'Shady Lady' is, at times, your standard brand of funky blues-rock, but it delves into extremely dark tonal shifts at certain areas. The rest of the album is rather expected of Iron Butterfly, being basically cheesy rock n' roll tunes molded by quasi-hippie zeitgeist ('Soldier In Our Town'), but I suppose the big single 'Easy Rider' has it's moments as well.

The band itself does very well for itself on this particular album. As aforementioned, four different multi-talented guitarist make themselves well-known on Metamorphosis. Mike Pinera's (presumably) part on 'Butterfly Bleu' with the talk-box always makes me smile ever time I hear it. It really makes the song have a bigger personality (of course his vocals on the rest of the song is good as well, putting on a zealous, emotional performance). The Iron Butterfly themselves are nothing to scoff about of course, But it's clear that the talents of Ingle, Dorman, and Bushy are not without merit. The band's made their abilities clear ever since 'Vida' in '68, and here they meld almost perfectly with their session musicians.

Some may get turned off by Iron Butterfly's material, but for me Metamorphosis is nothing short of a wonderful surprise. People wanted the Butterfly, and they got the Butterfly.

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 Finale by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Live, 2016
4.91 | 2 ratings

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Finale
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

5 stars Saving the best for last.

Finale is a live album that consists of the original folk/jazz/bues rock pioneering Pentangle members, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Terry Cox, Danny Thompson and Jacqui McShee, that was recorded during a summer reunion tour in 2008, but not released until this year. Guitarists Jansch and Renbourn have now both, sadly, passed away. Finale is a fitting memorial to their fine artistry, which seemed to have shone the brightest when the two were in the company of the afore noted drummer, double bassist and lead vocalist, respectively.

Having won a Life Achievement Award by BBC Radio 2 in 2007, the original Pentangle members finally put long standing differences, both artistic and personal, aside in order to celebrate their music and their long time fans, with a series of stellar performances that were expertly captured for prosperity. The recording were aided by state of art mobile digital recording techniques that were further enhanced by Jansch selecting the best song performances and mixing them, while Renbourn aided in their mastering.

The result is some of the best sounding Pentangle recordings to date, be they live or studio. The low resonances reproduced by Danny Thompson's propulsive playing was merely hinted at on any of the group's first six studio albums, while Terry Cox's drums finally sound real and dynamic instead the thin cardboard box bashing that came across on the band's early releases.

Only Jacqui McShee sounds just a bit thin on these recordings, but her delivery is still strong, if just a bit measured.

And what of the two guitar heroes? Well, Renbourn plays with an authority that was only suggested at back in the day, and, if it can be believed, plays better then he did forty five years earlier, and that includes some wonderful sitar playing on two tracks. Jansch mostly ceded the guitar honors to Renbourn, as he was too busy singing lead on about a third of the songs. Yes, he's still had a wonderfully strong voice at that time and it doesn't sound as if had aged a single day. But don't fret. He exchanges red hot guitar notes with Renbourn on the instrumental "In Time", just like in the days of yore.

However, to dwell on the individual band members defeats the purpose of this fine album. Its the chemistry that was generated anytime these powerhouse musicians were in earshot of each one another that is to be enjoyed and celebrated. The jazz inflections and solos from Thompson and Cox, the fluid guitar lines of Renbourn, Jansch's percussive finger picking and world weary baritone, and of course, McShee's cooing bluesy siren calls which were often contrasted by her near angelic traditional folk song delivery.

I could be bemoan the absence of stalwart songs like "Way Behind The Sun" form the group's eponymous debut album, or "Train Song" form the Basket Of Light album. However, that's only because so much of their early collective output was so outstanding that fifty of their songs seem like essentials. What more can a reviewer say then that?

If you only own one Pentangle album, it should be Finale. If you own most of their output, then this album is icing on a very delicious and rich musical cake. Simpy put, it's an essential album artistically, sonically and, most of all for those who were initiated into Pentangle long ago, emotionally.

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 Repetitions of the Old City - I by JACK O' THE CLOCK album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.58 | 8 ratings

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Repetitions of the Old City - I
Jack O' The Clock Prog Folk

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

5 stars

JACK 'O THE CLOCK Repetitions of the Old City - I

I really liked 2013's All My Friends but it showed signs of the band not firing on all cylinders yet--not everyone seemed able to rise up to composer Damon Waitkus' expectations. I'm glad to report that, while this is, sadly, only the second Jack O' The Clock album I've listened to, immaturity and scattered energy are no longer at issue: the band is performing Damon's compositions seemlessly, flawlessly, and Damon's composition and production skills are at his most masterful high.

1. "I Am So Glad To Meet You" (1:37) Damon Waitkus singing multiple tracks in his unusual, warbly, ANDY GIBB-like voice over an atmospheric echoscape. (7.5/10)

2. "The Old Man And The Table Saw" (10:30) a refreshing prog folk composition that sounds like no one else, proclaims (or reconfirms) that Jack O' The Clock is unique to folk and progressive rock music. (9/10)

3. "When The Door Opens, It Opens On Everything" (12:08) opens with a very folk/bluegrass-sounding acoustic guitar intro. At 1:15 the music shifts to a kind of AARON COPELAND/EDGAR MEYER sound in support of Daimon's vocal. Kate McLaughlin's bassoon plays a nicely prominent role in this one. Stellar performances by all band members in this mesmerizing composition. I even hear echoes of some of the sounds, melodies, and dueling of John McLaughlin's SHAKTI music ("Get Down and Sruti" from Natural Elements) on this one. (9.5/10)

4. "Epistemology / Even Keel" (5:45) opens sounding far more like an old WEATHER REPORT or JONI MITCHELL soundscape. But then all that dissipates in lieu of Daimon's nursery rhyme-like vocal. Not quite a cappela, it is supported rather sparsely with bird- and animal-like sounds created by acoustic instruments. The second half ("Even Keel"?) uses an electric jazz guitar and acoustic guitar to provide the foundational support for Daimon's voice. Double bass, shrill violin chirping, bassoon and flute provide occasional and intermittent accents and support. I like this song a lot. It's certainly a top three song. (9.5/10)

5. ".22, Or Denny Takes One For The Team" (6:58) opens as if we are getting to unleash a high-speed Celtic reel, but when dulcimer, electric bass and drums enter to support and mirror the established lead melody of the violin, it feels more rock like. At 1:30 everything shifts into a dreamy MARK ISHAM-like section. Violin and cymbal play support the baseball reference section as sung by Daimon and his support chorus. A lot of FLEET FOXES similarities in this middle section. I like it very much. The story here feels very dream-like, as if imagination (and time) is toying with the recollection of some past memory. My favorite song on the album. (10/10)

6. "Videos Of The Dead" (7:21) opens with bass and low tom thumping a slow, straight 2/2 time while the guitar of prog legend Fred Frith slide over and between. While the time signature gradually shifts, and the song develops, it is still fairly sparse and simple when Daimon's simple vocal begins. At 2:50 things become heavier, more insistent as first the low end and then the middle of the soundscape fills a bit. Flute solos in the fourth and fifth minutes while the song shifts and other instruments snake around beneath. When Daimon returns to sing at the end of the fifth minute, a full Nu-grass kind of jam is mounting an assault beneath him. then, suddenly, at the 5:40 mark, order is restored just when I thought (and hoped) that wild chaos was about to break open. Awesome, even amazing song. My other top three song. (9.5/10)

7. "Whiteout" (2:28) a foundation of odd sounds (including synths, zithers, bass clarinet, bowed double bass, and what sounds like a backwards flowing solo electric guitar throughout) supports the slow, treated play of a hammered dulcimer. (9/10)

8. "Fighting The Doughboy" (13:42) starts out with a bit of an odd, gangly plod-and-hop sound that might have come off of a MAHAHIVSHNU ORCHESTRA or JEAN-LUC PONTY rehearsal during the 1970s. By the end of the second minute it's feeling more like a UNIVERS ZERO song. But then lyrics/vocals appear. At 4:30 the song suddenly steps into a straightforward rhythm--but only for about half a minute, when it returns to the syncopated UZed sound, style and pacing. Horns, violin, vibes, and bassoon are all quite prominent. At 6:30 another foray into straightdom provides a section with some interesting background vocal activities and harmonies--and even a lead vocal from a different male (Jason Hoops?). At 8:20 a kind of calypso foundation begins over which SHANKAR-like violin melody leads before a flanged Daimon Waitkus vocal slowly emerges (and continues moving into the foreground--with accompanying vocalists). At 10:30 new section begins with a sound that is reminiscent of some of JONI MITCHELL's jazzy-world music from the mid 1970s. Voice samples from the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. are interwoven among the Dixieland party that ensues--and plays out to the song's end. Intriguing song! High marks for creative originality. (9/10)

9. "After The Dive" (3:38) a very cool, unusual song with great, delicate performances from all--and a nice vocal from Daimon. (9/10)

A masterpiece of prog folk and progressive rock music. This band is maturing, gelling into one of the most compelling masters of the modern prog scene.

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